“I Want to Play Her”: Prepared Leader

Look! I have two great images of the same great character! It’s completely unprecedented! As soon as I saw these book covers, this girl caught my eye. She looks totally prepared for anything. Aliens attacking? She’s ready. Zombie hamster? No problem. (Yes, that is a zombie hamster on that cover.) She’s even dressed for action in a practical jumpsuit that’s easy to move in and looks comfortable or a tee-shirt and hoodie with her hair back in a ponytail. Her companion seems a bit less ready for anything, but he’ll be ok since he’s with her. Besides, his main job seems to be to protect the little dog that is their constant companion. When she’s fighting zombie hamsters and alien invaders, this hardly seems like a taxing job, does it? This girl looks awesome. She appears inquisitive, attentive and prepared. I would love to play her! She’d make a great hero character in an action game! By the way, the cover art is done by Scott M. Fischer.

“I Want to Play Her”: Champion

My husband gets the Pathfinder modules in the mail from Paizo and usually I at least glance at the character on the cover when they arrive, but I somehow missed this one! When I finally came across it I was wowed (and annoyed that he hadn’t shown it to me, since he should have known I’d flip for this particular piece of art). You have to click through on this one and see the full piece, the details are amazing. This woman is badass. She’s fully armored and even has a helmet in her hand. Her armor is full plate and I counted at least five visible weapons plus a large heavy-looking shield. She’s got a great, believable sword, a longbow and full quiver of arrows, various small weapons, everything she might possibly need in combat. This is a woman who knows what she’s doing.

And check out that expression on her face! She’s determined and smart too! She may not be the strategist in her party, but she’s certainly not just a “tank” either. She’s got brains under that helmet and is clearly someone who weighs in on the advisability of a given course of action and probably the moral implications as well. I could see her being given a definite set of orders, weighing them in her mind and deciding to not follow them because to do so would be against the code that she holds herself, and likely everyone around her, to. This might easily be a holy warrior, but it doesn’t have to be. She could as easily be a fighter with as strong a sense of responsibility to something as a paladin. Maybe she even works for a crown. Or maybe she’s fighting against them. Who knows? Whatever she’s fighting for, she’s decided to do so after careful consideration and possibly a lifetime of lessons. This would be such a great character to play. I don’t think she’s necessarily the leader of her party (although she certainly could be), but she is definitely not merely a follower either. I love seeing fighters with more to them than just muscle and this woman most definitely fits the bill. An image of a male warrior with this same armor and expression would have drawn my attention too, the fact that she’s a woman is icing on the cake! This is a total win!

As a side note – I’m having trouble finding images for this series. There are painfully few great pieces of art featuring women who I would want to play. I’ve done enough of these that it should be clear what I’m looking for (to see all of them, check out the “I Want to Play Her” page). If you know of a piece of art you think might appeal to me, please let me know! It can be from anywhere. I tend to look for gaming art, but art from novels, animation, comic books, anything really is fair game. I don’t care the source as long as it fits the bill! Leave a link in the comments or send me an email at katie at pixiepalace dot com! Thanks!

“I Want to Play Her”: Monster Hunter

Ramona the PestThere is a tabletop roleplaying game called “Little Fears” where you play a little kid fighting closet monsters. The image of Ramona by Tracy Dockray on the cover of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona the Pest strikes me as a great character image for that game! Look at that no-nonsense pose! And those are totally monster-stoppin’ boots! She even has a war wound covered with a cute Band-Aid on her knee! I think she would make a fabulous and incredibly fun character in “Little Fears” or a game like it! I totally want to play her!

