Yuan-Ti Species in Getninia | World Anvil


The Yuan-Ti are, put simply, either humans who cast off what made them human in an ancient ritual to ascend to a state more aligned with serpents than of man, shortfolk, or elf, or those who are the descendants of those who have done so. The various forms of the Yuan-Ti are nearly as diverse as there are numbers of Yuan-Ti, with various combinations of human and snake possible. The Yuan-Ti are exceptionally rare in modern societies, or at least those that exist have become quite adept at hiding their true numbers to those who would threaten their existences, and almost all linger at the margins, seeking to attain for themselves the best possible position in a hostile world.   Yuan-Ti are often seen as monsters and feared by those who have heard tales of the ancient ancestors of most Yuan-Ti, and the cruelty of their long lost empire, and are often feared and outcast if discovered. However, most Yuan-Ti are not easily detected. Most Yuan-Ti, dubbed "Acolytes" by their own, look mostly human with a few small serpentine traits that appear more as disease scarring or congenital disabilities more than anything else, and thus these very human-like members of the species fit in relatively easily so long as they don't draw attention to themselves. More monstrous Yuan-Ti do exist, having become more attuned with the serpent god that usurped ancient cultures, though this group, called "enlightened" or "ascended" tend to live within their own communities, rarely venturing out of their communities unless they are given no other choice.

Types of Yuan-Ti

In Yuan-Ti societies, there are generally three kinds of Yuan-Ti that are spoken of with any frequency. This depends on how snakelike the particular individual has become. Within these communities, there is often a class society where those who are more snakelike are placed in a higher social class than those who retain more human characteristics. The Yuan-Ti generally refer to the three loosely defined kinds of their species as follows.
Acolytes. Those who retain the most humanoid characteristics, often with only a few obvious snakelike traits that can be confused for disease scars or rare birth defects. Acolytes are by far the most common Yuan-Ti alive today nearly eight out of ten, and are also by far the most likely to leave their own insular communities and interact with the wider world.
Enlightened. Those who are enlightened are those who have become obviously snakelike with tails, serpentine heads, or being utterly covered in scales. A rare few have had their arms replaced with writhing masses of snakes, though this group is often sacrificed at birth as they are religiously significant but would struggle to interact with the world and therefore become sufficiently strong to survive. Enlightened are relatively common representing roughly twenty percent of the Yuan-Ti alive today.
Ascended. Ascended are almost entirely serpentine with only a handful of markers of their humanoid heritage, usually having arms. Ascended are extremely rare, with more or less one out of every one hundred Yuan-Ti living in the world being of the Ascended type. Exceptionally rare are the "Greater Ascended" who have undergone a nearly forgotten ritual to become virtually immortal shedding the last of their humanity to become truly monstrous creatures.

Basic Information


The Yuan-Ti possess a relatively broad range of bodily expression, though most generally conform to the typical pattern of sentient beings. Most Yuan-Ti posses an upright body posture, with two legs, two arms, and a single head. Some Enlightened and nearly all Ascended Yuan-Ti have tails, and a rare few lack arms. Some even have their one head replaced with several smaller heads that are essentially small snakes. Yuan-Ti generally have two eyes and one mouth, or at least one set per head, though having ears is generally something that only Acolytes and some Enlightened have.

Biological Traits

Yuan-Ti are frequently longer lived than humans in their local community, with most Yuan-Ti living to be over a century, perhaps a century and a half. A rare few can live almost two centuries and an exceptionally rare few with access to particularly powerful magic can live significantly longer. Yuan-Ti Ascended in particular have access to a special ritual that can make them nearly immortal, though the secrets of this ritual and the process of performing it puts it out of reach of the overwhelming majority of even that lot.   Yuan-Ti vary significantly in height (or length as the case may be), and mass, though as a general rule Acolytes and most Enlightened remain relatively within dimensions that are not entirely unfamiliar to humans. Those who are Ascended however, tend to be significantly larger, with many being nearly 3 meters in length including their snakelike tails, and often weight upwards of three hundred kilograms. The largest such examples are even larger, though these rare Yuan-Ti are so few in number as to be statistically insignificant. Yuan-Ti as a rule have relatively little sexual dimorphism, lacking many secondary sex signifiers other either the humanoid or ophidian variety, and most Yuan-Ti, as a result tend to be relatively androgynous in appearance.   The Yuan-Ti came from a single ethnic group historically, the Yulan-Tai, and most Yuan-Ti communities have remained in largely the same area. As a result Yuan-Ti tend to be less diverse than their human counterparts. Yuan-Ti tend towards medium brown skin tones with a few lighter and darker peoples, though if the scales on their skin is thick enough, they often have a wide array of colors present among the human and the ophidian sphere in their area. Yuan-Ti usually have have green or yellow eyes, though browns and grays aren't uncommon, they may have snakelike eyes instead, a trait that becomes more common among Enlightened and Ascended Yuan-Ti. The Yulan-Tai Empire spread far and wide, and though very often a minority community, a more diverse range of traits, anything within the human and ophidian families is technically possible. Notably however, most Yuan-Ti have a natural incapacity for empathy, and struggle to understand the concept.

