Worldscape Workbook—Gearing Up Red Sonja, Part 2: Finishing Touches

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The first issue of Dynamite's Pathfinder Worldscape sword & sorcery crossover event hits comic stands NEXT Wednesday, and I couldn't be more excited! As the series author, I had a chance to push the series at New York Comic Con this weekend, and it was fantastic talking to so many comics fans eager to see how the big event plays out! I signed a bunch of Pathfinder comics at the Dynamite booth in my first-ever comic signing, and I'd like to thank all of the Pathfinder fans who made it such a fun and welcoming experience.

Before I get into this week's Worldscape Workbook, I want to remind everybody that I will be appearing live at 7:00 PM at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles on Wednesday, October 19th, to celebrate the official release of Pathfinder Worldscape #1. If you're local to LA (or so fanatical you're pricing flights right now), I can't wait to see you at the event and chat about Worldscape, Pathfinder, Starfinder, or whatever else you have on your mind.

Can't make it to Meltdown next Wednesday? Can't make it to a comic store at all? Don't despair! You can preorder issue #1 right here on paizo.com. Or, to make sure you never miss a single issue, sign up for a Pathfinder Comics Ongoing Subscription!

Each issue of Pathfinder Worldscape comes with a bonus RPG appendix that translates some of Dynamite's most important characters to the official Pathfinder RPG rules. The first issue presents game stats for Red Sonja, the famous "She-Devil with a Sword" who has served as fantasy's most ass-kicking female protagonist since her comics debut in the early 1970s. Over the last several weeks, I've used this Worldscape Workbook column to detail my thoughts on translating Red Sonja's stories to the Pathfinder rules. I'll continue with other characters in the series—Tars Tarkas, Tarzan, John Carter, etc.—in weeks to come, but I've still got at least two more columns to cover before I'm done with Sonja.

Next week I'll reveal an overview of Red Sonja's much-anticipated "sword-devil" archetype, which allows rangers to swap out a bunch of their abilities to be more effective combatants while wearing no armor. (I mentioned in comments recently that with the Barsooman "warlord" archetype and probably a "lord of the jungle" archetype yet to come, Pathfinder Worldscape will be the "Catcher in the Rye" of no-armor martial archetypes.) Before I get to that, though, we've got a bit more ground to cover in terms of how I chose Red Sonja's equipment.

To recap previous blogs in the series, I first decided that Red Sonja's trademark "chainmail bikini" isn't armor at all. I then tried to figure out a way that her two armbands might be important original magic items before deciding, ultimately, to make them bracers of armor +4.

Recalling the simple list of Red Sonja's standard adventuring gear from last week's Worldscape Workbook, I knew that Red Sonja needed, at the very least, a longsword, a throwing dagger, and a shortbow. While the origin story that ultimately led me to determine Sonja was a ranger focused largely on her skill with a bow, that story was weighted toward Sonja's rural upbringing as a chieftain's daughter in the rugged Hyrkanian Steppes. In the modern day of the series, she's far more often depicted wielding swords and fighting in melee rather than at range. Yes, she often has a shortbow, and yes, she's very, very good with it, but a sword is definitely her primary weapon. They don't call her the "She-Devil with a Shortbow," after all. So the shortbow was in, to be sure, but I knew I needed to put the focus on melee weapons.

I knew that the sword-devil archetype I was designing would allow Sonja, eventually, at least, to choose multiple ranger combat styles. Because I wanted to build Sonja using the Core Rulebook primarily, rather than choose from the large number of ranger combat styles we've published over numerous books, that meant choosing between archery and two-weapon combat. Given that archery seemed like a secondary focus for Red Sonja, I decided to go with two-weapon fighting, even though Sonja is most-often depicted wielding a single longsword in the 18 Gail Simone-written issues I used as my primary inspiration for her game statistics. I also read dozens of other Red Sonja comics while writing Pathfinder Worldscape, and many of them depict Sonja with two weapons—most commonly a longsword and a short sword, but also occasionally a mace, an axe, or even a morning star. It wasn't a perfect solution given the source material, but I liked a Sonja who is better with swords than bows, so I'm confident it was the right decision. She'll get the archery combat style at 11th level, so it'll all balance out in the end.

Additionally, choosing the two-weapon combat style gave her access to Two-Weapon Defense as a bonus feat, which allows her an additional +1 shield bonus to Armor Class. Even with the armor-assisting archetype to come, Sonja needs all the help she can get in the AC department.

