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Discussion Lizardmen Taboos

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Scalenex, Oct 6, 2017.

  1. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Big Disclaimer

    I am going to discuss my thoughts on taboos to a fantasy settings. My only frame of reference here is taboos in real world, both modern and historical, both familiar to me and foreign to me. I am not trying to endorse any taboos as things I think people should follow or should not follow. I’m not intending to convey values on real world taboos. I am talking about fictional bipedal sapient Lizards that are born from magic pools or the living thoughts of giant space frogs and I’m trying to approach things from their point of view. That shouldn't offend anyone because it's so silly, one would almost think I wasted my time spending hours writing this.


    1. proscribed by society as improper or unacceptable:

    Taboo language is usually bleeped on TV.

    Okay, let’s talk about taboo’s Lizardmen (and free-willed Seraphon) would likely have. Let us all talk about taboos that they would not have that humans take for a given?

    Most taboos have a root in a hope to keep society healthy and functioning. Incest is a taboo in almost all human cultures. The offspring of incest are often unhealthy to some degree. Most taboos are connect to the health of the individual, family, or society at large.

    Taboos can be dead wrong, either or moral grounds or otherwise, but they have to come from somewhere. Here is what I hope is a non-controversial example of a taboo being wrong. It is a known fact that eating raw meat is unhealthy for a human. It makes perfect sense that there is a taboo against eating raw meat. Based on this, medieval real world humans believed that cooking makes food healthier, therefore it was a mild taboo to serve vegetables or fruit raw. Nutritionists have determined that cooking fruits and vegetables actually reduces their nutritional value slightly. So this taboo was wrong, but you can clearly follow the logic that got here.

    So a Lizardmen taboo should have a tie to the health of Lizardmen society. Many taboos will be tied to physical, social, and spiritual well-being. In real life, the potential for taboo increases when you deal with political leaders or religious figures. That’s why it was funny in Forest Gump when Forest mooned President Johnson. Slann have shadows that loom large in Lizardmen. A Skink or Saurus committing a faux passe around a Slann is more severe than if a modern Western human embarrassed himself in front of the Queen, the pope, his significant other, most admired hero, and grandmother all in one go.

    At the same time, Slann are distant and remote, they rarely explain the minutiae of their actions. They can create a taboo without meaning. Here’s an exaggerated example. A Skink priest can wear his new blue vestments for the first time in a religious observance. A Slann could sneeze for an unrelated reason when the Skink walks into the room. Now the Temple City forbids anyone wearing the color blue.

    As I go into subtopics, I'll often start with the Slann and work my way down.

    Religious Taboos?

    The First Children of the Old Ones, Lizardmen, Seraphon, they are a theocratic society. Every breath they take, every action they take, every task they set themselves to do is for the Old Ones. I am of two minds on this.

    One, the First take their mission of the Old Ones as sacred and must be protected at all costs. They would have huge numbers of religious taboos against the tiniest deviations of the Great Plan. They would have more and stricter taboos, far beyond any real world society past or present.

    Two, the First take their sacred mission for the Old Ones as a fact of life, intrinsic to their being. Since their whole lives are dedicated the Old Ones, following their natural instincts and impulses will serve the Will of the Old Ones, so they don’t need a bunch of rules to follow.

    On the continuum between Options One and Two, I’m leaning towards two. I’m not going to include any strictly religious taboos, but religion, faith in the Old Ones and the Great Plan does factor into the other categories below.

    I plan to create a topic on Lizardmen/Seraphon religious practices later and may revisit this later.


    A lot of taboo language is based on euphemisms for sex or sexual organs. Pretty much every noun, adjective, or verb associated with human sexual reproduction is taboo somewhere. That’s hundreds of taboos and that’s just talking about it. In American TV, most bleep swear words are at least somewhat involved with the act of sex.

    Lots of reproductive acts, symbolic and not so symbolic, are taboo. Certain courtship techniques are taboo. Sometimes not doing things is taboo. Not every taboo is logical. Not every taboo is just, but it does make sense that humans have lots of sexual taboos. Reproduction is important for the survival of a species. Reproduction is an instinctive drive most humans have. Most humans have a desire to form pair bonds frequently based at least indirectly on reproduction. This is the basics of family units for most of history and family units are the foundation of society, so of course Society is going to try to set taboos on reproduction.

    Well Lizardmen don’t have any of that!

    Some writers, including GW writers, often write stories where Lizardmen are COMPLETELY ignorant on sexual reproduction. That is ridiculous. The Lizardmen are in the most dangerous natural environment in world and in order to survive, Lizardmen need to understand the behavior of the animals. Apart from the First Children of the Old One, every creature lowly insect to mighty Carnosaur procreates sexually. They even understand that female animals lay eggs or give live birth and males fertilize the eggs. But it’s not personal, so I don’t see Lizardmen being personally offended by talking about the sexual reproduction of lesser creatures. They are mostly bored by it, maybe mildly annoyed or grossed out. They probably think of sexual reproduction the way most humans think of snakes shedding their skin. Weird, kind of gross, but ultimately not worth getting emotionally invested.

    Since Lizardmen do not have genitals, they would not have any nudity taboos. They would understand wearing clothing for protection from the elements, as armor against attacks, or even as symbols of power and status, but they would have no hang ups about nudity.

    Compared to every race except maybe the Orcs and Goblins. Lizardmen grow to physical maturity very fast, and mental maturity almost as quick. Some Skinks are undoubtedly astute observers of the natural world and notice that animals have babies which take a while to mature, physically and mentally. They probably notice that animals with very large clutches or litters bestow very little care on their young and leave them to fend for themselves. Animals with small clutches or litters are likely to spend substantial energy feeding and protecting them. Said Skinks are likely to make the educated guess that Prodigal races will defend their young fiercely, but they aren’t going to internalize it within their own sense of morality. They would probably see children as future adults in clinical terms only. An ally’s children would receive no coddling from a Lizardman. An enemy’s children would receive no mercy.

