From World of Charun
The Sand Snake are the swift predators of the desert. As the masters of camouflage they have already been watching you for hours by the time you have caught a glimpse of them.
Origins and History
Near the middle of the Second Age, after they had been chased from their old land by the undead threat, a group of survivors settled in what would one day be known as the Sands of the Sand Snake, a vast desert region south of the Windy Plains. It has been said Shanrom himself welcomed them to their new home, securing his Deity status among the lost Necharamian refugees. Claiming the land as their own, they quickly built primitive villages using the few resource they could find. Unable to grow anything in the harsh climate and poor soil conditions, they hunted the sand lions and large insect creatures that populated the area. Their kin that had united together to form Kurash advanced as time passed, but the Sand Snake refused to give up their barbaric ways.
Hostiles between the men of the Kingdom of Kurash and the Sand Snake increased gradually throughout the Third Age. In 517 III, a band of Kurashi highwaymen swept through several Sand Snake camps, killing hundreds of their people while torching their homes and toppling their altars to the ground. The Sand Snake revenge was swift and severe and it took only a few days till the bandit camp was located and massacred. Not even the rangers that came upon the disembowelled bodies could accurately explain what had taken place at the scene of the onslaught. The most unsettling find was long trails in the sand, undoubtedly left by one, or more, large snakes.
After this event, the Sand Snake chieftain Waquini sent out word that anyone who should happen upon Sand Snake territory would be killed without mercy, regardless of intention. The seclusion lasting throughout the Third Age had thus begun. Never again would their people suffer such a loss at the hands of outsiders. As a consequence, there were many bloody skirmishes in the deserts during the Age of Men, where the Sand Snake defended their lands against "intruders", out of which many were mere adventurers seeking to cross the desert.
After the Cataclysm, the rules of the seclusion set by Waquini more than five centuries earlier, seemed to slowly subside. Merchants were occasionally granted access to the borders of their desert, where artisans of the Sand Snake met up with them to trade. Still, being invited to a Sand Snake village is highly uncommon, and their warriors continue posing a threat to the caravans travelling to and from the Umair cities.
Culture and Society
Very little is known about the Sand Snake by common folk, most haven't even heard of their existence. Umair scholars on the other hand are able to reveal some mundane details about them, such as clothing and a the odd custom, but beyond that few things have been verified. This is due to the fact that the Sand Snake are a very secretive race; even those of their own kin leaving their territory are very tight-lipped about their ways.
The Sand Snake are independent when it comes to foreigners, but highly dependant on each other. They are divided into three clans, each with an important task that needs to be fulfilled in order for their society to survive. These clans are the Lion Clan, the Sacred Snake Clan and the Ant Clan. One is not bound to a clan, even if born in it. It is possible to shift clans before reaching the age when the Trial of the Snake awaits, which means that one has to leave both family and friends in favour for another existence elsewhere. If the trial is passed, one is expected to stay in the current clan for life.
The Lion Clan: All members of the Lion Clan are trained in combat from a very early age. The warrior-society consists of both men and women, but few marry into their clan, in fact, very few of the women marry at all. The reason is that a spouse is to care for the home and children while the warrior practices and does his duty. This setup is not appealing to most males, which is why it is difficult for the women of the Lion Clan to find a suitable husband.
The clan is divided into two groups; the Striking Lions and the Stalking Lions. The Striking Lions are the ever-present guardians of the tribe. While all able-bodied men and women count as warriors in times of war, the Striking Lions are to defend the people during all other times. The Stalking Lions on the other hand are the scouts of the Sand Snake. They are rarely seen out of their veils and camouflage garments.
The Sacred Snake Clan: This religious society consists out of the priests of the Sand Snake’s one and only god, Shanrom the Venerable Snake. Their homes can be found in the cave systems around and under the Sands of the Sand Snake. They rarely come out into the daylight and are noticeably paler than the rest of their people. All suffer from bouts of ‘instinct’ and a skin disorder seen with those serving Shanrom.
The Ant Clan: All those providing the tribe with food, tools and shelters belong to the Ant Clan. The clan is divided into two groups; The Weaving Ants and the Gathering Ants.
The Weaving Ants are the craftsmen and the builders of the tribe. They live in a permanent village in the centre of their desert, where they manufacture pottery, clothing, shelters, armour and weapons. All boys are trained under their fathers and are expected to master their trade, while all girls not engaged to marry by the age of 16 are sent to work in the weaving huts. That is where many warriors of the Lion Clan go to find brides for themselves.
The Gathering Ants provide the tribe with food, as well as with the material used for crafting by the Weaving Ants. The men of the clan hunt mainly two kinds of prey in the desert; large insects found within the shadowy cliff fissures and the Sand Lions found in the outskirts of the desert. The women gather the three types of useable plants that grow in the Sands of the Sand Snake. The first is the ’Pulpus’, large and round, they are impossible to pick by hand and must be dug out of the sand. Once it is upside down, it can easily be split open and the meat of the plant is edible. The second is a long, reed-like plant called a ‘Snakeskin‘. Once the spines have been removed, it can be cut into strips, dried and combed. These fibres are weaved together to make clothing and tents. In addition, they harvest a small bush named ‘Lizard’s Tree’ which is mostly used to make bows. The root of the bush is sweet and can be used in cooking.
