From Mizahar Lore
A Constrictor Dhani
|Major features||Slit-like eyes, sibilant speech.|
|Abilities||Shapeshifting; differs amongst subraces.|
|Population||V: 200 C: 200 R: 200 SWI: 500 FWI: 75|
|Most common in||Northern Falyndar, Ekytol, Southern Taldera, Suvan, Charbosi|
|Racial gods||Siku, Caiyha.|
|Racial bonus||either +10 Poisons or +10 Wrestling|
|Subraces||Constrictor, Viper, Rattler, Iyvess|
The Dhani are the children of Siku. Despite their shared worship of their goddess and her mother, Caiyha, the four sub-races, or factions, do not get along. At all. This dysfunctional infighting has decreased their numbers considerably, and allows other races to pick them off when and where they can. The hallmark of the Dhani is their ability to assume three shapes: snake, which is how they are born; half-snake, half-human (Dhani); and human... which allows them to walk around, hiding their serpentine selves, from others. The Dhani spread out, ranging from northern Falyndar to Eyktol to southern Taldera all the way to Charbosi, which are where their nests are located, but they can be found throughout Mizahar. Those whom the Dhani take an interest in should be wary. Their stomachs, it is said, know no limits.
Siku is considered the mother of the Dhani race. They say that in the beginning, before the Valterrian, the Dhani had no sub-races. Sure, there were factions that fought internal battles, so much so that they divided the great nest and each went their own way, spreading out throughout the two empires, establishing their own nests. But the Valterrian changed the lives of the Dhani, wiping out many of their numbers. The survivors found that they were no longer the same as their cousins of different lands – nor even to each other, so drastically had the Valterrian effect their physiology. It was just as the Dhani were discovering their new traits that the nest in Falyndar was joined by another breed of Dhani born from the union of Siku and Laviku known as the Iyvess. Once able to breathe underwater the Iyvess were forced upon land and sought out their land dwelling cousins in hope of aid, but found only ridicule and scorn. Thus this subrace split apart, half returning to the sea, half travelling across the wreckage of Mizahar after the Valterrian, slowly mingling with the other nests. The Dhani that retain traits most like constrictors and other snake breeds that kill their prey using muscles un place of venom consider themselves the closest to the original Dhani, a fact that they pride themselves on. They call themselves Siku's most favoured - they, after all, had been changed the least from the image that their goddess created them in. This point of contention leads to ever more fighting, and distrust in each nest they are in.
What's From Where?
Mizahar has some extraordinarily different climates. The original Dhani appear in three regions - Falyndar, Taldera, and Eyktol, the Iyvess originating in the Suvan. As a result of the Valterrian each nest holds a portion of each subrace most suited to that climate. For example one Dhani in Ekytol might be closest to a diamond back rattler, while another might look more like a sidewinder, a third being similar to a rosy boa. Distribution of the subraces varies depending on the regions, Falyndar having a higher ratio of Constrictor breeds of snakes, Taldera having more Rattlers, but each region holds all subraces to one degree or another. Dhani will never fare as well outside of their region as within it. A Boa Constrictor in the desert will lack for proper humidity, as will an Eyelash viper, while a Speckled Rattler will find even Southern Taldera much too cold for its liking.
When one is referring to the Dhani, a nest is actually an underground city. There are Four main nests which include Zinrah, one in southern Taldera, one near Ahnatep, and one just within Charbosi. There is one smaller nest that very precious few actually ever find out about, consisting of Rattlers, Vipers, and Freshwater Iyvess who shun the more praised, voracious lifestyle of their fellows and prefer to follow Caiyha to a greater degree than Siku. These from the tiny nest, which numbers only perhaps 20 Dhani, never hunt human prey, but stick to whatever animals they can catch instead. A nest is a highly protected area. It's more than a sleeping area - it descends into a nightmarish labyrinth of tunnels and chambers that is often staunchly defended at each turn.
A Dhani’s appearance will vary based on the breed of snake they take after, resulting in a myriad of different sized and colored serpents. A viper can look like a king cobra, a night adder, or an eyelash viper, and this variation is apparent in all the subraces. Over the course of their lives, Dhani are encouraged to master their three forms, from snake, to Dhani (a hybridized mixture of human and snake, with a serpentine body and head and a humanoid torso, arms and shoulders) to human. They believe that using a combination of all three shapes, human, Dhani, and snake, maximizes their strengths. And in a world where strength is a means to survival...
How Do the Dhani Forms Work?
