Roleplaying A D&D 5e Lamia: Deception, Illusion, and Enslavement
An Illustration and Tips on How to Roleplay a Monster of Seduction
By Riley Rath
This post is the first in a new series all about teaching players and DMs to better role-play Dungeons and Dragons races and monsters.
Though I will mention some combat tactics, for the most part I will be focusing on the social aspect of any encounter. For more information on Lamias in combat, go to "The Monsters Know What They Are Doing."
Each post will start with an example; a story of how I chose to role-play in my own games. This will be followed by practical and instructive suggestions to help guide your own gameplay.
Table of Contents
- D&D Story: A Tempestuous Tent in the Desert
- How to Role-Play a D&D 5e Lamia
- Be a "Tyrant of Pleasure"
- Seduce in Order to Destroy
- Know the D&D Characters' Deepest Desires
- Be a Master of Deception
- Enchant to Enslave
- Bonus Tips for Role-Playing a 5e Lamia
- Summary for Role-Playing a 5e Lamia
A Tempestuous Tent in the Desert
The desert is a sea of sand...
For days the adventurers had trudged up and down the dunes without seeing even a single bird in the sky or bullette roving the banks. Despite taking great care to manage their supplies, they found themselves running low on water. Their throats were dry... their skin cracked.
The oasis was supposedly close, but the risk of wandering off course remained great. For this reason, they began traveling during the night, allowing the stars to guide them. The same clothing that shielding them from the scorching sun now retained body heat during the frigid dark.
Just before midnight, the wizard noticed a light off in the distance. Atop the drift, some structure radiated warm light. It seemed as though it were a lighthouse, a refuge for weary travelers. Curious, and comforted that it was in the general direction of the oasis, the party began to make their way toward the light.
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Hours later, they arrived and discovered that a large tent had been erected upon the dune. Its many pegs, buried deep in the sand, anchored ropes suspending a massive, movable tent. Even in the darkness, they could detect its many layers, the outside being a deep purple with fine embroidery.
As the players stealthed around the tent, the barbarian leaned his head juuuust too far over the glowing entrance. His blunder was greeted with a friendly, warm voice.
"Come on in... don't be shy!"
Sheepishly (and failing their perception checks), the party entered and discovered something more akin to a throne room than a tent. The floor was laid with intricate rugs, the walls lined with lamp stands and chests of treasure, and in the center a long table was set with pitchers of water and plates of food. It was greater than any oasis they had imagined when they were weathering the blistering heat.
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But what stood out most of all was the woman, casually reclining on a tall seat of wood and gold, playing with a dagger in her hands and a smile on her lips. Her darkened skin was clearly visible beneath the sheer... and minimal... layers of clothing. Her black hair was braided, held back by a simple gold headdress. She was as beautiful as she was provocative.
"Welcome to my sanctuary," she said as she measured up her guests. "My name is Cyrene... To what do I owe this pleasure?" She bantered effortlessly, but her excited eyes were fixed on the adventurers... grabbing their attention in return.
The heroes responded, describing the valley where they grew up together, their recent encounter with a Marid in a coral-filled lake, and their quest to retrieve the stolen artifact that sparked so much dragon/giant conflict. They spoke freely as they summarized their trials and triumphs.
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As they described their journeys, Cyrene stood up from her chair and paced back and forth on the other side of the tent, listening intently. When they joked, her contagious laughter filled the room. When they stalled, she interrupted with an insightful question. And as they answered, she gently bit her long dagger, hanging on every word.
The party finished speaking and she stared at them from across the table for a moment, her thoughts hidden behind her eyes. Suddenly, she seemed to be make some silent decision and, slowly raising her finger, she suggestively pointed at the fighter and said:
"Tell me great warrior... when will you have a castle of your own?"
The party was stunned into silence.
The knight had only recently... and in privacy... shared the shame of being the youngest, neglected son in his family. He was destined for a life of squalor unless he earned his own fortune with his sword. His family's estates and fortifications would never belong to him. His only hope for such an honor would be to tirelessly build it himself.
