Yuan-ti Suck: A Revamping of the Vipers

Here’s a new addition to a small series that is taking a closer look at one of my favorite monster types in all editions of D&D, the Yuan-ti. Unfortunately, it’s my belief that they were done a disservice in 4th edition by being stripped of their uniqueness. It seems ongoing poison is the thing that their latest designers think distinguishes them the most. Fie, I say. These creatures are cruel and insidious masterminds, and if you end up reaching their nest in the game, they’re not going to be unprepared with tepid damage and a lack of options. They’re religious fanatics who have notoriously mastered both arcane and psionic powers and they need to be scary again.

My last post brought to you a revised and empowered version of one of the yuan-ti’s most feared soldiers in their company, the abomination. You can see that here, but we’re pushing forward to bolster the ranks of these monsters for your game by providing decent alternatives to the hierarchy already built in the Monster Vault and Monster Manuals for 4e.

So here’s the Yuan-ti Malison Stalker, revised. Stalker is just a poor choice of naming as they aren’t really lurkers. This creatures actually has some surprisingly decent effects, but once again, entirely too simplistic to be feared as one of the most dangerous creatures in the world. So here’s the skirmisher type of yuan-ti, ramped up for your pleasure.

Some notes on the improvements:

  • First of all, morningstar?? Um, no. I don’t think Zehir would approve of any of his followers using a weapon that has the word morning in it, let alone anything that mildly connotes or resembles a radiating ball of light like the sun.
  • Basic attack: this is going to be your bread and butter yuan-ti monster to throw at the PCs. As they are effectively the most ubiquitous warriors in these cults we need to keep them a simple but fearsome threat. I love that the basic attack keeps enemies from marking, but the ongoing poison in this nest of creatures is starting to get out of control. That, and you already have ongoing poison with your ranged attack. Reading further into the other variations of monsters you’ll notice that the Poisoned Domination power of the yuan-ti malison chanter targets creatures taking ongoing damage. By taking out the ongoing here on the stalker we’re reducing the opportunity for that power to trigger, and thus a bit of synergy between them—but seriously, there are plenty of other ways to give out ongoing poison damage and the chanter’s power is a 5, 6 recharge anyway. So let’s scrap the ongoing poison here but keep it dangerous by changing the ongoing poison to vulnerability. Vulnerability is a rarely used gem in 4e; it can be really scary, and provides some interesting shake up on the battlefield. One might say its a tad more dangerous than ongoing 5 poison, but like I said, yuan-ti are dangerous.
  • Okay, well, it’s sad that they weren’t designed with darkvision. I don’t know why it would hurt the monsters to give them a little integrity. But on top of that, the senses are a great device that all creatures have already built in. If all creatures have something plugged in for it (they have nothing plugged in if they have no special senses, by default), then you can use that as a mechanic to flavor the threats. Darkvision, in this case, can be used against the PCs, some of whom may actually have it and can bypass that danger. I’m referring to the Deeper Darkness power in the abomination monster posted earlier. Now, if you just give all yuan-ti darkvision, they’re immune to their allies’ devious powers and can also feel more like they actually revere the god of darkness. They weren’t even designed with low-light vision! Geeze.
  • Finally, our skirmisher yuan-ti here needs a little pepper, something to make him a little more like a zealot since the original monster just looks like a leveled-up bugbear with a snakeskin hat on. When this doomed viper man dies, or kills a doomed character, there’s going to be a little unholy prayer to the one and only snake in the sky, Zehir. Zehir’s going to hear that prayer and send down some help as a reward in the form of everyone-on-my-side-gets-more-awesome. Sacrifices are made, and now the yuan-ti is less of a plain old skirmisher and more of a fanatic. This can be a little crazy if you throw a handful of these stalkers into the same battle, but once again, that’s how yuan-ti roll. You decided to enter the snake pit, don’t expect to get out easy.

Enjoy the stalker, and return back soon to pick up some more finely tuned monsters here at Rules As UNWritten!



One Response to Yuan-ti Suck: A Revamping of the Vipers

  1. boccobsblog says:

    a problem with fantasy games has always been how to make the humanoid monsters different, how is a goblin different from a kobold? How is a hobgoblin different from a bugbear, etc. Nice re-do, great post!

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