D&D Monster ENCyclopedia: Lamia
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    Monster ENCyclopedia: Lamia

    What's half-human and either half-lion, half-goat, half-deer, half-snake or half-beetle swarm? It's the lamia, a creature whose appearance (and reproductive cycle) has varied substantially over four decades of D&D appearances. From blood-drinking monsters of 1st Edition to regal servants of Graz'zt in 5th Edition, the lamia has smelled of perfumed flowers and become a fey swarm of beetles along the way. Constant through its physical transformations are the lamia's ability to disguise itself and its desire to trick, beguile and ultimately consume humanoids. Join the Monster ENCyclopedia for a look at the D&D lamia.

    Monster ENCyclopedia: Lamia

    This is a series of posts about specific monsters from D&D's history. Each entry takes a look at the origin of one D&D creature, and tracks its appearances and evolution across different editions. We are covering one creature from a hypothetical Utterly Complete Monster Manual for each letter of the alphabet, and the letter 'L' entry is dedicated to the lamia.

    Origins and development

    In Greek mythology, Lamia was a queen unwisely involved in a dispute with Hera over her husband's infidelity. Hera cursed her, causing Lamia to hunt and devour children, in the process turning into a horrible monster. It isn't clear what role Zeus played in Lamia's transformation but it seems that he gave her the ability to remove her own eyes and with it the gift of prophecy. Some versions of the legend have Lamia drinking the blood of children, or refer to vampire-like lamias (plural), who seduce young men to feed on their blood. Common to most lamia myths are the lamia's gluttonous thirst for blood, its general uncleanliness and limited wits.

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    The History of Four-Footed Beasts (1607)

    The greek word for lamia is Λάμια, which is a species of fierce shark, and the lamia may have originally been envisaged as having the form of a large shark. A more common image is that of a half-woman, half-serpent monster, but the D&D version was likely inspired by the picture of the half-beast/half-woman in The History of Four-Footed Beasts, published by Edward Topsell in 1607. This was a treatise on the animals of the world, not based on Topsell's own observations, but on accounts from a variety of sources, some clearly a lot less reliable than others.

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    Monster Manual (1977)

    In the three and a half centuries between The History of Four-Footed Beasts, and the Monster Manual, the lamia gained a few points of Comeliness, shed its scales and grew two additional limbs. The D&D lamia has a pair of arms attached to the torso in addition to two hoofed legs at the rear and two pawed legs at the front. Gone (for now) are the lamia's scales and any connection to serpents. Lamias are solitary, evil creatures. They make their homes in ruined desert cities, or desert caves, and accumulate a decent pile of treasure, mostly coin. They can speak common, and in 1st Edition, also the Chaotic Evil alignment language.

    The statistics in the Monster Manual paint a picture of a fast moving, reasonably powerful creature which spends most of its time in or near its lair. Lamias have a single physical attack for a mere 1-4 points of damage, and are usually armed with daggers. They have access to a number of spells each day: charm person, mirror image, suggestion, and illusion. D&D lamias are more intelligent that the mythological versions, and put their spells to good effect. Victims lured in by the lamia's spells are consumed in three stages. First, the lamia drains wisdom, with each touch draining one point. Someone with a wisdom reduced to two will do whatever the lamia tells it, which often involves the next step, where the lamia consumes the hapless victim's blood. Finally, the lamia feasts on the victim's flesh.

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    Fiend Folio (1981)

    Four years later, the Fiend Folio introduced the lamia noble. These are half-woman (or half-man) and half-serpent, reflecting the serpentine lamias from mythology. Noble lamias have one additional Hit Die, and move more slowly, but are otherwise similar to ordinary lamias. They have the same spells and wisdom draining-touch that lamias have, but gain other abilities depending on gender.

    Males wield short swords (1-6 damage) and are mages of level 1-6. Females do not use weapons but are mages of level 2-8. Lamia nobles rule over the other lamias and the areas they inhabit, and they can take human form to infiltrate human societies, aided by the ability to speak all human and demihuman languages. Characters of level 7 or more have a chance to see through this guise, with clerics particularly likely to notice. Noble lamias are given to outbursts of senseless violence.

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    Dragon #136 (1988)

    Both lamias and noble lamias appeared several times in 1st Edition adventures and supplements. EX2: The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror contains encounters with lamias (on the chessboard) and a lamia noble. The noble maintains the illusion of a well-stocked shop on a river bank, just to lure in victims. Because this is an adventure based on Through the Looking-Glass the encounter doesn't feel out of place and the illusion is enticingly described. The more the adventurers attempt to inspect the shelves, the more vague and uncertain the contents become. Where they stare, the shelves appear bare, but in the corners of their eyes they constantly glimpse glowing magic items, glittering gems, and tantalising food supplies. The lamia's trickery doesn't stop after her death. One of her treasures is a bracelet set with wish-granting gems. However, the only possible way to find out that the gems store wish spells is to cast a wish spell.

    In UK4: When a Star Falls, a lamia was trapped by a rock-fall triggered by the impact of the shooting-star. In their investigations of a derro lair, the adventurers are likely to accidentally free her. Another lamia is tending a fungi garden in T1-4: Temple of Elemental Evil. She combines her powers of illusion with the suggestion that the fungi have dangerous spores which can trigger insanity, hoping that sympathetic characters may restrain any "insane" companions who try to attack her.

    The first mention of a "lamia" in Dragon Magazine seems to be in issue #17, but there it is used simply as a synonym for "vampire". Dragon #93 gives the pronunciation of "lamia" as LAY-mee-a, LA-mee-a, or rarely, la-MY-ah. A review of the then recently-released Fiend Folio in Dragon #55 categorises the lamia noble as a "cheap ripoff of the original AD&D monster", but towards the end of 1st Edition, a lamia noble graced the cover of Dragon #136.

    In The Ruins of Andril in Dragon #81, an adventurous lamia named Feyodena is one of the monsters investigating a monument in a disappearing city. She is there because she thinks that it will attract adventurers, whom she wishes to rob and/or eat. To achieve this, the lamia has an illusionary spirit solicit "offerings" from them early on in the adventure. Later she partners with a gynosphinx to attack the group. Feyodena appears to be half-horse rather than half-beast, and has four hooves.

