Also known as humantaint ophidians, after the race from which they sprang (detailed in the Fiend Folio), or as snakefolk, the elapi are a race of serpentine folk who were originally created by the nagas as a slave race. This process was later copied and improved upon by the yuan-ti with much greater success, producing the ophidians as they are now known. The magic that was intended to bind the elapi to their original creators failed, however, and they escaped the domination of their would-be masters. Some of these escapees were able to breed true through a fortunate failure in the magic that originally created their race, rather than having to rely upon infecting other races with their venomous bite, as normal ophidians must, and it is from these humantaint ophidians that the elapi came. The elapi have escaped from a great evil, and they find their newfound freedom quite relaxing, and have no intention of going back to the way that they were. To advance this goal, the elapi quickly integrated into the ruling societies as best as they could, many becoming moneylenders and brokers with the treasures they stole from the nagas, placing a great many of them firmly in a disliked but needed profession, while others insinuated themselves into the vice trade, and still others take part in investments and trading.
Elapi are shrewd by nature, since this was the only way that they were able to fit back into the societies from which they had been pulled by the horrible transformation that originally set their race apart from humanity. They are almost always treated as outsiders, and often face fear and ostracism, and for this reason they tend to be cold and unemotional on the surface, cultivating a talent for picking out the weak and gullible – those who are most susceptible to temptation. This cold-blooded exterior, however, while often going all the way down, just as often masks a startlingly fiery passion just waiting for a chance to be revealed.
Resembling nothing so much as large serpents with relatively stubby arms and legs, making them rather slow-moving (though their fingers and toes are quite long and slender, allowing remarkable manual dexterity), the elapi can take on almost any variation on the serpentine form, from vipers to constrictors. Height and weight tend to be slightly less than for a human. Elapi have a set of razor-sharp fangs, which are either set in the jaw, or which fold back like those of an adder when not in use, depending on the breed of serpent the snakefolk most resembles.
Nobody really likes the snakefolk, and the elapi know this. However, they do not really have any enemies either, besides their creators, who still want them back. And so the elapi work to find a happy medium with the people around them, staying out of sight and out of mind, taking advantage of situations that arise when they can, and trying not to stir up trouble.
Most elapi adapt to circumstances as occasion requires to make the best possible profit, devoted to improving their situation in life and that of their children. Many are amoral, but few are actively malicious.
It is not uncommon for elapi to be displaced from their homes by mounting prejudice or the changing winds of economics and forced to wander and try and make their living as best as they can. Some actually become quite enamored of the opportunity for vast and quick wealth that is afforded by the adventuring life, and some even develop affection for those of other races who show them kindness, though even these few seldom lose sight of their end goals.
In the depths of the humid, stormy rainforests, and in the middle of the steaming swamps of the world, the sounds of the night peepers can be heard, calling to each other in the darkness. The mysterious night peepers are seldom seen because of the remoteness of their homelands, far from the other civilized races, but they do exist, and they sometimes venture from their homes in search of adventure.
Night peepers are polite and generally likable, as befits a people that live in close-knit tribes. They can be standoffish to outsiders when among their own people, because of the danger of trusting too deeply in those who have not been proven, but they can be very hospitable once their trust is earned, and are fascinated by the many strange concepts and interesting news that comes from travelers.
Night peepers are what bullywugs might have been, had they been created with more grace and were less barbaric. This froglike race of humanoids have very colorful, moist skin that comes in a variety of bright colors, including red, green, blue orange and purple, and interesting patterns of black mottling, and their eyes come in almost as many shades, from golden to red to green to an inky indigo. They are like treefrogs, spending their lives in a mostly arboreal setting, and their feet tend to have prominent suction cups that allow for great traction, while their legs are packed with powerful muscle, allowing them to make incredible leaps between branches.
About Night Peepers:
Night peepers get along best with elves, who favor their arboreal way of life and have a similar respect for nature. They generally keep to themselves, though, and do not mingle when they can avoid it, preferring their secretive lives in the depths of their moist green habitats. As far as racial enemies are concerned, the closest to this that the night peepers have are the elapi. Elapi are a race which the night peepers do not like at all, drawing on instinctive racial animosity, and the frogfolk avoid the snakefolk whenever possible.
