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 What were Wereserpents in Okoth before 1358 DR?
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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

1355 Posts

Posted - 19 Mar 2018 :  17:46:08  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
According to Serpent Kingdoms, 88% of the population of Okoth consists of wereserpents in 1372 DR.

According to the same source, the Mulhorandi deity Set created wereserpents to mark his secret assumption of the portfolio and worshippers of the vrael olo / Sarrukh deity Sseth, which happened in 1358 DR.

It is specifically mentioned in Serpent Kingdoms that Set 'created the first wereserpents to mark the agreement' he made with the sarrukh of Okoth in 1358 DR.

So, this suggests to me that the wereserpents of Okoth cannot be older than fifteen years old in a campaign set in 1373 DR, at least not as wereserpents.

So, what were they before the Time of Troubles?

I don't really want 88% of Okoth's population to consist exclusively of teenagers and younger children who can take serpent form. For one thing, who'd have babysat them all in the 1360s?

My preferred interpretation is that Set granted thousands of ordinary serpents intelligence and the ability to take human form. Older and larger snakes became adults and even middle-aged humans, who might lack experience in human form, but were wise enough in their cunning, serpentine ways.

Is there any canon evidence for or against this theory?

And would it go against canon to introduce a wereserpent older than 15 years?

If, say, he was not created by Set, but with some other method, which Set, knowingly or unknowingly, emulated when he endowed the serpents of Okoth with the ability to transform into men.

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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
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Posted - 19 Mar 2018 :  17:58:26  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You can have normal wereserpents (only someone who plays D&D or is a fantasy fan could say something like that LOL), which are like most lycanthropes, and could date from an earlier era.

And then say the ones Set created were indeed made from snakes and other reptiles - he is kinda known for this, if you look at the stuff in the 1eDD (Minions of Set). It may be something he gained/was able to do only after subsuming Sseth, who is a much more ancient being (in my Realms/D&D I use the shape-shifting lizardmen of the Kull/Conan stories, which were an ancient race, and in FR, probably linked to the Sarrukh). In other words, he may have always been able to grant his human followers the ability to change into serpents (and other vermin), but when he subsumed a truy reptilian deity, he was able to go the other way with it (create humans from reptiles). This doesn't mean they were ever 'children' - he could have easily created them fully grown, from existing creatures.

EDIT:
Also, connecting them to the Kull/Conan Serpentmen isn't such a stretch, considering that setting also had Set.

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 19 Mar 2018 18:00:30
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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

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Posted - 19 Mar 2018 :  23:08:56  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes, indeed, I wanted 'normal' wereserpents, a family of natural lycanthropes whose ability to take serpent shape is innate, not a religious gift or curse. They'll differ from the Serpent Kingdom version in that each individual can take a particular serpent form, ideally (to their value system) either a powerful constrictor like a python or a venomous snake like a viper or cobra.

Most are Chaotic Evil, but one PC is fondly hoping that an exotic dancer who turns into a harmless rat snake is an exception. Well, the PC is infatuated and absolutely certain that the darling girl / charming pet is as sweet as she is sensuous, but the player is rather more suspicious.

Of course, it is traditional that any attractive female related to a villain can be turned to the side of good with the steady application of orgasms and understanding, especially if the villains have bigoted policies that discriminate against her for reasons beyond her control. If only the PC hadn't had this prophetic vision of her standing over him naked in the moonlight with a bloody sacrifical knife...

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Edited by - Icelander on 20 Mar 2018 06:47:44
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Ayrik
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Canada
6607 Posts

Posted - 20 Mar 2018 :  08:18:32  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Love and lust do tend to complicate otherwise simple adventures.

A "lycanthrope" is a "wolf-man" ... a "therianthrope" is a "beast-man" ... I suppose a were-serpent would be a "herpanthrope", perhaps an "ophidianthrope"?

Could Set divinely grant a were-serpent form (of his choosing) to anyone, sometimes including natural were-serpents (who already have a serpent form) - so that two serpent forms could be possible?

Could individual were-folk (like any other Realms folk) sometimes possess innate magical (or psionic) talents beyond the normal scope of their species?

Could this particular exotic dancer snake woman happen to have some proficiency with polymorph self, shapeshifting, enchantment, or illusion? These seem like valuable magical dabblings for one of her profession, especially if that profession is considered a certain sort of bard or priestess.
Merely having such powers along with other secrets doesn't necessarily mean she is Evil-aligned or has malign intent towards the infatuated male PC - snakes are symbolic of many things, including power and secrets - and this female NPC might have mixed feelings or suspicions about the PC (just as the player has about her).