    That doesn’t mean that Lizardmen would not have taboos regarding reproduction. They care about the generations that come after them as much as humans do. Now I imagine a spawning pool is fairly resilient. They are holy and have ambient magic, and spawning pools left alone for hundreds of years can still produce mass numbers Skinks and Sauri. I don’t think a Spawning pool can be tainted or damaged without someone making a concentrated effort to despoil it. That being said. I believe Skinks and Sauri would be very careful around spawning pools.

    Here’s some very obvious taboos: don’t pee within 100 yards of a spawning pool, don’t skip rocks on the spawning pool, don’t fish for food in the spawning pool.

    A conservative or uptight Skink might take this crazy far and insist that others refrain from certain behaviors that have nothing to do with the physical state of the spawning pool. “How dare you roughhouse near the spawning pool!” “Due to your lousy job raking, leaves blew into the spawning pool!

    As for additional evolutions of the taboo of not tainting a spawning pool. I’m betting Lizardmen will be more respectful and ecologically minded with natural bodies of water in general than humans, at least fresh water. They probably won’t be fanatic in protection of lakes, rivers and what not, but you don’t want to dump trash in a body of water you might be swimming in tomorrow. And Tzunki is one of the top Old Ones. Disrespecting water disrespects Tzunki.

    “Damn you and the pool that spawned you!” Them’s fighting words! That’s like insulting a human man’s mother and his religion at the same time. Is anything worse? Yes, imply a Skink or Saurus’ spawning pool was tainted. That’s real personal.

    What if a pool was actually tainted and living Saurus and Skinks still emerged, at least partially able to function in Lizardmen. Well it’s gauche to bring up the condition of their pool. That’s like a human insulting a handicapped person or snubbing someone from a broken home.

    This is why, even if they are not the number one threat, Skaven will always be the Lizardmen’s number one enemy. Deliberately tainting a spawning pool is rolling an act of blasphemy, rape, and genocide into one single horrific action.


    Now that we survived talking about sex, the controversy continues as I dive deep, deep into crap.

    All taboos have a logical basis in protecting an aspect of society. Excrement attracts vermin and potentially breeds disease. Modern science understands this. Ancient philosophers understood this. Even truly primitive humans (and animals) understand this an instinctual level because bad smells are nature’s way of warning us against potential health risks.

    Now if someone breaks a taboo by defecating on the sidewalk in public view, the first thing an onlooker is going to say is not “Oh no, that’s a public health risk!” they are going to think about it terms of taboos. But health is ultimately behind the reasoning of all real world taboos about where and when it is or is not appropriate to defecate. Even though there is no health risk talking about poop, the inherent filthiness of real excrement is the reason why it’s not considered polite conversation to casual discuss this natural act and the reason so many naughty words involve poop is because of this.

    Now Lizardmen and feces, that’s a sticky topic. Lizardmen are one of the more exotic and least human of the fantasy races of Warhammer, but I don’t see them as being so alien as to not perform this basic bodily function (maybe the Slann wouldn’t poop the same as other living creatures, but I’ll cover that later).

    First question to ask is, are Lizardmen more prone to fecal related diseases than real world humans, less vulnerable to them, or are they pretty much the same? The fact that Lizardmen come from tough animal stock and swim in filthy swamps suggests they have stronger constitutions than humans. A lot of Lizardmen eat bugs, and a lot of bugs eat fecal matter. That suggest fecal matter matters less to the Lizardmen. I think piles of feces will disappear faster in Lustria than most of the rest of world, but Lustria has more varied invertebrate life that could spread negative aspects of their filth. So that’s ambiguous.

    The fact that Skinks are Toughness 2 and that the Skaven used disease as their primary weapon against them suggest that Skinks would be more vulnerable to fecal diseases than Humans are. I’m just going to assume for simplicity that a Skink or Saurus is roughly as vulnerable to dung related diseases as a real world human is. Most Lizardmen probably have a stronger sense of smell than humans but most creatures with a strong sense of smell have a proportional tolerance to smells. They eat raw meat and/or live insects, so smells aren’t a huge deal.

    I’m going to cover two related sources of taboos. Some of you may view this as a wee bit of an oversight but I don’t think urine is worth covering by itself. I hope no one is pissed at me for this oversimplification, but most urine based taboos are simply the same as poop taboos, but just less extreme. Urination is more common, it’s less visible, and unless we are talking about house cats, less odorous. Urine disappears fasters, especially in an area with spongy ground like say Lustria. While urine is not exactly sterile as some people say, it is far less of a disease carrier than feces. If the Lizardmen have any taboos based around urination, it’s going to be similar to pooping taboos only lighter.

    Second related taboo: rectums. In real life there are a lot of taboos about the buttocks. I don’t have any formal research to back up this assertion but I’m going to wager that the main reason we have cultural hang ups about butts is because that’s where poop comes out of. The secondary reason is that the buttocks is associated with sexual reproduction. As covered previously, Lizardmen are asexual. While they have an opening in their posteriors where poop comes out of, the tail draws the eyes, not the rectum. Lizardmen probably have few, if any hang ups, about butts. At least not any more than mouths, ears, eyes, whatnot.

    As for fart related taboos, I don’t want to hear anything from any of you.

    Remember what I said about a Slann influencing taboos? Presumably most of you’ve heard some variation on the insult, “So-and-so is so uptight he acts like his poop doesn’t stink! Or I bet he doesn’t even poop at all!” A Slann is not a normal biological creature in the sense that most things are biological creatures. They are avatars of ancient primeval gods, living fonts of magical energy. It’s feasible that they are so evolved, so other otherworldly that they don’t produce waste products like lesser beings.

