Iconic Evolution: Amiri

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

It's been 12 years since famed artist Wayne Reynolds designed the core iconic characters we've all come to know and love. When we knew a second edition was on the horizon, we asked him to update them for the new era of Pathfinder. Last summer, Paizo's publisher and chief creative officer Erik Mona met with Wayne at Paizo's Gen Con booth to discuss his creative process. Check out this short video of their conversation for a glimpse into the mind of Pathfinder's most iconic visual artist and the first official look at the iconic barbarian, Amiri!

Each week, we'll take a look at a different updated iconic with Erik and Wayne, so stay tuned.

Mark Moreland
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Tags: Amiri Barbarians Classes Iconic Evolutions Iconics Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Second Edition Wayne Reynolds
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Alright, that's a good example. Totally forgot about that artwork. Still, personally I prefer Amiri the tanned way.

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It's nice enough. Getting rid of the silly oversized gauntlet on the left arm really makes it appeal to me more than the original did. I'm not a fan of the arrows/frostbitew here midsection, but it does look a bit less like a male gaze thing here, if only because Amiri looks younger and to be more of a runner's build than a stereotypical amazon.

I do question the ne need to put little leather crosses or exes on the blue fabric, and the lack of any sort of pouch or rucksack. I always like it when characters are depicted as actually having space on their person to carry all of their listed gear.


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Two things:

1) Not a fan of even blog entries becoming replaced with videos. I prefer to read rather than watch.

2) I really hate how men with high strength are always shown with lots of muscles whereas women with high strength are shown like stick figures. Unless there's some sort of DEX Barbarian build I'm not aware of, she doesn't look like she could hold up the sword let alone swing it. Not a fan (and this isn't a 2nd ed change, this has always been a bugaboo of mine. I just never had an excuse to bring it up on these forums before).


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John Lynch 106 wrote:
I really hate how men with high strength are always shown with lots of muscles whereas women with high strength are shown like stick figures. Unless there's some sort of DEX Barbarian build I'm not aware of, she doesn't look like she could hold up the sword let alone swing it. Not a fan (and this isn't a 2nd ed change, this has always been a bugaboo of mine. I just never had an excuse to bring it up on these forums before).

I think that's a bit unfair, Kyra, Seelah, the Inquisitor whose name I can't remember, and Kess are all solid, and there aren't any real body-builder types among the men. Amiri could certainly do with looking to have a heavier build, although I agree that a dex-build would be reasonable for her appearance.

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John Lynch 106 wrote:
whereas women with high strength are shown like stick figures

You mean Kess, the iconic Brawler and the arugably biggest biceps and tricpes amongst the iconics?

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Bluenose wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
I really hate how men with high strength are always shown with lots of muscles whereas women with high strength are shown like stick figures. Unless there's some sort of DEX Barbarian build I'm not aware of, she doesn't look like she could hold up the sword let alone swing it. Not a fan (and this isn't a 2nd ed change, this has always been a bugaboo of mine. I just never had an excuse to bring it up on these forums before).
I think that's a bit unfair, Kyra, Seelah, the Inquisitor whose name I can't remember, and Kess are all solid, and there aren't any real body-builder types among the men. Amiri could certainly do with looking to have a heavier build, although I agree that a dex-build would be reasonable for her appearance.

I'd rather we get at least one male Iconic with very high Strength and a skinny build. The two aren't linked mechanically and having skinny but surprisingly strong characters can be a fun trope if it's not gendered.

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Bluenose wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
I really hate how men with high strength are always shown with lots of muscles whereas women with high strength are shown like stick figures. Unless there's some sort of DEX Barbarian build I'm not aware of, she doesn't look like she could hold up the sword let alone swing it. Not a fan (and this isn't a 2nd ed change, this has always been a bugaboo of mine. I just never had an excuse to bring it up on these forums before).
I think that's a bit unfair, Kyra, Seelah, the Inquisitor whose name I can't remember, and Kess are all solid, and there aren't any real body-builder types among the men. Amiri could certainly do with looking to have a heavier build, although I agree that a dex-build would be reasonable for her appearance.
I'd rather we get at least one male Iconic with very high Strength and a skinny build. The two aren't linked mechanically and having skinny but surprisingly strong characters can be a fun trope if it's not gendered.

