"Claw Vipers! This outer darkness mirrors the inner blackness of their souls. It is they who have eclipsed the sun, I'll wager. They are a venomous band."— Lysander(src)
Claw Vipers (a.k.a. Snake Men) are serpetine creatures found primarily in Aranoch.
"The calculated coldness of the reptilian brain makes the Claw Vipers uncanny adversaries."— Warriv(src)
Claw Vipers are hideous snake-like creatures with arms and other humanoid features. These creatures practice evil magic. They have also been known to kidnap travelers and sacrifice them to their dark gods. Those who choose to hunt these creatures should be warned that they are extremely fast and their touch has been known to sometimes chill their victims to the bone. The calculated coldness of their reptillian brains makes them fierce adversaries. They are fond of collecting magical artifacts.
There are many breeds of Claw Viper. The 'base breed' (called Claw Vipers themselves) prefer to slash with their claws rather than bite. Within Claw Viper society, there is a divide between greater and lesser Vipers, with the lesser members of their kin feeling the wrath of their more powerful counterparts. This separation is enforced by the Serpent Magi, who propagate a culture of fear. While the Claw Viper breed are tougher than Tomb Vipers, they too are bullied by their more powerful kin. There appears to be some relation between the Claw Vipers and the Vipers that plagued Tristram; the Claw Vipers are smaller than their kin.
The origin of these demonic monstrosities is cloaked in controversy. Whether they are the victims of a curse of a powerful Sorceress or the result of some hell-spawned evolution, these beasts now serve in the armies of the Prime Evils. Whatever the truth of their origins, it is certain that Claw Vipers are an ancient race; paintings on the walls of tombs near Lut Gholein show a Claw Viper dropping a severed human head while another human seems to worship it.
Several hundred years before the Darkening of Tristram, the Claw Vipers erected an altar which caused the sun to go black. While the Dark Wanderer traveled eastward, the Claw Vipers once again shrouded the sun over Aranoch. However, a group of heroes slew the Vipers and returned sunlight to the land.
Claw Vipers are encountered in Act II of Diablo II. They possess a Cold attack. This is potentially deadly as it prevents its victim from escaping and allows other Claw Vipers to swarm and attack en masse. They use a skill similar to Charge, which deals a large amount of damage and knocks back its foe. They are able to move quickly and attack quickly using just their natural abilities. Claw Vipers are usually encountered in the tombs and halls within their Claw Viper Temple in the Valley of Snakes. They are immune to Cold in Hell Difficulty. Though their attacks are deadly, Claw Vipers lack defense and health, making them swift kills. They make a hissing noise that can be heard even if you can't see them.
- Fangskin (Salamander)
- Claw Vipers appear related in lore to the Vipers of Diablo I. The Awakening treats them as being the same race, though given the monster listings, there appears to be some distinction between the Diablo I and Diablo II types. To Hell and Back treats the term "Claw Viper" as the term for the race as a whole, and quest dialogue in Diablo II likewise treats the term as the 'race designation'. Given the divide between games, the wiki treats the two as two separate, yet possibly related species.