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Noble Snake, Viper

Vipers are a family of venomous snakes found all over the world. All have relatively long, hinged fangs that permit deep penetration and injection of venom. When not in use, the fangs fold back against the roof of the mouth and are enclosed in a membranous sheath. The left and right fangs can be rotated together or independently. During a strike, the mouth can open nearly 180° and the maxilla rotates forward, erecting the fangs as late as possible so as the fangs do not become damaged. The jaws close on impact and powerful muscles that surround the venom glands contract to inject the venom as the fangs penetrate. This action is very fast; in defensive strikes, it will be more a stab than a bite. Vipers use this mechanism primarily for immobilization and digestion of prey. Secondarily, it is used for self-defence, though in cases with nonprey, such as humans, they may give a dry bite (not inject any venom).

The common adder, is found from throughout the northern hemisphere. It is pale gray to yellow with a dark brown line down its back. It grows to a length of two feet (60 cm). Its bite is rarely fatal to humans. Russell’s viper, found in the jungles of the sub-tropics, reaches a length of about four feet (1.2 m). It is tan, blue, and black with geometric markings on its back. Its bite is deadly. The Gaboon viper of the rainforests and savannahs of the tropics is the largest of the vipers, reaching a length of 6 1/2 feet (2 m). It is yellowish with three rows of oval, dark-ringed spots on its body. Its fangs are two inches (5 cm) long—longer than those of any other snake—and its bite is deadly.

Almost all vipers have keeled scales, a stocky build with a short tail, and, due to the location of the venom glands, a triangle-shaped head distinct from the neck. The great majority have vertically elliptical, or slit-shaped, pupils that can open wide to cover most of the eye or close almost completely, which helps them to see in a wide range of light levels. Typically, vipers are nocturnal and ambush their prey.

Compared to many other snakes, vipers often appear rather sluggish. Most are ovoviviparous, giving birth to live young, but a few lay eggs.

Species Descriptions

While it is true that some cultures view the viper as a symbol of learning and healing, it is also true that many more cultures see them as the earth-bound representative of absolute evil.

Some noble snakes are hurt by the evil stereotype, and strive to make people change their minds about them. Others, however, decide to live up to the image as best they can.

These rules can be used to represent any of hundreds of venomous noble snakes. Taking different feats can simulate the differences in species. For example: a noble hooded cobra or a noble rattlesnake would both have the Threat Display feat, a noble coral snake would take Ability Focus, and a noble spitting cobra would take Venom Spitting.

Using these guidelines, you can build everything from a Noble Asp (very dangerous) to a Noble Yangzte Mamushi.

Noble Snake, Viper Species Traits

  • Ability Score Modifiers: 4 Strength (Noble Vipers always begin play with a Strength of 4 — this can be increased through level advancement as usual), +6 Dexterity, -2 Intelligence, +2 Wisdom.
  • Size: Tiny.
  • Base Speed: 20 feet, Climb: 20 feet, Swim: 20 ft.
  • Natural Weapons: Bite (1d2 + poison).
  • Natural Armor: +1.
  • Poison (Ex): You can elect to make an envenomed bite a number of times a day equal to your Constitution modifier x 3 (minimum of 1). This bite deals initial and secondary damage of 1d6 Con. The venom has a Fort save DC of 10 + ½ your Hit Dice (Maximum of +2) + your Con bonus. The secondary damage, as well as the save to prevent it, takes place one minute after the initial bite. Once used, your poison will replenish itself at a rate of your Con bonus (minimum 1) per hour of rest.
  • Diminished Profile (Ex): A noble viper can pass through any space large enough for a creature three size categories smaller than itself.
  • Senses: Low-light vision (Ex).
  • Bonus Feat: Weapon Finesse.
  • Skills: +4 racial bonus on Perception and Stealth checks.
  • Family: Reptile.
  • Noble Animal Type: Noble vipers have the noble animal type except where superseded by other species traits and features.
  • Social Group: None.
  • Automatic Languages: High Fauna and Serpent.
  • Bonus Languages: Bat, Camel, Canine, Common, Crocodilian, Elephant, Equine, Feline, Herdspeak, Hyena, Lizard, Monitor, Raptor, Rodent, Simian, Songbird, Ursine, and Woodland.

Racial Feats

The following feats are available to a noble viper character who meets the prerequisites.

  • Linked Feat

Noble Viper Class

Hit Die: d8

Class Skills

The noble viper’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Climb (Str), Perception (Wis), Stealth (Dex), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str).

Skill Ranks Per Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Table: Noble Viper
Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special
1st +0 +2 +2 +0 Ability increase (+2 Str), natural armor +3, size increase
2nd +1 +3 +3 +0 Ability increase (+2 Str), improved venom, size increase
3rd +2 +3 +3 +1 Ability increase (+2 Str), size increase

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the noble viper class.

Ability Increase

At each level, your Strength score increases by +2.

Natural Armor

At 1st level, your Natural Armor bonus increases to +3.

Size Increase

Your size increases at each level. These size increases are the only way a noble viper can increase in size; there is no Size Threshold for noble snake characters. When a noble viper increases in size, they do not gain the statistics adjustments shown on the table under Size Threshold, but they do gain a negative level.

Improved Venom (Ex)

At 2nd level, the DC of the Fort save to resist your venom increases by +1.

Alternative Racial Traits

You can exchange one or several of your character’s normal racial Traits, but of course you cannot exchange the same racial trait more than once.

As with any alternate or optional rule, you must first get the permission of your GM to exchange any of your character’s normal racial Traits for those listed here.

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Favored Class Alternatives

Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever they gain a level in a Favored Class, noble vipers have the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending upon their Favored Classes. The following options are available to all noble vipers who have the listed Favored Class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the listed Favored Class reward.

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Section 15: Copyright Notice

The Noble Wild. Copyright 2009 by Lee Garvin and Skirmisher Publishing LLC.