Why did it have to be snakes? (It's 11 PM and I'm tired, sue me for re-using jokes)
Originally Posted by Aperantos
Aperantos, the Serpent of Infinity
Yuan-ti Anathema Binder 2
Spoiler: StoryShowI have been called by many an incarnation of the god Merrshaulk. I was born and raised by the cult believing such, and even to this day some still hold that to be true. For those who dare to say it to my face, they would be quite lucky if death were the only thing I had available to deal with them. Unfortunately for them, I have much, much worse. The day of my birth was the greatest day of my brood-parent's lives. As well as their last. As if the Cabal would ever let an Anathema like myself into anyone else's hands.
I was fed a diet of praise and platitudes, taught their lore, and groomed to do great things. Or perhaps, I should say, to let the Cabal do great things. Needless to say, this was unacceptable. Perhaps if they had kept me more sheltered I would have been more willing to let them use me, but I saw much I was not meant to. I saw their weakness, how tenuous their control over our race was. I saw the outcasts, the dissidents, and knew the fear that they struck in the hearts of our Elders. I saw the lore and magic that should have been forbidden, and learned of it. And I saw the truth: Merrshaulk was weak. To compare me to this squabling, pathetic 'god' was an affront to my stature.
Despite this, I knew that there were many more powerful beings out there, perhaps even one that might be deserving of my aid. My seizure of our sect was swift, those who heard my word learned true fear, and those who didn't provided ample bodies for experimentation. I took power and resources, both literal and metaphorical, from the Cabal sanctum I resided in, and set about expanding. And here, I made my first and only mistake: underestimating humans. They repelled my attempts at overwhelming them with deceptive speed, and I knew that I must go about it a different way. And it was know that I learned about the one being who is worthy of being served by me: Sertrous.
I was approached by a servant of his, and he became my vizier, teaching me of the mistakes I and those before me have made. Though the humans may have cut off one head of my operation, I still had many left. The rest of the jungle was a risk, one I could not take, and so I instead focused my efforts on subjugating and assimilating the rest of my kind, eliminating any of Merrshaulk's pathetic groupies I came across. Here, the humans made their first mistake, soon to be one of many. They let me 'clean up' the jungle, and didn't even try to interfere. They thought that just because I wasn't targeting them, they were safe. It was adorable.
Soon enough, I was ready to lead the newest and final incarnation of the Vanguard of Sertrous. Aided by one voice from the past and three from the void, it is time for me to show these lesser beings who is, as they say, 'boss'.
Spoiler: Mechanical InformationShowSpoiler: Ability ScoresShow
Attribute Base Racial Level Total Strength 14 16 - 30 Dexterity 13 2 - 15 Constitution 12 18 - 30 Intelligence 10 14 - 24 Wisdom 8 14 - 22 Charisma 15 12 1 28
Spoiler: Build TableShow
CR HD Class BAB Fort Ref Will Skills Feats Class Features 18 22 Yuan-ti Anathema +16 +7 +7 +13 Bluff 24 (12), Concentration 25 (25), Hide 25 (25), Diplomacy 24 (12), Knowledge (Arcana) 25 (25), Knowledge (Religion) 25 (25), Listen 25 (25), Move Silently 25 (25), Spot 25 (25)
Clarity of Vision
Multigrab, Apostate, Greater Multigrab, Chosen of Evil, Endurance, Diehard, Dark Speech, Combat Reflexes, Quick Change, Slave to Evil, Dark Whispers, Insane Defiance, Steadfast Determination see stablock 19 23 Binder 1 +16 +9 +7 +15 Concentration 1 (26), Diplomacy 4 (16), Hide 2 (26), Move Silently 2 (26) - Soul Binding 20 24 Binder 2 +17 +10 +7 +16 Concentration 1 (27), Diplomacy 4 (20), Hide 2 (27), Move Silently 2 (27) Spellcasting Harrier Pact Augmentation, Suppress Sign
Feats in italics are those gained at first level and every fifth level thereafter from devotion to Sertrous.
Due to only possessing two class levels, Asperantos' table is rather clunky. For additional aid, I have enclosed a proper statblock in the spoiler below.
