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by Rodger Burns

The kalihya are black-skinned snake-beings that dwell within the deserts of the Great Waste. They are few in number, paranoid and suspicious of outsiders, but strong in magical power. They dream of a day when the ancient curse placed upon them is broken, but are unlikely ever to attempt to achieve such a goal themselves.

Armour Class: 6
Hit Dice: 4** to 9**** (M)
Move: 90' (30')
Attacks: 1 bite or 1 spell
Damage: 1d3 + special or by spell
No. Appearing: 3d4 (1d6)
Save As: E4-9
Morale: 7
Treasure Type: E+U
Intelligence: 16
Alignment: Lawful
XP Value: By Hit Dice -
- 4** = 175
- 5*** = 450
- 6*** = 850
- 7*** = 1650
- 8*** = 2300
- 9**** = 3000
Monster Type: Monster, Enchanted (Very Rare)

A typical kalihya is about 5' from nose to tail, and masses about 80 pounds. Its body is covered with fine, glossy black scales, though some kalihya have highlights in red, gold or green. Though the main section of a kalihya's body is lumpy and ungainly to the point of looking almost deformed, it can still move with speed and grace when it needs to. Its head is noticeably larger than that of most other snakes, and its eyes gleam with intelligence.

In combat, a kalihya can either cast spells (as a magic-user of a level equal to its Hit Dice; it needs no spell book to regain its spells, but cannot change its spell selection when relearning spells each day, either) or if need be attack with its bite. The kalihya's bite includes a narcotic toxin that can have either of two effects, as the kalihya chooses - the first is a paralytic, which lasts 3-12 rounds and takes effect immediately; the second is a hypnotic, which affects the target as if by a charm person spell, but requires one full turn to take full effect. The latter effect is almost never used in combat, but instead reserved for use on captured and helpless prisoners; the creatures affected are used as slaves by the kalihya, worked to the bone and then left to die in the desert. Either of the effects caused by the kalihya's bite can be resisted with a successful save vs. Poison. A kalihya's tail is thick, sinuous and sufficiently powerful to grasp and manipulate objects, but lacks the grace needed to hold weapons or otherwise provide use in combat.

A kalihya's spells are usually a mix of protective magics, area-effect spells and utility magics. They use the first to prepare for battle when time allows, the second to scatter and confuse groups of enemies so that many kalihya can attack a single foe, and the third as circumstances and the needs of daily life allow. Kalihya are also fond of illusions and necromancy, and will often possess such spells. They cannot be affected by polymorph magic, however - either beneficial or malign - and will never learn such spells.

The kalihya's origins are unclear, but they claim to be of human descent, having once been people of the Yavdlom Divinarchy. Hundreds of years ago, their ancestors - powerful but arrogant magic-users scornful of the Precepts of Yav and confident in their own mastery of the arcane - rebelled against the Prophet and the nobles and were subjected to a great and terrible curse. The lying hearts of the mages, decreed the Prophet, would be matched by their bodily forms; and so the first kalihya were created, men trapped in the bodies of desert snakes. These creatures fled northward, to the Great Waste where no other intelligent beings dwelled, to seethe in their spite and plot an eventual revenge.

So, at least, is the story as the kalihya believe it to be; no such account appears in the annals of Yavdlom, however, and it may be a false tale created to hide some other fell purpose. It remains, though, that the kalihya exist and have dwelled in the Great Waste for well over a century now, hiding from their neighbours and terrorising those fools who enter their domains unprepared. They are powerful users of spell magic, but fear both organised human armies and the powers of clerics.

No exact count of the kalihya population exists, but it seems likely that between two and three thousand dwell in the Great Waste, in tribes of a few dozen members each. A typical kalihya settlement is half-exposed, half-underground, with warrens dug out of the sand, buttressed with scraps of salvaged timber and roofed over with ragged pieces of cloth or canvas. Though the kalihya are Lawful and regimented among themselves out of necessity, they bear no goodwill towards any outsider - they consider anyone without the strength to dictate terms to them as rightful prey. Even when bargaining, they will seek to promise as little as possible, and take advantage of any loophole offered in a contract.

A kalihya tribe is led by the largest and most magically powerful of its members. It is rumoured that some kalihya have the ability to command undead, as a Liege of power equal to their Hit Dice, but such rumours have not been confirmed.
Terrain: Desert (the Great Waste)