Hailing from the deserts of Augustgrad, the Naga are a serpentine race known for their stalwart survivalism and snake-like tails. Originally pushed into ancient ruins and cave-cities by the Rakshasa during the Great Desert War, the Naga have since become a much more common and pedestrian occurrence; the Naga Suzerainty has become part of the Augustgradian government and all the various sub-species of Naga are now widespread throughout the region and beyond. They are believed to be distantly related to Medusae, though this has never been proven.
There are four known species of Naga. The Water Naga are the best-known species, deriving their name from the Augustgradian Oases they once called home. The somewhat more reclusive and notably magically-adept Spirit Naga hailed from Augustgrad's Desert of Blood, deep in western Augustgrad. The particularly-large Great Naga, once quite-feared, hailed from southeastern Augustgrad, whilst the rather rare Dark Naga stemmed from the Naga that left the desert entirely during the Great Desert War.
Isabelle is a Great Naga. Christine is a Water Naga. Caercys is a Dark Naga.
Naga are a serpentine race; their lower bodies resemble great snakes, whilst they resemble humans from the waist-up. Their snake-like traits are not limited to their tails; most Naga have slitted pupils and many have a noted tendency to hiss when speaking. Their ears have a large, frill-like appearance; from a distance, a naga's ears resemble an Elf's.
A large number of them have other distinctly serpentine traits, including snake-like fangs, scaled or mottled patches of skin, a distinctly feral-looking face, or, occasionally, in the case of Dark Naga, cobra-like hoods on their heads and backs which can open if they're frightened or to intimidate enemies. All four subspecies of Naga have distinctive traits of their own; Water Naga generally look the most human, and are reknown for the beautiful patterns on their tails, which are often blue, purple, or green.
Great Naga are far larger than other Naga species (about 1.5 times the size of most of the other species on average), and usually have more earthy colorations of brown, goldenrod, or tan. Spirit Naga tend to have orange, red, or black scales, whilst Dark Naga tend to have dark black, red, and purple. An adult Water, Spirit, or Dark Naga tends to be about ten to fifteen feet in length from top of the head to tip of the tail, and can weigh as much as 500 pounds. A Great Naga is notably larger, averaging 13 to 20 feet long, and can weigh as much as 900 pounds. As Serpentine humanoids, they have surprisingly long lifespans; all subspecies can live well over 200 years. Their hair-color tends to vary but can be quite colorful (for Water Naga), rather normal by human standards (for Great Naga), or rather pale (Spirit Naga). The skin complexions of Naga also vary by subspecies; Water Naga tend to be fair, whereas Great Naga tend to be decidedly darker skin-tone wise. Spirit Naga and Dark Naga have the most frequently-fluxuating skin colorations, with chalky white or shades of pale blue not unheard of for the former, and purples or blues not unheard of for the latter, though most tend to have more conventional skintones.
The Naga, with the notable exception of the Great Naga, are a magically-adept race (the Great Naga are not a particularly magically-adept race, but spellcasters are not uncommon). Many are particularly skilled with conjuration and summoning magic, whilst others prove extremely skilled at illusion and enchantment effects. Many of the Naga magicks were adapted from those of their bitter enemies, the Rakshasa, during the Great Desert War.
Naga lack sweat glands and their bodies retain moisture better than those of other races; they are well-adapted to the desert and, on average, require notably less water than other species would. Their scales are smooth to the touch, but quite solid; for the most part their tails offer amicable defense against environmental hazards. Great Naga are notably tougher physically in this regard, their scales having a distinctly rough feel, but are much stronger and thicker, capable of better-protecting a Great Naga from attack (indeed, a common defense for Great Naga is to hide behind their solid tails). In all species, their tail doubles as a weapon - its sheer mass paired with its heavy musculature means that it can easily batter aside foes. The sheer size of Great Naga means they can often grab smaller enemies and wolf them down whole - indeed, a Great Naga has the ability to unhinge its jaw to do this - though this practice is widely considered barbaric and has all but died out in all but the most uncivilized of Naga Creches.
