Archives of Nethys

All | Unique

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Nehushtan

The lustrous, metallic bronze scales that cover this tiny serpent glisten as if reflecting an unseen light.

Nehushtan CR 2

Source Pathfinder #107: Scourge of the Godclaw pg. 86
XP 600
NG Tiny magical beast
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +8

Defense

AC 18, touch 16, flat-footed 14 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 natural, +2 size)
hp 19 (3d10+3)
Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +3
Immune disease, poison

Offense

Speed 30 ft., climb 15 ft.
Melee bite +3 (1d3–2 plus poison)
Space 2-1/2 ft., Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks poison
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 3rd; concentration +4)
At will—diagnose diseaseUM, speak with animals (snakes only)
3/day—hypnotism (DC 12), remove sicknessUM, sanctuary (DC 12)
1/day—neutralize poison, remove disease

Statistics

Str 7, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 12
Base Atk +3; CMB +4; CMD 13 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Dodge, Mobility
Skills Acrobatics +6, Climb +11, Perception +8, Stealth +17
Languages Common (can’t speak)
SQ curative skin

Ecology

Environment warm deserts and hills
Organization solitary, pair, nest (1–2 plus 2–4 young), colony (4–6 plus 6–8 young)
Treasure none

Special Abilities

Curative Skin (Su) A nehushtan’s bronze scales repel disease and poison. A nehushtan can treat diseases and poisons (as per the Heal skill) without attempting Heal checks merely by remaining in continuous physical contact with the creature to be treated for 10 minutes. Additionally, a creature that takes a nehushtan as a familiar gains a +2 bonus on saving throws against disease or poison so long as the nehushtan remains within 1 mile of its master.

A creature with at least 1 rank in Heal can use skin shed by a nehushtan to craft a draught that, when consumed, functions as either a potion of remove disease or a potion of neutralize poison, as chosen by the crafter. A nehushtan sheds enough skin to craft a single draught every 3 months, and crafting this draught takes 10 minutes.

Poison (Ex) Injury—bite; save Fort DC 12; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d4 fire damage; cure 1 save.

In many of Golarion’s cultures, serpents symbolize wisdom, medicine, and the healing arts. This association may have its roots in nehushtans, a rare breed of bronze-colored serpents prized and venerated for their miraculous curative powers. Nehushtans’ lustrous scales contain potent curative properties, making the snakes’ shed skin extremely valuable to healers and apothecaries. In regions where nehushtans live, desperately sick or poor people sometimes turn to scavenging the hills, hoping to find the discarded, metallic skins in order to either use them or sell them.

Were it not for their peculiarly metallic scales, nehushtans would be virtually indistinguishable from vipers of comparable size. A nehushtan’s body is 4 to 5 feet long, and it weighs 5 to 7 pounds.

Ecology

According to folklore, Sarenrae created the first nehushtan to answer the prayers of a priestess whose tribe was plagued by venomous serpents. The Dawnflower commanded her priestess to craft a bronze serpent and carry it among her people atop a large wooden pole. The visage of this “nehushtan” repelled mundane serpents, and those faithful who laid their hands upon the bronze idol found themselves miraculously cured of the vipers’ venom. Once its holy work was done, Sarenrae rewarded the bronze idol for its service by imbuing it with the divine spark of life.

True or not, this story explains the nehushtans’ antagonistic attitude toward other snakes. The creatures take great pleasure in hunting and killing venomous serpents, particularly when such creatures encroach on inhabited areas or endanger humanoid populations. Though a nehushtan usually consumes the snakes it kills, it attacks even serpents too large for it to swallow. Nehushtans’ innate immunity to poison makes them extremely effective at hunting venomous creatures, and these make up a large part of their diet. Nehushtans are otherwise opportunistic carnivores, and feed on whatever small prey they can catch and swallow.

Nehushtans are venomous, and possess a potent venom that combusts when exposed to living flesh. Nehushtans use this toxin to painfully cook their prey from the inside out, and generally prefer to consume cooked or burnt flesh rather than raw meat. Nehushtans generally reserve this venom for their prey, and though they may bite to defend themselves or their young, they don’t usually inject venom unless the target is particularly aggressive or persistent.

Nehushtans shed their skins two to four times a year, with younger nehushtans molting slightly more often. They shed throughout their lives, which are comparable in length to a human’s, and their skin grows increasingly powerful with each desquamation. Rare nehushtans live for hundreds of years, growing to incredible sizes and have skins that can cure any ailment. A nehushtan’s discarded skin grows rigid after it is shed, resembling a mangled bronze leaf.

Popular folklore claims that nehushtans shed during certain times of the year, such as the month of Sarenith, but this is not true. Nehushtans can shed during any part of the year, with different individuals shedding at different times. Nonetheless, many hunters intensify their search efforts during the weeks preceding and following Sarenrae’s holy days, hoping to gain favor from the goddess in the form of nehushtan skin.

Habitat and Society

The temperaments of nehushtans vary. Some congregate in large extended families, while others associate with other nehushtans only long enough to breed and raise young. A nehushtan mother lays a clutch of two to four eggs, and both parents remain close to the nest until the young hatch. Unlike most serpents, nehushtans continue to care for their young after hatching, and stay with their children during the 2 to 3 months required for the young to fully mature into adults. During this time, the ordinarily peaceful creatures become fiercely protective, and most nehushtan bites are the result of unwary travelers stumbling too close to a nehushtan’s nest when its young are present. Nehushtans prefer to dwell underground, taking over animal burrows or crawling into disused basements. They usually hunt in rocky environments.

Given the miraculous healing powers of their scales, many humanoids have tried to domesticate nehushtans. These attempts invariably meet with failure. Nehushtans languish if confined for more than a few days, and cannot survive more than a month in captivity no matter how comfortable their accommodations are. After this time, the miserable captives undergo a strange transformation—their scales grow dull and tarnished, and eventually the nehushtans loses their luster and turns into aggressive but otherwise mundane vipers. Some see this as a sign of Sarenrae’s displeasure at mortals who would exploit her sacred gifts. Others suspect nehushtans require some unknown dietary or environmental factor that their captors can’t provide.

Nehushtans who willingly choose to live among humanity suffer no ill effects. Entire families of the serpents sometimes establish colonies in human settlements, and thrive just as well as their wild counterparts, provided they are allowed to come and go as they please and generally left to themselves. These colonies enjoy residing in hospitals, temples dedicated to healing, and other places where the sick and infirm dwell.

The presence of a nehushtan greatly enhances a patient’s recovery and survival, and so mortals who operate infirmaries welcome these mystical serpents. Some healers even venerate nehushtans, and give offerings of milk and burnt meat to placate and honor the bronze serpents. In earlier days, hospitals that hosted nehushtans advertised this fact by incorporating bronze serpent motifs into their decorations. These symbols have long since become iconic for all houses of healing in the warm, dry regions from which nehushtans hail.

Nehushtans who choose to serve spellcasters as familiars likewise suffer no ill effects. They favor Sarenrae worshipers as masters, though any particularly devout or compassionate spellcaster can entice a nehushtan into service. Nehushtans adapt well to the adventurer’s life, and particularly relish the opportunity to reduce the suffering of others by doing good works. Nehushtans are quick to abandon masters who grow cruel or merciless, and may even attack masters who radically shift in alignment. A good-aligned spellcaster of at least 7th level who takes the Improved Familiar feat can select a nehushtan as a familiar.