If only the PC hadn't had this prophetic vision of her standing over him naked in the moonlight with a bloody sacrificial knife...
... and the message of visions is often difficult to interpret. Especially for those lacking training and experience in how to interpret them (does the PC have any proficiency/skill in Prophecy, Divination, etc?)
... and even the origin of visions is often ambiguous in the Realms. A vision from Set? From Selune? From Leira? From Cyric? From Shar? From drinking too much cheap mead?

The girl naked in the moonlight reveals her "true self", sacrificing her own blood as she desperately defends the PC with a puny dagger, a fiercely loyal friend trying to protect her (apparently prostrate, supine, and/or helpless) PC companion ... or, yeah, she's a cold-blooded witch who's gonna inhumanly cut out his heart ... I suppose it could go either way, lol.

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 20 Mar 2018 08:26:50
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dazzlerdal
Great Reader

United Kingdom
3935 Posts

Posted - 20 Mar 2018 :  08:57:53  Show Profile Send dazzlerdal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So here is my take on it.

Oooh was the first civilisation of sarrukh in faerun. All other serpentkind inherit from this empire.

We know that okoth has no yuanti (they were invented in mershaulk) but they did create a variety of other service races such as troglodytes and lizardmen etc.

The sarrukh have a long history of modifying humans to create new servant races (that's how the yuan to were created originally). The yuan to have the ability to create histaachi which I presume makes humans partly reptilian and allows them to control humans. The sarrukh can alter the form of any reptilian they meet as a special ability.

My solution was that the sarrukh of okoth have a potion of sorts that allows them to part reptilianise humans (like histaachi). They then modified these human reptilian hybrids to give them shapechangjng powers and sent them to infiltrate unther and mulhorand.

This reptilian infiltration program has been going on for a while in a sub and other towns around lake azulduth but it increased massively in the 1300s when explorers discovered the sarrukh tomb (it's a current flack somewhere).

So the population of okoth is mostly histaachi like humans that can shapechange somewhat and are spread throughout the old empires as infiltrators (especially in the slaves and cult of set).

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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

1355 Posts

Posted - 20 Mar 2018 :  10:18:17  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

Love and lust do tend to complicate otherwise simple adventures.

I don't think that the quest for a lost temple of Nanna-Sin below the occupied city of Unthalass, while dealing with wererats, the cult of Tiamat and the slavers and monsters serving the 'Wise Lady' / 'Queen of Tortures' (Ereshkigal) in the undercity, can ever have been called 'simple'.

One PC is pretending to be a Dragon Cultist serving the Great Bone Wyrm and has made contact with several factions of the Tiamat cult in Unthalass. He's also met the headmen of the wererat clans of Unthalass and the undercity and given a speech about the many benefits of rule by the Dragon King of Old Unther. His goal is to destabilise the Tiamat cult and eventually ensure that the post-war leadership of the cult is not implacably hostile to him and his friends (as Shudu-Ab is).

Abadas, the lover of serpentine dancing girls, has more or less adopted a clan of wererats as his charges and had a tense encounter with a lamia and some jackalweres while explaining to them that his new friends were protected, no matter who they were or who they worked for. This could have led to a hostility from the 'Queen of Tortures' (Ereshkigal), but fortunately, Abadas is good at making friends and while he did earn the undying enmity of one lamia, another, more important one, quite likes him.

quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

A "lycanthrope" is a "wolf-man" ... a "therianthrope" is a "beast-man" ... I suppose a were-serpent would be a "herpanthrope", perhaps an "ophidianthrope"?

If you'd like. Note that 'wer' means 'man', so that 'werserpent' would actually mean 'man-serpent'.

quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

Could Set divinely grant a were-serpent form (of his choosing) to anyone, sometimes including natural were-serpents (who already have a serpent form) - so that two serpent forms could be possible?

Certainly.

quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

Could individual were-folk (like any other Realms folk) sometimes possess innate magical (or psionic) talents beyond the normal scope of their species?

Yes. Quite a lot of the wereserpents that the PCs have encountered have innate magical abilities equivalent to Sorcerers in D&D. And it may well be that the most powerful among them can take more than one serpent form and/or have serpent forms with more abilities than any real-world animal, such as constrictor snakes who also have a venomous bite.

quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

Could this particular exotic dancer snake woman happen to have some proficiency with polymorph self, shapeshifting, enchantment, or illusion? These seem like valuable magical dabblings for one of her profession, especially if that profession is considered a certain sort of bard or priestess.

Her profession involves belly dancing at the Crimson Delights festhall in the undercity of Unthalass.

