By Jason Cable Hall with additional tweaks by C.N. Constantin.
When people think of snakes and especially humanoid-snake hybrids, they think of cold-hearted evil creatures that have threatened humanity since ancient times.
Garter Folk are definitely not like that. Sometimes calling themselves Garter Folk or Homo Thamnophis, these creatures are pretty nonthreatening. They are a young species that are believed to be a mutation of the common garter snake, perhaps altered by a mixture of energies from the Dreamtime or the hallowed world.
Their physical relation with the more powerful serpentine creatures, such as the naga, is unknown. Though some suspect that the Garter Folk might be some sort of offshoot of these creatures.
Garter Folk are gregarious. As a result, they congregate in communities that are frighteningly huge, often measuring in the tens of thousands and more than doubling in size at key times of the year.
The major goal for these communities is food (often in the form of earthworms or insects raised in local mud farms), warmth, and sex.
The core part of the Garter Folk society is the time of year and time of day. Pretty much everything they do revolves around how warm it is outside. Cooler weather means less activity more snuggling, warmer weather means time for work and parties. And for this strange species, no season has more importance than spring time. It is during this time of year that Garter Folk are openly sensual and promiscuous, which can quite strange or even disturbing to those unprepared for the sight of tens of Garter Folk slithering around together.
The largest community is the Narcisse Snake pit in southern Manitoba. They have hallowed out the canyons to build an amazing subterranean lair. However, they are surprisingly versatile in re-purposing natural habitats and ruins to become effective homes throughout the Americas, with large communities in the former states of Minnesota and Florida.
Despite this friendliness, there is a fierce dynamism and an unconquerable energy to these places. They can go from lively and peaceful to an aggressive posse if outsiders appear to be rowdy.
Despite being usually quite friendly, they generally creep out the “mammalian folk” due to their odd manners, actions and dietary concerns. Medusas usually have good relations with them, as they are able to look past the stigma. Desecrator races can be surprisingly tolerant and open minded as well. Feylins are usually bitterly disappointed as Garter Folk are noting like what they expect. They have a friendly relationship with the Froggies, despite being considered “scaly hippies.”
While they often put off people with their mannerisms, they have a reputation of being honest brokers and can make a good diplomat between certain cultures.
Garter Folk adventure to experience life, and to meet people. They often wriggle into and out of trouble just by simply entering an area. It’s not just their appearance and mannerisms. Sometimes Garter Folk just get cocky.
If ever there was a race that replaces manners with friendliness, it is the Garter Folk. Getting up in the face of a well-known friend to say hello for example, is far more important than personal boundaries. They are inquisitive, observant and have a bad habit of telling you what they observe or think with little reservation. Despite their odd sensual nature, they are attracted exclusively to their own kind, though can appreciate the beauty of other creatures.
Imagine a normal looking snake about half the size of a human, but with arms (though no legs like a typical snake) and a slightly more rounded head. While their coloration varies, most Garter Folk have a dark grey skin/scale base color which is covered in a variety of rings, strips and dotted patches that can be any combination of black, beige, blues, greens and reds, with highlights or outlines of yellow and white. Perhaps the sexiest pattern for the Garter Folk of Manitoba is parallel racing strips that run the length of their bodies, while other populations may have their own preferences.
While Garter Folk have no taboo about going about life naked, and in fact prefer it, many do dawn oddly human looking attire. For the Garter Folk across the former country of Canada, they enjoy wearing brightly colored cowboy attire, and often decorate their scales with colorful ornamental stones either as bracelets or necklaces, or sometimes stuck directly to their body with natural wax or special mud.
Garter Folk Traits
Creature Type: Monstrosity
Ability Score Increase: Your Wisdom and Charisma scores increase by 1 each, up to their normal maximums. You then choose any other ability score to increase by 1 point, up to its normal maximum (you may not pick Wisdom or Charisma).
Talent Access: You have access to the Savage, Shrinking, and Venom species talent trees. You also gain access to the special Garter Folk talents below.
Age: Garter Folk are considered adults at around 15 years of age and have a typical lifespan of 60 years, though some of the oldest Garter Folk can reach double this in the right conditions.
Size: The length of their body from nose to tail tip is about 3 and 4 feet long, with about half of that standing erect as their upper body with arms about midway up in this area. They average about 35 to 45 pounds. Your size is Small.
Speed: Your base walking speed is 25 feet.
Language: You can speak, read, and write Draconic, and the unique Garter Folk language of Hiss-Tongue, which is similar to the strange alien language of abyssal spoken by some naga.
Cold Blooded: You have a disadvantage on Constitution saves against effects that cause cold damage or cold-like environmental conditions.
