Humanity carries a deep and primal fear of serpents, dating back thousands of years. While there’s certainly a lot to be said for giant snakes as opponents (and plenty of giant snake stat-blocks to work with), I think there’s definitely room for more serpentine monsters of a mystical variety, incorporating some of the mythical powers that have been attributed to snakes in mythology, folklore, or more recent media (especially ones that aren’t nagas). Today, I present just such a monster, the nyokhara.
This horse-sized serpent hangs patiently from a tree branch, its massive, muscular coils covered in black scales mottled with bright reds and yellows. Its reptilian eyes glow with an unnerving green light.
NYOKHARA CR 7
NE Large magical beast
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent, tremorsense 60 ft.; Perception +16
AC 20, touch 12, flat-footed 17 (+3 Dex, +8 natural, −1 size)
hp 94 (9d10+45)
Fort +10, Ref +9, Will +7
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft., swim 30 ft.
Melee bite +16 (1d8+12 plus poison and grab)
Special Attacks careful constriction, constrict (1d8+12), hypnotic gaze, swallow whole (3d6 acid damage and 3d6 bludgeoning damage, AC 14, 9 hp)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 9; concentration +13)
At Will—speak with animals (snakes only)
3/day—charm animal (DC 14; snakes only), entangle (DC 14)
1/day—suggestion (DC 16), tree shape
Str 27, Dex 17, Con 18, Int 7, Wis 14, Cha 19
Base Atk +9; CMB +18; CMD 31
Feats Ability Focus (hypnotic gaze), Improved Natural Attack (bite), Iron Will, Power Attack, Toughness
Skills Acrobatics +15,Perception +16, Stealth +4; Racial Modifiers +4 Perception, +4 Stealth, +8 Acrobatics
Environment warm forests, swamps
Organization solitary or nest (2−6 plus 3−12 giant constrictor snakes)
Careful Constriction (Ex): A nyokhara is a master of delicately squeezing the life out of a creature without the creature even realizing it is in danger. It can safely make combat maneuver checks against fascinated creatures (including initiating a grapple) without ending the fascination or even granting a new saving throw to end the fascination effect. The first time each round that the nyokhara deals damage to a fascinated creature it is grappling, and any time a nyokhara swallows a creature whole, that creature is entitled to a new Will save to end the fascination effect, but even this does not automatically end the fascination effect. Other hostile actions made by the nyokhara, such as using its bite attack, end fascination effects normally.
Hypnotic Gaze (Su): Any creature that meets a nyokhara’s gaze must succeed on a DC 20 Will save or be fascinated by the nyokhara for as long as it continues to be able to see the nyokhara, and for 1d4 rounds thereafter. A creature that succeeds on a saving throw to resist the nyokhara’s gaze (including new saving throws to end the fascination effect due to potential threats) is immune to the nyokhara’s hypnotic gaze for 10 minutes. A nyokhara can suppress or resume this effect as a swift action.
Poison (Ex): Bite—injury; save Fort DC 18; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d3 Wis; cure 2 consecutive saves. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Sometimes referred to as serpent fathers or snake kings, nyokharas are deadly and dangerous predators who possess just enough intelligence for their predations to be sadistic and malevolent, rather than being motivated purely by hunger. Possessing both venom and powerful constrictive abilities, as well as potent magical powers, nyokharas are sometimes the subject of worship by primitive humanoids, who sacrifice live animals to these false deities. Rarely satisfied with food that possesses only animal intelligence, however, nyokharas lucky enough to gain such worship invariably demand humanoid sacrifices sooner or later, manipulating these dark cults to supply them with an endless stream of victims whose last struggles, pleas, and cries the nyokhara can savor as much as their flesh.
Because of the power that nyokharas wield over other serpents, and because they possess both venom and the ability to constrict their prey (whereas most snakes possess only one or the other), some scholars believe that nyokharas are the last of an ancient race of primordial snakes, from which all “normal” snakes are descended. Others believe that nyokharas are snakes that have been blessed by dark powers, or were born under auspicious signs, and gained their powers through supernatural means. To date, the exact mating habits of nyokharas is unknown, so this theory remains a possibility, albeit one that does not enjoy many supporters.
Nyokharas bear an intense hatred of couatls, and take great delight in the death of these good-aligned outsiders. For their part, couatls are also eager to root out and slay any nyokharas they may encounter, but don’t seem to bear nyokharas any more ill will than they would any other evil creature. Because most nyokharas are too weak to fight a couatl on an even playing field, a nyokhara who learns of the existence of a nearby couatl will immediately begin scheming ways to defeat it, typically by banding together with other nyokharas in its nest, using other creatures as pawns to weaken the couatl, or similar tactics.