Amazons are a staple of fantasy fiction, as well as superhero fiction and some (usually more pulpy) scifi as well.
They are generally portrayed as a race of warrior women, either immortal or who reproduce with captives or using males as the"goback2thekitchen" gender. They may be just a human tribe, they may have advanced magic and/or technology, or they may be borderline monstergirls with supernatural prowess elevating them above men. Likewise, they may allow men to share their territory but women are clearly in charge (or at least do the fighting), they may enslave men, they may just not let men get anywhere near them on a permanent basis. They may even be a one-sex race, to emphasize their inhumanity.
Amazons often show up as a female warrior class in RPGs, especially Japanese ones. They may have either a ranged focus (the mythical Amazons were said to be expert archers), or they may be powerful melee fighters. Western RPGs tend to portray them as Rangers as opposed to Barbarians.
Amazons originated as a race of warrior-women from Greco-Roman myths. Though they only appear in a handful of stories, most notably being Heracles (Hercules), Theseus (the smart guy who isn't Odysseus), and the Iliad (Trojan War), they have stuck in the imagination of nerds everywhere due to the strange fondness writers have for aggressive, take-charge women who can kick major ass.
The Amazons are believed to have been inspired in real life by Grecian encounters with the Scythians (although there are other cultural candidates such as Minoans), nomadic tribes of horseback archers (one of the first groups of humans to use mounted warfare in fact) that originated in the middle east (primarily what is now Iran) and expanded their reach into southern and central Asia (their trade route connecting China and India to Egypt and Greece can fairly be called the proto-Silk Road) before being repelled and eventually becoming part of the early Slavic culture. They often included female archers and even full-fledged warriors in their ranks, something highly exotic to the very patriarchal Greeks and patriarchal Romans who shamelessly stole most of the Grecian culture for themselves in later years. While Amazon female warriors appear to be mixed with males based on archeological finds (females with battle damage to their bones, buried with weapons and armor alongside warrior males as equals) the Greeks and Romans just focused on the women, dropping men from the myth. Greek Amazons cut one breast off to remove the obstacle hindering archery (something that breasts don't really do) with the queen Penthesilea removing both. They had sex with the men of their closest neighbor, the Gargareans, killing any males born of the unions or giving them back to the fathers.
Greek Amazons featured first into the story of Theseus, where he marries their queen and the daughter of Ares, Hippolyta. In some versions she is raped or abducted instead, or Theseus takes a second wife, or he kills her and marries her sister Antiope and regardless of version the Amazons wage war on the Greeks in revenge for whatever sleight.
In the second myth Heracles, tasked with obtaining the girdle (belt) given by Ares to his daughter and their queen Hippolyta. Either she willingly visits his boat or he abducts her, and either way he gets the girdle. Amazons then attack either because Hera lied and said she was abducted or because they staged a rescue mission. Then either Hippolyta's sister Penthesilea kills her by mistake, Heracles kills her in revenge, or he abducts her and gives her to Theseus enabling the first myth to occur.
In their final appearance the now queen Penthesilea leads the Amazons in defense of Troy from the united Greeks, in some versions to seek death out of shame at killing Hippolyta either attempting to save her from Heracles or just a hunting accident, with other versions saying she simply intended to prove Amazon supremacy. She lead twelve companions to kill Achilles, greatest warrior in the world, killing many Greeks between them and dueling Ajax before he summoned Achilles to save him (claiming a woman is no opponent for one as great as himself). In some versions they fell in love as they fought, in others he only loved her after he killed her and thought about the duel. Either way she was stabbed through what was once her breast straight through her horse pinning both to the ground. One of the Greeks mocked her, and Achilles killed him for it. The corpse of Penthesilea was desecrated by being drug by chariot after the fall of Troy before being dumped in a river, but was retrieved by Trojan and Amazon survivors and given honorable burial. What happened to the other Amazons is unknown.
