“Fool! Fool!” repeated he, while his eyes still
Relented not, nor mov’d; “from every ill
Of life have I preserv’d thee to this day,
And shall I see thee made a serpent’s prey?”
—John Keats, “Lamia”
As hard as it is to find non-sexualized villainesses, I find it’s even more difficult to find non-sexual half-humanoid monsters. Terrifyingly, half-snake women like naga, gorgons, and lamia all seem to be among the more oft-sexualized half-humanoid monsters in fantasy bestiaries. I suspect this goes back to the whole idea of villainesses as personification of dark, sexual allure, but to me it comes across as it’s own kind of creepy, to be honest. Thus it was with a certain amount of delight that I found Kate’s awesome, mail-clad Lamia Matriarch.
Though the lamia’s origins stretch back to Ancient Greek Mythology, the scaly schemers have slithered their way into numerous fantasy stories and worlds, including Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder. Kate’s matriarch is for Paizo’s Pathfinder series, which offers a back story for lamia similar to some of the Greek myths. According to Paizo’s lore, lamia are descendants of a group of oracles who were cursed by their god for using their position for their own profit—making them far less sympathetic than the Greek myth of Lamia, an unfortunate young woman cursed by Hera just for being seduced by Zeus.
The Pathfinder lamia are a fairly sinister race, using trickery, illusions, and alternate forms to promote their decadence, lust for violence, and carnal desires. (What is it with gods and turning people into monsters as punishment? Haven’t they figured out that it just creates more problems?) I suspect that to be a matriarch in lamia society requires its own level of diabolical and manipulative.
As a race generally reliant on guile and seduction, Kate’s chain-clad matriarch was a truly refreshing find. As most of our villainess’s length is covered in hard, reptilian scales, it’s her weak, human torso that is most vulnerable in a scrum. Thus I like that this lamia chooses to protect hers with heavy chain mail. The chain should provide excellent defense against a paladin’s broadsword or a rogue’s knife and allows her serpentine torso a flexibility not afforded by solid plate. I like that she knows to layer up as well, with a wool or linen arming shirt between the coarse metal and her oily skin.
Our lamia’s weapon of choice is a scythe—a farmer’s instrument repurposed as a weapon and symbol of the reaping of souls. Her cloak may be a simple traveling garment against the elements, or it may be a mantle of office, enchanted for better protection or stealth. Meanwhile, her rings and piercings may contain enchantments of spell-resistance or true-seeing. Lastly, our villainess carries a satchel; perhaps for potions, perhaps for ill-gotten gains, perhaps for the severed ears of unfortunate elves who’ve ended up in her clutches.
I love that her expression and posture is that of a warrior rather than a seductress. Not some over-sexy snake-chick, our lamia matriarch is a dealer of death and torturer of weaker beings. Rather than lounge indolently, she stands ready, scythe in hand, staring down the intruding adventurers as if to say, “I’m glad you’re here. I just had this thing sharpened and needed somewhere to test the blade.”
A million thanks to Ekaterina for letting me borrow her matriarch for the blog. More of her art can be found in her digital gallery and live journal. Take care, stay awesome, and as always thanks for reading!