Worldscape Workbook—Choosing Red Sonja's Class

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

We're three weeks from the official release date of Pathfinder Worldscape #1, the first issue of the new Pathfinder comic series from Dynamite! Worldscape crosses over the Pathfinder heroes Valeros, Seoni, Kyra, and Merisiel with a host of sword & sorcery superstars including Red Sonja, John Carter of Mars, Tarzan, Thun'da, Fantomah, and more! In addition to six monthly issues of pulse-pounding inter-dimensional adventure, each issue includes a Pathfinder RPG rules appendix that contains official game statistics for the series' guest stars, new race information for the unique creatures that appear in the series like Barsoomian green Martians, and so on. I'm writing the series, and taking the lead on the game design portions of the appendices. That's a huge honor, of course, but it's also a significant responsibility. When presented with such a cool opportunity, the last thing I want to do is mess it up!

I've spoken at length about the characters, plot, and origins of Pathfinder Worldscape with Bleeding Cool, Know Direction, and Things from Another World, but every Wednesday from now until the end of the series, I plan to peel back the skin of the RPG side of Pathfinder Worldscape right here on the Paizo Blog, in a new series I'm calling Worldscape Workbook.

How did I choose which characters to adapt? Why did I make this or that decision about how to bring their weird powers, equipment, or racial abilities into the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game? I'll be letting you know right here every week with a look into my thought process, as wrong-headed as that may sometimes prove to be.

I'm thrilled to be able to bring so many amazing characters from the sword & sorcery, pulp, and comics tradition to Pathfinder, and the resulting discussions around the Paizo editorial office were interesting enough that I thought you would appreciate a fly-on-the-wall look at how it's all gone down so far.

Last week, I kicked off the Worldscape Workbook with a look at Red Sonja's (in)famous "chainmail bikini," and how I jumped through several hoops and ran into some development dead-ends trying to figure out how to make it work in Pathfinder. In the end, I decided Sonja's skimpy armor wasn't armor at all, and resolved to use a special archetype to give her the Armor Class oomph necessary to go toe-to-toe with some of the nastiest customers of the Hyborian Age.

But as archetypes modify specific Pathfinder RPG class abilities, before I could get to the details of Red Sonja's archetype, I knew I had an even more important question to answer: What is Red Sonja's class?

The easy, almost reflexive answer, is that Red Sonja is a barbarian. Her past as the daughter of a chieftain in the Hyrkanian Steppes is more barbaric than cosmopolitan, to be sure, but (as with most things), the "simple" solution really isn't the best, and isn't very true to her character as presented in the comic books.

Which, actually, brings up a fair point. Red Sonja first appeared in a 1973 Conan the Barbarian comic written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Barry Windsor Smith. A natural female foil for the hard-headed Conan, comic book Sonja drew inspiration from Conan creator Robert E. Howard's Red Sonya (note the "Y"), a swashbuckler historical adventure character from the 1934 story "Shadow of the Vulture." In the more than 40 years since that original comic appearance, Sonja has had scores of writers and artists, all of whom brought their own approach to the character. Like many multi-decade comics heroes, there are a lot of "takes" on Sonja's origin, personality, and skill set.

To prepare for Pathfinder Worldscape, I read about 100 Red Sonja comics, ranging from her original 1970s adventures (published by Marvel) to the most recent issues of her current series from our partners at Dynamite. For key character details, I focused most strongly on writer Gail Simone and artist Walter Giovani's landmark 18-issue run that kicked off with the re-imagined origin of Red Sonja in the Queen of Plagues story arc from 2013. While keeping the most important elements of Sonja's origin and character intact, Simone's revamp gave Red Sonja more agency even before the tragedy that put her on the path of the warrior. Gone was the empowering goddess Scathach, the 1970s source of Red Sonja's fighting prowess. Gone was her ridiculous vow of chastity to only bed men who had bested her in combat. And gone, too, were other depressing elements of sexual violence to Sonja's origin story that probably seemed appropriate to a male comics writer in the early 70s, but which are grating and deeply un-empowering by modern standards.

For me, the Simone reboot keeps or amplifies everything that makes Red Sonja a compelling character while jettisoning the lamer elements of the original origin, creating a hero who cut her way to greatness under her own power as opposed to a puppet of a mostly absent chastity-obsessed war goddess. Opinions probably differ, but I considered it a vast improvement. I therefore turned mostly to the 2013 arc for issues related to Red Sonja's early life, which of course plays directly into decisions about her official Pathfinder class.

