The Female Tank Pt.I – Real life female tanks

In my last post, I decided on a problem statement for my League of Legends champion design;

How can I design a female tank which has an exciting item build, can intuitively lead a team and can kill without the incurring the wrath of their team-mates?

I’ve actually got some ideas already about the sorts of skills she will have, the details of which I will go through at a later date (although I can reveal it’s sort of stance related), however I have been really interested in coming up with the aesthetic of this champion.

Badass female warrior is kinda difficult to pull off. Badass women, in general, I find rarely believable in media. They’re always too sexy (the industry standard chainmail bikini) or they just look like they’re trying too hard, like Angelina Jolie as Tomb Raider. In fact, the only examples I can think of where it’s worked is Sigourney Weaver in Aliens and Laura Harris in Severance. If I can find a few clips somewhere, I’ll link them.

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Aliens - "Get away from her, you bitch!"

Severance

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Starting with the aesthetic is a completely different approach to what I did last time, for my DotA hero suggestion. I thought I’d do it in this order mainly because I had a bit of inspiration, but also because aesthetics are important in a game like League of Legends.

LoL is more casual and user friendly than DotA, the cool looking characters are always quite popular. Actually, the sexy big breasted characters are generally all quite common picks! What’s quite ironic is that the forum community is bemoaning Riot for all these pornstar looking champions, but they wouldn’t create them if they weren’t popular and selling like hotcakes. That’s the second good reason to start with an aesthetic, Riot make their money from purchasing champions (based solely on looks and skill descriptions) and selling skins; alternate visual styles for the champions. These are only accessible through real money purchases, so the aesthetic of the champion is very important.

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Katarina, a popular champion in League of Legends*

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To get some more inspiration, I’ve been reading a lot of articles and wiki entries about real and fictional female warriors throughout history. These women took part in, or were inspired by,  real events and, while they are very likely exaggerated, their stories have lived throughout centuries, which is a real triumph of their resonance. In this post, I’m going to have a quick look at some female badasses throughout history. I’ll particularly be observing their aesthetics to inspire me as to how my champion should look. Today I will focus on real life female badasses.

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Real Life Badass Homegirls

Boudicca

As an Englishman, there are 3 badass women who define our history; Margaret Thatcher (controversial!), Queen Elizabeth I and Boudicca. Only the last one was an actual warrior. Boudicca was a queen of the Iceni tribe, who led an uprising against the occupying Roman Empire forces in England. She destroyed Colchester, Londinium (old London) and St. Albans before being defeated in the Battle of Watling Street. Before the battle, Boudicca gave the following speech (according to a Roman writer, Tacitus);

“But now,it is not as a woman descended from noble ancestry, but as one of the people that I am avenging lost freedom, my scourged body, the outraged chastity of my daughters. Roman lust has gone so far that not our very persons, nor even age or virginity, are left unpolluted. But heaven is on the side of a righteous vengeance; a legion which dared to fight has perished; the rest are hiding themselves in their camp, or are thinking anxiously of flight. They will not sustain even the din and the shout of so many thousands, much less our charge and our blows. If you weigh well the strength of the armies, and the causes of the war, you will see that in this battle you must conquer or die. This is a woman’s resolve; as for men, they may live and be slaves.”

Boudicca had some serious beef with the romans. When her husband, the king, died, the Iceni people ignored his will, which surrendered them to the Romans. Boudicca was flogged and her daughters were raped by the occupying forces. Unfortunately for Boudicca and the rebels, the Romans were master tacticians, and exaggerated (“extravagantly” exaggerated) figures say that 70,000-80,000 Britons died at Watling Street, compared to the loss of only 400 Romans.

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'Warrior Queen Boudica' by Howard David Johnson

Boudicca

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Images of Boudicca vary rather greatly. The picture by Howard David Johnson is of a similar style to many statues and sculptures created in honour of Boudicca. She wears a rather regal dress, which isn’t something she’s likely to fight in. Many other forms of media, particularly TV, portray her looking Braveheart-esque, with lots of browns, leather armor and tribal tattoos/markings. The issue of clothes is probably just casual wear vs battle wear (which makes chainmail bikinis sound even more ridiculous). The markings are interesting though. I suppose they’re just war paint. One thing to note  is that they’re definitely badass. Gotta add them to my checklist.

