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Semuanya (pronounced: /sɛmˈænjɑːse-moo-ÆN-ya[12][13]) was the patron deity of the lizardfolk[14] and their god of survival.[6][3][10] Semuanya was a dualistic, androgynous deity who was revered in line with the core aspect of lizardfolk life their people needed them to embody most: that of a hunter or breeder.[8][1]

During times of strife and scarcity, sacrifices were offered to Semuanya in his masculine aspect as the Watcher, who prowled the primordial jungles looking for enemies, or the Survivor, who scavenged edibles and slew wild beasts for meat. Meanwhile, in times of peace and plenty, she was worshiped in her feminine aspect as the Breeder, who bore clutches of eggs and buried them in the ground to keep them warm and safe.[8][1]

Description[]

Semuanya appeared as a normal[10] if muscular[2] and oversized lizardman,[3] their reported height ranging from 8 feet (2.4 meters)[2] to 10 feet (3 meters)[3] to 12 feet (3.7 meters) tall.[10] They wore only a loincloth.[3]

Personality[]

Neither good nor evil, neither lawful nor chaotic, Semuanya was utterly amoral, uncaring, and unfeeling, the very ideal of the cold, unemotional reptilian.[6][3][10][15] They spoke only when necessary, and were considered lacking in charisma by all but the lizardfolk themselves.[10] However, they were not to be considered stupid, being strong and agile in both body and mind.[3][10]

Semuanya's only purpose was survival and existence for its own sake,[15][10] and their only other consideration was propagation.[3] They taught that any action taken to survive was acceptable, and anything irrelevant to survival was not worthy of pursuit.[3][6] They cared only for the continued existence of the lizardfolk, and even that concern was narrow.[8] Only the affairs of lizardfolk that worshiped Semuanya were considered worthy of attention,[16] and even most of those struggles, let alone the issues of other beings, were dismissed by the god as entirely inconsequential.[6][3]

In the 15th century DR, there was a noticeable shift in Semuanya's attitude, becoming a more bombastic figure that showed noticeable appreciation of the skills of even non-lizardfolk.[2]

Powers[]

Avatars of Semuanya had thick, scaly hides that shrugged off bludgeoning weapons, and were impervious to them altogether if the weapon wasn't magical. Bolt-like spells had a tendency to bounce off their body, they were highly resistant to illusion magic,[3] they could regenerate wounds taken or body parts lost, and they moved with great speed.[10]

Avatars could command all lizards and summon minotaur lizards to their aid.[10] They could draw from a great many magical disciplines, but notably could not cast illusion or conjuration spells.[3]

Possessions[]

Semuanya wielded a club studded with razor-sharp shells.[3][10]

Realm[]

Semuanya's Bog in the Outlands existed beyond the ring of portals connecting that plane to all the other Outer Planes,[17] just on the far shore of Manannan Mac Lir's realm of Tir fo Thuinn, barely above the Outlands' equivalent of sea level.[18]

Interestingly, Semuanya's bog was mostly deserted. The petitioners were all lizardmen, though it was also a nest for other bog-loving creatures and a home to independently minded planar travelers and desperate outlaws.[18] Wild and untamed, its lack of noteworthy qualities made it an excellent hideout, though there were rumors of dinosaurs and stories of those trying to raise armies of lizardmen usually ended in the ambitious soul being eaten by reptilians with better things to do.[19]

Like other locations in the Outlands, Semuanya's Bog varied based on one's closeness to other planes. Closer to the Lower planes it was surrounded by chilly, damp fens.[20] It had been described as a dismal swamp,[19] but more recent descriptions cast it as a pleasant-smelling one, full of bright flowers, colorful bugs and trees draped in vibrant moss. Even in the more beneficent version of Semuanya's Bog, however, life was not easy. It was known to host celestial lizardfolk petitioners, the spirits of champions always engaged in training, competition and contests.[2]

Semuanya ruled their bog, but more in theory than practice.[19] The lizardfolk deity came and went unpredictably, though could be drawn back through great physical feats. Even their petitioners were known to leave the realm (a highly unusual phenomenon) in their pursuit of athletic greatness.[2]

