Meet the Iconics: Kess

Thursday, July 17, 2014

She was raised to be Lady Kessilandrie Anicia Vlastos, but the thousands of cheering fans that fill the arena's seats when she fights shout her preferred name—Kess the Bull.

Kess never squared herself with the life of pomp and nobility. As a kid growing up in an estate in the Westpark District of Oppara, she spent her time in opulent gardens, tipping over rocks to look for bugs, climbing the massive oaks, coordinating mock battles against imaginary monsters with her sisters and brothers in the plum orchard, and generally getting into trouble.


Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

It was during these pretend adventures that she started learning how to fight. Her brothers and sisters were snobbish, bullying brats that never left the awkward young girl alone. Never one to just take abuse, Kess ended many of those make-believe bouts in flat-out fistfights. It wasn't the wooden swords and staves the kids played with that she mastered in these brawls, but rather a solid left jab, a well-placed kick, or a leg sweep. Her height gave her good reach, letting her even get in a good strike at her oldest brother to silence his bullying.

After too many busted lips and bloody noses, Kess's parents tried to send her to dueling masters in order to teach her the art of swordplay, hoping to channel her energy into a safe and respectable form of combat—something of which nobles could be proud.

As far as Kess was concerned, fencing was for dandies and duels were just tiresome ego dramas. This affluent instruction just didn't stick. After losing too many matches by dropping her training rapier and socking her opponent in the jaw, she was nearly expelled. An older student, sympathetic to her fighting style, tipped her off to an underground fighting ring in a seedy part of the city.

Her first night in the pit was exhilarating. The organizers paired her up with a brawny farm boy whose jaw jutted out as far as his forehead sloped back. He hit hard, but he didn't know a thing about technique. Using her skill and rangy frame to her advantage, Kess had him mewling on the ground in less than a minute.

Using the ruse of attending fencing class, Kess made her way to the underground rings every chance she could get. It was there that she discovered real honor—not that bogus social contract she grew up under. In those pit fights, she learned focus and found her calling. The roar of the crowd charged her, and she pushed her body, testing herself.

Kess learned a multitude of styles and forms from the various fighters and promoters that flowed through the ring, as well as the worship of Kurgess, god of bravery, competition, and sports. She also began to dream of bouts in the far-off nations from which many of her colleagues hailed. In particular, she focused on the gladiator nation of Tymon in the River Kingdoms, from which her coach had won a medal.

Yet everything came apart the night her older brother—eager to gamble on the fights—stumbled into the secret venue and noticed her in the ring. Her father was furious, and her mother worried. This was no way for a proper, highborn lady to act. What if she were hurt or killed? What would happen if other families were to find out? Which of them already knew?

For her own safety—and to quash a scandal—her parents threatened to send her off to their country estate, or even to a boarding school. In no way eager to have her destiny decided for her by others, Kess beat her parents to the punch and snuck down to the docks, boarding a Taldan merchant vessel headed up the Sellen River. With her wits, her skill, and a purse bulging with her winnings in the ring, she set off for Tymon. Once there, she fought enough bouts in the arena to get noticed by the masters of the Valknar Gladiatorial College, using the prize money from her Opparan fights to pay for tuition.

Yet Tymon is small, and Kess easily bored. While still one win shy of being considered “bloodied,” she was lured away from the city by the call of new arenas in distant locations, taking up the life of an adventurer not for treasure, but for the fun of it. Every so often, Kess attempts to alleviate some of her mother's worry by sending letters home telling of her adventures, yet has learned to obscure where they're sent from, lest her father send agents to track her down and try to bring her home.

Kess wears her bruises and scars as proudly as she wears the medals adorning her outfit—prizes from various fights, as well as a short stint with a mercenary company. Even though she tries to be positive and upbeat, she knows that she's often aggressive and sarcastic. Kess isn't afraid to say what's on her mind, especially when facing authorities who try to tell others what to do. She doesn't pay much mind to complicated bureaucracies and outdated social mores, and tends to live her life the way she wants. The only time Kess shows a strong respect for rules is during a competition—she doesn't tolerate cheaters. Kess is competitive, though she encourages others in their own tasks. She keeps her body fit, and trains every chance she gets—a crucial counterbalance to her love of good food, strong drink, and long nights of celebration after a fight.

Adam Daigle
Developer

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Edit:

First art from WAR that I don’t like.

Although the back story is well written it is too little adventurer and too much Prize fighter for my taste.

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Her armor's clearly meant to protect her Impact surfaces. Shins and shoulders, knuckles and arms, elbows and headbutting bits. Her belly is unarmored because she does not punch with her belly. same with her inner thighs.