The Dhani have three forms, snake, Dhani, and human. Shifting from any of these three forms takes 30 seconds, and they can shift from snake to human and vice versa, without needing to take the Dhani form. While Kelvic shifting is instantaneous, going from one form to the other, the Dhani actually seem to rearrange their bodies to take on one shape to another. A snake going to human will grow legs and arms, or a human becoming a snake will have their arms fuse to their sides and their legs to each other, lengthening and becoming a tail. Hair sinks inside the skin, skin and bones rearrange in a grotesque display as the body shifts and lengthens... all in 30 seconds. For the Dhani, shapeshifting is not painful - it's actually quite cathartic. They look just like any other human in their human form, with no distinguishable physical feature that would reveal them to be Dhani.
Any clothes they are wearing remain as they are. That is, if they are in their human shape and shift into the Dhani shape, the clothes are likely to tear. If they go from snake to human or Dhani, they're going to be naked... snakes, after all, do not wear clothing. Clothing, jewelry, and possessions do not go anywhere - they remain exactly as they were. A Dhani with pierced ears that goes from Dhani to human will certainly keep the piercings when they shift back, but lose the earrings, but if they were to go to their snake form, they would similarly fall out. In their Dhani form, while having a humanoid torso and arms, they have a serpentine head to allow for their mouths to unhinge and swallow much larger prey.
On Shape Shifting and Mixed Blooded Offspring
Dhani very, very, VERY rarely mate with other races. There are, however, exceptions to the rule. They may well find others beautiful and attractive, and mate with them. A male Dhani has the ability to impregnate a female of most other races, a female Dhani cannot become pregnant from a male of another race due to the nature of breeding process. A mixed-blooded child with Dhani in their ancestry is not able to change their shapes like a full-blooded one could. A Dhani cannot interbreed with another Dhani of a different subrace, however, vipers from two different regions most certainly can produce offspring, the snake type of their infants will vary.
Constrictor breeds are drawn from their namesake but can also reflect pythons as well. They are also the biggest and the strongest of the Dhani. Long and muscular as they are, they lack any natural poison of their own... the only nonpoisonous sub race of the Dhani. They are decent swimmers and good at climbing trees. They tend to be very good at brawling and wrestling.
- Snake: Reaching lengths between 30-45 feet when they're full-grown, they are pure muscle. While they have a sharp row of large, inward-pointing fangs and teeth lining their mouths, they have no venom to them, but are used for gripping and pulling things into their mouths. They tend to kill things by suffocating them in their coils.
- Dhani: From snout to tail, these behemoths are generally between 18-22 feet long, and are thick and muscular with powerful arms that are used to break and snap and squeeze their opponents to death. In this form, they are about four times stronger than the average human. The teeth that they have as a snake are there, and just as big.
- Human: Generally around 6'-6'4" as humans, they tend to be broad of shoulder and rather stocky. A Constrictor that is skinny is near death from starvation. They don't appear to be overly muscular, but looks are deceiving. They're about twice as strong as the average human, and have a similar speed.
Rattler breeds are drawn from their namesake. The Rattlers are considered to be the middle ground between the Constrictors and the smaller Vipers. Slightly bigger than Vipers and less poisonous, they use their rattle like a club.
- Snake: Reaching lengths between 12-14 feet, these snakes do not have the gripping ability of the constrictors or their sheer strength, but they strike quite fast. They have two enormous fangs as well as a row of smaller teeth in their mouth, and through these fangs that seem to lengthen just before they attack that poisons are delivered. The poisons can destroy tissue and cause hemorrhaging, and can be fatal if not treated fast. They strike, and release, and follow their prey until it dies.
- Dhani: The length of these Dhani is only about 14-16 feet, and they not as thick as their larger Constrictor cousins. They also lack the gripping and squeezing strength, and are not as fast as the Vipers. They can, however, crush an unarmored skull with a very well-placed blow from the large, club-like rattle on the end of their tails. They are just as poisonous in this form as they are as a snake, with larger fangs and teeth. They are about twice as strong as a normal human.
- Human: Rattler Dhani in their human shape are about 5'6"-5'10" tall and have an average build. They are, however, about one and a half times as strong as your normal human, but they are quite quick.
Viper breeds are drawn from their namesake as well as adders and cobras. The 'small fry' of the Dhani, the Vipers are the smallest and the fastest, with extremely potent poisons. They are not particularly strong. They are also the most susceptible to the cold.
- Snake: A Viper as a snake can grow to be between 6-10 feet long, and strike fast and quickly. Each and every one of them has a hood that they can flare or flatten at will, and sharp, retractable fangs that transmit poisons capable of killing in minutes if untreated. They, like the rattlers, have a row of small, sharp, inward-pointing teeth.
- Dhani: Slim, these Dhani are generally about 9-12 feet long, but tend to 'spring' when they strike, coiling their tail beneath them and springing at their prey. Blessed with long fangs, their goal is often to bite. About one and a half times stronger than your average human, they are quite speedy.
- Human: Slender in build and diminutive in height, the Viper Dhani stand between 4'11"-5'4" tall. Their strength is about the same as an average human's, but they are incredibly fast with their movements.