Sonja's swords themselves posed a bit of a problem. Unlike many fantasy heroes, Red Sonja doesn't have "a" singularly important blade with a unique name and history. The shape of Sonja's sword often depends on which illustrator is drawing her, and seems to be more a matter of artist preference than any attempt to hew toward a particular specific object. She most frequently wields a longsword with a sort of upward-turned half-moon hilt, but even this appears and disappears depending on her adventure. Further, while Red Sonja is definitely a formidable warrior and it's easy to assume that her blades carry a bit of magic in the Pathfinder RPG sense, they don't burst into flame, or talk to her, or float alongside her, or really do anything else to distinguish them from other swords.

I therefore decided to give her swords a simple enhancement bonus, +2 in the case of her primary longsword and +1 in the case of her short sword. I made her shortbow a +1 composite shortbow (+2 Str), allowing her to add the +2 bonus granted by her 14 Strength to give her added damage with ranged attacks.

All of that allowed me just under 3,000 gp left of her gear budget, which I dedicated to an item that allowed me to make sense of one of the most confounding elements of Red Sonja's skimpy armor—boots of the winterlands. I can buy that Red Sonja survives combats wearing next to nothing because her near nudity distracts her opponents (the "explanation" most often given within the comics themselves). I can buy that Red Sonja is such a skilled warrior she doesn't even need to wear armor.

I can't buy that she can survive in the winter wilderness wearing a metal bathing suit.

Boots of the winterlands allow Red Sonja to travel across snow at normal speeds (her enemies constantly curse her speed, so that works), but most importantly for my purposes, the boots warm the wearer as if protected by an endure elements spell.

Both of the illustrations accompanying this blog are by Jenny Frison, one of my favorite Red Sonja cover artists. I've liked both of these covers for a long time, but with boots of the winterlands, I no longer need to worry about how unrealistic it is every time we see her in cold weather.

A minor victory, to be sure. There will, I hope, be many more to come.

Check back at this space next Wednesday for a full overview of Red Sonja's sword-devil archetype, and check your local comic store on that very same day (October 19th) to grab your very own copy of Pathfinder Worldscape #1. Alternatively, start your Ongoing Pathfinder Comics Subscription today to make sure you never miss a single issue.

And if you're in the Los Angeles area, I'll see you next Wednesday at Meltdown Comics!

Until then, I remain...

Erik Mona
Publisher

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Tags: Jenny Frison Licensed Products Pathfinder Comics Pathfinder Worldscape
Dark Archive

I'll get my monthly comic dose here in germany on october 31st, but Pathfinder Worldscape #1 is part of it (along with The Walking Dead #159 and Bloodshot Reborn).

I'm looking forward to it almost as much as for fridays last Deadly Foes preview. ;-)

Erik, what will the mini-battlemap depict?

Greetings, Marco


Erik, being blind, I can only read things in PDF format. Will I be able to get it that way somewhere?


Okay, so, Pathfinder Worldscape Issue #1 will have Red Sonja's stats but will Issue #1 also have a full description for the Sword-Devil archetype? Or will that be in another issue?


Also, will we be able to purchase a PDF of Pathfinder Worldscape Issue #1?

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

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I will have to check on the PDF issue, guys. Electronic rights for the comics are totally controlled by Dynamite.

The map for the first issue will be a jungle clearing with creepy "summoning pillars" inscribed with the symbol of Nex. All of the iconics appear in the Worldscape near such monoliths, so expect to see a lot of them on the mini-maps in this series. :)

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Berselius wrote:
Okay, so, Pathfinder Worldscape Issue #1 will have Red Sonja's stats but will Issue #1 also have a full description for the Sword-Devil archetype? Or will that be in another issue?

Issue #1 is Red Sonja's stats and the sword-devil archetype.

Issue #2 is Tars Tarkas's stats and the warlord archetype.

Everything else is still TBD.


Any chance any of these archetypes will be PFS-legal?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:
Issue #2 is Tars Tarkas's stats and the warlord archetype.

!!!


Erik Mona wrote:
I will have to check on the PDF issue, guys. Electronic rights for the comics are totally controlled by Dynamite.

Hope that Dynamite allows PDF's of their comics. :(


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Post deleted for being wrong. :p

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Valantrix1 wrote:
Erik, being blind, I can only read things in PDF format. Will I be able to get it that way somewhere?

Well. looking at the Dynamite page, it seems that their digital offerings can be downloaded as PDFs. I'm not sure if there's a delay between the release dates, but given that the older Pathfinder issues are available there, I guess that PF Worldscape will eventually follow.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Interesting. Going solely by memory (since EN World lost their Red Sonja article in their database crash), it looks like Red Sonja's armor bonus and shield bonus are accounted for by a magic item and by a feat, respectively. That would seem to suggest that none of the benefits that she receives for giving up armor are direct boosts to AC (unless she has a class feature that gives her a dodge bonus).


