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
Franchise Manager

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Tags: Amiri Barbarians Classes Iconic Evolutions Iconics Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Second Edition Wayne Reynolds
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Grand Lodge

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Huzzah!

Silver Crusade

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Amiri looks sicks... quick, somebody give her some chickensoup!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Excellent stuff! Glad to see her back in action!

Sovereign Court

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There is so much good stuff happening I can barely focus. This is SOOOOO awesome!

Dark Archive

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Ulrich-Alexander Schmidt wrote:
Amiri looks sicks... quick, somebody give her some chickensoup!

Yeah she does seem kinda more sickly than the origonal with the pale skin and what look like bags under her eyes or as one of my players put it Amiri should lay off the Meth.


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Kevin Mack wrote:
Ulrich-Alexander Schmidt wrote:
Amiri looks sicks... quick, somebody give her some chickensoup!
Yeah she does seem kinda more sickly than the origonal with the pale skin and what look like bags under her eyes or as one of my players put it Amiri should lay off the Meth.

Giant Totem rage is a helluva drug.

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The sword is too small! And she looks really sickly for a warrior who lives in the wilderness.


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Will the video be transcribed for proper consumption? Video's a very inefficient way to communicate, especially down the road.


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Brew Bird wrote:
Kevin Mack wrote:
Ulrich-Alexander Schmidt wrote:
Amiri looks sicks... quick, somebody give her some chickensoup!
Yeah she does seem kinda more sickly than the origonal with the pale skin and what look like bags under her eyes or as one of my players put it Amiri should lay off the Meth.
Giant Totem rage is a helluva drug.

Nah, she's just exhausted. Constantly having highs and lows in your emotional state, always getting worn down... that'll do it for you.

Source: am a college student.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wow, seems like she's been listening to Linkin Park for a week. I much prefer the non-goth version.


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I see she's still convinced her stomach is composed of armor plating! :D

Sword's less cartoonish, and it seems she's been out of the sun for a bit, but overall no really massive changes here...


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Fantastic as ever! I'm always impressed by the amount of details in the iconics. I'm looking forward to Seoni and my favorite iconic, Lini.

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Yeah, not all of the iconics are going to have massive changes. We like a lot of them just the way they are!


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Ulrich-Alexander Schmidt wrote:
Amiri looks sicks... quick, somebody give her some chickensoup!

From the thumbnail, I thought she was an undead being of some kind. Perhaps she will look better in the finished illustration, however...


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I like that her arm is not "Escher-esque" anymore. :P
Can't wait to see them all...
Will Fumbus get one? From nothing to existing, this is still an evolution, no?


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Another "face looks pretty bad in thumbnail" from me as well.


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Elfteiroh wrote:

I like that her arm is not "Escher-esque" anymore. :P

Can't wait to see them all...
Will Fumbus get one? From nothing to existing, this is still an evolution, no?

He already got a blog.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
David knott 242 wrote:
Elfteiroh wrote:

I like that her arm is not "Escher-esque" anymore. :P

Can't wait to see them all...
Will Fumbus get one? From nothing to existing, this is still an evolution, no?

He already got a blog.

I know, I was asking about a video like that...

"Each week, we'll take a look at a different updated iconic with Erik and Wayne, so stay tuned."
I wanted to know if this was applying to him too, to know more about the visual design of the little guy.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

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Fumbus is actually the only one we didn't talk about, so he might have to wait a while for his video to complete the series!


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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.

Silver Crusade

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Dαedαlus wrote:
Brew Bird wrote:
Kevin Mack wrote:
Ulrich-Alexander Schmidt wrote:
Amiri looks sicks... quick, somebody give her some chickensoup!
Yeah she does seem kinda more sickly than the origonal with the pale skin and what look like bags under her eyes or as one of my players put it Amiri should lay off the Meth.
Giant Totem rage is a helluva drug.

Nah, she's just exhausted. Constantly having highs and lows in your emotional state, always getting worn down... that'll do it for you.

Source: am a college student.

Yeah that's the vibe I was getting from her.

Contributing Artist

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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 kinda like that some people are perceiving her as fragile, in contrast with the huge sword she's wielding. It makes a good visual juxtaposition.

Amiri's body-shape and skin complexion have indeed changed.

A common feedback I receive from speaking with players at conventions (especially female players) is a request for different female bodyshapes. I've been happy to oblige.
Amiri corresponds to what's known as the "classic pear", where the hips are wider, shoulders and bust are narrower.
I wanted to avoid the muscled barbarian cliché. By fortunate coincidence,the upward facing triangle created by the pear body shape fit in visually well with her costume.

Her skin complexion has also changed to correspond with pale complexions common in Northern Europe and South-western Russia. Places that aren't necessarily freezing cold, but don't get a whole lot of sunlight. Her pale skin makes a good visual contrast with the rest of her costume. Otherwise, there'd be just too many shades of tan in there.

