|Felaryan fauna - Felaryan flora - Races - Characters - Locations - History and Lore - Science and Magic - Culture and Customs|
Nagas are a race of creatures with the head and torso of a humanoid, and the body of a large snake from the waist down. Their serpentine lower body, referred to as their tail, are typically covered in smooth, colorful scales featuring a wide plethora of unique patterns, which can range from simple rings and stripes, to elaborate and sometimes foreboding shapes. Beside their tail, nagas sports all sorts of other snake-like features, the most common of these being a pair of fangs in their mouths, as well as an elongated and sometimes prehensile tongue. Some nagas may also sport long ears, stilted reptilian pupils, a forked tongue, or patches of scales on certain parts of their upper body.
Giant nagas are known far and wide as one of the most fearsome predators in all of Felarya. A highly adaptive race, they have evolved to live in a variety of different environments imaginable, making them one of the most widespread predatory species the world. In spite of their huge size, they are incredibly agile, able to move quickly and in relative silence. Their tail, colored to match their environment, provide them with superb camouflage, making it all the harder to spot them before it's already too late. They possess a huge appetite and a typical giant naga would have no problem eating a dozen humans in a single meal.
Although nagas are most commonly depicted as an all-giant race, the reality is actually quite different. Much like snakes and humans, nagas are a very diverse species and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Common small nagas often share the same body proportions of an average person and usually stands just a little taller than an adult male.
Like many creatures descended from reptiles, nagas are partly ectothermic, meaning cold-blooded. They rely mainly on ambient heat to regulate body temperature, as their body generate less heat on its own. In theory, a naga would enter a state or torpor if it became too cold, but since Felarya does not have true seasons, this almost never happens. For most nagas, this rarely affects them in a significant way as they are typically well-adjusted to their surroundings, though they can sometimes be sluggish during a cool night and in early morning when the temperature is lower. It's common for them to bask in the sunlight in the morning to warm up before they begin their daily activities, however many like to partake in the activity for no other reason than to enjoy a nice sunbath, which nagas are quite fond of.
The internal anatomy of a naga is mostly identical to any other humanoids. The majority of their internal organs are located in their upper torso and are all situated where you would expect to find them in a human body, sharing the same function and largely level of importance. The major exception, however, is their digestive system, which is radically different from any other species.
Just like snakes, nagas possess an amazingly stretchable esophagus and stomach, allowing them to swallow just about anything that can fit inside their mouths with ease. Unlike a human jaw, which is connected to the skull via a complex set of bones, joints and muscles, a naga's jaw is attached to the skull purely by a series of strong and elastic muscles. These powerful muscles allow nagas to open their mouths far wider than normal, and are flexible to the point that they can swallow large preys whole even if it is larger in diameter than the naga's mouth. The naga's ribcage lack a sternum and is entirely comprised of multiple movable ribs, allowing large preys to pass through the chest unimpeded. Theoretically, all nagas are able to swallow very large preys whole, however, many of them are used to eating nothing but relatively small preys, leading their jaw muscles to atrophy somewhat. Some nagas like Crisis are almost unable to open their mouth wider than the normal human range as a result.
Nagas possess two stomachs: a small stomach, actually more than twice the size of a human's, in their humanoid torso, and a second, much larger one situated within their snake body. A naga eating a small prey would only use the first stomach, as it would be a waste of energy to "warm up" the larger one. In that case the food arrives in the large stomach already digested, so the large stomach just acts like an intestine and moves the food along to the intestines proper. A naga that ate something bigger, on the other hand, would require the use of the bigger stomach, so the smaller stomach would stretch and let big meals pass through, as if it were simply an extension of the esophagus. Both of the naga's stomachs are very strong. Not only can they digest just about anything short of stone and metal, but they're very resistant to damage as well. Trying to upset a naga's stomach with normal blades, conventional firearms, and traditional destructive spells like a fireball, is all but a lost cause. Once an unfortunate adventurer finds themselves trapped inside one, there is really only one thing that can happen...
