5E D&D yuan-ti snake magic spells

Play Your Next 5E D&D Game with Snakes on the Brain and Cast More Snake Magic Spells

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Hey folks! In the first Snakes on the Brain installment I introduced you to several snake themed spells commonly used by reptile and serpentine monsters and races. These spells came from Dragon Magazine No. 235 and provided a cool flavor to the tried and true spell lists we have from official fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons content. In this part I’ve pulled some spells from Dragon Magazine No. 330 as well as a bit of lore and a new way to cast spells with a snaky vibe. These snake magic spells could also be encountered in the hands of those who associate with serpents and would be perfect in the hands of a yuan-ti backed snake cult. Combined with the spells from the first go around these spells also make a great framework for a snake themed spellcaster in 5E D&D. I can imagine a druid draped in snake bones and living snakes making his way through a dungeon dealing out coiling, venomous wrath upon all his opponents.

Snake magic of the scaly folk for 5E D&D

In the original article from which these spells are pulled they are said to be compiled in the Volume Veneficus, a magical tome written in the altered scales of living snakes. The volume was a gift to the yuan-ti from Merrshaulk. The original serpents have long past but the yuan-ti speak of the rare occurrence when an egg is laid that hatches into a full nest of adult snakes bearing the Volume Veneficus upon their scales. This lore leaves a lot of possible openings for adventures as the party might learn of one of these blessed eggs hatching or a group of yuan-ti may have already come into their possession and is now using them to amp up their already wicked reign of terror. Another possible use for the Volume Veneficus is to have it appear as a more conventional tome, some ancient (or still living) wizard having transferred the individual scales of the snakes into the pages of a book. The skins of a set of these snakes might show up in an art collection or as relics in a temple, drawing the dangers of yuan-ti wrath to them.

[NERDITOR’S NOTE: Details gleaned from the original versions of these spells offer additional flavor, rules and restrictions but don’t always connect very well with a 5E D&D design philosophy we believe is held by the official team and certainly by Nerdarchy. Including suggested restrictions isn’t something we aim to do. Likewise some spell details go beyond the scope of either the spell itself or more broadly Fifth Edition in general. For this reason portions of the spells have been omitted. Other details like notes on certain creatures likely to employ such magic remain in the descriptions as an aid for Dungeon Masters.]

Serpentine Foci

All the following spells use at least one live snake as a focus. In most cases the spells’ magic alters the snake or somehow combines it with the caster. The snake used as a focus must be the spellcaster’s familiar, magically coerced using a spell such as charm monster or animal friendship) or trained using Wisdom (Animal Handling). This training is the equivalent of a single trick that teaches the snake how to help complete a spell. Dead serpents or material representations do not meet the requirements of these spells.

A snake used as a focus retains its normal statistics unless otherwise noted. Should a snake used as a focus of one of these spells die, the spell immediately ends. When the spell ends the snake returns to normal. You can only use snakes with the beast type to cast these spells. A snake used in casting one of these spells cannot be more than one size larger than you and it cannot have more hit dice than your character level.

5E D&D yuan-ti snake magic spells

 

Venomous Volley

2nd level evocation (cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock)

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: 15 ft.

Components: V, S, F* (a living snake)

Duration: Instantaneous

A 15 foot cone of venomous fangs shoots from your fingertips. Creatures in the area must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 2d6 points of poison damage and has disadvantage on saving throws against poison for 1 minute. On a successful save a creature takes half damage and does not have disadvantage against poison.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd or 4th level, the damage increases to 3d6. When you use a spell slot of 5th level or higher, the damage increases to 4d6.

Spitting Cobra

4th level transmutation (druid, sorcerer, warlock, wizard)

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: 120 ft.

Components: V, S, F* (a live, venomous snake no larger than your size category.)

Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

You siphon forth the venom of the focus snake and distill it into a deadly toxin. Make a ranged spell attack against a creature in range. On a hit the target takes 6d10 poison damage, or half as much if they succeed on a Constitution saving throw. Until the spell ends, you can make the attack again on each of your turns as an action.

Snake Shield

3rd level evocation (cleric, druid, warlock)

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: Self

Components: V, S, F* (a living snake.)