"The thought of toiling away until you can maybe scrape together the lands and funds breaks my heart. Such a staggering task... what did you do to deserve that?"
As she spoke, Cyrene strode in front of her golden seat, slowly making her way toward the party. Her hips swayed with every step, seeming to extend an invitation the likes of which none of the characters had ever been offered before. They could hear her fingers grazing the wood as she dragged her hand along the length of the table. She pleaded with the fighter:
"I must confess... all that strife for a pile of cold, hard rocks doesn't seem worth it... wouldn't you rather play instead of work? Wouldn't you rather LOVE instead of suffer?"
She walked past the wizard and past the barbarian, holding eye contact with the fighter the whole time. Now she stood mere inches from him, looking up at his face tenderly.
"I see your nobility... you're unlike anyone I have seen before."
With gentle hands, she reached out and caressed his burnt, scarred face. His normally formal posture melted in her embrace as his heart wildly beat.
La Belle Dame by Marc Fishman
"Please... stay with ME... I promise I am softer than brick and mortar and so much more... GRATIFYING."
- The gold shimmered almost too brightly... and he could have sworn he saw a desert mouse run right through a pitcher of water on the table.
- When Cyrene walked by, he felt the fur of some animal bump into his leg.
- When Cyrene was talking, she would whisper to herself in a language he alone in the party knew... the old cleric told him it would be handy to recognize... the ancient evil tongue... ABYSSAL.
(A few successful skill checks later...)
As the Fighter leaned in for a kiss, the sorcerer spoke up:
"Pardon me, m'lady... but just how much of this space is an ILLUSION?"
Cyrene paused... she lowered her hands from the fighter and placed them on her hips. Biting her lip, and with a puzzled look on her face, she replied:
"And what's wrong with illusions?"
She slowly raised her hands into the air, and as she did, the clothing, skin, hair... everything about her... shifted, turning her into a completely different woman: a young, pleasing virgin, a betrothed maiden of the North, dressed in the style of the sorcerer's home culture. Cyrene was an INNATELY magical being.
"Is THIS more to your tastes, oh great caster? Magic flows through your veins just as it does mine... we were made for each other..."
But the sorcerer was not fooled... he remained steadfast: "Do you intend to bewitch ALL of us, or only he?"
As she took steps back, she turned her gaze to the sorcerer... her curious eyes now filled with HATE. Her smile faded, replaced by a SNARL.
"Bewitch? No, no, no... that would be far too kind. I intend to DEVOUR."
© Wizards of the Coast
As she spoke, the magical aura wreathed. The disguise fell. From the waist up, the desert-skinned, alluring woman from before returned. But from the waist down... the suggestive hips had been replaced by the powerful frame of a lion. With a powerful bound, Cyrene leapt onto the table, lifted her dagger, and shouted:
"KILL YOUR FRIENDS!!!"
The rapture... the enchantment spell... had been too much for the fighter. Drawing and swinging his sword, he caught the barbarian in the shoulder, waking the brute from his stupor. The wizard and sorcerer spilled out of the tent to gain some distance. To their horror, they were met with half a dozen Jackalweres rising out of the sand, each wielding a sharp khopesh... closing in for the kill.
The trap had been sprung...
How to Role-Play a D&D 5e Lamia
I originally chose this monster because A) my players were in a desert and B) it was a social rather than purely combat encounter. I had no idea the monster was so damn COMPLEX.
Bottom line: role-playing a 5e Lamia means deceiving and seducing with the goal of destroying what it hates and enslaving what it craves.
Allow me to elaborate...
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Be a "Tyrant of Pleasure"
Ok, so LOTS of D&D monsters are some sort of "evil"... so just saying "be evil" isn't very helpful role-playing advice. But one article I found had the amazing "tyrant of pleasure" phrase. And no... there is no way to spin that and make it morally palatable.