Iyvess breeds are drawn from sea snakes and kraits. Saltwater Iyvess are not able to move on land in their Dhani or Snake forms, but freshwater Iyvess are. Their size tends to be similar to Rattlers for Iyvess all possess venom as well, but a paralytic sort that in low doses merely numbs their prey, and in high doses can cease motor functions for chimes at a time.
- Snake: An Iyvess will be 18 – 25 feet long, they have limited constricting abilities to help them wrap around prey to bite it, but their main feature is their paddle like tail which allows them to move extremely fast in the water. Apart from two inward pointined fangs all Iyvess possess rows of serrated teeth that help them rip into their prey. Saltwater Iyvess possess gills, freshwater can hold their breath underwater.
- Dhani: Narrow and agile, Iyvess tend to be 16-20 feet long in this form. They possess thick webbing between their fingers and beneath their arms. Saltwater still have gills, while freshwater do not. They posses twice as much strength as the average human in this form.
- Human: Tall and lanky the Iyvess of both varieties normally stands around 5’6” – 5’11”. In this form they possess one and half times as much strength as the average human, and neither form possesses gills, though the freshwater Iyvess can still hold their breath for just as long underwater
Despite the differences of the sub-races, they all share a number of common traits. These include:
- Sibilant pronunciation and hissing accents.
- Dislike of the cold. If in prolonged cold temperatures, get extremely drowsy. Can, and will, hibernate.
- Carnivorous diet.
- They have a tendency to swallow their prey whole, depending on the size and form. Depending on the meal size, they may well become stuck in the form that they devoured said meal for anywhere from one to five days.
- For example, a Constrictor Dhani, in the half-snake, half-humanoid form, kills and devours a young Leopardbred horse. They would be stuck in their Dhani form for three days while they digest their prey.
- They have a tendency to swallow their prey whole, depending on the size and form. Depending on the meal size, they may well become stuck in the form that they devoured said meal for anywhere from one to five days.
- Relative ease (comparable to age and experience) of shifting between any of their three forms.
- Hairless as Dhani.
- Excellent senses of smell, taste, and hearing, average sense of sight.
- As a human, the only sense that is amplified is their sense of taste.
- Night sight by sensing body heat and outlines to the point of being able to create an entire picture out of temperatures.
- Dhani and snake forms only.
- All Dhani have a bit of a homing instinct to know where their nest is.
The matriarchal Dhani are predators first and foremost. On more than one occasion, people have referred to them as walking stomachs. But such a title fails to forewarn of the vicious cunning these creatures possess. They harbor fierce biases against their other sub-race, but despite these, will always help a fellow Dhani out against an outsider, or take their side. What happens after... well, the two Dhani may well fight in private.
Younger Dhani are driven almost purely by instinct, especially as hatchlings and until, and even shortly after, they begin to learn their Dhani shape. But as they mature, the Dhani seem to have a special spot for cruelty. The Constrictors, for example, will capture prisoners and use these prisoners against their own people. The Vipers are fond of torture. Rattlers will create havoc simply because they can. The Dhani are absolute fanatics when it comes to Siku, and many will begrudgingly admit a fondness for Caiyha.
Dhani can be quite sensual when it comes to their mates, but it does depend on the coupling. It can bring out an almost tender side of them that is rarely revealed.
The Dhani are fairly long-lived... reaching ages of 300-350. Assuming, of course, that they don't get killed first. Another reason why Dhani are slow to repopulate and increase their numbers is because it takes a while to get to the age of sexual maturity where reproduction will be successful.
- 0-5 years: Hatchling.
- 5-25 years: Snakeling. At about 25 years of age, a Snakeling begins to learn how to shift into its Dhani form.
- 25-50 years: Youngling.
- 50-100 years: Young adult. Learn to take the human shape at approximately 100 years of age. They also become sexually mature after around age 100.
- 100-150 years: Adult.
- +150 years: Elder. Hell, who's counting any more?
A matriarchal society, the Dhani are all about the females and the mothers, primarily because only they can birth the next generation. Each nest is ruled by a Queen, and this title is often passed from mother to daughter, or grandmother to granddaughter. The males are usually the hunter-gatherers and providers while females keep everything running smoothly. However, the females are just as vicious, particularly when their young or nest is threatened.
A group of Dhani is called a nest. This nest is broken up into smaller nests for the individual family units. There are only around 200 Dhani to a single sub-race, and that is about the size of the nest. The Queen is at the top of the chain of command - she calls the shots. Disputes between nests are settled by a female who is chosen as head of the nest. This female may or may not be the eldest in her family, but she usually is.
Mating between Dhani can happen in any of the three forms. It's a matter of individual preferences. Monogamous partners are commonplace, but sometimes males are shared, and a female may well pick between any number of suitors for mating.