Ezren has a 14 if I remember correctly, so that's a start.


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I like Amiri, always have, always will.

I can't wait to see how the others have evolved.

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Rysky wrote:
Ezren has a 14 if I remember correctly, so that's a start.

Sadly, no. Ezren has a Str of 10 in PF1 (his Dex and Con are 14s). Quinn, the Iconic Investigator of PF1, does have a Str of 14 (and Mutagen to raise it more at higher levels), resulting in some jokes ('The Mighty Quinn' leaps to mind), but I don't feel he quite qualifies.

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Ezren has a 14 if I remember correctly, so that's a start.
Sadly, no. Ezren has a Str of 10 in PF1 (his Dex and Con are 14s). Quinn, the Iconic Investigator of PF1, does have a Str of 14 (and Mutagen to raise it more at higher levels), resulting in some jokes ('The Mighty Quinn' leaps to mind), but I don't feel he quite qualifies.

Ah *nods*


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With all due respect to RAW, not a fan.

Both me and my GF's first reaction was "Huh, Undead Amiri... what's the story there?"

... Apparently we're not alone. To me, this is an unfortunate confluence of several things, that on their own wouldn't cause such a dramatic skew of perception:

- the sunken eyes;
- the unnatural grimace, showing way more teeth than humans usually do (to be clear - I LOVE the snarling; but anyone with passing pop-culture exposure to The Walking Dead or what have you, is somewhat conditioned to make the "missing upper lip - decomposing zombie" connection
- the much maligned pale skin. I get the "northern Europe complexion" goal, but barring any form of albinism, most pale people do have at least somewhat pink-ish skin tone, with no chalk-white sections as perceived in some sections of Amiri

To be fair, I suspect a lot of the issue is with art's presentation size. Only when I clicked through to a larger picture AND zoom - I can actually see that most of those teeth are her LOWER ones (so she's actually doing a more intentional "underbite" grimace, and that the palest portions of her skin actually do have a a healthy-looking pinking tone.

I don't get why some people are trying so hard to tell other people why their perception of ART is "wrong" - if some people's reaction is "Undead" or "meth addict" - then that's that and it doesn't matter what the artist "intended", if that's not the message he managed to *send* (to those particular viewers)

Amiri specifics aside, what I actually *hate* about the whole thing is the idea that it's acceptable to change the iconics for arbitrary reasons. I'm all for representation, but if you want particular looks represented - why not just make a DIFFERENT character, instead of forcing skin grafts and boob-reducing-job on existing one (and don't get me started on Harsk's new ridiculously cartoonish/dyed fire beard).

I actually prefer if Paizo'd gone full-hog and just REPLACE the Iconics for 2E - that way they'd have DOZENS of new "representation slots" for new race/gender/skin/hair combinations - without invalidating any of the old characters we've grown accustomed to. As it is, where does this arbitrary revisionist slippery slope end - I feel bodybuilder-type male teenagers of mixed black/asian descent are underrepresented, why not make the new Seoni one? That makes just about the same damned sense as the Amiri business.

EDIT: Just to make sure my rant is not misinterpreted - the ART above is great, as always; it's just "not my Amiri"


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Actually, every pale person who doesn't naturally bronze in the sun who I've ever known turns beet red after some prolonged exposure to the sun.


Longshot11 wrote:


I feel bodybuilder-type male teenagers of mixed black/asian descent are underrepresented, why not make the new Seoni one?

Not to scalpel out a single line of your post but...is it really a smart move to give your iconic and generally weedy sorcerer/ess a body builder physique?

Now making a glorious lucha libre type monk, that's where you add the bodybuilder physique!

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Longshot11 wrote:

Amiri specifics aside, what I actually *hate* about the whole thing is the idea that it's acceptable to change the iconics for arbitrary reasons. I'm all for representation, but if you want particular looks represented - why not just make a DIFFERENT character, instead of forcing skin grafts and boob-reducing-job on existing one (and don't get me started on Harsk's new ridiculously cartoonish/dyed fire beard).

