Yuan-ti. Serpent-men who spread by evil and deceit... but were they always this way, and what could their future hold? Time for a stan for Yuan-ti thread! #DnD #ttrpg #blerd
Yuan-ti are an old foe in the FR setting. Real old. like, pre-humans old. They're the most successful and longest lasting creation of the Sarrukh. The Sarrukh being a creator race, and more specifically, the creators of all the scaled races like the Yuan-ti, Lizardfolk, and more!
The Yuan-ti were unique among their creations, having the capability to turn mammalian creatures, like humans and elves, into "Purebloods", and ironic term because they are the lowest caste in Yuan-ti society. Often called "corrupt", this is a feature of the Yuan-ti, not a bug.
The Yuan-ti in FR are, like many other things, a mess. They're supposed to be CE, and follow a CE fragment of the World Serpent, but create incredibly lawful and organized societies. Evil by any standard, but orderly and reliable in every way.
Interestingly, per FR lore, couatls are in fact Yaun-ti who saw the evil spreading through their people, and who were transformed by Jazirian (another aspect/fragment of the world serpent) prior to the first sundering. Which brings up some interesting questions about a lot.
So things get tricky here, because, as I talked about in my Lolth post, efforts to unify and synergize lore between D&D worlds has really mucked things up. So, back in the Days of Thunder, the Yuan-ti weren't evil by default, they had just as much agency as modern races.
Then something happened. The World Serpent, once a god of balance and neutrality, began to fragment and those aspects became gods unto themselves. This is about when everything went sideways and the Yuan-ti shifted to the creatures we all know and love toady.
*today

Anyways, the Yuan-ti went on to perpetuate the empires and nations of the Sarukh, but without the arcane skill the Sarrakh had. After all, the Sarrukh made the Nether Scrolls that ultimately led to Netheril. Instead, they got religion. And not the good kind.
They fell under the sway of Merrshaulk, a blood thirsty lunatic of a deity, and pretty much went HAM on blood sacrifice, eating people, slavery, and all manner of bad action. A few, as mentioned, got out, but things were bad. The thing is though, the Yuan-ti survived everything.
Of all the races created during the Days of Thunder, only the Yuan-ti have anything even remotely resembling their previous levels of glory or prestige. That's over 30k years of kicking around the place, even if it's just down to hidden temples and settlements in the jungle.
But, like so many monsterfolk in D&D, the Yuan-ti had little agency in modern games, until now. Why until now? Because the Faerûnian pantheon and Lord Ao are sloppy in the extreme and they may have accidentally done something useful when they reset the planet.
Previous to now, Yuan-ti were effectively slaves of their god, and to a lesser degree the awakening Sarrukh. Oh yeah, they're waking up, and bringing that level 10 magic knowledge with them. Good times. Anyways, all this shoddy resetting may have have "fixed" the World Serpent.
Or at least, put some life back in it, enough for some Yuan-ti to regain some personal agency and ability to act. This is huge for a few reasons, but not the least of which is that it opens a metric tonnes of potential plot-lines for them as they fight to save their people.
This is campaign book level stuff here, a The Rise of Tiamat twofer sort of deal where Yuan-ti and scaledfolk heroes are beset on every side as they try to reawaken the World Serpent so that it can bring balance to the scaled races again. And high magic? EVERYWHERE.
Off the top of my head, this is Yaun-ti, Sarrukh, Lizardfolk, Asabi, Couatls, and more as potential player races, tooled up with knowledge & magic from the Days of Thunder, plunging deep into unimaginable ruins, the Abyss, and finally the resting place of a sleeping greater god.
Arrayed against them are demons, the minions of Sset and the corrupt Yuan-ti and Sarrukh, and all the "regular" player races who see them as some kind of weird encounter to have, not as an actual party of adventurers trying to save their peoples.
in the mean time, as seen in the ToA AL material, you have groups of Yuan-ti tryign to set up normal settlements and villages, just trying to live their lives like everyone else. This is a big shift, and the human populations are going to be suspicious, & not without good reason.
Hell, if you really wanted to tie it into FR lore, you could have the main quest to be to recover one or more of the Nether Scrolls to use to restore the World Serpent, immediately placing the party in the crosshairs of every significant magic using group on the planet.
