The Winding Serpent
By James Wyatt
Medium-Size Monstrous Humanoid (Reptilian)
Hit Dice: 3d8 (13 hp)
Initiative: +2 (Dex)
Speed: 20 ft., climb 15 ft., swim 50 ft.
AC: 17 (+2 Dex, +3 natural, +2 large wooden shield)
Attacks: Scimitar +4 melee; bite -1 melee
Damage: Scimitar 1d6+1; bite 1d4
Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Serpentine curse
Saves: Fort +1, Ref +5, Will +3
Abilities: Str 12, Dex 15, Con 11, Int 8, Wis 11, Cha 10
Skills: Hide* +8 [+6 + 2 dex], Listen +6, Move Silently +8 [+6 + 2 dex], Spot +2
Climate/Terrain: Warm forest and underground
Organization: Clan (3-12)
Challenge Rating: 2
Alignment: Usually chaotic neutral
Advancement: 4-5 HD (Medium-size), 6-9 HD (Large)
Malicious but servile, ophidians are a reptilian race most commonly found as slaves of the yuan-ti. They look like large snakes with humanoid arms and hands, and tails that are short and stunted in proportion to their bodies. Their scales are typically mottled green and yellow, with browns, black, and red sometimes appearing in certain individuals. Their scales naturally change color to help the creatures blend in to wooded or subterranean surroundings.
Ophidians speak Common and Yuan-ti, and some learn Draconic as well.
Ophidians are not bright, but often fight under the leadership of more intelligent creatures (such as nagas or yuan-ti). They tend to make good use of their natural camouflage to attack with surprise, though their distaste for ranged weapons makes that tactic less effective than it might otherwise be. Though they wield weapons comfortably in their humanoid hands, ophidians love to bite victims, and particularly delight in infecting opponents with their serpentine curse. If it desires, an ophidian can make its bite attack its primary attack (using its full +4 attack bonus with that attack and dealing 1d4+1 points of damage), attacking with its weapon as its secondary attack (at a -1 attack bonus, dealing 1d6 points of damage).
Serpentine Curse (Su): Any humanoid who suffers an ophidian's bite attack must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 11) or contract a curse that turns him into an ophidian himself. Starting 1d4+1 days after the infection, the victim's skin itches painfully. The character is uncomfortable, but suffers no game penalties. Gradually, the character's skin flakes off, revealing scales beneath. This process is complete 20 days after infection.
Seven days after infection, the victim's legs begin to shrink and fuse together. Ten days after infection, the victim's base speed is reduced by 5 feet. Twenty days after infection, the victim's legs are fused into a tail and his base speed becomes 20 feet. (even if it was reduced below that during the transformation).
Nine days after the infection, the victim's tongue grows long and forked. For a period of three days, the victim suffers a 20% chance of spell failure when casting spells with verbal components (rolled separately from any arcane spell failure check due to armor). After this period, the victim becomes accustomed to the forked tongue and can speak normally again.
Twenty days after the transformation, the victim is fully transformed into an ophidian, with no memory of his previous existence.
To stop the transformation, the victim must receive a remove disease or remove curse spell before the process is complete, although these spells do not undo any transformation that has already begun. A heal spell, regeneration, limited wish, wish, or miracle is required to reverse the transformation. Once the transformation is complete, nothing short of a wish or miracle can return the victim to his previous state.
Skills: *Ophidians gain a +10 bonus to Hide checks in forests or underground due to their chameleonlike ability to alter their skin tones.
An ophidian's favored class is fighter, and most high-level ophidians are fighters. Ophidian clerics are almost unknown, as ophidians rarely revere true deities. Some ophidians worship nagas, dragons, or giant snakes, and gain the powers of the adept class from the strength of their own faith in these powerful reptiles.
In the Realms
Ophidians originated in the Forest of Wyrms, though they are rarely found that close to human civilization any more. According to yuan-ti history, ophidians descend from a human tribe of the Shining Plains devoted to a snake cult. Their belief in the ultimate superiority of serpentkind led these humans into the Forest of Wyrms in search of relics from the yuan-ti kingdom that flourished there in ancient times. Unleashing a powerful artifact, the humans were transformed into serpent people, and passed the curse on -- not only to their children, but also to the unfortunate victims of their bites. They are now found primarily in the Serpent Hills, but occasionally appear anywhere snakes are found . . . which is to say, almost anywhere.