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The shulassakar crop up in Eberron materials for both 3.5 and 4e, and they have a brief uncited mention in the Wikipedia article on yuan-ti. However, the rainbow serpent folk never seem to get much attention: that Dragonshards article I link above has the most information in one place that I've ever found.

Where/when did they first appear? Were they invented specifically for Eberron in the early 2000s, or is there some previous iteration of the "couatl people" concept on which Eberron is drawing? What are the best (comprehensive and coherent for both crunch and fluff) resources on them?

(And if it's not answered as part of the above--is there any art for these colourful guys?)

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Yuan-ti are a D&D-specific race invented in the early 80's for the 1st edition AD&D module "Dwellers of the Forbidden City", as is mentioned in the Wikipedia article you link above. They aren't included in the D20 OGL SRD so they're fairly iconic to the D&D series. Couatls themselves are even older, appearing in the Eldritch Wizardry supplement for the original D&D rules in 1976. They are obviously based off Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent of Aztec myth.

The Shulassakar are themselves a combination of the two concepts, and are unique (initially) to the Eberron Campaign Setting. At least, if there's any indication that feathered-serpent yuan-ti existed pre-Eberron, no proof of it exists on the Internet.

As far as resources, sadly they are few, and you've stumbled on to the best article already by Keith Baker (the creator of Eberron). As far as images go, the anemic pickings on Google Image Search seems to indicate that the Shulassakar never much caught on with the fan art community.

Unfortunately there's just not much more to find than whet you've already found.

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