Worldscape Workbook—Gearing Up Red Sonja, Part 1: Armbands

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

This week's Worldscape Workbook covers how I decided what magic items and adventuring gear to give Red Sonja for her official Pathfinder game statistics, but before I delve into the nitty gritty, I've got two announcements about personal appearances I'll be making to support Pathfinder Worldscape #1, which hits newsstands on Wednesday, October 19th.

Later this week I'll be signing pre-Worldscape Pathfinder comics I've written at the Dynamite booth at New York Comic Con! I'll be appearing from 4:00-5:00 on Friday and Saturday, and I'll even have some Pathfinder Goblin Mini-Mates on hand for dedicated Paizo blog-watchers.

At NYCC, I'll also be on Dynamite's "Dynamite Entertainment: Our Explosive New Comics of 2017... And Beyond!" panel on Thursday night at 7:30 PM at area 1A02 in the Javitt's Center.

On Wednesday, October 19th, to celebrate the official launch day of Pathfinder Worldscape #1, I'll be appearing at the world-famous Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles to sign copies of the new book and chat with Pathfinder fans! The signing starts at 7:00 PM. I'm super excited to visit the store again and to be a part of an official event there! Please join me!

Ok! With that out of the way, let's get down to Red Sonja!

In previous weeks, I've discussed the game design challenges presented by Red Sonja's "chainmail bikini," but of course the She-Devil with a Sword has more equipment than just her armor.

A few assumptions up front.

When determining Red Sonja's level, I wanted to leave enough room at the "top end" to allow for "future" Red Sonja stories like Dynamite's "Vulture's Circle" or "The Black Tower," and I didn't want Red Sonja to be so super-heroic that she was a novelty high-level-only NPC.

We assume the Pathfinder iconic heroes are about 5th or 6th level at the beginning of Pathfinder Worldscape. I wanted the versions of famous heroes they encountered in the Worldscape to be more capable than them (naturally), but still plausible adventuring companions under the Pathfinder rules, meaning they'd be similarly challenged by the same foes. So if the iconics were 5th or 6th, that meant I'd put folks like Red Sonja and John Carter closer to 7th. High enough to get the extra attack at 6th level, certainly.

To tell the truth, I had a lot of inertia to make Red Sonja 7th level. This has to do with the Pathfinder Society's rules for pre-generated characters, which come in a few specific levels, of which 7th is one. Let's just say I had reason to think it would be interesting to end up with stats that worked as a basis for a PFS pregen for Red Sonja and leave it at that. Nothing to announce, folks, I assure you. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Anyway, I ended up going with 8th level so Sonja would qualify for a class feature of her archetype that kicks in then, about which we'll talk in a near-future column. I'll reverse engineer her stat block to 7th later if I need to for whatever reason. For now I decided to go with the more interesting character build.

So, at 8th level, by the Pathfinder rules as a player character (because, come on, I'm not statting these guys up as anything less), Red Sonja should have 33,000 gp worth of gear.

That seemed like a lot, so I immediately started looking into the possibilities. First, I turned to my notes of all the gear I'd seen Red Sonja use over the first 18 issues of Dynamite's revamped series under the guidance of writer Gail Simone. Barring various different costumes or armor worn by Sonja over these issues, that list reads as follows:

  • Sword
  • Throwing dagger
  • Leather gloves
  • Left armband
  • Right armband
  • Leather boots
  • Hooded cloak
  • Shortbow
  • Waterskin

As you'll recall from previous installments of this column, I had originally planned to design Red Sonja's chainmail bikini as a suit of "decorative armor" that offered a +0 armor bonus, but didn't count as wearing armor for certain class features. That meant that Sonja couldn't wear bracers of armor, which meant I needed a solution to cheat to get her improvements to her AC that would allow her to go toe-to-toe with other martial characters of her level, who generally would be wearing a lot more armor than she does.

