Back in my younger days, I worked at a book store while going to school, and because of that I was exposed to a lot of books I probably would never have touched on my own. One day, while flipping through a few books in the Metaphysics section, I came across a grandiose — well, more like insane — conspiracy theory. Since this month’s focus is on the weirdness of the Outer Planes, it seemed like the perfect time for this conspiracy to invade a D&D game. You’ve probably seen elements of this conspiracy theory out there, such as the books of David Icke and the TV show V. Heck, even the old Conan the Adventurer cartoon touched on it. What am I referring to here? Just imagine, what will your players do when they are invaded by… Reptile Men!
Reptile Men Rules
Reptile Men are a race of infiltrators from another dimension. Because of this, we will be using the NPC archetypes rule found in the Dungeon Masters Guide PG 278 rather than a static monster. Basically, any humanoid monster, such as an Orc, Bugbear, Knight, Guard, or Cultist, could be a Reptile Man infiltrator. We use the base stats of any humanoid monster and then add the Reptile Man racial traits:
Shape changer. The Reptile Man can use its action to polymorph into a Small or Medium humanoid it has seen, or back into its true form. Its statistics, other than its size, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It reverts back to its true form if it dies, or if it gets within 10 feet of “Star Metal.”
Condition Immunity Poisoned
Reptile Men are known to be otherworldly, and people that are not aware of their true nature still experience a “weird” vibe from them. Their spell casters will use spells with Necrotic or Poison damage, and their spells have a snake motif whenever possible. For example, when a Reptile Man casts the spell Lightning Bolt, instead of a standard lightning bolt, it shoots a shadowy snake from its open palm. The spell follows all the rules of a regular Lightning Bolt but inflicts necrotic damage instead of lightning damage. And instead of simply casting fireball, the Reptile Man spell caster throws a bloated viper which explodes with Poison damage, but otherwise follows the rules of Fireball. You can apply this change to all spells, or limit the Reptile Men spell list to only those where this change is easily applicable.
In their natural form, Reptile Men have no gender and they can assume either gender when they take another humanoid shape. Their genderlessness means they don’t reproduce sexually, and I’ll discuss more on how they do reproduce later. But needless to say, even when they’re shape-shifted, they do not have the “plumbing” required to reproduce with another being. Because they infiltrate society so well, they are really hard to spot. For whatever reason, however, they show a preference to wearing the color red.
The only obvious indicator that somebody is a Reptile Man is they like eating live prey, usually small mammals or insects, and they are unconcerned with consuming poisonous animals. For example, some Players might realize they are in trouble when they sneak into an eccentric baron’s dinner party, and they are served Snake Surprise, or the tray of appetizers includes live mice broken up by color. “Try the brown ones. They are delicious this time of year.”
Reptile Men History
The Reptile Men come from one of the Outer Planes, born of an egg of the World Serpent (or any reptilian god of your choice) and a Demon Lord (again, of your choice). The result was a hermaphroditic Demon Lord named Yogg-Set. Yogg-Set appears as a giant serpent, with the upper body of a humanoid lizard and a large brightly- colored frill. However, its tail ends in a large orifice that Yogg-Set constantly lays eggs from, which is how new Reptile Men come into being.
Yogg-Set is a relatively young being, only having been alive for the past 500 years or so. Because the Reptile Men have only just arrived in a multiverse that is much older than can be fathomed, they often try to appear much older than they are. A favorite pastime of some Reptile Men scholars is altering history books to put their race in the center of ancient events. Some of the changes include inserting a story in some obscure document about witnessing a person becoming a Reptile at death. Reptile Men have a limited form of a hive mind, and once they hatch, they learn at an astonishing rate, drawing upon the knowledge of all the Reptile Men that are currently alive.
A hundred years ago, a group of adventurers discovered the Reptile Men and fought their way through the conspiracy and set upon Yogg-Set itself. Unfortunately, they were killed by the Serpent Demon but the battle had unseen ramifications. The blood of the quasi-god was flung into the Multiverse and rained down on any world connected to the Reptile Men hive mind. It hit the ground as a form of strange greenish metal, which soon became highly sought after. One side effect of being near this “Star Metal” is that it breaks the illusion of the Reptile Men and forces them to revert back to their true forms.
Reptile Man Campaign Frame
There’s a wide variety of the Reptile Men’s objectives you can use for your campaign. Perhaps it’s as simple as they are trying to make a homeland of their own, either by conquering a world or even just a mere kingdom. Or you can take an even more gruesome tone; that while mice and bugs are good for snacks, what they consider really good eatin’ are the sentient races, and they’re trying to turn your kingdom into a giant cattle ranch!
When starting the campaign, it should look as much like a normal D&D campaign as possible. In one of the early sessions, you can let the players stumble upon Star Metal weapons. For example, a local Lord gives the players a quest. During the adventure, they find themselves in a dungeon, they stumble upon a body, which turns out to be the body of the Lord who sent them there! They learn that this Lord had been murdered, and a Reptile Man took over his life, and his body was hidden away in this dungeon, perhaps to aid the infiltration or even just as a snack for the creatures within.
Along the way, the nature of the conspiracy should be clear: something has taken over the local Lord. Investigating it should take the players all the way to the highest ruler of their kingdom. The players saving their kingdom could occur at a relatively low level. Later on, they discover that the conspiracy does not end there, and a neighboring kingdom shows signs of Reptile Man infiltration. After that, they find that kingdom had been moving resources somewhere else. Following the trail eventually leads to the Outer Planes and to battling Yogg-Set itself.
In my review of Night’s Black Agents (Do You Want to Know More?), I mentioned using its Conspyramid and Vampyramid rules in a D&D game. This is definitely something you can apply to the conspiracy of the Reptile Men. The local king should be a tier 3 or 4 node, and adventures in the outer planes make up the top two or three tiers. If you want some ideas for adventures, I recommend checking out the old 80’s series (or its more recent remake) V or the Conan the Adventurer cartoon. There have also been History Channel specials on “the Reptilians among us.” While I’m not saying that they’re aliens….