Meanwhile, there's also a chance to do a serious optional update to FR and by extension D&D vis-a-vis magic. Specific to FR would be dragging it, kicking and screaming, into actually being the high fantasy setting it is vs the low magic/swords & sorcery setting it pretends to be.
I'm talking level 10 magic (because Mystra's prohibition is anything higher than 10), cool things like modified mythallar, quasi-magic items, and the like. It might even be the foundation of a neutral-ish Yuan-ti nations, and what allows them to fight off their evil kin.
Back on the Yuan-ti though, they are most common on the Chultan Peninsula, and this would likely be ground zero of such a quest. And on the peninsula, I'd say they have a "complex" relationship with everyone else. One one hand they enslaved and ate pretty much everyone at one 1/2
2/2 time or another. On the other hand, Yuan-ti blood isn't a rare thing (I'm willing to say upwards of 5 to 10% of the population is probably Trueblood), and the experience of the Spellplague probably did a lot to break down barriers and integrate Yuan-ti into "normal" society.
The Spellplague is a great tool here, because the region was blasted into sandbars and islets, so survival would have (hopefully) trumped revenge and animosity to see humans and Yuan-ti come to work together. I'm not saying it was all high-fives and handjobs, but it gives a 1/2
2/2 kernel of somethng to work with, and a great point to cause a split between evil Yuan-ti and non-evil Yuan-ti in FR. With the world restored(ish), the evil Yuan-ti f Serpentes try to take back everything and demand loyalty from the non-evil ones, and get a surprise response.
Tying into the Chult thread from earlier, These Yuan-ti are probably found in large numbers in the Chultengar, the bit just off the ToA maps to the east where the jungles meet up with the plains of Thindol. They're likely extremely cautious, and just opening trade with Calimshan.
This might lead to interesting scenarios where humans avoid them, but the Genasi see no issues with trading with them, and give the nascent Yuan-ti settlements a needed boost in resources to make a real go of things. Meanwhile, Samrach to the south is compromised in a bad way.
So what about Yuan-ti as characters? Well, Purebloods are pretty straight forward. It's the Abominations and higher where things get tricky and, TBH, a monster level system is much needed. The powers of the Yuan-ti are serious business, and could be too much for a low lvl start.
The Yuan-ti themselves scream "bio-weapon", which isn't surprising given the era they were made in. The Sarrukh were fighting other creator races, and the forces of Ubtao, and needed an army that could self-perpetuate, infiltrate, and deal with arcane and psionic threats.
This is the Yuan-ti in a nutshell. Their perpetuation is either natural or via ritual to alter other races into Yuan-ti. It also explains their general aggression, and how they were so easily co-opted by an blood thirsty god. They were designed and built to spec for war.
Which adds an element of tragedy to their story. They were never made to be left alone without guidance, and that's precisely what the Sarrukh did. Their greatest creations were abandoned to try to figure it out on their limited knowledge of the world, with predictable results.
But fast forward to the modern day, with one apocalypse done and the world recovering, and the Yuan-ti have a new chance at things, not just them, but all the scaled races, and to be fair, that's a lot. Much more than most would assume. There are lizardfolk kingdoms.
Back at it, the Yuan-ti have a lot of potential in FR as both heroes and villains. The latter is straight forward, but the former? Damn! Yuan-ti heroes would be some of the scariest MF's on the block. Nothing to lose, everything to gain, and no way to go but forwards.
Focusing on the Yuan-ti and their insanely deep history in FR also has the effect of opening up the scaled folk world. It's a whole parallel world to the mammal FR we're used to, filled with its own struggles, dramas and political intrigues.
Examples: the Sarrukh civil war is reigniting along religious lines. The Yuan-ti are on the move like they haven't been in ages. The Lizardfolk are fighting off a Gnoll style demon god take over of their species. The Asabi are reclaiming their desert home from fallen Netheril.
All of this is going down, while at the same time world altering events are affecting them. Imagine ToA, but done with a party of Yuan-ti and Lizardfolk who infiltrated into the jungle to pursue a group of rogue Yuan-ti and Ras Nisi, dodging humans and fighting dinosaurs!
Because that is literally a thing that could happen; Acererak's works were affecting everyone, not just humans from the North and Sword Coast. And the Yuan-ti aren't keen on life with Acererak's nonsense running loose or preventing resurrection.
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