Saturday, September 15, 2018

Good Aligned Yuan-Ti Warlock Patrons

I am pretty vocal about not being particularly fond of alignment and have never really used it in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. That said, it's not the trait itself I have a problem with but the community around it and its status as a sacred cow. Truth be told, while simplistic in many ways, alignment is a useful guide for beginning players on how to make their character's decisions. As such, I have no complaint about alignment still being in the game itself.

Another thing I'm fairly obvious about is my appreciation for serpentine characters. My screenname has been Thrythlind for over twenty years. I have lots of references to Medusa and gorgons in this blog. I have several snake-based characters in other systems as well. As such, I am somewhat fond of the yuan-ti pureblood as a race.

By standard, Yuan-Ti are an evil race, they came into being in ages long past after a particular serpent god tricked a group of humans into corrupting their blood to become more snakelike. These rituals involved cannibalism and foul pacts. As a note the original serpent god has dwindled over time and others have risen to his position. In fact, it is a standard of Yuan-ti history for yuan-ti to raise themselves to the position of small gods by betraying and devouring their masters such that there is a nearly endless cycle of gods rising and dying among the yuan-ti with a set group of three serpent entities that have remained fairly stable in their power for thousands of years.

  • Dendar, The Night Serpent - A being born in the days before written history out of the fevered nightmares of sentient beings. Dendar is a creature of madness and terror that has the barest hints of concern for the realms of mortals. Her followers believe that she is a harbinger of the end times and will eventually consume the world.
  • Merrshaulk - The original serpent god to lure the yuan-ti to their fate and his service. Merrshaulk is neither conscious nor precisely unaware. His current torpor was mirrored in the dwindling fates of the yuan-ti and nobody is certain whether the failure of his worship led to his current state or if his current state led to the dwindling of the yuan-ti.
  • Sseth - Sseth appeared in the latter days of the collapsing Yuan-ti empire as a winged yuan-ti and promised to save them from destruction. Since then his followers surged to his service and this allowed for a brief recovery, but eventually the efforts were too little, too late and the empire collapsed anyway those his followers continue to serve him.
The direct servants of these three powers are referred to as malisons and function by their rules similar to the way PC warlocks do. This is likely because these three great yuan-ti powers are either too distant and unconcerned with mortals or else too weak for a person to have the sort of powers a cleric does.

As a counter to these, I am going to propose a group of good-aligned serpent patrons to serve as backers of good aligned yuan-ti. This is not entirely without history. There are lawful good aligned yaun-ti in Eberron, for instance and for further support, I am going to using mythology as inspiration for these entities. 
Image from 3rd Ed D&D
  • Kulkukan - This is a Mayan serpent god who is often compared to Quetzalcoatl. There was a historical figure that was named for the god and the stories of the two have become blurred. I am mostly using Quetzalcoatl as the inspiration but using this name to avoid confusion with couatl. As a note, while the majority of stories I found regarding this entity are benign to benevolent, I did find the name associated with an evil snake in one mention on wikipedia.
    • In the D&D, Kulkukan would be a couatl of ancient days and vast size. It rarely if ever manifests in the prime material plane as it would fill the sky for many miles in every direction. It presides over a court of younger couatl and operates through a network of servants including devotion paladins and celestial warlocks who tend toward Lawful Good.
  • Bai Suzhen and Xiaoqing - The Legend of White Snake tells the tale of a pair of sisters who were born as snakes and became human via practice of Taoist magical arts. This process was vastly accelerated when they were accidentally provided with alchemical pills of immortality. They went through many adventures often involving a scholar by the name of Xu Xian, who was the one whose misadventure provided them the pills and eventually married Bai Suzhen. A jealous other immortal constantly tried to ruin their lives but they always ended up reuniting. Bai Suzhen (White Snake) and Xiaoqinq (Green Snake) never set out to cause anybody harm and were mostly heroic, though one of Bai Suzhen's attempts to save her husband from a recent danger resulted in drowning many innocents by accident.
  • Image from Deviant Art based on the legend
    • In D&D, the sisters would be a pair of archfey dwelling in the feywild along-side Xu Xian the scholar. They generally prefer to simply live a calm life, but have old enemies that still seek to ruin their happiness and also have had many children or taken in many lost ones under their wing whom they have taught the magical arts that made them what they now are. Taking in the ruined snake-children of the yuan-ti and helping heal their hatred and anger is appealing to them. They often teach archfey warlocks and vengeance paladins. They may also train a few transmutation wizards and open palm monks. They and their followers tend toward Neutral and Neutral Good.
  • Mami Wata - A Nigerian entity often associated with wisdom and water. I have only a little basic knowledge of the real world myth. She is also associated with the Orisha entity Yemoja-Oboto, though Yemoja is more often associated with whales than snakes. Mami Wata is often seen accompanied by a serpent of some sort in art. Some associations include fertility, water, and healing, but I'd advise looking into real experts to learn about the Nigerian myth.
  • Image is a specific NPC Lillend from D&D
    • In D&D, Mami Wata is a queen of the lillends, a sort of celestial entity that appears as a winged woman whose body is that of a snake from the waist downward. Her court is an informal one of comfort and music though all those who attend her are powerful and staunch defenders of the innocent. She maintains many celestial warlocks, land and shepherd druids, and ancients paladins who often tend toward Chaotic Good.
  • Wagyl, the Rainbow Serpent - A common entity or theme in several Australian stories, the Rainbow Serpent is associated with the primal force of water and is said to have crafted hills and mountains. Their gender is ambiguous, sometimes being male and sometimes female. They are also associated with human blood and healing as well as being the source of rain. Once again, I advise those interested in further information to look into more scholarly resources at a library as I am just looking for quick inspiration here. As a note, I chose one of several names it is referred to as out of the wikipedia article.
    • Image is from Dragon Wars movie. It's not nearly big enough.
    • In D&D, the Rainbow Serpent is a primal figure of creation that exists in counter-point to the destruction that is Dendar the Night Serpent. Some guardian naga consider it to be the first ancestor of their ancient line. It's general seeming is robust and benevolent, though its distant, primordial and alien nature means that its direct servants are split between Celestial and Great Old One Warlocks depending on which elements a particular warlock most deeply associates with. It's followers tend toward Neutral Good or pure Neutral.

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