The Amazons

Copyright Elton Robb © 2006

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

This article is the first in a series (Cultures: Sword & Sorcery) that presents cultures based on nations of historical or mythological significance. These cultures are intended to supplement fantasy roleplaying games, such as Rolemaster. In addition to the Amazons presented in this article, additional cultures in this series will be based on Gomer, Magog, Sumer or Elam, Egypt, Hellas (Greece or Javan), the Hittites, the Land of Sheba, and the Minoans.

The first in this series are the Amazons. The Amazons are a mysterious race of Men controlled by a powerful matriarchy. This is a culture where women control politics, the government, and the army; the men apparently let them.


The Amazons are warlike and powerful, but their strategies and tactics differ from the Greeks' (as evidenced by the Amazons' tactics when the Greeks fought them at the Battle for Troy). The amazons are also city builders, as they have founded many cities throughout Hellas and Southern Europe.

Build: The typical Amazon woman is encouraged to be strong, supple, sculpted, and beautiful while the usual Amazon man is encouraged to also be strong, supple, sculpted and muscular. Amazon men average 160 pounds while Amazon women average 125 pounds.

Coloring: An Amazon's skin color tends to range from fair to tan or olive. Hair color includes all types, but raven-black predominates. Eye color varies from bright blue to hazel to dark brown. Because Amazons have intermarried with High Men, Nomads, Woodmen, and Hillmen, other combinations are possible.

Endurance: Average

Height: Males average 5'10", Women 5'6".

Lifespan: Moderate, averaging 60 to 80 years.

Resistance: Normal.

Special Abilities: None.


Clothing and Decoration: The Amazons depicted by the Greeks on their friezes and pottery were either wearing a tunic that exposed one breast, or wearing a full-body checkered costume that consists of a shirt and tight leggings. However, commoners would wear more practical woolen and linen clothing.

Tunics comparable to the Greek chiton are common, and shirts belted over pants or skirts are the norm for Amazons living in more northern climes.

When at war, female Amazon warriors wear leather armor, which consists of a jerkin and leather leggings. The Warrior Queen and her royal guards wear metal armor (such as the chainmail panoply, below).

Amazon women who cannot afford leather armor go into battle without armor; they rely on the speed of their horses and superior strategy to keep them alive. Most of those who cannot afford such protection wear a tunic, while some enter combat naked, as the Greeks did, hoping to save their clothes from becoming soiled. Some Amazons prefer a more dramatic look and wear a bikini made either of chainmail or soft leather.

Amazons tattoo themselves after each battle. The more tattoos an Amazon foot soldier has, the more enemies she has defeated in battle.

Fears and Inabilities: Although there is legitimate concern that the men will rise up against them, the Amazons have no special superstitious beliefs.

Lifestyle: The Amazons have a complete matriarchy. This means that women control the army, the priesthood, and the government. Men grow up to trust this arrangement and allow the women to rule; they are relegated to mercantile and domestic vocations. In short, the Amazon nation is the inverse of Spartan society: the women make war, domestic, and foreign policy while the men control the economy of the home and the state. For example, it is common to find a woman guarding the city gate and a man selling his wares behind the gates. Amazon men plant crops, construct buildings, manage households, and practice the arts; while women run the business of the state.

The Amazons are ruled by a pair of queens. One queen handles matters of foreign and domestic policy in accordance with the dictates of the high priestess. The other queen handles military matters.

Marriage Patterns: Marriage is monogamous and matrilineal. With Amazon women controlling property, the daughter usually inherits from the mother all that the mother has. Family history is traced through the female. An Amazon maiden is not permitted to marry a man unless she has brought down an enemy in battle.

Aside from this, homosexuality is common among the Amazons. They celebrate the Goddess through the union of two women. As a result, there are some colonies of Amazons that seek to isolate themselves from all contact with men.

Religion: Female Amazons tend to worship a Goddess of war and hunting known as Ashtaroth or Cybele. Worship of Cybele/Ashtaroth revolves around going to war and hunting game. Some of the women responsible for affairs of state also worship Athena.

Publicly, Amazon men worship Ares. However, secret temples to Apollo, Hermes and Hephastus are not uncommon, especially among merchants and artisans.

Other Factors

Demeanor: Given their accomplishments in battle, Amazons are confident, without being overbearing. They tend to be practical, hard-working, loyal, and quiet.

Language: Starting Languages: Common Speech (S8/W6), High Speech (S6/W6), Wood Elvish (S6/W6); Allowed Adolescence Development: Black Speech (S6/W6), Common-Speech (S10/W10), High Speech (S10/W10), Small Speech (S6/W6), Wood Elvish (S10/W10)

Prejudices: Amazons are suspicious of most outsiders, including those of Hellenic descent. They tend to hate Kurgans, Aryans and Orcs.