As I read through my huge pile of Red Sonja comics, it became very clear to me that Red Sonja was not a barbarian at all, at least by the standards of the Pathfinder rules. For starters, while Red Sonja certainly displays anger and combat prowess throughout her adventures, she doesn't "rage" in the traditional Pathfinder sense. Her anger and fury doesn't translate into short bursts of greater power. In fact, over the course of her adventures, "Strength" isn't really emphasized at all. During a recent Conan/Red Sonja crossover, Red Sonja's speed and, in game terms, Dexterity, were emphasized in direct contrast to Conan's Cimmerian brawn. Comic book Conan may, in fact, be a barbarian, but it's simply not a good fit for Red Sonja.

Ok, then, maybe she's something funky and off-beat like the Advanced Class Guide's brawler, or even a swashbuckler? Well, maybe, but for major heroes like Red Sonja and John Carter, I wanted to use one of the Pathfinder game's core base classes to start with, because I imagine these comics will be drawing in people who are roughly familiar with the primary Pathfinder game rules, but maybe not with our secondary or tertiary class books. So I decided to close that particular door before delving too deeply into it myself.

What about a fighter? Red Sonja is undoubtedly known for combat prowess, swordcraft, and bow skill. In Pathfinder terms, she's definitely in the d10 Hit Die camp, with the resulting "best" Base Attack Bonus progression that goes with it. Fighter certainly qualified on that front. The class would also load up Sonja with a bunch of cool combat feats, which would make her an even more formidable opponent—a design goal I definitely did not want to overlook.

All that said, fighter provided one major challenge, above and beyond the fact that Armor Training is one of the fighter's most important class features, and I'd already decided that Red Sonja basically didn't wear armor. I could always use Sonja's archetype to "swap out" Armor Training for something that gave her an Armor Class bonus when not wearing armor, but when you take away the fighter's Armor Training and Armor Mastery, there isn't an awful lot of other goodies left over to trade out for other archetype powers. And, after reading 100 Red Sonja comics, I knew I had some other powers I wanted to give her.

That led me to consider a solution that, when originally posted to my Facebook fan page before my reading spree, didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense. What about the ranger?

A close look at Red Sonja's origin story suggested that the idea had a lot of merit. To recap, Red Sonja was the daughter of a chieftain of the Hyrkanian Steppes, a huge land in the east of Robert E. Howard's Hyborian Age. When she was 12, marauders sacked her village and murdered the rest of the family, making vengeance a huge part of Sonja's motivation from almost the very beginning. Almost. Consider this interaction between Sonja and her father, shortly before the raiders arrive, when the family is out on a hunt.

So, by the age of 12, Red Sonja is "better with a bow than anyone in our village," and she knows "every bit of woodlore we can teach." Her father further adds, "No one can shoot or track better." That's compelling evidence and probably enough to make the case alone, but there's more.

Throughout the series, Sonja' enemies call her "Sonja the Hunter," an appellation she mentions herself, as well. In Simone's second story arc, The Art of Blood and Fire, a southern potentate named Emperor Samala hires "Sonja the Hunter" to track down the world's six greatest artisans for a party commemorating his imminent death and entombment. "I need a tracker," he says on the following page.

Want more proof? Here's Red Sonja tracking a group of fish-men through a watery swamp. Note also that Sonja uses a shortbow in this scene, which she does commonly throughout the series—further proof that I needed to figure out a way to work her ranged combat expertise into her overall rules presentation.

Lastly, Red Sonja shows strong animal affinity throughout her many appearances, and seems to especially despise cruelty to animals. In the aforementioned Conan/Red Sonja crossover (published by current Conan publisher Dark Horse under arrangement with Dynamite and co-written by Simone and former Pathfinder comics writer Jim Zub), Red Sonja encounters a cruel animal trainer named Kalayah, who later appears as one of Emperor Samala's "greatest artisans in the world," much to Sonja's ire. Check out the way she talks about Kalayah's horrible treatment of his performing animals.

Spoiler alert: It doesn't end well for Kalayah.

So that's several signifiers that point in the direction of a ranger: Excellent bow skills, total mastery of woodlore, respect and affinity for animals, tracking ability so strong her reputation as a hunter spreads to the leaders of distant foreign nations. And one more thing so common I didn't even bother looking for images to prove it to you—Red Sonja constantly fights with two weapons, another hallmark of the Pathfinder ranger.