SJW-baiting comments about filling "representation slots" aside, the intent of getting new illustrations of the iconics was never to change them. It was to make them what they've always been—examples of the types of characters people can play with the Pathfinder rules, in the Pathfinder setting. We have invested more in these characters as ambassadors of our brand than we have real people in some cases, and it would be counterproductive to throw out perfectly good iconics without a reason. So while we could have swapped up the ancestry and gender of each one, we'd just end up with a dozen new characters existing Pathfinder fans wouldn't recognize. Keeping the same characters is among the many ways fans will be able to tell that Pathfinder Second Edition is still Pathfinder. It's still Amiri, she just looks a little different. It's still Seoni, she's just wearing something different. It's still Ezren, it's just not the same Ezren illustration we've been reusing everywhere for over a decade now.

I too miss the days when Batman wore a gray suit with dark blue cape and cowl, and when Spider-man's armpits were covered in webs. But just because there are newer illustrations of the same characters with different suits or whatever doesn't mean they're not the same characters.

Dark Archive

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Mark Moreland wrote:
Longshot11 wrote:

Amiri specifics aside, what I actually *hate* about the whole thing is the idea that it's acceptable to change the iconics for arbitrary reasons. I'm all for representation, but if you want particular looks represented - why not just make a DIFFERENT character, instead of forcing skin grafts and boob-reducing-job on existing one (and don't get me started on Harsk's new ridiculously cartoonish/dyed fire beard).

SJW-baiting comments about filling "representation slots" aside, the intent of getting new illustrations of the iconics was never to change them. It was to make them what they've always been—examples of the types of characters people can play with the Pathfinder rules, in the Pathfinder setting. We have invested more in these characters as ambassadors of our brand than we have real people in some cases, and it would be counterproductive to throw out perfectly good iconics without a reason. So while we could have swapped up the ancestry and gender of each one, we'd just end up with a dozen new characters existing Pathfinder fans wouldn't recognize. Keeping the same characters is among the many ways fans will be able to tell that Pathfinder Second Edition is still Pathfinder. It's still Amiri, she just looks a little different. It's still Seoni, she's just wearing something different. It's still Ezren, it's just not the same Ezren illustration we've been reusing everywhere for over a decade now.

I too miss the days when Batman wore a gray suit with dark blue cape and cowl, and when Spider-man's armpits were covered in webs. But just because there are newer illustrations of the same characters with different suits or whatever doesn't mean they're not the same characters.

Then why replace the alchemist?

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Kevin Mack wrote:
Then why replace the alchemist?

Because we needed a goblin iconic so that all core ancestries were represented, and Damiel really wasn't the best example for a core class, as he was a psychopathic murderer.

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Mark Moreland wrote:
Kevin Mack wrote:
Then why replace the alchemist?
Because we needed a goblin iconic so that all core ancestries were represented, and Damiel really wasn't the best example for a core class, as he was a psychopathic murderer.

So it's Iconic except when you deicide it's not. As for the psycopathic part everyone remembers the Goblin song right? I mean we are talking about the race that were basically described in there first appearence as Pscycopathic murderers?


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Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Longshot11 wrote:


I feel bodybuilder-type male teenagers of mixed black/asian descent are underrepresented, why not make the new Seoni one?

Not to scalpel out a single line of your post but...is it really a smart move to give your iconic and generally weedy sorcerer/ess a body builder physique?

From my understanding, that's called "going against the stereotype".

Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Now making a glorious lucha libre type monk, that's where you add the bodybuilder physique!

OMG! I now want so badly this to be a real iconic!

Mark Moreland wrote:
SJW-baiting comments about filling "representation slots" aside,...

I... didn't mean it like that at all. The "representation" angle is out of mister Reynolds' own argument about the changes, and personally, I would *actually* prefer a whole new set of fresh Iconic character, as I don't see it necessarily as a deterrent to keep using the old ones as well (though that probably defeats the purpose you put behind the notion of "iconic").

I admit I didn't consider your investment in the old iconics, rather my train of thought was "if they've done it once - they can do it again".


