The Winding Serpent
By James Wyatt
A sinister yuan-ti network stretches across Faerûn, from the jungles of Chult to the depths of Skullport. A master plan unites the creatures' efforts, and magic portals connect their secret temples and lairs. Step through a gateway to mystery, but make sure your swords and spells are ready!
"The Winding Serpent" is a portal network connecting four far-flung regions of Faerûn: the Serpent Hills in the Western Heartlands, the subterranean city of Skullport beneath Waterdeep on the Sword Coast, the Black Jungles of the Chultan Peninsula, and the city of Hlondeth in the Vilhon Reach. These four regions all harbor a significant population of the snake-people called yuan-ti: a cursed race of evil geniuses who plot to dominate the world.
How to Incorporate the Winding Serpent Into Your Champaign
Introduce the Winding Serpent as part of an established campaign, or use the network as the backbone of a mini-campaign all its own. Consider the following hooks to draw characters into yuan-ti plots . . . and their portals.
- Player characters adventuring in the Serpent Hills stumble upon a portal in that region, either on their way to another location or after completing their latest adventure. They could be searching for the Dungeon of Swords or the portal to the Evermoors the dungeon is rumored to contain. Alternatively, they could be returning from a victory over a red dragon in the hills.
- The heroes encounter a portion of the yuan-ti plot in the small town of Soubar (population 1,038), south of the Serpent Hills near Boareskyr Bridge. Pursuit of a pureblood strike team or a tainted one spy leads them out of the town, into the hills, and to the general vicinity of the portal there.
- Characters whose adventures take them to the den of iniquity called Skullport run afoul of Zstulkk Ssarmn's plots in the city, and accidentally discover either portal there. Or adventurers in Waterdeep run across Ssarmn's agents or former agents (such as Juz'la) and find themselves drawn into intrigue.
- Lord Quwen of Ormath, in the Shining Plains, hires the PCs to investigate rumors of hostile lizardfolk in the nearby Wetwoods (see page 216 in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting). Following the lizardfolk trail from the Wetwoods into the Deepwing Mountains, the characters discover the disputed portal near Surkh.
- Heroes seeking the fabled riches of Chult stray too far to the east and run afoul of the yuan-ti in the Black Jungles. Getting entangled in their alliance with the Rundeen lead the characters to investigate the spies they send to northern ports, while infiltrating their hidden temples leads to the portal that drops them in Hlondeth.
About the Author
James Wyatt wrote articles for Dragon Magazine and Dungeon Adventures before joining the Wizards of the Coast staff in January 2000. Game design is career number 5, after stints as a childcare worker, ordained minister, technical writer, and web designer. He currently resides in Washington State.