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I have another all-female species in my world, and it's Lamia; women from the waist up, snake from the waist down. Sort of like mermaids, but more commonly encountered by humans, as they live in forests, deserts, swamps, grasslands, and even caves (each environment has its own subspecies.)

Lamia (in general)

  • Social, but also opportunistic and manipulative, like the stereotypical 'mean girl' in teen literature. Lamia can have friends and loved ones, but they demand loyalty and must ensure they can trust those loved ones. If this is giving you Mafia-ish vibes, well, that was unintentional, but if it helps you understand, then it helps.
  • Their society is obsessed with power and logic; Lamia are formal creatures that believe logic takes precedence over emotions and that all emotions should be expressed in a controlled, refined manner. Their obsession with power leads them to believe the strong should rule the weak, which drives every social interaction with a Lamia; if you are an equal, they will respect you, if you're a superior, they will obey and revere you, and if you are an inferior, they will expect compliance.
  • Lamia usually mate with those who live in the wild (bandits, outcasts, woodsmen, hunters, and gypsies); they like people just fine, but they generally prefer the peace and solitude of the wilds to city life. I am not entirely sure how this will affect their culture.

So, the question is, How Will They Fit Into a Medieval Fantasy Society? This society is based off of medieval Europe. The different aspects of this question are as follows:

1. Involvement In Society:

Obviously, the points above may make it hard for them to fit into society, but given where they live, they'll encounter humans, and they need the humans, so they'll fit in somewhere. The best answer will take into account Lamia culture and their dependence on human males-or, granted, males of another species-to survive when determining their role in medieval society.

2. Trade: Lamia have tough scales, which they shed and can make into protective garments capable of stopping arrows or daggers in their tracks. They also sell vials of their toxic saliva and/or clones, though clones are expensive, only given to allies, and must be treated well (mistreating a clone is essentially disrespecting the original, so....). The best answer should account for whatever impact trade may have on the Lamia's role in medieval society.

3. Abilities: The role someone takes in a society is often related to their abilities. Lamia have serpentine flexibility, making them great contortionists, and they have enhanced speed and strength as well, with reflexes about as fast as a snake strike and enough strength to overpower an adult male through brute force. Oh, yeah, and the clone thing I mentioned earlier? Lamia are capable of parthogenesis, which means they can have a clutch of eggs all by themselves. The best answer will take these abilities into account when determining Lamia's place in medieval society.

Note: By 'medieval society,' I really mean 'medieval fantasy society,' the stereotypical kind with elves, dwarves, orcs, princesses, adventurers, and of course dragons. There are differences between the archetype and my setting, but for the purposes of the OP, those do not matter and so I have not included them.

2nd Note: I have a feeling someone will ask about how Lamia venom will affect kissing, so I will address this. Lamia can control the levels of venom in their mouth at a given time, so while at first it may sicken the kisser, they can actually build up an immunity if they put in the time. s

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    $\begingroup$ Nitpick: IRL parthenogenesis doesn't produce clones, as it uses a mechanism similar to self-pollinating plants. Two gametes form by meiosis, and then recombine into a zygote. As a result, parthenogenetic offspring have less genetic diversity than their mother. If the mother has two different versions of any particular gene, her offspring may inherit two copies of the same version of that gene. This increases the likelihood of recessive traits, including genetic disorders, manifesting. There's a reason why incest is discouraged; parthenogenesis causes the same issues. $\endgroup$ Oct 29, 2021 at 3:35
  • $\begingroup$ There are some IRL organisms that can clone themselves, but as far as I know never by any of the same mechanisms as sexual reproduction. Potatoes, for instance, can be cloned by planting eyes; but that's part of the root, not a seed. Some animals can clone by budding, but that doesn't involve an egg or a womb. However, in Fictionland, anything goes. There's nothing keeping your lamia from forming an egg by mitosis, without going through meiosis and recombination, and bringing it to term just like an egg fertilized and conceived the normal way. This mitosis-egg would be a genuine clone. $\endgroup$ Oct 29, 2021 at 3:48

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You have established three important facts about Lamia in this question. -The need to interact with other people to continue their species. -Their byproducts such as scales and toxins are considered valuable in this society. -They are extremely powerful physically, flexible, and able to make many clones of themselves.

Taking all these details into account, the most likely place for Lamias in this society would probably be the role of powerful and shrewd merchants with heavy control over the potion-making industry.

Since their bodies are walking pharmacies, lamia could easily accumulate large fortunes just by selling their own scales and other byproducts. Then, they could use that money to buy helpers of other species along with wider shares of the potion industry. They could also accumulate the best potion-makers and potion-sellers in order to have almost monopolistic control over that side of the economy.