Additional Information

Social Structure

Yuan-Ti can form complex social structures, and often have a stringent hierarchy, particularly if they are practitioners of the Cult of Hessetal. Within this hierarchy, those who are not Yuan-Ti are often treated as base animals, though some exceptions are made for those who are culturally valuable (often Yulan-Tai humans). Above them are the Acolytes, who are considered to be persons in their own right, but are considered well below higher orders. The middle class, are called the Enlightened, and in Hessetalist circles are often the most devoted, serving disproportionately in the priesthood, with more than a few seeking to ascend to a higher form. Above these are the Ascended, who often occupy most of the positions of power. Last, the exceptionally rare "Greater" Ascended are seen almost as living gods.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

Yuan-Ti primarily live in Southern Galisea, particularly in the Aeillan region, as most Yuan-Ti have continued to live in the territory of their old empire. A few communities have moved further afield, though only rarely do they move far north as Yuan-Ti bodies are less resistant to the cold. Outside the Yulan-Tai, some humans have come upon the ritual to become Yuan-Ti since then, though these individuals are a rarity. There are no known communities of Yuan-Ti outside of Galisea, though some adventurers may have travelled overseas.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

The Yuan-Ti are, frequently, similar to humans in how they can perceive the world being first and foremost sight orientated creatures. They have however developed a stronger night vision, able to see in the dark as well as any elf or dwarf. Higher order members of the species have developed senses in different ways, with some having unusually strong senses of smell, particularly those with forked tongues, and others with a divergent sense of hearing with vibrations felt throughout their entire bodies rather than solely through ears.

Civilization and Culture

Major Organizations

Yuan-Ti historically were the dominant species in terms of political power through a wide swath of southern Galisea, serving briefly as the ruling class of the Yulan-Tai Empire, and occupying virtually all prominent roles in Yulan-Tai religious organizations. In the modern era however, their numbers are fewer, and their empire broken. Their communities tend to be much smaller and more dispersed now. Among more conspiratorial minded folk however, it is believed that Yuan-Tai communities have once again wormed their way into prominence subverting modern societies by dominating the wills of rulers. However, as a rule, most communities of Yuan-Ti are concerend with survival first and foremost, and only hardliners in way seek to reclaim their lost power.

Average Technological Level

The Yuan-Ti were a technologically advanced civilization in their day, being early adopters of bronzeworking, which sped the development of their empire rapidly. They were also known to be masters of the magic arts, being among one of the few civilizations to produce spellcasters capable of singlehandedly casting spells in the tenth circle and having access to the eleventh and twelfth circles. In the modern era, Yuan-Ti have maintained pace with their local host cultures, adopting more modern technology though many Yuan-Ti smiths prefer to work in bronze for important cultural tools. Though they, like most of the other peoples in the known world have lost access to many of the more advanced magic arts, they still do maintain some ancient magical secrets, particularly pertaining to rituals of ascendance.

Major Language Groups and Dialects

Yuan-Ti tend to be speakers of the Yulan-Tai tongue, and hold staunchly onto it, even in a changed state rather than lose it entirely in assimilating to their host cultures. This is especially evident during group rituals where Yulan-Tai flows freely. For more practical matters however, most adopt another tongue, with the Common language being especially favored for its relatively widespread usage. Other major languages spoke include Aeillan, Gallegan, and Hadar, as well as more arcane extraplanar languages being spoken disproportionately by members of the species.
Genetic Ancestor(s)
~125-~150, rarely up to ~175 years
Average Height
~1.5-2 m
Average Weight
50-100 kg
Geographic Distribution
Related Ethnicities

DnD (5e Stats)

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  • Medium Size
  • Base walking speed of 30 feet
  • Proficiency in Common and one other language of your choice.
  • +2 Intelligence, +1 to one other ability score
  • Darkvision 60 of feet
  • Advantage on saving throws against spells.
  • Advantage on saving throws you make to avoid or end the poisoned condition on yourself. Resistance to poison damage.
  • Learn the Poison Spray cantrip, can cast Animal Friendship spell, but only on snakes, and Suggestion (at 3rd level) once per long rest.

Serpentine Traits

If you and your DM deem it apropriate, you may elect to take any number of serpentine traits. The available traits are details below.
  • Small size.
  • Large size. Reduce an ability score by 1.
  • Replace Humanoid creature type with Monstrosity
  • Replace Poison resistance with immunity to poison damage and the poisoned condition. Reduce an ability score by 1.
  • Replace unarmed attack with a bite attack that deals 1d4 + Strength piercing damage. May make a creature hit by this attack this round make a Con save (DC 15) or gain poisoned condition for one minute. Decrease an ability score by 1.
  • Replace unarmed attack with a tail attack that deals 1d4 + Strength bludgeoning damage. Medium or smaller creatures hit by this attack are grappled until they make a strength save (DC your strength score). Decrease an ability score by 1.
  • Gain AC 13 + Dex mod natural armor. Works with shields. Decrease an ability score by 1.

Yuan-Ti Racial Feats