Do yuan-ti clerics need a religion?

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Do yuan-ti clerics need a religion?

Post by Big Mac » Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:33 am

I was looking at the spells in Ghostwalk and came across the Blessing of the Snake Mother spell on page 49. It's one that is designed for yuan-ti clerics.

Here is something included in the blurb for the spell:
Blessing of the Snake Mother spell wrote:This spell was created by the yuan-ti to temporarily bolster their ranks with followers in a short period of time. Most other clerics would never consider casting this spell. The spell is normally used on willing victims, since it grants the caster no control over the target.
The spell component is the same mixture that yuan-ti use to create tainted ones, so it would probably be hard for other clerics to cast the spell, even if they wanted to.

I went looking through the Ghostwalk deities and none of them seem to specifically say they are the god of yuan-ti. Then I skimmed through the front of the spells, where there is a Cleric Domains section. That section lists which Ghostwalk deities gain that specific domain, but when it gets to the Scalykind Domain it says this instead:
Scalykind Domain wrote:Deities: Yuan-ti only (regardless of deity worshiped).
So, I'm wondering about some things here:
  • Do any of the Ghostwalk deities actually fit with the themes of the yuan-ti culture? (I'm not sure they do.)
  • How many deities have the yuan-ti been given in other D&D books? (Would any of them fit the yuan-ti culture better than the existing Ghostwalk deities?)
  • Who is the "Snake Mother" mentioned in that spell? (Would that work as the name of a Ghostwalk yuan-ti goddess?)
  • Should there be more than one deity for yuan-ti? (That might be extra work, but it could help create factions.)
Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?
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Re: Do yuan-ti clerics need a religion?

Post by JoeNotCharles » Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:52 pm

4E has Zehir, god of poison, darkness, assassins and snakes. I'm not sure if he's new for 4E or one of the gods they adapted from earlier settings.

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Re: Do yuan-ti clerics need a religion?

Post by JoeNotCharles » Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:55 pm

Not specifically a D&D god, but the prototypical Sword & Sorcery evil snake god is Set, from the Conan stories, whose nonhuman followers are pretty obviously the inspiration of yuan-ti.

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Re: Do yuan-ti clerics need a religion?

Post by Cromstar » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:31 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:33 am
Do any of the Ghostwalk deities actually fit with the themes of the yuan-ti culture? (I'm not sure they do.)
From what I've read, none of them really seem to. The yuan-ti almost seem deliberately opposed to the entire existing order.
]How many deities have the yuan-ti been given in other D&D books? (Would any of them fit the yuan-ti culture better than the existing Ghostwalk deities?)
Checked my (still on-going) master list for gods, which is mostly based around 2nd Edition. Yuan-ti have at least the following listed deities:

Merrshaulk - the yuan-ti deity in decline, possibly the sole survivor of an entire pantheon of gods from the height of yuan-ti cultures. Merrshaulk is less than pro-active, but can be easily modified to back any kind of yuan-ti plan, especially one where the yuan-ti want to assert their dominance.

Sch'theraqpasst - a demon lord currently hedging in on Merrshaulk's territory. He's taking advantage of Merrshaulk's inactivity to be more proactive among the yuan-ti, gaining followers from doing so. So far he's avoided Merrshaulk's retaliation, but it is a bit of a threat hanging over his head.

Sseth - the deity of yuan-ti in Chult on Toril. Sseth may possibly be an aspect or simple renaming of Merrshaulk or a new god in his own right.
Who is the "Snake Mother" mentioned in that spell? (Would that work as the name of a Ghostwalk yuan-ti goddess?)
It could be a new deity, or simply a female aspect of another one easily enough? Since the yuan-ti don't live directly on the world IIRC, I don't think that would interfere with the particulars of the Ghostwalk setting either way.
Should there be more than one deity for yuan-ti? (That might be extra work, but it could help create factions.)
If you wanted to create factions, there probably should (having Sch'theraqpasst moving in on another god's turf is a ready-made conflict). But unless you wanted factions among the yuan-ti, I don't know that there's a reason to have more than one really? The yuan-ti seem pretty single-minded in the original material.

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Re: Do yuan-ti clerics need a religion?