Greek Amazons are only mentioned a few other times, waging war on the Greeks but the stories are not elaborated on. Cults to Amazon leaders, gathering at Amazon tombs converted into temples, is also recorded.
Alexander the Great is attributed with becoming the father of an Amazon princess with their queen Thalestris.
According to the Romans, the Goths and Scythians are descended from the Amazons.
Various solitary figures from Roman and medieval fiction are said to he descendants of the Amazons.
The Amazon river of South America was named by Francisco de Orellana in 1542 due to him claiming to have been attacked by warrior women he likened to the Amazons. Many explorers have claimed to have encountered similar women all over the world, some even claiming it to be the original Amazons. As a result of this, some depictions of Amazons take on a Central/South American tribal flair.
Colloquially, "amazon" can refer to any woman who is physically strong and/or skilled at combat.
Lustria was inhabited originally by the Lizardmen and the rest of the native dinosaur/South American-hybrid flora and fauna. Norscans accidently discovered, then looted and colonized it (bear in mind not all Norscans were just weak Warriors Of Chaos back then). Several other settlements have popped up since then which the Slann have tried their hardest to remove to little effect. These ports have encouraged other adventurers to colonize since.
The Slann experimented in using these unwanted guests as slaves in various ways. Some Norscans were simply abducted and lobotomized for labor, a successful tactic that has continued since. Slann intentionally devolved some into Pygmies, a brown-skinned big-lipped potbellied race of short savage cannibal humanoids with bones in their noses...with models to match. There's a reason these were dropped quickly from the game and rarely referenced.
The Slann also produced Amazons by gifting some warrior women who rebelled against the Norscans with immortality and magical equipment (this being young Games Workshop where Warhammer 40000 AKA Rogue Trader and Fantasy cross-referenced each other, one of these was "Sun Sticks" AKA Lasguns). Amazons in turn worship the Slann and do their bidding. Amazon models were produced by Games Workshop for their Mordheim expansion and continued to be sold into the early 2010's due to popularity. Amazons are also a team in the Blood Bowl universe. In the Blood Bowl comic series Blood Bowl: Killer Contract the Amazon team beat the Pygmies, normally known for eating the other team, by eating them first (translation: "No, we will not bring Pygmies back for Blood Bowl.") then went on to beat the Lizardmen team. Out of Lustrian pride the Slann sponsored the Amazons in the Old World until they lost. One of their players was recruited by the Empire team.
The Warhammer Armies Project has 8th edition & 9th edition fanmade army books for the Amazons on its website. Here, they are described as a technobarbarian culture descended from an early "race" of human women used as assistants and technicians by the Slann and the Old Ones. When the Old Ones vanished, they broke away from the Slann and have devolved to their own strange culture; in fact, they often fight bitterly with the Lizardmen, despite their shared heritage. Ruled over by a priesthood, the Amazons have supposedly preserved more of the ancient Old One technology than the Slann have, in part because they depend on arcane parthenogenesis to reproduce; multiple births are extremely common, and larger broods earn great social status. They also guard a life-preserving fountain of youth, which allows the most vaunted of their kind to enjoy extended lifespans.
There was no mention of them during The End Times books, but according to Geedubs author Josh Reynolds the Amazons got killed off when the pieces of the Chaos Moon smashed into Lustria (he also said the same fate befell the Pygmies), sparing only the parts where the Pyramid-ships rested. What bitter revenge those fat frogs had.
If you want to know what how the army handles, check out the tactica: Warhammer Army Project/Warhammer Army Project: Amazons.
Over in Warhammer 40,000, House Escher of Necromunda are literally an Amazon-themed faction in the game, with their 8e reboot even retconning them as using strange arcanotech methods to reproduce through parthenogensis instead of sexually (also helps since their fighters are all female and any who get pregnant would be down for at least a few months). You could also consider the Sisters of Battle from the core game to be a faction of power armor-clad grimdark Paladin-Amazons.