I use the GURPS system to play Forgotten Realms, but in (A)D&D (2nd-3.5) terms, she actually would rate as about a 4th level Magic-User, specifically a Sorcerer. Unfortunately, her fairly minor magical gifts don't make her much more valuable to her kin, as she knows almost no spells that would make her useful as a spy, assassin or something similar.

Hence her profession, which is not a cover for anything. She's actually an 'exotic dancer', which probably includes stripping (not that she was wearing a lot for her belly dancing) and most likely sexual services to patrons as well.

quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

Merely having such powers along with other secrets doesn't necessarily mean she is Evil-aligned or has malign intent towards the infatuated male PC - snakes are symbolic of many things, including power and secrets - and this female NPC might have mixed feelings or suspicions about the PC (just as the player has about her).

As far as the PC can tell (with fairly reliable intuitive flashes he has for a variety of divine and magical reasons), Yadidat the belly dancer is completely and utterly besotted with him.

Which is not unexpected, as Abadas, the PC, once had a Living Spell soulbonded to him while in an ancient tomb. The spell is a Charm spell and it makes him utterly fascinating to anyone who spends time with him and can easily engender feelings of love, affection and trust through physical contact.

The catch is that it works both ways. So Abadas is very touchy-feely and has an ever-growing number of loyal followers, but genuinely loves* every one of them and finds it very hard to allow them to take risks of any sort on his behalf.

Abadas and Yadidat have spent about 40 hours of the 48 hours since they met in bed and both of them are about as high on infatuation, new 'love' chemicals and great (shapechanging) sex as is possible to be.

*This doesn't have to be romantic love or involve any sexual elements. Due to the powerful flood of magically induced phenylethylamine, orepinephrine and dopamine, however, sexual and romantic stuff is definitely a likely outcome when the people touching are even remotely physically compatible. Or, you know, as a logical consequence of Abadas being very open-minded and fascinated by the strange, unusual and different (he's got a Disadvantage in GURPS called 'Xenophilia'), I don't suppose they really have to be all that compatible. Love, uh, finds a way.

quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

If only the PC hadn't had this prophetic vision of her standing over him naked in the moonlight with a bloody sacrificial knife...
... and the message of visions is often difficult to interpret. Especially for those lacking training and experience in how to interpret them (does the PC have any proficiency/skill in Prophecy, Divination, etc?)

The PC is very smart, but prophecies and divination are new to him. He's not yet learned to interpret oracles reliably.

quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

... and even the origin of visions is often ambiguous in the Realms. A vision from Set? From Selune? From Leira? From Cyric? From Shar? From drinking too much cheap mead?

The player has been assuming that the PC's recent prophetic gift is connected to the holy powers he received when he entered a floating island on the Astral Plane, entering into radiant blue-white light powerful enough to destroy any mortal, and emerged, re-made, at the head of the Legion of Nanna-Sin in Shussel.

The PC, Abadas, has a jumble of memories interspersed with his own, mostly chaotic and confusing, but enough to give him the cultural background and Theology skill of someone raised within a theoretical Church of Nanna-Sin in Shussel.

The Legion of Nanna-Sin regard him as the messenger of Nanna-Sin, the commander of their Legion and the best hope for the rebirth of their deity in the Realms.

quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

The girl naked in the moonlight reveals her "true self", sacrificing her own blood as she desperately defends the PC with a puny dagger, a fiercely loyal friend trying to protect her (apparently prostrate, supine, and/or helpless) PC companion ... or, yeah, she's a cold-blooded witch who's gonna inhumanly cut out his heart ... I suppose it could go either way, lol.


Indeed it could. The PC believes, in character, that whatever the prophecy was about, Yadidat is incapable of hurting him.

The player is pretty sure she'll end up trying to sacrifice him to Ereshkigal, Set, Tiamat or some other dark cult, but hey, what's adventure for if you can't get sacrificed once in a while?

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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

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Posted - 20 Mar 2018 :  10:47:48  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I was asking about the wereserpents of Okoth for three reasons.

First, because the Serpent Kingdoms reference could be read as definitely stating that there were no wereserpents in the Forgotten Realms before 1358 DR, when Set created the 'first wereserpents'. As I had already introduced wereserpents who were obviously not physical adolescents and not meant to be 15 years old or less in terms of mental development or history, either, I was hoping I that this was not necessarily so.

At least that the reference to Set creating the 'first' wereserpents could be reasonably interpreted in some other way, i.e. that it was the first time Set created wereserpents, not the first time any had existed.

Second, I want to feature an embassy or two from Okoth and I was wondering how to handle a serious diplomatic mission if only the sarrukh of Okoth were more than 15 years old. That would imply that the wereserpents were useless as diplomats, being too young and immature for anything much more complex than biting intruders in Okoth.

