The naga are touched by the realm of Night, a realm of shape-changing wyrms and winged serpents. They are subtle, secretive and intuitive individuals whose passion and fervour for life drives them to seek new challenges and new experiences.
Naga are comfortable in roles where secrets and sensation are important. They excel in the Bourse where their motivation for wealth and passion for secrets gives them an edge, but they are also found in the Synod where their fervour and oratory make them successful. There have been a number of notable naga in the Senate and the Conclave over the years, but their self-indulgent nature means they have rarely embraced a life in the military.
The naga lineage is intended to appeal to players who want to be subtle and manipulative, as well as those who want to be a little mysterious. The naga suits a number of concepts: fanatical priests, mysterious wizards, fighters who enjoy fighting, artists and performers of all types. The concept plays with images of the snake as wise and subtle, but subverts the idea that snakes are “cold-blooded”.
Inspirations for the naga might include any number of famous artists and socialites such as Oscar Wilde and Van Gogh. Spymasters like Francis Walsingham from the film Elizabeth and the fictional spies Varys and Milady de Winter all fit the idea of subtle, secretive, passionate agents. Wizards and mysterious magicians of all stripes can provide inspiration including various versions of Thoth, Mister Miyagi, Merlin, Morgan le Fay and even Doctor Strange. Naga are often articulate characters that enjoy their own cleverness, like Vizzini and Tyrion Lannister. Other characters that fit the naga stereotype are the indulgent jewel-thief Catwoman, sinister sociopaths like The Talented Mr Ripley, manipulators like the Marquis de Carabas from Neverwhere, and most of the cast of Josh Whedon's Firefly series (but especially Shepherd Derriel Book and Inara Serra).
Skinks, Snakes, Lamia, the Scaled
What they are not
- Hypersexual. Naga are sensates - they enjoy luxury and the pleasure of their senses but their sexual mores and inclinations are no different to any other person.
- Scaled brow or eye sockets. Almost all naga have scales around the eyes or across the brow. A quick and effective scale effect can be produced using make-up and applied with a stencil. You can also use a latex prosthetic to build up the scales across the forehead and highlight the eyes.
- Reptilian eyes. Naga often have eyes with thin vertical pupils like those of a cat or a reptile. Cosmetic contact lenses can be used to achieve this. The pupil and iris should be tall and thin, and the iris may be of any colour.
- Scaled skin. High lineage naga have scales covering more of their skin. This may be on the sides of the face and neck, the back of the hands and the arms or it may even cover large areas of visible skin. Naga are not restricted to any one colour scheme for their scales and exotic shades are entirely appropriate for this lineage, provided that the scale motif is clearly visible. There is no need to cover every inch of your skin but if you do this, then avoid leaving your neck visible and unpainted, as it undermines the appearance. It may be better to use the scales in highlighted areas like the cheek bones, face and the sides of the neck. You can also use latex prosthetics to enhance the scale effect by raising their profile.
- Fangs. Some naga have a pair of fangs where their upper canines would normally be. They do not have additional fangs or pointed teeth, no matter how strong their lineage is. This look is best achieved with teeth prosthetics.
- Feathers. If you are playing a high lineage naga with scales that cover significant areas of your face then you might also have brightly coloured feathers on the back of your head. You can tie long feathers into your hair or else use a wig or skull cap so that the hair is completely covered by a mane of feathers. The goal is to look like a feathered serpent, not a scaled bird.
- Sibilance. Naga speak with a sibilant accent stressing the final s in plural words and even lapse into hissing. This is regarded by some naga as unsophisticated and they train their voice to drop this habit, so it is possible to play a high lineage naga that does not do this if you prefer.
- Flat nose. High lineage naga sometimes have a flatter or less defined nose. The nostrils may look more like pits and the skin on either side rises to meet the bridge of the nose. This effect might be achieved with various kinds of latex prosthetic that cover the nose and centre of the face.
- Relaxed demeanour. Naga like to be comfortable and to relax wherever possible. Take your time sitting down, try to ensure that you have plenty of cushions and lounge and loll rather than sitting up straight. Never pass up the opportunity to shift in your seat to find a more comfortable position no matter how inappropriate it is. Sit rather than stand and stretch out on cushions rather than sit when the opportunity presents itself.