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    Dragon #81 (1984)

    2nd Edition

    In the 2nd Edition Monstrous Compendium Volume Two, the lamia and lamia noble share a page. In both cases, the statistics are unchanged, but the climate and terrain ("Deserts, caves and ruined cities") and diet ("Carnivore") are now specified. The lamia noble gains 30% magic resistance, which it did not have in 1st Edition. Strangely, lamias now sometimes smell like perfume flowers, to attract unwary victims.

    Lamias no longer have front and hind legs from different creatures. They now have complete lower halves of "beasts", with specific examples being goats, deer, and lions. The artwork in the Monstrous Compendium shows a more tribal lamia, but the sketch isn't consistent with the description. The text says that lamias wear no clothing or jewellery and are usually armed with daggers, but the picture shows a lamia wearing a headband, armband and hair braidings, and she is holding a spear.

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    Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989)

    It's interesting to notice than in the transition from 1st Edition to 2nd Edition, TSR became more cautious about depicting breasts. So too has the descriptive text been made slightly less visceral. Lamias are still "flesh-eating" creatures who carve people up with their daggers, and they still drain wisdom on touch, but they seem to have lost the desire to also drink the blood of their victims. When humanoid prey is rare, lamias will stalk and kill game animals for food. A lamia rarely roams more than 10 miles from its lair.

    A lamia gets exactly the same spells as in 1st Edition, and casts them at 9th-level spell ability. Sometimes a lamia uses her spells to disguise herself, assuming the role of a lovely damsel in distress, a tough but beautiful female ranger, or an elf maiden. In other cases, a lamia uses its spells as a distraction, conjuring up lost children or villagers under attack, before launching a surprise rear attack.

    The descriptive text for the lamia noble is a tidied up version of the Fiend Folio entry, but with one additional snippet of lore. We learn that normal female lamias are born from the union of two noble lamias. Although this might seem like a trivial addition to lamia lore, it was to become the seed for much of the lamia's Ecology article.

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    Monstrous Manual (1993)

    When the Monstrous Manual collection was published four years into 2nd Edition's release, the ordinary lamia received its first colour illustration. The Monstrous Compendium text was reprinted almost exactly, but in this version the lamia's THAC0 is reduced to 11 (from 12), and the lamia noble's THAC0 is increased to 11 (from 10). It isn't clear why the editors saw a need to harmonise the two creatures' attacks.

    The lamia's Ecology article appears in Dragon #192, which was the annual April Fool's issue for 1993. Writer Spike Y. Jones focusses heavily on the love-life of the lamia in both the short story and the accompanying game notes. Although it has a humorous tone, it isn't as tongue-in-cheek as the treatment of the catobleplas. Building on the note in the Fiend Folio that ordinary lamias are the offspring of two noble lamias, The Ecology (Love-Life) of the Lamia outlines a reproductive hierarchy which includes lamias, lamia nobles, and an entirely new creature, the sa'ir.

    Both common and noble lamias prefer to mate with humans. They are driven to mate during at least one week of each year, but the presence of humans can trigger mating behaviour outside of the normal season. Human females impregnated by lamias will unfortunately carry the young. Up to four lamia young are born after an eight month gestation period. Few reach maturity, as deaths are common between competitive siblings and as a result of fickle parents, so lamia numbers remain low.

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    Lamia reproduction chart

    Noble lamias can be male or female, and mate with humans or noble lamias of the opposite gender. The offspring of a human and a noble lamia is a noble lamia. The offspring of two noble lamias is a common lamia. The lower half of a common lamia is determined randomly at birth, with a rough breakdown of 60% lion, 25% goat, 15% deer/antelope. Although they all appear female, common lamias are hermaphrodites, and mate with humans of either gender, or with other common lamias. The offspring of a human and a lamia is a lamia. The offspring of two lamias is a sa'ir. Sa'irs can be male or female, but cannot produce offspring.

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    Sa'ir, Dragon #192 (1993)

    A sa'ir is a beast of animal intelligence. It has the hindquarters of a goat and the foreparts of a lion, with a lion's head and the horns and beard of a goat. Both male and female sa'irs have lion manes. They are territorial and omnivorous, but prefer meat -- even carrion -- over plant matter. Sa'irs stalk prey by pretending to be grazing herbivores until they get close enough to pounce, at which point they attack with two horns, two claws and a bite. Their social structures are similar to lion prides. Like lions, sa'irs will gorge themselves on larger prey given the opportunity.

    Sa'irs roam in small groups in the vicinity of their lamia parents. They are capable of obeying simple commands from lamia, but communicate with each other using simple bleats. Lamias themselves are seldom found in groups, only overcoming their natural hatred of their own kind to mate, or in rare cases to cooperate against a particularly attractive target. If the natural resources of a region are limited, then lamias are more likely to be found clustered together, but it usually takes a noble lamia to force a group to collaborate.

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    Lamia noble, Dragon #192 (1993)

    Lamias prefer to avoid combat, and try to use their proficiency at disguise to get close enough to be able to drain Wisdom from their targets. Common lamias use their illusion spell to disguise themselves, while noble lamias can change shape at will, leaving them free to use their illusion for more practical purposes, such as disguising the remains of their last victim. Maintaining an illusion requires the lamia's concentration, although the creature can still move and talk while sustaining it. Patches of an illusion may fade if the lamia is sufficiently distracted. Adventurers above 6th level, clerics and children all have a chance of seeing through any lamia's attempts to disguise itself as a human. The disguises of lamia nobles are harder to see through because of their increased skills. When in disguise, lamias sometimes pick forms which give them an excuse for minor mistakes -- children, foreigners or confused peasants.

    The Ecology article gives more detail of the wisdom draining process. It requires that the lamia's hand touch the victim's bare skin, so is rarely used in combat. A lamia may try to surreptitiously drain a target's wisdom over a period of time, but lamias tend to be impatient creatures, and struggle to mask their violent tendencies long enough for an effective infiltration. A victim fully drained of Wisdom lacks all judgement, and forms an irrational bond with the lamia, making him or her unable to leave the enslavement, even if given the opportunity to do so. If forced into combat, a lamia slave takes a -6 penalty on attacks and saving throws because of his or her impaired judgement. Any emotional torture faced by such a slave is usually short lasting, because lamias seldom keep slaves or mates alive for very long. However, there have been rare reports of humans released unharmed by lamias because of an emotional bond formed by the lamia.

