Then Dendar’s sunk her fangs too deep.” - Prince of Lies, James Lowder
During the time known as the Blue Age, a race of sea creatures was living on Toril in the planet’s single, vast ocean.
The Blue Age came to an end when a primordial known as Dendar the Night Serpent swallowed the sun, giving way to the Shadow Epoch.
Sarrukh myths and legends tell of great battles during this time between the primordials and the Elder Gods led by Ouroboros the World Serpent.
The war turned in the gods’ favour when the primordial Ubtao the Deceiver assisted the elder gods in slaying, imprisoning, or driving away the remaining primordials
Some say that Dendar the Night Serpent was created the first time a mortal creature had a dream.
Since her creation, Dendar has been devouring the nightmares of mortals, gathering them in her gullet where they swim in an eternal miasma of fear and hatred. She takes pleasure in swallowing the fears of mortals and immortals alike, particularly enjoying the fancies of kings and gods.
The Night Serpent is said to be the harbinger of the end of the world, so that when she has swallowed enough nightmares, she will come forth from her lair to douse all of existence in darkness and fear. Even the gods will be unable to stop her, because they are subject to the same nightmares as the mortals who serve them.
A sect of plane-hopping clerics and monks of Kelemvor (formerly Myrkul) believe that it is their sacred duty to stop this from happening. They train every generation to hunt the Night Serpent on her plane, forcing her to expend precious nightmares in defence of her lair and her life. Although these religious fanatics know that they go to their deaths when they move against Dendar, they believe that they are vital to the continued existence of Faerûn and its people.
Although she sometimes slithers across the fiendish planes, Dendar is content to spend most of her time in her lair, contentedly gorging on the world’s unremembered nightmares.
She lives in a vast cave near the river that surrounds the Fugue Plane, and the hiss of her breathing echoes throughout that plane as she sleeps. She is automatically aware of any creature that approaches her cave, and she awakens in order to savour the taste of their worst nightmares before she destroys them.
The Night Serpent appears as a 300-foot-long serpent with scales that range in colour from midnight black to deep green. These scales represent the physical embodiment of the nightmares that she has swallowed over the millennia.
Her slit-pupil eyes are the sickly yellow-black of rotten eggs, and her forked tongue flickers incessantly over her smooth lips. Dendar’s mouth unhinges at the jaw to reveal a maw large enough to swallow a dragon without trouble. She has four jagged fangs that sink deep into the flesh of her enemies, injecting a nightmare venom that slowly works to destroy their minds.
Her tongue is a weapon, too, able to knock giants from their feet with a single swipe and entangle bitten foes so she can swallow them whole. Beneath her tongue is a viscous pit of greasy spittle and the bones of enemies past. She secretes the essence of nightmares that she has devoured, and constantly regurgitates the souls of those she has destroyed.
Dendar prefers to confront attackers head-on, using her awesome bite attack and nightmare venom to incapacitate a single combatant at a time. She prefers to target spellcasters first, since her nightmare scales can eliminate or severely weaken melee fighters before she finishes them off.
She often just slithers over creatures in her path, crushing them under her awesome weight. Dendar tries not to kill her opponents, preferring to put them into an endless sleep with her venom so that she can feed upon their nightmares forever.
Dendar does not need to worry about most mortal challengers, and it would take a concerted effort by several of the most powerful angels, demons, or devils to give her pause. Should she ever find her opponents actually damaging her, she would not hesitate to unleash the nightmares from her gizzard in an attempt to trap her attackers inside their greatest fears forever.
Dendar the Night Serpent in Faerûn
The Time of Troubles was more than just a time when the gods walked the land. It was also a formidable recruiting tool for apocalyptic cults everywhere.
As the gods died right before the eyes of ordinary Faerûnians, it began to seem as if the entire world might be in peril.
Even though things have calmed and the reorganized pantheon has begun to rebuild its base, gods continue to disappear (the recent upheaval in the Underdark because of Lolth’s disappearance is a prime example), while others war for dominion of the various aspects of existence. This was the perfect time for the cults of Dendar the Night Serpent to make great gains in both numbers and resources.
Cults revolving around Dendar are active across Faerûn, but the two largest and most devoted can be found in Calimport and the Jungles of Chult. In Calimport, the Sacred Order of Akabar recruits thieves, assassins, and other skulks to fulfil their twisted purpose.
The Order in Calimport expect to rule over the remaining planes of existence as the Serpent Mother’s chosen people. They do so by kidnapping and drugging the dregs of Calimport society, who are kept in a secret chamber and feed Dendar with an endless string of poison- and narcotics-induced nightmares.
The other large group of Dendar-related cultists can be found in the Jungles of Chult, hidden among the caves below the Peaks of Flame. Unlike the Sacred Order of Akabar, these cultists are bent on preventing the Night Serpent from destroying the world.
They believe that they are the guardians of an enormous iron door through which Dendar will one day slither and attempt to eat the sun. The Spearbearers of Ubtao, as they call themselves, believe that they must maintain a long list of rituals in order to give their god the strength to defeat Dendar when she finally hungers for the light of the world.
Many of these rituals require the sacrifice of sentient life, however, leading the Spearbearers to commit evil acts in the act of saving the world.