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Mark Moreland wrote:
Damiel really wasn't the best example for a core class, as he was a psychopathic murderer.

In my group, the politically correct term for that is "player character" :D


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magnuskn wrote:
Actually, every pale person who doesn't naturally bronze in the sun who I've ever known turns beet red after some prolonged exposure to the sun.

I mean if I go through a lot of cycles of "get sunburned, recover, get sunburned, recover" I don't get noticeably darker I just get "less likely to sunburn" through some mechanism I do not understand.


Longshot11 wrote:
Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Longshot11 wrote:


I feel bodybuilder-type male teenagers of mixed black/asian descent are underrepresented, why not make the new Seoni one?

Not to scalpel out a single line of your post but...is it really a smart move to give your iconic and generally weedy sorcerer/ess a body builder physique?
From my understanding, that's called "going against the stereotype".

It's a thing but on the other hand, iconics are meant to be on type so to speak. They're the types of characters you'd feasibly expect new players to gravitate toward and want to build and are broadly what your classes are meant to encompass, hence Harsk now being dual wield and Valeros being sword+board. Muscle wizard is always a fun concept, but its ultimately not even close to the first thought people have when it comes to their full casters, hence why sticking with weedy casters in general is probably for the best.


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Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Longshot11 wrote:
Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Longshot11 wrote:


I feel bodybuilder-type male teenagers of mixed black/asian descent are underrepresented, why not make the new Seoni one?

Not to scalpel out a single line of your post but...is it really a smart move to give your iconic and generally weedy sorcerer/ess a body builder physique?
From my understanding, that's called "going against the stereotype".
It's a thing but on the other hand, iconics are meant to be on type so to speak. They're the types of characters you'd feasibly expect new players to gravitate toward and want to build and are broadly what your classes are meant to encompass, hence Harsk now being dual wield and Valeros being sword+board. Muscle wizard is always a fun concept, but its ultimately not even close to the first thought people have when it comes to their full casters, hence why sticking with weedy casters in general is probably for the best.

I wasn't making the argument myself. Again, that's from mister Raynols justification about making Amiri even more spindly and less muscle-bound (and to be clear - playing against expectations is something I totally get behind; just not playing against an already established character. Then again, there must be people who prefer Lucas' Enhanced Editions, so there's that, I suppose...).


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
Actually, every pale person who doesn't naturally bronze in the sun who I've ever known turns beet red after some prolonged exposure to the sun.
I mean if I go through a lot of cycles of "get sunburned, recover, get sunburned, recover" I don't get noticeably darker I just get "less likely to sunburn" through some mechanism I do not understand.

Repeated sunburns seriously increase your risk of getting skin cancer. Use stronger skin protection or stop exposing yourself so often.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
Actually, every pale person who doesn't naturally bronze in the sun who I've ever known turns beet red after some prolonged exposure to the sun.
I mean if I go through a lot of cycles of "get sunburned, recover, get sunburned, recover" I don't get noticeably darker I just get "less likely to sunburn" through some mechanism I do not understand.

I meant that there is a certain phenotype of people (mostly blondes) with pale skin who for reasons live in areas / have professions where they are exposed for prolonged times to the sun... and about everybody of those particular people doesn't bronze but runs around with reddened skin all the time. It's not sunburns, it's just how their skin works.

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Longshot11 wrote:
I don't get why some people are trying so hard to tell other people why their perception of ART is "wrong" - if some people's reaction is "Undead" or "meth addict"

If you see a pale person with dark eyes and your immediate thought is "meth addict" then your perception is indeed wrong.

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Kevin Mack wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
Kevin Mack wrote:
Then why replace the alchemist?
Because we needed a goblin iconic so that all core ancestries were represented, and Damiel really wasn't the best example for a core class, as he was a psychopathic murderer.
So it's Iconic except when you deicide it's not. As for the psycopathic part everyone remembers the Goblin song right? I mean we are talking about the race that were basically described in there first appearence as Pscycopathic murderers?

Everyone remembers Nidal and Cheliax right? We should get rid of the human iconics too.

