We’re now on the penultimate Sphere of Influence post. Tomorrow will mark both the final Sphere of Influence post and a full three months of daily activity for this blog.
“So we all agree that it’s okay to stab these people in the face?”
Ss’khanaja is the mostly underground capital of the serpent kingdom of Najara. The city is located in the Serpent Hills, the heart of the kingdom, which are densely populated by yuan-ti and naga. Jarount, the spirit naga king of Najara, keeps his court in Ss’khanaja along with dozens of other courtiers, most notably the young green dragon Emikaiwufeg, one of many chromatic dragons (mostly young, some adult) living in the Serpent Hills, seeking to use an alliance with Jarount to establish herself as pre-eminent in the region.
The Serpent Hills are linked together by underground passageways that form a network of roads between the many caverns of the yuan-ti. The yuan-ti care very little for what travel goes on over the hills, but are quick to slaughter or abduct anyone who sets foot in any of the caves. It’s anyone’s guess how long this bizarre approach to maintaining a border will last, particularly since Najara’s only neighbor of note, Elturgard, is in a state of cold war with them.
Najara is deep yuan-ti territory, and none of the competing factions of Jarount’s court (there are several prominent courtiers detailed in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide) are at all willing to cede Najara’s sovereignty to any outsiders. They have no less than four potentially hostile neighbors, however. While the Zhentarim of Darkhold have been happy to engage in the slave trade with Najara, they’re Zhentarim and would undoubtedly be just as happy to switch sides if a better offer came along. Elturgard has all but declared war already and it would take only a little convincing to get them to commit to it completely. The lizardfolk of the Marsh of Chelimber are vassals of the serpent kingdom, but some or all of them could be persuaded to rise up by a sufficiently skilled diplomat. Finally, while Najara rules over the eastern fringe of the High Moor, most of it is overrun by orcs and trolls who would be all too happy to plunder a wealthy kingdom if a would-be dark lord can hammer them all into one army to do it.
A visit is paid to the Serpent Hills in Rise of Tiamat, and the idea of yuan-ti nations in general is thoroughly explored in the 3e sourcebook Serpent Kingdoms. As an added bonus, this sourcebook also contains one of the vital ingredients of Pun-Pun.
Marsh of Chelimber
The Marsh of Chelimber is inhabited by lizardfolk tribes living amongst the ruins of a shattered kingdom from centuries ago. These tribes have, through bribery or intimidation, all sworn fealty to Jarount and his serpent kingdom of Najara, however the marsh has changed hands several times within the past century or so, from vampires to the Zhentarim and now to Najara. If Ss’khanaja were to fall to an outside power, the lizardfolk would think nothing of realigning to the new power in the region, and they might also be persuaded to rise up against their serpent overlords. The marsh is also home to a relatively small population of bullywugs, who do not get along with the lizardfolk and could potentially be used as proxies in a fight against the lizardfolk.
The Marsh was visited in the 14th century in Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II (which is a decent-ish game that is not to be confused with the proper Baldur’s Gate series, which are high water marks for the entire computer RPG genre).
Forest of Wyrms
The Forest of Wyrms is full of giant snakes, for reasons which no one is entirely sure of. On the bright side, this is one forest that is extremely unlikely to ever have a giant spider problem. At the north end of the forest are the ruins of Ss’thar’tiss’ssun, a holy site for the yuan-ti where they make regular pilgrimages, and nearby is the citadel Thlohtzin, a hub for the yuan-ti slave trade, especially with the Zhentarim in Darkhold. The southern half of the forest is ruled by the ancient green dragon Ralionate, who is not aligned with Najara.
Driving the snakes out of the Forest of Wyrms would be a monumental task, but because there is not much valuable in it, there’s also little point in trying. The forest’s strongholds, particularly Thlohtzin, do hold great strategic value, however, as they command the road between Ss’khanaja and both Darkhold and Elturel. Control of Thlohtzin could be used to interdict or collect the profits of Najara’s slave trade, and would also provide a staging area for an attack on the Serpent Hills. Capture of this citadel, as well as of Ss’thar’tiss’ssun for both strategic and symbolic purposes, would be a key first step to leading Darkhold, Elturel, or both to victory over Najara. Unfortunately, there are not any internal factions to turn against one another, so using one or both of these outside forces is necessary.
Getting rid of powerful dragons lurking on your border is a good idea in general, if you have the prowess to make it happen.
While Serpent Kingdoms is recommended reading for all of Najara, it mentions the Forest of Wyrms in particular.