Also, looking at her art, it looks like she's right handed and favors a Philly shell defensive stance.

Sczarni

I like the art of her face a lot. She has a very distinctive nose.

Lantern Lodge

Kess' Bio wrote:
While still one win shy of being considered “bloodied,”

*curious* is that not supposed to be "blooded"?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I'd love to see an image a la the NPC Codex Cover but with just the Iconics.

Either that or an Epic (or I suppose in this case Mythic) action shot of all the Iconics in a battle with some massive foe like the Tarrasque.

It'll never happen but either would be a awesome image..I think I'd actually buy a print of one of those.


Trinite wrote:
I like the art of her face a lot. She has a very distinctive nose.

Is it just me, or does she kinda look like Ellen tho?

Cool backstory, great art. looking forward to the brawler.

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Okay so I'm only like a paragraph into this but am I the only one who just pictures Pam from Archer? Like seriously if that vibe keeps up she might be one of my favorite characters thus far.

Dark Archive

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The eyes give the art inspiration away. Zöe Bell.


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Ok I'll go ahead and say this. You try to duck and dodge correctly with an armored abdomen. As someone who fights frequently that would be dreadful. Probably doesn't need to be bare but oh well. As for the thighless chaps look. You ever try and kick in tight pants?

But I will say this. That knife could be placed less precariously...

Anyway. I like her.


This design is just flat-out a Rob Liefeld comic book character. Spiky hair, boxing headgear, armor that leaves stomach and femoral artery exposed, big unpractical shoulder-pad, and of course a thousand belts.

She does carry less weapons than most fighting types - not quite as overloaded as Alain or Hayato.

I love the brawler as a class concept, but I'm not at all a fan of this Iconic design.


Trinite wrote:
I like the art of her face a lot. She has a very distinctive nose.

Well noses get broken a lot in fist-fights, if I had to guess why its shaped that way.


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Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Needs a falcon.


i like how she is given a knuckle duster


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Lamontius wrote:
IxionZero wrote:

Hah, I like her. The whole "I'm tired of this pansy sword crap!*face punch*" makes me smile.

So about those new iconics miniatures... I am pretty sure no one here wants to wait two whole PF:B sets for a chance to get one of these avatars of badass as a prepainted mini!

Just get the Amiri mini and cut the sword off, instant kess

That would actually be somewhat serviceable. If you had a spare Amiri. I have none :P.

But my meaning was, me want set of ACG iconics as prepainted minis, and me no want to wait until mid-2015 or 2016 for just a single one. Which would be the earliest if they aren't doing the Tian iconics after Oracle and Summoner, based off of RoW which only had the witch and this year which is going to have two PFB sets.

And yeah yeah, I am sure Reaper will get some out, but I hate painting metal and hate waiting for more affordable easier to paint Bones versions.


Kajehase wrote:
Needs a falcon.

with the way she looks a lion would be better or just a lion skin cloak that still has the head

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

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IxionZero wrote:


But my meaning was, me want set of ACG iconics as prepainted minis, and me no want to wait until mid-2015 or 2016 for just a single one. Which would be the earliest if they aren't doing the Tian iconics after Oracle and Summoner, based off of RoW which only had the witch and this year which is going to have two PFB sets.

I know something you don't know…


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Erik Mona wrote:
IxionZero wrote:


But my meaning was, me want set of ACG iconics as prepainted minis, and me no want to wait until mid-2015 or 2016 for just a single one. Which would be the earliest if they aren't doing the Tian iconics after Oracle and Summoner, based off of RoW which only had the witch and this year which is going to have two PFB sets.

I know something you don't know…

that isn't anything new


Chaotic Fighter wrote:

Ok I'll go ahead and say this. You try to duck and dodge correctly with an armored abdomen. As someone who fights frequently that would be dreadful. Probably doesn't need to be bare but oh well. As for the thighless chaps look. You ever try and kick in tight pants?

But I will say this. That knife could be placed less precariously...

Anyway. I like her.

I think I get why the clashing design opinions are happening. It seems to me that this image is going for both MMA fighter AND adventurer. I don't really think these go together. on the one hand you have the need for flexibility, which leads to the exposed abdomen, crotchless chaps, etc. On the other hand, we have the need to think about the surroundings she'll be in on a given adventure. how much more important is it to be able to duck and weave against a dude with a sword than it is to not be disemboweled by a big monster? less armor means less to grab onto only if the thick plating wasn't there. And as you said, this doesn't mean these areas on the body need to be exposed to the elements and every knife to the back she'll take.

