Feminist Guide To Rift Character Creation

RIFT launches headstart today, and it’s time for another tongue-and-cheek KittyKitty post, if anyone really cares while leveling madly (or waiting for world queues). First a pop quiz: who is the character in the pic?

a. An exotic dancer who stripped plate armor from a dead body so that she could help defend her city, but could not wear the leggings due to Encumbrance and a low Strength score.

b. A guy dressing as a girl.

c. Shyla Starhearth, queen of all the High Elves.

If you guessed (c), you are right. Why is this at all important? Well, it was an important factor in my current decision to side with the Defiants, after posting a thread in the RIFT forums asking which faction has more “grrl power.”

In other words, does either faction or any of the races have a more matriarchal, feminist, or goddess-worshiping society and focus than the other?

The fact is that I tend to like women who kick ass, and I tend to look askance at females being treated as sex objects or damsels in distress by game writers. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with that, but we can at least be tasteful about it.

This post has been updated since it was originally written before launch. I’ve played through L20 on the Defiant side and L10 on the Guardian side. My original conclusion was that the Defiants were far more empowering to women because they have female leaders, but I recently learned that if you stand between the legs of a statue of the Defiant leader in their capital in a certain situation, she starts to sigh and moan.

This has been removed since launch. Also, the “Unseen Chain Greaves”, which were made invisible on all female characters at launch, were made visible after some weeks, thereby covering up their bare legs and undies. I assume that was a dev joke, like all of the giant male-anatomy-shaped rocks in Shimmersand that still stand as far as I know.

Anyway, here is a breakdown of my female character creation decision-making, as well as a mini-bestiary of the power chicks in RIFT. (This has not been updated for Storm Legion.)

Faction Choice:

Guardian–The Guardians are religious, which is a point in their favor, because the “heart” of the Vigil is the goddess Mariel Taun, and the High Elves also worship the earth goddess Tavril. At first, I was looking very much pulled in this direction.

The High Elves also follow Shyla Starhearth as their leader. Perhaps Tavril has ordered Shyla to wear only underwear as part of her religious practices. If so, that’s interesting, but I think I would have heard about it. Instead, I see a thread on the RIFT forums asking for clothes for her, and no support whatsoever. (LOL.)

After playing the Guardians through L10, I can confirm that they have a lot of beautiful female angelic figures (agents of the Vigil), but all of the leaders and quest givers are males, with the exception of Shyla and her verging-on-cameltoe undies. The Guardian side does have a beautiful woodsy starting zone that is very appealing for a more relaxed experience that might appeal to a lot of female players more than the crazy undead-infested Defiant start zone.

Defiant–At first the Defiants seemed very male-based to me, especially with the importance of technology. On the other hand, the Defiants are rebellious and independent, and this definitely favors kick-ass women. The Kelari, I noted on Telarapedia, do seem to be ruled by “Anthousa Mona, High Priestess”. The answers to my RIFT forum thread, however, informed me that the effective leader of the Defiants (and the Eth) is “pretty much” Asha Catari.

In truth, I would rather follow the goddesses in the game, but High Priestess Shyla’s underwear is hard to get past. I can only imagine. Anyway, it’s possible things will be changed with the release of the game and the resounding influence of the clothes-for-Shyla poll, and if any of my information is off-base here, I’d love to hear about it.

After playing through L20 on the Defiant side, I’ve come to realize that the female leaders are more like figureheads than real leaders. When shouted rallies are given from the capital, they come from the men. I get the impression that males are actually the most powerful beings on the Defiant side. They rule in the highest reaches of the capital city tower. The women seem very much less important.

In fact, the only character development of Asha Catari so far (in quests) involve men hitting on her, and her romantic desires towards men.

Race Choice:

Based on the vids I watched, all of the races really have strong, good-looking women that don’t look like pretty dolls or anything. The dwarves seem the “cutest”, and although reports in the Dwarf forum suggest they are very rare in the game, the small following seems to be fiercely loyal.