Yuan-ti Anathema Binder 2
CE Huge Abberation
Init +2 (+2 Dex); Senses All-around Vision, Darkvision 60 ft., Scent; Listen +31, Spot +35
Languages Yuan-ti, Common, Draconic, Abyssal
AC 30, touch 10, flat-footed 28 (+2 Dex, -2 Size, +20 Natural Armor)
HP 24d8+240 (351 HP average); Regeneration 5 (Force or Adamantine); DR 15/Good and Magic
Immune Acid, Poison; Resistances Electricity 10, Fire 10
Fort +20, Ref +9, Will +26 (+14 vs. Divine Spells)
Spell Resistance 26 (31 vs. Divine Spells)
Speed 40 ft. Land, 20 ft. Climb, 20 ft. Swim
Attack Bite +28 or Claw +23
Full Attack 6 Bites +28 and 2 Claws +23
Damage Bite 1d8+10 plus poison, Claw 1d8+5
Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
Base Attack +17; Grapple +36
Special Attacks Constrict 1d8+10, Improved Grab, Poison, Psionics, Spell-like Abilities
Abilities Str 30, Dex 15, Con 30, Int 24, Wis 22, Cha 28
Special Qualities Acid Immunity, All-around Vision, Attach Grafts, Darkvision 60 ft., DR 15/Good and Magic, Electricity Resistance 10, Fire Resistance 10, Poison Immunity, Regeneration 5, Scent, SR 26
Feats 1st - Multigrab, 1st - Apostate, 3rd - Greater Multigrab, 5th - Chosen of Evil, 6th - Endurance, 9th - Diehard, 10th - Dark Speech, 12th - Combat Reflexes, 15th - Quick Change, 15th - Slave to Evil, 18th - Dark Whispers, 20th - Insane Defiance, 21st - Steadfast Determination, 24th - Spellcasting Harrier
Skills Bluff +21, Climb +18, Concentration +37, Hide +21*, Diplomacy +31, Intimidate +11, Knowledge (Arcana) +32, Knowledge (Religion) +32, Listen +31, Move Silently +29, Search +11, Spot +35, Swim +18
Constrict (Ex) With a successful grapple check, Aperantos can constrict a grabbed opponent, dealing 1d8+10 points of bludgeoning damage.
Improved Grab (Ex) If Aperantos hits an opponent that is at least one size category smaller than himself with a bite attack, he deals normal damage and attempts to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity (grapple bonus +36). If he gets a hold, he also constricts on the same round. Thereafter, he has the option to conduct the grapple normally, or simply use one of his six serpent-heads to hold the opponent (no penalty due to Greater Multigrab).
Poison (Ex) Aperantos delivers his poison (Fort DC 32 negates) with each successful bite attack. Initial and secondary damage are the same (1d4 Con).
Psionics (Sp) Aperantos can produce the following effects at will.
Alternate Form: Aperantos can assume the form of a Tiny to Huge viper (see the Monster Manual). In viper form, his poison deals 1d6 points of Constitution damage instead of 1d4.
In addition, he can assume the form of a viper swarm.
Chameleon Power: Aperantos can change the coloration of himself and his equipment to match his surroundings. *Using chameleon power gives a +10 circumstance bonus on Hide checks.
Detect Poison: As the spell cast by a 20th-level sorcerer.
Dissolving Touch: Asperantos can exude acid from his body, dealing 7d6 points of acid damage to anything he touches. If he uses this power when grappling or constricting an opponent, the acid deals 10d6 points of damage instead. The acid is effective only on the round when this power is used, and it becomes inert when it leaves his body.
Mass Aversion: Asperantos creates a compulsion effect targeting all enemies within 30 feet. The targets must succeed on a Will save (DC 31) or gain an aversion to snakes for 10 minutes. Affected subjects must stay at least 20 feet from any snake, yuan-ti, or ti-khana creature, whether alive or dead; if already within 20 feet, they move away. A subject can overcome the compulsion by succeeding on another Will save (DC 31), but still suffers from deep anxiety. This causes a –4 reduction to Dexterity until the effect wears off or the subject is no longer within 20 feet of a snake, yuan-ti, or tikhana creature. This ability is otherwise similar to antipathy as cast by a 16th-level sorcerer.
Spell-Like Abilities 3/day—animal trance, cause fear, deeper darkness, entangle, haste, neutralize poison, suggestion, baleful polymorph, unholy blight; 1/day—blasphemy, unholy aura. Caster level 20th; save DC 16 + spell level.
All-Around Vision (Ex) Asperantos’ six heads allow him to see in all directions at once. Because of this ability, he has a +4 racial bonus on Search and Spot checks, and he cannot be flanked.
Attach Grafts (Su) Asperantos has the ability to transform humanoid and monstrous humanoid creatures, making them more like yuan-ti. Each day, he can attach eight yuan-ti grafts to one or more creatures. This requires 1 hour of uninterrupted work per graft, during which he can do nothing else. Between grafts, he can rest or engage in light activity such as talking or walking, but cannot fight, cast spells, use magic items, conduct research, or perform any other physically or mentally demanding task.
In addition, he can create the mixture of venom, roots, and herbs required to create either a tainted one or a broodguard.
Regeneration (Ex) Asperantos takes normal damage from force effects and adamantine weapons. Attack forms that don’t deal hit point damage ignore regeneration, and he does not restore hit points lost from starvation, thirst, or suffocation.
