The Yuan-Ti Purebloods are of a race far in the past. These creatures, playable through Volo’s Guide to Monsters, harken back on their fallen empire with feelings of intense nostalgia and anger. They were destroyed by humans, mere humans! Many seek revenge, for their legacy is pure and powerful. However, some Yuan-Ti survivors simply wish to move on from their past – knowing that their empire brought pain to others – and adjust to new society. Either way, our Yuan-Ti Pureblood 5E guide will be sure to make your character feel imperial.
Yuan-Ti Pureblood Lore
The standard Yuan-Ti is a cynical, cold-hearted individual. Their ancestors learned to mix their blood with those of snakes, unlocking a reptilian form that many learn to fear. Some Yuan-Ti look exactly like humans, but with snakelike eyes. Others are scaled with forked tongues and a receding hairline. Depending on how pure your blood is, you may lose some or even all of your humanity.
This reptilian race teach their kids young about the fallen kingdom of the Yuan-Ti in the past. Once, they were the most technologically and magically advanced race on the planet, but constant attacks from other races caused them to flounder and pause. Forced to learn everything about their history, most Yuan-Ti grow up to despise the “others” that currently rule over it. The preservation of the secret society of Yuan-Ti is their top priority, and Yuan-Ti that do not listen to these rules are outcasts, quite simply.
While players can only select the Yuan-Ti Pureblood, these creatures can create other types of Yuan-Ti. These tend to either be slaves or servants, massive hulking things that do the heavy lifting for the Purebloods. While the Yuan-Ti aren’t necessarily weak by themselves, they are natural diplomats and spies that need help doing major labor tasks. The slave labor spoils many of the reptilians, and thus they often come to adventuring parties looking for that slave-master relationship.
Yuan-Ti that break from their cultural ties are likely sick of constantly hearing about the glory of the past. These might be explorers looking for relics to grow strong in the present, or simply want to live a morally improved lifestyle. Even if they are clearly separate from their kingdoms, the Yuan-Ti are very much not trusted by other races – especially Dwarves and Elves, who remember the Kingdom. Thus, they must use disguises and stealth to communicate with other races, no matter their motivation.
The Yuan-Ti use names from their ancestors, causing many to share similar-sounding names. Check out our Yuan-Ti Pureblood naming guide for more focused advice!
Yuan-Ti Pureblood Attributes
The Yuan-Ti come equipped with very specific bonuses. Without DM permission, these are the tools you’re given!
- +2 Charisma, +1 Intelligence. The Tiefling statline. Charisma is a niche mental stat; it influences your ability to talk to others, and your resistance to some mental command effects. It’s not the best stat by a long shot, and getting your +2 to it means you’re likely needing to go one of the 4 Charisma-based options. +1 Intelligence isn’t doing you any favors, either. It’s arguably used for less important skill checks and a less important saving throw. These are a bad combo together, too. No class that needs Charisma also benefits from Intelligence in a significant way.
- Medium Size, 30 ft Speed. You’re basically the same as a human in size and movement speed. No upsides or downsides here compared to other races.
- Darkvision. Super useful to have in your pocket. You’re a constant turbo-torch, that can still hide in the darkness. That lets you scout out areas or little cracks in ways that other races simply cannot… Unless they also have Darkvision. This is a great skill to have in any given adventure.
- Innate Spellcasting. Poison Spray hits hard, but requires you to basically touch your opponents, which isn’t great. Animal Friendship is a fun spell to have an infinite number of, although it’s a shame that it only works on reptiles. Make those snakes love you! Can be fun if your DM is nice to you with enemy encounters, or if they interpret snakes very broadly. Suggestion is a neat out-of-combat tool that can make for fantastic roleplay and problem solving moments. Good tool to have in your pocket.
- Magic Resistance. A significant reason to play a Yuan-Ti. This makes you critical in late-game combats, where Legendary Actions tend to be magical in some way. You’ll be rolling two dice a lot for your saving throws, which gives you a huge advantage in magical duels. Not much else to say; go dominate all enemy Wizards with ease! As long as you can put them down.
- Poison Immunity. Straight up immunity to poison. That’s really strong, and unique to the Yuan-Ti! Poison damage comes up a lot, too, so it’s not like this is a useless immunity by any stretch. And the Poisoned condition is an annoying debuff in the best of times, and can be game-ending at the worst.