Post by ripvanwormer » Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:06 pm

Ghostwalk's yuan-ti explicitly worship Orcus. Or at least their leader does.

The Snake Mother is their leader.

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Re: Do yuan-ti clerics need a religion?

Post by Big Mac » Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:24 pm

JoeNotCharles wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:52 pm
4E has Zehir, god of poison, darkness, assassins and snakes. I'm not sure if he's new for 4E or one of the gods they adapted from earlier settings.
Thanks.

I found a Zehir article on Forgotten Realms WIki. It says that Zehir was previously know as Set from the Mulhorandi pantheon.

From what I can tell the Mulhorandi pantheon was shut out, during the Spellplague, but Set sneaked back into Faerûn under the name Zehir and pretended to be a new interloper deity.

The Set article also says that Set was known under the name Typhon in Thay and Unther.

That's all Forgotten Realms, so may or may not apply to Ghostwalk, but the Ghostwalk book does borrow a lot of rules from Forgotten Realms sources.

I'm not sure how Nentir Vale canon for Zehir (if there is any) might differ from Forgotten Realms canon, but I'd be inclined to keep Zehir, Set and Typhon as one snake deity across the D&D multiverse, but not necessarily use the exact same mythology outside of Forgotten Realms.
JoeNotCharles wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:55 pm
Not specifically a D&D god, but the prototypical Sword & Sorcery evil snake god is Set, from the Conan stories, whose nonhuman followers are pretty obviously the inspiration of yuan-ti.
There was a D&D version of Conan for 1st Edition AD&D, but I'd probably keep Conan (and Lankhmar) out of the D&D multiverse and use them for inspiration.

In this case, that might be a pretty good thing as a slightly different take on Set than the Egyptian/Mulhorandi version that is in Legends & Lore and Forgotten Realms might help Ghostwalk feel different.

One thing that supports the use of Set is that it looks like there are yuan-ti pyramids. :)
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Re: Do yuan-ti clerics need a religion?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:37 am

ripvanwormer wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:06 pm
Ghostwalk's yuan-ti explicitly worship Orcus. Or at least their leader does.
Aha! There it is on page 145:
Ghostwalk page 145 wrote:Beneath the palace are great dungeons and catacombs that extend for miles, and living at the center of them is Traagash Daur herself, a human-headed yuan-ti abomination cleric/sorcerer of Orcus.
I guess that Orcus has been attacking the area via two different methods (the creation of undead and the creation of yuan-ti).

That's not something I noticed before. :shock:

I suppose that, if his cultists on Inuitea thought they were worshipping a deity called Neistrademos, Orcus might also be keeping his identity on Coil a bit secret.
ripvanwormer wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:06 pm
The Snake Mother is their leader.
Page 120 calls her the "Serpent Mother" rather than "Snake Mother". Looks like that is something that the editors should have picked up.

I suppose I could use the other title as the name by which yuan-ti clerics call Orcus, then create an alternate identity simialr to Neistrademos for this supposed snake deity.
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Re: Do yuan-ti clerics need a religion?

Post by JoeNotCharles » Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:24 am

The Forgotten Realms stuff you quoted about Zehir all sounds like explicit ret-cons to put this new 4E deity in the place of older FR gods. So those FR gods it mentioned might be good sources for you too. :)

But all that stuff was every FR-specific so the default 4E fluff wouldn't include it at all. I think Zehir wasn't one of the gods that got used much. I don't remember as much on him as on big evil names like Tiamat, Vecna, Asmodeus or Torog. I think I saw reference to one Dragon magazine article, though

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Re: Do yuan-ti clerics need a religion?

Post by willpell » Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:09 pm

As long as we're discussing yuan-ti and their patrons, we might as well also mention Sertrous, from Elder Evils, although he is by no means a deity.

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Re: Do yuan-ti clerics need a religion?

Post by ripvanwormer » Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:14 pm

We previously discussed this topic in this thread: viewtopic.php?t=13207

There, I suggested using Sertrous as the yuan-ti patron in a Ghostwalk adaptation of Fortress of the Yuan-ti. I do think it's more interesting and distinctive than Orcus (for this purpose; Orcus is great in general, but doesn't add anything to yuan-ti culture).

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