The most popular choice of race, I found in the polls, was the Defiant dark elves–the Kelari–for their beauty, general elfishness, sexy darkness, and other reasons too complicated to go into here. For those who do not own the game, here is a list of links to character creation videos for the females of all the races. You can decide for yourself. I’m currently attracted to the Bahmi for the tattoo lore, but I’m not sure about the hair styles.

Female Bahmi
Female Kelari
Female High Elf
Female Mathosian
Female Dwarf
Female Eth

Name Choice:

Just a few naming guides I ran across:

Linguists may note that Bahmi names draw heavily from Mongolian.

Wildenight: If you want to stick to the guidelines the Devs did (for Kelari), anything based off of Greek or Aztec/Mayan will work well. (???)

RIFT Roleplayers Character Naming Reference By Race

Stormbow’s RP Naming thread (RIFT forums).

RIFT ToS Naming Rules (Section 11).

Rift-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy— an RP, lore, and language guide on RIFT Roleplayers.

Bestiary of RIFT’s Other Female NPC Power Brokers.

Tavril:

One of the five gods of the Vigil who helped create the world of Telara. The High Elves consider her their god, and she is also known as the Land.

Tavril is the land, she is the earth mother to the wilds, the power and majesty of nature. It is through her that we are able to survive, the bounty of her forests, her fields, her plants and the animals that field upon them sustain us all. From her the beasts of the world pour forth, to sustain us, to enrich our lives and even to challenge us. Those that learn to live in harmony with Tavril receive her blessings, those that attempt to despoil her bounty soon find her wrath, which is great and terrible.

Before the Vigil, she was the patron of the High Elves who she shared a special bond with. She was their protector, and they were hers. It was this relationship with the gods that all the Guardians now enjoy. The other gods of the Vigil work to protect Tavril, who is the most vulnerable to the elemental invasions. But they draw from her strength, with every rift that is sealed, every elemental foothold destroyed, we witness the power of Tavril reasserting her will, and healing the land.

Mariel-Taun:

Mariel-Taun is the heart of the Vigil. She blesses those who love Selflessly. She is the goddess of community, the hearth and compassion. The more you show empathy the stronger we all become. She wishes you to show compassion when you can, protect your community when you are able to, and improve Telara for others.

Mariel-Taun was the patron of lovers, healers, and the arts. As part of the Vigil she reminds us that while we live in violent times, we do not fight only to beget more violence. She wishes us all to take joy in our fellow mortals, revel in community, and take some time to find the beauty and joy that is Telara. We Guardians strive to bring about a better world, free from the corruption of the dragons. The heart of the Vigil wants you to find your love for this world, and to share it joyfully.

Crucia:

Crucia is the great dragon goddess of the Blood Storm who led a war against the High Elves of Telara. Crucia is from the elemental Plane of Air, and her Dragon Cult is known the Storm Legion. Once you are “touched” by this goddess, you’re never the same, and those who are under her influence for too long eventually become an embodiment of her will.

Laethys:

Laethys is the great dragon goddess of the Blood Storm from the elemental Plane of Earth. Her Dragon Cult is known the Golden Maw, and she has a long-standing feud with Crucia.

The Gold Dragon’s flesh flows like molten metal, and diamonds are her eyes. The riches of worlds will fall through her clutches, and she will never have enough while anyone else has anything at all. Laethys will feast atop a pile of famished wretches. All will adore her alone, and she will never give them quite enough.

Laethys would never let Regulos destroy the world, for how can she possess that which does not exist? She hates Crucia for spreading passionless devotion where there should be ravening lust. But she will work with nearly anyone who offers enough treasure, if only to steal the source of their wealth and watch her former ally grovel in the dirt.

Spoiled and fickle, Laethys discards her followers as quickly as she warms to them. Who knows how many back-alley beggars were once fat merchants who forgot the proper sacrifice to Laethys: pretty youths, their eyes cut out and replaced with rubies.