Armour and Weapons
The armour and weapons of the Sand Snake are manufactured from the creatures they hunt, the Sand Lions and the large insects. The insect exoskeletons can be soaked until soft and then shaped by the Ant Clan. Sand Lion hide is used for leather, while their bones shape weapons. A youngster receives his armour and weapons, suited according to the clan he belongs to, once the Trial of the Snake has been passed. Before this, one is expected to use what has been passed down to them by others.
The most common weapon found with the Sand Snake is the bone sword. All the Striking Lions carry one, as do many Gathering Ants. Other weapons commonly used are bone daggers, Lizard’s Tree bows, Shell knives, thickened bone spears, as well as simple clubs and maces made from bone and spines collected from the cacti.
Birth and death are not considered pivotal moments in Sand Snake life. No one is even considered ‘born’ until they pass the Trial of the Snake and officially become true members of the tribe. When the youngsters turn sixteen, they are expected to travel to the caves of the Sacred Snake Clan during the following year. If they are unable or unwilling to make the journey, thus turning seventeen without having passed the Trial of the Snake, they are exiled from the tribe and considered a foe from there on. Usually they are sent away at sunset, with a head-start until sunrise, upon which they are killed if found.
The great majority of the youngsters set out towards the caves as the tradition bids, upon which their families are expected to observe a day of mourning since all are considered dead until their return. The Trial itself takes a full month and the survivors are celebrated with a great feast upon their return. The Trial of the Snake is held in the deepest caverns, where the initiate is left alone and naked at the entrance by the Sacred Snake Clan. When a month has passed, they return. If the Trial is passed, they find an unconscious body where they left it.
The nature of the Trial is a subject of great speculation amongst scholars. No consensus has been reached in the matter, and it may never be since no surviving participant is able to remember everything that took place.
Marriages are quietly agreed upon between parents. A future husband and wife can be pledged to one another even before they are born. However, it is not unheard of that youngsters find a suitable mate on their own, especially if their thought of spouse dies before marriage.
When a tribe member dies, a day of mourning follows after which the body is dressed in ceremonial garments and taken to the caves of the Sacred Snake Clan to be disposed of.
The only accepted god of the Sand Snake is Shanrom. Denying his might, existence or teachings can lead to exile, or even worse, death.
The Sacred Snake Clan proceed over all spiritual matters in the tribe. They have an unique relationship to the deity, where Shamrom gives them special powers to fulfill his wishes. In exchange for his gifts, they are blessed with suffering. When a future member of the priesthood prevails in the Trial of the Snake, a separate ritual takes place, where a pact is created between Shanrom and the devotee. During the ritual their tongues are split, creating the forked tongue necessary to pronounce their prayers. Also, the first coating of a special mixture of venoms is spread over their backs and arms to keep their skin in a perpetual state of burning, giving their flesh a snake-skin like appearance. This is also the reason why they rarely come out in the daylight. The unforgiving sun of the desert only worsens the state of their skin.
Afterwards, and increasing as they age, the Sacred Snake Clan are susceptible to bouts of ‘instinct’ where they lose themselves and are said to be possessed by Shamron. This possession takes many forms. At times it is believed that Shanrom whispers secrets and knowledge through them. New leaders are chosen in this manner when an old one dies. The name of the successor is revealed in a whisper. It has also happened that the possessed one has gruesomely murdered others of their clan. However, no actions during possession are questioned, nor are anyone held responsible for their deeds.
The Sand Snakes are known for paying homage to an ancient blue dragon,Zizhrellah, who they see as a manifestation of Shanrom.
The Sand Snake are of medium height with black eyes and black to dark brown hair. Their skin tone is darkened and prematurely wrinkled by the desert sun. The only exception to this is the Sacred Snake Clan who live their lives in the darkness of the caves.
Their clothing consists of tan coloured fabrics, leather and furs, often decorated with bones, feathers or other parts found on their prey. The Sand Snake are usually veiled when outside of their villabe, to protect themselves from the sun and to provide camouflage.
Sand Snake names for your character: Sand Snake Names
- Necharamian bloodline: +1 Intelligence / -1 Wisdom
Necharamians are usually good at solving problems, as well as comprehending ideas and learning languages. They are, however, known for lacking insight at times, leading to a lack of prudence.
- Skin of Sands: Skill Bonus: Hide +2, Move Silently +2
Of those who practice the skills and craft of concealment, none have better learned the essence of the art than the Sand Snake tribe. Given to ambushes and observing, if a Sand Snake should be seen in the desert by a traveller's sight, it's likely the traveller will see little more, having been too late.
- Given Languages: Common, Sand Talk
- Secondary Language List: Kurashami, Necharami
The Sand Snake have an opportunity to learn the languages of surrounding cultures.
Location in Charun: Sands of the Sand Snake
Settlements: Several small permanent villages and nomadic camps
Army: All able men and women count as warriors.
Government form: Tribalism