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In this case, I mean a race of sapient beings who are female from the waist up and giant snake from the waist down (they're an all-female race). My world (Alendyias) is medieval fantasy. Now, let me show you what my question is about before restating it:

What Lamia Have Against Them:

  1. In medieval times, women were discriminated against because of the story of Adam and Eve; as stated in bl.uk (The British Library Website): "According to the Bible, Eve was created from Adam's rib and, having eaten the forbidden fruit, was responsible for man's expulsion from paradise. In medieval art, the responsibility of women for this 'original sin', is often emphasised by giving a female head to the serpent who tempts Eve to disobey God. The story underlined the belief that women were inferior to men, and that they were morally weaker and likely to tempt men into sin."
  2. On top of that and the medieval belief that women were inferior, these women are part snake; the animal responsible for the First Temptation, and according to the above 'logic', Eve's partner in crime. I don't see a way that medieval people will react well to this....
  3. They're an all-female species; they need men to continue the species. Unfortunately, humans have magic (7% of the population are Mages) and 2% of those Mages are capable of such feats as parting the Red Sea or lighting an entire forest on fire all at once, and on top of that, humans are already very anti-monster (dang you, goblins and trolls!). In other words, the humans are likely actively attempting full-blown genocide.

What Lamia Have Going For Them:

  1. Lamia are capable of parthogenesis (birthing clones without male involvement) and can regenerate lost limbs and heal from various wounds near instantly. However, they cannot survive being beheaded or stabbed through the heart.
  2. Lamia are immune to all poisons and acids. Their blood is both highly toxic and highly corrosive. They can spit streams of caustic fluid to attack opponents (they're literal spitfires=)), which inflicts severe burns and/or corrosion upon contact with organic matter.
  3. Lamia are immune to mental effects like hypnosis, or the DnD spells Charm, Enslave, or Geas. On the reverse side, Lamia are expert manipulators and hypnotists. They are even capable of Bewitching Dance from a young age (think 16, if you're confused look at Men Protecting Themselves From Bewitchment).
  4. Lamia are supernaturally fast (they can dodge or catch incoming arrows, slither at speeds rivaling a horse) and strong (capable of overpowering the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger). Additionally, Lamia are always drop-dead gorgeous (considering we're talking about Lamia here, I figured that was the best way to say it).

Consider:

  1. I'm willing to implement planarian or starfish-like regenerative abilities; I'm also willing to give Lamia dominative vampirism so thar if a Lamia drains a human being of blood, they exchange their blood in return (one fang drains, the other expels) and the human becomes their thrall. I just need justification to do so; if you feel something extra is needed, please tell me.
  2. Lamia live anywhere snakes do; there are jungle and forest Lamia, swamp Lamia, desert Lamia, grassland Lamia, cave Lamia, and even sea Lamia.

If any more detail is needed, please inform me; as always, thank you for your input!

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  • $\begingroup$ They're an all-female species; they need men to continue the species... Lamia are capable of parthogenesis (birthing clones without male involvement). Well, which one is it? $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Jan 12 at 0:35
  • $\begingroup$ I was going to ask the same thing, but then I realised that if they chose, these Lamia could simply raid villages for males and flee before a response is mustered due to the strategic mobility they have, or use prisoners of their inevitable battlefield victories. Or they might simply breed captive males as cattle or slaves for the specific purpose of mating. $\endgroup$
    – FrankRebin
    Jan 12 at 0:42
  • $\begingroup$ Willk, clones have no genetic difference; therefore, in order to prevent stagnation in the gene pool, Lamia need men. Otherwise, they can use parthogenesis to quickly raise their numbers. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 12 at 1:27
  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't women be preached and seen as better than men due to the story of the virgin mary? $\endgroup$
    – user81643
    Jan 12 at 9:52
  • $\begingroup$ Darkest secret, male lamia can change into female by molting see Sequential hermaphroditism ;O $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Jan 12 at 11:27
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I don't think they would have any issue surviving. On the contrary I don't see why they wouldn't become the dominant force in your setting. Assuming they have civilisation (i.e. live in cities, have a society etc.) They would be capable of making weapons and armour of equivalent technological advancement to humans, although rhey would probably have their own designs specific to their attributes.

With an extreme affinity for manipulation, potentially even turning humans (and other creatures?) into thralls, backed up by 'Arnold+' levels of strength, supernatural speed and the incredibly overpowered trait of having soldiers that can simultaneously act as cavalry and infantry... I can't see how martially speaking any human or human army would stand a chance.

Depending on how serious or balanced you are looking to have your setting be, I would consider heavily nerfing the Lamia.

EDIT: I forgot about instant regeneration and the insane reflexes required to catch/dodge arrows. With all that aswell as the fact they are manipulators that don't have to rely on combat as their first survival method, I can't see why they wouldn't just eradicate or enslave the whole of humanity, even with 0.14% of their population being ubermages and 7% being mages.