While most night peepers would prefer to stay at home in their tree villages, a rare few will head out into the world, inspired by the tales told by their elders around the fire, and eager to make new tales to tell when they return.
The vast majority of lizardfolk are a barbaric people, living crude, primitive lives far-removed from civilization in the depths of swamps and darkest jungles, worshiping strange reptilian gods, and often falling into the company and sway of the forces of evil, especially evil dragons. There are generally tales of the days when lizardfolk and similar reptilian beings ruled the world, but these days are past and gone, and are not likely to come again. However, not all of the lizardfolk have sunk into tribal barbarism. A rare few bands of lizardfolk, instead of following the majority into barbarism and the worship of a variety of weaker gods and evil creatures instead chose to turn to the coatl and to good dragons as their exemplars, and from these wise feathered serpents, these bands of lizardfolk gradually developed an advanced society – or maintained the society which they had, if rumors from the past are to be believed. With a gentler outlook on life and bearing the name of the first coatl to guide them centuries past into the ways of wisdom, these civilized lizardfolk have recently begun to take the first steps out of their hidden jungle cities. One of these is that they have opened up relations with the rest of the mammal-dominated world, and now seek to take their place in it as civilized equals.
Almost as a rule, Xi-Coatl are a calm race, unhurried and contemplative, right up until the moment that they decide to act. Then they swing into action with incredible swiftness and nigh-unstoppable power, subduing all opposition to their chosen course of action, and dominating their field of endeavor. This method is applied as much to social encounters as to combat, and it is quite normal for a Xi-Coatl to sit back and listen to an discussion for a period of time, then interpose into the conversation to lay out a well-considered solution. Other races describe the Xi-Coatl as inscrutable and close-lipped, but not unfriendly, and often eager to learn. The civilized lizardfolk are noted for great thoughtfulness and contemplative wisdom, and also for a deep and very heartfelt love for their families, and especially for children, even those not of their race.
Xi-Coatl are a physically imposing race, varying in size between 5’10” all the way up to slightly over eight feet tall at their most massive. Females are notably smaller than males, however, and are obviously female in shape, though they usually lack mammary glands (unless there is human blood in their ancestry). As lizardfolk, they take after various reptilian species, iguanas and crocodilians being the most common variants, though some can take after various dinosaur species, with an upright bipedal stance, strong and well-formed bodies, and high-domed heads that give their faces a rather intellectual appearance that sets them clearly apart from other lizardfolk. While many of the Xi-Coatl have bright coloration, most do not, and so body painting and scale tattoos are common practices.
Because of their shared distrust of evil reptilian species, Xi-Coatl are perhaps the only race that gets along with the elapi, and the two races are actually able to interact in a peaceful manner without treachery on the part of the snakefolk. Dwarves recognize the patience and contemplation of the Xi-Coatl, elves get along with them because of their devotion to nature, and halflings are enamored of the civilized lizardfolk because of their strong love and devotion to their families. While gnomes do not have anything against Xi-Coatl offhand, they find them rather boring, and not very fun to play pranks on because they seldom get the joke, and are too easy as targets anyway. The birdfolk and the Xi-Coatl generally regard each other as near cousins, and maintain affectionate relations (besides being able to interbreed).
Presently most Xi-Coatl are focused upon building up their position in the world as a civilized race, and maintaining their culture while they are doing so. Because of this, there are very few adventurers from among the civilized lizardfolk. However, revenge is a powerful motivator for this race, despite their civilized veneer, as is the desire to be proven in the world of mammals. A young Xi-Coatl could easily be sent out into the world to learn about its ways, or to gain the skills needed to slay a malodorous individual who has violated sacred laws. Because of this, most Xi-Coatl adventurers are loyal to their people first, and their party second, but they are highly-motivated individuals, and eager to learn much and to prove themselves when they get the chance.