Arrows and Glass Ceilings

There's a scene in Nocked where Lady Robin foils the Sheriff by firing an arrow through a glass ceiling. Funny? I thought so. Commentary on role-playing games, which trend studiously gender-neutral? Maybe. But it also underlines a key problem with the Robin Hood mythos.

Sherwood Forest is like Boy Scout camp with a single female counselor. It doesn't really matter if she's attractive, smart, funny, strong, or possessed of any number of negative attributes, she's still the only lady around, and it's going to be weird. Robin's gender being under the player's control, this is one of those cases where 2 is not really better than 1. There  needed to be more female representation in Sherwood than just Marian.

All the other roles from the legends were already spoken for by men, and with all due deference to Hollywood, I wasn't going to simply transmogrify characters; there's no Little Joan or Wilhelmina Scarlet. This was both a wonderful opportunity and a bit of a challenge – on one hand, I got to create characters for Nocked out of whole cloth. On the other, they have to be a compelling enough to stand out in an already crowded cast. That's okay, I spend my days writing novels about strong, imperfect female characters - an emancipated Sleeping Beauty for instance, or a headstrong skypirate captain - so I felt up to the task. [Warning: The rest of this post contains minor spoilers]

Let's meet some of the ladies who might join you at Camp Sherwood. There's Rosalind, Marian's less-than-totally-devoted handmaiden; Amaranth, the covetous dragon of Sherwood; and Elspeth, a knight errant and descendant of the Knights of the Round Table burdened by ancient guilt. And Marian, of course, who would likely be running the show if you hadn't shown up (and who's to say she isn't, regardless?)

That's just a sampling of the women who've come to make the bandits of Nocked a more balanced and equitable anti-governmental band of law-breaking citizens. We'll get to know them better in a future post, but in the meantime, tell Will and John to sweep up the shards.

The Saga of Marian and the Sheriff continues...

What does Marian take when she escapes from Nottingham Castle?

Marian is wracked with indecision!

Part 2 - The Walls have Ears

My hand itches for the heft of cold steel, ancient words of power gather upon my lips, and how could I consider leaving Rosalind with these brutes? I cannot in good conscience choose between what is dear to me, and leave the Sheriff to dispose of the rest. I shall have to try for all three.

My mind made up, I take stock of my options. There is a secret passage behind my fireplace. My candle will light my way, though the exit will leave me some distance from the armory, and of late I have heard a scuttling within, such as with overlarge rats.

I can tear up my silk wedding dress and fashion a rope to descend the outside of my tower to the roof of the dining hall, though I shall be on the far side of the castle from the servants quarters and uncomfortably close to a the Sheriff and his drunken entourage.

My dinner knife might be enough to slay the guard at my door, and leave me run of the nearby halls. Though if I miss my strike, I shall surely be overpowered.

The sands of time trickle by. What shall I do?

  1. I take the secret passage.
  2. I rappel down the outside of the tower.
  3. I ambush the guard outside my door.

Marian's decision at this juncture has been made. To continue her adventures, check out the latest dev blog and vote on her current actions. Read the entire adventure starting July 26th.

A narrow defile, work in progress by Amanda Spaid

This is the Nocked! True Tales of Robin Hood development blog. Every week I’ll discuss some aspect of the game’s development, show off some art, and give you the opportunity to create an entirely new Robin Hood story. And be sure to check out the butler's take on the Sheriff of Nottingham, occasionally updated @ManOfNottingham.