In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, the lamia is a type of fictional monster. The lamia is usually portrayed in the game as a creature with the lower body of a lion, and the upper torso, arms, and head of a human female. A less common type of lamia, the lamia noble, is depicted as having the lower body of a serpent. The lamia was introduced in the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game's original Monster Manual sourcebook, written by Gary Gygax and published in 1977. The lamia also appeared in the game's second edition, third edition, and fourth edition.
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The Lamia appears in the following publications:
- It was first included in the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition Monster Manual (1977) by Gary Gygax. First edition AD&D game statistics and a description for the lamia appeared on page 59 of the book, along with an illustration by David C. Sutherland III.
- A lamia named Feyodena allied with a gynosphinx featured prominently in the adventure "The Ruins of Andril" in Dragon #81 (January 1984).
- The 1977-1999 edition of the D&D game included its own version of the lamia, known as the lamara, in Creature Catalogue (1986), and the Creature Catalog (1993).
- In the second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons it appears in in the second volume of the Monstrous Compendium series (1989), with a black and white illustration. The lamia's description and game statistics are reprinted on page 217 of the Monstrous Manual (1993), with a color illustration by Jeff Butler.
- In Dragon #192 (April 1993), in the "Ecology (Love-Life) of the Lamia". This article also described a relative of the lamia, the sa'ir.
- For the 3rd edition, the lamia appears on pages 126-127 of the Monster Manual (2000), with a color illustration by Brian Despain on page 127. The lamia also appears on page 165 of the revised Monster Manual (2003) for edition 3.5, with the same illustration on page 164.
- The tigerus, a type of lamia, appears in Dangerous Denizens: The Monsters of Tellene (2003), for the Kingdoms of Kalamar setting.
- It appears in the Monster Manual for the 4th edition (2008), where it is described as a swarm of insects that inhabits the dead bodies of sentient fey (including elves, eladrin (an elf-like race), and gnomes), devouring their internal organs and using the hollowed-out bodies as a disguise. Every single insect in the swarm is formed from the devoured soul of a sentient being.
Lamia have also appeared in other roleplaying games which were inspired by Dungeons & Dragons. The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary describes lamia as "hate-filled inheritors of an ancient curse", and depicts them as a lion/woman hybrid much like in versions of Dungeons & Dragons prior to 4th edition. It also mentions that other lamia, with serpentine, avian, and other forms, also exist, but it does not include game rules for such creatures.
The first edition Monster Manual describes the lamia as having the upper torso, arms, and head of a human female, and the lower body of a beast. A lamia is chaotic evil under the game's alignment system. Monstrous Compendium Volume Two describes lamias as "half-human, half-quadruped beast hybrids", and notes that while the upper part of a lamia is that of a beautiful human woman, its lower body is that of a beast such as a goat, deer, or lion, and they wear no clothing or jewelry. The third edition Monster Manual does not mention a specific gender for the human portion of a lamia, and its accompanying illustration is that of a male lamia. The 3.5 revised Monster Manual describes a typical lamia as being about 8 feet long and weighing about 700 pounds.
The first edition Monster Manual notes that a lamia is "very fast and powerful", and usually armed with a dagger. A lamia has the ability to magically charm other creatures and use illusions, and it uses these abilities to lure creatures in the game and hold them in place while it devours them, first draining the prey of blood and then feasting upon its flesh. The book also notes that a lamia's touch permanently drains a creature's wisdom, eventually allowing it to completely control the prey. According to Monstrous Compendium Volume Two, lamia may use illusions to make itself look like "a lovely damsel in distress, a tough but beautiful female ranger, or an elf maiden".
The first edition Monster Manual explains that lamias prefer to dwell in deserts, or places such as ruined cities or caves. Monstrous Compendium Volume Two states that lamia "seem devoted to the spreading of chaos and evil in their dwelling places". The third edition Monster Manual notes that lamia "take great pleasure in causing suffering", and that they "particularly target those who serve the cause of good for horrible deaths".
According to the first edition Monster Manual, a lamia is always encountered alone. The third edition Monster Manual adds that lamia may also be encountered in pairs, or in small groups of up to four.
The lamia noble first appeared in the Fiend Folio (1981). The lamia noble appears in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989), and is reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993). The lamia noble appears again in Expedition to the Demonweb Pits (2007).
The lamia noble is a rarer type of lamia. These beings rule over other lamias and the locations they inhabit. Unlike normal lamias, they have the lower bodies of serpents. Males fight with curved swords and magic, while females only with magic. Lamia nobles are also capable of venturing further from their lairs than other lamias, and prefer to go into urbanized areas in the guise of a human to infiltrate human and demihuman societies. Lamia nobles are given to outbursts of senseless violence. They can speak all forms of human and demihuman language.
- Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977)
- Morris, Graeme, Phil Gallagher and Jim Bambra. Creature Catalogue (TSR, 1986)
- Nephew, John. Creature Catalog (TSR, 1993)
- Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (TSR, 1989)
- Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1993)
- Jones, Spike Y. "The Ecology (Love-Life) of the Lamia" Dragon #192 (TSR, 1993)
- Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
- Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual, (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
- Dangerous Denizens: The Monsters of Tellene. (Kenzer & Company, Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
- Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)
- James Jacobs, ed (September 2009). "Monsters A to Z". Bestiary. Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Lead designer Jason Bulmahn. Paizo Publishing. p. 186. ISBN 978-1-60125-183-1.
- Turnbull, Don, ed. Fiend Folio (TSR, 1981)
- Baur, Wolfgang, and Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel. Expedition to the Demonweb Pits (Wizards of the Coast, 2007)