Closely related to the Naga and Lamia in appearance, the Kumbra are serpentine beings up to fifty feet in length. Vivid in color, royal blues, striking reds and iridescent oranges are most frequent amongst them.
Their features are very distinguishing - flowing manes of tendrils justify the less prejudiced name of ‘Lion Serpent’; facial plates of bone, interrupted only by large sensitive eyes surrounded by coruscant scales, and a sensoric-magical ‘third eye’ give them the appearance of masked mimes. Their mouths are located underneath, and can stretch to a surprising width, which they need to devour their prey, for the Kumbra are constrictors.
Their mighty serpentine bodies end in three prehensile arm-like appendages, which, while not especially strong, are well-suited for fine work.
Kumbra warriors are handicapped in comparison to their kin, as they lack the three arms - instead, four appendages topped with a long scythe-like blade each sprout from their thorax.
Finally, the workers are diminutive, but quite strong for their size, though simple of mind as children. Their greatest advantage are four strong arms which can lift even heavy burdens, and a thick, meaty tail they can stand on.
Though their numbers are few today, the Kumbra once produced an advanced culture, and reached deep understanding of philosophy, natural sciences and the arts.
This aptitude is still strong with the Kumbra, though it is hard to share it with other races, due to their method of communication, which is electricity. Currents of varied intensity serve as speech, their books are on magnetized media. Long copper lines running through the great Kumbra cities of old served as long-distance communication, while shared pools of water were discussion groups.
The speech can be also used in self-defense, for a foe can find himself rather shocked after being yelled at.
Kumbra can learn to understand foreign languages, but are unable to pronouce them, thus, to understand them, one must expose himself to the current; mages with Lightning-Resistance spells are best suited for this.
An easier route may be the Kumbra diplomatic script, ordinary visual marks once used to send messages to foreign nations.
The storm, the lightning, electricity pervades all of Kumbra culture, they revel in it. Even their procreation is based upon this energy: two or more Kumbra will get together in a mating ritual, and, if their mutual affection is strong enough, they will produce a ‘Nova’, which is a nexus of buzzing energy that gives birth to young Kumbra from time to time, depending on the surrounding mana level. These children share characteristics of the individuals who gave birth to the Nova.
All Kumbra are of the same ‘gender’. Their sexuality is expressed through small pulses of energy, a kind of ‘pillow talk’, delivered to the partner.
Especially talented individuals, often older Kumbra, can spawn special Novas that produce workers or warriors. These creatures never become full-fledged members of the society though; most warriors and all workers are sterile, and rather simple of mind.
When not pursuing artistic endeavours, the Kumbra prefer to lie in the sun, or on a weather-beaten elevation, and contemplate, alone or in company. As they usually eat once a month, and sleep irregularly, they can be lost in thought for quite long.
When a project catchs their fancy, they will devote themselvs to it - many of the great ornaments, astrological charts and mana-channeling standing stones dotting the Great Vast are their doing; the works are especially impressive when viewed from the air, as they span miles.
The main reason why they are so few today lies far in the past, before the schizm between the heavens and the abyss. When all creatures sided either with the demon lords or the gods in the great struggle, the Kumbra, in their philosophic nature, tried to mediate; they were crushed between the millstones of the great conflict as a result.
Most faiths incorporate an intolerance towards the Kumbra, as they are ‘hell-tainted traitors’, which has forced them into the most inhospitable of places - a good thing is that they like deserts anyway.
An advantage is that they can deal with infernal forces, should they wish so, with less danger than most mortals; they do this as a last resort though, as demons have become bitter with the aeons of banishment.
Despite the past, the Kumbra maintain shrines to both abyssal and celestial entities, hoping for a reconciliation in the future.
Kumbra population is recovering slowly, mostly centered around a few cities in the deep desert, though this is known only to a few adventurous scholars.
*First of all, PCs might be very surprised to find a thriving Kumbra community in the deep desert. The characters may be seekers of knowledge, gold-hungry adventurers, or bloody-handed conquerors!
*Nova Voyage: a Kumbra community needs to relocate their Novas to a more mana-rich region to thrive. A great challenge for wizard PCs.
*Books! Books! Books!: when it is discovered that those metal disks found in abundance in desert ruins are ancient texts, a real treasure hunt breaks out, with wizards, clerics and scholars battling it out in the deep desert.