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
Actually, every pale person who doesn't naturally bronze in the sun who I've ever known turns beet red after some prolonged exposure to the sun.
I mean if I go through a lot of cycles of "get sunburned, recover, get sunburned, recover" I don't get noticeably darker I just get "less likely to sunburn" through some mechanism I do not understand.

Same.

Except for the "less likely to sunburn" part, I don't get that. Ever.

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Rysky wrote:
Longshot11 wrote:
I don't get why some people are trying so hard to tell other people why their perception of ART is "wrong" - if some people's reaction is "Undead" or "meth addict"
If you see a pale person with dark eyes and your immediate thought is "meth addict" then your perception is indeed wrong.

Or they could you know actually know someone who is an addict/ seen addicts and thats how they lookes.

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Kevin Mack wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Longshot11 wrote:
I don't get why some people are trying so hard to tell other people why their perception of ART is "wrong" - if some people's reaction is "Undead" or "meth addict"
If you see a pale person with dark eyes and your immediate thought is "meth addict" then your perception is indeed wrong.
Or they could you know actually know someone who is an addict/ seen addicts and thats how they lookes.

I live in effectively methville, I've seen meth addicts (I notice the teeth, the nails, the behavior).

I don't assume every pale person with dark eyes is a meth addict.

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Oh, you've met Amiri in person? Say hi for me next time.


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Gorbacz wrote:
Ah, exactly, she looks like the miffed young lady from Sankt Petersburg who sold me that toxic homemade vodka once. I now also remember why I decided not to pursue any claim of liability against her.

Wait'll you try a snort of Dr. Fumbus' 18-In-1 Aids All Ails & All Ales Pure-Pickle Tequila and Paint Remover!

{is suddenly fascinated by phantasmal dancing pink oliphaunt }


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Mark Moreland wrote:
Kevin Mack wrote:
Then why replace the alchemist?
Because we needed a goblin iconic so that all core ancestries were represented, and Damiel really wasn't the best example for a core class, as he was a psychopathic murderer.

So... Damiel is gonna pop up as a new re-occurring BBE to menace/harass/"arch" the Iconic Heroes?

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Dread Piewright Jacques Pepin wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
Kevin Mack wrote:
Then why replace the alchemist?
Because we needed a goblin iconic so that all core ancestries were represented, and Damiel really wasn't the best example for a core class, as he was a psychopathic murderer.
So... Damiel is gonna pop up as a new re-occurring BBE to menace/harass/"arch" the Iconic Heroes?

Yes. He will be the shopkeeper they all have to go through.


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Rysky wrote:
Yes. He will be the shopkeeper they all have to go through.

But can the PCs handle his strongest potions?

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Yes. He will be the shopkeeper they all have to go through.
But can the PCs handle his strongest potions?

Maybe? I have no idea how the potion rules are gonna work.


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Wayne Reynolds wrote:
ErichAD wrote:
I don't recall her looking quite this waifish. No shoulders, arms and legs super skinny, narrow chest, little visible tappering from lats. She looks pretty fragile.
I wanted to avoid the muscled barbarian cliché.

The problem is that a muscled *female* barbarian is NOT a cliché, the unarmored torso, the skinny male fantasy is the cliché.

Amiri carries the biggest sword in the Inner Sea, she deserves muscles that lets her carry that sword with ease. I'm tired of skinny women with unarmored torsos, can we stop with these male fantasy tropes already?


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exigo wrote:
Wayne Reynolds wrote:
ErichAD wrote:
I don't recall her looking quite this waifish. No shoulders, arms and legs super skinny, narrow chest, little visible tappering from lats. She looks pretty fragile.
I wanted to avoid the muscled barbarian cliché.

The problem is that a muscled *female* barbarian is NOT a cliché, the unarmored torso, the skinny male fantasy is the cliché.

Amiri carries the biggest sword in the Inner Sea, she deserves muscles that lets her carry that sword with ease. I'm tired of skinny women with unarmored torsos, can we stop with these male fantasy tropes already?

Amiri may be skinny and have an unarmored torso, but she still manages to avoid being the male fantasy cliche. She's not drawn to be appealing, despite broadly matching some of the standard tropes.


