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DnD 5e - The Yuan-Ti Pureblood Handbook

Last Updated: May 8th, 2020

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RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances.
  • Green: Good options.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can't assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won't cover Unearthed Arcana content because it's not finalized, and I can't guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

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Yuan-Ti are a thematically interesting group of creatures, and while the "Yuan-Ti Abomination" is the most iconic (they're the ones with snakes heads), the only Yuan-Ti published as a playable race is the Pureblood. Purebloods look like humans for the most part, which makes them a bit easier to integrate into a normal party than snake-armed Yuan-Ti Malison.

Mechanically, Yuan-Ti Purebloods are a challenge in several ways. Their ability score increases are limiting and their innate spellcasting is extremely limited, but they get resistance on saving throws against all spells and magical effects and outright immunity to poison, protecting them from two extremely common hazards.

Magic Resistance is a controversial racial trait. Magical effects include things like traps and many creatures' special abilities, so the Yuan-Ti Pureblood has a widely-applicable defense against that can immediately become a problem. As a player you want to look for other bonuses to your saves so that you can nearly guarantee success on saving throws, but as a DM you want ways to challenge and threaten players and there are only so many varieties of nonmagical breath weapons and the like. If Magic Resistance is a problem in your game, consider replacing it with the Gnome's Cunning feature. It has similar effects, but it's not quite so powerful.

Classes (Default Rules)

This section assumes that you're not using the option "Customizing Your Origin" rules presented in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything. If you are using those rules, scroll up to the previous section.


Probably the Yuan-Ti Pureblood's best option for a front-line character, the pureblood's Intelligence increase gives you everything that you absolutely need. Poison Spray offers a short range attack option (though not a great one) to complement your limited cantrips, and Flash of Genius allows you to add your Intelligence Bonus to saving throws on top of Magic Resistance, allowing you to easily and reliably resist magical effects.


Bad ability spread.


Thematically a fantastic option. A magical, charismatic character with a broad set of capabilities. College of Whispers fits the Yuan-Ti Pureblood very well from a thematic perspective.


Bad ability spread.


Bad ability spread, but thematically a snake druid would be really interesting. I just wish that the stats lined up better. It's likely that Magic Resistance and Poison Immunity wouldn't apply during Wild Shape.


A fighter without a Strength or Dexterity increase is hard, but an Eldritch Knight might be able to scrape by, and the Yuan-Ti Purebloods other traits make a great mage hunter.


Bad ability spread.


Lack of a Strength or Dexterity increase is hard, but a Charisma increase helps and between the pureblood's natural defenses and the Paladin's defensive features you're incredibly difficult to kill.


Bad ability spread.


Bad ability spread, but thematically the rogue seems like a great option. In a campaign with little emphasis on combat, a Yuan-Ti Pureblood rogue would be a really interesting character if you focus on Charisma-based skills.


A good Charisma increase, some innate spellcasting, and Magic Resistance protects you from enemy spellcasters.


The Yuan-Ti Pureblood can succeed in nearly any Warlock build.


An Intelligence increase, some innate spellcasting, and Magic Resistance protects you from enemy spellcasters. You may be tempted to select a snake as a familiar, but the only reason to do is for the "cool factor".