By Moe Lane


Believe it or not, just about everyone agrees that one of the tragedies of the Purity Crusade was the destruction of the dragons. Of course, just why it was a tragedy varies from entity to entity: some miss the dragons on their own merits... while others simply regret that such a unparalleled resource for body armor was allowed to go extinct. The ethereals known as 'nagas' are firmly in the latter camp, if only because if dragons were still around there's a chance that nobody would be coming after them with flensing knives.

Nagahide is pretty much what its name implies: the treated and cured skin of a naga. It's light, flexible and makes very, very good armor (a full body suit is at -6 to hit, Protection 6): it gives an additional +3 Protection to all flame based attacks. This is not quite as good as dragonskin armor (somebody wearing one of those could be killed - eventually - but you'd need to schedule a day or two in order to do the job), but nagas are around and dragons aren't. Best of all, nagahide is so flexible and light that you can make it look like anything else: regular armor types made out of nagahide add 2 to their Modifier to hit and 3 to their Protection, with the additional +3 to flame attacks.

The problems with nagahide mostly involve getting some. Unlike (some) dragons, nagas do not shed their skins, which means that harvesting the hide will kill the naga. They naturally object to this. Furthermore, while nagahide can be acquired on either the corporeal or ethereal plane, doing the latter requires the expenditure of 5 Essence to 'fix' the hide so that it can be used on the other two planes. If the hide is not so fixed within a 'week' of acquisition, it melts away when brought to Earth or Heaven/Hell. Nagahide acquired on the corporeal plane does not require Essence 'fixing'... but it also gives no special protection anywhere else. Needless to say, no entity wearing nagahide can ever hope to get a good (read: 'not frothing at the mouth enraged') reaction from a Hindu ethereal, period. Even the ones who aren't all that nice themselves consider it a killing insult.

However, the most serious problem with nagahide is frankly political. Nagas are a recognized part of the Hindu pantheon, and Heaven is somewhat leery of breaking the tacit truce that exists between the two groups. As a result, Nagahide is one of those items that Marc won't allow to be Traded in Heaven (and his agents are forbidden to deal in it on Earth), and no reputable Servitor of Creation or Protection will even think of working with the stuff. Hell could itself care less, but they (mostly) recognize that it is hard to win powerful neutrals to your side when you regularly parade around in their flayed skins. Besides, Servitors of the Media usually don't have the proper skill set for armoring and Servitors of Technology consider the entire idea to be so five centuries ago. Nagahide is thus a bit rare.

Still, suits of the stuff get made: there are apparently entities willing to do the job if given the raw materials, and certainly the Hindu domain gets hit every so often. Harvesting raids are usually blamed on the Tsayadim; they certainly aren't shy of wearing nagahide, and there's never been any hard-and-fast proof that other groups use them as a cover. Of course, the hides that show up in Hell are suggestive that they condone some deniable harvesting. It's easy to believe that the Tsayadim might have some discreet connection with Heaven; the thought that they might consider Hell less objectionable than the ethereals that they still hunt is a much more serious allegation, or even smear...


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