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Lamia Serpent Blade Warrior

Written by Marc_Radle - Published on May 2, 2014

pen2Kobold Press publishes an interesting and popular series called Advanced Races. I wrote the most recent installment, Advanced Races: Lamia. It details the lamia history, culture and religion as well as presents a lesser version of the Lamia Matriarch, called the Lamia Commoner, which is suitable and balanced to be used as a PC race. I REALLY got into writing this and I’m very proud of how it came out. Among other things, Advanced Races: Lamia presents two prestige classes – the Moon Touched, a very spell casting oriented mystic type of prestige class and the Serpent Blade, a two-weapon wielding warrior prestige class. Around the same time I was writing Lamia, a fanzine called Yggdrasil (so named to play off of Midgard, the ENnie nominated Kobold Press campaign world) was starting up. I offered a bit of new material for the debut issue – a serpent blade lamia warrior called Va’zesh. I statted him up and wrote up a backstory (he is the mysterious leader of a renegade group of lamia commoners who have renounced the evil and debauched ways of their people). I kind of got into Va’zesh so I decided to go the extra mile and do an illustration of him. Lamia   He was fun to do because I wanted his body to really show a sense of movement – lamia serpent blades sway and dance as they fight and I wanted For the Yggdrasil fanzine, I scanned in the original pen and ink illustration and then digitally colored it in Photoshop (something my packed freelance schedule rarely allows me to do). This is the original, pen and ink illustration. Also, lamia tend to look pretty evil and scary, although Va’zesh and his followers are decidedly not evil. That meant his face should have the scary, serpent-like look of all lamia commoners, yet not actually look completely evil. Coolest Comment Tell me about the most memorable encounter you’ve had with lamia in a RPG, either as a player or as a GM. Although  Advanced Races: Lamia is only about the serpent-bodied lamia, and not the lion-bodied kind (the serpent lamia call the lion body lamia gesh’ vek (“false lamia”) your encounter can be about any lamia.  Whether the classic lioness from AD&D to the swarm of insects from 4th Ed to the anciently cursed lamia from Pathfinder, tell us!

Written by Marc_Radle

I’m a professional graphic artist and designer by trade. In my copious amount of spare time, I also do freelance illustration, writing, and graphic design. I’m also the Art Director for Kobold Press (sleep is highly overrated!)

I started playing D&D as a kid in the late 70s—good old 1st Edition AD&D! My friends and I also played many other RPGs back then—Marvel Superheroes, Champions, Elfquest, FASA’s Star Trek, Star Frontiers, the list goes on—but it always came back to AD&D! I faded out of gaming sometime after 2nd Edition came out—partially because 2nd Edition just didn’t quite do it for me (although I did play 2nd Edition a little though and certainly enjoyed some aspects of it) but also because my gaming friends all turned into grown-ups, got real lives, and moved away when I wasn’t looking!

The 3rd Edition of D&D really pulled me back into the hobby again, and I’ve since become a HUGE fan of the Pathfinder RPG.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with lots of great game companies, including Kobold Press, Super Genius Games, Raging Swan Press, Jon Brazer Enterprises, Tricky Owlbear Publishing and even Last Unicorn Games (back in the day)

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9 Responses to “Lamia Serpent Blade Warrior”
  1. Marc Radle says:

    Hey everyone! Congratulations go to Changing_Man! His very well-written comment to last week’s blog wins him the original Shark-Jaw Skeleton art work!

    See, it’s that easy!

    So, everyone be sure to post their comment below for this week’s installment because one of those posts will win the Lamia Serpent Blade Warrior original art work!

  2. Changing_Man says:

    Well, I tried to think up some clever allusion to snakes to ad as witty comment, but couldn’t come up with anything that really made sense. Instead, I’ll dive into ‘story time’ :)

    So anyhow, I haven’t had any experiences with serpentine Lamia (and getting Advanced Races: Lamia is on my to-do list), but I can most distinctly remember how a more leonine Lamia played a significant role in an certain adventuring party’s ‘downfall’ in a game I DM’d sometime in the early 90’s.

