Yuan Ti 5e: Stats and Guide for Players & DMs on the Malison and Abomination

Yuan-ti go way back in Dungeons and Dragons. I was so stoked to see them in 5e. I remember Yuan-Ti being one of my favorite races in 3e, both as monsters and as characters.

My first Yuan-Ti character in 3e was a Monk/Sorcerer who made heavy use of illusion and enchantment magic to distract and trick his foes.

In 5e, I plan on making a Yuan-Ti Monk Way of the Ascendent Dragon (only to get poison damage as an unarmed strike, though. Not to actually revere dragons) multiclassed with Druid Circle of spores. The combined poison and necrotic damage will be great for flavor. Plus, the poisoner feat will help me to overcome poison resistance.

See the theme?

Additionally, there was a trilogy of novels set in the Forgotten Realms that featured a wide array of Yuan-Ti as antagonists and a psionic-using rogue protagonist.

Yuan-ti Purebloods are a celebrated playable race, but what about the other types of Yuan-Ti?

When we get into the different forms of Yuan-Ti, they are never playable races. Those forms are the Broodguard, the Malison, and the Abomination.

This post is about those Yuan-Ti. The ones that can be your worst nightmare in an adventure or your favorite fallback as a DM.

We will talk about lore, tactics, and story ideas featuring these two monsters for both players and DMs.

What Is a Yuan-Ti?

A Yuan-Ti is a snake-like humanoid with serpentine features and magical abilities. They are descended from an ancient empire ruled over by serpent gods and dark rituals. The Malisons and Abominations are the most monstrous and serpentine of the Yuan-Ti.

A Brief Overview of Yuan-Ti Society

As mentioned above, Yuan-Ti are the remaining descendants of one of the earliest empires. They ruled with an iron fist and a magical acumen unrivaled in their day. Since the fall of their empire, they live in ruins and underground caverns, protecting their clutches of eggs with powerful Broodguard servitors.

They hope to someday return the empire to its previous glory, and to do so they send their nearly human Yuan-Ti Purebloods out to infiltrate all levels of society in order to keep their future foes weakened and distracted.

The Yuan-Ti are a caste-based society; the more snake-like your appearance, the higher in the social class you are. The original snake-human hybrids were created through a dark ritual so expensive that the materials and power required drove the empire to ruin. Those Yuan-Ti who remain today are as snake-like as their ancestors.

The Malisons and Abominations are the two highest castes, which means they hold more power in Yuan-Ti society. However, their monstrous appearance makes them more vulnerable in the cultures they try to exploit.

These two types of Yuan-Ti can be found in their few remaining strongholds, ordering their servants from afar.

A Brief Overview of Yuan-Ti in Other Humanoid Society

Yuan-Ti are dependent on humanoid society but wish to weaken and destabilize it at the same time. While the Purebloods are able to go out into the surface to achieve this goal, the Malisons and Abominations tend to stay in their underground, undercity, or wilderness strongholds.

The Purebloods act as go-betweens and black-market merchants for the advanced alchemical and poisonous materials the Yuan-Ti are capable of creating. This can mean making drugs, arming assassins, or any other type of illicit material able to weaken the social infrastructure and civil power structure.

Using the materials, a Pureblood can become a power behind the throne, an underworld crime boss, or even the leader and/or supplier for cabals and assassins. These Purebloods, however, take their orders from Malisons who may be locally present if the society is strong enough. These Malisons in turn take their orders from Abominations who are most often in their wilderness of underdark strongholds.

Yuan-Ti Malison

These Yuan-Ti are more snake-like than the Yuan-Ti Pureblood. It is fair to say they are half-snake, half-humanoid.

This can manifest itself in a variety of different ways. The Monster Manual has three different options for the Yuan-Ti Malison.

