From lore and descriptions to traits and abilities, learn all about Yuan-Ti Pureblood in D&D 5e
The Yuan-Ti are snake-like people that were once human, but centuries ago, performed unholy rituals to graft their flesh with that of serpents. The result of these foul rituals were the Yuan-Ti. The rituals though had varying effects with some becoming more snake-like than others. Those that developed less serpentine qualities and appeared mostly human became known as Yuan-Ti Purebloods.
Yuan-Ti Purebloods became a playable race in Volo’s Guide to Monsters and the rules were refreshed in Monsters of the Multiverse. Our guide below focuses on the most recent version of the rules and tells you everything you need to know to play as one of these sinister creatures.
What is a Yuan-Ti Pureblood?
The Yuan-Ti were born of a merging of Human and serpent aspects centuries ago. While there’s a lot of variation in how the Yuan-Ti appear, they can generally be categorised into 4 groups:
- Purebloods – The most human looking of the Yuan-Ti, they also occupy lower positions in the caste system of the Yuan-Ti with more snake-like Yuan-Ti being seen as a superior version of the Yuan-Ti.
- Malisons (Half-bloods) – Malisons are Yuan-Ti that are roughly half Human and half serpent. Often they might have a serpent tail instead of legs with human head and arms or might have a cobra head instead of a Human one.
- Abominations – Abominations are almost completely snake-like with just a few Human features such as arms, an upright posture and/or a Human head.
- Anathema – the rulers of the Yuan-Ti are typically Anathemas when one exists among them. These creatures have almost all serpent features but also have 6 snake heads emerging from their shoulders.
Yuan-Ti Purebloods are the ones that can be used as a playable race in D&D 5e and generally have the appearance of humans but with certain serpentine features. This might manifest as eyes with pupils that appear more oval, pointed canines, portions of scaly skin or a green tinge to their skin.
This is the most common form among the Yuan-Ti and one that serves well in functions that benefit from a Human appearance. This means that many Yuan-Ti Purebloods often operate as liaisons, ambassadors and spies among other races. The Yuan-Ti are an aggressive race and are known to attack, conquer and enslave other races, as such, spies are a highly needed commodity for the Yuan-Ti.
The Yuan-Ti were created from the worshippers of the demonic deity, Mhairshaulk, a being of serpentine qualities himself. In seeking to become more like their god, the Yuan-Ti sought to gain greater favour with Mhairshaulk. Of course, the worship of demons comes with certain occupational tendencies such as the destruction of civilisation and other nefarious schemes.
With this history and their ongoing worship of Sseth (an avatar of Mhairshaulk) along with other serpentine gods, the Yuan-Ti tend to be a fairly evil bunch. While their empire has dwindled in recent centuries, they continue to seek domination of the world, though often do so through more subtle means, espionage, assassinations and political maneuverings are more common than conquests on the battlefield nowadays.
The Yuan-Ti are intelligent, cunning and devious with grand ambitions. They maintain a large network of slave labour within their empires and consider all other races to be inferior and deserving of subjugation. Not all Yuan-Ti share such goals and some do leave their civilisation to live peacefully among other races. The Yuan-Ti though are feared and distrusted though so few are able to do this and only the Purebloods are able to discreetly insert themselves among other races.
A good Yuan-Ti is rare still and more typically, as a Yuan-Ti Pureblood outside of the jungle empires of the Yuan-Ti is likely operating as a spy, envoy, merchant or some other agent of the empire.
How to play as a Yuan-Ti Pureblood
Most Yuan-Ti Purebloods are evil, have little regard for the welfare of others and only cooperate if it helps to further their own personal schemes and those of their empire. You can however, choose to play a Yuan-Ti Pureblood however you want. Some do choose to live a better life, though all will be influenced by their lineage, their history and their culture. You should consider the following when creating a Yuan-Ti Pureblood character:
- Evil schemes – You should consider why your character is among other races. The most likely reason is that you are on a mission from the Yuan-Ti. Are you there to influence local events? Perhaps you need to spy on someone or assassinate them. It may be less nefarious and perhaps you simply trade in goods to obtain powerful items for your empire’s wars. Maybe you have abandoned the Yuan-Ti and seek to live harmoniously among other races or have been exiled. Whatever you choose though, you should have a good reason to not be living among the Yuan-Ti.
- Hated race – Whether your intentions are good or evil, most that know your race will consider you evil and at best, will want little to do with you, or at worst, will want you killed. Most Yuan-Ti Purebloods will veil their race for this reason, preferring to discreetly operate in foreign lands. Most Yuan-Ti Purebloods attempt to pass themselves off as Humans as they have most of the same features.
- Serpentine appearance – As a Pureblood, you will mostly look Human, but you should consider what serpentine aspects you have inherited. Do you have patches of scaly skin, oval pupils, a forked tongue or some other telltale sign that you’re not the Human you try to pass yourself off as.
Yuan-Ti Pureblood features in 5e
|Ability Scores||+2 to one ability score and +1 to another or +1 to 3 different ability scores|
|Size||Medium or Small|
|Lifespan||About 80 years|
|Languages||Common and 1 other|
|Traits||Darkvision, Magic Resistance, Poison Resilience, Serpentine Spellcasting|
|Book found in||Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, Volo’s Guide to Monsters|
If you want to play as a Yuan-Ti Pureblood, your character will have the following traits and abilities:
Yuan-Ti Pureblood traits
Darkvision – 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 discern colors in that darkness only as shades of gray.
Magic Resistance – You have advantage on saving throws against spells.
Poison Resilience – You have advantage on saving throws you make to avoid or end the poisoned condition on yourself. You also have resistance to poison damage.
Serpentine Spellcasting – You know the Poison Spray cantrip. You can cast Animal Friendship an unlimited number of times with this trait, but you can target only snakes with it. Starting at 3rd level, you can also cast Suggestion with this trait. Once you cast it, you can’t do so again until you finish a long rest. You can also cast it using any spell slots you have of 2nd level or higher.
Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells when you cast them with this trait (choose when you select this race).
Which classes work best for a Yuan-Ti Pureblood?
Yuan-Ti Purebloods are interesting characters from a role play perspective, often posing as spies and assassins among other civilisations. From an optimisation point of view though, they have some straightforward traits that work well for any class really.
The main benefit is in their resistances. Resistance to spells is an excellent resistance as it’s so widely needed. Poison is also a common damage and condition type so resistance to poison is also a big buff for toughening up a character. The innate spellcasting options though are a bit weaker and while they’re welcome options, will likely add little to your capabilities.
With this in mind, the reality is that all classes will benefit from such abilities. We’d possibly lean a little more into frontline martials as spellcasters and those wielding ranged weapons tend to have distance as their protection, but toughening up your weaker characters is no bad thing. However, we would say the best classes for a Yuan-Ti Pureblood are:
- Non-martial, melee classes (like some rogues, artificers, hexblades etc)
If you twisted our arm, we’d probably concede that the absolute best classes for a Yuan-Ti Pureblood are your less tough martials like monks and any non-martial melee subclasses like battle smiths, hexblades and rogues. If anyone needs that extra toughness, it’s these classes that often get stuck in the melee, but don’t have the hit points to handle it.
However, we’d also say that there are no bad classes for a Yuan-Ti Pureblood either. Wizards and sorcerors will enjoy the benefits of a bit of extra toughness, especially with their diminished hit points.