Table of Contents:
Banned Serpent Folk
Yuan-Ti used to be human. They had a vast ancient civilization that was powerful and wealthy, and you can probably already see where this is going. They fell to the classic “hubris” along with a big helping hand from some nasty serpent gods. They learned the cannibalistic rituals needed to gain “the aspect of the serpent” and promptly ate a bunch of their servants. With a now constant need for human sacrifices for their serpent gods, they invaded their neighbors and eventually got smacked back. Their civilization toppled, the Yuan-Ti retreated to their fortified jungle cities, biding their time but still desperately requiring human sacrifices.
Most aspects of Yuan-Ti culture now revolve around the capture, sacrifice, and consumption of humanoid flesh. Simply put, they’re rarely nice neighbors to have. They’re ambitious, they work to destabilize governments and behind the scenes in countless positions of power. They dream of the time that their mighty civilization can return to prominence, like an unseen viper ready to strike.
On a more personal level, Yuan-Ti are widely considered emotionless and cold. They severed their connection to human emotions with their pacts to the serpent gods and while they understand emotions on a logical level, they’ve lost the many passions of humanity. Other people are pawns to be used, and the self is the only thing that’s important. All of this is stacked on top of a fundamental xenophobia and believe the Yuan-Ti are the “true people”. Yuan-Ti regard everyone as dangerous threats, respectable fellow Yuan-Ti, or simply as food.
Yuan-Ti Pureblood Appearance
Most Yuan-Ti can have any number of snake features, from full serpentine tails to viper-like heads or hoods. Purebloods however have a much more subdued “snake” aspect and look almost entirely human save for a few key features. Some will have reptilian eyes, patches of scales along their skin, or possibly fangs or a long-forked tongue. Some purebloods show no such features and appear completely human to the average observer. When making your pureblood, consider how well they’ll need to blend into society and what features they’ll have and how they’ll hide them.
Yuan-Ti Pureblood Names
Yuan-Ti names have meanings that have been passed down through the generations, although spellings and inflections have changed over time.
Some yuan-ti add more sibilants to their birth names to create an exaggerated hissing sound, based on one’s personal preference and whether an individual’s anatomy can more easily pronounce the name in this altered form. An adopted name of this sort is recognized as a variant of the birth name, rather than a unique name unto itself. A yuan-ti might refer to itself by its birth name, by its adopted name, or (especially among purebloods) by a name it borrows from the local populace.
The Yuan-ti Names table provides yuan-ti birth names suitable for any campaign.
Yuan-ti Names: Hostie, Iktlayeel, Ilkahsis, Musu, Nilsehsu, Noasia, Setei, Somuyiuh, Szashushla, Uklish, Zhutshial, Zsiklash
Yuan-Ti Pureblood Traits
Your yuan-ti pureblood character — called a pureblood for short — has the following racial traits.
Ability Score Increase: Your Charisma score increases by 2, and your Intelligence score increases by 1.
Age: Purebloods mature at the same rate as humans and have lifespans similar in length to theirs.
Alignment: Purebloods are devoid of emotion and see others as tools to manipulate. They care little for law or chaos and are typically neutral evil. So you're not likely to see a lot of chaotic neutral ones.
Size: Purebloods match humans in average size and weight. Your size is Medium.
Speed: Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Darkvision: You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Innate Spellcasting: You know the poison spray cantrip. You can cast animal friendship an unlimited number of times with this trait, but you can target only snakes with it. Starting at 3rd level, you can also cast suggestion with this trait. Once you cast it, you can’t do so again until you finish a long rest. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
Magic Resistance: You have advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Poison Immunity: You are immune to poison damage and the poisoned condition.
Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common, Abyssal, and Draconic.
Yuan-Ti Purebloods are bonkers strong, stacking up way more power than most race options. Let’s go through each of their abilities one at a time and explain why they’re strong.
Ability Score Increase: +2 to Charisma and +1 to Intelligence. Double mental stats pushes you strongly towards casters, particularly Bards, Paladins, Sorcerers and Warlocks.
Age: They beat around the bush a bit but purebloods basically have human age ranges.
Alignment: Yuan-Ti are evil. You can try to justify a neutral or good pureblood in a number of ways, but you’ll have to work for it. These serpent folks are culturally into some serious evil so your pureblood character will really have to be evil as well or have a backstory that took them away from their evil culture somehow.
Size: Standard humanoid medium size, nothing to see here.
Speed: Also, standard movement, not a bad thing but nothing special.
Darkvision: It feels like more races have darkvision than not, but it’s still always nice to have. Keep it in mind when you’re dungeon delving and remind your DM from time to time about it if they start describing “too dark to see” rooms.
Innate Spellcasting: A lot of races get a collection of innate spells, but purebloods get a kind of wonky one. Most of these are a cantrip, and a 1st level spell and 2nd level spell each once per long rest. This one has a fairly normal cantrip and 2nd level spell, then an unlimited but very situational 1st level spell. Consider (and I kid you not) carrying around a bag of poisonous snakes. Your unlimited snake friend spells can create a slithering, hissing army.
Magic Resistance: This, this right here is why most DMs ban purebloods. Gnome Cunning is the only ability that comes close, and it’s way worse than this and was pretty close to overpowered already. This magic resistance will grant you advantage on typically 90% of the saving throws you’ll be forced to make throughout an average adventure. If your DM lets this ability through unaltered, simply bask in the glow of your terrifying power as you laugh off most of the effects that dare target you.
Poison Immunity: Continuing with the theme of “existing racial feature but way better”, this takes the dwarven resilience feature and turns the advantage and resistance into full immunity. Stride confidently among the world’s deadliest poisons because they can’t touch you.
Languages: Common, Abyssal, and Draconic. As one final signal that the race is stronger than the core races, purebloods pick up a free 3rd language in addition to the standard two.
Yuan-TI Pureblood Builds
Let’s be honest here, purebloods are very powerful when compared to the other available racial options and most DM’s don’t allow them as an option. Forgetting that power level for a moment, they’re also extremely evil and you’d have to come up with one heck of a backstory to justify a pureblood that wouldn’t eat orphans if given a chance. But, if you’re playing an evil campaign, or your DM simply hasn’t looked at them terribly hard, you might just get a chance to play one. They’re powerful enough that you could really play them as any class and it’d still work out fine, but for even more optimization we should focus on the classes that want a lot of Charisma. The following builds are great places to start designing your new slithering friend:
Shed Skin Mystic
With the bonus towards Charisma and the magical resistance, you could easily play a warlock, any warlock. Just for flavor’s sake though, I’m going to recommend taking the undead patron, specifically for their 10th level ability mortal husk. Basically, you get to shed your skin with a massive necrotic explosion and get reborn from the ashes. Major flavor win and it’s just a plain powerful patron.
Paladins, really any paladins could fit with purebloods. With the paladin’s typical high hit points and AC combined with the pureblood spell resistance, you’ll be damn hard to take down from every angle. Specifically, I like the oathbreaker paladin as it’s a flavor win but also because it encourages direct melee play.
Wild Snake Sorcerer
+2 Charisma already makes for a great sorcerer build. But with the pureblood’s magical resistance you have a unique opportunity to play the wild magic sorcerer without much risk to yourself. Fire off those chaotic spells with wild abandon and rely on your innate resistance saving you if it all goes lopsided.
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Last updated: January 27, 2019
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