Supplement Review – Kobold Press | Advanced Races:Lamia

Lamia SupplementImage Copyright: Kobold Press
Lamia Supplement
The serpentine-bodied lamia
Image Copyright:
Kobold Press

Kobold Press, the independent online web-zine with a history of  producing RPG adventures and campaign materials recently published the latest in its Advanced Races supplements. The website, headed by the venerable Wolfgang Baur, a game designer known for his days at Wizards of the Coast, deals with all things role-playing, with a focus on their own homespun guides and products.

Their most well-known and successful line is their Midgard campaign setting. But in addition to this self-created world, they have also produced supplemental material designed to fit into other worlds and run on the core mechanics for D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder. One such line is their Advanced Races guidebooks.

Starting with their first book, Advanced Races #1: Tieflings, the series of compendiums add monster races as an option for players. The books include descriptive histories, cultural and societal identities and race specific feats, traits and class paths.

Their most recent addition to the line, Advanced Races #8: Lamia, deals with the fabled Greek, child-eating demons whose serpentine lower halves were immortalized by the English poet John Keats.

Lamia, like most Greek traditions had several origin stories. They generally all begin with a single woman either a cursed Queen, an ill-fated mistress to a God, or simply a wandering female progenitor with a penance for debauchery, blood addiction and flesh-eating. In all these scenarios, the image is one of evil, accursed wrongness, representing everything that is vile and unclean in the civilized world.

Lamia like much in role-playing canon and what has spread into the mainstream world beyond was first depicted in the world of D&D with the original AD&D Monster Manual last century way back in 1977.

Original Lamia Image Source: Monster Manual AD&D (1977)
Original D&D Lamia
Image Source: Monster Manual AD&D (1977)

In their first role-playing incarnation, Lamia had lower torsos resembling four legged beasts similar to another Greek inspired monster, the fabled centaurs. In the 4E reboot, Lamia are described as scarab beetled beings that lure individuals to their doom.Throughout the years the Lamia’s biology may have morphed and mutated but the one constant throughout editions and descriptions was and remains their unrepentant evilness.

It is this abhorrent nature that Kobold Press decided to expand upon in their Advanced Race supplement.

4th Edition D&D LamiaScarab bodied LamiaImage Copyright: Wizards of the Coast
4th Edition D&D Lamia
Scarab bodied Lamia
Image Copyright: Wizards of the Coast

The supplement itself is a quick read, only 17 pages, from cover to cover. Following a short story about a potential adventuring Lamia the guide delves into the descriptive culture and society of the race itself, including their structure and life development. Kobold decided to stick with the serpentine imagery and the guide provides a smattering of NC-17 paintings and artwork that are decent, though somewhat inconsistent with quality.

The guide moves on quickly into Lamia adventure archetypes followed by racial feats and traits. They focus on the Oracle class from D&D and Pathfinder, and Prestige classes include a Moon devoted cleric/arcane hybrid and a melee dual-wielding blade master. The last piece of the guide is a Midgard inclusive section that details how Lamias can be added to Kobold’s signature world.

There is an a good deal of emphasis on the more carnal aspects of Lamia natures including a bacchanal revelry that is specific to the race on the whole. In truth, judging by my knowledge of the race and the suggestive cover, I was expecting more details about these darker aspects of the race, or at least the motivations behind them.

I was really looking forward to a bit more detail for the Lamia, even if it was specific to the world of Midgard. When it comes to supplements like this, I am less interested in mechanics and much more intrigued by  background and world immersion. The Oracle-like prestige class however was a nice addition, and they synergized well with the racial feats. Further historical context, even invented would have been welcomed.

Overall the supplemental was just a bit too lite, however for the price and the excellent layout and images it was well worth the admission. So when you have a chance, and a few bucks to shell out, why not check out the Advanced Race line by Kobold Press, and

Game Forth!



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