Could have been worse though, she could be dressed (and I use the term loosely) up like the iconic Oracle or Sorcerer.

TLDR; How much you like Kess' look depends a lot on what you think of her first as. Arena fighter or adventurer.


Erik Mona wrote:
IxionZero wrote:


But my meaning was, me want set of ACG iconics as prepainted minis, and me no want to wait until mid-2015 or 2016 for just a single one. Which would be the earliest if they aren't doing the Tian iconics after Oracle and Summoner, based off of RoW which only had the witch and this year which is going to have two PFB sets.

I know something you don't know…

Mona you sly devil!


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Green Smashomancer wrote:
Chaotic Fighter wrote:

Ok I'll go ahead and say this. You try to duck and dodge correctly with an armored abdomen. As someone who fights frequently that would be dreadful. Probably doesn't need to be bare but oh well. As for the thighless chaps look. You ever try and kick in tight pants?

But I will say this. That knife could be placed less precariously...

Anyway. I like her.

I think I get why the clashing design opinions are happening. It seems to me that this image is going for both MMA fighter AND adventurer. I don't really think these go together. on the one hand you have the need for flexibility, which leads to the exposed abdomen, crotchless chaps, etc. On the other hand, we have the need to think about the surroundings she'll be in on a given adventure. how much more important is it to be able to duck and weave against a dude with a sword than it is to not be disemboweled by a big monster? less armor means less to grab onto only if the thick plating wasn't there. And as you said, this doesn't mean these areas on the body need to be exposed to the elements and every knife to the back she'll take.

Could have been worse though, she could be dressed (and I use the term loosely) up like the iconic Oracle or Sorcerer.

TLDR; How much you like Kess' look depends a lot on what you think of her first as. Arena fighter or adventurer.

Actually if we were being realistic here(As much as could be allotted) Armor would actually, in my opinion, be less effective against monsters than other people. I think it would actually be preferential to get out of the way of the giant maw of death than to try wearing something that could stand up to the crushing force of say a dragon bite.


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Does anyone else feel like Amiri and Kess should have a buddy adventure? Cause I think they'd get along famously


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zergtitan wrote:
Now I want to see a picture of Kess and Sajan sparring, with the other iconics in the background watching with a few of them making bets. :)

Maybe with the background iconics awkwardly pumping their fists or cheering in jerky motions, a chicken running around, giant glowing HP bars over the fighters' heads... some catchy music in the background...


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
IxionZero wrote:
Lamontius wrote:
IxionZero wrote:

Hah, I like her. The whole "I'm tired of this pansy sword crap!*face punch*" makes me smile.

So about those new iconics miniatures... I am pretty sure no one here wants to wait two whole PF:B sets for a chance to get one of these avatars of badass as a prepainted mini!

Just get the Amiri mini and cut the sword off, instant kess

That would actually be somewhat serviceable. If you had a spare Amiri. I have none :P.

But my meaning was, me want set of ACG iconics as prepainted minis, and me no want to wait until mid-2015 or 2016 for just a single one. Which would be the earliest if they aren't doing the Tian iconics after Oracle and Summoner, based off of RoW which only had the witch and this year which is going to have two PFB sets.

And yeah yeah, I am sure Reaper will get some out, but I hate painting metal and hate waiting for more affordable easier to paint Bones versions.

For some reason I thought I heard someone say wizkids would have minis for the new iconics at gencon. Darned if I remember where though, so take it with a grain of salt.


Chaotic Fighter wrote:
Green Smashomancer wrote:
Chaotic Fighter wrote:

Ok I'll go ahead and say this. You try to duck and dodge correctly with an armored abdomen. As someone who fights frequently that would be dreadful. Probably doesn't need to be bare but oh well. As for the thighless chaps look. You ever try and kick in tight pants?

But I will say this. That knife could be placed less precariously...

Anyway. I like her.

I think I get why the clashing design opinions are happening. It seems to me that this image is going for both MMA fighter AND adventurer. I don't really think these go together. on the one hand you have the need for flexibility, which leads to the exposed abdomen, crotchless chaps, etc. On the other hand, we have the need to think about the surroundings she'll be in on a given adventure. how much more important is it to be able to duck and weave against a dude with a sword than it is to not be disemboweled by a big monster? less armor means less to grab onto only if the thick plating wasn't there. And as you said, this doesn't mean these areas on the body need to be exposed to the elements and every knife to the back she'll take.