Activities[]

Semuanya's chief concern was the continued existence of their charges and their race as a whole.[14] They sent no omens to their shamans and would rarely make an appearance through an avatar for anything less than a major crisis that threatened lizardfolk communities on a massive scale, such as in the event of climate change or a major invasion of hostile forces.[3] The Survivor worked hand-in-hand with the natural world.[21]

One activity that did take up Semuanya's time was judging fantastic competitions throughout the planes and presenting accolades to those who displayed great fitness. Notably, this did not strictly have to take the form of physical challenges, such as contests of raw strength, speed or agility. Impressive deimatic displays or even great knowledge of reptiles were considered praiseworthy to Semuanya.[2]

Relationships[]

Semuanya's uncaring and myopic focus on survival meant that they were left alone by almost all other deities,[3] (although rumor had it that duplicitous Set had been associating with him)[22] and thus they had no allies and only one enemy of note. This enemy was the tanar'ri lord Sess'innek, who sought the dominion and corruption of lizardfolk, but no record existed of the two coming into conflict in any way despite the archfiend's continual and increasing intrusion into the lives of Semuanya's charges. However, Semuanya might eventually feel compelled to act against the demon.[6][3]

Semuanya's herald was Spirit Scale, a powerful, albino lizardfolk druid. Their other allies, those most commonly sent to fulfill planar ally spells were celestial or fiendish dinosaurs, giant crocodiles, hydras, or tendriculoses.[1]

Worshipers[]

Main article: Church of Semuanya

Semuanya was worshiped by the vast majority of lizardfolk in Faerûn,[6] as well as some muckdwellers[23] and asabis.[24] Their priests were all tribal shamans who emulated their god's taciturn ways, had little care for any concerns outside of their tribe, and lacked organization in their religion. They were the care-takers[3] and often leaders of their tribes,[10] and called for their kin to avoid contact with all other races, and even to limit contact with other lizardfolk tribes, except for the purposes of breeding outside the tribe.[3][10] Shamans were urged to breed every season; if ever they became infertile, they declined in power over a period of months, and most eventually performed ritual suicide.[3]

Dogma[]

Semuanya encouraged their followers to reproduce, to live long lives, and to guarantee the safety of themselves and of their race. They taught that any action taken in pursuit of these ends was good, and that all others were not just irrelevant, but not even worth the effort of taking.[6][3][10]

History, Myth and Legends[]

Semuanya was one of the fragments of the World Serpent, a fractured deity from the ancient time of the sarrukh who broke themselves into several pieces to better serve the many wills of their constituent worshipers. Semuanya was an unfeeling, uncaring aspect, but notably was not the original god of the lizardfolk; that distinction went to Essylliss, a god created intentionally by the World Serpent to give the lizardfolk a deity created in their image which they could call their own, lest the simple creatures be taken in by other gods. Worship of Semuanya didn't take off until after Essylliss's decline around −31,500 DR, some two millennia after the fall of sarrukh-ruled Mhairshaulk. The divided factions of lizardfolk began to worship Semuanya, and thereafter Essylliss was mostly forgotten.[6]

Kecuala[]

In the strong oral traditions of the lizardfolk, Semuanya was cast as the creator of the lizardfolk, albeit in the sense of being their breeder. In this story, the first legend taught to the hatchlings, Semuanya was content to hunt and breed in the early jungles of the world[1] and their own bog,[25] but did not do so alone. They were accompanied by their mate, Kecuala (or Kekuala), a being much like themselves with whom they lived in harmony. But Kecuala could not settle, for they were plagued by anxiety, paralyzed by indecision,[1] and increasingly distracted by matters of the abstract and cerebral.[25] Semuanya chided this behavior, and after their latest hunt returned to find Kecuala was no more.[1]

How can I watch or hunt or breed without first thinking? The decisions are so many and so great! What if my actions bring trouble? I must be cautious, must be careful, must think things through!
— Kecuala expressing their uncertainty.[1]

