Character Design: Cassandra Pentaghast

Concept art for Cassandra. Of note: angular face, armour, and heart symbols.

Concept art for Cassandra. Of note: angular face, armour, and heart symbols.

Since I’m on a bit of a Dragon Age mood right now, having just beat the third game (not Game of the Year material in my view, but good characters nonetheless), I figured I’d have a look at the design of one of its poster children: Cassandra Pentaghast.

Of all companions, Cassandra may be the one most heavily featured in the media, pre-release. She and Varric adorned pages, the first revealed companions, and while Varric was popular enough I imagine he was somewhat sidelined as “the returning companion”. Cassandra, for all her earlier appearances, was free to be its face. It may also be worth noting she is one of three companions (the others being Varric Tethras and Solas) you have to recruit.

And, yes, she owes this somewhat for being the first face you’ll see in the game, as well as how she’s probably the most obviously related to Inquisition‘s theme of faith (not a theme I find always done well, not even in the game). But likely it is due in part to her striking design. Sharp, powerful, and, to be blunt, unlike the stereotypical depiction of a fantasy woman she’s not running around in the nud.

I’ve seen some criticise her for not being “attractive” (she is an optional romance in the game, after all), though that seems to completely miss the point of her design. For what it’s worth, she is to me a fairly attractive figure, but that’s not the point of her design (cynically: it may be a sidegoal, however). What is? “Authority”, mainly. Continue reading

Guards! Guards!: Analysing Vimesy (pt 1)

Sam Vimes stands in the middle of a foggy street. Looking at the viewer, he points a small dragon at them in a manner akin to a shotgun.

While Sam Vimes later rises to second most important person in Ankh-Morpork, the strength seen here will not be apparent until Guards! Guards! is over.

You don’t need me to tell you Terry Pratchett is a good author: the man’s books not only sell like hotcakes, but he’s near-universally critically acclaimed. And there was the whole knighthood thing, which I’m sure gave him no small amount of glee.

But you might want to know that I am a big fan of the Discworld series, in this case big meaning “my baby toe makes the Great Wall of China look like a half-eaten pea”. And, while I liked the previous books enough to keep reading, it was Guards! that finally hooked me on them. And in Guards! itself, it was a certain Samuel Vimes that intrigued me most.

But what’s so great about Sam Vimes? Or, rather, what’s interesting about him? Guards! Guards! has a lot of themes, such as whether man is truly good, bad, or something more nuanced – how does he relate to them?

While ultimately I don’t think Vimes’s development is the best shown in this novel, he’s one of Discworld‘s more nuanced and complex characters, and a lot of themes he embodies can also be seen in Granny Weatherwax, of the Witches subseries. He is likely more closer to his “real” self in later books, but it’s worth beginning from the start in almost all things. So, let’s… begin. Continue reading