There are those were-crocodiles from the ruins of Sekras, but I doubt that the sarrukh consider them suitable emissaries.

Third, I want there to be clear differences that the players can latch onto between factions of serpentine folk.

At the Crimson Delights festhall below Unthalass, in the undercity I'm dubbing Tamtuthalass, there is a family of apparently independent wereserpents, under a patriarch (that one player thinks is a lich) named Kurilgalzu.

Then there are Okothian serpent-folk, servants of Set and loosely allied with anyone who had a previous arrangment with the priesthood of Set, which apparently includes the 'Queen of Tortures'.

Finally, I want to introduce other serpent-folk, yuan-ti who worship the genuine Sseth and suspect the Okothians and Set of having something to do with his recent troubled state. Where should these come from?

The Serpentes yuan-ti are noted to believe this in Serpent Kingdoms, but they are very far away. There is, however, a faction in my game which already has connections with the Vilhon Reach and I would want these yuan-ti to have come from near there. Specifically, there is a powerful Tiamatan priest, Deiros Forktongue, who came to Unthalass from Surkh, the city of the Lizard Men. If he were acquainted with yuan-ti, where would they come from?

There is Hlondeth, the City of Serpents, but given that they officially form a beast cult worshipping a power called Varae, not Sseth* and the priests are more loyal to the political fortunes of House Extaminos than to the yuan-ti race or any religious sensibility, I doubt that they are among those yuan-ti perceptive enough to note that Set is now granting the spells that Sseth previously granted.

I had thought that perhaps the vrael olo who had travelled from the Vilhon Reach might be servitors of the Serpent Sybil. Alternatively, they could be from the Fangs of Sseth or the Coiled Cabal, the latter for some convoluted reason beyond religious sensibilities. Or they could be from the Se'Sehen tribe, travelling through the gate to Hlondeth and onward.

Any other ideas?

Thoughts?

Despite the actual status of Varae as an aspect of Sseth.

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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
7061 Posts

Posted - 20 Mar 2018 :  11:28:22  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Wereserpents don't need to be youngsters. They're lyncanthropes. They convert humans and other beings into wereserpents. Now, those lyncanthropes who worship Set may be given the ability to control their lycanthropy (similar to how Selune does with other lycanthropes who worship her). So, if Set converts a handful of humans, and they go out and convert hundreds of other humans, there you go. Some might be old men. Others might still be kids.

Also, while there is nothing to suggest this... it might be interesting if you had the ritual that combines snakes and humans to create wereserpents to also make them sterile. Wait, wasn't I just talking about "family" lines? Well, maybe they have to create any new wereserpents via lycanthropic conversion. However, maybe many females still "want" children... and so they steal young children to raise amongst them. Maybe once these children reach adulthood they're given another option... be converted into a wereserpent OR serve Set in some other form. In this way, there are no born "true" wereserpents with the natural ability to control their change, and thus if they want control, they must turn to Set.


From Serpent Kingdoms
wereserpent is a humanoid or giant that can transform itself into a snake form and a hybrid snake-human form. Its bite can afflict other humanoids or giants with this kind of lycanthropy.

To this end, I'd make it some ritual revealed to an Okothian priest of Set. They get a snake and a human, and they "combine" the two magically. It might even be interesting to have say "family lines" where like person X was combined with a cobra... person Y was combined with an asp.... person Z was combined with a rattlesnake... others with say viper, coral snake, black mamba, boa constrictor, etc.... and thus you have different wereserpents with different types of attacks, etc.. (i.e. maybe one has deadly venom, one has paralytic venom, one has venom that just causes shooting pain, and maybe one has no venom but amazingly corded muscles). Maybe even like the yuan-ti, the hybrid forms of these wereserpents is different.


Also, this from the entry on wereserpents seems to indicate that these aren't necessarily the first wereserpents in the realms.


in the Realms
Wereserpents can be found anywhere in Faerūn, although they
hide their natures as' much as possible. They're particularly
common around established yuan-ti settlements where snake and
human breeding experiments have been going on for centuries,
and in cities (especially tropical ports) where yuan-ti slavers and
agents operate.
<snip>

At least one fallen noble family of Tethyr consists entirely
of wereserpents. The Janor clan, whose members are now scattered
up and down the Sword Coast, crave obscurity despite their
success as merchants, and they use a variety of false names and
guises to protect the family secret.