Of course, the Pathfinder RPG ranger has a lot of class features that aren't appropriate for Red Sonja. She doesn't have an animal companion. She doesn't seem to favor a particular type of enemy over any other. She doesn't have what Pathfinder calls "favored terrain." And, perhaps most importantly, she doesn't cast spells.

While those inappropriate class features look like they disqualify the ranger from contention, in fact I was thrilled to have them. Staying competitive without wearing armor is a pretty major power, and I had other elements—such as Red Sonja's "Curse of Hyrkania" death vow—that were also going to be necessary to keep her competitive with other d10 Hit Die warrior types.

Making those powers work would mean swapping out significant, powerful, and frequently useful class features—exactly the type of "inappropriate" class features provided by the ranger.

To me, that looked an awful lot like a solution.

Red Sonja is a ranger.

She's not just a ranger, though. She's a ranger with the very special "sword-devil" archetype, which I'll begin to go into in next week's installment of the Worldscape Workbook!

Until then, please consider setting up a Pathfinder Comics Ongoing Subscription, which will ensure that you don't miss a single issue. If subscribing direct from Paizo isn't your thing, be sure to ask your local comic or game store to order you a copy of Pathfinder Worldscape #1, which releases on Wednesday, October 19th!

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a green Martian named Tars Tarkas who desperately needs game statistics!

Erik Mona
Publisher

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Licensed Products Pathfinder Comics Pathfinder Worldscape
1 to 50 of 62 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This sort of character building based on canonical sources is endlessly fascinating to me. Can't wait to see the next installment!


"Sword-devil" archetype!?!? MUST. KNOW. MORE!

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is quickly becoming my favorite article on the paizo page. I am really looking forward to seeing the comics and finalized Pathfinder stats to go with them. Im hoping the series does well enough to justify a second six issue series with more cross over content. I must admit im very curious to see how we get to john carpender of mars in a pathfinder comic. (Maybe a preview of the inevitable starfinder comic series?). Any chance of some sample art from the series?


Great work, Mr Mona!

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

A great article, Erik!

I'm looking forward to issue #1.

All that research and thorough consideration makes me realize that i desperately want a new Pathfinder adventure written by you or at least a new monster.

But i'll take the six creatures in the Worldscape articles first.
I hope the battlemaps feature into the comic story too and that we can replay the adventures in a limited way.

Now if we only had some miniatures of Red Sonya, Tarzan and John Carter... ;-)


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

Awesome blog series. Not only does it provide insight into the comic, but is also a great "how-to homebrew" guide, imo. I love hearing about the thought processes.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Thanks, guys! These are really fun for me to write, too. I only hope I can keep up the pace for the next (gulp) 30 or so weeks. :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Tars Tarkas.

Snoopy dance.

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

If there's one thing that this whole argument proves, it's that Pathfinder needs more archetypes (for various classes) that allow for staying competitive without armor. Giving up X to gain monk type AC bonus or something like that. Armorless warrior is a massively common image in fantasy and it's just something that's very difficult to do in Pathfinder. There aren't enough options to do it for most classes.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Stay tuned for the Warlord in Worldscape #2 and probably a jungle lord (who am I kidding, definitely a jungle lord) later in the series. Lots of no-armor archetypes to come.

Pathfinder Worldscape is the "Catcher in the Rye" of armor-less martial archetypes.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I know you can't confirm it because it would undercut the sales of the comic, but let me just state for the record that I *REALLY* hope those archetypes will be reprinted sometime in the future in the RPG line. The PRD needs those options.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Samy wrote:
I know you can't confirm it because it would undercut the sales of the comic, but let me just state for the record that I *REALLY* hope those archetypes will be reprinted sometime in the future in the RPG line. The PRD needs those options.

This prompts me to ask if the relevant portions of the comics are published under the OGL? I guess they have to be, given the reliance on the SRD. I've just never noticed.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

So, the "Sword Devil" archetype of the Ranger class gives up hunter's bond (or at least having an animal companion), favored enemy, favored terrain, and spellcasting.

In return, it can allow a PC to stay competitive without wearing armor (kinda useful for those nasty at night surprise attack raids or when your armor is sundered) and has a few other abilities we'll probably see later on.

Welp, only one word can describe this archetype: AWESOME! :D

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Erik Mona wrote:

So that's several signifiers that point in the direction of a ranger: Excellent bow skills, total mastery of woodlore, respect and affinity for animals, tracking ability so strong her reputation as a hunter spreads to the leaders of distant foreign nations. And one more thing so common I didn't even bother looking for images to prove it to you—Red Sonja constantly fights with two weapons, another hallmark of the Pathfinder ranger.

