I have said that the fury of the rushing blast was infernal—cacodaemoniacal—and that its voices were hideous with the pent-up viciousness of desolate eternities. Presently these voices, while still chaotic before me, seemed to my beating brain to take articulate form behind me; and down there in the grave of unnumbered aeon-dead antiquities, leagues below the dawn-lit world of men, I heard the ghastly cursing and snarling of strange-tongued fiends. Turning, I saw outlined against the luminous aether of the abyss what could not be seen against the dusk of the corridor—a nightmare horde of rushing devils; hate distorted, grotesquely panoplied, half transparent devils of a race no man might mistake—the crawling reptiles of the nameless city.
—H. P. Lovecraft, The Nameless City
Few humans know about the Vaal races, and those few that discover a Vaal’s true identity rarely survive long. From the scattered and fragmented tales over the ages, some scholars and religious orders have pieced together an incomplete understanding of the Vaal.
They believe that Vaal society exists as a shadow organization within the world of men, and most humans are unaware of its existence or skeptical of those who warn of the serpent men. The humanlike Vaal insinuate themselves in powerful positions, where they can control the levers of power.
Rise and Fall of an Empire
According to the Hermetic Scrolls of the Trifold, a heretical tome passed down by the Trinitarians, long before the age of men an ancient, serpentine empire ruled the world. The scrolls teach that this serpent race discovered powerful sorceries, made pacts with an Ancient God, developed alien technologies, and conducted experiments with the primitive races they enslaved, including men. It’s believed the men they bred with serpents and reptiles became their loyal servants: a race of serpent men.
The scrolls teach that a ruthless war between Ancient Gods over the worship of the serpents brought about a cataclysm that remade the world and wiped out the serpentine race. The surviving slaves and servants fled the ruins of the empire, and the world forgot the Age of Serpents.
It’s impossible to know the truth of these stories, but the Vaal believe they are descended from those surviving humans whose bloodlines were mingled with those of an ancient serpent race. Their cunning and ruthlessness are legendary. Vaal constantly scheme to advance their own dark agendas. They are calculating and suave enough to form alliances with other creatures when necessary, but they always put their own interests first.
All Vaal possess some snakelike features, and many have snake body parts. Vaal often disguise themselves as humans and work among them as spies for their serpent masters. Vaal look much like lithe humans with sharp features. A closer look, however, reveals a forked tongue, pointed teeth, unblinking eyes, or scaly patches on the neck and limbs. Vaal appear human at first glance, with only very subtle snakelike features.
Born of Chaos
Although the blood of their ancestors may be generations removed, the touch of Chaos remains. Individual Vaal may not be predisposed to evil, though they are certainly devious and conniving. They tend to have an unsettling air about them, and most people are uncomfortable around them, whether they are aware of the Vaal’s unsavory ancestry or not.
Scheming and Manipulative:
Vaal constantly scheme to advance their own goals. They are calculating and suave enough to form alliances with other creatures when necessary, but generally put their own interests first. However, they are not all completely cold and heartless, and they are able to form honest relations with which they live, even if still considering themselves superior. Vaal generally share a dislike for scaleless ones, but a fire-forged friendship is possible, though often patronizing or manipulating.Nevertheless, like any intelligent race, Vaal are diverse, with individual goals and aspirations.
In general, the more serpentine features a Vaal possesses, the higher its status in its secret society. Serpentine abominations are at the top of their society, followed by halfblood, and finally purebloods. Within their castes, Vaal are ranked by achievements and the demonstrated favor of their god Apeph.
Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 2.
Age. Vaal mature around the same age as humans, but they can live hundreds, or even thousands of years.
Alignment. Vaal are chaotic by nature as a result of their race’s ancient pacts with the Old Gods.
Size. Vaal stand between 5 and 6 feet tall and average about 100-200 pounds. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Lowlight Vision. Accustomed to twilit forests and the night sky, you can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light.
Affinity with Reptiles. Vaal have a natural affinity with serpents and lizards. You gain proficiency in animal handling with those creatures.