Professions: Amazons have no limitations, but Rangers (and Outriders) are common.

Special Skills: Everyman: none, Restricted: none

Standard Hobby Skills: Acrobatics, Ambush, Animal Handling, Attunement, Body Development, Tatooing [Crafts], Bone-carving [Crafts], Sculpting, Contortions, Crewelwork [Crafts], Directed Spells, Fauna Lore, Fletching, Foraging, Hiding, Leather-crafting, Military Organization, Observation, Riding, Signaling, Spell Lists, Stalking, Star-gazing, Tactics, Tale-telling, Thrown and missile weapon skills, Tracking, any Weapon skills, Weather-watching.

Outfitting Options

Armor: Choice of leather chiton, leather breastplate and greaves, chainmail bikini, or none plus a shield.

Money: 10 silver coins and a horse

Weapons: spear, javelin, longsword, saber, battle-axe, dagger, short sword, two-handed sword, war hammer, armored fist, bastard sword, boar spear, dag, falchion, foil, kynac, long kynac, main gauche, rapier, war mattock.

Background Options

Common Men get six background options, while Mixed Men get five background options.

Extra Languages: In addition to the tongues listed above: Wood Speech (S8/W8), Plains-Speech (S8/W8), Orcish (S6/W6), Grey Elvish (S6/W6), and Elvish (S6/W6).

Extra Money: Gold pieces.

Special Items: All available.

Talents: All available

Stat Bonuses: Ag: +0/+0, Co: +0/+2, Me: +0/+0; Re: +0/+0; SD: +2/+2; Em: +0/+2; In: +0/+0; Pr +0/+2; Qu +0/+0; St +2/+2 -- first value is for Common Men, second for Mixed Men.

RR Mods: Ess: +0, Chan: +0, Ment: +0, Poison: +0, Disease: +0

Body Development Progression: 0*6*4*2*1/0*6*5*2*1

Channeling Power Point Development Progression: 0*6*5*4*3

Essence Power Point Development Point Progression: 0*6*5*4*3

Mentalism Power Point Development Point Progression: 0*7*6*5*4

Armor * Light Skill Category 1 Power Awareness skill category 0
Soft Leather Skill 0
Rigid Leather Skill 1 Science/Analytic*Basic Skill category 0
Armor * Medium skill category 0 Subterfuge*Stealth Category 2
Chain skill 0 Stalking Skill 1
Hiding Skill 1
Athletic*Brawn skill category 1 0
Tech/Trade * General Skill Category 1
Athletic * Endurance skill category 1
Swimming Skill 1 Urban skill category 0
Athletic * Gymnastics skill category 1 Weapon * 1 H Conc. Skill category 0
Climbing skill 0 1 weapon based on culture/race 0
Awareness Perceptions skill category 0 Weapon * 1 H Edged Skill category 1
Alertness Skill 2 1 weapon based on culture/race 1
Awareness * Searching skill category 1 Weapon * Two-handed Skill category 1
Body Development Skill 2 1 weapon based on culture/race 1
Communications skill category 1 Weapon * Missile skill category 2
Language Skills 6 1 weapon based on culture/race 2
Lore * General skill category 3 Weapon * Pole Arms Skill category 0
"Own" Region Lore Skill 3 1 weapon based on culture/race 0
"Own" Culture Lore skill 3
Weapon * Thrown Skill category 1
Outdoor * Animal skill category 1 1 weapon based on culture/race 1
Riding skill (usually horses) 2
Hobby Ranks 12
Outdoor * Environmental Category 2 Number of Background Options 6/5


The Amazons have deduced the riddle of steel, but in most other aspects of technology they are in the Iron Age.

Metal: Amazon smiths are capable of producing steel and bronze for their swords, spears, shields, and helmets. They can make chainmail, as evidenced by their invention and use of the chainmail bikini. Amazons can also produce the full panoply used by their Greek counterparts and can make leather.

Mathematics and Astronomy: The Amazons have no knowledge of advanced mathematics, but they understand enough basic mathematics to know how to add, multiply, subtract, and divide numbers. The Amazons understand stargazing, but they do not study astronomy. Some of their scholars understand "natural philosophy," although as a matriarchy, Amazonian natural philosophy embraces a more holistic approach.

Medicine: The Amazons, as students of warfare, know the basic anatomy of the body. Their medicinal techniques, however, remain in the Bronze Age. Their techniques include herbal infusions, extracts and decoctions, compresses, poultices, and syrups made by Amazon shamans and physicians.