Lamias hate everything that is good. Which makes sense because they are "chaotic evil" on the alignment chart. They also speak Abyssal. Put those two together and it's no surprise that in 5e lore these monsters are allied with Graz'zt... the demon lord of pleasure, decadence, and self-indulgence.
So when a Lamia makes their home in a desert or in ruins, they will surround it with the finest foods, linens, art, etc... If it's luxurious, they want it there. The ruin will become a palace garden, full of slaves attending to the Lamia's every need (more on that in a moment).
So when role-playing a Lamia, don't offer your players wealth or fame... but ecstasy and euphoria. Emphasize that whatever itch they have will not only be satisfied, but take them over the edge.
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Seduce in Order to Destroy
Speaking of which... Lamias do not merely exist in luxury... they use themselves and the luxury to seduce players. But while a succubus may tempt you with pleasure so you sign your soul away, a Lamia will tempt you in order to ANNIHILATE you.
Not sure what I mean?
Here's an example: even though Lamias have claws, they are often portrayed as having ornate daggers. The purpose of the dagger is not to kill, but to CARVE. Their evil descends to not only destruction, but also desecration. For that reason, I would have the Lamia playing with the dagger; it's as though they can't hide their eagerness to carve up their new prey.
So how do you, the DM, seduce your players?
Well, first of all, you ARE NOT seducing your players... the MONSTER is seducing the CHARACTERS. So be sure to maintain a distinction and not step on anyone's toes. If your players get uncomfortable, speak in the third person and make more rolls rather than role-playing.
BUT... if everyone is chill with this... then by all means, be the monster that "leads their character astray"! You're the DM... whatever path they have planned for their characters to become a hero, get them off it. Use both verbal and non-verbal communication to draw them in.
Master seducers treat seduction like a game... so be PLAYFUL but DEADLY. Take nothing seriously except the pleasure offered to the characters. Your goal is to make them passively accept what you want for them before they understand what it will cost them... to "nullify their agency." Praise, flirt, "promise"... whatever you do, be ACTIVE: make the first move.
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Know the D&D Characters' Deepest Desires
How do you know what to seduce? Isn't that cheating as a Dungeon Master? Nope, not really, because Lamias have excellent INSIGHT as to what a character wants and needs. They can pierce beyond the revealed exterior to tap into the secret desires of the heart.
Lamias have a +4 for Insight... not crazy great... so you may have to ask a lot of questions until you get that high perception roll you are looking for. But due to their malevolent nature, Lamia are going to instinctively target the weak-willed; players with low wisdom and who struggle to succeed deception checks.
That said... while the mechanics don't quiiiiite match, this element is ESSENTIAL for a monster that is a master of seduction; seduction only works if you understand what the VICTIM is lacking.
When, as the Lamia, you mention the character's deepest desires, be sure to do it almost with omniscient authority. The idea is that the Lamia knows the character better than the character knows themselves, further strengthening their "promise" to satisfy their most burning need.
If you REALLY want to know the ins and outs of seduction, this post is second to none. Tread carefully...
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Be a Master of Deception
Speaking of those promises... they are all B#LL SH*T.
Role-playing 5e Lamias means lying a lot and lying well.
Small lies and big lies... bold-faced lies and stretching the truth. In spells, in conversation, they DELUDE those in their presence. They directly contradict reality and truth. No surprise: to hate the good means you hate the truth! So if you role-play a 5e Lamia, you should be lying, and lying a lot, and lying about anything and everything.
They have a double proficiency for deception checks... a +7... which at first glance isn't devastatingly high. BUT... they can also cast Major Illusion and Disguise Self AT WILL, and their Disguise Self is uniquely amplified, allowing them to completely change their appearance to match any humanoid.
And if THAT wasn't enough of an advantage, they also have a special "Intoxicating Touch" ability. This is an "attack" and thus has to "hit" a player... there is no saving throw. But IF the Lamia hits, the player has disadvantage on ALL wisdom saving throws and ability checks.
