Barbarian, by Hugo Solis

harpy1Barbarian, by Hugo Solis

“These battle-scarred brutes believe in one simple tactic, the best defense is a good offense. Because their fighting style is so wild and undisciplined, Barbarians are not found among races which are smaller in stature or which tend to view themselves as highly civilized. Always spoiling for a fight, Barbarians are also usually the first to join in on a good old fashioned bar-room brawl and engage in unarmed contests as a matter of sport.” —Barbarian class description, Realm of Strife

Years ago when I played my first actual game of Dungeons and Dragons, I was surprised that none of the other players—veteran players, mind you—understood why barbarians lose all of their bonus hit points after their rage wears off. I had to explain to them that it’s because they’re so pumped full of adrenaline that they could actually receive mortal injuries and still keep swinging, dying only after the adrenaline stops. The vikings called the phenomenon berserkergang, while the Romans called it Furor CelticaI honestly thought the explanation was fairly common historical knowledge, but these guys thought it was the coolest thing they’d ever heard of.

Hugo’s design is for a strategic RPG called Realm of Strife. This idea of a flying berserker is so awesomely terrifying to me. A deranged harpy going bat-s*** crazy on a party of adventurers delights me to no end. I imagine her as an alpha harpy (harpy matriarch?) leading her nest against a party of intruding adventurers.

harpy1As a flying warrior, it makes most sense that our harpy prefers a lighter, more flexible armor for aerial combat. Rugged-looking and possibly scavenged, her leather cuirass should offer excellent protection from the inevitable ranged attacks as the adventurers attempt to mow her down from a distance. Her leather spaulders protect her shoulders from disabling blows and cushion her joints when she slams into the party’s fighter as she attempts to knock him off the precipice leading to her nest. I like as well that she wears wrappings underneath the armor to protect her from leather-induced chafing.

The sharp, reed-like protrusions strapped to her right vambrace were also an effective touch, providing absorption against enemy blades while functioning as a weapon in close quarters. Though lacking in spikes, the left vambrace should protect her arm from severing blows. Her upper legs are protected by segmented leather plates for similar protection against enemy arrows and melee weapons.

To me, a polearm is a sensible weapon for a winged fighter. Our harpy’s glaive gives her excellent striking power on the fly while keeping her distance from the enemies’ swords and axes. Meanwhile, her short sword and dagger provide excellent backup weapons, should she find herself grounded and in close-quarters melee. Finally, our harpy’s talons are wicked-sharp for scratching disemboweling some unfortunate mage.

If I have an issue with our harpy’s design, it’s the belly-hole in her armor (I think… her glaive is obstructing, so I may be reading that wrong). While it’s a relatively small breach in an otherwise decent set of armor, leaving her guts exposed seems like a weakness that any competent archer or spearman is going to take advantage of.

Beyond that, I really love the idea and character design. I visualize her using Final Fantasy Dragoon tactics, flapping eight stories up, then dropping on the mage or archer’s head to take their ranged attacks out of the fight early. Our barbarian then faces off with the party’s melee characters with her glaive and talons while her sisters snipe at them with crossbows from midair. “Should have stuck with picking on goblins and kobolds, adventurers. ‘Cause you ain’t leaving our nest alive.”

Huge thanks to Hugo for the use of his harpy. As always, thanks so much for reading, folks! Take care and stay awesome!

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