With their extensive knowledge of herbs, the Amazons can extract atropine from the mandrake root for use in surgery (or as a toxin). Amazonian surgery is not as advanced as Hellenistic surgery, but Amazon surgeons practice venesection, amputation, and cauterization (the latter is to prevent infection).

Transportation: Amazons have an extensive knowledge of herding, domesticating, and breeding animals. Greek friezes depict the Amazons riding horses, but not using chariots. The horse is an important part of Amazon culture, and thus the Amazons have a superb cavalry.

Military: The Amazon military is split into three branches: the infantry (which fought with the Greeks on numerous occasions during the Trojan War), the cavalry, and the artillery, which was composed of archers. When the Amazon army goes into battle, it is commanded by their Warrior Queen. Like other Bronze Age cultures, the primary weapon of the Amazon military was the spear, as depicted on the Greek friezes.

The Amazons ride into battle with their spears and shields seeking to skewer their enemies. Like other Bronze Age cultures, an Amazon infantry maid would reserve the use of the sword and dagger for up close and personal combat. Amazon archers rely on the short bow, which they are trained to fire every six or seven seconds.

Martial Arts

Like any warlike culture, the Amazons are constantly improving the efficiency of their fighting. What follows are Martial Arts Styles developed by the Amazons and presented here using the system appearing in the Martial Arts Companion. Adaptations can be made to other game systems as needed.

Woman Warrior

Advanced Weapon Style — [45 style points]

Description — This Amazon weapon style is designed to take advantage of a foreign soldier's cultural biases and attitudes towards women. The style involves the use of a woman's feminine wiles to beguile an opponent into a false sense of security. Then, the Amazon warrior strikes quickly like a snake to incapacitate or kill her opponent.

Formal training in this style means that the student is taught the typical ideologies of men towards women and effective strategies to use these ideologies against their opponents. Advanced training in this martial art is provided by the Sisters of Cybele, a lesbian warrior band. The style focuses on the broadsword for blocking, parrying, and thrusting while wearing minimal armor.

Recommended Skills — Adrenal defense, broadsword weapon skill, seduction

Weapon Style Abilities [Core] — broadsword melee attack [5 points], Lesser adrenal defense [10 points], All-around defense [15 points], +1 to initiative rolls [5 points], +10 bonus to seduction [10 points]

Special Abilities — This weapon style has a special attack (Woman Warrior)

Woman Warrior — Amazon warriors can beguile a male (of any humanoid race) with their beauty and lack of armor. Any man who has not previously fought against an Amazon suffers a --5 penalty to initiative. If the Amazon warrior is wearing torc and rings (see below) or no armor, this penalty increases to --10.

Amazon Archery

Basic Weapon Style — [25 style points]

Description — This style is practiced by the Amazon artillery. It is characterized by the Amazon women training themselves to shoot accurately quickly at their opponents. The style cannot be used while mounted.

Recommended Skills — shortbow weapon skill

Weapon Style Abilities [Core] — Short bow missile attack [5 points], --1 to fumble range [10 points], lesser reloading [10 points]

Mounted Spearwoman

Basic Weapon Style — [30 style points]

Description — Greek friezes depict the Amazons using mounted combat techniques with the spear, lance, or javelin as their primary weapons. Whereas the spear is common to the infantry and cavalry, this style applies to mounted combat. It provides great flexibility in how the warrior uses her spear, lance, or javelin.

Recommended Skills — Adrenal strength, horseback riding, javelin weapon skill, lance weapon skill, mounted combat, spear weapon skill, thrown spear weapon skill, thrown javelin weapon skill

Weapon Style Abilities [Core] — Related weapons attack (spear, javelin, and lance) [10 points], --1 to fumble range [5 points], +5 bonus to mounted combat [5 points], movement (thrown weapon option) [10 points]

The Lioness

Basic Martial Art — [30 style points]

Description — This martial art is the basic style of self-defense for Amazons that combines aspects of the Woman Warrior weapon style with the Tiger martial art style from China. Against a male opponent, the lioness is taught to use her feminine wiles to beguile. To finish off an opponent (male or female), the lioness style incorporates punches, kicks, and defensive sweeps. The style is designed to mimic a hunting lioness and there are dozens of local variations.

Recommended Skills — Martial Arts Striking, Martial Arts Sweeping, Adrenal Defense, Disarm Foe (unarmed), Adrenal Strength, Seduction, Stalking

Martial Arts Abilities [Core] — Lesser adrenal defense [10 points], Degree 3 martial arts striking attack and Degree 2 martial arts sweeping attack [5 points], +10 bonus to adrenal strength [5 points], +5 bonus to seduction [10 points]

Special Abilities — This weapon style has a special attack (Woman Warrior)

Woman Warrior — Amazon warriors can beguile a male (of any humanoid race) with their beauty and lack of armor. Any man who has not previously fought against an Amazon suffers a --5 penalty to initiative. If the Amazon warrior is wearing torc and rings (see below) or no armor, this penalty increases to --10.