Dungeons & Dragons
Way back in Greyhawk Adventures, Amazons were actually statted up as a unique monster race, essentially treated as a culture of female human, elven, dwarven, gnomic or halfling barbarians. They can be seen here, if you're feeling curious or nostalgic: http://www.lomion.de/cmm/humaamaz.php
Mongoose Publishing includes an Amazons book as part of their notorious Slayers Guide To X series, with the usual somewhat dodgy quality. These Amazons are portrayed as an evil-aligned barbarian people, who grudgingly interact with men to conceive offspring and then murder them afterwards.
Assorted Kits throughout AD&D have touched upon the Amazon archetype, making playable versions of the aforementioned Greyhawkian Amazons. Specifically, amazons appeared in the Complete Books of Fighters, Priests and Wizards, although they also receive passing mention in the Complete Books of Thieves and Barbarians too. Whilst all three books emphasize that amazons should find men regarding themselves as their equals to be equally weird as they are seen by men, they also take pains to mention that this kind of racism should occur only with NPCs and not party members. As you can probably figure out, the kits as a whole were rather unpopular, given they presumed a certain uncomfortably Neo-Medieval default attitude in the setting.
Amazon Warrior: Also known as just the Amazon, the Amazon Warrior kit represents the basic warrior-women of a D&D Amazon tribe. Amazon warriors are ferocious mounted combatants who specialize in the use of spears and long bow; as a result, they must take the Groom NWP and can only specialize in the Spear and Long Bow. Their bonus proficiencies are Riding (Land-Based) and Animal Training, and recommended NWPs for the kit include Animal Handling, Animal Lore, Armorer, Bowyer/Fletcher, Hunting, Running, Survival, Tracking.
Because Amazons have a default presumed culture, an amazon's starting arms and armor is restricted to the following list: Battle Axe, Bow (Any), Club, Dagger/Dirk, Hand Axe, Throwing Axe, Javelin, Knife, Lance, Spear, Sword (Any), Shield, Leather Armor, Padded Armor, Studded Leather Armor, Brigandine Armor, Scale Mail Armor, Hide Armor, Banded Mail Armor, Bronze Plate Mail Armor.
Since everyone presumes that warrior women don't exist, amazons get a +3 to hit and a +3 to damage on their first blow against any male who doesn't respect or acknowledge the idea of warrior women. This doesn't work on PCs, wary NPCs who pass an Intelligence check, seasoned veterans (5th level warriors or 8th level anybody else), or any NPCs who seen somebody hit by this telling blow.
Likewise, amazons suffer a -3 Reaction penalty against NPCs from male-dominated societies, until and unless they come to respect the amazon.
By default, amazons are presumed to be humans, elves or half-elves, but one can make shortfolk amazons with the following changes:
- Dwarf Amazons are still Riders, but ride Swine instead of horses. Their required weapons are Axe and Hammer.
- Gnome Amazons forsake riding for wilderness lore; their required weapons are Throwing Axe and Short Sword, and their bonus NWPs are Tracking and Survival.
- Halfling Amazons are wilderness-dwelling sneaks; their required weapons are Javelin and Sling, whilst their bonus NWPs are Endurance and Set Snares.
Amazon Priestess: Whilst it adheres to all of the same bonuses and penalties as the Amazon Warrior, the Amazon Priestess does have a few unique traits. Firstly, they cannot serve a God of Disease or Peace. Secondly, they will command less respect from their fellows if their patron God/dess demands they forfeit the traditional weapons of amazon culture.
Amazon Sorceress: Because of the warlike nature of presumed amazon culture, their sorceresses have certain extra edges and restrictions. On the plus side, they can learn to use the traditional weapons of their culture despite these typically being forbidden to wizards. On the downside, they cannot use the schools of illusion or necromancy. Otherwise, they have the exact same restrictions, advantages and edges as the Amazon Warrior.
Diablo II: Diablerie, a Wizards of the Coast cash-in for Diablo II, includes the Amazon class as part of the five translations of the base game's classes. It's a ranged specialist fighting class, favoring the use of bows and spears, and designed to reach level 25, with the following traits.