    Let’s explore this. In Lizardmen society, the Slann are if not living gods, living demigods. If Slann never need to poop, then it’s likely that Skinks will interpret this as yet one more sign of how Slann are purer are better than they are. Any poop based taboos that would already exist because of the aforementioned reason of public health would be that much stronger. That means a Skink or Saurus would be expected to relieve themselves as far from the Slann as feasible. Even if the Slann are not around, you can bet there will be a societal desire to clean up and dispose waste products as soon as possible. Piles of excrement would be literally be physical symptoms of the flawed sinful world. Every strata of society would be very anal retentive about poop based taboos, far more severe than any real world human society.

    Let’s reverse this. What if a Slann poops as often as a real world frog or toad, only you know, Slann-sized poops? GW lore is pretty crystal clear that when Slann is focusing on creating grand acts of magic or contemplating the details of the Great Plan, the Slann often tunes out the mundane and is either nigh oblivious or nigh uncaring about what is happening in the Slann’s immediate surroundings. That means, most of the time a Slann will be incontinent.

    I’m sure a Skink attendant would be honored to clean up after his lord and master, but as a fiction writer this is a detail I’d rather not deal with. When writing Lizardmen fluff, the goal is to portray an alien yet somehow relatable fantasy race in exciting stories. No matter how sci-fi my protagonists are, my readers are all modern humans and they have modern human taboos. It kills the dramatic tension on the readers’ part if they have to overlook the Slann’s diaper change during a dramatic exposition.

    Back to in setting effects. Taboos tend to come from the top level of a society and trickle down. If a Slann literally craps in front of half the population of a Temple City during the most holy ritual of the year, this will all but eliminate any poop based taboos. I’m sure the Skinks will take basic waste management steps for the public health, but I don’t think they would have any major taboos beyond the most obvious health related taboos. Don’t eat. Don’t roll in it. Don’t dump fecal waste in your drinking water.

    If the Slann never poops, that’s almost as likely to distract readers of fluff writing as a Slann constantly pooping. “No wonder the Slann are so uptight!” giggles. There is a middle ground. The Slann can go for very long periods of time without eating. The usual explanation is magic. All fecal matter used to be food. If a Slann doesn’t need to stop to eat during a two-century meditation session, he or she is probably not going to have to defecate during those two centuries either. In a setting where Slann do occasionally urinate or defecate, but far less often than the rank and file Lizardmen, poop based taboos would probably be very similar to the taboos of real world humans.

    Eat It! Or Not...

    Generally speaking, food taboos are less strict and less likely to trigger an emotional reaction than taboos based on reproduction or excretion of waste, but there is far less consensus on food taboos in the modern world today. Food based taboos vary from place-to-place much more than other taboos. What’s delicious in one culture is forbidden in another. Food taboos evolve faster over time than other taboos. I’m not going to tell anyone here what they should or should not be eaten, but I am going to touch on real world food taboos and the rationales behind them. The basic sources of real world food taboos are listed in italics below.

    Another noteworthy difference about food taboos is that people are more likely to violate them when they are facing actual starvation. Most documented cases of cannibalism in the modern societies involve extreme survival situations. This works on a societal level too. A society where food is scarce is going to have fewer food based taboos. Most of the world views eating dog meat as taboo. Most of the places were eating dog meat is socially acceptable suffer from extreme poverty and have fewer options for sources of protein.

    Here is a fantasy example. Warhammer Ogres are pretty much always hungry and never satisfied. They basically have no taboos on what Ogres should or should not eat. Where do Lizardmen fit in here? Well there are lot of dangers in Lustria, but Lustria is teeming with plants and animals. The jungle is filled with many dangers, but I don’t think “running out of food” barely makes it to the Top Ten list of dangers. The Brazilian rainforest has a somewhat more consistent climate than most of Europe. More importantly, anthropologists establish that while an agricultural society can product more food, hunter gatherer societies can handle famines better by adapting their food sources. Food is relatively abundant in Lustria, so Lizardmen are likely to have a fairly high number of food based taboos, but these are likely to be tossed aside if Lizardmen are questing in foreign lands.

    Do not eat holy things

    Some food taboos are based on things so pure and good, that it is sacrilege to eat them. I imagine the Lizardmen would hold many of these taboos, and these taboos would be so strong, that most would choose to starve to death before violating them.

    It’s almost a moot point to say Lizardmen would never a Coatl because they have to find a Caotl first, but of course that’s would be a grave insult to the Old Ones second only to eating a Slann. Either of these things would be so taboo, the Lizardmen couldn’t even imagine it.

    Lizardmen would not eat a Troglodon or Dread Saurian, but this taboo probably would not be unspoken. You have to be explicit when you are talking about a denying your people eating a source of meat this big. I do not believe the Lizardmen would have a taboo against eating a wild Bastiladon (I don’t believe they would be a popular food source though, difficult to hunt and a lot of shell to peel away). Once a Bastiladon has either carried the Ark of Sotek or a Solar Engine, that Bastiladon has been blessed by the gods. Once sanctified, eating that particular Bastiladon is off limits. Same if a Stegadon ever carried an Engine of the Gods or a Slann, even if it was only once. Eating a Jaguar would be a grave insult to Huanchi. Other Old Ones could have sacred animals. In most cases you don’t want to eat them, unless you are talking about a deity of plenty and fertility in which case eating their sacred animal is encouraged as long as you thank the Old Ones before you chow down.

    One thing I like that shows up in Lizardmen fluff, both official and especially fan made fluff is friction between the Cult of Sotek (the fanatics of Sotek) and the general Lizardmen populace who respects Sotek, but not with the same intensity. I’m betting Sotek cultists would view it as insult to eat snakes, but not all Lizardmen would agree with this to which their detractors might sardonically say “We can’t eat them, but sending them to their death by the thousands to get a small tactical advantage is okay?” Just like a Bastiladon or Stegadon that is elevated to the holy by association. If a snake is every involved in an actual Sotek ritual, then of course eating that particular snake would be taboo. Snakes don’t have that much meat on them. Probably better just abstain from eating snakes whenever the Cult of Sotek might find out.