Could have been worse though, she could be dressed (and I use the term loosely) up like the iconic Oracle or Sorcerer.

TLDR; How much you like Kess' look depends a lot on what you think of her first as. Arena fighter or adventurer.

Actually if we were being realistic here(As much as could be allotted) Armor would actually, in my opinion, be less effective against monsters than other people. I think it would actually be preferential to get out of the way of the giant maw of death than to try wearing something that could stand up to the crushing force of say a dragon bite.

If we're going the realism route what unarmed fighting tournamemt allows 3 inchs of armor plating? I'm not into emoticons but I feel one would be used here to denote a non-hostile vibe to my post.

And for what it's worth I agree on preferring to avoid getting hit altogether.


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14 sided die wrote:
Does anyone else feel like Amiri and Kess should have a buddy adventure? Cause I think they'd get along famously

. . .

Dark Archive

I can just see the two punching each other for hours before sitting down, have a drink and say how much they enjoyed it ala fight club

Editor-in-Chief

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ulgulanoth wrote:
oh I like Kess, now to wait for some of her art of her punching a giant in the face to come along

You think we would get art of her and I wouldn't have a Punch Out homage in the works like RIGHT away? Come on.

Keep an eye out. ;)

Editor-in-Chief

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Kvantum wrote:
The eyes give the art inspiration away. Zöe Bell.

HOLY@#$%.

I love this character even more now!


Green Smashomancer wrote:
Chaotic Fighter wrote:
Green Smashomancer wrote:
Chaotic Fighter wrote:

Ok I'll go ahead and say this. You try to duck and dodge correctly with an armored abdomen. As someone who fights frequently that would be dreadful. Probably doesn't need to be bare but oh well. As for the thighless chaps look. You ever try and kick in tight pants?

But I will say this. That knife could be placed less precariously...

Anyway. I like her.

I think I get why the clashing design opinions are happening. It seems to me that this image is going for both MMA fighter AND adventurer. I don't really think these go together. on the one hand you have the need for flexibility, which leads to the exposed abdomen, crotchless chaps, etc. On the other hand, we have the need to think about the surroundings she'll be in on a given adventure. how much more important is it to be able to duck and weave against a dude with a sword than it is to not be disemboweled by a big monster? less armor means less to grab onto only if the thick plating wasn't there. And as you said, this doesn't mean these areas on the body need to be exposed to the elements and every knife to the back she'll take.

Could have been worse though, she could be dressed (and I use the term loosely) up like the iconic Oracle or Sorcerer.

TLDR; How much you like Kess' look depends a lot on what you think of her first as. Arena fighter or adventurer.

Actually if we were being realistic here(As much as could be allotted) Armor would actually, in my opinion, be less effective against monsters than other people. I think it would actually be preferential to get out of the way of the giant maw of death than to try wearing something that could stand up to the crushing force of say a dragon bite.

If we're going the realism route what unarmed fighting tournamemt allows 3 inchs of armor plating? I'm not into emoticons but I feel one would be used here to denote a non-hostile vibe to my post.

And for what it's worth I agree on preferring to...

Except for that Bull pauldron and what looks like a pseudo Cestus, the rest of that armor doesn't look too crazy thick. And I would honestly picture the fighters stripping down to the bare essentials in most tournaments because like you said I don't think they'd allow armor and the like... Hence the Brawler developing a boost to AC that doesn't rely on armor. I think she's in her going out getup.


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Thanks everybody! Glad you like my debut!

Grand Lodge

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Kvantum wrote:
The eyes give the art inspiration away. Zöe Bell.

Spot on. Even has the blonde hair. Good call. Should we have a dip into swashbuckler to get "panache" for stunt work?

That's it, I'm making a Kurgess follower that's another PC's stunt double.

Hold Int, and use the reposition maneuver on my fellow PC right before they are attacked. Gonna need, bodyguard feat.


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doc the grey wrote:
Okay so I'm only like a paragraph into this but am I the only one who just pictures Pam from Archer? Like seriously if that vibe keeps up she might be one of my favorite characters thus far.

Totally okay with this.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Re: her armor - She's a gladiator, right? They tend to be portrayed wearing armor that strikes a balance between protection and showing off their muscles.

Re: her backstory - Fun, though the wayward Taldan noble is becoming something of a cliche at this point.