Of course, the Pathfinder RPG ranger has a lot of class features that aren't appropriate for Red Sonja. She doesn't have an animal companion. She doesn't seem to favor a particular type of enemy over any other. She doesn't have what Pathfinder calls "favored terrain." And, perhaps most importantly, she doesn't cast spells.

Sounds a heck of a lot like a Spell-less Ranger! ;)


Marc Radle wrote:
Erik Mona wrote:

So that's several signifiers that point in the direction of a ranger: Excellent bow skills, total mastery of woodlore, respect and affinity for animals, tracking ability so strong her reputation as a hunter spreads to the leaders of distant foreign nations. And one more thing so common I didn't even bother looking for images to prove it to you—Red Sonja constantly fights with two weapons, another hallmark of the Pathfinder ranger.

Of course, the Pathfinder RPG ranger has a lot of class features that aren't appropriate for Red Sonja. She doesn't have an animal companion. She doesn't seem to favor a particular type of enemy over any other. She doesn't have what Pathfinder calls "favored terrain." And, perhaps most importantly, she doesn't cast spells.

Sounds a heck of a lot like a Spell-less Ranger! ;)

But he (Aragorn) could heal like no one other than elves! There's a bit of magic to that.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:
Samy wrote:
I know you can't confirm it because it would undercut the sales of the comic, but let me just state for the record that I *REALLY* hope those archetypes will be reprinted sometime in the future in the RPG line. The PRD needs those options.
This prompts me to ask if the relevant portions of the comics are published under the OGL? I guess they have to be, given the reliance on the SRD. I've just never noticed.

I would presume that they are, but I can't check on that since I don't have any Pathfinder comics (my understanding is that while they have stat blocks for characters and maps, there's been no new mechanics before now).

My guess would be that - while names such as "Red Sonja" and "Tars Tarkas," etc. will be Product Identity (since they're made under a license) - the actual game mechanics for things like the new archetypes will be Open Game Content.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Erik Mona wrote:

Stay tuned for the Warlord in Worldscape #2 and probably a jungle lord (who am I kidding, definitely a jungle lord) later in the series. Lots of no-armor archetypes to come.

Pathfinder Worldscape is the "Catcher in the Rye" of armor-less martial archetypes.

Will there ever be a non-comic book product that collects all these archetypes in one place?

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I wonder if the Sword-Devil archetype offers a healing ability? Sonja has been cut, but there are no scars.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Charles Scholz wrote:
I wonder if the Sword-Devil archetype offers a healing ability? Sonja has been cut, but there are no scars.

Pathfinder rules default to no scars, so problem solved right there.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:
This prompts me to ask if the relevant portions of the comics are published under the OGL? I guess they have to be, given the reliance on the SRD. I've just never noticed.

I'm fairly certain I've seen the massive word block salad that is the OGL in tiny print in each of my comics. Pretty sure it's because they put official game content (rules and stats, not just fluff, world building content) in there that requires the various GLs to be printed with them.

Pretty sure Mr. Publisher, Chief Creative Officer can confirm that if he has a moment. :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Fine, fine, I'm a subscriber now, forsaking a long-held policy of waiting for collected editions.

*grumble*


I've been doing a lot of this Pathfinderizing-comic characters sort of deconstructionist/reconstructionist character building lately, so I find this installment of the Workbook particularly interesting. Those sequences you used to help establish Red Sonja's character type almost seem tailor made to set her up as a Ranger- if I didn't know better, I'd say that Ms. Simone was a roleplayer herself (I assume these are all from her run?).

(She may actually be; I should know but I can't recall.)

In any event, though I'm not exactly well-versed on Red Sonja's character and appearances, based on my own comic reading proclivities, I'd say you could do far worse than use Gail Simone as a primary source. From what I understand her RS run was particularly good.

(And I'd highly recommend her first run on Secret Six to anyone that hasn't read it. It sort of begins to run dry by the end of that series, but I suspect that had more to do with increasing editorial demands with crossovers and DC leading into their New-52 reboot). Come to think of it, it would be fun to stat up the Secret Six Pathfinder style.

Maybe when I get finished with the classic Thunderbolts for a twist on a Hell's Rebels campaign.

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
QuidEst wrote:
Charles Scholz wrote:
I wonder if the Sword-Devil archetype offers a healing ability? Sonja has been cut, but there are no scars.
Pathfinder rules default to no scars, so problem solved right there.

I've seen her get stitched up, and no scars.

