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Atalanta “the divine huntress”


A huntress who in many respects recalls the goddess Artemis

Atalanta’s father, Schoeneus, wanted a son so badly that when Atalanta was born, he left her in the middle of the woods to die. Artemis sent a female bear to suckle her and eventually a group of hunters raised her.

Years later a beast called the Calydonian Boar was stalking the land. King Oeneus sent his son Meleager to gather up heroes to hunt the Boar. Among many others, Meleager chose Atalanta, who by now was a young woman and a fierce huntress, with whom he fell in love and who returned his love.

Atalanta participated in the hunt and struck the first wound, though Meleager killed the boar. Since she had caused the first drop of blood to be shed, Meleager awarded her the hide. The two centaurs Hylaeus and Rhaecus tried to rape Atalanta, but Meleager killed them. Also during the hunt, Eurypylus and Iphicles insulted her, and Meleager killed them.

Toxeus and Plexippus (Meleager’s maternal uncles) grew enraged that the prize was given to a woman. Meleager killed them in the ensuing argument.

Althaea, Meleager’s mother, caused his death in retribution for the death of her two brothers.

The grief-stricken Atalanta sought out her father who claimed her as his offspring and wanted her to get married. Although a very beautiful maiden, Atalanta felt marriage would be a betrayal to Meleager. In order to get her a husband, her father made a deal with Atalanta that she would marry anybody who could beat her in a foot race.  Anyone who tried to beat her and failed, however, would be killed. Atalanta  agreed, as she could run extremely fast.

Atalanta and Hippomenes, Guido Reni, c. 1622-25
Atalanta and Hippomenes, Guido Reni, c. 1622-25

She outran many suitors, who were then executed. The suitor Hippomenes knew that he could not win a fair race with Atalanta, but was enthralled by her beauty. Atalanta, too, found him most agreeable both physically and as a person, and so she begged him not to race her (and risk his life), but he could not be dissuaded. Hippomenes then prayed to the goddess Aphrodite for help.

The goddess gave him three golden apples and told him to drop them one at a time to distract Atalanta. Sure enough, she stopped running long enough to retrieve each golden apple. It took all three apples and all of his speed, but Hippomenes finally succeeded, winning the race and Atalanta’s hand.

Atalanta sailed with the Argonauts as the only female among them, suffered injury in the battle at Colchis and was healed by Medea.

Atalanta bore Meleager a son: Parthenopeus, who participated in the campaign of the Seven Against Thebes.

Zeus turned Atalanta and Hippomenes into lions after they made love together in one of his temples.

Atalanta 5e banner.jpg

Originally Posted by Mike Myler on the Enworld forums.

On this Thread Mythological Figures 

This is one of Ancient Greece’s righteous ladies—both because she was a devout follower of Artemis and because she was a badass. This woman survived in the wilds as a baby after her father (Iasus the King of Argos) angrily abandoned her for not being a boy, she was the first to bleed the Calydonian Boar, the only female to sail with the Argonauts, and resisted a suitor by beating them all in footraces until Hippomenes distracted her with three enchanted golden apples.

They have a son (Parthenopaios) but not long after are cursed by Zeus, transformed into lions for doing the dirty in one of his temples (note that the popular belief at the time was that lions could only mate with leopards, forever keeping them from having intercourse again).

Design Notes: This was a very straightforward character build—a talented archer and hunter raised in the wilds! I tried to keep her spell list on the more mundane side and I’m relatively sure that in future when I need a mysterious Aragorn-type character I’ll be turning to her. 

Medium humanoid (any), neutral ranger (hunter) 8

Armor Class 14
Hit Points 68 (8d10+16)
Speed 30 ft.

14 (+2)​18 (+4)​14 (+2)​12 (+1)​14 (+2)​10 (+0)​

Saving Throws Str +5, Dex +7
Skills Athletics +5, Nature +4, Perception +5, Stealth +7, Survival +5
Senses passive Perception 15
Languages Common
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)

Background: Wildborn. Atalanta never forgets the geographic arrangement of terrain, settlements, and areas of wilderness. In addition, she can forage fresh water and food each day for as many as 6 people as long as the environment nearby can support it.

Defensive Tactics: Multiattack Defense. When a creature hits Atalanta with an attack, she gains a +4 bonus to AC against all subsequent attacks made by that creature for the rest of the turn.

Favored Enemy. Atalanta has advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks to track beasts and monsters, as well as on Intelligence checks to recall information about them.

Feat: Superb Aim. Atalanta ignores half cover and three-quarters cover when making a ranged weapon attack, and she doesn’t have disadvantage when attacking at long range. When Atalanta makes her first ranged weapon attack in a turn, she can choose to take a -5 penalty to her ranged weapon attack rolls in exchange for a +10 bonus to ranged weapon damage.

Hunter’s Prey: Colossus Slayer (1d8, 1/Turn). When Atalanta hits a creature with a weapon attack, the creature takes an extra 1d8 damage if it’s below its hit point maximum.

Ranger Features. Atalanta has the Land’s Stride, Natural Explorer (forest or grassland), and Primeval Awareness ranger class features.

Spellcasting. Atalanta is an 8th-level spellcaster that uses Wisdom as her spellcasting ability (spell save DC 13; +5 to hit with spell attacks). She knows the following spells from the ranger’s spell list:

1st-level (4 slots): detect poison and disease, jump, longstrider

2nd-level (3 slots): darkvision, pass without trace
Extra Attack. Atalanta can attack twice, instead of once, whenever she takes the Attack action on her turn.
Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) slashing damage.
Longbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, range 150/600 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8+4) piercing damage.

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