Naga breeding differs a bit by subspecies; all lay eggs, however, and breedings between two different Naga species result in Naga of either parent's species, and, rarely, some other species as recessive traits rear their heads. A female Naga carries her eggs inside her for roughly 3 months, before laying a thick-shelled, rubbery-textured egg roughly the size of a basketball (for most species) or beach ball (Great Naga). The eggs generally are left in the care of a Creche nurse, where they take roughly a year to hatch. Naga reach adulthood in about 23 years on average, with Great Naga maturing somewhat faster. The Dark Naga, curiously, have a somewhat faster maturation rate, reaching adulthood in about 15 or 16 years, though they continue to grow normally for some time afterwards. Naga can interbreed with other species, but the results are rather unusual - usually, the result is a child the same species as the non-Naga parent, but with a few minor traits that hint at their origins.
A rare few Naga are poisonous. Great Naga and Spirit Naga tend to be venemous more often than the Water Naga, but Darks are by far the most venemous - Many darks are also capable of spitting their venom short distances. Naga venom is paralytic in nature, causing a spreading weakness from the bite site and slowly sapping the subject's strength.
During the days of the Rakshasas' dominance of the Augustgradian desert, the Naga were pushed to the very edges of society, distrusted and feared by their neighbors and considered dangerous for their magical abilities and unnerving, serpentine appearance. The Naga gathered in caverns and ruins throughout the region, further exemplifying the stereotype of Naga being reclusive. Many of the Gargoyles always viewed the Naga with great suspicion; a common belief was that the Naga were little more than opportunistic scavengers and thieves. Great Naga during this time period were rather known for looking at most smaller races as prey, and Spirit Naga at the time developed a tendency stolen from their Rakshasa tormentors in that they took slaves (especially Beastmen and Humans). The Naga as a whole were "elevated" out of their outcast status by by the young Augustgradian government, which successfully united the races of the desert against the Rakshasa. Agreeing to coexist with the other races of the desert thereafter, the Naga slowly left their previous strongholds in the dark places of the desert, becoming a much more common sight in the region and abroad. The Naga maintain several of Augustgrad's premier mage schools as well as several large farms in the northern steppes, which are central to food production.
The Naga government in Augustgrad, since at least the formation of the Kingdom of Augustgrad some 400 years ago, is called the Naga Suzerainty. It is a labyrinthine web of matrilineal bloodlines, with political alliances formed through interbreeding. Each naga Creche is its own self-contained city-state, and many are often established in the ruins of other cultures entirely. This habit has further reinforced the reputation the Naga have as a race of scavengers and opportunists, but more recent times have seen that this reputation isn't necessarily a bad thing. During a trip to a Dark Naga creche, Kalarisis and Asim were stunned to learn that a Naga creche that occupied one of the old Orisis cities had maintained it with cherished adoration, maintaining things that otherwise would have gone to rot, such as works of art and writing. As the pair learned, many of the Naga have keen interests in history and are not satisfied unless they know everything there is to know about where they live.
Different Naga subspecies tend to have certain cultural aspects which tend to differentiate them from one another, even among subspecies that are relatively close.
The Great Naga, as a whole, tend towards being both industrious and agrarian, often working as farmers, ranchers, or hunters due to their size and strength. The Great Naga have a proud history of mercenary work, and of using what are, in essence, modified farming implements as close-combat weapons (such as machetes, sickles, and scythes). Great Naga that work as mercenaries often do so to earn money to help increase their family income and support their loved ones back home.
The Water Naga tend to be mercantile and urbane, and are known for their skills in commercial fields. Of all the various Naga subspecies, Water Naga very often tend to find themselves working in positions as translators and interpreters, and have an innate skill with languages and ciphers. Among all the Naga, they are the ones most commonly found as diplomats and ambassadors.
In many ways, the pre-war Naga political network functions like a feudal system. Structurally, the government consisted of territory clusters - individiual fiefdoms, larger cities, and so on - Each ruled by a single Naga Suzerain (Matriarch) who represents the Naga as a whole in the Augustgradian council.