Dark Archive

Please for the love of all that is good tell me that the sword devil archetype will be pfs legal, and that there will be a Red Sonya pregen.

Dark Archive

I sure hope the sword devil archetype gives more than a few combat styles to replace favored enemy, hunter's bond, favored terrain, and spells.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Is it acceptable to disagree with Erik Mona's interpretation of the Red Sonja character? :(


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Lord Fyre wrote:
Is it acceptable to disagree with Erik Mona's interpretation of the Red Sonja character? :(

If you offer an alternate take, I see no reason for anyone to do more than respectfully disagree...

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Cole Deschain wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
Is it acceptable to disagree with Erik Mona's interpretation of the Red Sonja character? :(
If you offer an alternate take, I see no reason for anyone to do more than respectfully disagree...

Well, the root of my disagreement is the "gymnastics" required to justify her armor. IMHO, this always introduces to rules problems (such as the Sword-Devil archetype).

Counterwise, I have zero problem treating her attire as armor. It is the simplest solution from a rules perspective, especially since Pathfinder armor doesn't act like armor does in the real world anyway.

Also, Beauty (an ineffable quality) does not equal Charisma (a game stat.) Sonja needs a good charisma stat (she became both a general and queen), but doesn't need to have an "18."

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Lord Fyre wrote:
Cole Deschain wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
Is it acceptable to disagree with Erik Mona's interpretation of the Red Sonja character? :(
If you offer an alternate take, I see no reason for anyone to do more than respectfully disagree...

Well, the root of my disagreement is the "gymnastics" required to justify her armor. IMHO, this always introduces to rules problems (such as the Sword-Devil archetype).

Counterwise, I have zero problem treating her attire as armor. It is the simplest solution from a rules perspective, especially since Pathfinder armor doesn't act like armor does in the real world anyway.

Also, Beauty (an ineffable quality) does not equal Charisma (a game stat.) Sonja needs a good charisma stat (she became both a general and queen), but doesn't need to have an "18."

Of course you have to jump through hoops to justify her armor, it's a f%!@ing clinking bikini.

Also I don't really understand your third sentence, she needs a good Charisma but she doesn't need a good Charisma?

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Rysky wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
Cole Deschain wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
Is it acceptable to disagree with Erik Mona's interpretation of the Red Sonja character? :(
If you offer an alternate take, I see no reason for anyone to do more than respectfully disagree...

Well, the root of my disagreement is the "gymnastics" required to justify her armor. IMHO, this always introduces to rules problems (such as the Sword-Devil archetype).

Counterwise, I have zero problem treating her attire as armor. It is the simplest solution from a rules perspective, especially since Pathfinder armor doesn't act like armor does in the real world anyway.

Of course you have to jump through hoops to justify her armor, it's a f***ing clinking bikini.

This is where you are hanging up and I am not.

As I said above "I have zero problem treating her attire as armor" regardless of its form. Doing otherwise creates problems with how the game's combat mechanics function.

Rysky wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
Also, Beauty (an ineffable quality) does not equal Charisma (a game stat.) Sonja needs a good charisma stat (she became both a general and queen), but doesn't need to have an "18."
Also I don't really understand your third sentence, she needs a good Charisma but she doesn't need a good Charisma?

In Pathfinder Worldscape, Erik Mona's write up gives Red Sonja Str 14, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 9, and Chr 18.

Given how the character actually functions in her world, she doesn't actually need a charisma quite that high (save for the AC bonus).

The Chr 18 was because the "Sword-Devil" archetype that was created (provided in that same source) allowed her to add her Charisma Bonus to her AC. IMHO, this is worse non-sense then just treating her bikini armor as armor.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Lord Fyre wrote:

This is where you are hanging up and I am not.

As I said above "I have zero problem treating her attire as armor" regardless of its form. Doing otherwise creates problems with how the game's combat mechanics function.

No it doesn't. It's a bikini, it's not armor. Treating it as armor WOULD break the game rules that Paizo has pushed forth. I am not bothered in the slightest that some amount of common sense is used when determine outfits, especially silly ones, function.

Lord Fyre wrote:

In Pathfinder Worldscape, Erik Mona's write up give Red Sonja Str 14, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 9, and Chr 18.

Given how the character actually functions in her world, she doesn't actually need a charisma quite that high (save for the AC bonus).

The Chr 18 was because the "Sword-Devil" archetype that was created (provided in that same source) allowed her to add her Charisma Bonus to her AC. IMHO, this is worse non-sense then just treating her bikini armor as armor.

