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Old 03-18-2018, 11:00 PM   #11
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Default Re: Ancient Near Eastern Monsters (with Serpentine, Reptilian and Dragonic themes)

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don't know what Aassathi are, though, and Google is not helping, beyond teling me that they are a race from the Scarred Lands. Can you describe the salient points?
Snakes with arms. Particular affinity for magic.

Half bloods exist usually human/ aassathi hybrids. Hybrids have legs and look a bit off but can usually pass for human

Had an ancient magic based empire before the ascendency of the gods over the Titans.

Typical magic cataclysm destroyed empire and created a desert around former capital.

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Old 03-19-2018, 02:44 AM   #12
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Default Re: Ancient Near Eastern Monsters (with Serpentine, Reptilian and Dragonic themes)

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Originally Posted by tanksoldier View Post
Snakes with arms. Particular affinity for magic.

Half bloods exist usually human/ aassathi hybrids. Hybrids have legs and look a bit off but can usually pass for human

Had an ancient magic based empire before the ascendency of the gods over the Titans.

Typical magic cataclysm destroyed empire and created a desert around former capital.
Ah, Robert E. Howard's Serpent Men and D&D's Yuan-ti! Well, perhaps mixed with the Sarrukh, Forgotten Realms' truly ancient and magically powerful Serpent People, of whom the Yuan-ti are mere decadent descendants and/or lesser servitors.

There is a clan of shapeshifting serpent people in Tamtuthalass, the undercity. They are said to be independent of any higher power in the criminal hierarchy, affording the followers of both the Wise Lady and Tiamat both the appropriate respect and providing useful services.

There is a rumour that Kurilgalzu, the apparent head of the 'family', is married to a daughter of the Wise Lady, explaining his ability to remain blithely unaffiliated and free to operate his festhall, The Crimson Delight, as a highly profitable neutral ground. The PCs can testify that he has at least one senior wife named Allatu who appears to be a fanatical worshipper of the Wise Lady, so there is perhaps an element of truth to this.

On the other hand, these shapeshifting serpent people seem to be a different thing than the utterly inhuman Yuan-ti. From the extensive anatomical inspection that the Xenophiliac cryptozoologist Abadas 'The Mad' 'I just get these headaches' Hussein has carried out on an exotic dancer by the name of Yadidat, they are entirely human in appearance and feel (to the most minute anatomical detail) when in human form, but can take the form of a particular serpent or shift merely parts of their body for some truly exotic sensuous delights.

Crucially, they retain no cosmetic snake-like features in human form (though they seem to be far more energetic in heat and to despise the cold) and they do not use illusion magic to disguise themselves, but truly take human shape and serpent shape according to preference. They seem more like wereserpents than Yuan-ti.

Yuan-ti are especially associated with lands to the far southwest, but there are those, of course, who believe that they lurk, disguised, in positions of power and authority in all human civilisations. There are Untheri sages who claim that the neighbouring Mulhorandi, ancient rivals and current invaders, have long been subverted by these cunning infiltrators, the result of their empire being constructed over the ruins of an ancient ophidian civilisation.

Of course, the Untheri do not distinguish between the Mulhorandi god Set and the inhuman Yuan-ti deity Sseth, considering these simply different aspects of the same snake-worshipping cult. In the past, positing Set/Sseth/Typhon as the mate of the Mother of Monsters, either Erseshkigal/Dimme/Lamashtu or Tiamat, was a semi-popular Untheri myth. Any and all serpent people would then, obviously, indeed be the children of the Mother of Monsters.