Silver Crusade

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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.

Liberty's Edge

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I wasn't sure at first, but upon reflection I think I like Amiri's new look.

Amiri's backstory has always involved her tribe not believing she could possibly be an actual warrior who successfully killed things. The current look makes that backstory a lot more plausible on the face of it (I mean, it was always plausible because, y'know, sexism, but it's more so now).

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Anyone else think she looks quite a bit younger? Be interesting to know if that was intended.

Contributing Artist

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Project_Mayhem wrote:
Anyone else think she looks quite a bit younger? Be interesting to know if that was intended.

Any perceptions of age difference is purely coincidental.


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Not a fan, she looks like she's been too sick to work out for a few years. Like she is weakly leaning on the sword for support rather than ready to swing it around. Without the sword I might not have even recognized it as Amiri.


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For a class which is traditionally very high constitution she looks kind of sick and tired. On the other hand she also looks angry which is good.


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Yaaaaaaasssss! I think the design Wayne Reynolds expounded on above makes complete sense! I'm also super glad he didn't cover her abs up. Super excited to see my favorite iconic....SEONI!


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I'm in agreement with others that she looks far too frail. I don't agree that muscled barbarians are a "cliché". It's a natural result of constantly lifting and swinging around heavy objects their entire life. In Amiri's case, it's an extremely heavy and unwieldy object. You're bound to develop muscles in a career such as hers. She has a natural 18 STR before raging. For a human that means she's going to be muscular.

In my personal opinion - of all the artwork I've seen, I prefer the originals in nearly every single case.


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I think it's partly that the more prominent muscles are mostly covered: The arms and legs are all in bulky armor. The flat stomach is visible, but the art style makes it look just thin rather than muscular - not that there would really be much bulk there anyway.

I don't really see the classic pear body shape that Wayne says he was going for. Possibly because the hips are kind of broken up visually by the weapons and stuff she's wearing. To me she just comes across as small and thin, not really pearish.


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Erik Mona wrote:
Fumbus is actually the only one we didn't talk about, so he might have to wait a while for his video to complete the series!

Thanks for the answer!

It's a bit sad, but I'm not surprised. Still can't wait to hear about the others. :3
(Also, I like that there's still a possibility it could be done down the road.)


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Yeah, I definitely don't like how this compares to the old Amiri art. Here they are side by side, Old and New.

Pale (especially the grey or bluish tinted tone here) skin is unhealthy, indicative of a lack of oxygenated blood in the area. Definitely not what you'd expect out of a physically focused class for sure. She also seems far narrower - her torso was 2.5 ish head widths wide before, now its not much more than 1.5. She lost all curve in the hips and chest (and its not like she was depicted as curvy before). Especially striking with the hips, as there doesn't seem to be any sense of structure there holding up her 'barbarian knickers' or whatever those are. The new pose is also just a hint more hunched over and closed off than before, making her look less confident and brash.

Her expression hasn't changed almost at all, but with the other changes she comes off as sullen-emo-teen rather than ticked-off-supermodel. Eh.

Silver Crusade

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Cellion wrote:
She also seems far narrower - her torso was 2.5 ish head widths wide before, now its not much more than 1.5.

look at the angle of the poses in those pics, the new image she's faced but in the old she's turned away, maaking her stomach look wider.


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I mean, people who run ultramarathons are probably the highest constitution people we have on real earth, and those types of people tend to be on the thin side anyway. Constantly cycling in and out of rage is probably just extremely exhausting so barbarians should probably look more like endurance athletes than bodybuilders.

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I mean, people who run ultramarathons are probably the highest constitution people we have on real earth, and those types of people tend not to be on the thin side anyway. Constantly cycling in and out of rage is probably just extremely exhausting so barbarians should probably look more like endurance athletes than bodybuilders.

*nods*

Yep, bodybuilding is for show, marathoners and powerlifters are a different breed.

Contributing Artist

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It's interesting to read how people's perceptions of the artwork differ.
For the record, I never imagined Amiri as particularly muscle-bound. I always considered her to be wiry and rangy. I always felt the pose on the first version was too proud and I wanted to apply a more feral stance Like an animal crouching before they leap.(I've seen martial artists do the same when they're about to lose their temper in a fight)
I much prefer the new version because it fits better with the way I imagine her and what I'm trying to visually achieve. Particularly in terms of body shape and complexion. But I guess I have a creators perspective on how I want my designs to evolve.
I'm very pleased that most of the feedback I've received on various platforms has been positive.Especially from a few female gamers who have identified with the new body shape and skin tone which has enabled them to relate closely to the character.
Thanks for the feedback on this thread.
I realise that perceptions and expectations differ and not everyone likes the changes to the Iconic characters. But I can live with that.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I mean, people who run ultramarathons are probably the highest constitution people we have on real earth, and those types of people tend to be on the thin side anyway. Constantly cycling in and out of rage is probably just extremely exhausting so barbarians should probably look more like endurance athletes than bodybuilders.

