Iri of Wayfarer’s Moon

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Iri of Wayfarer’s Moon.

“You want a duel? Fine. As challenged I name the terms, correct? Short bows in the woods on the first moonless night. Bring as many arrows as you like.”
—Iri, half-elf ranger

Wayfarer’s Moon is an online fantasy action/adventure comic combining the artistic talents of Leigh Kellogg with the writing talents of Jason Janicki. I started reading in 2009 and continued following until last year when the comic went on indefinite hiatus. I check back now and again to see if they’ve announced if they’re going to start updating again.

Iri is a half-elven archer and one of the two heroines in Wayfarer’s Moon. Though the comic never identifies her as a “ranger” as such, she has all the stealth and wilderness survival skills of the archetypical Tolkien or D&D ranger, plus a surprising spell-casting repertoire, suggesting high levels in druid or sorceress as well. Her primary mode of combat is bow and arrow, but she packs a pair of elven daggers for close combat. Personality-wise, Iri comes across as fairly Lawful-Neutral, devoted to upholding the law and protecting the innocent, but also not hesitant to resort to straight-up murder to accomplish an end.

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Early in the story, Iri rescues Lily, the story’s other heroine, from bandits in the middle of the forest. Having lost her family and village two months previous, Lily begs Iri to teach her to fight so she can protect herself and others. Iri reluctantly agrees, taking Lily with her on her mission to hunt down the bandits and mercenaries ravaging the nearby kingdoms. Their travels take them up against bandits, a forest spirit driven mad by magic, a small-town militia, and two high-level mages. At the point where the story leaves off, Iri has made herself part of a task force whose mission is to combat the bandit infestation. Meanwhile, Lily has begun training with the task force’s infantry to learn to fight as part of a unit.

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Iri’s outfit at first comes across as the quintessential ranger/rogue ensemble: dark colors, hooded cloak, light armor. While this may seem cliche at first, I admire the specific details in Leigh’s design and how he makes it a goddam effective ranger/rogue outfit.

First off, as I mentioned, we have Iri’s dark, hooded cloak—something no deep-forest sniper and stalker should be without, right? But unlike the dark-green, elf-archer cliche or the rogue’s matte black, Iri’s cloak is darkish grey with an almost greenish tint—far more effective for melding with forested shadows. Her mantle and shirt are close to the same color, the shirt being noticeably greener. I like, too, that the shirt is loose for unconstrained movement, yet our heroine saw fit to strap down the left sleeve and tuck the end beneath her bracer to keep the cloth out of the way of her bow string. Similarly, she wraps the right arm to keep her cuff from interfering as she draws arrows.

Iri’s armor looks good as well: some manner of padded leather, flexible but offers basic protection against light melee combat. Padded at the knees, her pants might be soft leather, but I’m more inclined to guess wool—though either would offer a reasonable balance of flexibility and protection. Her boots also look to be of a soft, flexible leather, but without heels or even a wooden sole, offering excellent sound absorbancy for sneaking and stealth.

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Iri’s weapons are pretty impressive as well. Her knives are elegant (but kinda wicked-looking) elvish daggers. But the part where I’ll give Jason and Leigh all kinds of bonus points on logistics and attention to detail is on Iri’s short bow. Largely because of the fact that it is a short bow. Where many storytellers and artists think it’s more impressive for their rangers to have mastered the longbow, the Wayfarer’s creators put serious thought into the performance differences between the two weapons (rather than just the difference in attack dice and critical range). Logistically, the only real advantage a longbow has over its shorter brethren is range. Thus the most effective usage for a longer bow is in field archery where longer distances are available. While lacking in distance, short bows have considerable advantage in accuracy and armor penetration at closer range, and thus are more effective for deep-forest (or urban) combat where trees and other obstacles are more prevalent.

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