    The set up for the adventure was fairly typical- while in a particular town, the party heard rumors about how contact with a certain village had been pretty much cut off, and some official people in the town were offering a reward to find out what was going on exactly. Was it a matter that this village was trying to avoid paying their taxes to the local lord? Did some horrible plague befall the village? Why hadn’t there been any craftsman or merchants from that village showing up on the major market day? Was there a natural disaster along the wilderness that leads to this outlying village? Goblins? Orcs? WORSE?? The players were hooked by the word ‘reward’ (and completely forgot to talk to anyone in the town’s government or negotiate any sort of advance payment, I might add), and immediately set off.

    After some a few days travel and some obligatory random wilderness encounters, the party set up camp along this previously well-used trade route (back in a time when there was another empire, and all of that sort of thing), in the shadow of the ruins of an ancient, abandoned city about a quarter-mile off. Close to evening, one of the party members hears a woman’s voice calling out for help, and he decides to investigate. After wandering a bit away from the rest of the party (to groans of, “Dude, what are you doing?”), he spies a somewhat disheveled woman who appears to be weeping and is obviously in distress. He calls out to the rest of the party who quickly join him, and they advance towards to weeping woman. Before they even get within 20 feet, the Thief declares that he’s going to shoot the woman using his shortbow. I asked, “What? You’re just going to attack this innocent woman crying for help for no reason?”

    He replied: “Hey, it’s a hot chick in distress in the middle of the wilderness. It’s obviously a trap.”

    Well, his arrow flies straight through the Illusion, dispelling it. They then hear the rather perturbed growling of the Lamia lurking behind one of the nearby rocks, which they hadn’t seen before as part of her elaborate Illusion.

    “You turn at the sound of a rather throaty half-purr, half-growl, and see a beautiful naked woman half-hidden by an old worked stone along the way…”

    “Ha! I told you it was a trap! Now there’s a naked hot chick in the middle of nowhere- that has trap written all over it!”

    I checked for surprise, and she was able to get the drop on most of them, but she lost her dagger to a disarm in the first round. She spent most of the fight Wisdom-sapping whomever she could, but nobody dropped below 3 and she was taken out by the combined efforts of the party.

    They went through the routine of post-combat healing and found her cache of loot- mostly coins, and some trade goods which they mostly left behind, aside from restocking their rations and preparing a celebratory feast- which they promptly claimed and stuffed into sacks. They then decided collectively that they would take a ‘trophy’ of their kill to gain some ‘cred’ in the village and prove to the people that their troubles were over.

    The remainder of their journey to the village went rather uneventfully, and they arrived in fully-healed shape at the village. I asked them how they proceed, now that they’ve arrived at this small burg.

    “Dude, we strut in like we own the place. What? We took down the biggest threat that these folks have probably ever seen, and we totally kicked her butt. We’re heroes, they need to see that, and treat us with the respect we deserve. Get out of my way, peasant- hero walking here! Make way for your betters!”

    “Ok, ok. Fine, I get the idea. So what do you do?”

    So they stride to the center of the village, and start shouting out that everyone should come and hear, that they have an announcement to make, and so on. They wait long enough for a decent-sized crowd to show up to see who is making such a ruckus. Then the self-proclaimed leader made his show.

    “People of the Village of Whositwhatsit (I totally forget the name)! Listen to me! I have an announcement to make! The times have changed for this village- Behold!” and he held aloft the ‘trophy’ which they had taken from the Lamia, previously hidden in a small sack.

    Immediately the women in the village began screaming, people called for the guard and the militia, and hardly before anyone could say, “Wait, what?” the would-be ‘heroes’ found themselves clapped in irons and dragged off to the village jail. [in all fairness, the party ‘leader’ did have a rather epic speech planned, but unfortunately it never got that far] (it didn’t help matters that they decided to fight back against some of the militia and guards, severely injuring some of them in the process before they eventually surrendered.)

