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Alright, so as the Lamias began forming their society (see How Would Lamia Defend Themselves From Each Other?), they came upon an idea that would eliminate the potential of Maraliths; an acceptable outlet!

Basically, the Lamia take a certain area and build a wall or fence around it. Then, the Lamia ritually slice themselves in half and put their serpent halves in the enclosed area, then their human halves are tied up and blindfolded by the Lamia who aren't participating What follows next is essentially a game of slither.io: the snakes slither around, telepathically controlled by their human half, trying to swallow whole other snakes. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Sneak up, bite the tail, and swallow bit by bit, and 2. Get up in the other snake's face, open your jaws, and then charge. This is called a Serpentmaw Duel, and it happens every few years.

If a snake consumes another snake, that snake is absorbed and the "victor" of that meeting mutates into a slightly higher form. The rituals involved in this ceremony cause the highest level snake to become a Queensnake, and once this happens, the ceremony ends and the Lamia who chose not to participate untie the former participants; at this point, the participating Lamia absorb and are absorbed according to what happened to their snake.

If that doesn't make sense, let's say there are two Lamia: Rachel and Rayna. Rachel's snake successfully evades and consumes seven other snakes, but Rayna's level thirteen snake sneaks up from behind and swaloows her snake. When the Serpentmaw Duel ends, Rachel will absorb the human halves of the Lamia whose snake halves were consumed by her snake, only to be absorbed by Rayna. In the end, Rayna will become a level twenty Maralith.

The Lamia have formed special choker-type bands of Ether (solid Mana) to bind them to the rules of their society, which means the Serpentmaw Duel is the only way for a Lamia to become a Maralith. This also means that the Lamia who don't participate are implying consent to be enslaved by the Maralith. Since Lamia aren't likely to take this lying down, each year there are two Serpentmaw Duels: one for the Lamia, one for the Maraliths.

So, my question is How Feasible Are These Serpentmaw Duels?

Please Note: I am not asking how feasible the magical elements are; magic is magic and that's that for me. I'm asking how feasible it is that the Lamia not only come up with this idea (that's perfectly feasible, ordinary people come up with crazy ideas all the time) but implement it in their society (which is a whole lot more unfeasible). Basically, without Serpentmaw Duels Lamia who wanted to become Maralith had to find or come across a Lamia who had been split in two, or split them in two themselves; low reward, low risk. (Think about it; after being split in two, how likely is it that you can fend off an attack? Chances are you'd be stunned and confused, and therefore vulnerable to attack. However, this only works on one individual; try it and two, and chances are one will recover and fight back.) The Serpentmaw Duels are high reward, high risk situations: they make it easy to become a Maralith, but it's hard to do that without being absorbed into another Maralith yourself. Finally, is it that feasible that lack of ambition and courage in Lamia (not participating in a Serpentmaw Duel) will be punished by slavery?

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  • $\begingroup$ so if i get it right, the half snake part also has its mouth that eat others tail? $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Jan 13, 2021 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ Yep, that's exactly right. Well, they could come head to head, and then it'd be the one with the bigger mouth that won..... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 13, 2021 at 2:20
  • $\begingroup$ i assume they use swallowing right? i feel like theres possible chance that they end up like ouroboros or where both tail swallow each other and form into circle to end up trying infinitely swallow each other. something like this $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Jan 13, 2021 at 2:24
  • $\begingroup$ That's a good point. Yes, they use swallowing. However, if two Lamia end up in that situation, I feel like one of them would stop and let the other swallow their snake. Being stuck in an infinite loop....it'd most likely be horrifying. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 13, 2021 at 2:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Alendyias Yes but is the lower half of the lamia the upper or lower half of a snake? In other words, where is the snake mouth attached? $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Jan 13, 2021 at 16:16

2 Answers 2

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Difficult feasibility

The problem is population control. There are three important notes in your text.

  1. Several Lamia/Maralith are basically killed during this event, reducing the population.
  2. The event is two times a year, separated for both Lamia and Maralith.
  3. The Lamia/Maralith feel pressure to actively take part in the event ("This also means that the Lamia who don't participate are implying consent to be enslaved by the Maralith. Since Lamia aren't likely to take this lying down<...>")

The size of the population is irrelevant to the proportion of snakes lost. You can expect an equally high participation in any size population. If your example is a more or less standard duel and there's about three not taking part, you have four snakes left where you had twelve. A reduction of about 67%. Even if only half participated, so a nine in game nine not participating in the event, you would have a reduction of 45% each game. It will be hard to maintain any amount of population.