I zeroed in pretty quickly on Red Sonja's armbands. Although each artist draws Sonja their own way, during the Gail Simone arcs, she had a pretty consistent look drawn by artist Walter Giovanni, who gave each of the two armbands a distinct appearance. Sonja's right armband was a solid ring of gold, while the one she wears on her left arm looks more like a coiled snake. Two different armbands, I thought, two different opportunities for some cool unique magic items to get around her armor problem.

I also had another problem I wanted to solve, and this one came from actual play. Over the summer, in particular at PaizoCon and PaizoCon UK, I ran special games based on the Pathfinder Worldscape ideas I was working on in comic scripts at the time. I kludged together a storyline similar to Valeros's manifestation in the Worldscape in Pathfinder Worldscape #1, complete with anachronistic enemies and the untimely arrival of a Barsoomian White Ape, and set it upon some of Paizo's biggest fans. At the end of these sessions, I set Red Sonja herself against the party—or at least a seriously "rough draft" version of the character cribbed from a kit-bashed stat block from the NPC Codex. And every time, she blew a Will save and the encounter ended prematurely.

So I wanted those two different armbands to do two different things. One, which I originally called an "armlet of natural armor" that enhanced your natural armor bonus and one called a "coiled armlet" that allowed you to reroll a blown save. The armlet of natural armor was a boring utilitarian item, essentially a slotless amulet of natural armor at twice the price. I didn't really think anyone needed to pay a professional game designer for such a simple idea, but oh well. She needed the bonus to her AC, sexy or not. The coiled armband was a little more interesting, but given that it involved creating a gp value for rerolling a failed save, I didn't quite know how to determine a price for it.

In this, as in so many things, I turned to Jason Bulmahn, and in the process of laying out an arcane way of doing it that I have already forgotten (but will try to get him to recount for a future blog), he reminded me that the feat Improved Iron Will would give Red Sonja that rerolled saving throw on the type of save for which she needed it most.

This was the same conversation that convinced me, ultimately, that Red Sonja's armor didn't need to be some rules-breaking contrivance, but that it could simply not be armor at all. Once the armor wasn't armor at all, that opened things back up for good old bracers of armor. I decided to give Sonja Improved Iron Will, which removed my other idea for a new, unique armlet.

At the same time, Dynamite supplied me with the illustration that would accompany Red Sonja's stat block in Pathfinder Worldscape #1. Much to my surprise, it did not feature two different armbands at all. Instead, this image of Sonja (by occasional Pathfinder Comics cover artist Carlos Gomez) has two solid gold armbands instead of two different ones.

At this point I decided to listen to fate, and I simply made Red Sonja's armbands bracers of armor +4 and called it a day. Sometimes the simplest solution really is the best one.

Speaking of calling it a day, I've rambled on quite a lot! We'll pick up this gear discussion next week, when I shift the focus to Red Sonja's weapons!

Until then, please do me a huge favor and consider setting up a Pathfinder Comics Ongoing Subscription. Doing so will ensure that you receive every issue of Pathfinder Worldscape delivered straight to your door. People are always asking what they can do to support the comic, and my answer is this: If you have a local comic store, ask them to add Pathfinder Worldscape to your pull list. If you don't have a local comic shop, please set up that subscription now!

I'll see some of you (I hope!) later this week at New York Comic Con and some more of you on the 19th at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles!

Thanks for your interest in Pathfinder Worldscape!

Erik Mona
Publisher

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Licensed Products Pathfinder Comics Pathfinder Worldscape

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Awww...I thought you said last week you'd be going into the "sword devil" ranger archetype. I was really excited for that.

Still, this was a really interesting read. It's cool to get a look into the creative process. :)


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

So envious of Freehold right about now.

Begins elaborate plan to travel to New York via a hijinks filled box car ride that doesn't go as planned.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Yeah, sorry. Sword-devil details (or at least a broad overview) are coming in the next couple weeks. Gotta get through the equipment first. I thought that would be a single blog, but once I start its hard to get me to shut up.


Erik Mona wrote:
Yeah, sorry. Sword-devil details (or at least a broad overview) are coming in the next couple weeks. Gotta get through the equipment first. I thought that would be a single blog, but once I start its hard to get me to shut up.