    When forced into physical combat, a lamia will use its hooves and/or claws as well as wielding weapons with its upper limbs. If the lamia's treasure trove contains magical weapons, it will put them to use. Male noble lamias prefer swords; common lamias and female nobles prefer daggers (a change from the Fiend Folio). The Ecology article provides some statistics variations for lion-type, goat-type and deer-type lamias. Lion-types have 9HD, goat-types 7HD and deer-types 5HD. Deer-type lamias have a faster speed. Lion-type lamias have stronger attacks, and a bonus hind claw rake. Experience values vary between 650 XP and 4,000 XP for the three sub-types.

    Most 2nd Edition supplements were linked to campaign settings, but lamias do appear in some generic adventures and accessories. In the adventure Train of Events in Dungeon #44, circumstances force a lamia noble named Montalaina into working with derro and duergar in an adventure involving a dwarven steam train. HHQ4: Cleric's Challenge has a lamia named Chamille who pretends to be a recently rescued maiden. Her dwarven guards support this story because they have been drained of wisdom and charmed. Unless the heroes see through this subterfuge, they face a surprise attack.

    The Ladies' Tea and Hospitality Society in Deck of Encounters, Set Two is a short encounter where the adventurers are at a high society gala event when they realise that the hosts are disguised lamia nobles. Labyrinth of Madness includes an encounter with a female lamia noble, who isn't really committed to the fight, and likely to flee if outmatched.

    Two of the Complete Handbooks make mention of lamias. PHRB6: The Complete Ranger's Handbook notes that the lamia is a suitable desert species enemy. PHBR13: The Complete Druid's Handbook presents a new branch of the class, Desert Druids, who gain the power to speak the languages of desert-dwelling intelligent creatures, including lamias.

    3rd Edition

    The most striking thing about the 3rd Edition Monster Manual's lamia is that he's male. This dispenses with two things: large chunks of the lamia's complicated reproductive cycle, and any lingering 2nd Edition need to show the lamia in a pose which hides its breasts. Instead, we get to see a muscular torso and an angry red-eyed face draped with hair resembling a lion's mane.

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    Monster Manual (2000)

    The entry states that most lamias are a cross between a stunningly attractive human, and either a lion, a deer or a goat. Their basic nature is unchanged; they are evil, cruel, and enjoy causing suffering. They are given a slightly more specific focus for their sadism, seeking to target those who serve the causes of good. The text doesn't mentioned their solitary nature, and according to the statistics, lamias can be encountered in gangs of up to four. The fact that this entry reflects only "most" lamias seems to be the only hint that noble lamias still exist.

    Mechanically, the 3rd Edition lamia is still a 9 Hit Dice creature. Despite the muscular illustration, the description implies that this lamia is physically weak. It has fairly feeble claw or hoof attacks supplemented by weapons (daggers) wielded in its upper arms. The spell list remains almost unchanged from 1st/2nd Edition, with the lamia able to cast charm person, mirror image, suggestion and major image replacing illusion. Lamias retain their wisdom drain, permanently draining one point with a successful touch attack.

    As we'll soon see, the lamia was revised heavily for the Monster Manual v.3.5, but the 3.0 version made a few appearances in supplementary material first. Dragon Annual #5 contains 101 Evil Schemes, which notes that if something is feeding off the local population adventurers are much more likely to think of a vampire than a lamia. It suggests that a lamia might take advantage of this by spreading rumours of vampires to hide its own insidious plans.

    One of the Fight Club series of articles on the Wizards of the Coast website details a lamia wizard named Sowelleile who stumbled onto the evil arcane knowledge of how to bond a demon's skin to one's own. Versions of Sowelleile are presented as 1st and 5th level wizards, and then with an additional five levels of the Acolyte of the Skin prestige class from Tome and Blood.

    The Book of Challenges contains a surprisingly detailed encounter with a green hag and a lamia, which uses the set-up of a preceding encounter with a friendly nymph and dryad. The hag uses her change self ability to pretend to be the nymph and cunningly warns that looking at her will cause blindness, making it less likely the heroes will see through her disguise. The lamia creates an illusion of a hill giant attacking the dryad's tree. This illusion masks a cluster of assassin vines, luring any PCs charging the giant into the plant's grasp. Even if the heroes prevail over the vines and the illusionary giant, the lamia still has a card to play. Pretending to be the grateful dryad, she rewards one of the heroes with a wisdom-draining kiss.

    There also was some limited mechanical support for playing a lamia character in 3.0 Edition. Monsters with Class in Dragon #293 lists the lamia as having an Effective Character Level (ECL) of 12. This was adjusted to 13 in Savage Species, where more detailed rules for playing monstrous characters were presented. The lamia is only mentioned in the summary tables of Savage Species, but someone wanting to play a lamia would be much better off waiting for the 3.5 version, in any case.

    3.5 Edition

    In previous Monster ENCyclopedia entries, it has been safe enough to treat the 3.0 and 3.5 versions of each creature in one entry. Not so for the lamia! The Monster Manual v.3.5 gives the lamia a potent update. It has grown into a large creature, about 8 feet long and weighing about 700 pounds. This size upgrade reduces the lamia's AC slightly, but it gains an increase in Strength from 10 to 18, and a corresponding increase in melee attacks and damage. It has an extra claw attack and the Spring Attack feat to make use of it. Instead of physically weak, the lamia is described as powerful and dangerous in close combat, but still preferring to use its illusions to lure victims into an unfair fight.

    The lamia's touch permanently drains not just one point of Wisdom now, but 1d4 points, and the text clarifies that this ability doesn't provide any healing to the lamia. The spells previously available to the lamia once per day (charm monster, major image, mirror image and suggestion) can now be used three times daily, and deep slumber is an additional daily ability. A lamia can use disguise self and ventriloquism at will. Some of the non-combat details are also updated. The lamia's environment changes from "any desert, hill, and underground" to "temperate deserts", and it gains darkvision 60 ft and low-light vision as additional senses. Judging from the "advancement" line, some lamias can be of huge size, and have up to 27 HD. Remarkably, all of these changes leave the lamia's Challenge Rating of 6 unaltered.

    Following its promotion in the Monster Manual v.3.5, the lamia appeared in a few supplementary source. An article in the Tactics and Tips series on the Wizards of the Coast website provides Knowledge (Arcana) lore entries for the lamia, but notes that lamias are slippery enough to deliberately sow misinformation about themselves. In another website article from the Random Encounters series, a trio of lamias has taken a band of desert nomads as slaves. Although their numbers fall whenever the lamias get hungry, the surviving nomads are kept charmed and used to lure other travellers into the creatures' grasp.