- Chief Ability Scores: Dexterity (primary), Wisdom and Charisma
- Hit Die: D10
- Class Skills: Craft (Any, Bowyer, Fletcher), Disable Device, Heal, Knowledge (Religion), Listen, Move Silently, Search, Spot, Wilderness Lore
- Skill Points: 2 + Int modifier, multiplied by 4 for the first level
- Weapon & Armor Proficiency: All weapons, all armor, shields
- Saves: Good Fortitude save, poor Wisdom and Reflex
- Attacks: 2 attacks at level six, 3 attacks at level eleven, 4 attacks at level sixteen, 5 attacks at level twenty-one, 6 attacks at level 25
- Attack Bonus: Great (primary attack bonus equals Amazon levels)
- Feats: It gains 9 feats between levels 1 and 24
- Ability Increase: +1 Ability score every 4 levels
The Amazon's key class features are its ability to select Amazon Abilities. Starting at level 1, it gets one ability each level, except when it gains an Ability Increase. The level after it gains an ability increase, it gains access to the next tier of Amazon Abilities - so Tier 2 at level 5, Tier 3 at level 9, etc. There are six tiers of Amazon Abilities all told. Abilities marked with an * require an Amazon to make a Charisma check (DC 15 + tier number); if this check fails, the Amazon cannot use that ability for the rest of the day, or until they drink a mana potion, which restores use until the next time they fail a Charisma check.
Tier 1 Abilities
Critical Strike: Gain the Improved Critical feat for free.
Fire Arrow*: Take a full-round action to shoot burning (+1d6 fire damage) arrows, one for each ranged attack that you can make.
Inner Sight: +2 Circumstance bonus to spot creatures in darkened conditions. If you succeed in spotting such creatures, you can't be Sneak Attacked by them, you can't be caught Flat Footed by them, and you get +2 attack bonus if you attack them from 30 feet or less.
Jab: Whilst wielding a Piercing damage melee weapon, you can spend a full-round action to make three attacks.
Magic Arrow*: Spend a full round action to shoot a number of +1 arrows, one for each ranged attack that you can make.
Tier 2 Abilities
Cold Arrow*: Take a full-round action to shoot freezing (+1d6 cold damage, Fort save or be Slowed for 1d3 rounds) arrows, one for each ranged attack that you can make.
Dodge Attacks: Spend a full-round action and forfeit attacking or moving more than 5 feet to get a +4 dodge bonus to AC vs. melee attacks, and to ignore "half damage on successful Reflex save" effects if you pass the Reflex save.
Multiple Shot*: Spend a full round action to shoot a number of splitting arrows (make attack rolls against 3 targets per arrow), one for each ranged attack that you can make.
Poison Javelin*: Take a full round action to throw a javelin imbued with magical venom; a target hit must pass a Fort save or take temporary Constitution damage, enemies within 5 feet of the javelin's flight path also risk taking Con damage.
Power Strike*: Requires the Jab ability. Lets you spend a full round action to deal (+1d8/5 levels) lightning damage with your melee weapon.
Tier 3 Abilities
Avoid: Requires the Dodge Attacks ability. Gives you the Deflect Arrows feat for free.
Bolt of Lightning*: Requires the Poison Javelin ability. Lets you spend a full round action to throw a javelin and turn it into a lightning bolt that deals 2d10 lightning damage.
Exploding Arrow*: Requires the Fire Arrow and Multiple Shot abilities. Spend a full round action to shoot an exploding arrow that deals (1d6/2 levels) damage to the target and all creatures within 15 feet of the target.
Impale: You can choose to deal +2d6 damage with a melee piercing weapon at the cost of inflicting 2 points of Durability damage on your weapon.