As a final aside, looking at the yuan-ti and the wereserpents side by side.... one could see wereserpents with control of their gifts as an improvement to yuan-ti in the eyes of Sarrukh. They spread their gift easier (even able to hit races like giants, goblinoids, etc...). They can infiltrate other societies easier without having to have special breeds of them. The one drawback is of course, the possible need for devotion to Set to control the lycanthropy. However, maybe the Sarrukh also plan to (or have) develop other means to control the curse.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas

Edited by - sleyvas on 20 Mar 2018 12:58:56
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Icelander
Master of Realmslore

1355 Posts

Posted - 20 Mar 2018 :  16:50:23  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Wereserpents don't need to be youngsters. They're lyncanthropes. They convert humans and other beings into wereserpents.

They can, certainly. But if 'the first wereserpents' were really created in 1358 DR, then that precludes anyone having been a wereserpent before that. So it would preclude a family of natural wereserpents where the parents were also born wereserpents.

My preferred interpretation is that Set created 'the first wereserpents' (that Set had ever created [my addition]) and that such beings had existed before, but may have been extremely rare.

Kurilgalzu and his family are not explicitly cursed, not necessarily religious (and not all necessarily of the same faith) and not known to be the dedicated servants of Ereshkigal, Set, Tiamat or secretive snake people from Okoth (or anywhere else), but might be on good terms with all of the above.

They also seem to have very good control of their shapechanging and I do not see any good reason to add an uncontrollable change linked to the moon to them. For one thing, most of them live underground and never see the moon.

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Now, those lyncanthropes who worship Set may be given the ability to control their lycanthropy (similar to how Selune does with other lycanthropes who worship her). So, if Set converts a handful of humans, and they go out and convert hundreds of other humans, there you go. Some might be old men. Others might still be kids.

There are around 7,500 wereserpents in Okoth in 1372 DR. From the evidence of prior lorebooks on the area, it seems unlikely that more than a thousand humans lived near the Azulduth. It is canonical that neither Mulhorand nor Unther realise that Okoth is once again full of life and that the wereserpents and werecrocodiles spend much of their time in their animal forms, specifically to avoid arousing suspicions.

If the 7,500 wereserpents were all former Mulhorandi subjects who had been infected with serpentine lycanthropy, the best way to avoid suspicion would be for them to continue living their lives. It seems obvious from the fact that they hide their human forms like this that the Okothians are aware that the mere numbers involved, even if they appear entirely human, would immediately raise suspicions.

That implies that there are many more wereserpents than there were humans living there. So who were those 7,500 people before 1358 DR?

My preferred answer is that most of them were ordinary serpents. I certainly don't like having Set create thousands of intelligent beings out of whole cloth. Granted, giving that many unintelligent creatures sentience is almost as powerful, but it's marginally less so than instant mass abiogenesis of people.

I understand that combining humans and serpents would be the most efficient way, but that still leaves me with explaining where Set got all these people.

I actually find the former snakes who can turn into humans an intriguing idea. It also allows the yuan-ti to consider them mere beasts, lower than humans even, and Kurilgalzu's wereserpents to view them with amused contempt, as magically created servants who until recently were dumb beasts.

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Also, while there is nothing to suggest this... it might be interesting if you had the ritual that combines snakes and humans to create wereserpents to also make them sterile.

What would you find most interesting about sterility among the wereserpent population?

I'm not opposed to it in theory, but it would seem that this closes off more adventuring and story possibilities than it enables, at first glance, any way. Plot hooks or background stories that remain possible with a breeding population include Okothian families, clans, inheritances, marriage within and outside of Okoth, possible interbreeding between wereserpents and yuan-ti tribes, the inheritability of the condition when only one parent is a wereserpent, etc.

What possibilities would the alternative open up to compensate?

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Wait, wasn't I just talking about "family" lines? Well, maybe they have to create any new wereserpents via lycanthropic conversion. However, maybe many females still "want" children... and so they steal young children to raise amongst them. Maybe once these children reach adulthood they're given another option... be converted into a wereserpent OR serve Set in some other form. In this way, there are no born "true" wereserpents with the natural ability to control their change, and thus if they want control, they must turn to Set.

Those are some adventure ideas, sure. It does directly contradict the family of natural wereserpents I have already introduced in my campaign and who do not serve Set (not devoutly, at any rate, but Kurilgalzu is prepared to offer prayers and sacrifices to any god if he thinks it will make business go smoother).

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

To this end, I'd make it some ritual revealed to an Okothian priest of Set. They get a snake and a human, and they "combine" the two magically.

I get the feeling that before 1358 DR, Okoth was mostly empty of anything but sand, salt and the 86 sarrukh that live there. The wereserpents and werecrocodiles that constitute 99% of the population all seem, by the wording of the text, to post-date 1358 DR and to have been created by Set and dispatched by his ally, Sebek, respectively.

