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Old Screeds

Pride in Sex (thoughts on wemics) [8 April 05] Sex in D&D, part two.

Wemics, or liontaurs, are half human and half lion. So in thinking about wemics and sex, both of these real world species provoke possibilities for the creature of fantasy. The question: does one draw inspiration from the lion side, from the human side, from both, or from neither? Let me look at some of these possibilities.


Lions form prides in which females outnumber males. There may be just one mature male per pride, or several in a coalition. Young males are forced out at maturity, or earlier.

The imbalance in numbers of males and females makes sex a lot different for lionish wemics compared with humans or humanish wemics. Nature handles this imbalance in lions by restricting female fertility to certain times. Since female lions are not always sexually active, male numbers and fertile female numbers are more nearly equal. In humans, who are sexually active all the time, an imbalance in gender numbers can express itself with same-gender relationships; if liontaurs in your world are always sexually active, there may be a greater acceptance of gay sex among wemics than among humans.

But among lionish wemics, sex is just not the be-all that it is among humanish wemics. Sex in humans serves not just for reproduction, but also for creating long-term mating couples. For lionish wemics, who do not form couples, sex is about meeting that instinctive urge and making babies. In the real world, a female lion is in estrus for just one week every couple years; during estrus she may have sex up to 100 times per day. For lionish wemics, sex serves its purpose -- to get pregnant -- and that's it.

Which is just as well, since females who are not focused on sex and who are years away from their next pregnancy are then free to help out a new mother who just gave birth to two to four cubs!

Based on these details, one can build a range of possible wemic cultures. Here are a few, with varying gender roles.

Patriarchal prides: Following the lion model most closely, the male wemic is the leader of the pride, and perhaps the only male. He dominates through force of will, intimidation, and violence. He is the best fighter, and he protects the pride. He gives up his position only when defeated in combat. Young males are exiled; some take over prides of their own, others band together with other males. Sometimes a coalition of males will take over a pride, but even then, one is the clear leader. I used this model in my creation of a two-legged feline race.

Sex among these liontaurs is a violent affair, but consensual. Females, being hunters, are good fighters, and they feel free to discourage courtship by drawing blood. Some males are persistent, and will make pests of themselves, eventually winning over his mate or running off when weak from injury!

Matriarchal prides: On the other extreme, consider the possibility that female wemics, who are the hunters and providers of the pride, are the dominant power. They allow a single male to join the pride, more or less to father cubs. Other males are driven off: some head off alone, others hang around the periphery of the pride in the hope of being next year's chosen male. That male is pampered, coddled and indulged, but after a year, a festival is held in which the a new male is given a chance to win the spot. In this pride, sex is consensual and much less violent. Following the example of real lions, no female has a much higher rank than another, so decisions are consensual, and sharing is common, with respect for elders being the rule.

Other prides: There are other ways to explain a leonine pride structure. Maybe fewer males are born to wemics than females. Or maybe the males are disproportionately slain, in combat or by disease. In these cases, the leader of a pride might be male or female, or there might be no leader at all. Gender roles are less emphasized, especially when food is scarce and resources are poor -- then everybody has to do everything possible to survive, and the luxury of dividing labor into "men's work" and "women's work" goes out the window.


Of course, it is easy to imagine a human system of sexuality and culture for wemics, since we are humans. To start with, these wemics are sexually active all the time, and there are equal numbers of males and females, so heterosexual pair-bonding is common. Sex is designed to reinforce that, so love-making includes lots of foreplay, pleasure, and emotional ties -- helping create the pair-bond, sex is important, more important than to lionish wemics. There is a lot more courtship, sex lasts longer, and acts of love-making are spread out over time, not confined to a week of estrus.

Of course, as with human cultures, there are plenty of variations to explore. When an activity is as important as sex, and used for multiple purposes, such as for pair-bonding and for reproduction, it is easy to associate it with different cultural cues, from sexy dancing to taboos on touching to shoe fetishes ... the wide range of variations in human sex makes that clear. Humanish wemics are the same.

The humanish wemic model for sex is the standard assumed with the Wizard's of the Coast Wemic Camp module, which I have reviewed. In it, there are four NPC leaders detailed: male and female leaders, and another male and female, of whom the male longs for the second female. On the other hand, the wemic entry in "Monsters of Faerun" says that wemic prides consist of 1-4 males and 1-12 females, and that suggests a more lionish, gender-imbalanced model. Of course, it seems most likely that the authors did not really think through the ramifications for wemic sex, or did not want to include cultural notes that suggested polygamy, a controversial topic in the real world.


Among the other options, one can imagine wemics with variant biologies, such as hermaphrodites like John Varley's centaurs in his Titan series, or like Chakats, which I'll discuss in a future screed.

And it is possible that a wemic, especially one isolated among two-leggers, might fall in love with a non-wemic. I suggest that such unions would not result in children, although in a fantasy world of magic, anything is possible.

And of course, there is nothing compelling you to add a sexual dimension to your wemic character. A wemic may be a mostly asexual creature, fertile only for short periods, and then only in the presence of another fertile wemic.

This is the second part of a seven part series on sex in role-play games:

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