A new series: my interpretation of whatever monster I feel like talking about, primarily from the 1st ed AD&D Monster Manual and Fiend Folio, but not limited to them, treated in a way that deals with the stuff I find interesting. That is: ecology and culture, if applicable. Stats can go hang.
First up: Amazon.
Amazons superficially resemble humans and this has fooled many observers into thinking that they are merely a different culture, or perhaps race, and try to deal with them on these terms. This is not the case. Amazons are an entirely different species from mankind, demonstrating convergent evolution in their general shape to that of man. While the Amazon is broadly mammalian, it is probably more closely related to opossums and kangaroos than it is to eutherian mammals such as man (or dogs, cats, cows and sheep).
The typical Amazon of legend and the type most commonly seen is termed a Worker and represents upward of 90% of the population of a given community.
Workers in appearance resemble somewhat masculine adult human females. They are uniformly taller, stronger, fitter and in some ways more intelligent than the average human male. They are focused, hard working, diligent, humorless and utterly fearless when it comes to defense of the community. The role of a Worker is to provide food for the community and specifically the Queen (more about her to come). To do this they forage and hunt, conduct some farming and animal husbandry activities, and engage in military raids to exterminate threats or simply to slaughter for meat. Like pigs and humans, Amazons will eat almost anything.
Workers have undeveloped uterine organs and are effectively sterile, though the general architecture and form is there, again confusing most observers that they are ‘female’ and are therefore in some way sexually available. Desires that we would associate with such behavior such as love, attachment, maternal instincts and so on are generalized and focused to the community. A Worker can feel nothing for a non-Amazon, may feel affection for their immediate fellows, but is completely emotionally absorbed in their community. They are the ultimate patriots.
The next caste type is termed the Drone. These are sexually mature males that number no more than a couple of dozen individuals per community at any time. Drones are muscular in the extreme though are for most practical purposes less intelligent than the Workers. Drones are almost never encountered out of the central confines of their city/community. They stay close to the Queen, ultimately defending her to the death if necessary, and in this capacity they are terrible and formidable foes. They tend to live far shorter lives than the other castes, however, becoming worn out after only 20 or so years.
At the top of this caste system, and the focus of the community is the Queen. The Queen is the only sexually mature and producing female. She is, with the possible exception of a very few Drones and Workers, the mother of the entire population. A Queen is very nearly immobile. Over time she becomes engorged with food, mammary glands and ovaries and languishes in her palace while her lovers, the Drones, mate with her, and interpret her commands to the Workers who look after her bodily needs. A Queen is effectively a baby making machine. She is continually pregnant, endlessly producing single neonates approximately the size of fist. These babies pop out at regular intervals and are collected and attached to the one of the Queen’s numerous nipples. After a few weeks when they have increased in size a 1000 fold, they are transferred to nurseries where they continue through growth and education, maturing to full size in approximately 4 to 5 years.
On maturity or graduation Workers are aggregated into groups called maniples, literally a handful (between 4 and 6, typically). These groups are lifetime organisations that act in concert when foraging, raiding and so on. They are both a permanent military squad, and eternal bunk-mates and best friends.
The Queen may be unhurried, appearing to be dozing for much of the time, but she is not apathetic. Her mental capacity far exceeds that of any of her offspring and her decisions are comprehensive and considered. Information brought in by Workers is continually whispered to her and the Drones, effectively Mandarins in this sense, further collect, collate and transmit findings. Decisions made are passed out again through the Drones and these complex plans are enacted with dedicated speed and professionalism.
This life pattern closely resembles that of social insects and many parallels and predictions can be made. However, Amazons are definitely not insects and have evolved this structure independently. Some scholars suggest that Amazons are actually extra-terrestrial in origin and their social structure is the result of conscious design to create a self perpetuating clone civilization.
Technologically Amazons parallel the dominant human civilization. They might work metal and leather, may plant seeds and harvest crops. Or they might not. They might run a slave civilization, using captured humans as draft animals. Many forms of culture have been identified, limited only by the requirement that the center of the community, the palace, be a static location. Amazons are never nomadic.
Amazons have a complex and precise spoken and non-verbal language. This language is perfectly learn-able by humans and is best described as an inflecting synthetic language, as is Latin. Amazon children are born with this language as an instinct, like a bird call, and variations between communities is slight. Amazons have difficulty learning new languages, though some particularly bright Workers have been known to mimic a few basic words of human languages. Whether Queens can learn other languages is unknown.
When a community reaches a certain size dependent on the current environmental conditions (a greater abundance of food corresponds to a bigger colony) some of the baby Workers born are given a different food material, developing them into potential Queens. They are Princesses, with greater intelligence and will. As they grow they begin to yearn for change, to see new places. They fall in love with one or more of the drones, an increasing number of which are also produced at this time. When ready, a Princess elopes with her chosen mates and a few maniples of newly loyal Workers to form a new colony. Princesses travelling with their entourage at this time are easily mistaken for ordinary human wanderers.