17.1.9 Ophidian

The Ophidians are thought to be an early offshoot of the Xorani race; where the Xorani learned to breathe fire, the Ophidians turned their flames to venom, favoring the seductive touch of Artifice in their personal faith; indeed, Severn gave them their poison as a reward for some old, forgotten service. Marked as they are by this contrast between Shadow and Fire, the Ophidians found themselves to be a neutral bunch, driven northward by the various struggles in the first and second Mortal Epochs. Homeless for much of the first, it was not until they discovered the Great Rock that they made a home for themselves, carving out its innards and basing their conquest of the nearby area upon the natural stronghold it provided.

At its peak, the Ophidian Empire ruled much of the Liruma scrublands, and reached northward into the Morgun Forest. They favored gods such as Severn, Omei, and Haern, preferring to hunt, fight, and move during the nighttime, when their uncanny sense of smell was most helpful. Like all the southwestern races, the Ophidians had constant southern incursion from orcs and ogres, but their main foes were goblins and kobolds. Despite differences of faith with the Xorani to the west, their mutual roots rendered them natural allies, and Xorani mercenaries would often fight for the Ophidian warlords in exchange for gold and precious things.

The Indorani Empire crushed the Ophidians in their stead, and afterward, the race, driven nearly to extinction, never quite recovered. Many of them were forcibly recruited as Indorani spies and assassins, while others practiced foul magic that, in half-forgotten and incautious fashion, became the primitive traditions of the Beastlords. Although the Beastlords and Ophidians co-exist in tentative alliance, allowing the reptilian people to subsist on game hunted from the scrub, migrating stirges - creatures created by some foul dint of Indorani science - took roost within the Rock and have never left, creating an ever-present threat. For a while, the Ophidians found a resurgence as guardians of Ashtan, but the city's destruction killed a great many of them and they are mostly local to the Liruma at this point in time.