She's a longstanding and a popular pulp character handled by numerous authors and artists so "actually functions" drifts from iteration to iteration.

The fact that you have an issue with her having a high Cha and don't have any, nay, would want her bikini, I repeat, a BIKINI to be treated and comparable to actual armor is outright ridiculous.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Rysky wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:

This is where you are hanging up and I am not.

As I said above "I have zero problem treating her attire as armor" regardless of its form. Doing otherwise creates problems with how the game's combat mechanics function.

No it doesn't. It's a bikini, it's not armor. Treating it as armor WOULD break the game rules that Paizo has pushed forth. I am not bothered in the slightest that some amount of common sense is used when determine outfits, especially silly ones, function.

It is no more ridiculous then a magic missile, an orc, or any of the other things that we deal with in Pathfinder (or any other FANTASY game).

I say again, I have zero problem treating her bikini as armor.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

... "Magic and fantastic creatures exist in this fictional setting, therefore nothing else needs to make any sense" is not a worldview most adhere to.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Lord Fyre wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:

This is where you are hanging up and I am not.

As I said above "I have zero problem treating her attire as armor" regardless of its form. Doing otherwise creates problems with how the game's combat mechanics function.

No it doesn't. It's a bikini, it's not armor. Treating it as armor WOULD break the game rules that Paizo has pushed forth. I am not bothered in the slightest that some amount of common sense is used when determine outfits, especially silly ones, function.

It is no more ridiculous then a magic missile, an orc, or any of the other things that we deal with in Pathfinder (or any other FANTASY game).

I say again, I have zero problem treating her bikini as armor.

Then that's your problem.

Magic Missile is magic.

Orc is a race.

A bikini doesn't give you more armor than actual armor just because it may look sexier.

So why you may have no problem with something as stupid as a metal bikini being an actual set of armor I find nonsensical cheesecake based on the false adage of "sex sells" pathetic and annoying.


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

I think there are lots of ways to solve the problem of representing an unrealistic thing in a fantasy world. Erik went for the same solution you did initially and eventually discarded it for something he felt is superior. I don't think there's anything wrong with disagreeing with him, but I would suggest such distinctions are 'different' rather than a matter of 'right/wrong'.

Personally, I like the idea of fleshing out a specific character with specific powers via a new archetype - how 'the armor question' is solved isn't really something I care about. My take on Erik's blog was that by not trying to shoehorn her into a pre-existing framework he could stay more true to the character he was looking to portray. I think the armor thing was a starting point but quite a trivial detail (I'd be fine with either approach).


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Rysky wrote:
A bikini doesn't give you more armor than actual armor just because it may look sexier.

I'm pretty sure that isn't his point.

I think he's saying that PF's method for modelling armor is not very simulationist anyhow. There's a simple, mechanical system (just add some numbers together) and that how you might describe your armor is not always related to how high those numbers 'should' be.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:
Rysky wrote:
A bikini doesn't give you more armor than actual armor just because it may look sexier.

I'm pretty sure that isn't his point.

I think he's saying that PF's method for modelling armor is not very simulationist anyhow. There's a simple, mechanical system (just add some numbers together) and that how you might describe your armor is not always related to how high those numbers 'should' be.

It doesn't matter how simplistic the armor system is.

Lorde Fyre wrote:
I say again, I have zero problem treating her bikini as armor.

A Bikini isn't armor.

A Bikini isn't armor.

A Bikini isn't armor.


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

Neither are ceremonial robes, but they get an armor bonus.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:
Neither are ceremonial robes, but they get an armor bonus.
I assume you're talking about this?
Silken Ceremonial Armor wrote:
Used for ceremonial displays or occasionally worn (albeit with no additional benefit) over heavier armor, these robes consist of several layers of cloth and an outer layer of silk intricately woven with gold brocade designs and covered with metal studs.

So like Padded Armor which has the same AC bonus, it's armor that is reinforced clothing (which is a real thing).

Not a bikini.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Rysky wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Rysky wrote:
A bikini doesn't give you more armor than actual armor just because it may look sexier.

I'm pretty sure that isn't his point.

I think he's saying that PF's method for modelling armor is not very simulationist anyhow. There's a simple, mechanical system (just add some numbers together) and that how you might describe your armor is not always related to how high those numbers 'should' be.

That is exactly what I am saying. :)

Rysky wrote:

It doesn't matter how simplistic the armor system is.

Lorde Fyre wrote:
I say again, I have zero problem treating her bikini as armor.