    As well as featuring ordinary lamias in several encounters, Expedition to the Demonweb Pits updates lamia nobles for 3rd Edition, and restores them to their position as the progenitors of the normal lamias. Following the trend set in the Monster Manual, the artwork depicts another male specimen.

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    Lamia Noble, Expedition to the Demonweb Pits (2007)

    In 3rd Edition, all lamia nobles have sorcerer levels; one to six for males or two to eight for females. The stat block provided is for a 7th-level female lamia, and already incorporates her sorcerer levels. Like the 3.5 Edition lamia, nobles are large creatures and the example has 15 Hit Dice. They favour longspears in melee, but also have a tail slap and a special Constrict attack.

    Before engaging in melee combat, a lamia noble is likely to use its spells and spell-like abilities. In additional to sorcerer spells, nobles can used charm person, mirror image, persistent image, and suggestion three times each day. The Silent Spell feat gives them the element of surprise for some magical attacks. The lamia noble's touch only drains 1 point of Wisdom, but it gains 1 point of temporary Charisma whenever it uses the ability.

    Nobles enjoy assuming human form in order to trap and drain humanoids. Their disguises are imperfect, and more observant opponents might notice snakelike eyes or patches of scales. Lamia nobles take a particular delight in draining cleric, monk or paladin victims. Some humanoids are kept as slaves, but others are simply eaten. Nobles are just as prone to senseless outbursts of extreme violence as they were in earlier incarnations.

    Lamia nobles are solitary creatures, living in deserts, caves and ruined cities on the edges of civilizations, where they sometimes guard places or objects of power. They value gems and magic items, particularly scrolls, books, rings and jewellery. Although the description notes that common lamias are the offspring of lamia nobles, there is no mention of how new nobles are created, nor any reference to nobles mating with humans.

    4th Edition

    The first hint that the 4th Edition lamia is a little different from its predecessors comes from a black and white drawing included in the Feywild chapter of the preview book Wizards Presents: Worlds and Monsters. The image depicts a female humanoid covered in beetles.

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    Wizards Presents: Worlds and Monsters (2008)

    The Monster Manual confirms that the lamia is no longer a half-human, half-beast/snake creature. In its true form, a lamia is now a swarm of beetles clinging to the bones of a powerful fey creature. Lamias still taken on humanoid forms to trick and lure their victims, but that's about all they have in common with the lamias of earlier editions. These lamias have a strong association with fey, and know the Common and Elven languages.

    The lamia's beetle composition gives it the ability to squeeze through small openings, and it has a Devouring Swarm combat ability which can be sustained to deal significant ongoing damage. It also has an aura which does constant damage to nearby creatures and it gains a swarm's resistances to melee and ranged attacks and vulnerabilities to close and area attacks. This lamia has only limited magical abilities. It has Change Shape, a Cursed Touch which dazes victims and heals the lamia, and a close-range Pacifying Burst which it can use to stun targets roughly every three rounds.

    As seems to be thematically appropriate for the lamia, the 4th Edition version has an unusual reproductive cycle. Each time it slays a humanoid foe, one extra beetle joins the lamia's swarm. Eventually, when the number of beetles in the swarm grows excessive, the lamia seeks out a powerful eladrin or other fey creature, slays it, and then divides in two, leaving half of its swarm inside the fresh corpse. These beetles eventually devour the body, and arise as a new lamia. Interestingly, the process of consuming the corpse leaves the resulting lamia with many of the victim's memories.

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    Monster Manual (2008)

    The 4th Edition lamia featured a number of times in adventures and encounters. Dragon #365 includes an encounter with Maze the Enchantress, the lamia leader of a group of adventurers called the Daggerhall Explorers. Her colleagues include a vampire lord, and a hobgoblin hand of Bane. The adventure Dark Heart of Mithrendain in Dungeon #157 focusses on the lamia Jelvistra's efforts to corrupt the eladrin city of Mithrendain. She has already infiltrated the city's Council, and the adventurers must unravel the lamia's complex plots in order to confront her.

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    Jelvistra, Dungeon #157 (2008)

    A lamia named Elesdri inhabits the 4th Edition version of the Tomb of Horrors. The encounter indicates that she is an undead lamia, but this doesn't seem to have any impact on her stat block. Elesdri is accompanied by two Venonmous Scarab Swarms.

    In the orchards of Vor Rukoth a lamia calling itself Mara formed spontaneously from beetles who fed on a tree soaked in evil energy. Disguised as a little girl, Mara sells fruit on the streets of Coyote's Refuge, but each fruit contains one of the lamia's beetles. This beetle dominates anyone who swallows it, and leads its victim deep into the surrounding fens, never to be seen again.

    The Dungeon Master's Guide 2 presents a slightly more powerful version of the standard 4th Edition lamia, a lamia devourer named Arthani, in the adventure A Conspiracy of Doors. She is part of a plan to disrupt trade to the planar city of Sigil, by destroying an important portal in the town of Tradegate.

    As 4th Edition drew to a close, it seems that the fey lamia was replaced in the minds of designers by the desert-dwelling version of earlier editions. Both Nerathi Legends: The Knights of Rethmil in Dragon #405 and the adventure Legacy of Ghere Thau in Dungeon #218 make this mistake, including lamias on a list of potential desert encounters even though the fey version has no particular affiliation to the desert.

    5th Edition

    The most recent Monster Manual restores the lamia to a half-human, half-beast form, but the lower half is now always that of a lion. The lamia maintains the large size it had in the Monster Manual v.3.5, but is has a much more regal appearance, wearing clothing, jewellery and other adventuring gear. Lamias lair in ruined desert cities and lost tombs, and decorate their homes with a combination of stolen finery and magical illusions. Lamias now know the Common and Abyssal languages.

    Lamias are less solitary creatures than previously. They have a special relationship with jackalweres, who serve them by capturing slaves, and attacking caravans and villages aided by the lamia's magic. Lamias are anxious to gain more wealth and slaves, and constantly scry trade routes and nearby settlements to look for targets. Beauty and strength are prized by the lamia. Slaves who fall short are eaten or abandoned to die in the desert. Some slaves are beguiled with geas spells and forced to fight against each other for the lamia's amusement.