    This has not been covered in much fluff before, but it’s feasible that the Lizardmen would hold some plants to be holy symbols of the Old Ones. If that’s the case, then eating those plants as a food source would be taboo.

    Both plants and animals, there would be some food sources that it’s only accept to eat them under very specific circumstances. Itxi Grubs debuted as an arcane magical item in the 7th edition Lizardmen army book that provides a temporary boost in casting. Also “Bring me another Itxi Grub” was one Slann’s last words before dying, so they are a frequent part of unofficial fluff pieces, and people joke about eating Itxi grubs on the forums. Fluffwise it would probably be taboo for a Lizardmen who is not a priest to eat an Itxi grub ever. It would probably a taboo for a Skink priest to eat an Itxi grub outside out of a casting a critical spell. Only Slann can get away with eating Itxi Grub’s casually, and even they probably don’t treat them like a bag of potato chips.

    There could be all sorts of foodstuffs that are priest-only or Slann-only. They don’t even have to have magic powers. If an item of food is either rare or difficult to prepare, it could still be restricted for the top ranks of society. Basically a Kroxigor eating such a food would be reaching above his social status in a scandalous way.


    One pretty universal taboo in the real world is that cannibalism is bad. Well for starters, all societies view killing, or at least murder killing as bad. Cannibalism is basically murder followed by desecrating the corpse. We also have a primal fear of predators and a desire to be better than mere animals.

    Sauri and Kroxigor are evolved from crocodiles, apex level predators that’s only real predators are themselves. This could be tilted either way to make Lizardmen more concerned with or less concerned with Lizardmen eating Lizardmen. I’m going to guess that given the nature of spawnings and the fact that many Skinks and Sauri accept hundreds of other beings as brothers, and everyone has the same greater mission and purpose. It’s not a stretch to say that they probably see a brotherhood with all other Lizardmen to some extent. I’m betting most of the First Children of the Old Ones would not tolerate the First Children of the Old Ones eating the First Children of the Old Ones unless the situation was very dire.

    Technically, a Saurus eating a Skink is not cannibalism, but I think culturally a Saurus, Skink, or Kroxigor eating a Saurus Skink or Kroxigor is going to be culturally the same as cannibalism. Does a Saurus eating a human count as cannibalism. No, these are different species and they have pretty much unbridgeable gaps in cultural understanding. This does mean that Sauri will want to eat humans. This just means it’s not cannibalism. Let’s look at this another source of food taboos.

    Do not eat intelligent creatures.

    Many, if not most humans in the real world view it as wrong to eat a dolphin, because dolphins are intelligent creatures. To a lesser extent, there are taboos against eating primates. I think Lizardmen would view eating other Warhammer races through this lens, at least if the subject in question is one of Prodigal Races (Elves, Humans, Ogres, Halflings, Dwarfs). These creatures are of course inferior to Lizardmen, but the Old Ones intended these creatures to be above everything else. Don’t treat them like food. The Old Ones intended for the Prodigals to be more important than foodd.

    Do not eat your friends

    I believe “do not eat your friends” applies to the Forces of Order, but I’m mostly talking non-sapient friends here. Many real world societies have taboos against eating horses, dogs, and cats. These are animals we like to think of as our friends. Would Lizardmen feel the same way about their animal friends? Yes and no, Lizardmen would have fewer taboos like this than real world humans, but it’s worth covering these on a case-by-case basis.

    Would Saurus Cavalry riders eat their dead Cold Ones? My guess is no but not because of a taboo. Cold Ones secrete a nasty odorous poison that’s not deadly but leaves Dark Elf cavalry permanently without a sense of smell and with a diminished sense of touch. Based on that, they probably taste terrible. Also Cold Ones, are generally more likely to survive their rider than have their rider survive them. Also Cold Ones are savage and predatory enough that Cold Ones probably eat their own dead before Saurus have a chance to take a nibble.

    Would Skinks eat dead Salamanders? Probably not, but not because of a taboo. Salamanders do not literally breath fire. Salamanders’ glands manufacture a substance that combusts on contact with air. Salamanders would be even harder to prepare without injuring the preparer or poisoning the eater. That is a lot of risk for a small return. Unless they tastes really delicious, in which case it’d be like preparing a blowfish to eat.

    Would Skinks eat dead Razordons? I don’t believe there would be a taboo against it. You are less likely to be emotionally bonded to a creature that could easily kill you. The question is, is the meat tasty enough to be worth removing all the spikes and bones? Alternatively, are the spikes worth harvesting to make weapons or decorations? If the answer is yes you would harvest the spikes, you might as well take the meat too while you’re at.

    Would Skinks eat dead Stegadons (that never carried Engines of the Gods)? Yes. A crew of Skink handlers deals with a Stegadon the bond is less personal. Many Stegadons outlive their first handlers, so if the Stegadon dies on the second or third generation of Skink handlers, the bond is even less personal. I’m sure the Skinks don’t want their Stegadons to die, but that’s a lot of meat to let go to waste.

    Carnosaurs have a lot of meat, would anyone eat a dead Carnosaur? I don’t see Lizardmen having a problem with eating a wild Carnosaur (though that’s difficult prey to hunt), but if you even suggest eating a trained Carnosaur, the Scar Veteran or Oldblood who once rode him will beat you into the ground. The bond between a Carnosaur and a Saurus leader is very strong and very personal. If both the Carnosaur and the Saurus rider are dead, you are insulting the dead Saurus hero’s memory by suggesting to eat his loyal Carnosaur.

    Would Skinks eat dead Terradons? I think we got a taboo here. The bond between rider and beast of burden is pretty strong. This would be at least as strong between man and horse. I’m betting this would be stronger than man and horse, because you and your beast are literally above it all together, that’s a tight bond.