A Bikini isn't armor.

A Bikini isn't armor.

A Bikini isn't armor.

At this point, you have left the realm of reasonable discussion of different ways to handle something in game.

Repeating something three times does not make it less or more true.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Rysky wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Neither are ceremonial robes, but they get an armor bonus.
I assume you're talking about this?
Silken Ceremonial Armor wrote:
Used for ceremonial displays or occasionally worn (albeit with no additional benefit) over heavier armor, these robes consist of several layers of cloth and an outer layer of silk intricately woven with gold brocade designs and covered with metal studs.

So like Padded Armor which has the same AC bonus, it's armor that is reinforced clothing (which is a real thing).

Not a bikini.

Sure. Not a bikini. I'm not saying "Chainmail bikini is a real kind of armor". I'm pointing out that ceremonial robes are not the same as other armor which gives a +1 bonus but we just accept the disparity between the flavor and the mechanics. The point being it's a simple system and what things look like and the mechanical bonus they derive are not sensible in many ways so it doesn't matter if they're not sensible here.

I think the real problem is the portrayal of Red Sonja as running around in a chainmail bikini - that doesn't go away no matter how you model the character mechanically. Erik couldn't do anything about that.

Perhaps to make the point another way consider following the path Erik chose - you're left with Red Sonja deliberately wearing a metal bikini for no benefit whatsoever. Why does she do that? Under Lord Fyre's interpretation, even if it was only +1, there'd be a reason.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Lord Fyre wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Rysky wrote:
A bikini doesn't give you more armor than actual armor just because it may look sexier.

I'm pretty sure that isn't his point.

I think he's saying that PF's method for modelling armor is not very simulationist anyhow. There's a simple, mechanical system (just add some numbers together) and that how you might describe your armor is not always related to how high those numbers 'should' be.

It doesn't matter how simplistic the armor system is.

Lorde Fyre wrote:
I say again, I have zero problem treating her bikini as armor.

A Bikini isn't armor.

A Bikini isn't armor.

A Bikini isn't armor.

At this point, you have left the realm of reasonable discussion of different ways to handle something in game.

That was left the moment you tried to justify cheesecake.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Steve Geddes wrote:


Sure. Not a bikini. I'm not saying "Chainmail bikini is a real kind of armor". I'm pointing out that ceremonial robes are not the same as other armor which gives a +1 bonus but we just accept the disparity between the flavor and the mechanics. The point being it's a simple system and what things look like and the mechanical bonus they derive are not sensible in many ways so it doesn't matter if they're not sensible here.

I think the real problem is the portrayal of Red Sonja as running around in a chainmail bikini - that doesn't go away no matter how you model the character mechanically. Erik couldn't do anything about that.

True. (But I also have very little problem with a female character running around in unrealistic armor.)

Steve Geddes wrote:
Perhaps to make the point another way consider following the path Erik chose - you're left with Red Sonja deliberately wearing a metal bikini for no benefit whatsoever. Why does she do that? Under Lord Fyre's interpretation, even if it was only +1, there'd be a reason.

The character in play (as opposed to in art) would be unlikely to actually wear a bikini. :)

(Actually, I would give Red Sonja the full credit for wearing a masterowrk chainmail shirt, but also the Weight, Armor Check Penalty, etc.)

Rysky wrote:
That was left the moment you tried to justify cheesecake.

I will leave that the the large Paizo community to decide.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Neither are ceremonial robes, but they get an armor bonus.
I assume you're talking about this?
Silken Ceremonial Armor wrote:
Used for ceremonial displays or occasionally worn (albeit with no additional benefit) over heavier armor, these robes consist of several layers of cloth and an outer layer of silk intricately woven with gold brocade designs and covered with metal studs.

So like Padded Armor which has the same AC bonus, it's armor that is reinforced clothing (which is a real thing).

Not a bikini.

Sure. Not a bikini. I'm not saying "Chainmail bikini is a real kind of armor". I'm pointing out that ceremonial robes are not the same as other armor which gives a +1 bonus but we just accept the disparity between the flavor and the mechanics. The point being it's a simple system and what things look like and the mechanical bonus they derive are not sensible in many ways so it doesn't matter if they're not sensible here.

I think the real problem is the portrayal of Red Sonja as running around in a chainmail bikini - that doesn't go away no matter how you model the character mechanically. Erik couldn't do anything about that.

Perhaps to make the point another way consider following the path Erik chose - you're left with Red Sonja deliberately wearing a metal bikini for no benefit whatsoever. Why does she do that? Under Lord Fyre's interpretation, even if it was only +1, there'd be a reason.