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  • $\begingroup$ Oh....in that case, yeah, I do need to nerf the Lamia....unless it helps if the humans outnumber the Lamia 20 to 1? $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 12 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ I think it certainly would help, but probably more like 50 or 100 to 1. In my own fiction I always try to stay away from giving my species too many good things, unless ofcourse I want them to be overpowered. But it just makes good writing and proper suspension of disbelief much harder when you want your characters to have to face a challenge but they are so ridiculously powerful they can't be challenged. If I were you I would probably either tone down their abilities a LOT or just completely remove some abilities (and maybe add them to any other fictional races in the setting). $\endgroup$
    – FrankRebin
    Jan 12 at 1:35
  • $\begingroup$ Like just taking out super strength would be a start, that way even if they are so fast they can dodge/catch arrows, atleast the Lamia can't return fire with their own warbows that have a draw weight 3x heavier than the typical human warbow, which would make for obscenely powerful arrows. $\endgroup$
    – FrankRebin
    Jan 12 at 1:39
  • $\begingroup$ Alright, thank you for your valuable input! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 12 at 14:02
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    $\begingroup$ Good point Tortliena; please see worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/193841/…. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 12 at 18:41
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Several things stand out at first glance...

  • The medieval bias against women and snakes as you note is a cultural quirk of history that resulted from a particular religion becoming the dominant belief across much of Europe and the Middle East. This story probably wouldn't have been as widespread if the Abrahamic religions didn't end up becoming the dominant belief across much of the world, and it's quite possible that the spread of the Abrahamic religions was far from a guaranteed thing, due to Judaism being restricted to a single group of people for most of its history and Christianity being an underground persecuted cult for its early history.

There is no guarantee that your world is going to have an exact duplicate of Christianity as the modern religion, nor that hating snakes and women is going to be in vogue. Some cultures did have their own myths to justify sexism and casual snake hatred (e.g., Pandora and the Greeks), and it's been suggested that the Serpent of Eden is more of a "just so" story to explain why humans don't like snakes very much (long story short, most animals are afraid of snakes because quite a few are venomous and with their profile they're hard to spot), but unless you justify it through in-story reasons the reason the humans are falling into medieval stereotypes might come off as ahistorical.

Medieval people aren't going to hate snakes and women just because they're medieval. Consider all of the other human societies that didn't follow an Abrahamic religion across the world during the same time period. Like India, which had semi-divine serpentine deities as servants of the gods. An alternate world where dragons, lamia, merpeople, and magic exists is going to have a completely different history and cultural tradition than our world, even if all of the landmasses and major landscape features were the same.

Consider as a counter example the fact that there are magic users in your story. The Bible says "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" (yes, yes, I know it's more complicated than that, but bear with me). By that logic your magic-users should be persecuted and killed at every opportunity by superstitious medieval peasants. But from your other questions it doesn't seem like they are.

Additionally, you have lamia around that are actively providing a counter-example to many stereotypes. It's easy to smear all witches as evil because...well, you don't see many openly practicing witches defending themselves in the medieval era, right? It's much harder to maintain a stereotype when you live around the people in question, and on top of that the sexism might end up flying out the window when human men realize lamias are hot snake ladies who want to breed with them.

Honestly, that might be an easier reason for bigotry against lamia. Old conservative types don't like it because they seduce men to have their children, resulting in fewer humans being born (and is especially bad if that person was an heir that was supposed to be wedded off or politically important). Lamia might be stereotyped as sexually promiscuous sirens, when the reality is a lot more complicated but people generally see what they want to see.

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  • $\begingroup$ Very insightful, thank you! I see your point and will implement that in my story. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 12 at 14:07
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Lamias are totally fine with parthogenesis.

Lamias can be pretty egotistical, and not without reason. "Why," one might ask "should I mix my characteristics with some random human when I can have another one of me?" It is a good question. Sexual reproduction is a crapshoot (by which I mean the dice! The dice dang it junior!). Parthenogenesis is like a franchise - a proven commodity and that is what you want.

And franchises are what they have. Each Lamia House traces its ancestry to a semidivine founder in the remote past. All members of the house are sisters. One lamia is designated breeder, with her role supplanted by a younger one who is chosen by popular votes.

There are strengths to this setup: the clone sisters are cooperative and unselfish with others in their House. The weakness is lack of genetic diversity but that is a long term concern.


There are still occasionally lamias born who are the product of sexual reproduction. They are not common, and each of them has an unusual origin story. Such lamia will either live in association with remote, isolated bands of humans or will try to establish a House of their own and compete with the long established Houses. Semidivine founder might need to be invented, as they often are.

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  • $\begingroup$ Ah; this opens up a new avenue I hadn't even considered..... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 12 at 17:07

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