Scent (Ex) Asperantos can detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell.
Skills Asperantos has a +8 racial bonus on Climb checks and can always choose to take 10 on Climb checks, even if rushed or threatened. He has a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check to perform some special action or avoid a hazard and can always choose to take 10 on Swim checks, even if distracted or endangered. He has a +8 racial bonus on Survival checks when tracking by scent.
Spoiler: Tactics and TricksShowDespite not possessing the versatility of, say, a 20th level Wizard, Aperantos has a surprising amount of tricks and abilities. Rather than expect people to pick up on every single one of them, just from a glance at the statblock, I will have below a list of the notable abilities of Aperantos to keep in mind.
Spoiler: Your Anaconda Don't (Grappling)ShowWhile his role in the campaign is more of a mastermind than a brute, Aperantos is no slouch when it comes to combat. With a +36 grapple check (BEFORE item boosts), Greater Multigrab, Improved Grab, and 6 'limbs' for holding, he can lock down a large area with little effort. The casters will of course be his first priority, but by having each of his heads be wrapped up in, well, wrapping people up, it can actually eventually lead to his downfall (if you so desire). With his Dissolving Touch power, he can rely on his Attacks of Opportunity to let him get grabs, and then pump them with acid and constriction as much as he desires. Either way, his grappling skills are solid enough to carry him as far as physical combat goes.
Spoiler: Snake Eyes (Durability)ShowGetting killed early is no fun for anyone, and certainly doesn't make for a good dramatic villain. Luckily, Aperantos is at no risk of this. With DR 15/Good and Magic, Regeneration 5 of a very unique and difficult type to bypass, 351 HP on average, and the ability to just up and disappear into the crowd of snakes, his base kit alone is incredibly difficult to take down permanently if you don't want him to be killed. Being able to turn into a swarm of snakes is very conducive to this, as he is unable to be harmed by adamantine weapons in that form, and the vast majority of force spells aren't also area spells, leaving him safe enough to hide and Regenerate back to full.
Spoiler: Original Sin (Anti-Divine)ShowDevotion to an Elder Evil provides Aperantos with a large number of Vile feats, and given that he's not dumping them all into Deformity feats like most would, that gives him plenty to spec towards screwing over divine casters. First off is Apostate, giving him a whopping +12 on saves against divine spells. Next is the Slave to Evil feat, which gives him even more anti-divine properties as his master's sign increases in power. As the PCs should almost always be fighting Aperantos while the sign is at Overwhelming strength, he receives the following benefits: another +2 on saves vs. divine spells, +1 to hit and damage vs. divine casters, +5 SR vs. divine spells (bringing it up to actually CR appropriate levels), and Impeding divine spells cast within 30 ft. (forcing a DC 20 + spell level Spellcraft check or making them lose the spell). Additionally, he possesses the Spellcasting Harrier Epic feat, allowing him to make AoOs against even defensive spellcasting within his 15 ft. reach, which then usually leads into a grapple.
Spoiler: Snake in the Grass (Stealth)ShowDespite his massive size, Aperantos has incredible abilities as far as stealth and espionage. Okay that first bit is probably misleading, as most of his stealth relies on his Alternate Form ability to turn into either a Viper Swarm or a Tiny Viper. Should he need to get away, his usual tactic is to use his Deeper Darkness spell-like ability as a standard action, and then shift as a move action (with the Quick Change feat) to a viper swarm. As he should have multiple viper swarms and snakes of assorted types near him in the final confrontation, he can blend in easy, becoming incredibly hard to damage as he heals up. As a tiny viper, he mostly just has very high Hide and Move Silently, boosted even further by his Chameleon power, letting him set up for that DRAMATIC ENTRANCE for the PCs very easily.
Spoiler: Your Obedient Serpent (Manipulation)ShowYou don't amass the kind of power and numbers Aperantos wields without extensive ability to manipulate and charm those you need to advance your goals. Aperantos is distinctly not lacking in this area. With a 28 unboosted charisma, high ranks in both Bluff and Diplomacy, as well as the ability to take 10 on both of those checks through his pact with Naberius, he can easily and quickly sway people to his point of view, hitting enough to take anyone from hostile to friendly with a standard action, or from anything else to helpful. Additionally, he has Suggestion as an SLA, as well as a trick to boost its DC. By casting it on himself and then using Insane Defiance to 'bounce' it to someone else, he can boost the DC by 4 and then heal up the Wis damage instantly with Naberius' Faster Ability Healing. He uses this same trick to mitigate the costs of Dark Speech and Chosen of Evil as well.