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

It might even be interesting to have say "family lines" where like person X was combined with a cobra... person Y was combined with an asp.... person Z was combined with a rattlesnake... others with say viper, coral snake, black mamba, boa constrictor, etc.... and thus you have different wereserpents with different types of attacks, etc.. (i.e. maybe one has deadly venom, one has paralytic venom, one has venom that just causes shooting pain, and maybe one has no venom but amazingly corded muscles). Maybe even like the yuan-ti, the hybrid forms of these wereserpents is different.

This is the way that my wereserpents work. It's not obviously real-world genetics based, as wereserpent parents whose serpent forms are different species can breed and new snake breeds can be born from parents who are neither, but there seems to be an element of family lines breeding true, if not predictably so.

That being said, the while the mothers of the younger generation are wereserpents, there is reason to believe that Kurilgalzu might have bred with something else to create his 'family', as he is said to have a wife who is a daughter of the 'Wise Lady'/'Queen of Tortures'/Ereshkigal/Dimme/Lamashtu.*

That might mean that his family of natural wereserpents are descended from him, a powerful sorcerer who can take the form of a King Cobra, and a serpentine noble lamia. Where his wereserpent concubines and the variety of wereserpents who regard themselves as 'cousins' to the children of Kurilgalzu come from would then be an interesting question...

*The Queen of the Underworld below Unthalass has many names and titles. Some sages say that she is a demoness or even an ancient Untheri goddess, much reduced in cosmic power, but in her lair too powerful for even Gilgeam to eradicate, but others suspect that she may be merely a clever lamia or even human sorceress who knows how to make use of mythological motifs, names and titles to intimidate rivals.

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Also, this from the entry on wereserpents seems to indicate that these aren't necessarily the first wereserpents in the realms.


in the Realms
Wereserpents can be found anywhere in Faerūn, although they
hide their natures as' much as possible. They're particularly
common around established yuan-ti settlements where snake and
human breeding experiments have been going on for centuries,
and in cities (especially tropical ports) where yuan-ti slavers and
agents operate.
<snip>

At least one fallen noble family of Tethyr consists entirely
of wereserpents. The Janor clan, whose members are now scattered
up and down the Sword Coast, crave obscurity despite their
success as merchants, and they use a variety of false names and
guises to protect the family secret.


Indeed. I read this when I introduced Kurilgalzu and his family and didn't suspect that there was wording in the section on Okoth (which wasn't relevant to my campaign at the time, as Kurilgalzu is not from there) that implied that the "first wereserpents" were only created in 1358 DR.

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

As a final aside, looking at the yuan-ti and the wereserpents side by side.... one could see wereserpents with control of their gifts as an improvement to yuan-ti in the eyes of Sarrukh. They spread their gift easier (even able to hit races like giants, goblinoids, etc...). They can infiltrate other societies easier without having to have special breeds of them. The one drawback is of course, the possible need for devotion to Set to control the lycanthropy. However, maybe the Sarrukh also plan to (or have) develop other means to control the curse.


The sarrukh may well consider the wereserpents desirable slaves, but their tendency toward Chaos makes them unreliable, at best, as infiltrators or spies. They tend to set up for themselves and ignore any goals that the sarrukh have, unless closely supervised and controlled.

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Edited by - Icelander on 20 Mar 2018 17:01:00
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Markustay
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Posted - 20 Mar 2018 :  16:54:51  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
While I agree with the semantics lesson, Ayrik, in D&D RAW, 'Lycanthrope' = 'cursed shape-shifter'.

Thus, Lythari are NOT lycanthropes, but werebears are... in RAW.

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone

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sleyvas
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Posted - 20 Mar 2018 :  17:31:34  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I just want to respond to a few things, so I'm just gonna snip them and italicize them since the previous post is all cut up

If the 7,500 wereserpents were all former Mulhorandi subjects who had been infected with serpentine lycanthropy, the best way to avoid suspicion would be for them to continue living their lives. It seems obvious from the fact that they hide their human forms like this that the Okothians are aware that the mere numbers involved, even if they appear entirely human, would immediately raise suspicions.

That implies that there are many more wereserpents than there were humans living there. So who were those 7,500 people before 1358 DR?


Easy... many of them are slaves. Whether they're bought from Thay or Unther sources, or captured in the Shaar or Veldorn or Unther or Mulhorand or Chessenta, they were inflicted with lycanthropy on purpose. Also, nothing says that all 7500 of them are HUMAN. Many of them may be wereserpents who are kobolds, goblins, orcs, ash giants, etc.... in their natural form.