“I Want to Play Her”: Chosen Knight

The Woman Who Rides Like a ManMany of Tamora Pierce’s books have strong female characters on the covers because that’s what she writes about, but The Woman Who Rides Like a Man from the “Song of the Lioness” series stood out for me. This cover image is by David Wyatt who has done at least one of the other pieces of art that will appear in this series. I love this piece for a lot of reasons. What makes this image special isn’t just that the girl is dressed in the armor of a knight or that she’s astride a barded horse, although those are remarkable enough in their way. What I noticed first was that she was looking right at the viewer, not off to one side or down. That’s actually remarkably rare (although extremely common for men in fantasy art). I also love her pose! The horse is clearly in motion, but the rider is still in full command, she’s not even thinking about it. Riding comes second nature to her at this point. That’s important, especially if she plans to ride into battle. The other thing I love is the upraised sword being struck by lightning. It’s very much a sign of power and control, since she is completely unconcerned by the lightning and clearly in control of her weapon. Her expression is serious because she’s dealing with a serious situation (most situations involving barded horses, armor, swords and lightning are). A smile would have seemed quite out of place. She’s even able to handle a cat being on her saddle, although that can’t be entirely convenient. This is clearly a competent warrior woman who is well practiced and knows exactly what she’s doing. She will protect those behind her and is prepared for what’s ahead, whatever that may be. I definitely want to play her!

“I Want to Play Her”: Explorer

Theodosia and the Serpent of ChaosI love this cover so much and I found the girl portrayed on it to be so incredibly compelling! This is the cover of Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. La Fevers and the image is by Yoko Tanaka. This girl looks so ready for adventures! She’s dressed as a Victorian schoolgirl, but her exploring pose and the lantern suggest something of a treasure hunter-catacomb explorer spirit (the cat helps with that feel). You just get the feeling that she’s a supremely practical girl. If something scary jumped out at her, she’d look to see what it was before freaking out about it. And rats? Not a big deal. This is a girl who is prepared, smart as a whip and always on the prowl for interesting bits of information. I get the feeling she’d crawl through pretty much any type of dungeon for an interesting scrap of paper. And that’s a pretty awesome character! She’s a leader type, but probably would benefit from a friend who’s slightly on the cautious side (although her natural practicality does keep her in check much of the time). It’s all the better for the fact that she’s probably only about twelve and so she’s also bursting with that enthusiasm and obsession that kids always have about things they’re interested in! She would be an absolute blast to play!

“I Want to Play Her”: Magician

ShatterglassTheron’s cover for Tamora Pierce’s novel Shatterglass caught my attention the other day. It shows a teenage girl in a very proper dress (kind of Victorian in style, but clearly without the proper Victorian underpinnings) standing in a room full of blown glass jugs and serving pieces. A small dragon hangs over her shoulder and she looks back at it with an expression suggesting they are sharing a secret. Her hand is held up, as if she were holding a tray or a plate, but instead of a serving piece being propped there we see the crackle of electricity. This is clearly a girl with intelligence and a command of arcane powers. She is young, not a full blown sorceress, and there is a hint of something secretive about her powers (as if she can’t, or isn’t willing to, let anyone else know about them). She’s got an interesting hair style, too. It shows care and would have taken much time to arrange. This is clearly a girl with a proper life somewhere who is currently something more than she normally appears to be – maybe a rich man’s daughter who found she has powers but can’t show them for fear of her father’s wrath. Many story ideas and character hooks spring to mind from this image. It’s really compelling. I love that it’s a young woman with power. We don’t see that nearly enough! Sometimes you want to play a wizard without having to be either graying or a 200-year-old elf! The idea of a teenager with wizardly powers is very appealing in its way and this girl embodies that idea! I definitely want to play her!

“I Want to Play Her”: Tomboy

Tekken 6 - LeoA common thing to hear when a bunch of adult women get together to talk about what they were like as girls is “I was a tomboy, in fact, people sometimes even thought I was a boy!” It’s such a common backstory image that it comes up all the time in fiction, both children’s fiction and adult fiction with children characters. But we almost never see characters in games that convey that personality. Yeah, we get tough, go-get-’em girls who we may have no doubt could beat up the boys around them, but their images are always all girl. For the first time I came across an image of a game character that actually made me wonder if it was a boy or a girl – it looks exactly like a tomboy girl, but since I don’t know much about the game, I don’t know for sure. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at that image and I think she looks a lot like a girl, and she’s certainly posed in a position that conveys more of a sense of a female center of balance. The problem is, it’s hard to really say. It’s a video game, so they can make the character anything they want. For all I know it’s just a really feminine looking boy. Either way, I’d totally play a girl character who looked like that. She’s got a fun teenaged tomboy look and her pose suggests that she’s ready to jump into anything (even if not always certain it’s a good idea). Not only do I think this would make a great character for a video game (and such a character might make me pick up a game I wouldn’t otherwise have tried), but this is an image I could totally see stealing as a jumping off point for a character in a table-top game or a LARP. She’d just be such a blast to play! I definitely want to play her!