Although nagas are, in theory, capable of swallowing a creature of a similar size whole, they very rarely do so. Due to the shape of their humanoid torso, swallowing a prey this large is very difficult and sometimes incredibly painful if the naga isn't used to it. Even when completely ingested, the sheer size of such meals significantly weighs their tail down, making it hard to move around and leaving them virtually defenseless against predators. For these reasons, nagas typically limit the size of their prey to roughly half their own size standing upright at most. The only time an average naga might consider hunting something bigger is if they are famished and knows for certain they can safely get away with it.
Some naga species, mostly the ones who borrows from venomous snakes like vipers, have special glands that secrete highly modified, toxic saliva, designed primarily to facilitate the immobilization and digestion of prey, and defense against threats. These glands are usually nested somewhere near their cheek bones, resulting in rounder, puffier cheeks, and are connected to specialized hollow fangs. Naga venom can be roughly classified as neurotoxic or hemotoxic, though the line between the two is very often blurred, with several naga species incorporating both neurotoxic and hemotoxic venom. Moreover, the venom's exact toxicity differs quite a lot from species to species, with some having similar, but ultimately more potent venom than others. Although it is most commonly injected after a bite, a few species of nagas are able to spit streams or sprays of venom at an incredible distance, largely dependent on their own size.
In general, a naga's five senses are about as sharp as a human's, although depending on the species, one particular sense may be significantly sharper than the others, or they may possess a sixth sense altogether. Their sense of smell and taste, on the other hand, is a different story. While nothing special when used individually, when the two are combined, they form a very powerful chemosensory devices. The naga's tongue, though often shaped like a human's, is capable of capturing scent particles in the air, transforming it into olfactory information. This is accomplished with the help of a vomeronasal organ, also known as the Jacobson's organ. This organ, located at the roof of their mouth, takes the information gathered by the tongue and transforms it into smell, which they then use to better pinpoint its source. Thanks to this unique physiology, nagas are among some of the best, and deadliest, trackers imaginable, on par with rigorously trained inus.
One of the most puzzling mysteries about nagas is their magical potential. Despite having no relation with fey creatures, most nagas possess an innate talent for magic, which is strongly influenced by the environment they grew up in. This results in nagas developing an affinity toward a specific element, making them more prone to learn magic based around it, as well as an innate resistance against spells that make use of that particular element. For instance, a naga who grew up in a vast forest will usually develop a talent for plant-based magic, while nagas who live in a desert that sees frequent and powerful sandstorms often acquires an affinity for wind magic.
Unlike elves and fairies, however, this inherent power does not manifest itself during childhood. Rather, it awakens late in their life, usually when they reach mature adulthood. The nature behind this gift remains unknown to this day. One popular theory is that this is thanks to having snakeskin. Snakeskin, being a fairly common ingredient in alchemy, is known to hold power, even when it is shed, thus it would make sense that nagas, being part snakes, would be able to tap into that power. This theory is however unsubstantiated, as the risks associated with testing this hypothesis is often too great for anyone to go ahead and do it. Whatever the reason, everyone can agree that a naga properly trained in the arcane arts has the potential to become an outstanding and powerful spellcaster. Moreover, because they possess an inherent gift for magic, nagas are one of the few races with the natural ability to sense and detect the presence of magic signatures, commonly referred to as Predator sense.
Nagas, like snakes, are carnivores, and are fond of eating live animals. They can be either diurnal or nocturnal hunters, but the one thing both have in common is their habits of ambushing preys. Typical diurnal nagas roam about their territory, actively searching for game until a prey is detected. In which point, they go into hiding and then wait for their chosen prey to draw near before striking. Nocturnal nagas, on the other hand, prefer to sit in a spot of their choosing and wait for prey to come to them than to actively forage for food. How nagas subdue large preys vary between individuals, with constriction or the use of venomous bite being the most commonly used methods.