    Would Skinks eat dead Ripperdactyls? Probably. The practice of using the Ripperdactyls natural enemies, blot toads, to manipulate Ripperdactyls shows a lack of respect for these creatures. Ripperdactyls have to basically be beaten into submission. This means the Skinks that ride Ripperdactyls are brave and ruthless, maybe a little unhinged since probably more Skinks fail at this than succeed. I could imagine an expression “Something you eat the Ripperdactyl, something it eats you” being a popular idiom for Lizardmen.

    Did we miss an animal? Only if you include non-GW sources. I have created Huagerdons as a sort of rough equivalent to a dog. Since I pretty much based their personalities and societal niches as dogs, Lizardmen would have similar taboos involving eating them. We had some interesting L-O made fluff pieces based on Lizardmen llama herders. These herders do have a strong sense of fondness for their charges, but they still are keeping llamas as a food source. We have some fluff precedent for Lizardmen keeping cats. I think Lizardmen had agriculture and stockpiled grain, they would certainly want something like cats.

    Do not eat unclean things

    There is both a physical health and a spiritual health component of these sort of food taboos. Lizardmen would have plenty of these.

    Nothing is more unclean then Skaven, so that would suggest a severe taboo against eating Skaven. On the other hand, taboos or the lack of taboos tend to come from the top down. Sotek eats thousands, maybe millions of Skaven, so eating Skaven cannot possibly be construed as an unholy act! There is a solution to this cognitive dissonance. “Do not eat Skaven because that is an act reserved for Sotek and Sotek alone”. I’m betting that the Cult of Sotek could have an internal split on a particular food taboo. Eating ordinary rats. Are rats unclean by association with Skaven, and thus should not be consumed? Or is eating a rat akin to emulating Sotek and thus to be encouraged? I’m betting most non-Sotek cultists are happy to stay out of this argument and just avoid eating rats out of simplicity.

    Beyond Skaven, I believe Anathema (all creatures the Olds deemed not in the Plan) are taboo to eat. If a Lizardmen makes a distinction between Prodigals and Fallen, the Fallen are unclean too. No real nuance there. Orcs, Trolls, the undead, Chaos mutants, etc, these creatures are just inherently wrong and you don’t want to imbibe their wrongness into your body by eating them. I don’t believe the taboo would be affected by the intelligence of the Anathema. It would be taboo to eat a highly intelligent sapient Anathema like a Fimir. It would be just as taboo to eat a near mindless Squig.

    The world isn’t divided between good things and Anathema. Is there something that the Lizardmen would find too unclean to eat but not so unclean the Old Ones demand it be eradicated from the planet? Possibly. One idea springs to mind: dairy products. Lizardmen who bother to think about the nuances of lesser races probably eventually make peace with the fact reptiles, amphibians, insects, arachnids, fish and mammals all sexually reproduce. But of all the creatures of the world, only mammals produce milk. That would be weird for Skinks and Sauri. Add this to fact that thousands of year ago, some Skinks probably tried drinking some milk on a dare and got sick (non-mammals would probably be lactose intolerant). Exaggerated retellings of the health risks of dairy products could make them taboo.

    Do not eat cute things, don’t eat baby animals

    This is a Human food taboo that I do not think Lizardmen would have at all. The human sympathy for cute things basically is evolutionary. If human babies were not so freaking adorable we would probably not be willing to provide the level of care for them that we do. This instinct extends to our interactions with the animal world. This is why someone can cherish a puppy and then stomp on a spider with no cognitive dissonance. This connects very closely with “don’t eat your friends” but this where you get middle ground between meat lovers and vegetarians. This is where you get things like pescetarianism. Pescetarians are willing to eat fish but not birds or mammals. This is sometimes justified by convenience or health but a large portion has to do with most fish not looking cute and friendly.

    I don’t see Lizardmen having this taboo. Even if you say “well they find different things cute!” No. Love of the cute is an extension of our natural instinct to protect children. Lizardmen barely comprehend the concept. If a Lizardmen is okay with eating a Stegadon, he’s going to be okay with eating a Stegadon hatchling or a Stegadon egg. The closest you could get to empathy for baby animals, A Skink might mercy kill orphaned juvenile animals knowing a quick death is better than a slow death. But you, know, they’d probably eat them too without any trace of guilt. Natural predators love eating young creatures and all Lizardmen, even Skinks are ultimately evolved from predators.

    Respect the natural cycle when drawing food from it

    I believe that all levels of Lizardmen, from simple Kroxigor to wise Slann, have a fundamental respect for the natural world greater than most Humans. If you talk about how all living things are connected and similar, they will probably nod in agreement. Even if they see themselves as having kinship with all living things, they will probably laugh at any attempt to use this a basis to justify vegetarianism. They understand that the natural world is full of creatures eating other creatures. They are personally evolved from predators and many of their gods are either predators themselves or closely tied to them.

    That doesn’t mean the Lizardmen cannot show respect to their food. A lot of Native American tribes would thank the spirit of the animal that died after a successful hunt. Variations of this occur in other cultures too. In a very loose sense, Lizardmen are based on Native America, sort of. I can see Lizardmen sharing the sentiment if not the exact practice.

    Relatively to the other Forces of Order, Lizardmen are fairly unconcerned with the fate of their souls. We get a brief covering of the Elven afterlife, the Dwarf afterlife, and a bunch of stuff on the Empire’s worship of Morr. The official covering of Lizardmen death beliefs in GW published works tends to start and stop on Slann mummies. If a Skink or Saurus is relatively unconcerned with his own individual soul, they aren’t likely to honor an antok’s soul. Skinks and Sauri are part of a collective and derive their self-worth from their value to their collective. I do not believe a Skink hunter would honor the specific animal he killed for food, he would honor the natural world as a whole.

    They are a couple ways they can do this, they can do this with simple rituals or prayers incorporated into either a hunt or a meal, or they could do a very complicated involved ritual once per year. Maybe both. They could offer prayers to specific Old Ones connected with the hunt (or the harvest). Or they could honor the natural world in the abstract. Either way is fine. I am inclined to lean towards the latter because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of Old Ones associated with prey and plenty.

