Thread: The Slayer's Guide to Yuan-Ti
Sunday, 31st August, 2008, 06:45 AM #1
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The Slayer's Guide to Yuan-Ti
The Yuan-Ti are often portrayed as sadistic, malevolent creatures intent on dominating the world at all costs. The very image of the scaly, humanoid reptiles with venomous fangs and wicked, yellow eyes fills most people with dread. For Game Masters, this makes them the ideal antagonists: Alien in both appearance and motivation, they can easily, and with little explanation, be dropped into any campaign or adventure as the fiendish masterminds behind virtually every conflict the characters run up against. Unfortunately, this also tends to make them borderline caricatures of evil, their wickedness resembling nothing so much as the machinations of the moustache-twirling, dastardly villains of yore.
Casting the serpent people in such a superficial, one-dimensional light does a tremendous disservice to them and their timeworn culture, though. They are a society of long standing tradition, placing as much value in erudition as other cultures might place in martial prowess. Coming originally, as they do, from the Middle Kingdom, their society is feudalistic by nature, ruled over by a supreme monarch-an Emperor or Empress-and administered by faceless hordes of bureaucrats, scholars and imperial clansmen. Unlike the Middle Kingdom, this ruler is not considered the son or daughter of Heaven but is instead descended from a very real ancestor in their distant past. The Heavens and Hells of the human world abandoned them, and so they literally become their own gods, who are just as multi-faceted, complicated and inscrutable. Inevitably, this stirs up a moral whirlwind that would destroy those with less resilience. Yet, despite the chaos and spiritual ambiguity plaguing their peoples, the Yuan-Ti manage to not only thrive, but to create order and structure from all this. Art and literature are held in the highest esteem. Well-educated scholars come from all walks of life, regardless of breed, birth rank or social standing. And the arcane arts, despite being monopolized by the Ministry of Rituals, make the Yuan-Ti into some of the most formidable spellcasters ever known.
However, sinister times have recently fallen on the Yuan-Ti. Hei-An Da-Di, the dark lord of the north, makes his presence felt more than ever before. The Empress Wu, temperamental and unpredictable, continues to ignore the council of her advisors and sends legions of her elite soldiers out into the world to panic and terrorize the human kingdoms she so desperately hates. Meanwhile, two factions have arisen out of the shadows, one embittered by the stagnation of their culture, and the other unwilling to change in the slightest in order to save it. Both war over the ideals that will dictate the future course of Yuan-Ti history.
Player Characters will discover a wealth of possibility hidden within the vast empire of the Yuan-Ti. For the inquisitive, there is a new culture to study; for the diplomatically savvy there are new alliances and treaties to be negotiated; and for the bloodthirsty, there are new foes aplenty to kill. The Yuan-Ti are not born evil, but enough evil permeates their culture that characters may be busy for years to come just trying to eradicate it. And, maybe, they might make a difference.
As every Slayer's Guide focuses upon a single race of creature, this one takes a hard look at the Yuan-Ti. Inside you'll find information on: their culture and society, from their mythological origins to the state of the empire under the Empress Wu; their biology, uncovering the many mysterious breeds, their mating habits and the habitats where they reside; and on their own particular military methodology, describing the brutal methods used to spread their beliefs and ways. While useful to players with an interest in the Yuan-Ti, this book will benefit Game Masters much more considerably. Incorporating a compelling villain, much less an entire villainous species, has always been problematic to the conscientious storyteller, and of all the races the Yuan-Ti are probably one of the most difficult. Hopefully, the book you now hold in your hands will make this easier for you by shedding a new light on their beliefs, philosophies and goals, by making the race as a whole more rounded and balanced.
Finally, at the end of the book, you will also find a sample Yuan-Ti outpost called Bei Po Jian, designed both as a singular encounter and as the basis for a complete adventure. At the very least, it will give you a good idea of what a typical, if small, Yuan-Ti community looks like.
Last edited by Mark; Sunday, 31st August, 2008 at 06:09 PM.
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