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Queen Boudica by John Opie

Alex Kingston as Boudicca in 'Warrior Queen'

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Zenobia

Those Romans really must have pissed off a lot of people. Zenobia is a Syrian queen of the Palmyrene Empire who also organized a revolt against those damn Romans. She conquered Egypt and Anatolia, breaking vital Roman trade routes. She was defeated by the Roman Emperor Aurelian in Antioch and then captured in Emesa, where the remaining Palmyrene forces retreated.

Apparently, the emperor was so proud of his prize that he paraded her around Rome in golden chains, and that one theory of her future was that she was exiled to modern Tivoli in Italy where she became a philosopher, socialite and Roman matron (her sons marrying nobility). Of course, no-one knows exactly what happened to her. There are also rumours of illness and beheading!

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'Queen Zenobia's Last Look Upon Palmyra' by Herbert Schmalz.

'Zenobia' by Horley (Book by Haley Elizabeth Garwood)

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The interesting thing about Zenobia, compared to Boudicca, is that she was always looking like a queen. Well, that’s what the artwork shows anyway. Wearing ornate jewelry and accessories, along with her dress. You will notice, if you keep reading, that many of the women in this article (and the next) wear a similar sort of getup. The long dress is something that I think will have to be included in my champion. I also love the idea of the golden chains. Of course, my champion can’t be chained up (how could she fight hand-to-hand?), but perhaps she could have broken the bonds and they hang off one wrist. Sounds like something a badass would do.

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Joan of Arc

While she sounded like a bit of a nutter, with the visions and God’s grace stuff, you can’t deny that a 19 year old, inspiring and leading a pathetic French army to defeat the occupying British, is badass. Joan of Arc is notorious and I probably don’t need to explain much about her here. In a desperate time, the French needed something miraculous to help them. That was Joan’s job, and until she was captured and infamously burnt at the stake, she did a great deal for French history. She’s also a saint for crying out loud!

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'Joan at the coronation of Charles VII' by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

An artist's impression of Joan of Arc

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Joan was different to Zenobia and Boudicca in that she was apparently more of a standard bearer than a warrior. Her aesthetic is actually quite uninteresting, since she just dressed like a man… or should it be that she is just wearing appropriate items for a battle (regardless of gender). The picture on the left has the artist trying to emphasize her femininity, but actually she wore men’s clothing most of the time. Having a battle standard is a pretty cool look though, and including some sort of heavy armour would be much more realistic if I’m trying to portray an effective female warrior. Joan isn’t too interesting in what she wore, but that’s the point… why would a woman wear different clothing to a man when on a battlefield?

I think that’s enough for one post! My next post will look at some mythological female ownage. After I’ve looked at them, I might actually break out my pencil and paper… prepare for the horror of my drawing!

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Sam

*Yes, this is a skin, not the original champion design. Still emphasizes my point though!

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4 Comments to “The Female Tank Pt.I – Real life female tanks”

  1. I was searching Boudica, because she is a warrior queen and my ancestor. I admire her courage in leading the Brits to battle against the Romans. I struggle with my own personal battles and use her as an example. So, I came upon your blog via the pic.

  2. I am researching female warriors throughout history for m next tattoo. I was leaning toward boudica or zenobia but I can’t seem to find any reasonably decent pictures to start from for tattoo ideas. If you do draw something up I would love to see it. 🙂

  3. Hi Sam, I’m doing some research on Boudicca and came across your post. I like the quote you have here. Can you recommend any books or websites with more information on her? Also I totally agree with you about female warriors in the media being unrealistic and over sexualized. I would include Amazons to your list of ladies, I’ve read they used to shave off there right breast so to have better range of motion with their sword arm. It was likely that Medusa was an Amazon and the Greeks (being her enemy) mythologized her and turn her into a monster to create bad press.

    best, Alexis
    a@alexishosea.com

    • Hi Alexis,

      Unfortunately my knowledge of Boudicca is just from Google search. I know the name and her reputation but my research is pretty basic. In part II of this post, I talk about Amazons and Hippolyte in particular (including the breast removal). Thanks for that information about Medusa, it is very interesting!

      Good luck with your research!

      Sam

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