    This probably varies from person to person a lot among the First. I imagine a Skink that regularly marches through the jungles both looking for food and avoiding being hunted as food would be a stickler for following the proper rituals of thanksgiving when enjoying the spoils of a hunt and a scroll-head Skink who never left a Temple City and barely thinks about where his food comes from would likely be pretty lax.

    Table Manners

    Medieval Humans were more likely to eat with their hands than modern Humans. I imagine, Lizardmen would eat with their hands (or claws) more. I cannot picture Skinks using chopsticks, let alone Sauri. They don’t have a whole lot of metal, so eating with utensils would be kind of silly. They could eat with knives and if they have any foods that resemble soup, they would need bowls and spoons, which I can envision without straining myself. But for the most part, I think Lizardmen, even Slann would eat with their hands (or in the Slann’s case, a Skink hand may feed them).

    I think Lizardmen would have some sort of table manners and it would be connected to status. Obviously the Slann get the best food. If you have a group of Skinks eating basically the same food, almost wolf-like, I imagine the Skink Chiefs would either get the choicest parts of the meat or get to take the first bite, or both. So table manners, what little exists here is about who eats what and when. Not how the person eats.

    Do not eat the strange

    These are tied to “do not eat the unclean” taboos, but they these taboos in real life are the most short-lived. There was reluctance to adopt tomatoes as a food source in Italy because every other member of the tomato’s broad plant family is deadly poison. Some are wary of eating any mushrooms for reasons. There was a lot of reluctance to adopt potatoes in Europe because they were weird. Also not everyone knew they were supposed to eat the root portion. Some tried to eat the flowers.

    I’m betting there are dozens of delicious foodstuffs in Lustria that barely look different from deadly poisonous varieties of the genus. I don’t see this being strong enough to form taboos. It’s just common sense. If you are a city slicker Skink, don’t try eating something without asking an experienced Skink hunter if it’s okay.

    Slann are glacially slow at implementing changes. This attitude trickles down. Skinks and Sauri tend to be pretty conservative. They would probably be reluctant to try foreign foods. Lustria is a pretty food rich environment for those who know where to look. I’m sure a lot of crops used by Humans, Dwarves and Elves would grow perfectly fine in Lustria, but I am not sure the Skinks would go through the effort to bring them home unless a Slann ordered them to for some reason.

    Skinks could grab domesticated plants and animals without crossing the World Pond by sampling things brought into the warmblood settlements in Lustria or the Southlands such as the famous Norse colony of Skeggi. Again I’m sure there are a lot of Old World crops that would grow just fine in Lustria. Given the waters and rains, I’m betting Lustria would be great place to grow rice (which I guess they’d have to grab from Cathayans). Lizardmen like meat and while there are a lot of large tasty animals in Lustria, there aren’t a whole lot of domesticated options.

    If Lustria is similar to the Americas, you basically got llamas, alpacas, Guinea pigs and honeybees for native domesticated animal options. Skinks might be willing to try raising their own food mammals. I’m betting they would be uninterested in raising goats or cows. Sure they taste fine as meat, but Humans keep these animals and drink the milk. It’s bad enough they drank milk from their females as babies but to drink milk from a lower creature as adults. Nasty! Pigs are mammals, but they only produce milk for their own young. Skinks might be okay raising pigs. I think the most appealing domesticated animal to steal from the warmbloods would be chickens. They can produce meat and eggs, and birds offend fewer Lizardmen sensibilities than mammals would.

    Breaking food taboos

    Lustria is a lush environment. I figure outside of Lustria, barring a magical solution, the Lizardmen will have lots of trouble finding food. Lizardmen compared to real world humans are fanatic and driven in their religious outlook. Taboos tend to be violated in wartime already.

    Given that Lizardmen don’t generally leave Lustria in numbers unless the situation is very serious, the mission comes first, social norms and taboos come second. Apart from “don’t eat holy things” taboos, I think Lizardmen would relax all of their food taboos if the alternative is to starve to death, or worse, fail the directives they were sent outside of Lustria in the first place.

    We all End Up the Remains of the Day!

    Another major source of real world taboos is about our treatment of the dead. There is a health aspect of this, a festering corpse can spread disease. Mostly, death taboos come because we mourn the loss of our family and comrades. A community is weakened by every death. We wish our loved ones a positive afterlife…and we wish ourselves a positive afterlife. Every sapient being has to come to terms with inevitability of his or her own death at some point, and that is scary. Best not to dwell on it, except that’s what I’m doing.

    I’m not going to go too deep into treatment of the enemy dead. I don’t think Lizardmen would think much of the enemy dead. I covered eating the enemy dead. I figure they will usually not eat the enemy dead unless their food supply is desperately low. Lizardmen to a greater or lesser extent will often sacrifice live captives to Sotek, and that’s something that will unnerve warmblood observers. For the most part, despite the fact that GW sculptors love to put human skulls on to Lizardmen models (and Skaven, Orc and Goblin, Empire etc), but I don’t think Lizardmen would deliberately desecrate the enemy dead either for fun or to show contempt for their enemies. At least they won’t make a long activity of it. I can imagine immediately after a battle, still hot from range, Saurus, Kroxigor, and Sotek Skinks would stab, slash, and smash the enemy fallen just to make sure.

    Most Lizardmen death taboos would center on their own dead. I can only think of one official GW fluff source where the after battle fate of corpses is even mentioned. That is Ibn Jellaba’s Expedition to Zlatan on page 6 of the 5th edition Lizardmen army book. Lizardmen march into the desert to liberate a Slann mummy stolen by the Tomb Kings. They didn’t bother to pick up the fallen Saurus despite how few Sauri had died. I generally have no problem overwriting the work of GW fluff writers, but you could also say this was an extreme case. There was a Slann mummy to take care of, and Slann always come first. They were far behind enemy lines in a hostile area relying on the food and water they carried with them, so they had to prioritize what to do with their time and energy. A fight near a Temple City, they could probably account for all of their dead.