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    Monster Manual (2014)

    Despite its noble appearance, the lamia still enjoys torture and hungers for humanoid flesh. It delights in seducing and corrupting pure-hearted adventurers, savouring their destruction. The wisdom-draining touch has been replaced by an Intoxicating Touch, which gives the target disadvantage on Wisdom saves and ability checks for an hour. This makes the lamia's target more susceptible to it spells, which include geas (daily), charm person, mirror image, scrying, suggestion (all thrice daily), and disguise self (humanoid form) and major image at will. Lamias prefer to fight from the fringes, behind their slaves. If forced into melee, they fight with claws and daggers, but attempt to spring to safety as soon as they can.

    Lamia gods

    The lamia's Ecology article cites both the curses of demons and the curses of gods as potential explanations for the origins of the (noble) lamia, but it is the demon lord Graz'zt who has been the most closely associated with the lamia in all of its incarnations.

    In his first appearance in the Monsters and Magical Items booklet of S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, it is stated that Graz'zt is served by lamias and will have 1-3 lamias with him at all times. This is repeated again in the Monster Manual II and sure enough, if the heroes get as far as an audience with Graz'zt in H4: The Throne of Bloodstone there are indeed three lamias by his side.

    In 2nd Edition, demon lords took a back seat, so it is only in 3rd Edition material that the relationship with Graz'zt was expanded on. Fiendish Codex I notes that Graz'zt's temples are often guarded by lamias with class levels. In Expedition to the Demonweb Pits, Graz'zt is said to include lamia nobles among the beautiful creatures he surrounds himself with. The largest city in the demon lord's realm of Azzagrat is Zelatar, and it houses the Grand Shrine of the High Lamia, a domed palace dedicated to praise of Graz'zt. The High Lamia is Eniff of the Koss Desert, and she is the greatest priestess of all of hte demon lord's lamia followers.

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    Expedition to the Demonweb Pits (2007)

    Between the last print version of Dragon Magazine (#359) and the first 4th Edition issue (#364), Wizards of the Coast released a number of articles loosely groups into Dragon issues #360-#363. Unlike the print issues, and issues #364 onwards, which are available as PDFs, these issues are sadly now lost to transience of the Internet. Issue #360 included the article Demonomicon of Iggwilv: Graz'zt, the Dark Prince which provided a detailed treatise of the Dark Prince.

    In the article, Graz'zt is presented as a Challenge Rating 32 opponent, and one of his daily special abilities is that he can automatically summon 2d6 lamias or 1d4 lamia nobles. His realm is described as rife with lamias. They serve among Graz'zt's personal pleasure slaves, deal with any public insults to the demon lord made in his realm of Azzagrat, and function as his priests and representatives in dealings with mortals. The Dark Prince even has a half-field lamia daughter named Belyara. Rumour has it that she recently escaped from a powerful eladrin and seeks revenge against Graz'zt for allowing her to remain imprisoned for so long.

    Even in 4th Edition, while the lamia was a beetle-swarm, it retained its allegiance to Graz'zt. The Manual of the Planes details the Chosen of Graz'zt, lamias who are elevated to the leaders of the demon lord's cults. These creatures are much more powerful than ordinary lamias in combat, with the ability to dominate their opponents. They are also privy to rituals enabling them to conjure an aspect of Graz'zt.

    Finally, the 5th Edition Monster Manual reveals that it is Graz'zt who is responsible for the very existence of lamias. He transforms his most loyal mortal servants into immortal lamias in return for an oath of fealty. Although Graz'zt occasionally requires that his lamias guard important locations, they are generally given free reign to spread evil as they see fit.

    Despite being the creations of Graz'zt in 5th Edition, the loyalties of some lamias have previously been with other powerful beings. The Fiendish Codex I mentions that lamias serve Malcanthet, Queen of the Succubi, as well as noting that Iggwilv's Demonomicon portrays the obyrith known as Pale Night as the mother of several monstrous races, including the lamia. Dungeon Delve mentions a lamia loyal to Asmodeus.

    Dragon #390 introduces several dead gods who might still be worshipped in a 4th Edition campaign. One of these is Sagawehn, a god of vermin. Because no astral corpse remains of Sagawehn some say that her legacy continues on in the beetles who make up lamias. The 4th Edition version of the lamia also has several Feywild allegiances. Dungeon #185 notes that lamias serve the powerful fey Selephra, the Bramble Queen, and in Dragon #200 lamias serve as spies in the armies of Mag Tureah, the mightiest fomorian lord in the Feydark. Lamias form part of the retinue of the Prince of Satyrs, Hyrsam, as detailed in Dragon #422.

    For some unrevealed reason, the god Valarian particularly despises lamias. Valarian is detailed in 3rd Edition's Book of Exalted Deeds, and has the domain of good-aligned magical beasts.

    Lamia relatives

    Lamias have few direct relatives in D&D, although there is conjecture in their Ecology article that chimeras and wemics are also part of the lamia family. Dragon #158 suggests that centaurs, forlarren, hybsil, korreds, satyrs, lamias and wemics together form a group of creatures it refers to as callicantzari. Dragon #158 introduces a kind of female demon from Greek folklore known as gelloudes, and suggests that they are related to lamias.

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    Carnevus Demon, Expedition to the Demonweb Pits (2007)

    The most direct relative to the lamia is the carnevus demon, introduced in Expedition to the Demonweb Pits. The product of a ritualized union between a tanar'ri (demon) and a lamia noble, a carnevus is a nightmarish combination of two humanoids. It has two mouths, four arms, shaggy fur and forked tongues. Unusually for demons, carnevuses have an affinity for magic. This gives them a special status in Graz'zt's realm, where many serve as members of his court. Carnevus demons with access to invisibility or disguise self spells will hide their true appearance as they move among humanoids, often doing the demon lord's bidding. Outside of Graz'zt's influence, carnevus demons are looked down upon by other demons, because of the dilution of their demonic bloodlines with those of mortal creatures.

    Lamias and other monsters

    Lamias have allied themselves with a wide variety of other evil creature in D&D lore. They are said to lair with derro in S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and are described as having an affinity for vampires in Dragon #126. They have been known to cooperate with leucrotta (Dragon #91) and sirrush (Dragon #248), and can even be effective leaders for groups of evil humanoids (Dragon #199). The Dragonkith prestige class in Dragon #284 and Draconomicon indicates that lamias sometimes serve and aid dragons.