- Languages. Abyssal is… fine. It depends a bit on the campaign, but it tends to be useful if you need it to be. Draconic is much more generally fantastic, and is arguably the best language in the game. It’s just generally good for arcane storytelling.
The Yuan-Ti’s Magic Resistance makes it a legitimate pick for any Mage Hunter build. However, it excels at a few classes in particular.
Good Classes for Yuan-Ti Purebloods
- Artificer. The only option for a front-line Yuan-Ti… Well, the best option for a frontliner. Your intelligence increase is great, since the Artificer only really needs a +1 to Int to get rolling. You’re basically immune to magic once you get Flash of Genius, and you can get by with hitting yourself with poison bombs if you need to. Good for spells like Cloudkill! Try this out with Armorer or Battlesmith.
- Bard. The best thematic option for a Yuan-Ti. Bards are deceivers at heart, and the skill set of the bard fits for the Yuan-Ti’s mission. Your stats complement bards fine, and Bards can be good anti-mages when they set their minds to it. Your best option for a hard support role.
- Sorcerer. The traditional Yuan-Ti option, and a really strong one at that. You get the massive Charisma increases, you’re insane against mages, and you have some utility with your racial spells. It might be a little boring, but you’ll be at maximum effectiveness as this Sorcerer Yuan-Ti.
- Warlock. Warlocks are also great for the Yuan-Ti! They get the Charisma that the Warlock likes, and Warlocks tend to be rather good at hunting down mages. Probably not as good as a Wizard, but still pretty great. Warlock Yuan-Ti also get the benefit of being almost any Warlock build; even Warlocks made for out-of-combat shenanigans!
- Wizard. Your Charisma may go entirely to waste here, but you get an Intelligence increase and some innate spells. If that wasn’t enough, you can even get a snake familiar. That’s worthwhile! Though seriously, Wizards shut down enemy spell casters really well. If you want to be an anti-Mage, the Wizard is probably your best bet.
Bad Classes for Yuan-Ti Purebloods
A general theme for the Bad Classes is “you’d only want to play this to be an ‘X Class’ with Magic Resistance.” Let’s get this out of the way now; while Magic Resistance and Poison Immunity are quite impressive, a lot of classes require more expansive benefits to make them effective.
- Barbarian. No Strength? No Constitution? It’s going to be really hard to make a big impact on the battlefield as a Yuan-Ti Barbarian. You just won’t do as much as a melee magic user, like a Bard or Artificer.
- Cleric. There is no reason to be a Cleric when you could be a significantly more effective Bard or Sorcerer. Clerics are fantastic, but your spells will be significantly less powerful than if you were a Charisma caster.
- Druid. Same problems as Cleric; you’re a much better Charisma caster than you are a Wisdom one. And unlike Cleric, Druid’s rely on Wisdom a ton, so you can’t even get away with a face-smash build. Druids also don’t care quite as much about the Magic Resistance boons.
- Fighter. No aggressive stats is a problem. Fighters really, really like Magic Resistance too, so it’s a shame that there’s no subrace that can make the ultimate Anti-Mage Fighter. It’s close, but probably just barely not worth it.
- Monk. The lack of Dexterity or Wisdom is a bit of a problem. You won’t deal much damage, and you won’t be very durable. You’ll be fine against casters, I guess, but that really isn’t worth your lowered DCs and accuracy.
- Paladin. This one is so close to being a good class! The lack of Strength (or Dex) puts it just too far down. Paladins rely on the accuracy of an offensive stat to deliver their Smites, so you need to have some of that on you. You can use a Hexblade multiclass to make up for this problem, but without that, you’ll have fairly low accuracy and low damage output.
- Ranger. Similar to the Monk, without any Dexterity or Wisdom, you’re going to lag behind a lot. Rangers aren’t the best mage hunters, though they are fairly good at it. You’d be better off trying to make Artificer work, really.
- Rogue. No Dexterity? A bit of a problem. This one’s pretty close to working out, since you can use your insane Charisma to talk your way out of problems, and Rogues are great mage killers. You wouldn’t be losing too much damage because of Sneak Attack… But Bard would probably be better for your Skill-based character.
The Yuan-Ti are pretty cynical, but have immense power hidden behind their frowns and hisses. They can be some of the most powerful anti-Mages in the game. Try them out the next time you want to use your Charisma to your advantage.