After eating a large prey, nagas tend to become sluggish and sleepy. This is because digesting meals of that size is an intense activity that requires much of the naga's energy. The bigger the prey, the more energy it requires to digest properly. Because it is so exhausting, nagas often sleep somewhere warm following the consumption of a large prey in order to keep their metabolism as high as possible, hence why it is so common to see a naga with a bulging tail napping in the sunlight. Regardless of the size of the meal, the digestive process is highly efficient, dissolving and absorbing almost everything of their prey. It is thanks to this incredibly efficient digestive system that nagas don't need to feed as often as other predatory creatures. Depending on the size of their prey, a naga may need to only eat once a week to once every few weeks. Even nagas who subsist almost entirely on small prey only need one filling meal every few days to stay well-fed and healthy.
Despite eating mostly meat, nagas can eat vegetable matter as well. It's usually done when a hunt has gone poorly and is mostly a temporary solution until a proper meal can be found. Some nagas do enjoy eating fruits for their taste though.
Behavior and Culture
One of the most interesting aspect of nagas is the huge behavioral and cultural dichotomy between small and giant nagas. Typically, giant nagas are solitary creatures, and although they will ferociously defend their territory from intruders if necessary, they are usually peaceful toward other races. Once a giant naga has settled around a particular territory, the naga will remain there for a very long time, rarely thinking about what sort of wonders may be lying beyond their small world. On the rare occasions when a giant naga leaves its chosen territory, it's usually because food sources have dwindled to the point that they cannot continue to live there, or to look for a potential mate.
Small nagas are another story. Unlike their titanic cousins, human-sized nagas are social creatures, forming tight-knit tribes of dozens, sometimes over a hundred members. A nomadic race, they constantly move from one place to another, never staying in one spot for too long to avoid the ever-present threat of the deadly Felaryan fauna. The few sedentary tribes that exist often adopt a more warrior-oriented culture, but even with this lifestyle, they nonetheless remain primarily hunters like their migratory brethren. Tribes of small nagas are typically led by a queen, usually the eldest, wisest, or most powerful member of the tribe. While their societies are traditionally matriarchal, male nagas are treated as equals by their female peers, although the gender ratio between the two leans more in favor of the female.
Regardless of being nomadic or sedentary, small nagas are taught how to fight and defend themselves from threats at an early age. Nagas mostly employ their powerful tail in battle, either to constrict their foe or to deliver crushing blows, as well lightning-quick punches that come from all sorts of weird and unexpected angles. Besides their fists, nagas also favor swords, particularly curved swords like scimitars, spears, and occasionally, bows and arrows. Knowing well that Felarya is a “eat or be eaten” kind of world, small nagas aggressively attack anyone and anything that intrudes on their territory.
Unlike giant nagas, small nagas distrust just about any other sapient race. They are especially wary of humans, nekos and elves, as the fearsome reputation their much larger cousins carry unfortunately bled over to them as well. Many humans and elves have waged battle against small nagas in the past, believing it to be justice for all the sorrow and destruction their giant kin have caused. Even to this day, these races don't see eye to eye, with many humans and elves outright refusing nagas seeking refuge entry to their settlement and vice versa.
However, the one race nagas have the most interesting relationship with are dridders. The two races have been mortal enemies for centuries, a sentiment that has been further spearheaded by the genocidal campaigns of Queen Sineria. Since the war's end, animosity between giant nagas and giant dridders has been steadily vanishing over time, and a few odd friendships have been able to bloom between the two races. In spite of this, nagas and dridders remain fierce rivals over dominance for territory, and can't help but glower suspiciously at each other. This, however, does not hold true for small nagas. To this day, they continue harbor a deep grudge against dridders, the resentment over the atrocities and infamous treachery committed by their late mad queen seared in their consciousness. Whenever the two races meet, a skirmish almost inevitably follows.
It is commonly believed that giant nagas don't prey on small nagas, but this could not be farther from the truth. Most giant nagas have little qualm eating small nagas, seeing them as no different from any ordinary preys. In fact, small nagas are usually seen as a rare delicacy and highly sought-after by just about every giant race. Slug girls and harpies in particular seem to very fond of them and will happily slurp one up when given the chance. Although they don't taste incredibly amazing, they are very filling thanks to their massively elongated bodies. One or two fully mature small nagas is often enough to satisfy a giant for quite a while.
