“We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.”
—Led Zeppelin, “Immigrant Song”
There’s a lot to love with this handsome ranger from Ben Wootten, but the carved-eagle crossbow design really stood out to me. I have to admit that I love seeing crossbows in character art. I love seeing crossbows, short bows, slings, javelins, tomahawks, or any other deviation from the longbows-are-the-only-ranged-weapon-that-matters mentality in fantasy art and storytelling. Different types of ranged weapons have different uses and advantages in combat, and I have a lot of respect for storytellers and artists who care enough to do the research to understand these differences.
I tagged Gwenn as ranger here, based on her huntress attire and posture, but one of the things I love about her design is that it’s universally Nordic. While I like the concept of an Alpine ranger, I can see our heroine as any number of classes. Ranger or barbarian are the obvious options, but I could also see her as an Alpine fighter or knight-errant from a northern earldom. In fact, her look would be entirely appropriate for a cleric or paladin of one of the northern gods, out tracking an injured frost-drake or a band of snow-goblins with a wounded captive. Or perhaps she’s a scout for a party of northern raiders, having just dispatched an advance guard for a soon-to-be-missing trade caravan. The story ideas are pretty much limitless.
Well-dressed for the mountainous climate and terrain, Gwenn sports a fur cloak for protection against the biting winter breeze—its deflection against arrows merely a bonus. Her thick, hide jacket similarly protects from the cold and should provide reasonable protection in melee. Her leather shoulder- and elbow-pads offer decent protection from disabling blows to those joints. Similarly, our huntress wears thick, stuffed leather boots to protect from incapacitating cuts to her legs and provide cushioning when kneeling to steady her crossbow. Under those boots she wears thick hide leggings, with additional fur wraps over her boots to further protect those extremities from the snow’s arctic bite. Lastly, our Nord’s thick gloves should keep her fingers warm with minimal interference to her aim.
Gwenn’s weapons of choice make me wonder if she’s hunting something with a thick hide or someone with decent armor. Crossbows and axes both have excellent armor penetration, and thus I get the feeling whatever she’s after isn’t likely to go down from a single, well-placed bolt.
Huge thanks to Ben for letting me borrow Gwenn for the blog. Feel free to check out his online galleries as well. Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast. Thanks so much for reading, folks! As always, take care and stay awesome!