|Climate/Terrain||Desolation of Shidar|
The blood viper is a large snake with a distinctive pattern of diamonds and delta shaped stripes of grey on a glistening black body. It has a large triangular head. A typical fully grown blood viper will average about 2 meters long and weigh about 30kg. The grey patterns on the snake are actually formed by semi-transparent scales and skin. These grey patterns will change to a deep red color after the snake has fed (see below).
The blood viper gets its name from it’s dietary habits. This snake feeds on the blood of warm blooded animals. It hunts at night using a form of heat vision to find prey. It approaches by stealth to get within 3 meters of its prey and positions itself so that it can see the prey’s face. It will often sneak up on animals that are sleeping.
The blood viper attacks by squirting a liquid toxin from ducts near its eyes. This toxin is usually aimed at the eyes, mouth and nose. It can also be absorbed through bare skin. The toxin acts quickly and paralyzes the prey within seconds. The attack sometimes awakens the prey, but the toxin has usually taken full effect by the time the victim is awake. Once the prey is paralyzed, the snake will strike. It usually targets a major vein (such as the neck in the humanoid). It will drink its fill before detaching and slithering away. A single blood viper has a stomach volume approximately equal to an adult human male (about 5 liters). Therefore, if successful, the blood viper would drain a single humanoid victim and then depart, leaving the victim’s fellow camp mates untouched. On many occasions, those who have ventured into the Desolation and made camp have awoken to find one of their friends completely desiccated with two large puncture holes in the neck.
Larger prey, such as ogres or war horses, may be only partially drained by a blood viper attack and may awake the next morning completely exhausted with soreness, cramps and extreme fatigue. With rest and food, they will recuperate.
If the snake’s initial attack is unsuccessful or its feeding is interrupted, it will fight or flee depending on the odds. If greatly outnumbered, the snake will attempt to flee. If challenged by only one or two opponents, it may choose to fight. In combat, the blood viper will attempt to squirt its paralytic toxin at opponents, always aiming for the face (preferably as the toxin acts quicker that way) or any exposed flesh (toxin takes longer to take effect but still works). Toxin that strikes bare skin can be wiped away before it takes effect if the victim is very quick about it.
The blood viper can make 3 to 6 squirt attacks (depending on the size of the snake) before it’s reservoir is depleted. It takes 48 hours to replenish its toxin supply.
The blood viper is found only in the Desolation of Shidar and no where else. It is skilled at negotiating different types of terrain and can be found in tall grass, on rocky hills and even climbing up in trees. During horde season, the blood viper feeds on horde creatures. It typically hides in small rocky crevaces where the horde creatures can not reach it. It will then venture out at night to feed on whatever creatures it can find. If unable to find warm blooded mammals, it can survive by feeding on the blood of the horde creatures. Rather than fight horde creatures, the blood viper will typically drain slain horde creatures.
A blood viper that has satiated its hunger will typically avoid encounters and only wishes to be left alone. A satiated blood viper can easily be identified by its red body patterns.
The blood viper is both a predator and scavenger. Some of its prey lives after an attack. In some cases, the blood viper will simply drain a freshly killed corpse.
The toxin of the blood viper maintains its paralytic effects for several days (if it is preserved properly by keeping it in an airtight container). The omarin have been known to use bloodviper toxin on their weapons. It is also a valuable alchemical component which is useful in several magical potions. There are many warriors and wizards alike who would pay handsomely for even a small dose. Of course, extracting the toxin from a blood viper can be a dangerous affair. The fact that blood vipers can only be found in the Desolation makes the toxin especially rare and valuable.
The meat of a blood viper is edible, but surprisingly tough, stringy and foul tasting.
Blood vipers create nests in small rocky crevasses to protect from other predators. A female blood viper will lay a clutch of 8-12 eggs once every year, but the nest will be abandoned. The newly hatched will engage in a brood nest war, fighting and killed each other, until only one survives. The sole survivor will then leave the nest and venture forth to begin hunting small prey.
This website was last updated March 31, 2021. Copyright 1990-2021 David M. Roomes.