Most species of nagas lay eggs, although few instead give birth to live young. After two or three months through pregnancy, a naga will lay her eggs somewhere warm and humid, which will then hatch after several more months of incubation. Giant nagas do not mate very often and usually lay only one or two eggs at a time. Regardless, they defend their eggs ferociously from egg-eating animals, or any creature that would dare venture too close. Nagas born from eggs are much smaller from those that are born live, with giant naga hatchlings being often only a little bigger than an adult human. Because their diminutive size leaves them so vulnerable to danger, they are taught at a very young age how to hunt and how to remain stealthy at all times.
Small nagas, on the other hand, have a significantly higher birthrate than their giant counterparts, mating much more frequently and giving birth to more young at a time. On average, a small naga will give birth to a clutch four or six offsprings, but there are occasional stories of a single mother laying as many as ten or even a dozen eggs at once. As with giant nagas, the sight of a mother naga guarding her clutch is quite an intimidating one, giving the impression that the slightest noise or sudden movement will cause her to unexpectedly lash out in self-defense. Unlike giant nagas, newborns aren't taught to hunt and fight until they have matured and grown big enough to properly wield a weapon. Some cases point to a few nagas abandoning their young either shortly after they are born or after laying their eggs. No one knows what compels them to do this when most are perfectly content raising their offsprings. This rare behavior appears to be exclusive to giant nagas as cases of parental abandonment are practically unheard of among tribes of small nagas.
Much like snakes, nagas must periodically shed their snake skin as they grow. When a naga is ready to shed, the colors of their scales grow slightly dull and their tail starts itching quite a bit. The rate in which a naga sheds is more frequent during childhood through adolescence where they undergo a rapid growth spurt, which then slows down tremendously once they have reached adult size. It's also quite common for a female naga to shed her skin a few days before she lays her eggs or gives birth. Even after she reaches adulthood, a naga never stops growing throughout her life, thus will never stop shedding either. It is said that human-sized nagas who have lived for a very long time will eventually become so huge, they will dwarf humans and small nagas alike. Although none have ever seen one for obvious reasons, many believe that an ancient naga, one that somehow managed to live through many centuries, might be one of the most massive and awe-inspiring sights one could behold.
Common Types of Nagas
In Felarya, nagas are most commonly classified by habitat rather than by their elemental affinity. This isn't a hard rule, however, as it isn't uncommon to encounter a particular naga several miles away from its usual habitat. This line is further blurred by nagas who have mastered the arcane, allowing them to tap in magic beyond their favored element.
A species of nagas who make their home atop Felarya's tallest trees. They are the most common type of nagas and often the first to come to mind whenever people hear the word. As they are widely found in forested areas across Felarya, their coloration differ quite a bit from region to region, though it is obviously predominantly green. Adept climbers, they are able to scale up and down trees in the blink of an eye with their long and powerful tail, as well as leap from branch to branch with the greatest of ease. Complimenting their remarkable agility, arboreal nagas possess the sharpest eyesight of their kin. They can spot objects sitting all the way down on the forest floor with utmost clarity, and are able to track rapid and erratic movements with little difficulty. Because they spend so much of their lives in the trees, arboreal nagas often get along well with dryads. Many dryads allow small arboreal nagas to live in their branches, protecting them from predators.
Nagas who spend most of their lives underground. They possess stout and very muscular bodies, a rarity among the chiefly slender race, and scales bearing earthly tones, primarily brown and black with the occasional muted shades of green. They typically live in burrows in a variety of regions, although many are just as content making their dwellings inside of caves in the mountains. Because they live underground, subterranean nagas have adapted to see with little to no light, either by seeing heat sources or by possessing some form of darkvision. Their eyes are however ill-adjusted to see under normal light conditions, with most being unable to see in daylight without dedicated training. Subterranean nagas possess many more tactile receptors in their body than their cousins, allowing them to sense vibrations in the ground from a much greater distance. Many make use of this ability when digging to detect where the ground is unstable.