The PCs know better. They hope.
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Old 03-19-2018, 06:08 AM   #13
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Default Re: Ancient Near Eastern Monsters (with Serpentine, Reptilian and Dragonic themes)

You could start here:

List_of_reptilian_humanoids

That includes:

Male
  1. Boreas (Aquilon to the Romans): the Greek god of the cold north wind, described by Pausanias as a winged man with serpents instead of legs.
  2. Cecrops I: the mythical first King of Athens was half man, half snake
  3. Glycon: a snake god who had the head of a man.
  4. Ningizzida, Lord of the Tree of Life, mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh and linked to the water serpent constellation Hydra.
  5. Sobek: Ancient Egyptian crocodile-headed god
  6. Typhon, the "father of all monsters" in Greek mythology, was a man from the waist up, and a mass of seething vipers from the waist down.
  7. Zahhak, a figure from Zoroastrian mythology who, in Ferdowsi's epic Shahnameh, grows a serpent on either shoulder

Female
  • Echidna, the wife of Typhon in Greek mythology, was half woman, half snake.
  • Enchanted Moura from Portuguese and Galician folklore appears as a snake with long blonde hair.
  • The Gorgons: Sisters in Greek mythology who had serpents for hair.
  • The Lamia: a child-devouring female demon from Greek mythology depicted as half woman, half serpent.
  • Wadjet pre-dynastic snake goddess of Lower Egypt - sometimes depicted as half snake, half woman

Serpents_and_worms

Quite a list but you will need to sort out the non Middle Eastern lore.

Of course you could have 'Chinese' and 'European' monsters that have been introduced to the Middle East via the trade routes.
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Old 03-19-2018, 12:29 PM   #14
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Default Re: Ancient Near Eastern Monsters (with Serpentine, Reptilian and Dragonic themes)

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Originally Posted by smurf View Post
You could start here:

List_of_reptilian_humanoids
Thank you.

I'm pretty good on the humanoid front, I'm mainly looking for more beast-like, serpentine or dragonic reptilian monsters.

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That includes:

Male
  1. Boreas (Aquilon to the Romans): the Greek god of the cold north wind, described by Pausanias as a winged man with serpents instead of legs.
  2. Cecrops I: the mythical first King of Athens was half man, half snake
  3. Glycon: a snake god who had the head of a man.
  4. Ningizzida, Lord of the Tree of Life, mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh and linked to the water serpent constellation Hydra.
  5. Sobek: Ancient Egyptian crocodile-headed god
  6. Typhon, the "father of all monsters" in Greek mythology, was a man from the waist up, and a mass of seething vipers from the waist down.
  7. Zahhak, a figure from Zoroastrian mythology who, in Ferdowsi's epic Shahnameh, grows a serpent on either shoulder
The first three I hadn't considered and I didn't recall that Boreas had any associations with snakes. Sobek/Sebek is a recognised god in the setting, though not one with whom the PCs have much truck. Typhon is a locally used alias for 'Set', an evil, foreign god. Zahhak is not used (technically it might be an obscure synonym and/or a little known demon), but azi dahaka, azdag and Azag are all terms known to scholars, see post above.

Ningizzida surely has no connection at all with the verdant looking tree that the PCs are currently staring at, which grows with amazing vitality even underground, and from which hundreds of serpents are hanging. And whose roots enter a magical looking aquifer, which may be of infinite depth, where a multi-headed water serpent was guarding the tree.

A PC with Theology has identified the motifs as associated with Ningishzida, a son of the goddess of the Underworld, Ereshkigal, whose titles and imagery they've seen used by multiple people in the adventure, but dismissed as a 'slaver and bandit lord with good PR'. Whose son is allegedly in revolt against her, holed up in an ancient, abandoned temple, where he is performing some blasphemous rituals having to do with rebelling against the natural order.

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Female
  • Echidna, the wife of Typhon in Greek mythology, was half woman, half snake.
  • Enchanted Moura from Portuguese and Galician folklore appears as a snake with long blonde hair.
  • The Gorgons: Sisters in Greek mythology who had serpents for hair.
  • The Lamia: a child-devouring female demon from Greek mythology depicted as half woman, half serpent.
  • Wadjet pre-dynastic snake goddess of Lower Egypt - sometimes depicted as half snake, half woman
The previously mentioned Mother of Monsters is clearly analogous to Echidna and even mentioned as a wife of Typhon. The PCs have met lamias and expect gorgon-like Medusae.