Duration: 10 minutes

Grasping a snake in your hands you infuse it with magical energy that creates a shimmering field containing the essence of its predatory instincts and stinging fangs. To observers this appears as a cloud of ghostly snakes floating in a tight spiral around you. Whenever a creature within 5 feet of you hits you with a melee attack the snakes strike with venomous retribution. You choose whether the attacker takes 2d6 poison damage or is grappled (escape DC equal to your spell save DC).

Merrshaulk’s Kiss

4th level enchantment (cleric, druid, warlock)

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: 30 ft.

Components: V, S, F* (a live snake)

Duration: 1 minute

You call upon the venomous might of Merrshaulk to bless and enhance a living snake with the beast type you can see within range. Until the spell ends the snake has advantage on attack rolls, saving throws and ability checks. In addition, targets of the snake’s attacks have disadvantage on attack rolls against the snake and saving throws to resist any of the snake’s effects.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th level or higher, you can target one additional snake for each slot level above 4th. The creatures must be within 30 feet of each other when you target them.

Fang Blade

4th level transmutation (cleric, druid, ranger, sorcerer, warlock, wizard)

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: Touch

Components: V, S, F* (a live snake no more than one size category larger than you)

Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes

You transform the snake serving as the focus of this spell into a steel blade. The snake’s scales glisten with a metallic sheen and the magic sword’s point consists of the snake’s fanged maw. This magic sword lasts until the spell ends. It counts as a longsword with which you are proficient, as the snake moves and weaves to aid your attacks. In addition to normal longsword damage, when you hit a creature with a fang blade it succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take an additional additional 3d6 poison damage.

If another creature attempts to wield your fang blade, the blade snaps at the creature. At the beginning of their turn they must make a Constitution saving throw, taking 3d6 poison damage on a failed save or half as much on a successful one.

When the spell ends the snake returns to normal.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a 5th or 6th level spell slot, the poison damage increases to 4d6. When you cast it using a 7th or 8th level spell slot, the damage increases to 5d6. When you cast it using a spell slot of 9th level, the damage increases to 6d6.

Crushing Coils

3rd level conjuration (druid, sorcerer, wizard)

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: 90 ft.

Components: V, S, F* (a constrictor snake that is no more than one size category larger than you.)

Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

You teleport the snake serving as the focus of this spell around an creature to crush it within its coils. Make a ranged spell attack against the target. On a hit, the snake constricts around the target and it is grappled (escape DC equal to your spell save DC). On a miss the snake appears in an unoccupied space within 5 ft. of the target and immediately attacks the nearest opponent. The snake acts each turn on your initiative and moves to attack the nearest creature hostile to you. The snake gains advantage on its attacks and has resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage.

Until the spell ends you can use a bonus action on your turn to call the snake back to you. The snake can immediately use its reaction to move up to its full speed without provoking opportunity attacks to an unoccupied space within 5 ft. of you. As an action you can make a ranged spell attack against a target you can see in range to teleport the snake near the creature with the same effects as when you first cast the spell.

When the spell ends the snake returns to normal.

Using these snake themed spells in 5E D&D

Next time I revisit Snakes on the Brain I’ll delve into a few additional snake magic spells from some other sources as well as introduce a few original spells I created to go along with the theme. There are a lot of snake magic spells in previous editions of the game and I doubt I’ll be able to cover them all but hopefully this series sparks your interest in looking into the rich history of this very specific theme for 5E D&D. Until next time I hope you are having fun trying out snake magic spells and would love to hear about any concepts you might have come up with for character or adventures inspired by Snakes on the Brain.

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Follow Eli Arndt:
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Eli Arndt grew up and resides in Washington state. After a chance encounter with Dungeons & Dragons at the age of 8, he has been a lifelong fan of role-playing games of all sorts. Deeply interested in history, anthropology, and archaeology, he enjoys creating grounded game worlds and he dabbles in writing adventures, building monsters and running far more game than he really should. He has also worked as a designer, sculptor and producer of miniatures and love to talk about little toy soldiers and crafting scenery. With a gaming family, he has a special interest in teaching the hobby to others and helping players and GMs grow and develop in the hobby.

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