Re: character design - She looks like she stole Amiri's luggage. *shrug*


spectrevk wrote:

Re: her backstory - Fun, though the wayward Taldan noble is becoming something of a cliche at this point.

i doubt 2 characters total makes a cliche


Garrett Guillotte wrote:
Espy Lacopa wrote:
Gentleman Alligator wrote:
I'd love to see how she'd interact with someone like Valeros or Alain (especially since they're both Taldan nobility).
Wait wait wait. Since when was Valeros nobility?! I thought he was a farmboy who left for adventure to dodge marriage!

That'd be Alain, but now that you mention Valeros being a farm boy...

the post wrote:
The organizers paired her up with a brawny farm boy whose jaw jutted out as far as his forehead sloped back. He hit hard, but he didn't know a thing about technique.
hmm...

Nah, Valeros is an expertise guy.

In regards to Kess's outfit: I'm just going to say that I'm inclined to agree with Green Smashomancer, and leave it at that.


Seeing as she is a brawler, who likely does a fair bit of grappling, it makes sense she has a bare midriff. Does anyone realize how hard it would be to grapple with an armored up abdomen? Even leather would be too stiff.

Kess doesn't seem the type to care for looks, just practicality.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Kess the Bull wrote:
Thanks everybody! Glad you like my debut!

Do you have a Flumph for a coach?


Love the armor and equipment. Simple, yet workable and classic story.

Realism be damned. Umm, dragons? No WAY they could fly without major ribcage, shoulder joint and spinal strengthening/lightening, and some musculature improvement. ;)


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The Boulder feels conflicted about fighting a young blind girl.

Silver Crusade

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Is it just me, or does Kess look a lot like Kes?

Nevermind, they are totally different. One is Opparan, the other is Ocampan.


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Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
Realism be damned. Umm, dragons? No WAY they could fly without major ribcage, shoulder joint and spinal strengthening/lightening, and some musculature improvement. ;)

That's cause dragons are magical! Realism doesn't affect them. Brawlers are a martial class, they have to pay attention to realism.


Chaotic Fighter wrote:
Ok I'll go ahead and say this. You try to duck and dodge correctly with an armored abdomen. As someone who fights frequently that would be dreadful.

So would getting a knife to the belly, you know, where you have bunches of really important organs.

I can see the argument. I don't see it as valid.


Craig Bonham 141 wrote:
Chaotic Fighter wrote:
Ok I'll go ahead and say this. You try to duck and dodge correctly with an armored abdomen. As someone who fights frequently that would be dreadful.

So would getting a knife to the belly, you know, where you have bunches of really important organs.

I can see the argument. I don't see it as valid.

It's two different philosophies. Would you rather put trust in your armor to block the blade, or would you rather but trust in your own skill to evade the blade entirely. A brawler, given its AC bonus for being lightly to completely unarmored, follows the later.


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I wanna see her punch a dragon in the face.


Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Me'mori wrote:
Kess' Bio wrote:
While still one win shy of being considered “bloodied,”
*curious* is that not supposed to be "blooded"?

Nope.

People of the River/Tymon wrote:
The Rule of Blood states that any citizen who wins 10 fights in the Arena of Aroden is considered “bloodied”—a status that grants certain rights, among them the rights to own land and to carry weapons openly.


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Vee8 wrote:

Seeing as she is a brawler, who likely does a fair bit of grappling, it makes sense she has a bare midriff. Does anyone realize how hard it would be to grapple with an armored up abdomen? Even leather would be too stiff.

Kess doesn't seem the type to care for looks, just practicality.

It's perfectly reasonable to grapple with flexible armor covering your abdomen. Jujutsu (a grappling art) started among the samurai, who wore armor, and was aimed at defeating other opponents who were also wearing armor.

Sambo was also developed to be used by soldiers in the Red Army, who would certainly have been wearing clothing.

This does not count grappling (and submission) techniques taught to police and military worldwide, who often wear heavy gear.

Certain moves are less effective in heavier gear. Others are just as effective.

If anything, the bulky gloves on her forearms would limit the ability to apply a number of joint locks effectively.

The gear was clearly designed for looks, not for practicality, which puts it in line with most of the gear I've seen from Paizo.


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DM Barcas wrote:
The Boulder feels conflicted about fighting a young blind girl.

Sounds to me like you're scared, Boulder.


so, juvenile, i know... but i noticed the metal ornament on her loin cloth and had to zoom in to confirm it was not what i first thought it was. Turns out its some kind of cyclops mammoth medal thing?


Torbyne wrote:
so, juvenile, i know... but i noticed the metal ornament on her loin cloth and had to zoom in to confirm it was not what i first thought it was. Turns out its some kind of cyclops mammoth medal thing?

To me it looks like the bull on her shoulder, turned 90 degrees clockwise, then made smaller.

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