Being physically powerful and mentally manipulative makes them perfect for this role. They can smooth-talk anyone who gets in their way and make them willingly obey their will, or, if guile and human greed fail, they can just threaten their opponents with physical force. Smaller merchants and guilds would have to bend under the will of the lamia unless they want to get crushed under the might of their wealth.

You also mention the ability to essentially make clones. What's great about this ability is that it means the lamia would never need to worry about having a successor. They could just make a new clone, train them with all the knowledge they've gained over the years, and have that one take over the business when she dies. They would never have to worry about the business going into the wrong hands because their clone could just continue with all knowledge they learned from you. The biggest problem of course would be training them, but money can buy great tutors as well.

Money also buys loyalty, so there would be nothing to worry about in terms of finding the right males. Even if males of another species were not all that interested in a lamia, they could easily be swayed by a few gold coins.

Lamia might even get strong enough to make their own cults, which create large groups of mostly male (as well as some female) followers of other species.

So, to summarize, I think the best answer to this question is that Lamia would make great merchants, which would probably put them in the upper class and upper-middle class in terms of society. They could control large monopolies, run massive caravans, and have vast groups of followers who are undyingly loyal to the one who runs the business, either because they are enticed by their greed or fallen victim to her cunning manipulations.

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting points, great first answer and welcome to the site! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Oct 28, 2021 at 16:44
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Politics

Social, but also opportunistic and manipulative, like the stereotypical 'mean girl' in teen literature. Lamia can have friends and loved ones, but they demand loyalty and must ensure they can trust those loved ones. If this is giving you Mafia-ish vibes, well, that was unintentional, but if it helps you understand, then it helps.

While sociopaths Loyalty goes both ways, and Lamia's earn loyalty as much as demand it.

One of my favourite fictional leaders was Lord Vetinari of Ankh Morpork. He's manipulate, lie and cheat, but his loyalties lie with his city. A Political Lamia would be a force of nature - a creature that couldn't be bought, couldn't be manipulated. Disloyalty would be handled swiftly and terminally - but if you're on the right side of her, she's a good boss.

Any attempt to coerce or threaten would be seen as a threat.

Their society is obsessed with power and logic; Lamia are formal creatures that believe logic takes precedence over emotions and that all emotions should be expressed in a controlled, refined manner. Their obsession with power leads them to believe the strong should rule the weak, which drives every social interaction with a Lamia; if you are an equal, they will respect you, if you're a superior, they will obey and revere you, and if you are an inferior, they will expect compliance.

And there's no greater power - they want to be the strongest, and while inter clan rivalries are brutal, leadership changes are just one snake lady to another.

Lamia usually mate with those who live in the wild (bandits, outcasts, woodsmen, hunters, and gypsies); they like people just fine, but they generally prefer the peace and solitude of the wilds to city life. I am not entirely sure how this will affect their culture.

Well, I was going to suggest male harems but - attachments mean one can be manipulated. If a lamia dosen't know who her father is - her loyalties are with the matriarch and her clan/clutch.

A Hierarchical matriarchal society makes sense - with clans and subclans. Clutches are loyal to their parent, until of course, one managed to kill off her clan matriach and prove she's more powerful. This would probably make more sense being done as ritualised 'duels' than backstabing, and being defeated (and killed) by your offspring is seen as a sign of good parenting.

Younger Lamias are the muscle - while too obvious to be 'spies' they're generally the conspicuous eyes and ears of the matriach. They build their own gangs of humans and other siblings, and these interclan rivalries are part of their society. When old enough and ready to breed, they either branch off and act as the matriach for their own subclan, subservient to their old clan, or kill their matriarch to take over.

Since its implausibly hard for a human to kill a lamia, and you don't know if you're killing the original or the clone, you have very stable, hard to execute leadership. They can be in multiple places at once seemingly.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting take! I love your ideas that they'd be exchanging loyalty, and that they'd form a hierarchical society. Not only is it perfectly plausible, but it's a much more positive view than a Lamia plague.... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Oct 29, 2021 at 3:06
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They are a Plague

They're mistrustful, individually powerful physically, logic-driven, power hungry, and parthenogenic. Plus with scales that make them (at least partially, not sure if it's ALL their scales, just the snake bit, or just certain areas of scale) immune to medieval weaponry.

The "parthenogenic" bit is the main thing. I may have trust issues, but obviously I trust myself the most. My clones are as close to me as I can get, and I can foster loyalty/control from the moment of birth. I also know the clones, like me, will be naturally faithful to their physical and intellectual superiors, which at birth will be me. Ergo the most useful followers/supporters will be my own clones. They'll also be 100% me genetically, if that matters to a Lamia.

