The Anaconda were a warrior society and mercenary company hailing from Katashaka and operating in Faerûn in the mid–14th century DR. They were based in the Elven Wood near Elmwood. They were also known as the Anaconda Company.
They were a fellowship of brothers and sisters pledged to protect each other, even to the death.
They had a sophisticated culture, but it was closed to outsiders. They would never share their customs or language, nor their concerns and secrets, with folk outside the group. Their tongue was little known, making for an effective way of communicating in secret without needing a code. They were taciturn on any issue they were asked about.
The Anaconda recruited only married couples, with the two spouses enlisting simultaneously and thereafter fighting as a pair. For their initiation, both members were ritually scarred with two small rows of diamond-shaped scars on their scalps.
There were ninety members in all, the majority of them warriors proficient in tracking and stealth. It was often rumored they included weretigers; the Anaconda never confirmed this, but nor did they deny it. They also had an elephant mascot named Blanka, while Nkonzi had several animal companions, with a white tiger and a pair of hawks.
They were very effective as advance scouts and irregular soldiers. They engaged in skirmish tactics by harassing the enemy before withdrawing, or by setting ambushes, most often under cover of night. They used a potion brewed by Kwanza that granted them infravision so they could see in darkness. When engaged in large battles or on caravan escort, they employed their elephant as a rallying point.
The warriors traveled and fought light, clad in hide armor or leather armor. In melee, they wielded scimitars, spears, and hand axes, they carried shields, and at range they used blowguns with darts or threw javelins. They usually formed into three units: scimitars, spears, and blowguns, with no standard formations.
When outnumbered, the Anaconda would resort to poison, but they had a strict code regulating its use. Poison could only be applied to missile weapons like their blowgun darts, and only be used by one member of each married pair. Poisoned darts were often employed in ambushes.
The Anaconda would take on any job that paid, with a sliding scale according to the difficulties and danger anticipated. They charged a basic price of 120 gold pieces per week for their services, rising as high as 400 gold pieces for night-time raids and long-range reconnaissance. They took a calculating attitude toward their jobs.
They never backed out of a contract, instead seeing it through no matter how many lives and couples they lost. However, they suffered and resented every one of their number slain. At the end of a contract, they could turn on a former employer, and wreck everything they'd just protected if their work was not appreciated, or even engaged in a kind of blood feud wit employers who put them in needless danger or wasted their lives.
How the Anaconda came to be is unknown, even to their leaders. However, it was known they were a black-skinned people originating from an unknown faraway island southwest of Faerûn—in fact, the continent of Katashaka.[note 1]
In the mid–14th century DR, rumors held that they had taken contracts both defending and raiding caravans in the Dalelands and fighting alongside and against the Stonelands goblinoids. Some, namely their enemies, said they'd sometimes even worked for the Zhentarim, but the Anaconda typically gave no comment.
- Gold & Glory refers only to "an island far to the southwest". This could've been the Chultan Peninsula, but that is of course not an island. "Speaking in Tongues" in Dragon Magazine Annual 1999 uses the Anaconda to suggest a so-called "Dark Continent" where the human Tabaxi tribe originated. In later sources, this became Katashaka.
- Wolfgang Baur (1993). Secrets of the Lamp (Cardsheets). (TSR, Inc.), p. 3. ISBN 1-56076-647-6.
- Tim Beach (1992). Gold & Glory. (TSR, Inc), pp. 23–24. ISBN 1-56076-334-5.
- Tim Beach (1992). Gold & Glory. (TSR, Inc), p. 61. ISBN 1-56076-334-5.
- Tim Beach (1992). Gold & Glory. (TSR, Inc), p. 63. ISBN 1-56076-334-5.
- Wolfgang Baur (November 1993). Secrets of the Lamp. Genie Lore. (TSR, Inc.), p. 11. ISBN 978-1560766476.
- Thomas M. Costa (1999). “Speaking in Tongues”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon Annual #4 (TSR, Inc), p. 29.
- Tim Beach (1992). Gold & Glory. (TSR, Inc), pp. 5, 64. ISBN 1-56076-334-5.