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Mark Moreland wrote:
Kevin Mack wrote:
Then why replace the alchemist?
Because we needed a goblin iconic so that all core ancestries were represented, and Damiel really wasn't the best example for a core class, as he was a psychopathic murderer.

Does that mean we're getting Half-Elf / Half-Orc iconics in core? Or are we not counting them since they're now considered variants of the Human ancestry?


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exigo wrote:
Amiri carries the biggest sword in the Inner Sea, she deserves muscles that lets her carry that sword with ease. I'm tired of skinny women with unarmored torsos, can we stop with these male fantasy tropes already?

I think the number of presumably male individuals - judging by name here, so admittedly making wild guesses - who don't like this art is indicative that it's not very male fantasy.

I don't find it male fantasy at all, and I love the art. Amiri terrifies me in this artwork. I wouldn't want to be in the same tavern as her. Maybe not the same town.

The unarmored torso is a valid point, but I think they were probably wary of changing her appearance too much since, as noted, it's already notably changed. For some people I think changing her body build AND her clothing style would be a bridge too far.

I suspect in the same way that Seoni will have a similar body type but different clothing. :)


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If she had a fur-wrapped midsection, would people be grumbling either 'fur is murder' or making aspersions of being a 'closet furry'?


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People will find a reason to complain about anything.

Frankly its a marvel no one's come up with a conspiracy theory as to just why she really feels the need to overcompensate with that big ole sword of hers.

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Kah wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
Kevin Mack wrote:
Then why replace the alchemist?
Because we needed a goblin iconic so that all core ancestries were represented, and Damiel really wasn't the best example for a core class, as he was a psychopathic murderer.
Does that mean we're getting Half-Elf / Half-Orc iconics in core? Or are we not counting them since they're now considered variants of the Human ancestry?

The latter, since we know for a fact none of the core iconics are changing (well, not other than visually, anyway).

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I think she needs to lay off the pesh.


I don't really have an issue with Amiri's new look or anything.

However, as I was scrolling past this post in my Twitter feed, my first instinct was that it was something that had to do with Exalted. I mean, take a look at the graphic design in that thumbnail: a red "scroll", with yellow borders, and a yellow logo with the first character emphasized and which stretches just a little bit outside the red scroll.

Then compare it to this cover.

I mean, they're not identical, but the design is pretty similar.

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Staffan Johansson wrote:

I don't really have an issue with Amiri's new look or anything.

However, as I was scrolling past this post in my Twitter feed, my first instinct was that it was something that had to do with Exalted. I mean, take a look at the graphic design in that thumbnail: a red "scroll", with yellow borders, and a yellow logo with the first character emphasized and which stretches just a little bit outside the red scroll.

Then compare it to this cover.

I mean, they're not identical, but the design is pretty similar.

Thanks. I can't unsee it now.

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TOZ wrote:
Oh, you've met Amiri in person? Say hi for me next time.

There might come a day where I can stop myself from sharing awesome cosplay, but not today ^^

Amiri of the Six Bears - Pathfinder, completed October 2015..

Actually, the cosplayer was a bit happy that the blade looked a bit smaller in the sketch because she had a hard time posing with the cosplay version ^^


Wow that's fantastic. :)

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Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
TOZ wrote:
Oh, you've met Amiri in person? Say hi for me next time.

There might come a day where I can stop myself from sharing awesome cosplay, but not today ^^

Amiri of the Six Bears - Pathfinder, completed October 2015..

Actually, the cosplayer was a bit happy that the blade looked a bit smaller in the sketch because she had a hard time posing with the cosplay version ^^

Well she looks pale and not that muscular... ;-)


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Longshot11 wrote:
With all due respect... I actually prefer if Paizo'd gone full-hog and just REPLACE the Iconics for 2E

I agree that a new edition should, ideally, feature new iconics. It would represent a firm break with the past and would allow Paizo greater latitude in terms of what classes and ancestries they include in the books as well as how they're presented in both the rules and lore. That ship has sailed, however at least so far as the core book is concerned.

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