Those who live near the jungles or deserts of Kelbonnar will often speak in hushed whispers late at night about the serpentine creatures rumoured to dwell in the depths of such places, the Yuan-Ti, who according to tales and legends strike out from their temple cities to gather food and slaves from the humanoid populations that live near them. Though the exact circumstances of their origin are thought to be lost, or at the very least are unknown to Imperial scholars, the Yuan-Ti were once thought to be Humans, who were drawn into the worship of cruel, serpentine deities, who drove them to all manner of unspeakable deeds and who, in reward began to turn them physically into a reflection of themselves. Though few Yuan-Ti openly travel or live in the Empire of Turelion, they are easily recognisable for their combination of humanoid and serpentine features, their piecing serpentine eyes, windows into their cunning minds.
Yuan-Ti vary greatly depending on their sub-species, but most are a combination of humanoids and serpents. Sometimes their form will be majority humanoid, with certain snakelike features; patches of scales, long forked tongues and reptilian eyes, whilst other times it can be much more reptilian, with examples having been recorded in the Imperial Archives of Yuan-Ti whose lower halves were large snake tales, or whose heads were snakelike.
Genetics and Reproduction
Yuan-Ti are able to reproduce in a similar way to other humanoids, with the exception that females lay eggs rather than giving birth to live young. These eggs must be incubated so that they can hatch, and whilst this can be done by individual mothers, in Yuan-Ti societies it is common practice to pool the eggs together, which makes the incubation process more efficient and frees up Yuan-Ti parents for other duties. Yuan-Ti have also discovered a way to create simpler, drone like versions of themselves using a potion distilled from their own venom. When fed to another humanoid, the potion forces a long and painful process that turns the unfortunate victim into a warped, reptilian version of their former selves. Those exposed to this have their minds broken in the process, rendering them closer to feral beasts rather than sapient creatures, who are capable of only following simple instructions. The Yuan-Ti, however, are happy to exchange a reduction in cognitive capacity in exchange for the slavish obedience and unnatural strength that Yuan-Ti created in this way gain.
Dietary Needs and Habits
As their reptilian ancestry is more dominant in this regard, Yuan-Ti are principally carnivorous and unlike most other humanoid creatures, they are perfectly happy consuming raw meat, though some will prefer to cook their meat before consumption, generally due either to personal taste, or to a desire to blend in with other humanoids.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
As reptilian humanoids, Yuan-Ti prefer to dwell in the warmest climes possible, which means that their effective geographical distribution is confined to the jungles and deserts of Kelbonnar. Whilst it is uncertain where exactly the Yuan-Ti originated, the sweltering depths of the Ascar Giss, the heart of the Yalthar Jungle is thought to be the most likely location, though this is little more than a theory. The Yuan-Ti are thought to have been much more populace than they are now, with almost the entirety of the Yalthar Jungle being home to them in millennia gone by. Now, however, their claimed ranges are reduced to isolated and remote pockets of jungle and desert. Whilst the exact reason for the shrinking of their population is not known, Imperial Historians believe that the contraction of Yuan-Ti numbers in places like the Yalthar Jungle, was what allowed humanoid groups such as the Yaltharmians to establish dominance over the region instead.
Whilst there are natural discrepancies from the norm across the board, most Yuan-Ti are characterised as being highly intelligent creatures, something that the Yuan-Ti themselves attribute to the natural cunning passed to them by their serpentine ancestors. Their high intelligence makes them extremely dangerous, especially when encountered within their own territory, and they are quick to exploit any weaknesses or opportunities they detect.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
As well as their keen intelligence, most Yuan-Ti are naturally able to call upon minor forms of magic that comes innately to them rather than having to be trained or teased out. They are also incredibly adept at moving stealthily, and they often appear seemingly from out of nowhere, only to disappear shortly afterwards. Their serpentine ancestry also gives them resistance to most poisons.