Or you could not try to misinterpret what he's saying in order to stretch the benefit of the doubt. He wants to justify cheesecake. He doesn't like when artists don't use cheesecake.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Lord Fyre wrote:
True. (But I also have very little problem with a female character running around in unrealistic armor.)

And I do.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Rysky wrote:
Or you could not try to misinterpret what he's saying in order to stretch the benefit of the doubt.

I'm not trying to misinterpret anything. I'm reading what he said here (which is an opinion about mechanics that Erik himself considered so its hardly out there or unreasonable).

I'm not basing my interpretation on anything other than what's in this thread though. I think there are many legitimate ways to model red Sonja. I think the issue of the chainmail bikini is a sad, sexist relic from the 70s (?) and i wish they would abandon it.

You didnt answer the question though. Having adopted the view that a chainmail bikini is not armor (in your belief that taking that mechanical route avoids 'cheesecake') why does she wear it?

I really think the problem is with the art. Once thats there, any faithful representation is going to have sexist undertones. Either women are encouraged to wear sexy armor mechanically or a suppoosedly strong, independent woman has made this silly, unmotivated choice of running around in useless 'armor'.

As i said, i prefer erik's solution (partly because it would hopefully stop a proliferation of such characters) but i dont think trying to portray an inherently sexist subject a different way makes one guilty of 'defending cheescake'.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Or you could not try to misinterpret what he's saying in order to stretch the benefit of the doubt.

I'm not trying to misinterpret anything. I'm reading what he said here (which is an opinion about mechanics that Erik himself considered so its hardly out there or unreasonable).

I'm not basing my interpretation on anything other than what's in this thread though. I think there are many legitimate ways to model red Sonja. I think the issue of the chainmail bikini is a sad, sexist relic from the 70s (?) and i wish they would abandon it.

You didnt answer the question though. Having adopted the view that a chainmail bikini is not armor (in your belief that taking that mechanical route avoids 'cheesecake') why does she wear it?

I really think the problem is with the art. Once thats there, any faithful representation is going to have sexist undertones. Either women are encouraged to wear sexy armor mechanically or a suppoosedly strong, independent woman has made this silly, unmotivated choice of running around in useless 'armor'.

As i said, i prefer erik's solution (partly because it would hopefully stop a proliferation of such characters) but i dont think trying to portray an inherently sexist subject a different way makes one guilty of 'defending cheescake'.

For this iteration: because of tradition concerning Red Sonja.

For every other artist: operating under the false assumption that sex sells.

Meta for this iteration: probably the same reason most of my character's don't wear armor, they have other abilities that supplement it or they just don't care.

And trying to portray a chainmail bikini as mechanically beneficial is defending cheesecake.


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

I think you misunderstood my question. I mean what reason, 'in-game' would Red Sonja have for wearing that armor, given it gives her no benefit?

I disagree with the last sentence - I think it's leaving her in silly armor 'for tradition' that's defending cheesecake, personally. (Although, fwiw, I really don't like that term).

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:

I think you misunderstood my question. I mean what reason, 'in-game' would Red Sonja have for wearing that armor, given it gives her no benefit?

I disagree with the last sentence - I think it's leaving her in silly armor 'for tradition' that's defending cheesecake, personally. (Although, fwiw, I really don't like that term).

Since I haven't gotten my copy of the comic I don't know what in-game reason reason for why she wears it, which is why I listed the others. My fault for not attaching this to that.

Oh, I agree, I would have preferred her not in the bikini as well, continuing it is perpetuating and defending the sexist ideology, but so is trying to make a bikini into armor. And bending over backwards trying to defend making it into armor.

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Rysky wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Rysky wrote:
A bikini doesn't give you more armor than actual armor just because it may look sexier.

I'm pretty sure that isn't his point.

I think he's saying that PF's method for modelling armor is not very simulationist anyhow. There's a simple, mechanical system (just add some numbers together) and that how you might describe your armor is not always related to how high those numbers 'should' be.

It doesn't matter how simplistic the armor system is.

Lorde Fyre wrote:
I say again, I have zero problem treating her bikini as armor.

A Bikini isn't armor.

A Bikini isn't armor.

A Bikini isn't armor.

A bikini is armor, but it only protects the areas it covers.

1 to 50 of 62 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Paizo / Licensed Products / General Discussion / Paizo Blog: Worldscape Workbook--Choosing Red Sonja's Class All Messageboards