Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #25: The All-Seeing Serpent

 Two hexes southeast, one northeast of Alakran.


In a stand of oleander bushes near the River Shi-Ar, just where the watershed gets narrower and drier, dwells a serpent remarkable not only for its size -- the length of five camels at last report -- but also for the feature that gave it the local names "The All-Seeing" and "The Never-Blind".

The dust-brown venomous snake has a second head mounted on its tail. This head is perpetually sour and grumpy; it is at the wrong end of the snake's digestive tract and can only command the whole body when there is a threat from behind. So, whereas the front head deals reasonably with threats and is amenable to bribery with meat or animals, and rationally avoids danger, the rear head flies into a self-affirming rage when enemies draw near from that quarter.

A word on the gaming monster used to represent the Never-Blind One.The amphisbaena is only one of a catalogue of fantastically venomous reptiles said to crawl the Libyan desert in antiquity, tall tales elaborated on by Lucan in his account of the Civil War and said to have sprung from the blood drops of Medusa's severed head. In first edition D&D's Fiend Folio another Lucanian legend joined the monster rolls, the flying (or in game, leaping) snakes called jaculi. It's certain that a few more of this catalogue of sixteen deadly serpents, with their bizarre features and death-dealing scenes worthy of a horror film, can be found within three days' travel of the Scarp.

No comments:

Post a Comment