Cycling in and out of rage wouldn't have too much in common with ultramarathons. Short bursts of of high energy is pretty much the opposite of an ultramarathon. You'd also want all the muscles needed for high energy lateral motion for the sword swinging. That means heavily built lats, built up quads giving broad hips, and both sets of pectorals built up which gives the broader lower sitting chest you see in body builders.

The main difference between high endurance sports and energy burst sports, is how much weight you can carry. Compare the thigh muscles of a sprinter versus the thigh muscles of a ultramarathon runner. Look at how much fat each carries as well. The long distance runner can't carry the extra weight of the large legs, and their activity is long enough that they will start to burn muscle over fat. This gives the long distance runner a very lean appearance with absurd levels of definition throughout their body despite the smaller muscles. The sprinter ends up with bulkier legs and even fat distribution making them look a bit smoother. They also tend to have larger muscles since they aren't frequently digesting muscle to power the run. The sprinter is also likelier to have a flatter stomach since they aren't fighting against a liver that's being forced to filter out the excess sulfur from muscle digestion.

I would have looked at wrestlers for a model honestly, their matches are short, they need to be able to exert force in a wide variety of motions and over a prolonged period while often swapping back to bursts of rapid motion. Someone like Sakshi Malik or Helen Maroulis.

It doesn't really matter, the world is magic and she looks however she looks. It does seem out of place to me, but it's not a big deal either way. If this somehow makes people find the game more welcoming that's cool. And if that's the reason for her design, then I don't need to try to find any other reason in it.

Dark Archive

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Honestly more I look at it more I hate the new look. Makes me worried for my other favorite iconics.


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I feel like it's worth considering (unless this changed from the playtest) that rage rounds are no longer limited per day, so a barbarian could plausibly spend 75% of an adventuring day in rage, which is a full twelve hours of raging with 6 second rests every 30 seconds.

A PF1 Barbarian who might spend only a handful of minutes in rage in a given day would likely have different muscle definition than a PF2 barbarian who can rage for hours with minimal recovery. So that's why I feel like "Barbarians are Endurance Athletes who swing swords, etc." now.

Dark Archive

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Other comments from my group include "looks like she's turning undead" and "looks like an addict doing cosplay"

Dark Archive

I like the new design, though I think concept art looks better. I don't know, but something colored version feels bit weird to me.

Anyhoo, even in northern part of Finland, there are people with just naturally tan skin so that part wasn't unbelievable. I think Amiri's outfit didn't ever make sense for cold regions though :D (or why she would leave stomach unarmored)

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Wayne Reynolds wrote:
Any perceptions of age difference is purely coincidental.

Ah, that makes sense, given what you said about stance and body type.

I like the new version - she looks dangerous.


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My monitor wasn't doing it justice, click the image and scale to 100%.

I love the look and am happy to see an evolution.


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I didn't like the thumbnail, but once I viewed the full size version it immediately looks much better.

I agree with WAR; I think he nailed the feral look. Looking at her makes me uncomfortable in an instinctual way - she looks like an outsider, someone unpredictable that I wouldn't want to be in a dark alley with. I can almost echo the "she looks like an addict" comments in the way she looks like someone who could just suddenly decide to stab me for no apparent reason.

IMO, that's exactly how Amiri should look. Feral, uncivilized, and uncomfortably violent.


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She reminds me of vampire Kyra from Horror Adventures.


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While I understand the representation angle, I will miss when heroic characters were aspirational figures.


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MaxAstro wrote:

I didn't like the thumbnail, but once I viewed the full size version it immediately looks much better.

I agree with WAR; I think he nailed the feral look. Looking at her makes me uncomfortable in an instinctual way - she looks like an outsider, someone unpredictable that I wouldn't want to be in a dark alley with. I can almost echo the "she looks like an addict" comments in the way she looks like someone who could just suddenly decide to stab me for no apparent reason.

IMO, that's exactly how Amiri should look. Feral, uncivilized, and uncomfortably violent.

You could say all of those things about The Stranger from Pick of Destiny. And, like The Stranger, she also looks like I could just walk away while she weakly hobbles after me. Especially with a sword that will wrench her back and make her fall over if she tries to lift it.

Frailty and weakness should not exude from Amiri.


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Definitely a vampire. While I definitely prefer the original art, now Amiri has more bloodlust than ever.


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Corrik wrote:
Frailty and weakness should not exude from Amiri.

And... they really don't.

She reminds me a woman I once saw beat the everlasting crud out of a guy half again her size in a parking lot in Bloomington Indiana. Never knew what the fight was about, but... whipcord sorts with ferocity to burn are a long way from frail or weak.

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