Slow Missiles*: Spend a full-round action to project an aura that slows all projectiles and thrown weapons aimed within 30 feet of you. You and allies within the aura gain +4 dodge bonus against ranged attacks, and enchanted missiles lose their power - this extinguishes missile spells and nullifies the special effects of fire arrows, acid arrows, etc.
Tier 4 Abilities
Charged Strike*: Requires the Power Strike and Bolt of Lightning abilities. Spend a full-round action to strike a target with a melee piercing weapon, inflicting +2d8 lightning damage and casting a singled Charged Bolt spell, which targets all enemies near the initial target.
Guided Arrow*: Requires the Cold Arrow and Multiple Shot abilities. Spend a full-round action to launch an arrow that can be used to hit any single target in range, even to the extent of going around corners.
Ice Arrow*: Requires the Cold Arrow ability. Take a full-round action to shoot an ice (+2d6 cold damage, Fort save or be Paralyzed for 1d3 rounds) arrow.
Penetrate*: Requires the Critical Strike ability. You reduce the AC of your targets when using Ranged weapons by -1 per 5 levels you have.
Plague Javelin*: Requires the Bolt of Lightning ability. As per Poison Javelin, but creates a 15ft cloud of poisonous fumes that lasts until the end of your next turn at the point of impact.
Tier 5 Abilities
Decoy*: Requires the Slow Missiles ability. You can use a full-round action to create a magical duplicate of yourself, forcing enemies to make a Will save or attack it in preference to you. A decoy lasts 1 round per three levels.
Evade: In turns where you don't attack, you get a +4 dodge bonus to AC and can completely ignore damage from "half damage on successful Reflex save" attacks if you pass your save.
Fend: Requires the Impale ability. You gain the Great Cleave feat for free.
Immolation Arrow*: Requires the Exploding Arrow ability. You can spend a full-round action to launch a powerful explosive arrow, which inflicts +4d6 fire damage to the initial target and (1d6/2 levels) fire damage to all creatures within 10 feet of the initial target. The crater continues to burn (2d6 fire damage to anyone inside) for 1d4+1 rounds afterwards.
Strafe: Requires the Guided Arrow ability. You can fire a single arrow at every foe within close range each round.
Tier 6 Abilities
Freezing Arrow*: Requires the Ice Arrow ability. You can use a full-round action to launch a single frigid arrow; +4d6 cold damage to initial target, and initial target and all creatures within 15 feet must make a Fortitude save or be paralyzed for 1d3 rounds. Paralyzed creatures must pass a Fort save each round or take 2d6 cold damage.
Lightning Fury*: Requires the Plague Javelin ability. You can spend a partial action to throw a javelin, hitting the target with a half-strength Chain Lightning spell.
Lightning Strike*: Requires the Charged Strike ability. You can spend a full-round action to stab a foe in melee with a javelin and trigger a half-strength Chain Lightning spell.
Pierce: Requires the Penetrate ability. When you use a ranged attack, you can punch clean through multiple foes.
Valkyrie: Requires the Decoy and Evade abilities. You can summon a valkyrie to fight beside you once per day.
Amazon vs. Musclegirl
Whilst there is a certain overlap between the concept of the Amazon and the Musclegirl fetish, the two aren't entirely synonymous. A musclegirl is any female who, due to class or race, happens to be both feminine looking and buff. An amazon is defined somewhat by class abilities (usually martial, although magical amazons aren't unheard of) and somewhat moreso by cultural implications - in fact, many amazons are actually depicted as looking like conventionally hot women (slender and girly, with big tits 'n' asses) who just happen to be strong enough to wield a big-ass sword without needing any muscles.
Possible Amazonian Races
Whilst the iconic Amazon is a human, in a fantasy setting, nothing takes an enterprising DM (or /d/M) from taking the archetype and applying it to another race. Some of the best candidates for this include:
- Elf: They're already an extremely effeminate-looking race who tend to be egalitarian, so making women the martial caste for religious reasons is a fairly simple and believable tweak. Plus, the race's association with high levels of cultural magical proficiency means not only are warrior-women perfectly believable (just relying on eldritch knights, swordmages and bladesingers rather than common fighters), but so is the idea that the race is all-female and uses magical means to procreate.
