Elder Serpent of Set
Sseth the Great Snake was once the Faerûnian god of poison and serpents of all sorts, from typical vipers to yuan-ti to nagas. He was known across the Realms by different names, since he changed names and aliases as often as his serpent followers shed their skins. In the western Realms, from the Serpent Hills to the Shining Plains to the Serpents' Holding, Sseth was often known as Varae and venerated by a snake cult. In the south, from the Jungles of Chult to the Black Jungles to the Forest of Amtar, he was known as Squamata the Black, as Amphisbaena the World Serpent, and also by his true name - Sseth the Sibilant Death. In all of these places, he built followings, usually led by ancient snakes of great cunning known as elder serpents.
Unfortunately for the Great Snake, the Mulhorandi god known as Set had laid claim to the same deific portfolio that Sseth controlled. In the wake of the Time of Troubles, Set watched as the barriers separating the gods of Faerûn and Mulhorand weakened. Spying Sseth in his somnolence, he saw a weak power and decided to seize the opportunity to spread his own following outside of Mulhorand's lands. In 1359 DR, the Year of the Serpent, Set attacked and bound Sseth in his sibilant slumber, then took the Grand Snakemaster's mantle for his own.
Regardless of his guise, Set blesses those creatures that best typify his portfolio - snakes, serpents, and other reptiles, as well as predators of the desert, creatures of the night, and beings who deal in hate, malice, poison, and death. Many of his servants are unaware of whom they serve, but others know all too well and embrace the ruthless destruction that is Set.
The following template is useful for creating Set's most prized minions in the Realms.
Set is said to bless long-lived snakes with exceptional wisdom. These cunning elder serpents can speak humanoid tongues (although with a sibilant accent) and have learned the value of stealth and the power of intimidation in dealing with humanoids. They show no fear of open flames and have developed an almost humanlike fancy for glittering treasures and magic devices. Some even take class levels, becoming druids, clerics, or sorcerers. Yet despite the dangers these creatures pose, their sagacity and unique insights often lead humanoids to consult with them about important matters.
Creating an Elder Serpent
"Elder serpent" is an acquired template that can be added to any snakelike animal or magical beast (referred to hereafter as the "base creature"), as long as the average Intelligence for its kind is no greater than 5.
An elder serpent uses all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Size and Type: The base creature's type changes to magical beast (augmented animal) if it was not already a magical beast. Do not recalculate base attack bonus, saves, or skill points. Size is unchanged.
Hit Dice: Add 2 Hit Dice to the base creature's total and increase all racial Hit Dice to d10s.
Armor Class: The base creature's natural armor bonus improves by +1.
Base Attack: The base creature's racial base attack bonus changes to equal its racial HD (as a fighter). The elder serpent's base attack bonus for any class levels it has or gains remains unchanged.
Special Attacks: An elder serpent retains all the base creature's special attacks and also gains those below.
Command Serpents (Sp): An elder serpent can use command (as the spell, DC 11 + elder serpent's Charisma modifier) against other serpents with fewer Hit Dice than itself at a caster level equal to its racial Hit Dice. This ability is usable once per day for every 2 racial Hit Dice the elder serpent possesses.
Mesmerizing Sway (Su): An elder serpent can paralyze other creatures as a standard action by swaying slowly and steadily while staring at them. Every creature within 30 feet of the serpent that can see it swaying must make a successful Will save (DC 10 + one-half elder serpent's racial HD + elder serpent's Charisma modifier) to avoid the effect. Failure means the creature is paralyzed for as long as the elder serpent concentrates and for 1d6 rounds thereafter. Mesmerizing sway is a mind-affecting effect.
Virulent Poison (Ex): If the base creature has a poison attack, the DC for its Fortitude save increases by +2. Both the initial and the secondary damage for the base creature's poison deal an extra 1d6 points of Strength damage.
Special Qualities: An elder serpent retains all the base creature's special qualities and also gains those described below.
Blindsense (Ex): The sensitivity of an elder serpent's pit organs and tongue grants it blindsense with a range based on its size, as given on the table below. If the elder serpent already has blindsense, it uses the new range or the old, whichever is better.
|Elder Serpent Size Range|
Speak with Serpents (Su): An elder serpent can communicate with other snakelike creatures as though using a common language. This communication is limited by the Intelligence scores of the conversing creatures.
Base Saves: Adding Hit Dice increases the creature's base saves. Advance the saves according the magical beast type. Advancing the creature after the template is applied advances the base saves as if the creature were a magical beast.
Abilities: An elder serpent's Intelligence score increases to 2d6+6. Increase its other ability scores as follows: Str +2, Dex +2, Con +2, Wis +2d4+4, Cha +2d4+4.
Languages: An elder serpent can speak Common and Draconic, plus a number of languages equal to its new Intelligence modifier.
Skills: Elder serpents are experts in many areas, particularly scholarly fields of knowledge. An elder serpent keeps the class skills of the base creature. If the base creature has less than ten class skills, the elder serpent may choose additional class skills to bring the total to ten.
An elder serpent gains additional skill points based on its new Intelligence score for the 2 extra Hit Dice granted by the template and for any class Hit Dice it gains thereafter, but not retroactively for the base creature's Hit Dice. It has a +4 racial bonus on Bluff, Intimidate, Listen, Search, Sense Motive, and Spot checks.
Feats: The 2 extra Hit Dice granted by the template might increase the number of feats available to the elder serpent.
Environment: Any (usually same as the base creature).
Challenge Rating: Same as the base creature +2.
Alignment: Usually neutral evil.
Advancement: Same as the base creature or by character class.
Level Adjustment: Same as the base creature +3.
Sample Elder Serpent: Elder Serpent