The second problem is the Leveling this way. I assume that absorbing another snake of equal level will add just one level to you and that snakes are pitted against each other of about equal level. In five years you can start level one, but reach level 90 (5 years, 2 times, 9 participants, 1 level per participant). A loss of 90 snakes in 5 years. But what if the snake becomes 30? It'll be level 540 if it participates in each event. A loss of 540 snakes in 30 years! That isn't even counting the snakes the ones he/she absorbed would have killed. If you take the last 9 snakes their kills you would have about 4707 snakes that have been killed this way in 30 years! Try to regrow that many in 30 years is tough on the population however you slice it. The snake in question likely to continue in each event, as it is dominating so far and doesn't want to be a slave. Keep in mind that any levels gained outside of this event aren't even considered.

The third problem is knowledge. Not a lot of snakes survive to a certain age, so it's likely that a lot of knowledge is lost. Even if the knowledge is kept within the new snake, you've lost eight individuals that can learn in one fight.

Solutions

There are solutions to make this feasible.

  1. The winning Lamia/Maralith can have a grace period of a certain time, like a year or two, where they don't need and often don't feel the need to participate in this event to be subjected as slave. This way, less are required to participate and the reduction of the population is much less. In addition, the leveling is much less steep.

  2. The Lamia's will wait until a certain age to participate, allowing for several years of growth and likely a return of investment in the growth before they feel the pressure to participate. It would still be a waste if your Lamia reaches maturity, finally starts adding to the community in labour or knowledge and immediately get killed in an arena.

  3. A higher spawn rate of these creatures will help solidify the numbers. Giving birth to more and more offspring is a tactic used by many creatures where a large portion isn't able to reproduce.

As an alternative you could also just have them absorb (most of) their powers instead of the Lamia/Marilith itself. The snake part will grow back, but on a now much weaker Lamia/Marilith. This snake might also be subject to a (temporary) slavery towards the victor. Only with some fights the other person is wholly consumed.

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  • $\begingroup$ High spawn rate is a good idea. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Jan 13, 2021 at 12:21
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, Trioxidane! This is very helpful and insightful. Lamia are capable of parthogenesis, and they have multiple "kids" this way, just like a snake does. I imagine that will help a lot. 1 and 2 are also genius; I'm definitely including that. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 13, 2021 at 14:06
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Political Factions

It it feasible that these Snakemaw duels can be implemented and maintained in a society?

Yes. Provided most of the population abstains. Otherwise every two years a large chunk is removed from the population and there will quickly be no society left.

Another option is that only some proportion of the population (marked from birth) can become Maraliths. Only these guys complete, and even if they wipe themselves out entirely there are loads of non-potentials to keep the species alive.

An even easier option is only males can become Maraliths. This would be consistent with a species that lays hundreds of eggs at a time that males are considered expendable. The flipside is that every ruler is now male. Though perhaps becoming a Maralith also makes you female.

Would the practice survive?

You need to prevent the population from rising up, throwing off their magic chokers and killing their ruler the old-fashioned way.

One way is simply to decide lamias are far more selfish and less cooperative as a species than humans. Organising like this conflicts with their nature and is seen (and felt) to be immoral.

Okay but what if they are reskinned humans?

If you don't want your society to be too different from human society then I suggest there are political factions. Each Maralith is part of a political party and they make decisions as a group. They are lobbied by opposing parties whose main weapon is invoking another SnakeMaw duel. During such duels the parties fight on teams, and the fights themselves are mostly posturing. No one wants to fight properly since that will certainly lead to them all dying.

The threat of death in the arena is what does most of the work, allowing one party to influence the other. Individual deaths are mitigated since the rest of the part is alive.

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  • $\begingroup$ Very helpful, Daron. The magic chokers bind the Lamias by their own magic; basically, they can't take them off. Making only some capable of becoming Maraliths....I could see that working, Lamia are pragmatic beings and would only want the strongest Lamia becoming leaders. Oh, and Lamia are already "far more selfish and less cooperative." $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 13, 2021 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Alendyias Are the chokers needed for some other plot reason? I think it would be more fun to set up the lamias personalitywise so the duels make sense with not need for the chokers. Then ask yourself what other conditions this forces on the society in general. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Jan 13, 2021 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting idea, I will consider that. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 13, 2021 at 17:53

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