Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lamia Matriarch

Now we’re getting somewhere!  To me, lamia matriarchs (lamia nobles in the world’s oldest role-playing game) are the real lamias.  Unlike their bestial lion-bodied sisters, the sinuous and serpentine lamia matriarchs are seductive enough even without illusions and charms to veil them…though they’re happy to change shape when it suits them.  They naturally lord over most other lamias and lamia-kin (more on them below).  And they are equally tied to the sins of gluttony, lust, and wrath (with plenty of envy, pride, greed, and sloth likely thrown in to boot).

But what’s most interesting is the lamia matriarchs’ possible role as cult leaders for other lamias and humanoid victims.  Obviously, they make ideal evil priestesses or demon-worshippers—a little Wisdom drain, beauty, and skill with scimitars goes a long way toward recruiting worshippers.  And turning to evil gods or fiends is nothing new for a cursed race. 

On the other hand, why do lamia matriarchs need the gods at all?  In most Pathfinder/D&D settings, healing magic is the province of divine casters…but lamias can cast such spells as arcane magic.  They can spit in the gods’ eyes without fear of repercussions—after all, how much more damned can they get?  In worlds where the gods are very present, real forces, this is staggeringly powerful.  Lamia matriarchs are the ultimate symbols of corruption and freedom at once—creatures who can turn their backs on heavenly consequences and wallow in any desire or appetite that strikes them.

Temple attendance in Newford shrinks as believers begin to flock to a formerly ruined site now rechristened the Fanum of the Possible Heart.  Dazed, slightly Wisdom-drained participants speak of moving sermons and philosophical lectures; some also hint at rich feasts, subterranean fighting rings, and libidinous rites.  The leader of the Possible Heart is a lamia matriarch, collecting blackmail material (and more than a few slaves and meals) from Newford citizens of every walk of life.

Nearly immortal thanks to long hibernation and careful use of alchemical mutagens, the Sapphire Scale still feels the loss of the gods like an aching wound. She uses regular castings of dream to influence and corrupt clerics and other divine servants in her domain.  The men she lures to mate with and devour.  The women she instructs in dark rites meant to open portals to the Outer Planes and barter favors from the night hags—all in pursuit of some rapidly approaching end.

The Serpent Coast is known in rumor to be infiltrated by—or even to openly embrace—ophidian monsters of all stripes.  Serpentfolk lurk beneath Mintar, spinning a variety of plots.  Nagas secretly rule San Markay and openly run See Karach.  Even the fire worshippers of See Dukai are visited not by otherworldy elementals or efreet, but by salamanders.  And the gem of the Coast, Goan, is clutched in the grip of Queen Ampolyta, a lamia matriarch of surpassing sorcerous power.  Her versatile combination of blasting evocations, healing spells, and useful abjurations and conjurations have kept her person safe.  Meanwhile, the fact that her reign, while self-serving and evil, is otherwise noticeably less corrupt than Goan’s previous governments has made her surprisingly popular.  However, she still condones slavery, blood sports, orgies with coerced and charmed prisoners…and feasts that combine all of the above.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 175

We first mentioned naga-ruled San Markay here.

So like I said yesterday, I didn’t do lamias enough justice last night.  But then again, I didn’t have to; it’s been done already.

Back when Pathfinder was just Pathfinder, a magazine on its way to becoming a game, one of the signs of how awesome it was was the attention it gave to lamias—or the lamyros race, as Golariopedia reminded me today.  Just as had already been done with goblins, here was a plain old 3.5 Monster Manual monster—as old as the game itself—suddenly revitalized, with its own myths, origin story, subraces, demon-goddess patron, and ties to the Runelords.  The Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path showed how every monster deserved a second look…and it’s half the reason this tiny little site exists.

For even more Pathfinder lamyros, look for the kuchrima, hungerer, and harridan in those early issues; Wikipedia can point you to some more beasts from D&D’s various editions.

No comments:

Post a Comment