- Known Subterranean nagas: Aurora
Nagas who reside near bodies of fresh water such as creeks and riverbanks. Their coloration typically range from purple to various shades of blue, somewhat similar to a mermaid. They are excellent swimmers, but despite their namesake, they do not spend quite as much time in the water as most people might come to believe. River nagas are notably lazy and prefer basking in the sunlight at the water's edge while they wait for suitable prey to show up. Though they mainly feed on fish and frogs, they will eat just about anything that enters their territory, birds and mammals included. Being comfortable living in both water and land, river nagas have a slight resistance to cold and aren't as bothered by changes in temperature. River nagas have somewhat of a rivalry with river mermaids, both as swimmers as holder of the title of the deadliest fresh water predator.
- Known River nagas: Vivian
Nagas that are born in the Akaptor region. Their scales bear sandy tones of yellow and orange, and their upper bodies are very often tanned. Although most commonly found in the desert, they can be encountered in just about any region that sees very little precipitation such as Lamina. Because those areas are so arid, desert nagas are able to live comfortably in both hot and cold environments, and have evolved to need very little water to survive. Unlike most of their kin, desert nagas possess special heat receptors in their bodies. They can sense slight changes in the ambient temperature, a valuable tool for detecting both prey and predators lurking in the sand, or for hunting at night. Desert nagas rarely go out of their way to eat more than what they need, a lesson the harsh environment teaches them at a young age.
A rare species of nagas who make their dwellings near active volcanoes. They feature very warm colors such as red and orange, or dark gray and black. Volcanic nagas share most of their traits with their desert-dwelling cousins, such as having darker skin, needing very little water to survive and possessing heat receptors in their bodies. Unlike other nagas, their magic potential awakens almost as soon as they are born, granting them the resistance they need to survive the extreme heat. Despite their ability endure incredibly high temperatures, their tolerance against cold is the weakest of all nagas, and they are prone to brumate even in temperate climate if they do not keep themselves warm. Although fire fails to faze them entirely, volcanic nagas cannot in fact survive in lava. Volcanic nagas are believed to be naturally passionate and very quick to anger, but due to their natural habitat being so inhospitable to human life, no one has been able to verify those claims.
A strange species of nagas whose habitats experience turbulent weather all year long. Their scales often sport very unusual colors, ranging from light gray to bright blue, the likes of which would provide them with very poor camouflage outside of their given home. Storm nagas possess the most keen hearing of their kin. Their acute ears can pick up noise from an incredible distance as well as hear sounds that would normally be too faint for most to hear. This heightened sense of hearing often proves just as beneficial when searching for prey concealed in fog or across vast plains, as it does alerting them when danger draws near. Storm nagas develop their magic potential much sooner than the average nagas, usually throughout their adolescence. Their powers allow them to sense slight changes in atmospheric pressure, effectively granting them the ability to predict the weather.
A rare species of nagas that hail from cold, snowy regions. Unsurprisingly, their coloration is largely comprised of cold colors, most often favoring shades of white, blue and cyan. Arctic nagas are widely considered to be the counterpart and diametric opposite to volcanic nagas, and indeed, shares many similarities with their fiery kin. Like them, their magic powers awaken shortly after birth, allowing them to exist comfortably in the biting cold of their homeland. They are very sensitive to climate changes and would be hard-pressed to live even in a temperate region lest they used their magic to constantly regulate their body temperature. Just like desert and volcanic nagas, arctic nagas make use of the special heat receptors in their bodies when hunting, letting them find both prey and predator hiding underneath snow and ice. It's commonly believed that arctic nagas are inherently stoic, showing little emotion both in their voice and facial expression. Most of them find these allegations to be cruel and cold-hearted.
- Credits to Fish and Oldman40k2003 for some precisions on naga anatomy, and to Shady-Knight for ideas to better classify them and for rewriting the whole entry.