The Dhani communicate through two languages: Snake-tongue and Common. Snake-tongue is their natural language, and often communicate with this in snake and Dhani forms... though some use it as humans, but it takes practice, as the human tongue simply isn't meant to imitate those sounds. It also allows for communication with snakes.
Dhani names are generally long, and bear an element of the mother's name that gets passed down to all children. To differentiate, the individual portion of the name becomes their shorter nickname. An example of a Dhani name would be Sahssvanhamo, where Sahssva is the shared element of their mother, and Nhamo would become the individual's (nick)name. A sibling of Sahssvanhamo could be Sahssvagasira... where the individual name is Gasira. A child of Sahssvagasira could be Gasirayosel... where the child's nickname would be Ayosel.
Dhani females carry their young to term within their womb for a period of a year. For the first two seasons a Dhani can shift to any of their forms, for the second two they are restricted to their Dhani or snake forms, and can give birth in either. They then give live birth to a clutch of 6-12 snakelings. All nests have nurseries where snakelings are kept and raised, and though they will often intermingle each mother knows the scent of her own young. In cases where snakelings are orphaned or somehow abandoned they will be raised by those who oversee the Nurseries and rarely adopted into other families.
Dhani are fiercely protective of their family. The newly born snakelings are watched closely and cared for, and by the time they become younglings, they may leave the nest to explore and practice hunting, sometimes accompanied by a parent, or an older sibling, or family member... or by themselves. The underground nests can be tunneled and expanded into in order to accommodate greater numbers in a dwelling. A mother may raise a number of clutches, and then one of her elder daughters will take a stab at parenting herself by raising the next clutch of hatchlings.
Most of a Dhani’s life is devoted to the search of food, for as large reptiles they are constantly hungry. They do not cook or prepare meals, for they have no need, and so the largest and most common job is that of hunters, males usually being pressured or forced into this role. A sign of wealth and power is that you no longer have to hunt for yourself, and for these Dhani life takes a turn for the more relaxed side. If you are not eating, often you are digesting a meal, so sleeping is common place with Dhani as well. If you have no need of hunting life often revolves around the politics of a nest, grabbing for power, forming alliances, and whatnot. Dhani also enjoy drinking, and can consume copious amounts of alcohol before becoming intoxicated, especially Constrictors. Though life in Mizahar is hard, those on the top of the Dhani hierarchy often live a life of pleasure, free to do what they want when they want to.
Art and Industry
Dhani hold craftspeople and artisans in high regards. Though there isn’t as much call for clothing as a Dhani as other races, they still highly enjoy expensive fabrics as well as elegant jewelry and objects that reflect one’s status. As such if one becomes skilled enough in a certain art or craft they can move up the societal ladder in a different but no less respected way as a lesser Queen could in a given nest. The most common artistic practices are pottery, jewel crafting, weaving, and metalsmithing, often improvised and altered in some way due to the tight spaces and non-traditional set up of Dhani nests.
Active Dhani PCs
| Out of character note:
Due to the incredibly diverse natures of snakes even within the categories outlined above (viper, constrictor, rattler, aquatic, etc) we are going to ask each Dhani player to pick a snake type from real life and pattern their Dhani after that particular snakes' traits. IC we can explain this as the particular nature of a specific family or bloodline. This way we don't get players arguing OOC if their particular Dhani can spit venom a certain distance because a spitting cobra can in the real world verses one that can strike a great length because a different type of snake in the real world can. This allows a lot more flexibility and yet standardization in Dhani characters among the groups. Once a player picks a snake to pattern their Dhani after, we ask that they not alter that type after the standard 50 post grace period. Below is an example of a data field a Dhani character should include in their CS. There will be some in game variations (Dhani in game get very large for example, but between your base snake and another character's base snake we will be able to tell whom is larger in game in snake form.)
General Description: Considered a dangerous snake
Length: 9.8-13.1ft on average but can reach 18.8 ft
Weight: 13lbs with heaviest being 26 lbs recorded
Coloring: Olive-green, tan or black. It has faint pale yellow cross bands down the length of its body. The belly is pale yellow or cream with smooth scales.
Fangs: Short and fixed in the front of the mouth.
Disposition: Contrary to most popular beliefs, King Cobras are rather mild mannered and placid creatures unless surprised or cornered. They have few natural enemies so that lends them to be placid and restful.
Diet: Other snakes
Defenses: It can rear up on one third of the rear portion of its body, extend its neck ,and show its fangs while hissing loudly. Has a long distance strike. Has a low pitched growling hiss.Venom: Potent Neurotoxin. Can kill an elephant with a single strike. Cause severe pain, blurred vision, vertigo, drowsiness, and paralysis which can lead to the collapse of ones cardiovascular system and coma. This then leads to death due to respiratory failure."