Argh! Erik! Why must you TORMENT US SO! These juicy morsels are but crumbs on a dinner plate for a red dragon! They are simply not enough! We require MORE! MMMOOORRREEE!

...kidding...maybe...;) :D


Is it just me or does Sonja also have pauldrons? Or is that part of her cloak?

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I like the coiled band. You could have included it. IMO.

Love the articles so far.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Wow, absolutely loving all these articles so far as you go through your villianous monologuedesign process :3

Dark Archive

Is there going to be a comics boon akin to the Pathfinder Tales profile reader boon that unlocks Red Sonja et al. as pregens?Because it seems like there is something to see there.

Scarab Sages

So who's the mystery woman on the cover, between Merisiel and Kyra?

Not red enough for Dejah Thoris...could it be Belit?

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Still say you could have made her coinmail bikini a custom bracers of armor. It's still technically not armor. Just saying.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I could have. Instead I made her armlets custom bracers of armor, which has the same impact.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Snorter wrote:

So who's the mystery woman on the cover, between Merisiel and Kyra?

Not red enough for Dejah Thoris...could it be Belit?

That's a semi-obscure Frank Frazetta character called Pha, the queen of a lost empire in the African jungle (technically in a time-locked Dawn Land filled with dinosaurs and cave men that just happens to be in an African valley).

She's essentially the girlfriend of Frazetta's Jungle Hero Thun'da (himself very much in a Tarzan tradition).

I kind of love her, so she's a fairly major minor character in Pathfinder Worldscape, appearing in issues 1, 4, 5, and 6.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:


To tell the truth, I had a lot of inertia to make Red Sonja 7th level. This has to do with the Pathfinder Society's rules for pre-generated characters, which come in a few specific levels, of which 7th is one. Let's just say I had reason to think it would be interesting to end up with stats that worked as a basis for a PFS pregen for Red Sonja and leave it at that. Nothing to announce, folks, I assure you. Nothing to see here. Move along.

O.O

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I love Erik's write-ups and enthusiasm.

They make me excited about the idea for a few hours.

When will we get the next issues of the proper comics?


Pathfinder Modules, Tales Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:
Snorter wrote:

So who's the mystery woman on the cover, between Merisiel and Kyra?

Not red enough for Dejah Thoris...could it be Belit?

That's a semi-obscure Frank Frazetta character called Pha, the queen of a lost empire in the African jungle (technically in a time-locked Dawn Land filled with dinosaurs and cave men that just happens to be in an African valley).

She's essentially the girlfriend of Frazetta's Jungle Hero Thun'da (himself very much in a Tarzan tradition).

I kind of love her, so she's a fairly major minor character in Pathfinder Worldscape, appearing in issues 1, 4, 5, and 6.

That ran as the C-comic in the Swedish "The Phantom" magazine for a while in the 90:s (everything I know about Pulp comics, I learned from that magazine). I'd be a bit leery, but I trust Erik to have removed the racist bits.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Is there a date when the specifics of the archetype will be revealed? And where it will be published? I guess in the comics?

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'll be posting a general summary/overview of the archetype next Wednesday (later today is more about her gear).

You're going to need to buy the issue to get the specifics.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

The comic itself hits newsstands next Wednesday, October 19th.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Nice thanks!

Extra question: When i subscribe to this, are there PDF of the comics?
I have the first comic series as PDF, but i think that was over comixology or something?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Yay!

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

Hayato Ken wrote:

Nice thanks!

Extra question: When i subscribe to this, are there PDF of the comics?
I have the first comic series as PDF, but i think that was over comixology or something?

Right, you most likely got it from Comixology. Pathfinder comics subs do not come with electronic copies.

Community / Forums / Paizo / Licensed Products / General Discussion / Paizo Blog: Worldscape Workbook--Gearing Up Red Sonja, Part 1: Armbands All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in General Discussion
Roll20 and PF2e