Every feature, every line was of the truest beauty, cast in the noblest mold – the face of a goddess. But upon that perfect countenance was the mark of eternal pain, of deathless agony and suffering past words. The forehead was lined and knit, the death-white lips were tightly pressed in speechless torment; in the wide eyes seemed yet to lurk the flame of an unquenchable fire; while around the fair brows, in place of hair, curled and coiled the stark bodies of venomous serpents, stiff in death, but their loathsome forms still erect, their evil heads yet thrust forward as if to strike.
My heart ceased beating, and the chill of death crept over my limbs, as with eyes starting from their sockets I stared at that awful head, reflected in the pool For hours it seemed to me I gazed fascinated, as the bird by the eye of the snake that has charmed it. I knew that I looked at the reflection of a medusa, fairest and foulest of living things, an unclean creature, one glimpse of whose tortured face turned the luckless beholder into stone with the horror of it.
-Gertrude Bacon, The Gentlewomen of Evil
Men and women who desire eternal youth, beauty, and adoration might pray to malicious gods, beg dragons for ancient magic, or seek out powerful archmages to fulfill their wishes. Others make sacrifices to demon lords or archdevils, offering all in exchange for this gift, oblivious to the curse that accompanies it. Those who strike such bargains gain physical beauty, restored youth, immortality, and the adoration of all who behold them, granting them the influence and power they so desire. However, after years of the living like a demigod among mortals, the price for their vanity and hubris is exacted, and they are forever transformed into medusas. A medusa’s hair turns into a nest of venomous serpents, and all who gaze upon the medusa are petrified, becoming stone monuments to its corruption.
Out of the Lair, Into the World
Medusas usually live forever in seclusion, alienated from the world around them by their monstrous form and caprice. Their homes gradually fall into disrepair until they are little more than shadowy ruins covered with thorns and creepers, riddled with obstructions and hiding places. A rare few medusas do not resolve to spend the rest of their lives wallowing in self-pity. They venture forth from their cursed dwellings, resolute to make a second life for themselves. It is these who try to become great heroes, turning back on the life they had gaining power through beauty alone, now to gain power through great deeds. However, it is through obsession and anger that a madusa gains its cursed power; having begun anew, you will find yourself weaker than your brethren.
Your medusa character has several abilities that came with the medusa’s curse, which also expunged any racial traits from your previous life.
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 2, and your Charisma score increases by 1.
Age. Medusas can become cursed at any point after reaching adulthood, at which point they stopped visibly aging. An adventuring medusa usually lives three and five centuries.
Alignment. Obsessed with beauty and strict regiments, medusas tend towards a lawful alignment. Likewise, a mad usa’s selfishness and disregard for others may prevent true benevolence in the absence of a change of character.
Size. Medusas have slender builds and are slightly taller than humans, between 5 and 7 feet tall Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Darkvision. Previously confined to dark caverns, avoiding others because of your curse, you have superior vision in the dark. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one extra language of your choice.
Hard as Rock. When you aren’t wearing armor, your AC equals 12 + your Dexterity modifier.
Snake Hair. Your cursed hair ensures you are never unarmed You can make Dexterity-based melee weapon attacks with your viperous hair. This attack deals 1d4 piercing or poison damage (your choice).
Petrifying Gaze. As an action, you can exert yourself to entrap a creature within 30 feet that can see your eyes. The creature must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC equal to 8 + your Charisma modifier. A creature that fails the save begins to turn to stone and is restrained until the end of your next turn. If the target is already restrained in this way, it becoming petrified on a failure or ends the effect on a success. The petrification lasts 24 hours or until the creature is freed by the greater restoration spell or other magic.
You can use your action to do this a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum once) and you regain the ability to do this when you finish a long rest.
At any time, if you see yourself reflected on a polished surface within 30 feet of yourself and in an area of bright light, you must immediately use your reaction to avert your eyes. Otherwise, you must succeed on a DC 8 Constitution saving throw or be affected by your own gaze.