Spoiler: Enemies and AlliesShowAs a 'final boss' sort, it's very important to support Aperantos with a good secondary cast, both on his side and against it. While his position as a manipulator, servant of Sertrous, and creator of monsters has great potential, it also can swing towards overwhelming without aid, or underwhelming without a proper backbone of mooks to slay.
First, let's look towards the PC side. As a Vile creature of great evil, obviously any Good sorts are absolutely not going to be on his side. Paladins, clerics of Good gods, the like. However, Aperantos has one enemy that might not look like an enemy at first glance: most other Yuan-ti. Given his hatred of Merrshaulk, most other Yuan-ti aren't exactly predisposed to like him. There is great potential for an uneasy alliance between high priests of Merrshaulk and the PCs. Should the PCs lack a way to overcome Aperantos' Regeneration or deal damage to his swarm form, it would not be unreasonable to provide an allied Cleric of Merrshaulk, with access to things like Blade Barrier or an adamantine weapon to overcome Aperantos' regeneration, as well as extra healing should it be necessary. To truly showcase the uniting potential of Aperantos as a threat, I would actually suggest having an earlier plot in the campaign being against the Yuan-ti who will eventually become the PC's allies, bringing the themes in early, and rewarding them for not just murder-hoboing their way to victory. But that's not to say that ALL Yuan-ti are going to be willing to cooperate.
On Aperantos' side, we have not only the Yuan-ti servitors who are sticking with him, but the numerous snake-like creatures spawned by Sertrous' Infestation, as well as Tainted Ones and Broodguard that Aperantos himself has created. Let's go through them one by one. First, we have the other Yuan-ti. Important to note is that these Yuan-ti are OUTCASTS to the rest of Yuan-ti society. It would serve them well to have unique traits and disabilities, to showcase exactly how Aperantos is gathering such a disparate and seemingly aimless following. Additionally, none of them are followers of Merrshaulk, and often will be at odds with those who are. They are all devoted, to some level, to Sertrous (though this is only in the late stages), meaning you have an innate source of Vile feats to play with. This can be used to foreshadow some of Aperantos' tricks, such as Dark Speech and using Insane Defiance to bounce spell-like abilities off themselves. Additionally, if you want a Dragon (in the TV Tropes sense) to go along with Aperantos, the Elder Evils book provides a perfectly usable one in Seghulerak. Simply replace Avamerin with Aperantos, and you have a perfectly competent and compelling villain.
Next, we have the Infestation. Rather than go over exactly what it entails, I'll simply provide you with the descriptive text for it.
These 'shock troops' so to speak are going to provide the bulk of conflict throughout the campaign. Notably, it would serve best for these to be more 'aimless' in nature, perhaps even conflicting a bit with the normal troops of Aperantos, to provide contrast with the zealous and brutal Broodguard, and the stealthy Tainted Ones.The earth vomits torrents of snakes and serpentine creatures. At first these infestations consist of normal snakes, but as the infestation grows, monstrous creatures such as chaotic evil nagas, hydras, and even mariliths become more common. As the sign grows more potent, the infesting serpents become increasingly more deformed. Some might have multiple heads, others are inside out, and some might have no head or tail—they’re simply a mass of coils with no end or beginning.
Speaking thereof, the final 'head' of Aperantos' forces are the results of his experimentation: Tainted Ones, Broodguard, and Ti-khana. Being a Yuan-ti Anathema, Aperantos has a built in way to create the first two. They are loyal servants who are not bound by magic of any sort, making it that much more potentially horrifying when finding out that returning characters who were once allies have been turned into, well, these. Tainted Ones serve as a source of intrigue, and the PCs should quickly become adept at noticing the signs of someone having been Tainted, perhaps spawning an entire sub-campaign of potential horror-style investigations. Additionally, Tainted Ones have access to Polymorph into "snakes or snakelike forms". While the actual degree of this is up to the DM, one potential option is to have multiple Tainted Ones Polymorph into a Viper Swarm, and have Aperantos use Dark Speech to hivemind them all together. That's an option for high optimization parties however, so most likely should not be assumed.
Broodguard and Ti-khana however, are all about the brutal combat. Broodguard will usually have been kitted out with a full set of Yuan-ti Grafts, giving them multiple sources of Con damaging poison, as well as a distinctive appearance. Ti-khana are much simpler, being modified snakes and dinosaurs, but they are good filler units to provide a challenge at lower levels, or fill out an attack squad in the mid levels.
Spoiler: SourcesShowComplete Scoundrel - Clarity of Vision
Elder Evils - Apostate, Chosen of Evil, Dark Speech, Dark Whispers, Insane Defiance, Slave to Evil
Fiend Folio - Yuan-ti Anathema, Viper Swarm
Player's Handbook 2 - Steadfast Determination
Savage Species - Greater Multigrab, Multigrab
Tome of Magic - Binder, Naberius