    The Slann always come first. All effort is taken to keep Slann alive. All effort is taken to recover Slann corpses, all effort is taken to preserve Slann mummies. This doesn’t mean that the Lizardmen don’t care about dead Skinks, Sauri, and Kroxigor, these are their friends, allies, neighbors, and family.

    I have killed a lot of Lizardmen in my fluff pieces. Sometimes I don’t cover the treatment of the mass dead because I don’t want to distract from the climax. Once I had a major funeral involve a corpse placed in his original spawning pool to decompose there and provide nourishment to the next generation. Once I had a Viking style funeral where a corpse was placed on a delicate raft on a body of water and then set on fire. I had a funeral where some corpses were buried in the ground. I’ve had Lizardmen leave the corpses of their brother’s behind out of pragmatism, but at least they gave a short prayer first (they did take the heads of their friends with them to prevent Khorne daemons from using them as trophies). I don’t think there is a funerary rite that is taboo to skip, as long as someone does something.

    In the real world we have a taboo against speaking ill of the dead, but that taboo I think is gradually disappearing. It’s fairly common to hear “I don’t wish to talk ill of the dead but….” Look up what the Stark family says about everything said before the word “but.” There is a tendency to speak of death in hushed voices, or not talk about death at all. The mild taboo against talking about death is what makes gallows humor funny, though it’s also why some people get offended by gallows humor. Of course talking about the possibility of a Slann’s mortality, that is done in hushed reverent tones if at all.

    Apart from talk about Slann dying or dead Slann, I think Lizardmen would have fewer taboos about talking about death than real world humans. I think Warhammer humans would be more casual about death than real world medieval humans, but that’s neither here nor there. I think Saurus Warriors would be very casual about talking about death. They are evolved from apex predators and bred for war. They can’t die of aging, but they are nonetheless expendable. I think most of them are at peace with this and make a lot of gallows humor, that’s assuming you believe Sauri are mentally sophisticated enough to have humor.

    Skinks are a little bit more skittish about the possibility of death (they run away a lot when I play them), but I think Lustria is a rough enough place that at most, they have similar squeamishness talking about death than humans. But they hang out with Sauri, Kroxigor. Some of them regularly handle and train extremely dangerous warbeasts. They are the world’s foremost poisoners and they take glee in sacrificing sapient beings to Sotek. On the whole, while I don’t think Skinks are fully at peace with their own mortality, they probably don’t get worked up about the subject of death to the point where it consumes.

    Hmm that was short compared to the other taboo sections…

    Don't worry the last one is the shortest!

    Respect and Obedience

    Lizardmen society is very hierarchical and obedience to authority is central to their culture. The Slann must be obeyed. You can have some interesting conflict if the Slann disagree with each other, but for the most part this doesn’t created conflicts of interest. Younger Slann tend to defer to older Slann. This isn’t perfect but Lizardmen generally don’t have to worry about getting directly contradictory orders from Slann. Usually.

    Skink Priests, Saurus Scar Veterans and Old Bloods, and Skink Chiefs all command their lessers. You get some weird interlocking relationship. A Skink Chief has to follow the lead of an Old Blood in battle, but an Oldblood has to listen to a Skink Chief if he shouts “Hey, don’t pursue them, it’s a trap!” Generally most rank and file Skinks, Sauri, and Kroxigor have to obey the orders of Skink Priests, Skink Chiefs, and Saurus Scar Veterans if they know what is good for them.

    I don’t think Lizardmen/Seraphon would have exotic or alien social mores on respect and obedience, but they would be pretty strict. I don’t much firsthand experience with military installations, but generally militaries demand obedience and only allow even suggestions or open comments under specific, usually circumstances. Maybe a dash of religious conservatism, you don’t question your elders in the faith. Duty is paramount and obedience is expected.

    What happens when duty to the Great Plan or overarching common good comes into conflict with obeying one’s superior. Why you get an incredible wealthy of fluff stories!

    You are judged by the company you keep

    Real world humans judge other humans by who they hang out. Sometimes people consider it taboos for certain individuals to fraternize with members of a different social groups, be they based on social class, ethnicity, religion, age, interests etc. What about Lizardmen?

    If a Skink priest gets involved in a raucous gathering of worker Skinks watching a Kroxigor brawling match, are the other Skink priests going to accuse their fellow of slumming? If a warrior Skink decides he wants to hang out with the scribes are his fellows going to accuse of him of snubbing them? What about Saurus and Skinks fraternizing outside of work or combat. Kroxigor and Saurus? Kroxigor and Skinks would probably get along well, they are brothers after all.

    Duty comes first. If a Skink scribe gets beaten and bruised roughhousing with the warrior Skinks and this affects his work the next day. That’s a problem. But if Lizardmen complete their duties when called upon, why should anyone care who they socialize with in their free time?

    I believe a huge part of human social bias against who should associate with who is based on mating. Certain members of society do not want certain disparate groups to breed amongst each other. I’m going into the specifics, but I think a lot of ethnic, racial, and social class prejudices are based on this. Lizardmen do not reproduce sexually. There would be mating, courtship, or breeding taboos they could accidentally violate by merely associating with those people.

    Are all human group association taboos connected to reproduction? No, I think a lot of it has to do with economics. A group of Haves does not want a perceived group of Have-Nots taking their stuff. If you got a member of the supposedly lower group trying to get chummy with you, that could mean he’s out to take your stuff! If a member of your group is trying to kiss up to another group, clearly this person doesn’t like your group and thinks he’s better than you! He wants to social mobility away from you!

    Lizardmen are a communal society. That doesn’t mean they never fight over who has the best things, in our first short story contest, we a had a story about two Sauri competing over a nice sunning rock, but competition for status or material goods is part of Lizardmen society relative to the rest of the Forces of Order.

