Shadow of the Dragon, by Leo Black

dragon_mageShadow of the Dragon, by Leo Black

“Do you believe in Magic? In a young girl’s heart? How the music can free her whenever it starts.” —Lovin’ Spoonful, “Do You Believe in Magic”

Wizards, sorceresses, and other spell casters are an area I’ve rather sorely neglected with Sartorially Smart Heroines. This hasn’t been intentional, I promise. (I may have a magic-user month or something to make up for it. We’ll see…) The tricky part with spell casters is that their wardrobe just has to travel well, and seemingly ordinary garments could have hidden properties. Often, casters are rear-echelon characters, sitting back (often smugly) as their fellow party members sweat and get their hands dirty. Sure there are battle mages who cast spells in the thick of combat, but most spell-caster characters have minimal need of heavy physical protection, foregoing armor that might interfere with their spells.

The trouble with this is that many artists, game makers, etc seem to have their own concept of what ‘bare minimum‘ protection means. While I’m sure silky lingerie is very useful when a sorceress wants to seduce the avenging paladin or shack up with her favorite apprentice, to assume she’s dumb enough to consider this decent protection when mixing dangerous alchemical compounds, trekking through the wilderness, or exploring an ancient dungeon inexplicably filled with monsters and treasure… um, yeah, kind of offensive. Just sayin’.

I know I use the word ‘refreshing’ a lot when contrasting some of the effective adventuring attire with some of the less believable stuff, but I think it is the most effective word to describe how I feel seeing characters like the lovely, crimson-haired mage in Leo’s painting. As well as being smartly outfitted, she has a competent, intelligent air that I find far more alluring than the sultriest look from the buxomest elf sorceress.

dragon_mage2I love the overall look of our unnamed caster’s traveling apparel. Firstly, it’s not an archetypical mage ensemble—it’s not the silky robes of +3 sexiness, nor is it the long, flowing wizard robes that drag through the mud and snag on branches and brambles. In fact, our heroine’s outfit would look appropriate on an adventuress from most any class, from a low-key bard to a slick-fingered rogue to a traveling fighter to an errant paladin. Every piece of her outfit looks well-traveled: slightly dirty, edges frayed, ends worn, colors faded.

Our heroine’s teal cloak is standard adventuress fare, hooded to protect her from the rain and wind and weather. Her shirt is loose fitting for unhindered spell-casting or stave-handling. Leather bracers protect her arms and wrists, leaving her hands free for intricate spell-casting movements. Our mage’s torso is protected by a simple, soft-leather vest, not really even jerkin. Though likely not proof against knives and swords, it should be sturdy enough for the average dungeon crawl. Her pants are sturdy, heavy wool or cotton and look to be padded in the front for extra protection.

One thing to remember about mage characters is that any part of their outfits may have enchantments or other magical properties. Her cloak may improve her saving throws or protect from death magic. Perhaps her bracers improve her constitution or dexterity. Maybe her belt is a belt of ogre’s strength. That crimson ribbon on her belt could very well be the One Ribbon to rule them all.

The same applies to her accessories. On a cord around her neck, our heroine wears a simple gold ring—perhaps a mere keepsake, perhaps a ring of invisibility or protection. Much the same, her earrings are as dragon_mage3likely enchanted as they are decorative. Pouch at her waist might be simple leather or a bag of holding. Her staff could carry multiple charges for a particular spell, or it might act as a focus for her magic as a whole. The sword at her hip might be simple steel or it might light afire when drawn.

The possibilities are both infinite and interesting.

Many thanks to Leo for letting me borrow his pretty mage for a while. As always, thanks for reading, folks. Take care and stay awesome!

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