    According to Expedition to the Demonweb Pits, lamia nobles sometimes live with hyenas, gnolls or ordinary lamias, and they make use of ogres and giants as companions when they travel. Lamias who serve Graz'zt and other demon lords in the Abyss may drain lesser demons to keep as slaves, instead of the humanoids they would ordinarily keep.

    The 4th Edition fey lamia is sometimes partnered with quicklings during missions in the Feywild (Dragon #362), and may enslave weaker creatures such as mezzodemons or cyclopes to use as bodyguards (Monster Manual). A lamia in P1: King of the Trollhaunt Warrens has two pet hook horrors, and one in the adventure Worse than Death has an ogre as a lover and a ghost as an ally (Dungeon #164).

    As noted above, the 5th Edition lamia has a special relationship with jackalweres, as the demon lord Graz'zt created them to serve his devoted lamia servants.

    Lamias also have a fair number of documented foes. According to Dragon #36, forest minotaurs (the good kind) hate lamias, and the Monstrous Manual notes that lammasu also harbour an especially strong dislike for lamias. PHRB5: The Complete Psionics Handbook mentions that lesser shedu speak lamia, and going by the two creatures' alignments, the relationship between them is unlikely to be amicable. Elminster's Ecologies says that manticores are reputed to hate lamias, who often use sorcery to enslave them.

    In Fiendish Codex I, a group of lamias has travelled all the way to Azzagrat to present Graz'zt with the special gift of a gilded unicorn horn, so there is probably also no love lost between lamias and unicorns. This might also be why the god Valarian despises lamias so much, since unicorns are part of his domain.

    Expedition to the Demonweb Pits notes that lamia nobles hate and fear all nagas, and that the feeling is mutual.

    Lamias and magic

    Song and Silence claims that lamias are not well disposed to being studied. The entry on the College of Arcanobiological Studies notes that lamias tend to want to "dissect the dissectors". Nonetheless, a few D&D articles have provided more detail of how the lamia's abilities work.

    The Sage Advice column in Dragon #76 confirms that a paralyzed lamia can still use its innate spell-like powers, and Adventure Trivia! in Dragon #117 notes that the victim of a lamia'’s charm does not need to be able to understand the lamia’'s language in order for there to be effective communication between them. The Dungeon Master's Guide v.3.5 explains the limits of the lamia's supernatural wisdom draining ability. The ability is not triggered when an unarmed enemy strikes the lamia, but only when the lamia itself attacks.

    The Ecology article in Dragon #192 explains that a lamia noble's available spells are limited by their inability to create or copy spellbooks. This, incidentally, makes human wizards attractive targets for slaves. Lamia nobles' choices of spells tends towards illusions and mind-control spells, and they tend to steer clear of high damage spells so that they do not harm potential human mates. If they are forced to use non-deceptive spells because of a lack of choice, they will do so, but their lack of expertise give targets a +2 bonus to saving throws against those spells.

    In Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits the lamia is one of the possible forms taken if reincarnated while in the Abyss. Sage Advice in Dragon #267 notes that a restoration spell will restore all of the Wisdom points lost in a battle with a lamia. The article Polymorphology in Dragon #280 looks at the benefits of different forms available using the polymorph self spell. The lamia is noted as a form with good speed and extra upper limbs for spellcasting.

    One of the waist chakra soulmelds available in Magic of Incarnum is the Lamia Belt. Totemists willing to risk being tainted by the evil cruelty of the lamia can benefit from the creature's competence at deception, and even gain its leonine lower half and claw attacks. The Strongheart Vest soulmeld, also from Magic of Incarnum, reduces the lamia's Wisdom drain. Adventurer's Vault 2 makes mention of a group of lamias who have found a cloak of the desert, and are using its sand-blasting powers to flay members of passing caravans.

    As well as lamias using magic items, lamias can also be used to make magic items, or at least parts of them can. According to Better Living Through Alchemy in Dragon #130, the typical ingredient for dust of illusion is a lock of lamia hair or a rakshasa brain. The Candle of Charming (Dragon #179 and Encyclopedia Magica Vol 1) is made using a few drops of blood from a dryad, lamia, or sirine. Among the spell components for the spell Neja's unfailing contempt in DM's Option: High-Level Campaigns is a lock of hair, freely given, from a succubus or lamia. One of the ingredients the alchemist Turan is looking for in REF3: The Book Lairs is lamia teeth, but what he intends to make with them is not revealed.

    Al-Qadim

    Lamias are listed as appropriate monsters for encounters in the ruins of Al-Anwahr, detailed in ALQ3: A Dozen and One Adventures. In Secrets of the Lamp, a dao is described as riding a black lamia in the races held at the Maidan in the fabled City of Brass. The article Campaign Journal: Scimitars against the Dark in Dragon #198 presents a horror genre spin on Al-Qadim, and in talking about the setting, author Wolfgang Baur mentions cannibalistic lamias.

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    Ophidia, Cities of Bone (1994)

    A curse lamia princess named Ophidia as-Sokkari dwells in the Necropolis of Sokkar in Cities of Bone. She is not a true lamia, but was cursed to take that form by a powerful priest whose son she had executed after growing bored with him as a lover. Centuries of introspection have reformed Ophidia, and depending on how the heroes interact with her, she stands a chance of redemption. The Guardian of Sokkar will lift her curse, and restore Ophidia to human form.

    Corsairs of the Great Sea mentions a lamia noble named Faridah bint Halah who is masquerading as a corsair captain. Her ship is crewed by her wisdom-drained slaves, and has gained a level of notoriety among the merchants of the Free Coast. Although the Council of Hawa is concerned that Faridah may be illegally trading in slaves, they have no idea she is really a lamia noble.

    According to Expedition to the Demonweb Pits, lamia nobles have been known to singlehandedly destroy entire caravans in Zakhara and the areas south of Faerūn's Marching Mountains.

    Birthright

    The Lamia of the Birthright setting is a unique being, one of Cerilia's powerful and malicious awnshegh. The Birthright Campaign Setting notes that she occupies a ruined old castle once known as Cravengate in the center of Rhuannadaraight. The Lamia is defended by hundreds of charmed warriors, and she constantly seeks to lure new travellers into her domain.