    As long as everyone obeys their orders and does their job, I don’t think Lizardmen care who they choose to hang out with in their free time.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
  2. Scolenex
    Cold One

    Scolenex Active Member

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    Must be taboo to leave comments on discussions here… I am concerned the lack of comments here may cause to Scalenex to choose not to finish his WIP thread on Lizardmen religious observances and holidays. I better try to stimulate some discussion here. Otherwise Scalenex may devolve into talking with himself and no one wants to see that.

    I know handsome and brilliant Scalenex did a very thorough job outlining his thoughts on Lizardmen taboos. I find it odd that no one disagrees with anything or as anything to add or amend. For instance why are not pandas considered sacred? Why is bamboo not served with every meal?

    On a non-bamboo related topic, it’s noteworthy that Scalenex’s dive into Age of Sigmar is slow indeed and this barely seemed to try to cover Seraphon taboos. I was hoping one of the more assimilated forumites would add their proverbial two cents on how Seraphon taboos would be alike or different from their more earthbound forebears.

    There was an even bigger omission. Water, primarily bathing.

    Modern day societies are pretty pro-bathing, but this has not always been the case.

    The Mongolians of Genghis Khan time believed that natural bodies of water, especially rivers were sacred. It was an insult to the gods to bathe because that would taint these sacred places by choosing to bathe in them. They were okay with standing in the rain or getting wet when crossing a river, but they didn’t bathe and they looked down on those who did.

    It would be historically inaccurate to typecast all of Medieval Europe but many believe that water contained diseases that could be absorbed through the pores of the skin and therefore excessive bathing was unhealthy. For periods of time, bathing was considered not exactly sinful but the Church considered it an indulgence that should be used in moderation. Also sexual and community norms basically chipped away at the traditions of the Roman bathhouse that survived into the medieval era. The human sense of smell prevented bathing from being banned outright.

    The Ancient Romans predated both medieval Europe and the Khan era Mongols. They enjoyed bathing, touted the hygiene benefits of bathing, and enjoyed the social community building aspects of public baths. They took the barbarians’ lack of bathing as yet one more sign that Romans were better than they were.

    Okay enough random factoids. Scalenex already established that Tzunki worship and the recognition that all Lizardmen are born from water and would hold natural world sources in high regard.

    How does this impact bathing taboos? It’s possible that one could justify bathing being insulting to Tzunki, but that’s a little fuzzy. Skinks and Kroxigor are aquatic. Sauruses are probably excellent swimmers, they just can swim while wearing greaves, helmets, and carrying weapons and shields. Where do you draw the line between swimming to get from Point A to Point B, swimming for fun, and bathing?

    Lizardmen consider themselves holier than the other races of the Warhammer world. Water is purifying, they are born of water. Lizardmen can bathe to renew their birthright ties to the holiness of water and use it to establish why they are better than the smelly Prodigals who rarely bathe. On a less spiritual note, Lizardmen of all stripes like being warm. I can imagine lazing about in heated water would be enjoyable.

    Given that they are evolved from aquatic reptiles and amphibians, the Lizardmen could even have skin problems if they go for prolonged periods of time without moisture. Bathing isn’t necessary for that when you have swimming. A Skink can get the same moisture benefit from plopping down in a muddy swamp. Bathing implies relatively clean or even heated water. After spending the better part of a week marching through the Reeking Mire, would a Skink want to wash off the filth and stink or would he just not care? What would the Lizardmen attitude be towards seeking out water just for cleaning?

    Lesser issue, but related. Some past cultures viewed drinking undiluted water as either unhealthy or insulting to the gods. Not without reason. Fermented beverages are less likely to contain pathogens or diseases, but some cultures were bigger on this than others. The aforementioned classical Mongols viewed drinking pure water as somewhat sacrilegious so they mixed their drinking water with dairy products, fermented beverages, or fermented dairy products. I agree with Scalenex that Lizardmen would not eat or drink dairy products but it would be relatively easy for Lizardmen to augment their drinking water with small quantities juice for alcoholic beverages for health, flavor, or merely taste reasons. Would Lizardmen be picky about the water they drink in anyway or is this pretty much a non-issue?

    Now that I saved this thread and encouraged a slew of responses to my thought provoking concepts. Give Scalenex and Warden some company on the Defensive Structures/Tactics thread.
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  3. tom ndege
    Skink Chief

    tom ndege Well-Known Member

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    Before the panda gets angry and @Scalenex turns into a crazy giggling kind of lizardgollum here a quick response:

    I think it might be a taboo for lizardmen to question given orders... just obey and do as you're told to...

    Another taboo could be the eating of other lizardmen... And maybe other lizard like creatures...

    My two cents for the moment... gotta get back to work...:hungover::banghead::vomit:
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  4. n810

    n810 First Spawning

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    The fact that most water sources around cities at the time where only slightly better that an open sewer probably reinforced this belief. :(

    For Lizardmen I suspect there would be a taboo against bathing in the spawning pools. :eek: @spawning of Bob

    It is also worth considering the fact that it rains like clock work every day in the jungle. (around 2:00 I believe)
    It might not be nectary to bathe regularly since they are likely getting daily rain showers weather they like it or not. :meh:
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  5. PhoenixTheCat

    PhoenixTheCat Well-Known Member

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    Somebody other than me included cats in the fluff!
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  6. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    I did cover Lizardmen not eating other Lizardmen. I hadn't thought about them not eating crocodiles, newts and whatnot.

    Two years ago, story 10.

    I was waiting for Bob to mention that but he's not here. :( We miss you Bob.

    Best vacation of my life was camping on tropical island off the Florida Keys. The 2:00 showers were pretty awesome..
  7. tom ndege
    Skink Chief

    tom ndege Well-Known Member

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    I'll extend my thoughts on this maybe tonight or tomorrow... gotta get to work now... retail business isn't for me... wanna go back to the construction side...

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