Master of Disguise. Vaal are experts at disguise. You gain proficiency with disguise kits. You also gain advantage on checks to disguise your appearance to look humanlike. In addition, you can contort your body and alter your clothing to hide any inhuman features that would normally be impossible to hide with a normal disguise.
Chaos Trait. You gain one Kernun chaos trait, rolled randomly from the Vaal Chaos Trait table.
Languages. Vaal speak their own dialects of the Vaal language in addition to the Imperial Trade Tongue. They can also understand the chaotic Cultic Tongue their language is based on.
Subrace. The Vaal breeds are millenia old, tracing back to their ancient servitor races.
Drakathi are more lizardlike than serpentine, and believe themselves to be descendents of dragons. They claim the serpentine empire was actually an ancient empire of dragons, and it is their destiny to return the empire to glory. The Drakathi are treated as inferior by the Vaal, who discount the entire dragon heresy of the Drakathi race.
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 1.
Draconic Ancestry. Choose one type of dragon: black (acid), blue (lightning), red (fire), white (cold). You gain advantage on saves against that damage type. In addition, you gain resistance against that type of damage.
Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 1.
Serpentine Ancestry. You gain advantage on saves against poison. In addition you gain resistance to damage from poison.
Child of Chaos (chaos trait)
You were bred to bear the gifts of your ancient masters. At level 1, you may roll 2d6 and add 1/2 your level to gain a new Chaos trait. You may roll again on the table every 3 levels. If you get a trait you already possess, you may either reroll for a new trait or double the power of the trait.
2. Forked Tongue. Your tongue is forked, which allows you to speak the tongue of the ancient Vaal Empire. You can speak to serpents, and also can research and cast Vaal spells and rituals.
3. Mesmerizing Gaze. You can charm someone once per day with your gaze. This functions as the Charm Person spell.
4. Chameleon Skin. Your skin changes to match your environment, granting advantage to Stealth checks. You cannot wear clothes or armor when you use this ability. You can use this ability once/day per level.
5. Fangs. You have fangs like a serpent. This grants you a bite attack for 1d6 damage.
6. Poisoner. You gain proficiency with poison kits and never accidentally poison yourself when using or applying poison.
7. Poisonous Blood. Your blood is poisonous. Any creature that bites you must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 3d6 poison damage. Once per week, you can create poison from your blood. This process deals 1d4 damage to you, but give you one use of the poison.
8. Cold Blooded. You are not easily affected by warm temperatures. You gain Fire Resistance, but you are vulnerable to Cold.
9. Slithering Step. You gain proficiency Survival checks and can move through forests as if they are normal terrain. You can also choose not to leave tracks if you wish in forested areas.
10. Venomous Bite. You gain a bite attack that deals 1d6 damage. In addition, 1/day you can inject poison that deals 2d6 damage (Save vs Poison for half damage)
11. Darkvision. You have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
12. Hypnotic Whispers. Once per day, you can put a human to sleep, as if you cast the spell Sleep on that person.
13. Serpent Skin. You regenerate your skin every night and shed your old skin. You may regain one extra Hit Dice when you take a long rest.
14. Spit Poison. You can spit poison up to 10 feet. If you hit, the target must make a successful Constitution save or be blinded for 1d6 rounds. You can use this ability once per day, plus one additional time per day for every three levels you have.
15. Summon Serpent. You bring forth the shadowy form of a giant serpent to do your bidding. The serpent attacks as a large viper, and lasts for 1 round for each level you have.
16. Snake Form. You can magically change shape into a serpentine form. This takes an action and lasts for 1 round per level. This can be done once per day, plus one additional time per day for every three levels you have. While in serpent form, you have the statistics of a constrictor snake.
17. Serpentine Coils. Instead of feet, you grow a snakelike tail. You can use your tail attack as a bonus action to grab a creature. You can constrict a grabbed creature for 2d8+10 damage each round.
18. Dominating Gaze. Once per day you can use your gaze to dominate, as the spell dominate person.