“I don’t need to bite to fight!”
– Viper, ‘Kung Fu Panda’
Of all the intelligent creatures on or under Cidri, few are as feared as the nagiin. Found in all but the coldest regions, these serpent-men stand as tall as most humans, and their coiling bodies often reach 15 feet or more. Their scales’ color and pattern usually blend in with their environment and have been found in every hue from dull brown to iridescent blue and purple. They have large vertically-slitted eyes below a cresting forehead, and their hinged fangs end in needle-sharp points. Additionally, arms ending in three-fingered clawed hands sprout from below their heads. While not as strong as the central trunk (-2 adjST for hand weapons), the arms are very dextrous.
All nagiin are cold-blooded but have found ways to adapt to most climates. They retreat to caves or shaded valleys when the temperature is too extreme, or climb into high treetops to escape predators. Some, it is said, have mastered swimming techniques to live in swamps and on low-lying islands.
They have very acute senses, and most have the Alertness talent. Their vision extends beyond our range, and they can see creatures and objects up to a megahex away even in complete darkness.
They give birth to live young, who are dull brown and gray at first, gaining distinctive patterns and coloration as they grow. They are kept in protected warrens for the first year of their life, after which they are expected to hunt and fend for themselves and their nest.
Among the nagiin, it is sad that with good health and wise choices one can live forever, but most only survive into their 30s. They grow their entire lives, sloughing off old skins. This experience is a religious experience for them — a time of meditation and reflection — followed by a feast where the old hide is interred as dead and the nagiin is reborn.
The average nagiin is solitary living their lives with little interaction with others of its kind. Most know of the others in their area and have collective places for shelter, warmth, and gathering for ritual and mating activities.
Technological advancement is as varied as most other races. The most primitive are solitary subsistence hunters, while the most advanced have permanent habitations (usually underground) and specialties among community members, even domesticating capybara-like ‘cave hogs’ for sustenance.
When they gather in communities, there is little organization. Decisions are made by consensus, and those that disagree will often just leave the next. Sometimes important decisions are made by the oldest female or females in a nest when a consensus cannot be reached, but those occasions are rare.
They are not so open when dealing with other creatures. Nagiin believe they gained civilization long before any apelike creatures came down from the trees, and that they are inherently superior. Most other races fear or distrust them because of their appearance or venom, and this makes most nagiin distrust and dislike them as well. They usually avoid open conflict with others, but they will ambush small groups or otherwise undermine the goals of those they feel are encroaching on them. Their tactics in these events can be seen as extremely brutal to other races, but is simply cold efficiency to the nagiin.
Although rare, this sense of superiority has occasionally prompted a charismatic leader to encourage the nagiin to eradicate a threat to their people by violent means. This has led to armed incursions into sleeping camps, raids into cities from underground sewers, and even widespread assassinations of leaders. These uprisings never seem to last very long, as the individualist nature of the nagiin gets in the way of prolonged mass movements.
When they do choose to interact with other races, they do so singly or in tightly-knit groups. Some groups near frontier outposts may send trading parties to exchange their handiwork for iron items or other rarities. Nagiin wizards may travel to speak with powerful wizards or alchemists. They have warmer relations with reptile-men, and the saurians have acted as go-betweens between humanoids and the nagiin.
As they do not forge iron or steel, nagiin wizards are more accepted and are more common than among other races. Their secretive nature extends to within their own people, and rarely create guilds or even schools. Most training is done between a master and a single student or two, and spells are hoarded and not easily shared. Grimoires are often scribed on the master’s sloughed hides and as such would never be given away. It is said that their wizards are guarding some of the strongest magic ever known, and their spells rival even the power of the Mnoren.
New Item: Scaled Scroll. These special scrolls can only be made when a nagiin has sloughed off its old hide. The skin is infused with the wizard’s life force at the time, and they can channel the ST for the spell into the scroll and store it there. This requires the Write Scroll spell and costs twice the ST that will be stored. The strength is taken all at once at the end of the spell. This stored energy can only be unlocked by the wizard whose skin was used, or in very rare cases a specific individual the scroll was scribed for.
This hierarchy extends to most fields among the nagiin, with a single master sharing their knowledge with a select few students. They revere knowledge and respect those that have it, but can be very hesitant to share that knowledge with others. Intelligence and experience are high virtues among them, empathy is far down on that list.
Snakes in the grass
While usually choosing to avoid a stand-up fight, nagiin can be very dangerous in combat. Their bite is venomous and their hinged fangs can cause deep wounds. Bites cause ST damage +2 and are treated as coated in weapon poison (ITL, p. 147). These can be extremely painful and figures bitten must make a 3/ST test or suffer -2DX until treated. A nagiin must be in HTH to bite a victim.
They do not forge iron but are excellent weavers and leather workers. They prefer shafted weapons that rely on speed like staves, spears, and bows, but many covet steel weapons made by others. Their warriors are often gifted fencers and engage in highly ritualized combats among themselves. They extract their venom and coat their blades against their enemies. Nagiin prefer skirmish attacks where they strike in force, and then retreat to let the poison do its work, then return to finish off weakened foes. Like their bite, poisoned blades act like weapon poison plus the pain penalty. Note that nagiin are immune to their own poison and that of their immediate group.
New IQ9 Racial Talent: Tail Fang (1): Prerequisite: Dagger. This is the skill of equipping and wielding a curved blade on the nagiin’s tail. It functions as a dagger. In regular combat, roll to hit at -4 DX, but does +2 damage to figures in a side or rear hexes. If used along with another attack, both attacks are at -4 DX. This weapon is often poisoned.
New Creature: Nagiin
ST10 / DX14 / IQ8 / MA10 / AD0 / D1d-1 bite or by weapon
Talents: Alertness. Powers: Dark vision, Poison
Upright snakes standing 5’-7’ with two arms ending in clawed three-fingered hands. Covered in patterned scales with vertically slitted eyes and hinged fangs. When expecting to encounter humanoids they move in groups of 3-8, but are normally solitary. A hunting group would have warriors with fencing or missile weapons talent, and at least one wizard. In addition to their heightened senses, those attacking the nagiin have -2adjDX because of its movements. If for some reason it is wearing armor heavier than leather, this is negated.
If a player wished to create a nagiin, the figure would start with ST6, DX10, and Q8 with eight points to distribute. These should be encouraged to take the Alertness talent. If Drawbacks are used, all nagiin are outsiders.
Serpents in the sky
The nagiin revere their ancestors and believe that the memories and experience of a dead nagiin are added to the collective spirit of the deceased. This — they claim — gives their oldest ancestors tremendous power and almost limitless knowledge. Most groups have complex rituals designed to appease these ancestors and seek their guidance, but these are held in secret and never shared with outsiders. Most wear some token or relic from their ancestors for protection.
Not all of these spirits are benevolent and it is rumored that dark nagiin cults plot to claim dominance over weaker mammalian species and claim revenge over eons of mistreatment. They are said to use powerful magic to befuddle men’s minds and have created terrible mutations of their own kind with multiple heads, snakes for arms, and other bizarre alterations. Legends say the righteous champion Konith Vank found a massive snake-headed obelisk in a high desert canyon and fought a forty-foot, two-headed amphisbaena in the catacombs below it.