That being said, the while the mothers of the younger generation are wereserpents, there is reason to believe that Kurilgalzu might have bred with something else to create his 'family', as he is said to have a wife who is a daughter of the 'Wise Lady'/'Queen of Tortures'/Ereshkigal/Dimme/Lamashtu.*

Just wondering... is this from any canon source? I'm particularly interested in references to Ereshkigal or an underworld in relation to Unther and Unthalass.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Icelander
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Posted - 20 Mar 2018 :  17:37:34  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Just wondering... is this from any canon source? I'm particularly interested in references to Ereshkigal or an underworld in relation to Unther and Unthalass.


Old Empires mentions a lamia queen named Ereshkigal who rules the 'undercity' of Unthalass, employing various monsters to do so.

Eres-ki-gal means 'Lady/Queen of the Big/Great Earth' in Sumerian, or as it is most often translated, 'Queen of the Underworld'.

Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!

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Edited by - Icelander on 20 Mar 2018 17:40:11
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Icelander
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Posted - 21 Mar 2018 :  13:18:50  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Easy... many of them are slaves. Whether they're bought from Thay or Unther sources, or captured in the Shaar or Veldorn or Unther or Mulhorand or Chessenta, they were inflicted with lycanthropy on purpose. Also, nothing says that all 7500 of them are HUMAN. Many of them may be wereserpents who are kobolds, goblins, orcs, ash giants, etc.... in their natural form.


That's a good suggestion, although, of course, making a recently captured slave into a wereserpent does nothing to make him loyal to Set or a useful soldier or covert operative for Okoth.

If many or perhaps even most of the wereserpents were either bought slaves or captured in slaving raids, this would seriously reduce the power of Okoth, as the majority of their wereserpent population would then be pretty useless except as unskilled, supervised labour.

'Slave' soldiers are usually exceptionally worthless, require such extensive managment that they are inferior to mercenaries or are raised within a culture where their 'slave' status is normal, honouored and so privileged as to make the term 'slave' somewhat technical, as historically such slave soldiers often had more personal freedom, better social position and more political influence than 90% of the theoretically 'free' population.

'Slave' covert operatives mostly just don't make sense, as the moment you send them to infiltrate anywhere they are not slaves, they have an incentive to defect. No historical society I can recall made a practice of employing anything but middle class and upward people as spies and assassins. Even if you start with slaves or lower class people, you give them privileges well beyond anyone else in society before they can be trusted to do any spying.

It's also quite interesting to muse on how Okoth would have bought 7,500 slaves from Unther or Thay while officially not existing.

Historically, slaves were about the relative value of an automobile today. Anyone buying thousands needs the entire coin reserves of a wealthy kingdom or trade goods that equal it. Any coin that the sarrukh have would be ancient and noteworthy and one assumes that the same would apply to trade goods, only more so.

If Okoth is supposed to be still a secret, I don't want to make them the biggest foreign trade partner of Unther, for example.

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Markustay
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Posted - 22 Mar 2018 :  23:02:17  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I would say that set has a very specific ritual to turn them into his minions - its not normal lycanthropy. As I've said above, in the 1e DD book they even have a separate entry for 'Minions of set'. The probably tells the slaves, "swear undying loyalty to me forevermore, or suffer eternal torture", and they then agree (which is the first part of the ritual - they have to be willing), and then he does the Sets Minion ritual on them (or rather, his priests do... unless he does large groups of them at a time). In fact, him doing larger groups may be the best way to handle it, like how the Necromungers converted people in the Chronicles of Riddick movie (show what horrors await just one of them for turning down the 'generous offer').

Relevant scene from that movie.

"I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me" --- Dudley Field Malone


Edited by - Markustay on 22 Mar 2018 23:03:50
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sleyvas
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Posted - 22 Mar 2018 :  23:40:28  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Just wondering... is this from any canon source? I'm particularly interested in references to Ereshkigal or an underworld in relation to Unther and Unthalass.


Old Empires mentions a lamia queen named Ereshkigal who rules the 'undercity' of Unthalass, employing various monsters to do so.

Eres-ki-gal means 'Lady/Queen of the Big/Great Earth' in Sumerian, or as it is most often translated, 'Queen of the Underworld'.



Well I'll be damned there sure is

The undercity is said to be ruled by a tribe of lamia, led by the lamia noble Ereshkigal. None have encountered her and escaped alive, so the stories of the Queen of Tortures remain only hushed whispers that are usually spoken in barrooms.