- Orc: Standard fantasy portrays orc women as being just as strong as their men, but treated like absolute shit by them. A "rogue tribe" of orc women who killed off their males and now fiercely retain their independence is a perfectly believable idea.
- Halfling: Since they're already a race that relies on stealth and trickery, making them matriarchal on top of that wouldn't be that implausible; halfling fighters don't rely on getting toe to toe with their enemies anyway. Plus, if one wants to use their caravaneer lifestyle from 3e and 4e, making them a species of shortstacks who show up, trade on their looks to be welcomed, and then move on is quite believeable (if a little magical realmy).
- Gnoll: They already look like spotted hyenas, a race of mammals who actually practices an amazonian social hierarchy in real life. It's such an obvious tweak that many anons wonder why they haven't gotten an official makeover like this already - it'd certainly make them different to the distinctly patriarchal orcs.
- Rabbitfolk/Ratfolk: If one tweaks the rabbitfolk race or the ratfolk race (or both) to make males a rarer sex than females, then they actually can be made to fit the amazonian mold pretty well; after all, given that A: one male can impregnate many females, and B: either race is renowned for its breeding abilities, females naturally become the "expendable gender", because it only takes a handful of breeding females to replenish and expand their race.
- Beastfolk: A race of equine beastfolk would actually make very appropriate amazons for much the same reason as gnolls; real-world horses and other equines are matriarchal, with stallions being more glorified boytoys for the herd than leaders. Lion-based catfolk also make for a distinctive fit; there are men and they are important, but most of the actual day-to-day work and combat is handled by the more numerous females.
- Insect people: If you think about it, any sentient fantasy species based on a Eusocial insect, (ants, bees, wasps, termites and so on) would be amazons since in those real life examples, the workers, soldiers and queens are all female. Pathfinder even includes a race of amazonian bee monstergirls in the form of the Thriae race.
|This article or section is about Monstergirls (or a monster that is frequently depicted as a Monstergirl), something that /tg/ widely considers to be the purest form of awesome. Expect PROMOTIONS! and /d/elight in equal measure, often with drawfaggotry or writefaggotry to match.|
One school argues that amazons can't be considered monstergirls for the same reason that you wouldn't consider "female fighter/barbarian/ranger" a monstergirl - they're human women who happen to be warriors. This often reinforced by the fact that, even if the amazons don't live with men, they still need to mate with men for children; such depictions usually portray them producing both female and male offspring, but the males are either sent away or murdered at birth, depending on how grimdark the race is being presented as.
Another school argues that, taken to its "logical" conclusion, amazons can be considered monsters. This school depicts a "true" amazon as human subspecies that either needs to mate with human men to procreate and only produces daughters (a classic monstergirl trait), or more rarely produces both human sons and amazon daughters, or else as a subspecies that reproduces by parthenogenesis (ie, no sex required to get pregnant). They usually further this by depicting amazons as having a distinctive look; this may or may not touch upon the musclegirl fetish, but usually revolves around the amazon being notedly larger than human men - not a full-fledged giantess, but around the size of an ogre.
This has actually lead to "amazon" being used as a term on /d/ for a specific subset of the "Macro" fetish; big enough for a size difference between female & male in favor of the female, but not building sized or larger women.
In the Monster Girl Encyclopedia, the "Amazoness" (a result of bad English to Japanese to English translation) is a culture of tribal humans who were converted into a distinct succubus subspecies. Distinguished by their brown skin, runic tattoos, mild musclegirl build and possessing only a single horn and wing (a "sexy reference" to their infamous one-breasted look), these are forest-dwelling savages who hunt down human men and bring them back to their villages as husbands, where they become domestic carers in a cliche "reversed sexual roles" take on the Amazon archetype. Their biggest iconic kink is public sex.