They've been on a ship called Wadjet, but would probably not expect the locals to consider a deity of their traditional foes anything other than a foreign demon. As opposed to the reliable and trustworthy local demons/gods, such as the 'Wise Lady'/'Queen of Tortures' or Tiamat, the Nemesis of the Gods.

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Originally Posted by smurf View Post
Serpents_and_worms

Quite a list but you will need to sort out the non Middle Eastern lore.
Yep, thanks.

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Originally Posted by smurf View Post
Of course you could have 'Chinese' and 'European' monsters that have been introduced to the Middle East via the trade routes.
Certainly, but those will usually have connections to something else in the campaign world. I'm specifically looking for anything that has a correspondence in local mythology, which started out Mesopotamian, but has been influenced by three millennia of various fantasy influences, non-human cultures and the local equivalents to cultures such as those who in our world spoke Ancient Egyptian, Anatolian, Armenian, Berber, Hellenic, Illyrian, Indo-Aryan, Indo-Iranian, Thraco-Dacian and a number of Semitic languages.
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Old 03-19-2018, 03:55 PM   #15
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Default Re: Reptilian or Serpentine Eggs as Breakfast?

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Iguana eggs are popular in parts of South America and the Caribbean; I'm not aware of any other lizard or snake eggs that are regularly eaten, but that might be due to availability rather than flavour.
Hmmm... huge monitor lizard eggs might therefore be edible.

It occurs to me that eggs that weigh 20-60 lbs. might actually contain unhatched creatures that are good eating. On the other hand, that wouldn't make an omelet.
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Old 03-19-2018, 11:06 PM   #16
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Default Re: Ancient Near Eastern Monsters (with Serpentine, Reptilian and Dragonic themes)

There was a fascinating scientific American article about the mythological origin of dragons (actually, they spent most of the time talking about other myths, but the dragon part was what I noticed the most). Unfortunately, it is behind a paywall now, for on-line access. If you can track down a paper copy, it will be the Dec 2016 issue. Basically, the original dragon was probably associated with water, had horns, was venomous, and was capable of controlling some of the elemental forces of nature (weather, floods, earthquakes, etc.).

Someone mentioned basilisks. Pliny the Elder's original basilisk was found in Lybia, and sounded like it was a cobra somewhat exaggerated by traveler's tales. Similar stories are told of cobras (and, oddly, desert monitor lizards varanus griseus) being able to strike people dead from a distance with their venom (possibly related to the spitting cobra's ability to blind with fiery pain) among modern people.

Cobras likewise influenced the Indian people, which merged with the dragon myths of the far east to produce Nagas, semi-divine serpents with powers of fertility, healing, death, rain-making, seasonal cycles, floods and drought, earthquakes, and other elemental forces.

The Old Testament mentions flying, fiery serpents (Isaiah 14:29, Isaiah 30:6), so there is a Near-Eastern reference to something that might not be too different from the European concept of a dragon. Although it is likely that the Hebrew "fiery" was just describing venom rather than actual flames. Otherwise, you need to wait until the 8th century to get anything like the traditional European dragon (in the form of Beowulf's bane, a flying, fire-breathing serpent; although Nidhoggr is described as being able to fly in the Völuspá, so it is possible the European dragon concept went back to the early Germans and Norse).

Cultures all throughout th near- and Mid- East, as well as all the cultures descended from the Proto-Indo-Europeans describe a myth of a primordial cosmic serpent of water and chaos, opposed to the gods and the natural order of things. Although it sounds like you already have the Babylonian version of this myth in the form of Tiamat. The Hebrew Leviathan is likely descended from the cosmic dragon myth, as was Apep, the Egyptian enemy of the gods and creation.

Pliny the Elder also mentions the Hydrus, which supposedly lived in the Nile river and was the mortal enemy of crocodiles. Some have interpreted this as a kind of otter based on the description; I think it more likely that it was the Nile monitor lizard, which also fits Pliny's description and is known for being associated with crocodiles as well as being a notorious plunderer of crocodile nests and predator of young crocs. Pliny's hydrus would attack and overturn small watercraft, however, making it more of a threat than real-life monitors.