Yeah, she was also Jergal's wife and Inanna's sister, so she was technically a goddess. So, maybe this Lamia is an avatar form? Given the number of Lamia that infest Unthalass now post-spellplague, that opens possibilities.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Icelander
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Posted - 23 Mar 2018 :  08:09:36  Show Profile  Visit Icelander's Homepage Send Icelander a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

quote:
Originally posted by Icelander

quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Just wondering... is this from any canon source? I'm particularly interested in references to Ereshkigal or an underworld in relation to Unther and Unthalass.


Old Empires mentions a lamia queen named Ereshkigal who rules the 'undercity' of Unthalass, employing various monsters to do so.

Eres-ki-gal means 'Lady/Queen of the Big/Great Earth' in Sumerian, or as it is most often translated, 'Queen of the Underworld'.



Well I'll be damned there sure is

The undercity is said to be ruled by a tribe of lamia, led by the lamia noble Ereshkigal. None have encountered her and escaped alive, so the stories of the Queen of Tortures remain only hushed whispers that are usually spoken in barrooms.

Yeah, she was also Jergal's wife and Inanna's sister, so she was technically a goddess. So, maybe this Lamia is an avatar form? Given the number of Lamia that infest Unthalass now post-spellplague, that opens possibilities.


I'm away from my books, but surely Old Empires doesn't mention Jergal, does it?

Is there a Realmslore source for Ereshkigal the goddess having been married to Jergal?

In real-life mythology, she was reputedly married to different gods or powers in different sources. Nergal was one of them, Gugulanna, the Bull of Heaven, was another.

Of course, just because a character in the Old Empires is given the name of an ancient Babylonian goddess, that's no guarantee of a connection between the modern lamia and the ancient goddess. As several other names in Unther attest, naming people for gods and heroes is a cultural fashion there, as, indeed, in many other places.

In my campaign, as noted, the PCs have been assuming that the 'Wise Lady' frightened locals talk about and the 'Queen of Tortures' that some encountered lamias claimed to serve, was a slaver with with a gift for propaganda. Various rumours link her with legends of Dimme, Ereshkigal and Lamashtu, either through the use of names, titles, mythological motifs or themes associated with these legendary, ancient beings.

Recent events might cause the PCs to upgrade their estimate. After all, anyone can use ancient names of mythological beings and claim that underbosses in their criminal/slaving organisations are their 'children', giving them titles that echo various legends. All the more so if that someone is a magic-user or some kind of monster with magical abilities.

It's a different thing entirely when one of these children appears to actually have frightening powers far beyond what one might expect from a slaver boss, even if that slaver boss might be a lamia or other monster.

The PCs now have reason to believe that tales of ancient mythological beings might have more truth to them than originally assumed and/or that some power active in the modern world, such as Set (Typhon), Tiamat or Cyric, might be trying to grab more divine power by playing on old legends.

After all, Shar isn't shy of using the old Untheri name of Anshar, not caring one whit that he was originally a male god and that he technically still exists in the Outer Planes. Nor do various dark gods and demon lords quibble at assuming the guises of other dead gods, especially as Untheri culture has been highly chauvinistic for a long time, with foreign cults being stigmatized far more than apparently indigenous ones, even if the local power was objectively horrible.

So it's entirely possible that any lamia using the name of an ancient goddess might be trying to do what Tchazzar did and/or represent some kind of demon lord. Or actually is a demon.

There is certainly a lot of serpentine imagery associated with the Queen of Tortures in my game and several of her 'children' have titles associated with snakes, dragons or other serpentine things.

Given that Sumerian and Akkadian terms for dragons and serpents tend to be conflated in the original sources and mythology, it makes sense that Tiamat would have had chthonic, snake-cult themes at some point in history. By contrast, various demon lords and powers behind beast cults associated with snakes, serpents and sea monsters might well dream of replacing Tiamat.

In my Realms (based on how actual mythology works), Typhon and Set might once have been different powers, with Set absorbing a minor power or demon lord called Typhon at some point in the distant past. This Typhon was, in some legends, the husband, lover, brother or son of Tiamat. In others, he was the mate of Dimme, Echidna, Lahamu, Lamashtu or Lamassu, who may be different powers/mythological figures or may be regional terms for the same primeval power / deity / mother of monsters.

A connection between the ancient mythological Ereshkigal and the Mother of Monsters figure in old legends does not appear to be advocated by mainstream sages of Theology in my Realms (several PCs have Bardic Lore and/or Theology (D&D equivalent would be Knowledge (Religion))). For a snake-like figure with many monstrous children who claims the mantle of the Queen of the Underworld, however, it would be a pretty natural connection to make.

Za uspiekh nashevo beznadiozhnovo diela!

Forgotten Realms fans, please sign a petition to re-release the FR Interactive Atlas

Edited by - Icelander on 23 Mar 2018 08:43:24
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