Kecuala's excessive deliberating had caused them to fragment into two smaller beings, the first desiring to hunt and fight and the second to procreate and protect its hatchlings. These were the first mortal lizardfolk, and in their wisdom, so the legend went, Semuanya named the aggressive Kecuala "male" and the passive Kecuala "female" and helped them establish a place to live. Semuanya thus continued to watch over both halves of their other halves, hoping one day they would overcome their overthinking and rejoin to partake in their simple life once more.[1]

Kecuala's death was seemingly perceived by the early lizardfolk as a great sacrifice, which they honored by establishing a vast empire of knowledge and philosophy. It was only after the ruling class became removed from the concerns of the common lizardfolk and unable to deal with the practical concerns of combat that the war-like cult of Semuanya rose to power. From there the old lizardfolk empire fell entirely, the way of Kecuala forgotten as Semuanya's worshipers forbade all reference to it from their oral traditions.[25]

Even in reports where Semuanya was the focus of the lizardfolk faith and blessed their empire, it still fell. Semuanya punished them for their hubristic, almost irreverent use of magic by withdrawing the warmth of the sun, and in their sluggish state the cold-bloods could not stop the rebellion of the slaves in their conquered lands. In short order, the empire was gone, but by the time the sun returned and life was restored to their land it was too late. The lizardfolk had descended too far into barbarism to reinstate their empire.[26]

Lizard Kings and Lizardfolk Decline[]

The early tales and legends of other races made no mention of the powerful, dominating creatures known as lizard kings, which is seemingly because their existence was a fairly recent phenomenon.[15] Indeed, they were a corruption of Semuanya's creation by the demon lord Sess'inek, who at the time had grown weary of the Blood War and so sought to establish dominion elsewhere.[3] It was Sess'inek's goal to transform the lizardfolk from neutral if primitive creatures into a truly evil race, one under his control.[5][27]

Sess'innek has very few shamans among the lizardfolk, and yet the demon lord having shamans at all was evidence of his dramatic rise in power over the millennia.[3] By the time he arrived, the lizardfolk were a race in decline, and this was surely Semuanya's fault. Semuanya's cause of survival for its own sake was an almost meaningless state of being, ironically driving them and their race closer to extinction. To those simple lizardfolk who saw only weakness in the old ways of Semuanya's shamans, Sess'inek's honeyed promises of power were intoxicating, and so his lizard kings came to dominate many lizardfolk communities resisting attempts by other races to sweep them aside.[15]

However, Semuanya's decline showed some signs of being averted. Not all lizard kings were evil creatures, such as Bogclaw of the Twilight Marsh.[28] Another example was the lizard kings of the Tun Marshes, who did not demand weekly sacrifices of flesh from their followers and were not believed by their fellow lizardfolk to be creations of evil Sess'inek, who they openly reviled, but relatively benevolent Semuanya.[27] Furthermore, during the 15th century DR, Semuanya's portfolio had expanded to include athleticism and physical prowess, and the god had gained an enthusiastic attitude.[2]

Nebelun[]

In gnomish mythology, the inventor and trickster god Nebelun (represented in Faerûn by Gond) was closely associated with Semuanya. His symbol, a bellows and lizard tail, referred to the time he stole Semuanya's tail for use in one of his inventions. Fearless to the point of insanity, he simply strolled up to the lizard god as they splashed in their favorite pool and somehow took it without Semuanya noticing. Afterwards Nebelun skinned the tail, sewed the skin back together, inflated it, and used it to build the first gnomish blimp.[29]

The specifics of the story, such as whether he was still a mortal or already a god when he took it or how he managed to escape with something that big without being detected was rarely explained or agreed upon. Regardless, the point of the tale and others like it were not the practicality or realism, but the fun, such as imagining the look on Semuanya's face.[29]

Appendix[]

Notes[]

  1. For v.3.5, in Complete Divine, page 124, Semuanya is listed as having the lizardfolk portfolio, a greatclub favored weapon, and the Water domain. This is contradicted by Serpent Kingdoms pages 188 and 187, where Semuanya is listed as having the survival and propagation portfolios (and the lizardfolk portfolio is held by Essyllis), a club favored weapon, and no Water domain. As Serpent Kingdoms was published later and is a Forgotten Realms source, it takes precedence, while the Complete Divine details are assumed to be core-only and are neglected. Furthermore, the Complete Divine details contradict information from previous editions.