Conclusion:

(Updated) After more observations on the Defiant side through L20, my original conclusion that the Defiants were all about the female power were correct but a little bit off base. The leaders of the Eth and the Kelari, Asha Catari and Anthousa Mona, aren’t as powerful as leaders as I’d expected. In fact, the battle orders are being given by the men, and the most powerful active forces are actually the inventive and mysterious men–Orphiel and the Faceless Man.

More reading:

Plate Mail Bra and Thigh-Highs?
Armor complaint again … come on … really?

I hope you’ve gotten something from my little guide. It should be noted that unlinked lore snippets are quoted from Telarapedia. Feel free to comment.

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About Silverangel

https://kittykittyboomboom.wordpress.com/ View all posts by Silverangel

5 responses to “Feminist Guide To Rift Character Creation

  • Kevin Arnold

    Just out of curiosity, why did you write “Ew” after choice B?

  • Jacquotte

    Hi Kevin. I’m not sure! I think Shyla is kind of ridiculous, obviously, so I wrote that in that spirit.

    Without going “TMI” on the issue, I identify myself as gender fluid at a minimum (I’m wearing women’s sandals from Target right now, because they are the literally coolest shoes I own), so I decided that I had the right to intend a quirky humor at the time of the writing.

    I edited it out now, to be sure the “Ew:” won’t be mis-interpreted in the future. Again, if it makes any difference, I’m unabashedly a card-carrying member of the GLBT camp. Thanks for asking. 🙂

  • zabirjenkins

    bloody excellent blog! this really hits on a lot of the problems i’m having with rift. i won’t go as deep into it as you have, and being male and straight, i personally feel awkward going into gender/sexuality politics, but so many of the significant characters, and so many elements of telara’s lore are so laughably underdeveloped. it is as if trion literally just hired anyone that had read the first ten pages of any fantasy book. (whilst they may have wanted to look for people with creative writing, sociology or theology degrees? there are plenty of us out there.)

    i’m a bit of a lore junky myself and i find myself missing sylvanas, and aggra and tyrande and malfurion, and thrall.. i’m playing guardian on rift and apparently the best male lead we have to look up to is a guy called Cecil, (stupid, stupid name,) a cardboard cut-out paladin in gold armour. its also pretty rediculous that the individual races dont have distinct starting zones so as to allow the game to foreground their distinct cultures.

    anyway i’ve bitched and moaned enough. one last thing though, whoever the voice actor is that does the voice for the warden of the vigil, and of shyla. does she not have the single most aggrovating, chocolate-boxy, childish, american prom queen voice ever heard? she is meant to be more magic than mortal, a semi-divine creature of incredible power. she sounds like a children’s television presenter.

    *grumble grumble grumble* re-installs world of warcraft.

    • Jacquotte

      Haha. I agree that the Guardian characters seemed a little flat, but I didn’t get that far past the tutorial, so I can’t really judge. Have you tried the Defiant side? You might like it more as far as depth of story. Thanks for the note and thanks very much for the compliment! 🙂

      As far as lore, today Trion announced a new game system called Chronicles, which sound very promising, actually:

      “Another cool concept is the idea of solo and small-group instances which will fall under the label “The Chronicles of Telara.” These will help players get a quick instance fix if the queue for regular instances is too long, but even more than that, Chronicles instances are designed to give players a much better feel for the game’s major characters and stories. Epic settings, places you normally wouldn’t get to see, fighting alongside and against key characters are all aspects of these instances.”

      “We want people walking away from these instances thinking ‘holy crap, that was cool!’,” Hartsman said.

      • Lai-Lai

        Shyla wasn’t a queen; she was Prince Hylas’ girlfriend. Hylas dumped her because she valued her religious faith over their relationship & wouldn’t let him have his own opinions of right & wrong.

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