This is an idea for a Hari Ragat adventure, and a sort of experiment in monster design for me.
The Night Serpent is inspired by Palawan folklore, about a snake so huge it leaves swathes of broken and fallen trees in its passage, but has never been seen. That made me think of a gigantic snake/dragon that appears only at night, wreaks its havoc, then disappears into the earth at dawn – literally fading or melding into the earth.
A shocked and terrified child stumbles into the PCs’ village from out of the jungle. No one in the village knows her, but gentle coaxing gets her to reveal that she came from a village on the same island, but her village was destroyed and everyone devoured – by a titanic serpent. She’s convinced the serpent is following her, but it only chases her at night; there’s no sign of it by day. The child then collapses from sheer exhaustion and hunger.
The Night Serpent will arrive in 1d3 nights; do not reveal to the players when.
The players can glean the following info from the child (before she collapses) and from either the village shamaness or the oldest person in the village:
- The warriors of the settlement where the child came from did battle with the monster, but were all killed.
- The child escaped only because she was wearing an unexpectedly powerful amulet of protection vs. snakes – no human work, but a diwata’s gift from long ago. She herself does not know this.
- The child relates the method of the serpent’s attack: It breathed vapor on its victims, who then fell paralyzed or asleep. It did this many times.
- Either the village shamaness or the village’s oldest person remembers a similar story. A titanic serpent like this once haunted the kingdom of Maha Vijadesa, always eluding efforts to hunt it down, until a hero saw it melding into the earth at sunrise.
The hero stuck his spear in the earth where he’d last seen the serpent’s head, and since then the serpent never troubled them again. A temple was then built over the spear.
Secrets of the Night Serpent
Night Serpent 8, Breath of Evil 8/6, Terrifying 3, Resistance 50*; Cannot Stand Sunlight, Afraid of Fire, Can Melt Into the Earth; Renown Value 75; Goal – to eat human flesh, even if it means leveling a whole village
- Terrifying: the Night Serpent automatically causes a drain of 3 Bala (spiritual power) the first time one tries to face it in combat. As most common warriors don’t have this much, only heroes have the power to attack it – most if not all followers simply flee.
- Breath of Evil: the Night Serpent breathes a gray-green vapor that drains its victims of Bala equal to the Victory Points it won.
- *Resistance: if reduced to below 0 Resistance, the Night Serpent melds into the earth, only to return the following night at full Resistance again. (Note: If there are less than 5 PCs, adjust Resistance to #PCs x 10)
Though the Night Serpent can be struck with weapons, and can feel pain, it is effectively immortal. It will react to being struck by trying to kill its attacker. It is not intelligent; a raw force of evil, it only knows hunger and anger – and fear of the sun and fire. The Night Serpent cannot abide sunlight, and will meld into the earth at the first crack of dawn.
The only long-term way to get rid of the serpent is to pin its head with iron – either a spear or a sword – in the earth, as soon as it melds into the earth. The heroes can either fight it until it’s at below 0 Resistance, or until dawn, upon which the serpent will automatically try to escape by melding. Let dawn occur after 2d6+6 rounds of combat each night.
As battling the Night Serpent is sure to cost a lot of Bala, the PCs should be encouraged to prepare themselves with means of increasing their power.
The easiest way to do this is by sacrifice; for each die of Wealth and/or Bahandi given up, the babaylan (shamaness) gets +1 bonus die to roll for the ancestors’ favor. Count the sixes in the babaylan’s roll; this is the amount of Bala each PC receives. If no sixes are rolled, the PCs may attempt another sacrifice, and may spend more Wealth and/or Bahandi for it.
The PCs may also take vows to perform certain deeds, or make certain offerings, to their ancestors for more bonus dice to the sacrifice.