Appearances[]

Gallery[]

Reference[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 Amber Scott and F. Wesley Schneider (September 2005). “The Ecology of the Lizardfolk”. In Erik Mona ed. Dragon #335 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), pp. 52–55.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Justice Arman, F. Wesley Schneider (October 2023). “Turn of Fortune's Wheel”. Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 69–71. ISBN 978-0-7869-6904-3.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 Carl Sargent (May 1992). Monster Mythology. (TSR, Inc), p. 102. ISBN 1-5607-6362-0.
  4. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 60, 296. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins (2014-09-30). Monster Manual 5th edition. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 204. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd, Darrin Drader (July 2004). Serpent Kingdoms. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 187–189. ISBN 0-7869-3277-5.
  7. Rich Redman, James Wyatt (May 2001). Defenders of the Faith. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 92. ISBN 0-7869-1840-3.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Rich Redman, James Wyatt (May 2001). Defenders of the Faith. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 94–95. ISBN 0-7869-1840-3.
  9. Colin McComb (October 1996). On Hallowed Ground. Edited by Ray Vallese. (TSR, Inc.), p. 177. ISBN 0-7869-0430-5.
  10. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 10.12 10.13 James Ward and Robert Kuntz (November 1984). Legends & Lore. (TSR, Inc), p. 96. ISBN 978-0880380508.
  11. James Ward and Robert Kuntz (November 1984). Legends & Lore. (TSR, Inc), p. 125. ISBN 978-0880380508.
  12. Frank Mentzer (January 1985). “Ay pronunseeAYshun gyd”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #93 (TSR, Inc.), p. 28.
  13. Mike Mearls, et al. (October 2005). Dragon Compendium. Edited by Erik Mona, Mike McArtor. (Paizo Publishing), p. 242. ISBN 0-9770071-4-6.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 169. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Carl Sargent (May 1992). Monster Mythology. (TSR, Inc), p. 98. ISBN 1-5607-6362-0.
  16. David Noonan (May 2004). Complete Divine. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 124. ISBN 0-7869-3272-4.
  17. Jeff Grubb (July 1987). Manual of the Planes 1st edition. (TSR), p. 116. ISBN 0880383992.
  18. 18.0 18.1 David "Zeb" Cook (1994). Planescape Campaign Setting, Sigil and Beyond. Edited by David Wise. (TSR, Inc), p. 16. ISBN 978-1560768340.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Jeff Grubb (May 1995). A Player's Primer to the Outlands. Edited by Ray Vallese. (TSR, Inc.), p. 31. ISBN 0-7869-0121-7.
  20. David "Zeb" Cook (1994). Planescape Campaign Setting, Sigil and Beyond. Edited by David Wise. (TSR, Inc), p. 27. ISBN 978-1560768340.
  21. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 141. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  22. Colin McComb (October 1996). On Hallowed Ground. Edited by Ray Vallese. (TSR, Inc.), p. 91. ISBN 0-7869-0430-5.
  23. Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd, Darrin Drader (July 2004). Serpent Kingdoms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 104. ISBN 0-7869-3277-5.
  24. Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd, Darrin Drader (July 2004). Serpent Kingdoms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 34. ISBN 0-7869-3277-5.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Template:Cite dungeon/208/Captain Slygo's Treasure
  26. Template:Cite web/The Eye of the Sun
  27. 27.0 27.1 James Butler, Elizabeth T. Danforth, Jean Rabe (September 1994). “The Cormyrean Marshes”. In Karen S. Boomgarden ed. Elminster's Ecologies (TSR, Inc), p. 20. ISBN 1-5607-6917-3.
  28. Robert Adducci (2015-02-05). Raiders of the Twilight Marsh (DDEX1-12) (PDF). D&D Adventurers League: Tyranny of Dragons (Wizards of the Coast), p. 6.
  29. 29.0 29.1 Carl Sargent (May 1992). Monster Mythology. (TSR, Inc), p. 36. ISBN 1-5607-6362-0.

Connections[]

Miscellaneous Monster Deities
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