|Divine Rank||Lesser Deity|
|Portfolio||Lizardfolk, Survival, Propagation, Fertility, The Hunt, Swamps|
|Domains||3E: Animal, Plant, Water, Scalykind
|Home Plane||Semuanya's Bog (Outlands)|
Semuanya is the racial patron god of the lizardfolk in Dungeons & Dragons, concerned with their propagation and survival, and not very much else... Appearing as a giant lizardfolk warrior wielding a great club studded with sharp shells for added striking power, Semuanya is a god-beast; a mindless creature of instinct concerned only with survival and propagation. In the Forgotten Realms campaign world, Semuanya is an aspect of the "World Serpent" deity worshipped in different forms by the various reptilian races. Otherwise, s/he (for whatever reason, different editions variously describe them as male, female, or even hermaphroditic) retains the same basic portfolio and traits described here.
A creation of James M Ward, Semuanya first appeared in the 1980 supplement "Deities & Demigods" for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition. This version set the basic mold that Semuanya has pretty much adhered to in all editions since, which we'll quote because it says it better than we could:
"Semuanya is the unemotional and amoral reptilian ideal. Neither good nor evil, neither chaotic nor lawful, Semuanya merely exists and existence is its purpose. Live long, reproduce, ensure the safety of yourself and the race; this is the entire creed of Semuanya. Nothing else is of real importance, unless it bears directly on survival and propagation."
This has pretty much been the mold of Semuanya ever since. After this initial depiction, Semuanya fell into obscurity for 12 years, until his stats were updated to AD&D 2e in 1992's "Monster Mythology". Reiterating the same basic point, and clarifying that Semuanya sends an avatar to aid its people only in cases of major events that threaten their communities on a grand scale, such as climate change or major incursions of predators, it emphasized Semuanya's apathy by noting that it has no allies amongst the other gods, nor any real enemies beyond Sess'innek (and that can hardly be called an "enmity", since Semuanya is quite content to ignore him and let him corrupt the lizardfolk without struggling), and doesn't even bother to send omens to its shamans.
The biggest set of new info in this book was its detailing on the actual behavior of Semuanya's shamans. These lizardfolk clerics and druids are highly disorganized; each cares only for the interests and concerns of its own particular tribe, and their duty is to ensure the tribe's survival through guidance and the use of healing arts. They tend to counsel the avoidance of other races, including other lizardfolk tribes. Because of Semuanya's nature as a fertility god, breeding is a sacred duty of the shamans; they must breed during each season, and when their fertility ends, Semuanya strips them of their ability to cast divine magic at the rate of 1 level per month (at which point they usually commit ritual suicide).
Four years later, in 1996, "On Hallowed Ground" would take a look at Semuanya's presence in the Planescape setting... but only so far as to give a list of his deity level, his alignment, his residence in the Outer Planes, and the alignments of his worshippers.
This set the precedent for Semuanya's depictions in Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition: although Semuanya appeared in three different splatbooks (2000's "Defenders of the Faith" and 2004's "Complete Divine" and "Serpent Kingdoms"), it was only to describe the bare mechanical outline needed to detail an NPC Cleric of Semuanya, and a brief description of her as an uncaring, unfeeling, apathetic deity concerned solely with survival in Defenders of the Faith and Serpent Kingdoms. You could fit either one on a card. Don't believe us? Read it from the horse's mouth:
DotF: "Semuanya, the unfeeling god of the lizardfolk, is neutral. He is the Survivor, the Breeder, and the Watcher in lizardfolk lore. He is interested only in the survival and propagation of lizardfolk. The domains he is associated with are Animal, Plant, and Water. His favored weapon is the greatclub."
SK: "The lizardfolk currently embrace Semuanya, an unfeeling and uncaring fragment of the World Serpent. Semuanya promotes only survival and teaches that any action taken in the pursuit of that goal is acceptable. He dismisses the majority of the struggles that take place in Faerûn, including the plight of his followers, as completely irrelevant. Semuanya has no allies, and his only enemy is the demon lord Sess’innek."
It wasn't until 2005 that Paizo stepped in, with the article "Ecology of the Lizardfolk" in Dragon Magazine #335. This singlehandedly gave Semuanya the greatest amount of detail that he has ever received, before or since. In this iteration, Semuanya is portrayed as a hermaphroditic deity, simultaneously male and female, concerned only with the basic needs of survival; it is a Watcher, who prowls its territory in search of enemies, a Survivor, who plucks edible things from the ground and slays beasts for their meat, and a Breeder, who bears clutches of eggs and buries them in incubation mounds. For this reason, lizardfolk worship different aspects of Semuanya depending on their needs; they worship the female Breeder during times of peace and plenty, and the male Watcher/Seeker during times of strife and hardship. As part of this lore, Semuanya gained a mate, Kecuala, which unlike Semuanya was a thinking creature; Semuanya simply survived and followed its instincts, but Kecuala constantly thought and pondered and contemplated, until finally its thinking split it into two lesser versions of itself; a male lizardfolk and a female lizardfolk. Semuanya still watches over their progeny, but wishes for them to cast off the burdens of thought and attain a similar purity of instinct, at which point they will merge together and Kecuala will be reborn to join his/her mate in an endless afterlife of hunting and breeding without thought.
A sharp divergence from its AD&D lore is that, in this article, it's stated that most of Semuanya's shamans are drawn from the ranks of the uncommon hermaphroditic lizardfolk (lizardfolk are one of those reptiles where the sex of a hatchling is determined by the temperature they're incubated at, but the precise temperature fluxuations needed to produce an intersex baby usually just kill them instead, so whenever one does hatch, they're regarded as marked by their goddess/god); unlike in AD&D, where shamans were expected to breed to maintain their authority, these shamans are sterile - they are revered as holy, however, for sharing Semuanya's nature as both male and female. Ironically, they're usually much, much smarter than other lizardfolk.
According to this article, lizardfolk shamans are trained by their elders and take on their roles when their elders are no longer capable of doing so. Prayers to the Watcher consist of short hisses and reptilian barks made before battle (or, presumably, a hunt), whilst those to the Breeder are long chants and epic songs made in Draconic. Semuanya has no temples, although the occasional symbol or idol is used as a physical representation, and its rites revolve around breeding or fighting. Worshippers and shamans of Semuanya are charged with aiding their tribe, and so often go on quests to defeat powerful foes or recover stolen eggs or hatchlings. The herald of Semuanya is an 18th level albino lizardfolk druid named Spirit Scale, whilst its planar allies are typically dinosaurs, giant crocodiles, hydras and tendriculoses with the Celestial or Fiendish creature templates.