Civilization and Culture
Whilst few names have been accurately identified and translated from epigraphical evidence discovered by Imperial academics, common features of Yuan-Ti names are long, drawn out so-called ‘breathy’ sounding consonants and short harsh vowels, which is thought to be reflective of the fact that most Yuan-Ti have forked tongues, which naturally alters the sounds they are able to produce when speaking compared to other humanoids.
One of the largest groups of Yuan-Ti known to exist dwell in the city of Xanma'atol deep within the Ascar Giss. The communities size and overt aggressiveness towards the other humanoids that live in their surroundings makes them by far one of the most infamous groups of Yuan-Ti in Kelbonnar.
Major Language Groups and Dialects
Yuan-Ti speak a dialect of Abyssal, though they have their own system of hieroglyphs for use as writing. Because the remaining communities of Yuan-Ti have become rather isolated from one another, each community has started to naturally form its own dialects of Abyssal – though scholars do not believe that the dialects would be different enough that Yuan-Ti from separate communities would not be able to understand one another.
Social StructuresAll Yuan-Ti, if they reside in a single species, or majority Yuan-Ti settlement live in a highly structured society. An ingrained caste system has grown up with the species, whereby Yuan-Ti that are more reptilian in nature are regarded as being higher up in the social order than those who more closely resemble humanoids.
Culture and Cultural Heritage
Whilst most aspects of Yuan-Ti cultural heritage remain a mystery to Imperial historians and archaeologists, who are limited in their knowledge to artefacts found in remote and long abandoned settlements, one aspect of Yuan-Ti cultural heritage that is beyond dispute are their cities and towns. Though almost all of them have now been abandoned and either swallowed by desert sands or chocked by jungle foliage, examples of their sophisticated architecture and well thought out infrastructure systems can still be seen relatively easily should one wish. The remains of several Yuan-Ti ‘temple cities’, as they are called by academics, after the large central step pyramids that are thought to be religious structures, can be visited a short journey away from the provincial capital of Greltor Province, Jakott. It is thought that the Yuan-Ti communities that still exist have retreated to temple cities deep within their ancestral ranges and it is hypothesised that if discovered, these cities would be immensely structured and sophisticated.
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
On the whole, Yuan-Ti brought up in their ancestral strongholds regard other humanoids as being inferior beings, worth only investing significant time with if there is a clear and significant advantage in doing so. For this reason, almost all Yuan-Ti live in communities comprised of only their kin, that are socially and politically isolated from the Empire of Turelion, even if the land they claim ownership over is also regarded as being within the jurisdiction of the Empire. When Yuan-Ti do engage with other humanoids, the results are rarely good. The Yaltharmian people of the Yalthar Jungle in particular have ancestral tales, the Serpents of Gissmaa being foremost amongst them, that detail how armies of Yuan-Ti would appear from the depths of the jungle, looking to enslave all in their path. Whilst no such thing has happened for generations, in Greltor Province in particular, this semi-mythical history has deeply coloured people’s opinion of Yuan-Ti. Despite their reputation, there are Yuan-Ti that live relatively harmoniously with their nearest neighbours, though even these, generally smaller communities, will seldom mix with other humanoids. Occasionally individuals or small groups of Yuan-Ti will integrate within a settlement in the Empire of Turelion, though most who do so tend to be fleeing some form of danger or another that makes their home community too risky for them to live in anymore. The Yuan-Ti’s natural talent for stealth has stoked rumours that the Imperial Inquisition often look for Yuan-Ti who have been forced to leave their home communities, so that they can be recruited and brought into the ranks of the Emperor’s Eyes. Gossips even say that some of the Empire's most deadly Inquisitor Assassins are Yuan-Ti who now serve the Emperor of Turelion and Kelbonnar.
On average around 70 years, but some can live well into the 100s.
Varies between sub-species, but can be as large as 8ft in height.
Varies between sub-species.
Varies between sub-species, but more venerable and serpentine Yuan-Ti can be up to 15ft in length from nose to tail.