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ToP Narrative: Arianhod

When Humbug and I began Tales of Pylea in its third incarnation, amongst my tasks was fleshing out their personalities and early on, we tackled Arianhod’s design. I’ll admit, when I first saw Ari’s visual redesign my jaw dropped.

I believe my exact words were “Holy shit, she’s huge!

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As a male geek who grew up amidst classic superhero and fantasy comics, I’ve always been an advocate for the policies of “sex sells” and “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. So, completely baffled by this new direction, I inquired as to why ToP’s leading lady was now, to quote myself, “built like a rhinoceros that’s come up positive for steroid abuse”.

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Humbug replied that she felt sexuality was frequently the be-all and end-all in a female character’s design, oft leaving said characters little more than cardboard cut-outs whose primary function was that of eye-candy and little else.

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Above: Humbug’s early concepts for Arianhod and F’Nor in 2003.

As a girl-geek, she had never found a role model for herself amidst the plethora of superheroines in mainstream comics and with Arianhod, she wanted a heroically-built female lead and wanted to succeed where she felt others had failed.

When I began to write Arianhod, I looked to her fellow protagonist, F’Nor for reference.
When creating a dynamic between two leads, it is important that there be a striking contrast between them, as there would be little point having two characters fulfilling the same role.

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While F’Nor is the head of this dynamic, Arianhod would be its heart. As a demigod who has lived decades in solitude, F’Nor displays the manner of a person who has grown accustomed to living in detached isolation. In contrast, Arianhod’s transformation is far more recent and as a result she is still fairly tethered to her empathy.

Throughout the first book alone, Arianhod displays her humanity with all its merits and flaws, from her conversation with her colleague Lair, where she feels there is more to life than her occupation as a debt collector to the alleyway scene where she spares a debtor’s life as she becomes aware of his plight.

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Above: See that? That’s Disney Princess material right there.

Which brings us to her occupation; normally in the process of creating a character, I begin with the intangible aspects, namely their personality and narrative role; only after this is established do I try to establish their physical appearance.

With Arianhod this was reversed and as Humbug made it clear amidst my work’s parameters, Arianhod’s character would conform to her appearance. I then looked over her muscled, tattooed frame and I said “Hey, what if she was a thug? A legbreaker…” as an affiliation with the city’s criminal element and an occupation based upon violence would certainly explain her powerful physique and intimidating tattoos.

Despite being the more human of the two, this did not mean Arianhod had to be the more moral. After all, people are flawed in nature and I wanted her personality to reflect this. I have always believed that while a character’s traits define them, it is their flaws that make them human.

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Above: Ari didn’t choose the thug life; the thug life chose her.

Since F’Nor was clearly a man of reasoning and intellect, I made Arianhod the muscle. A thug who has, due to her life and career choices, chosen to lead a life of violence and this would define how her mind works; that most problems could be solved via force or intimidation. It also helps that she’s a little silly.

To me, the most noticeable trait in which our hero and heroine greatly differ from one another is the matter of sexuality.

In the past I’ve seen others have trouble identifying muscled female characters in a sexual light, as though having greater muscle mass makes a woman asexual. At best they wind up being the ball-breaking man-hater (I don’t need men; I’m independent! GRRR!); at worst they’re the Guy-With-Boobs; the masculine strongwoman one puts into a game or comic to please movements of faux-feminists who seem to hate the very notion of a woman being attractive.

However, Arianhod is attractive, and she knows it. She’s fit, has a pretty face and would be, in the eyes of most men, refreshingly straightforward. A character can be strong and sexy without being solely defined by either.

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As we see in the bar scene, Arianhod is a strong, capable woman who has no trouble getting tail on a Friday night…

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… Most of the time.

It’s been a blast working with Humbug to bring characters like Ari to life, finding that sweet spot between our very different (and often opposing) views on characters and their design.

Stay tuned for more adventures with Arianhod in Tales of Pylea, updating every Monday!

NOW AVAILABLE!

I’m pleased to announce that Par’Dis: Only Human is now available for digital download from our Webstore!

The comic can be found HERE and updates every Friday. For those of you who simply can’t wait, we have the whole book available for sale, including bonus concept art and a gorgeous color cover by Humbug!

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A new year… And a new comic!

Chris With Christmas looming around the corner, we have a new treat in store for you all, as another tale unfolds in the world of Pylea. Across the ocean lies Par’Dis; a festive and prosperous city-kingdom amidst the sandy dunes of the Shah’Qel Desert.

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Written up by yours truly and drawn by the talented hand of local artist Marcus Heow, Par’Dis: Only Human tells the tale of Constable Sakhmet, a guardian of the city and his daily struggles with human nature, corrupt nobility and mass-murdering lunatics with a flair for the dramatic.

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While Sakhmet’s tale is, for now, a one-shot comic we hope to show you more in the future.

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Par’Dis: Only Human will be hosted on the site and the digital comic (including pages of bonus concept art and a gorgeous color cover by Humbug!) will hopefully be up for sale in January.

The comic’s online debut is Friday, January 9th, 2015!

Stay tuned!

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Two Years In

Chris The end of the year draws to a close and with it, celebration!

It’s been quite busy since Tales of Pylea’s reboot in the start of 2013, the characters our old fans had come to know and love reinvented for a brand new series.

Initially I was worried that my writing would fail to match up to Matt’s skills and experience, but the surprising amount of positive feedback has assured me that I haven’t mangled Humbug’s baby.

We’ve got a lot planned for the series and we hope you’ll enjoy this journey through the world of Pylea with us.

Happy holidays everyone!

A Note from the Naga’s Desk #3

Net Regarding this update: (http://talesofpylea.com/lthb/comic/lthb-chapter-5-page-115/)…

Within the world of Mousehunt, the Harbour holds a special place in many a Mousehunter’s ire. Until this point in the game, hunting was a relatively safe haven. You could hunt all day long in the Meadow, and the worst thing that could happen was that you would miss, or nothing at all would come to your trap.

Same thing holds true for hunting within the Town of Gnawnia and the Windmill. All those locations are safe to hunt in. You do not have to worry about losing anything while hunting at those locations.
It isn’t until you unlock and travel to the Harbour for the first time that things become… interesting. From this point on, at MOST locations within Mousehunt, mice have the ability to steal Points, Gold or extra pieces of cheese from you whenever you miss them. This is affectionately known as being Red Boxed, because, well… this is what it looks like on your journal.

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And that’s what this page is showing. Ian is being Red Boxed by a Burglar mouse. Though this won’t necessarily be a very common occurrence within the comic itself, trust me… it happens A LOT in the game.

*twitch* A LOT. 😀 But that’s just part of the fun. 😀 Wouldn’t be fun if they just handed you a win with every hunt, right?

Until next time!

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