Grasping Tail. You may perform actions with your tail as if it was one of your hands, though you are still limited to wielding a two-handed weapon or shield with your main hands, and any weapons used by your tail are always treated as off-handed weapons (do not apply your ability modifier to weapon damage).
Serpentine body. You have no legs, which means you cannot wear boots or other footwear. Normal armor and clothing costs twice as much for you to purchase due your odd body shape. However, crawling while prone and squeezing through tiny spaces does not cost you extra movement.
Thick Scales: You gain advantage on saves against effects that cause fire damage, and to resist environmental hot weather conditions. If you have natural armor or not wearing any other armor, you gain a +1 AC bonus from your thick scales.
Torpor: Being inflicted with the fifth level of exhaustion causes you drop to one hit point instead of dying. This does not apply to exhaustion caused by starvation, thirst, or suffocation. All other effects of exhaustion remain unchanged.
Garter Folk talents
You gain access to the following talents that you may take using your agony of choice in place of taking feats or other species talents.
Benefit 1: Increase your Dexterity score by 1, up to its normal maximum.
Benefit 2: You may use your Dexterity modifier to make grapple attacks instead of your Strength, if beneficial.
Benefit 3: You may attempt to grapple using your tail creatures that are up to two sizes bigger than you (large sized creatures).
Benefit 1: You gain a natural bite attack that does 1d4 piercing damage as a light, finesse melee weapon.
Benefit 2: By taking disadvantage to a bite attack, you may increase its reach to 10 feet regardless of your body size.
Benefit 3: You may make melee attacks from a prone position without disadvantage.
You can produce and control pheromones that can a creature more willing to interact with you in a positive manner.
Benefit 1: Increase your Charisma score by 1, up to its normal maximum.
Benefit 2: As an action, you can target one creature within 30 feet, and it must make a Wisdom saving throw with a DC 8 + your Charisma modifier + your proficiency bonus. On a failed save, a target becomes charmed by you for hours equal to half your proficiency bonus, or until it takes damage. While charmed by this effect the creature will also act friendly towards you and try to aid you to the best of its ability. The creature will not take actions that would harm itself or its allies, or otherwise against its alignment at the discretion of the GM. Constructs, Elementals, and Undead are immune to this effect.
You must take a long rest before using this feature again.
Benefit 1: Increase your Wisdom score by 1, up to its normal maximum.
Benefit 2: Yon can see the thermal outline of objects and creatures. This grants you the ability to see through dim light as it was bright light and darkness as if was dim light within 30 feet of you. You can also see hidden creatures within 30 feet of you that do not have at least full cover. You cannot see invisible creatures using this feature but may discern creature without body heat (such as most undead and constructs) by comparing their cold body next to the surrounding landscape.
Benefit 1: if you are holding or wielding no items in your hands or with your tail, increase your ground speed by 10 feet.
Benefit 2: You gain a climb and swim speed equal to your ground speed. Unless something would greatly affect your movement, you can climb or swim without the need of Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) checks.
Plot hook: From a Garter Folk's perspective, many other species have some strange hang ups about gender, love, and sex. Even in the post-post apocalypse social anxiety about relationships still abound. To help examine this a Garter Folk colony has sent out investigators (at least one player character) to the study student interactions on the Rock.
The situation: The department of Socio-enchantment on the Rock receives the party and assigns a group of students to watch. The goal is to simply monitor the student's relationships and interactions on campus. While creepy, it is imperative the party remains unnoticed by the group of students. While the Rock is very cosmopolitan, keeping a low profile as a Garter Folk might be difficult as they will draw a lot of looks.
The twist: After witnessing messy breakups, unrequited love, and healthy relationships, the party may have their heart strings pulled and question their "non-interference" pacts on occasion. It slowly becomes apparent that some of the students being examined are acting strange.
The finale: Following the group of students it is revealed that they are taking notes on other students. These students turn out to be spies for the DPP or perhaps mistaken as spies by the party.
The Love Snake Build
In celebration of Feb 14, if you swing that way.
Background: Archaeologist (reskin as social scientist)
Species: Garter Folk
Starting Ability Array (including Species bonuses): Str: 8, Dex: 15, Con: 10, Int: 12, Wis: 16, Cha: 14
Suggested Feature choices:
- Choose the cursing Witch's focus
- Skills: Investigation, Persuasion
- Cantrips: Daze, Guidance, Sacred Flame, Vicious Mockery (hedge magic)
- Suggested favorite spells: 1st level spells: Command, Comprehend Languages, Find Familiar; 2nd level spells- Arcanist’s Magic Aura, Detect Thoughts
- At 5th level, Channeler Enlightenment: Refine Training (Arcana, Insight skills)
- At 4th level, Pheromones Garter Folk species talent.