    Their crucial error? The ‘trophy’ which they had taken from the Lamia; which they had done in order to prove that they had ‘slain a monster’, was to take their fallen opponent’s head (in a very classical Greek Mythology sort of way. The PC no doubt was trying to emulate Perseus from the original Clash of the Titans movie, where his presents Medusa’s head and stops the Kraken.). Unfortunately for them, the Lamia “[has the] upper torsos, arms, and heads … of beautiful human women.” as per the Monstrous Manual. Basically, these ‘heroes’ called the town together to announce a ‘big change’ for the village, and then tried to show their idea of ‘change’ by showing the assemblage the decapitated head of a pretty human woman. Not likely to make many friends in most places.

    Sure, they tried to argue their case, but those now-rather-low Wisdom checks sure didn’t help them look good. Neither did the fact that much of the loot they had on their persons was from the recent taxes collected from official tax collectors (complete with some journals and such to that fact). Of course there was also the fact that one of the PC’s was Evil (Neutral Evil), and another one Chaotic Neutral (back when CN = Crazy) – just have to love the Detect Alignment spell, and the Good-aligned characters had gotten hammered the hardest by the wisdom drain, effectively making them ‘simpletons’ by anyone’s definition. What really sealed their fate was the testimony of the deceased via Speak with Dead:

    “So what happened to you?”
    “I tried to invite [PC] to my home for dinner when his companion decided to attack me.”
    “Did you have any weapon?”
    “Yes and no. I had a knife, but they attacked me before I could use it to protect myself.”
    “So they killed you while you were unarmed?”
    “Yes. I had neither weapons nor clothes on when [the PC’s] killed me.”

    The PC’s were found guilty of murder (and were under suspicion of much more heinous crimes involving the defilement of naked- and perhaps even dead naked women), and sentenced to death. Now, normally, that would be a campaign-killer right there, but thanks to some ingenious ideas and rolls on the part of the party Thief and his trained Monkey friend, they were able to escape imprisonment and their appointment with the guillotine. They had many adventures after that, always on the run from the law (but never Paladins, oddly enough), and never stayed in any place for longer than one night, but those are all tales for another day…

    May all your hits be Crits!

  3. Changing_Man says:

    Crud- NOW I notice some spelling and grammar errors. Is there no way to edit this?

  4. MythicParty says:

    @Changing_Man, you sir, must have taken RL Levels in Bard to have all these stories. No, there’s no real easy way to edit- I’d have to have the Tech Wizards delete your comment then you’d have to re-submit it. But we have a +5 vs Grammar Nazis spell going here, so no worries.

    Please shoot me at email to my log in name (same spelling, same spacing, no hyphens or underscrores) care of Google Mail that has your complete mailing address & Marc will get you your Shark-jaw Skeleton art.

  5. Changing_Man says:

    Well, in the course of my life, I’ve most certainly been accused of being much worse than a ‘Bard’ ;) But in all seriousness, I *have* been known to just pick up and play musical instruments from time to time, and I’m also known for spontaneously writing sonnets just out of boredom. So I suppose ‘Bard’ fits as well as anything else! And since you mentioned Bards…

    I had a Half-Elven Bard/Illusionist character named Thloreon in a 2nd Edition AD&D Dark Sun™ game some years back. I mostly used my wit, charm, uncanny ability to dodge (ie., high Dex), and prodigious use of magics, ‘influence reactions’, and ‘inspire allies’ to keep myself alive in a most inhospitable campaign setting. I was more than content to let the fighters and gladiators take care of the front-line sorts of things, and when the day was won, more than quick to claim responsibility for another day’s survival.