Minor trappings are alternative trappings that have been requested by players and which have been approved as part of the setting. They are considered to be rare and are always found in combination with one or more of the regular physical trappings; they should not be used by themselves.
- Snakes Hood. A few naga have a "snakes hood", a hood of skin behind the head like a cobra. This can be achieved with suitable costume.
Naga blood influences the character of the one who possesses it. Not every naga expresses these effects to the same degree, but characters who demonstrate these roleplaying trappings possess stronger lineage than those who do not.
- Naga are gregarious. Most naga are highly social people who enjoy the company of others. They appreciate conversation, as well as social occasions where there is music or performance. Naga rarely feel the need to dominate social situations, but they like to be party to what is happening and many enjoy arranging and manipulating social situations to bring people together. They enjoy wit and all forms of humour and appreciate skill with words and verbal cleverness. Many of them enjoy word-play and riddles.
- Naga are subtle and secretive. Naga relish being mysterious and secretive, in part because they enjoy the interest from others that it provokes. They like to orchestrate situations to conceal their true intentions and like to draw other people who find mysteries alluring into their plans. They take a pride in concealing their thoughts and ideas. Naga are not spiteful tricksters, but they enjoy complex situations where there are secrets to find out and they also enjoy creating those situations for others.
- Naga are instinctive and intuitive. They love to watch and to try and work out the motives of others, presuming there is some goal beyond the obvious and perhaps linking unrelated occurrences into this perceived ‘plan’. They can be a skilled judge of character and most naga are happy to trust their instincts, acting on the basis of their intuition. Some are more inclined to trust their judgement than other evidence but they can overcomplicate situations looking for more layers of meaning than are really there.
- Naga are passionate. Naga could never be thought cold, even at their most calculating and devious. There is a keen fire in the eyes and tension at the thrill of the chase. They feel all emotions strongly and love to engage with the moment, and if they enjoy an experience may seek to prolong it, or seek it out again. Their passion often exhibits as an enthusiasm for life, a fervour for their goals and objectives. They are not childish, nor erratic, just every sensation is more real to them and they cannot help feeling it, nor would they want to.
- Naga are avaricious. Naga love comfort and luxury and enjoy being wealthy enough to know that they can indulge themselves. Some naga are simply greedy, but many are driven by a desire to feel safe from the threat of deprivation. Naga like the tangible physical presence of affluence, they like to be able to touch and feel the things they own and many keep their money close by.
- Naga have discerning senses Naga often claim that all their senses seem a little stronger, a little more complex than those of other people. A common sweet might be a riot of intermingled flavours; a plain cloth is seen to be woven from subtly varied threads; a simple melody accompanied by all the implied harmonies and driven by the emotion of the musical flow. This does not make it easier to pick out poisons, or other potential advantages, in fact the sensations can be distracting leading to revulsion or rapture, evoking the passions in some way.
- Naga may degenerate into madness. Some naga become increasingly self-obsessed and selfish to the point where they are incapable of thinking of anyone but themselves. The pursuit of their goals - usually their own wealth and satisfaction - become so overriding that they find it impossible to consider other people. Concerned only with satisfying their own desires they see others as objects they own, things whose only purpose is to serve their whims. They take whatever they want, discard anything that does not serve their purpose and destroy any who get in their way.
Despite their appearance, naga are as warm-blooded and mammalian as any human. They mate and breed just like humans do, they give birth to live offspring and all have at least some body hair.
The naga bloodlines require frequent influxes of human blood. Without them the bloodline reaches a strength where the naga becomes incapable of successfully breeding with another naga. As a consequence naga often take human lovers, even if they are in a relationship with another naga.
Naga children are usually born looking almost entirely human. Enhanced senses and sibilance are the only sign of their lineage, but as the child grows they become acutely conscious of their heritage. Sometime after maturity they enter a deep sleep which lasts for many days, during which they undergo a profound transformation, physically shedding much of their skin they emerge as a full naga with all the trappings of their lineage that they then carry with them for the rest of their life.
Lines of the naga
- The passion of naga troubadors is famous in Dawn
- Most famously, the Kallavesi Marshsnakes who dwell in the swamps of Wintermark have naga lineage.