1. A human body with a snake head

2. A human body with snakes for arms (weird, lol)

3. A human upper body with a snake lower body.

These different types have different attacks based upon their body type and weapons. The rest of the stat block is as follows:

Malison Stat Block

Medium Monstrosity (Shapechanger, Yuan-Ti), Neutral Evil

  • Armor Class: 12
  • Hit Points: 66 (12d8 + 12)
  • Speed: 30 ft.
  • STR 16 (+3), DEX 14 (+2), CON 13 (+1), INT 14 (+2), WIS 12 (+1), CHA 16 (+3)
  • Skills: Deception +5, Stealth +4
  • Damage Immunities: Poison
  • Condition Immunities: Poisoned
  • Senses: Darkvision 60 ft., Passive Perception 11
  • Languages: Abyssal, Common, Draconic
  • Challenge: 3 (700 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus: +2

Shapechanger. The Yuan-Ti can use its action to polymorph into a Medium snake or back into its true form.

Innate Spellcasting (Yuan-Ti Form Only). The Yuan-Ti’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 13). The Yuan-Ti can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:

Magic Resistance. The Yuan-Ti has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Malison Type. The Yuan-Ti has one of the following types:

  • Type 1: Human body with snake head
  • Type 2: Human head and body with snakes for arms
  • Type 3: Human head and upper body with a serpentine lower body instead of legs

Malisons in Yuan-Ti Society

Malisons hold the second highest tier in Yuan-Ti social power. Yet, because of their monstrous appearance, they can not move as freely in the surface world as their Pureblood servants.

In general, these Yuan-Ti will be found in Yuan-Ti locations of power — this means in underground strongholds, undercity pipe systems where the Yuan-Ti have established a powerbase, and extreme environments like deserts or dense woodlands where other humanoids do not travel often.

They will be the enforcers and the warrior class among Yuan-Ti communities. They will act as captains of the Broodguard, leaders of wilderness hunting parties, or leaders of groups of Purebloods who are infiltrating a humanoid society.

Malison Encounters – For DMs

In tier 1, you can easily use a Malison or two as the final boss(es) in an urban game where Yuan-Ti Purebloods have been the primary antagonists. They could be leading a thieves’ guild or a dark alchemist’s cabal or guarding an undercity clutch of eggs.

In Tier 2, try using several Malisons if your party invades an underground ruin, temple, or another stronghold of Yuan-Ti society. They will command Purebloods and Broodguards while being commanded by Abominations in turn.

Yuan-Ti Abomination

Yuan-Ti Abominations are the most snake-like in their appearance, thus granting them the most privilege and power in their society.

They all have powerful serpentine bodies with the chest, shoulders, and arms of a humanoid. Their heads are snake-like, and they are blessed with stronger innate magical abilities. Their actions and weapons make use of their powerful bodies and humanoid arms. They have access to longbows, scimitars, and a powerful, poisonous bite.

Abomination Stat Block

Large Monstrosity (Shapechanger, Yuan-Ti), Neutral Evil

  • Armor Class: 15 (natural armor)
  • Hit Points: 127 (15d10 + 45)
  • Speed: 40 ft.
  • STR 19 (+4), DEX 16 (+3), CON 17 (+3), INT 17 (+3), WIS 15 (+2), CHA 18 (+4)
  • Skills: Perception +5, Stealth +6
  • Damage Immunities: Poison
  • Condition Immunities: Poisoned
  • Senses: Darkvision 60 ft., Passive Perception 15
  • Languages: Abyssal, Common, Draconic
  • Challenge: 7 (2,900 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus: +3

Shapechanger. The Yuan-Ti can use its action to polymorph into a Large snake or back into its true form. Its statistics are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It doesn’t change form if it dies.

Innate Spellcasting (Abomination Form Only). The Yuan-Ti’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (Spell Save DC 15). The Yuan-Ti can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:

Magic Resistance. The Yuan-Ti has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Abominations in Yuan-Ti Society

Abominations enjoy the most power and privilege in Yuan-Ti society. However, even more so than Malisons, their monstrous appearance makes it nearly impossible to maneuver in humanoid society.

Therefore, these are the rarest form of Yuan-Ti and will almost exclusively be found in well-established Yuan-Ti strongholds where they have enough Malisons and Purebloods to provide for their needs — especially in cities because the Abomination will need food and water brought to them since they just can’t go to the market.