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
David knott 242 wrote:
Interesting. Going solely by memory (since EN World lost their Red Sonja article in their database crash), it looks like Red Sonja's armor bonus and shield bonus are accounted for by a magic item and by a feat, respectively. That would seem to suggest that none of the benefits that she receives for giving up armor are direct boosts to AC (unless she has a class feature that gives her a dodge bonus).

I was just thinking the same thing. Besides her Dex bonus, that does seem to account for all of her AC, which means that her sword-devil archetype is providing some other sort of defensive ability. I'm quite excited to find out what it is now!

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

So far, I come up with Red Sonja having an AC of at least 18.
Base + 10
Bracers of Armor + 4
Two Weapon Defense + 1 (+2 when fighting defensively)
Dex Bonus + 3
(Since Two Weapon Defense requires a Dex of 15, I am guessing her Dex is at least 16)
Sometimes she uses a shield, but that was probably picked up during a fight. It is probably a standard wooden shield and would only giver her a +1 bonus, which would make up the difference for not having 2 weapons.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

I never had a problem with Red Sonja being out in winter/cold areas.

IMHO, Red Sonja is not really a "Fantasy" comic, rather it is a Superhero comic with Fantasy trappings.


WormysQueue wrote:
Valantrix1 wrote:
Erik, being blind, I can only read things in PDF format. Will I be able to get it that way somewhere?
Well. looking at the Dynamite page, it seems that their digital offerings can be downloaded as PDFs. I'm not sure if there's a delay between the release dates, but given that the older Pathfinder issues are available there, I guess that PF Worldscape will eventually follow.

Thanks! I'll check it out.


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I still don't see why she her coinmail bikini can't have the same stats as the Harimaki or Silken Ceremonial armor. If a chainmail-lined sash can provide +1 AC, why not a coinmail bikini? It shouldn't be because that level of Armor is somehow "Overpowered", or it should never have been published in Ultimate Combat... and then REPUBLISHED in Ultimate Equipment.

Sovereign Court

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm not really into the concept but every time that Erik writes or talks about it I am sucked in because he is such a consumate storyteller.

Erik really needs to write a Pathfinder Tales novel.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

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Thanks, Geraint!


For those interested in a sneak peek of the Red Sonja stats we'll be getting in Worldscape and a taste of her archetype, you can find her statblock view her statblock here.

Spoiler:
It appears she not only gets to apply her Charisma modifier to AC, but as the dodge bonus to AC is unaccounted for by any feats, it seems fair to assume that the archetype grants her the dodge bonus to AC as well.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Valantrix1 wrote:
Erik, being blind, I can only read things in PDF format. Will I be able to get it that way somewhere?

Dynamite sells this comic as a PDF over comixology, which in the US at least is also available over amazon.

So if the comixology app or the kindle app have a feature to read out comic PDFs, then you would be able to enjoy this while being blind.

PDFs come out there on the same day as here.

Link to comixology.

Sovereign Court

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Mr. Mona, do you know if Lone Wolf will be adding these new archetypes to Hero Lab?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Kalindlara wrote:
Mr. Mona, do you know if Lone Wolf will be adding these new archetypes to Hero Lab?

That would be fantastic.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Good question. I will strongly suggest that they do so!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Looking at that statblock linked up there i´m really curious now.
That´s not a normal point buy build though, is it?
Looks like something between 31 and 38 points?
Death Vow and Slashing fury?
So many questions :)

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hayato Ken:

At the current ability point spread for her, it's 32 pts.

But with some "modifications" it could be made to fit a 25 pt buy.
1) Make the 9 Wis an 8.
2) Remove Improved Unarmed Strike from her feat list unless it's an unmarked bonus feat from her archetype.
3) Probably would have to modify her skills a tad bit but I'm too lazy to figure out her skill point spread.
4) Trade the Bonus Feat and Skilled Racial trait for Dual Talent.

These modifications would make her fit in a 25 pt buy.

Slashing fury looks like it's the archetype's replacement for Hunter's Bond and Death Vow replacing Favored Enemy.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

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I didn't even bother trying to make it map to a point-buy system. This is an adaptation of an existing character, so I went where the source material led me.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think there is something to being this *scrunches fingers together* close to being able to fit her within a 25 pt buy model and showing how it can be done. After all, I'm playing a roleplaying game and if I want my character to be just like Red Sonja, well I just showed how I can accomplish that (atleast within the context of her ability scores).

And anyway, I did figure that was going to be the case. I just wanted to math.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Well i might play this archetype in an upcoming campaign.
Will see today how it works out, very curious.

Right now a bit impatient because i got it on comixology too, but they didn´t deliver yet, even though it´s already the 19th here!
Slacking^^


Yay, another archetype that replaces Favored Terrain but leaves Camouflage and Hide In Plain Sight unaltered even though both are based on it and this is on top of the archetype being barely mediocre.

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