So now I have a clutch of things that, when full-grown, will be stronger than most human males. How many eggs in a clutch? A dozen? Great. I want power. The next step would be to take control of some village of humans and use them to produce more food to enable me to have more clones to increase my powerbase. I'll probably be a Just Ruler, more or less, to my human chattel because that's the way to get the most work from them. (Unless lamia only eat meat, in which case I eat most humans and keep a smaller number of herdsmen/specialist craftsmen, or kill them all and have some clones herd, they're probably better at it anyway. The logic of it will depend on the Lamia/size of her clone-tribe.)

Being at least semi-armored and strong makes Lamia formidable adversaries, and being able to clone means even one in a forest can suddenly become a problem. My bet it they're likely persecuted/hunted/killed where found, unless they've already got a large area under their control. It ain't easy being a power-hungry race of uber-beings! Assassination by clones/disease would probably be the way most Lamia-kingdoms collapse. Either a clone kills "mom" and the society devolves into civil war to the extent non-lamian kingdoms can conquer them, or a virus kills all of them at once(since they're identical and will be effected identically by any disease). Whether Lamians get along with other Lamians is an open question. On the one hand, the biggest competition always comes from your own kind. On the other, two lamian "queens" produce twice the clones and have twice the chance of dominating the countryside as is their want.

If caught "in the egg" a lamian might make an excellent bodyguard for a suitably high-ranking individual. But their innate desire for power and their tendency to manipulate people to get what they want, combined with their combat ability, would make this risky. The more powerful the ruler, the more loyal the lamian, but if it sees a chance to advance itself it'll throw in with a coup no questions asked. So having one as a bodyguard would DEF be a status symbol. "Look how powerful I am, I have no fear of a betrayal by a lamian! Surely this means I am a King-Not-To-Be-Messed-With!"

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  • $\begingroup$ Great first answer, welcome to the site! Your excellent points have me concerned about the future of my society. Perhaps, knowing that power grabs will result in their species being hunted and killed whenever possible, they'll behave? A guy can hope... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Oct 28, 2021 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ Though, if they have a lot of respect for power, they might respect the laws if those are setup by a government with powerful coercive force… $\endgroup$
    – Nephanth
    Oct 29, 2021 at 1:00
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THEY'D BE HEAVILY INVOLVED IN ILLICIT DRUGS, MEDICAL PROFESSIONS, AND OTHER THINGS LIKE THAT

As mentioned by @Nyctophobia457, their byproducts such as scales and toxins make them walking apothecaries, and they are extremely powerful physically, flexible, and able to make many clones of themselves.

Add to that their generally "evil" (heavy air quotes there, as labeling an entire species as pure evil can be problematic) tendencies and appearance, they'd often end up in organized crime, as their physical power makes them good bouncers and their tactical ruthlessness makes them ideal crime lords. They'd likely be particularly involved with the illicit drug trade, as their scales and other by-products would likely be key ingredients in drugs, potions, and whatnot.

As mentioned above, they are walking apothecaries, which means that the Lamias not involved in illicit activities would likely be working at hospitals and apothecaries; a somewhat ironic setup, given their 'mean-girl' personality. When one imagines a hospital, they imagine kindness, caring, and a desire to help, not a cranky snake-woman with a god-awful bedside manner.

WARNING, WARNING! A HUGE BATTLESHIP, "RACIST BULLS*IT" IS APPROACHING!

Given the close association between Lamia and crime, they'd likely have to deal with racism, harassment by authorities, racial profiling, and all sorts of other stuff like that, due to the close association between Lamias and criminal activity, and all the reasons mentioned here. This would apply even to the Lamias working at legitimate hospitals and apothecaries, who'd probably feel resentment towards other Lamia whose law-breaking antics are contributing to the Lamias' bad reputation and, by extension, making life harder for them.

Some of your societies with a more fascist bent might even use Lamias as scapegoats, accusing all Lamias of being members of some kind of global cabal, similar to what the Nazis accused the Jews of. Depending on how far along on the route to Death Camps (which is broken up into Stage 1: you have no right to exist in public businesses, Stage 2: you have no right to exist in public, and Stage 3: you have no right to exist, period) this fascist society is, they might be restricted from owning businesses (Stage 1), be forced into ghettos (Stage 2), or outright rounded up, incarcerated, and kept in an enslaved state, the only thing stopping the government from going full-blown Holocaust on them being the fact that their by-products are so valuable (Stage 3).

Even worse, there'd be MUCH more support for the above measures, because people showing sympathy for the Lamias would be few and far between, and even more so as the government's propaganda about the Lamias begins to take hold in the public consciousness.

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