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    The Lamia, Blood Enemies: Abominations of Cerilia (1995)

    Blood Enemies: Abominations of Cerilia provides more detail on the Lamia. Once a proud and beautiful human woman named Keta Pechaya, she worked as an exotic dancer and used her wiles and beauty to rob male customers. The blood taint of a dying man she had murdered began Keta's transformation into the creature she is now. She has ruled over her domain for more than five hundred years in that form.

    The Lamia featured in the Birthright expansion for the Spellfire collectable card game, but the card uses artwork recycled from Blood Enemies.

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    Spellfire, Birthright expansion, card #67 (May 1996)

    Dark Sun

    Windriders of the Jagged Cliffs has a vault room which includes pictures of a lamia or lamias, but it implies that they are now extinct. Lamias do not feature in any other Dark Sun products.

    Dragonlance

    Lamias exist on Krynn, but are not common. DL5: Dragons of Mystery mentions lamias as allies of derro. DL16: World of Krynn details the five watchtowers on the southern shore of Mithas. The beacon in the third tower is tended by a tamed lamia, in exchange for occasional slaves. A lamia noble features in a very brief encounter in DL4: Dragons of Desolation. The noble is also listed in the encounter tables in MC4: Monstrous Compendium Dragonlance Appendix, although the ordinary lamia, strangely, is not.

    Lamias are mentioned in a few licensed 3rd Edition Dragonlance books. Key of Destiny indicates that they are found in Kendermore, and the Bestiary of Krynn, Revised lists them on the encounter tables for the Plains of Dust. Spectre of Sorrows has a detailed random encounter with a lamia seductress named Shilandra. She will try to persuade one of the male members of the party to return (alone) with her to assist her wounded brother. This "brother" is her previous victim, charmed, wisdom-drained, and currently unconscious. Shilandra has grown tired of him and hopes to find a replacement toy from the PCs' group.

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    Shilandra, Spectre of Sorrows (2005)

    The illustration of Shilandra is missing a front pair of legs, so perhaps it represents what the heroes start to percieve if they see through her damsel-in-distress illusion, and begin to observe some elements of her true form.

    Eberron

    In Eberron, lamias can be found living in the monstrous nation of Droaam in western Khorvaire (Eberron Campaign Setting), in the western Talenta plains (Five Nations), and one in Xen'drik serving as consort to an efreeti (Dragons of Eberron).

    Expedition to the Demonweb Pits gives the impression that lamia nobles are more widespread in Eberron than ordinary lamias. They can be found in the Demon Wastes, Droaam, the Blade Desert, the Talenta Plains, dry parts of Xen'drik and even near the glowing chasm in the Mournlands. A noble lamia typically fulfils a role as the guardian of a monstrous community, protecting the tribe in return for occasional sacrifices.

    In the Eberron setting, the carnevus demon (also from Expedition to the Demonweb Pits) comes from Shavarath, the Realm of Battle. There, these demons battle against angels and archons in a legion led by Graz'zt himself.

    Forgotten Realms

    One of the many places in Faerūn where lamias dwell is the Great Desert of Anauroch (FRE1: Shadowdale). Their largest community (ninety lamias and twenty nobles) is in the city of Hlaungadath. These lamias feature in two articles in the Perilous Gateways website series. Their leader, a lamia sorcerer named Koreeis controls a lost portal in the city's ruins. Lamias can also be found due east of Hill's Edge and at the Lion's Eye Oasis. A striking beautiful and weathly lamia noble named Glaendra leads the lamias of Lion's Eye (FR13: Anauroch). Lamias roam the Plain of Standing Stones in large numbers. At least one lamia with the lower form of a camel has been seen in this area, and even more exotic variations might exist (Elminster's Ecologies). The lamias of Anauroch worshop many different gods and are said to be searching for a "true faith".

    The fight to save the village of Bloodstone from the bandit armies in H1: Bloodstone Pass is complicated by the presence of the Circus of Doctor Trundles. The circus includes a number of dangerous creatures: a bulette, a chimera, a blue dragon, a lamia, a foxwoman, a xorn and a gibbering mouther. Predictably, they all break free and the adventurers are forced to protect the town from the consequences. This circus is mentioned again in FR9: The Bloodstone Lands, but the exhibits have changed slightly. The escaped bulette has been replaced by a pair of leucrotta, a manticore, and an umber hulk. After the earlier disaster, Doctor Trundles has been forced by the Lords of Imphras II to improve the security of his operations.

    Rumors tell of lamias living in the Surague Escarpment region to the east of Thay, and in the Sunrise Mountains which lie beyond (FR6: Dreams of the Red Wizards). Certainly, in the slave markets of Tyraturos in Thay, even lamias can be purchased (Spellbound).

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    Transtra and Uliss of the House of the Long Slow Kiss, Skullport (1999)

    In Skullport, the lamia noble Transtra is a member of the powerful Iron Ring. She is a business associate of Mirt the Moneylender and the proprietor of the House of the Long Slow Kiss festhall. Transtra is secretly working with the mad archmage Halaster, and has a pet behir named Ulisss (Skullport). In Expedition to Undermountain, Transtra is listed as a lamia sorcerer, rather than a lamia noble, perhaps because the 3rd Edition lamia noble had only appeared in Expedition to the Demonweb Pits two months earlier.

    Lamias are not uncommon in the city of Scornubel in the Western Heartlands. Doppelgangers, lamias and other monsters able to assume human form have always dwelt in the Caravan City (Volo's Guide to the Sword Coast, Ruins of Zhentil Keep) but disguised lamias have been unmasked more than once in Scornubel's taverns (Forgotten Realms Adventures).

    One particular lamia stands out in the history of Westgate on the Dragon Coast. In the Year of the Lamia's Kiss (615 DR), the lamia Nessmara charmed Lyonarth, the Winter Sphinx of Westgate. They ruled over the city together until the next year, when a wizard shattered her illusions. Nessmara killed Lyonarth, but was defeated by the wizard (Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, The Grand History of the Realms). In the ruined city of Ilimar in the Gulthmere Forest dwell lamia nobles descended from Nessmara (Serpent Kingdoms).

    Larithylar is a lamia sorceress who may dwell in Westgate. She has devised magic to give herself human, humanoid and draconic forms, and has learned to possess and control true dragons. Centuries ago she was notorious as the "Chameleon Dragon" until she faked her own death (Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting).