Both Rome and Greece told of "dragons" (or drakons, δράκων), that were common to India, the near- and mid-east, and northern Africa, and which were always depicted as giant snakes (basically pythons, which of course got their name from the Greek drakon named Python).

The Greeks loved their many-headed drakons, such as the Lernean hydra and Ladon. The Greeks also loved their half-humans - half-dragons, usually female, called drakaina (which literally translates as female dragon, but in myth which typically had a woman's torso and a serpent's body below the waist). France sports a similar story from the fairy story of Melusine.

A common myth is the serpent/dragon which is the guardian of a sacred tree (or otherwise associated with a sacred tree). We see this in the Colchian dragon guarding the tree holding the golden fleece, Ladon guarding the apples of immortality, and the serpent which temped Eve to eat the fruit of knowledge. (Oddly enough, you have similar associations with serpent-dragons and sacred trees popping up in other cultures from the Norse to the Maya.)

And there are of course the real-life animals that inspired the dragon myths - rock pythons and Nile crocodiles, and possibly some of the larger monitor lizards.

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Old 03-20-2018, 09:18 AM   #17
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Default Re: Ancient Near Eastern Monsters (with Serpentine, Reptilian and Dragonic themes)

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Originally Posted by lwcamp View Post
There was a fascinating scientific American article about the mythological origin of dragons (actually, they spent most of the time talking about other myths, but the dragon part was what I noticed the most). Unfortunately, it is behind a paywall now, for on-line access. If you can track down a paper copy, it will be the Dec 2016 issue. Basically, the original dragon was probably associated with water, had horns, was venomous, and was capable of controlling some of the elemental forces of nature (weather, floods, earthquakes, etc.).
Indeed. My conception of this original serpent/dragon is behind the dual nature of Tiamat, both as a modern goddess of intelligent, wealth-amassing D&D-style dragons who wish to rule human society, and as an older deity associated with ocean depths, serpentine, slithering things of great antiquity and opposition to the mores of civilized society.

And someone seems to be trying to usurp the neglected primeval aspects of Tiamat by using the mythological motifs of various chthonic underworld deities, serpent cults and Mother of Monsters legends.

Someone mentioned basilisks. Pliny the Elder's original basilisk was found in Lybia, and sounded like it was a cobra somewhat exaggerated by traveler's tales. Similar stories are told of cobras (and, oddly, desert monitor lizards varanus griseus) being able to strike people dead from a distance with their venom (possibly related to the spitting cobra's ability to blind with fiery pain) among modern people.[/QUOTE]

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Originally Posted by lwcamp View Post
Cobras likewise influenced the Indian people, which merged with the dragon myths of the far east to produce Nagas, semi-divine serpents with powers of fertility, healing, death, rain-making, seasonal cycles, floods and drought, earthquakes, and other elemental forces.
Nagas are awesome, of course.

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Originally Posted by lwcamp View Post
Cultures all throughout th near- and Mid- East, as well as all the cultures descended from the Proto-Indo-Europeans describe a myth of a primordial cosmic serpent of water and chaos, opposed to the gods and the natural order of things. Although it sounds like you already have the Babylonian version of this myth in the form of Tiamat. The Hebrew Leviathan is likely descended from the cosmic dragon myth, as was Apep, the Egyptian enemy of the gods and creation.
I've got two rival beings both claiming the role of Mother of Monsters, Tiamat and Ereshkigal/Dimme/Lamashtu.*

There are plenty of legends about sea monsters and primeval serpents, such as Azi Dakaha, Azag, Apep, Dahak, Typhon, Litanu, Set, Sseth, Tannin, Tunannu and Yam. Generally they are claimed to be the sons, mates or both of Ereshkigal/Dimme/Lamashtu or Tiamat.

*Yes, I'm aware that these are different myths. Worship empowers the gods in the setting and most of them try to claim any attractive myth as their own, often being worshipped under a lot of different names, even with different attributes.