Multiple Abominations in a single place almost invariably mean a power struggle, but if they can find a clear leader, their unity will make their community a very powerful and secure part of the social ecosystem.

The best way to establish that clear leadership ability will be through divine power. If one Abomination has additional magical ability connected to the old serpent gods, then they will naturally be the most revered Abomination – provided they can back up their words with demonstrations of power.

Abomination Encounters – For DMs

In tier I, Abominations should be rare. They have a CR of 7, which means it is possible to place them in a position of power for tier-I adventurers to face. However, their position in Yuan-Ti society means they will never be without their guards and servants.

If you do use an Abomination in tier I, take the time to build up their reputation. Name drop them in a few previous sessions to build up the hype and tension and make the players a little afraid of this primary antagonist. Make the Abomination hard to reach. Put them at the end of a serpentine labyrinth behind Broodguards, Purebloods, and Malisons.

In Tier II, Abominations can serve as a council of underbosses, each with their own contingent of Malisons, Purebloods, and Broodguards.

Consider taking advantage of the Yuan-Ti’s Charisma score and replacing their weapon attacks with Warlock or Sorcerer spells to add some variation between the Abominations.

If your story needs a central leader, then consider this one:

An Advanced Abomination Warlock of the Old Serpent Gods

This advanced Abomination uses the same stat block found in the Monster Manual for the Abomination with the following differences.

  • Warlock Spells (+7 to hit, DC 15, two 3rd level spell slots): Eldritch blast, mind sliver, Arms of Hadar (snake-like appearance), Expeditious Retreat, Shadow Blade, Spider Climb
  • False life (at will) (fiendish vigor)
  • AC 18 (armor of shadows)
  • Fiendish Snake Familiar (constrictor or viper)
  • Three additional hit die
  • CR 9

It is conceivable that two or three of these Abominations could work together, provided they actually are hearing from the same god.

A Yuan-Ti Story Seed Featuring Malisons and Abominations

In the largest city of your campaign world, a thriving Yuan-Ti society exists in the criminal underworld. The Purebloods have infiltrated the thieves’ guild and the magicians’ guild to act as suppliers for rare materials, potions, poisons, and drugs.

This Yuan-Ti society has an abandoned warehouse with tunnels and caverns excavated in the ground below where two Abominations, several Malisons, and dozens of Broodguards are building up resources.

One Abomination has been in charge for several decades. We will call him A-1. A-1 desires to continue building resources in order to defend themselves for what he views as the inevitable day when the local authorities come to destroy their home. There is another abomination, A-2, who thinks their society is too deeply entrenched to be removed.

A civil war begins as the Yuan-Ti throughout the city line up on either side and take to the streets in a shadow war, each leveraging their various resources to their cause. In the chaos, a third element of the power struggle is rising. A Pureblood named P-1 has been a part of the larger humanoid society to see the value in pluralism, diversity, and autonomy.

She (P-1) is building up a group of Yuan-Ti that want to use the civil war to weaken and destabilize both Abominations and their Malison supporters so that the Yuan-Ti Purebloods can live their own lives.

Ideally, the PCs (some of whom could even be Purebloods) will join P-1’s cause. This means invading and destroying Yuan-Ti strongholds throughout the city. These can be alchemical lab spaces, underground fungus gardens (poison/drug growers), and of course, the two Abomination strongholds.

Fill each Abomination stronghold and each of the above locations with Broodguards and Malisons.

In between combat locations, require the PCs to track and get information from Yuan-Ti Purebloods on the locations of these places, the names and power levels of the Malisons and Abominations, and the non-Yuan-Ti NPCs who have an interest in the business opportunities provided by the Yuan-Ti.

These drug lords and alchemists don’t want Yuan-Ti Pureblood freedom because they are profiting from the existing social system. Other civil authority figures want the violence to stop by any means necessary.

Perhaps the PCs can persuade a contingent of guards to help storm a drug factory? Or perhaps those guards could be corrupt and will arrest the PCs before they can do so?

Final Thoughts

That’s it for now. Be inspired and roll on!