    In the anthology novel Realms of the Elves, the lamia Leis'anna is the leader of the Deep Coven cult, based in Elversult on the Dragon Coast. The lamia is also the Chosen of Graz'zt, but she is defeated by a sun elf wizard who takes her place.

    Voraya, a lamia noble, controls the black market in Calimport for the benefit of her dracolich patron (Empires of the Shining Sea). Also in Calimport, the Veiled Lamia Inn has a petrified lamia noble at the centre of its taproom. It was defeated in the ruins of Shoonch by the barkeep (a retired adventurer) more than two decades ago (Calimport).

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    Old Empires (1990)

    In Unther, the undercity of Unthalass is ruled by a tribe of lamia, led by a lamia noble named Ereshkigal. She is also known as the Queen of Tortures (FR10: Old Empires). In the post-Spellplague period of 4th Edition, Unthalass lies in ruins, and the lamias are firmly in control of what's left (Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide).

    Other locations in Faerūn where lamias occur include the ruins of Myth Drannor (FRC2: Curse of the Azure Bonds), the warm plains of the Shaar and Dambrath (Shining South), the Raurin Desert (The Horde Barbarian Campaign Setting) and the ruined city of Shoonach in Tethyr, where both lamias and lamia nobles dwell (Lands of Intrigue).

    Lamia nobles can also be found in southern Faerūn leading gnoll legions, packs of hyenas and clans of lamias (Expedition to the Demonweb Pits). There are rumors in Arabel of a lamia-riding wizard named Golkont the Hawk-Mage (FRE1: Shadowdale). The mysterious Returned Abeir organisation known as the Eminence of Araunt counts among its leaders an undead lamia known as Meremoth (Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide).

    Ghostwalk

    Below the city of Manifest in the Ghostwalk setting, lamias may be encountered in the Catacombs.

    Greyhawk

    Both lamias and noble lamias are found on Oerth. WG4: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun includes a particularly clever lamia who has persuaded four leucrottas to follow and serve her. According to Dragon #191, lamias also lair in the dangerous magical ruins of the Abbor-Alz.

    Crypt of Lyzandred the Mad has a lamia disguised as a desert nomad, who attempts to fleece the adventurers with a game involving small, coloured eggs. The adventure WG 10: Child's Play has two lamia nobles in command of a few dozen mongrelmen. They are apparently catching rabbits to sell to the demon lord Yeenoghu.

    From the Ashes describes the Valley of the Lamia. It lies close to the Bright Desert and is ruled by a lamia queen of great size, strength and spellcasting power. The lamias living there allegedly worship an ancient Suloise snake-goddess.

    Historical reference

    In HR4: A Mighty Fortress, the lamia is one of the monsters listed as suitable for an Elizabethan setting. The text notes that in this setting, the lamia is a cross between a serpent and an evil spirit, similar to the spirit naga. DMGR5: Creative Campaigning suggests lamias as potential monsters for the unexplored lands in a Mesopotamian setting.

    The 3rd Edition Deities and Demigods suggests the lamia as appropriate for campaigns using either the Olympian or Pharaonic pantheons.

    Hyborian Age

    The Conan D&D adventures (CB1: Conan Unchained! and CB2: Conan Against Darkness) both reference the lamia when explaining how powerful Hyborian Age monsters typically are.

    Kingdoms of Kalamar

    The Kingdoms of Kalamar setting features a unique lamia variation known as the tigerus or jungle lamia. They have the lower halves of tigers, and tend to be neutral rather than evil in alignment. Tigerus lamias prefer isolation, and tend to be abrasive towards visitors. They are not naturally aggressive, but are nonetheless capable warriors with additional druidic spell powers.

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    Tigerus Lamia, Dangerous Denizens: The Monsters of Tellene (2003)

    Mystara

    Mystara has creatures called lamara, which are similar to lamia nobles. First detailed in AC9: Creature Catalogue, the lamara differ from lamia nobles in their inability to speak, and their immunity to normal weapons, charm and hold spells. Lamara do not cast spells, but can produce illusions at will. These illusions have the capability to charm members of the opposite sex.

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    Lamara, AC9: Creature Catalogue (1986)

    The lamara was reprinted in DMR2: Creature Catalog with the same artwork. According to the Monstrous Compendium Mystara Appendix, other lamia varieties are unknown in this setting.

    Nerath

    The default 4th Edition setting of Nerath was expanded in a series of Dragon articles, using the large scale map from the Conquest of Nerath board game. Dragon #405 notes that the Feya Basin in the land of Rethmil is home to many desert monsters, including lamias.

    Ravenloft

    The lamia is listed as one of the monsters native to the domain of Hazlan in Ravenloft Gazetteer: Volume I.

    Spelljammer

    According to FR13: Anauroch, the lamias living in the ruined city of Hlaungadath in the Forgotten Realms setting are in possession of a crashed Spelljammer galleon. Although it still has an intact minor helm, the galleon is too badly damaged to fly, and the lamias are unaware that the helm is the key to the craft's mobility.

    Miniatures

    In 1993, Ral Partha released a miniature of an ordinary lamia.

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    Ral Partha #11-462, image from DNDLead

    This was followed, in 1996, by a miniature of the Lamia from the Birthright setting.

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    Ral Partha #11-751, image from DNDLead

    More recently, in 2008, WotC released a pre-painted plastic miniature of the 4th Edition lamia as part of the Dungeons of Dread set.

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    Dungeons of Dread, #30/60, image from Wizards of the Coast

    Comparative statistics

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    Lamia names

    Arthani, Belyara, Chamille, Elesdri, Eniff, Ereshkigal, Faridah bint Halah, Feyodena, Glaendra, Isha-Denarthun, Jaide, Jelvistra, Koreeis, Larithylar, Leis'anna, Mara, Maze, Meremoth, Montalaina, Nessmara, Ophidia as-Sokkari, Shilandra, Shslinsi, Sowelleile, Teadra, Transtra, Uruathis, Voraya.

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    Other ENCyclopedia entries

    Visit the Monster ENCyclopedia index for links to other entries in this series.

  2. #2
    Great article.

    I've often thought that the Lamia Noble comes from Clark Ashton Smith's works, particularly The End of the Story
    http://www.eldritchdark.com/writings...d-of-the-story

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