“I Want to Play Her”: War Leader

Dragons of a Fallen SunNormally I hate the covers of Dragonlance books. They typically have few token women and those are generally either dressed in flowing gowns or largely naked with just little bits of strategically placed fur and chain mail they seem to be considering armor. I never understood the fur loincloths thing. I know it was the fashion for the best and brightest on He-Man, but even there the warrior women didn’t wear them! Anyhow, being as that is what I’m used to from Dragonlance covers, you can bet that I was pretty surprised when I came across Matt Stawicki‘s cover for Dragons of a Fallen Sun (a book I’ve never even read, by the way). It has a knight, fully clad in full-plate armor, sitting proudly atop her noble steed who is likewise wearing plated barding. This woman looks like she could hold her own, but is actually probably the leader of a platoon or something. In the background is what appears to be a landscape being devastated by lava. An idyllic city rests at the base of the lava-streaked mountains and right behind the woman’s horse is a flowing river of red lava. This is not a happy, fuzzy scene where bunnies frolic. This is the cite of destruction and devastation. This is a place where a warrior and leader like the woman pictured is really needed and can really make a difference. And doesn’t she look like she could make that difference, even if things are bad right now? I’d believe in her. I’d love to play her. She’s a great almost iconic image of a war leader.

This piece of art has been added to the “I Want to Play Her” page under “Role Playing Games”.

“I Want to Play Her”: The Pirate Queen

GraniaI was drawn to the cover of Morgan Llywelyn’s book Grania because the pirate woman looks powerful and independent, but is not sexualized in any of the typical ways. The art is done by Gregory Manchess and I love it. The woman is clearly a competent sailor (if she wasn’t, she wouldn’t be standing with her leg up on the edge of the ship like that), an image further reinforced by her very practical outfit. Nothing is feminine at all about what she’s wearing – it’s a perfectly typical sailor’s outfit that you might see on a man, it’s just on a woman this time. The pose also suggests that she’s in command (or capable of being so). She’s armed, but not heavily so. She’s prepared, but she’s also aware that she’s not likely to need heavy arms on a ship probably primarily peopled with allies. She’s practical. All of these qualities are attractive ones in a potential character – especially a short term one (this woman would make a great character for a one-shot or a three to four session game).

This piece of art has been added to the “I Want to Play Her” page under “Role Playing Games”.

“I Want to Play Her”: Leader of the Pack

Traitor to the BloodThis is another image that surprised me. It’s the cover of a book that I never would have noticed if it hadn’t been faced out on the bookshelves at work, but it was and the image totally caught my attention. The woman on the cover first and foremost looks in command. The man behind her appears to be looking to her to see where they are going or what they are doing next. The entire image evokes a pack mentality, with her as the leader of the pack. She is heavily armed and reasonably armored. Everything about this image suggests competence, although as I think about it all I really have to indicate that is the trust placed in her by her companion. But really, that’s probably all I need. The guy behind her is more heavily armored, but given the differences between abilities and preferences with armor (as well as possibly class restrictions), that is not actually a big deal. She’s more than reasonably well armed for me to believe that her lesser armor isn’t an indication of her being a lesser warrior. She definitely presents a desirable avatar, particularly as this is clearly a woman in a position of leadership and that isn’t something I see often in art. This is definitely an appealing piece of art and certainly made me say “I want to play her”. I can’t say I’ll ever base a character off it, but the idea of strong woman leader who doesn’t necessarily need to be also a knight in shining armor (thus justifying her position as leader) is something I could see making a character out of.

This piece of art has been added to the “I Want to Play Her” page under “Role Playing Games”.

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