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Originally Posted by lwcamp View Post
Pliny the Elder also mentions the Hydrus, which supposedly lived in the Nile river and was the mortal enemy of crocodiles. Some have interpreted this as a kind of otter based on the description; I think it more likely that it was the Nile monitor lizard, which also fits Pliny's description and is known for being associated with crocodiles as well as being a notorious plunderer of crocodile nests and predator of young crocs. Pliny's hydrus would attack and overturn small watercraft, however, making it more of a threat than real-life monitors.
Monitor lizards in real life seem pretty unlikely threats to armoured men. What do you suggest for a fantasy version who can threaten legendary heroes?

I have no idea whether it would make sense for them to attack in a group, for example. And what kind of fantastical replacement for teeth ought I saddle a monitor lizard monster with, if it could penetrate at least DR 4 and ideally up to DR 10 on an All-Out Attack (Strong) and high damage roll?

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Originally Posted by lwcamp View Post
The Greeks loved their many-headed drakons, such as the Lernean hydra and Ladon. The Greeks also loved their half-humans - half-dragons, usually female, called drakaina (which literally translates as female dragon, but in myth which typically had a woman's torso and a serpent's body below the waist). France sports a similar story from the fairy story of Melusine.
The most powerful priestess of Tiamat outside the Mesopotamian-esque country of Unther, where the PCs are currently, is called the Drakaina Despoina, which may be loosely translated as 'Mistress of Dragons'. She is from a Thraco-Dacian/Graecian area which used to be ruled by the Untheric Empire.

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Originally Posted by lwcamp View Post
A common myth is the serpent/dragon which is the guardian of a sacred tree (or otherwise associated with a sacred tree). We see this in the Colchian dragon guarding the tree holding the golden fleece, Ladon guarding the apples of immortality, and the serpent which temped Eve to eat the fruit of knowledge. (Oddly enough, you have similar associations with serpent-dragons and sacred trees popping up in other cultures from the Norse to the Maya.)
As noted, the PCs are standing by a supernatural tree in an underground chamber, where every surface is more or less covered in snakes of all sizes and shapes, and there was an absolutely huge snake-headed hydra guarding the tree.*

*There was also a family of multi-headed, serpentine chimera-like beasts with lion bodies, but those were in a side chamber.

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And there are of course the real-life animals that inspired the dragon myths - rock pythons and Nile crocodiles, and possibly some of the larger monitor lizards.
Rock pythons and Nile crocodiles are probably among the eggs the PCs find. What kind of fantastical abilities or changes do you recommend to make such creatures less 'boring real world animals' and more 'monstrous dungeon denizens who can kill delvers in magical armour, with superhero abilities'?
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Old 03-20-2018, 12:35 PM   #18
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Default Re: Ancient Near Eastern Monsters (with Serpentine, Reptilian and Dragonic themes)

So, okay, next session is on.

For no particular reason, has anyone got a suggestion of where to find the GURPS 4e stats for cinematic/RPG versions of raptors like the deinonychus?

I'm sure they're in one of the Dungeon Fantasy books or maybe Monster Hunters? An adventure? Some worldbook? Online on some particularly good site?

GURPS Animalia is fine for real animals, but I need these raptors to have the same relationship with the boring, short-legged, not all that fast deinonychus of current paleontology as most D&D animals have with real animals, i.e they look as much like them as someone who saw them in a movie once might think they look and they are dangerous enough to pose a threat to men in heavy armour, with magical weapons, who can throw fireballs and turn into bears.
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Old 03-20-2018, 01:01 PM   #19
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Default Re: Ancient Near Eastern Monsters (with Serpentine, Reptilian and Dragonic themes)

Another possible oddity is Ušumgallu, which is apparently a 'lion-dragon' and also a horned snake. I can't find a lot of detail about exactly what it is, though.
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Old 03-20-2018, 01:25 PM   #20
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Default Re: Ancient Near Eastern Monsters (with Serpentine, Reptilian and Dragonic themes)

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For no particular reason, has anyone got a suggestion of where to find the GURPS 4e stats for cinematic/RPG versions of raptors like the deinonychus?
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