Since this is called a "touch," I would say a Lamia can make this attack WITHOUT the players noticing that it is an attack. Which means that when role-playing the D&D Lamia, you should be trying to caress, hair rub, boop on the nose, kiss... ANY form of physical contact. If they succeed, the players would be at a disadvantage when it comes to seeing the truth behind ANY illusion, deception, or falsehood.
Enchant to Enslave
So what happens if a player falls for a Lamia's deception and lies?
They are either BUTCHERED or ENSLAVED.
D&D 5e Lamias are matriarchal... so female "rivals" are killed and males are worthless save for sex and servitude. And the only reason a victorious Lamia could resist killing someone good is if they can enslave someone REALLY good... think clerics and paladins.
By far the most common slaves of a Lamia are the Jackalweres, who they also use to raid nearby settlements and caravans. But they will gladly keep any devotee to a "righteous cause" around if they can reduce them to something akin to a beast. If the person can also stay aesthetically beautiful while being debased, then it's a big win for the Lamia.
Mechanically, this propensity for enslavement manifests in their enchantment spells. Three times a day, they can cast Charm Person or Suggestion. These aren't all that deadly, but keep in mind that with a Lamia's "Intoxicating Touch" ability, players will be making these wisdom saving throws at a disadvantage.
But even these are small potatoes for the 5e Lamia... the real damage is the Geas spell, which they can cast once a day and is like Suggestion on steroids. Not only does it last 30 DAYS... but if players attempt to resist the command, they take a whopping 5d10 psychic damage.
THIS is how a Lamia can tear apart a party... she uses Intoxicating Touch to lure them all into a stupor, then uses Geas to get her "favorite" one of them to kill the rest. Then she, or the Jackalweres, mop up any survivors.
My role-playing tip? The moment you have enchanted half the party, or used Geas on one of them, drop the act and become the chaotically evil monster you really are!
Bonus Tips for Role-Playing a Lamia
Lamia Insecurity: Lamias are kinda an "easy" monster to kill... only CR 5 with a spell save DC of 13. Meanwhile, they usually occupy deserts with Sphinxs... symbols of power and eternal glory. In other words, Lamias weaknesses are obvious to them. Some speculate that this is partially why they live a hedonistic lifestyle; they themselves are trying to "salve their emptiness." I would role-play a Lamia with a sense of insecurity, which transitions into burning rage if the player characters point it out.
Lamias and Children: In Greek mythology, and in past editions, there was a (obviously negative) connection between Lamias and children. One creative idea I had was to have Lamias HAAAATE children for one simple reason: the desires and seductions of a Lamia do not work on children, who point it out to whoever they are with. Children see through their illusions and deceptions, causing Lamias to become noticeably anxious if they are present. They will try to kill or remove them (or both) at the first opportunity. (NOTE: be careful with this... some players may not want to play in a game with child abuse).
Sycophants and Limited Access: The 5e description says that Lamias surround themselves with sycophants. This implies that there are layers of servants one has to get through in order to reach a Lamia. This would not only allow the Lamia to live a luxurious life, but also help nullify any feeling of insecurity. The Monsters Know What They Are Doing pointed out that a 5e Lamia could also use this to their advantage, allowing them to split the party, seeing one party member at a time. This would be a great way to make the Lamia a formidable opponent for a high level party.
Summary for Role-Playing a 5e Lamia
- Tempt your players with beauty, ecstasy, and euphoria.
- Be a seductress... playfully removing their agency.
- Show you know their secrets... and promise to fulfill them.
- Have the Lamia make physical contact with the characters.
- Lie your a$$ off and cast illusions.
- Once you enslave one with an enchantment... drop the act.
Hope that helps! Now, as a Dungeon Master, you can role-play the 5e Lamia. One word of warning: don't let this chaotically evil personality rub off on you!
Based out of Spokane, Riley is a freelance copywriter that combines his love of reading, writing, and people into something useful! He is thankful to be applying his passion for imaginative role-playing to help DnD related businesses communicate their value in the best way possible. He's kinda like a bard giving inspiration, except without the annoying pop covers!