Description Cost AT Bonus vs. Melee Bonus vs. Missile Min. Man. Mod. Weight
Torc and Rings 20bp 1 +5 +0 0 5 lb.
Chainmaille loincloth and Halter 10sp 1 +10 +0 --5 10 lb.
Leather Loincloth and Halter 45bp 5 +5 +5 0 5 lb.
Hide and Bone 12sp 11 +0 +0 --15 15 lb.
Amazon Breastplate 20sp 17 +0 +0 --5 20 lb.
Amazon Panoply 22sp 18 +0 +0 --20 35 lb,

Torc and Rings: The torc and rings are just that, a torc around the neck with metal rings on the upper arms and thighs, bracers on the forearms, anklets on the ankles, and a loincloth of silk. Amazon warriors are trained to parry with their torc and rings to deflect blows. The torc and rings are usually made of bronze, iron, or steel. Some outfits are plated with silver (+100 sp) or with gold (+500 sp), or even encrusted with gems.

Chainmail Loincloth and Halter: The quintessential chainmail bikini consists of a light top and loincloth made of chainmail, both lined with silk for padding. Some Amazons have taken to wearing a helmet made in the Greek style, often with a horse hair brush. There is a leather armor variant, which is augmented with a plaited leather skirt.

Hide and Bone: This is the armor of the Amazon footsoldier. Hide and bone armor consists of a tough, resilient rigid-leather short-sleeved shirt made of hide strips and segments, along with soft leather leggings made from hide, or a plaited leather skirt. The rigid leather shirt is loosely sewn together and is reinforced by bits of bone and sometimes wood. The armor includes a leather cap.

Amazon Breastplate: The Amazon breastplate is smaller than the standard breastplate. It covers the upper chest with a form fitting plate of iron or steel, which also includes bracers. A silk or chainmail loincloth completes the ensemble. Amazon warriors often add an iron helmet with horsetail.

Amazon Panoply: The full Amazon panoply includes an Amazon breastplate, with the abdomen protected by chainmail or scale armor, which is fastened to the belt. This armor includes a reinforced plaited armor skirt, plus greaves and bracers. The helm is Greek styled, with face guards and a large horsehair brush.


Themiscyra is the legendary capital of the Amazon nation in Asia Minor (Turkey). The city presented here is intended to be integrated into any campaign setting. It was generated using the City Generator found in the first Rolemaster Companion. Five thousand people live in Themiscyra.

Themiscyran Army = 1500 Amazon Warriors

  • NCO's [ 6th to 10th level] = 220
  • Junior Officers [ 8th level to 15th Level] = 40
  • Senior Officers [13th to 18th level] = 10
  • Warrior Queen [15th Level or more] = 1

Sisters of Cybele (Lesbian Warrior Band) = 450

Gymnasiums (Monasteries) = 3

  • Student Monks = 36
  • Warrior Monk Students = 25
  • Monk Students = 11
  • Warrior Monks [6th-10th level) = 5
  • Monks [6th -- 10th level] = 2
  • Warrior Monk Master = 1
  • Monk Master = 1

Temples at Themiscyra

  • Clergy = 42
  • Temples = 17
  • Shrines = 9

Paladins of Athena (female) and Apollo (male)

  • Squires [1st to 6th level] = 36 (24 squire paladins of Athena, 12 squire paladins of Apollo)
  • Paladins [7th+ Level] = 18 (10 full Paladins of Athena, 8 full paladins of Apollo)
  • Paladin Errants [7th+ Level] = 9 (8 errants of Athena, 1 errant of Apollo)

Healers of Apollo and Asclepius

  • Total Healers = 33
  • Channeling Healers of Apollo = 10 (5 male, 5 female)
  • Lay Healers of Asclepius = 13 (all women)
  • Hospitals = 2

The Underworld of Themiscyra

  • Underworld = 94
  • Magents = 14
  • Thieves = 80
  • Rogues = 0

Academies of Apollo, Hermes, and Hecate

  • Alchemists = 42
  • Magicians = 11
  • Illusionists = 5
  • Academies = 1


  • Bards = 27 (20 male, 7 female)
  • Theatres = 3


  • Rangers = 126

Special Agents

  • Sorceresses = 6
  • Mystics = 7
  • Agencies = 1


  • Astrologers = 6
  • Seers = 9
  • Halls of Knowledge = 1

Animists of the Earth Mother

  • 11 (all female)


  • There are 6 male mentalists in Themiscyra.