    Sure, some people might have called me a bit of a coward, hanging back and letting my buddies take the brunt of the damage. But I knew fully well that I wasn’t cut out for infantry hack-n-slash; my talents lay in other areas entirely. Why, thanks to my charm and bardic skills, I don’t think we ever had to pay for lodging, food, or the like. Now, that *has* to be worth something! And those bonuses I gave the party, and those time I got us out of unnecessary scrapes through negotiation… I pulled my own weight. And *IF* that all wasn’t enough, I could always point out my randomly well-rolled Psionic Wild Talent, ‘Disintegration’.

    Ok, fine, so I wasn’t able to throw it around all that often, especially at starting levels, but it really did come in handy when the going got particularly tough. Ugly four-armed giant thing? So, how ya feel with 8 cubic feet of material suddenly disappearing from your chest? Boo-Yah! Yeah, I had a pretty good scam going there for awhile. Until one day…

    It was actually a rather stupid, probably random encounter- the usual, we were traveling from point A to point B, we encounter a group of Gith raiders with a leader-type of some sort. We fell into their ambush, and I found myself in the most unfortunate position of being closest to their leader. When Color Spray didn’t seem to bother him too much, I figured it was time to bring out the ‘Big Gun’ and end this nonsense before somebody- namely, myself- ended up getting hurt. Or worse. As it turns it, it was the ‘worse’. I declared my action, made my roll.

    Natural 20.

    My buddy next to me was like, “Yeah! Critical hit! That totally rocks!”

    I replied, “No, no it doesn’t ‘rock’, you idiot.” and I once again tried to explain to him how 2nd Edition Psionics works.

    For those who don’t know, in 2nd Edition Psionics you have a Power Score, which is based off of an attribute with a modifier. A ‘crit’ in this sense would be rolling whatever number it is that your *power score* is. A 20 is bad. And sometimes, really, *really* bad. In this case, the power misfires-and-targets-you-instead ‘bad’.

    The DM snickered. “A 20, huh? Wow, that… really sucks. But you still get a Saving Throw- go ahead and roll!”

    The die tumbles for an eternity before landing on a ‘3’.

    “Yeah. Ok, so the rest of you hear a somewhat-familiar muffled ‘whump’ coming from where Thloreon was fighting the Gith’s leader. You briefly see his eyes go wide before he is totally enveloped in a glowing light, and then just poofs out of existence. Moving on…”

    And that’s pretty much what happened to my Bard/Illusionist- I would say ‘may he rest in peace’, but do we even really know what happens to those who fumble and end up disintegrating themselves? Chances are, he’s floating around somewhere in 2nd Edition’s version of Limbo, wondering what-the-heck just happened while trying to avoid Slaadi…

    May all your hits be Crits! (or at least not Fumbles!)

  6. Expy says:

    Of course you guys are forgetting all the OTHER cool Lamia:
    the sa’ir, the tigerus, and of course the lamia noble, which first appeared in Expedition to the Demonweb Pits.

    Not to mention that in Golarion serpentine, avian, and other forms of lamia exist…

  7. Marc Radle says:

    Great points Expy!

    When I wrote Advanced Races: Lamia, I just happened to focus in on the Lamia Matriarchs and new Lamia Commoner race which I created to serve as a balanced player race.

    There are absolutely lots of other races calling themselves ‘lamia’

    Of course, if you’ve read Advanced Races: Lamia, you’d know that Lamia Matriarchs and Lamia Commoners HATE all those other races (they refer to them as gesh’vek (or, “false lamia”)

  8. Changing_Man says:

    UPDATE: I’ve had a chance to pick up the Advanced Races: Lamia book; At first glance it looks really cool. And of course, I noticed the full-color version of the artwork shown above. I found it odd that I couldn’t locate it at Kobold Press’s store; But I did pick it up via DTRpg. *shrugs* Now, I just need some more free time to read it :)


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  1. […] gets the original illustration mailed to them, for free! For the inaugural post, Marc discusses the Lamia Serpent Blade Warrior he did for Advanced Races #8: Lamia, so check it […]

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