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Meet the Iconics: Hayato

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Honor is strength. It is a maxim that Nakayama Hayato has known since birth, and one whose barbs he still feels deep in his flesh. Yet Hayato also knows a deeper truth: that just as a sword must bend to avoid breaking, so too must honor. And the more rigid the steel, the easier it shatters.

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Hayato was born a retainer on the estate of Lord Nakayama Hitoshi, just a few days' ride from the great city of Oda in Minkai. The son of the chief falconer and his wife, Hayato—whose name means "falcon"—quickly proved just as proficient with the dangerous birds as his father, emulating their proud and fierce natures.

It was while accompanying his father on one of Lord Nakayama's hawking outings that he first came to the lord's attention. At eight years old, Hayato was assigned the honor of being the personal attendant to the lord's son, Masao, assisting the privileged child with his falcon. All went well until the noble son, still new to the sport, mishandled his bird and nearly lost an eye for his trouble. The furious lordling prepared to kill the falcon then and there, but Hayato interceded, explaining the boy's error. Enraged even further, Masao began beating Hayato, drawing the attention of the rest of the hunting party. Though Hayato bowed low and accepted the savage blows of his master, he neither cried out nor begged for mercy. When Masao finally tired, Lord Nakayama himself addressed the bloody servant child, asking him why he had been so bold as to correct his superior. Without faltering, Hayato bowed to the lord and said simply, "Because it was the truth."

From that point on, Lord Nakayama took the young Hayato under his wing, frequently assigning him duties within the manor house, engaging him as a companion for his son, and seeing to his education in matters both martial and intellectual. In time, Hayato grew to become a powerful warrior, rising to the position of head samurai of the Nakayama holdings. When Masao died in a drunken duel at the age of twenty, thus depriving Lord Nakayama of an official heir, the bereaved lord began to look more and more to Hayato as a son, even allowing him to take the family name.

Yet Masao's death was only the beginning of the Nakayama family's misfortune. It was shortly after this episode that the Nakayama estate was visited by Kaneka Yoshiro, a traveling lord and government official with a position high in the Imperial Court. With considerably more prestige and official sway than Nakayama, Kaneka was received with full honors—yet it quickly became apparent that the guest was interested in more than just hospitality. Within a few days, Kaneka's cunning insults, lewd advances toward Nakayama's wife, and barely concealed challenges to Nakayama himself left Hayato's lord with no choice. Honor forbade him from allowing the slights to stand unanswered, yet challenging a governmental superior was as good as a death sentence.

In the end, honor won out, just as Kaneka knew it would. Nakayama challenged Kaneka to a duel, and was quickly slain by the talented swordsman. In recompense for the "insult" Kaneka had suffered, the Imperial Court allotted all the Nakayama holdings to Kaneka. Nakayama's widow, faced with the prospect of a dishonored existence among peasants, had no choice but to accept Kaneka's proposal of marriage if she wanted to retain her position.

Though the Nakayama samurai were bound by direct order of the court to honor their new arrangement—and plied with substantial gifts by their new master—Hayato saw the theft for what it was. Several nights later, having watched Kaneka's celebrating guards drink themselves into unconsciousness, Hayato crept into his former master's bedchamber and confronted the usurper even as he lay sleeping with his new wife. Though Kaneka screamed for his retainers, in the end it became clear that his only option was to fight. Taking up the sword that Hayato tossed onto the bed, Kaneka did everything he could to kill the samurai quickly, yet Hayato would not be denied his revenge. At last, bleeding from several terrible wounds, Hayato succeeded in getting past the noble's guard, ending his short-lived dominion over the Nakayama estate in a fine spray of blood.

As Kaneka fell to the floor, pink froth spilling from his lips, Hayato dropped his sword and knelt beside it. Knowing that to attack any lord in this manner—let alone the man the government considered his rightful master—would bring sure execution, he drew his tanto and prepared to die with his honor intact.

A hand on his shoulder stayed his blade. When Hayato looked up, he beheld Lady Nakayama—now Lady Kaneka—in her dressing gown, its yellow silk stained with the blood of her most recent husband. With tears in her eyes, she thanked Hayato for avenging Lord Nakayama and returning the estate to her control. Yet with her next breath, she condemned him forever. Taking his hand in her own—an undreamed-of show of affection and familiarity—the noblewoman forbade Hayato from taking his own life. Instead, she snuck him out of the manor and into a carriage bound for Oda, with only a string of coins, his armor, and a command to live as best he could. When the morning sun rose, it found Hayato on a caravan traveling north, bound for the icy reaches of the Crown of the World and from there on to the mysterious lands of the Inner Sea.

Now in his mid-thirties, Hayato is a hard man who keeps to himself. Though he has long since learned to speak Taldane, he remains terse by nature, feeling that everyone in his new home speaks too much but says too little. He operates as a fearless and talented mercenary—or ronin, as he terms it—for those whose cause seem righteous, yet refuses to bow to anyone regardless of status, saying only that he has had his fill of masters. Hayato is loyal to those few friends who can get past his stone-faced demeanor, yet remains secretly tortured by his conflicting senses of honor. To continue living as a masterless samurai—let alone one who has committed a great crime—is shameful, yet to deny Lady Nakayama's command would be equally shameful. With no clear answer, Hayato has temporarily shelved the problem. Yet deep in his heart, he harbors a secret hope: that perhaps one day he might raise an army of champions and take it back over the Crown of the World, rooting out the corrupt politicians of his homeland and restoring the honor of himself, his adopted family, and the samurai code he was born to uphold.

James Sutter
Fiction Editor

NOTE: Artist Wayne Reynolds and Paizo Publishing will be auctioning off the original art for Hayato, with all auction proceeds being donated to the Red Cross to help Japan recover from the earthquake and tsunami—check this blog tomorrow for details on how you can help!

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Community Hayato Iconics Meet the Iconics Paizo Samurai Wayne Reynolds
51 to 100 of 139 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Hobo wrote:
James Sutter wrote:
Yup, but this one had to be rushed out due to the upcoming auction. The others will be along in due time...
I hope that doesn't mean something like, "We'll do the next one six months from now." Iconic action has been sorely missed on the blog!

We'll do the next one when we have the time. It's not an easy thing to write these; it basically takes about a day for an author to come up with a name and a story for an iconic, and when we're trying to gear up for a huge pile of deadlines that are compounding due to PaizoCon and Gen Con, we simply don't have time to have one of the few folks at Paizo I trust to write an iconic's backstory take a day out of their schedule.

In this case, it was important to do so, since we want to get the painting auctioned off ASAP so we can get the money to the Red Cross to aid Japan ASAP. Seems like a pretty damn good reason to sacrifice a day of productivity from a super busy editor or developer to me.

Agreed. Everyone involved is awesome for taking some time and effort to help. I just received a second email from my good friend Yumi down in Shikoku, and the frustration and fear, now over the Fukushima nuclear problems more than the aftershocks, still comes through clearly. I see a lot of people reaching out to help, not just those with friends or family there, and it's truly heartwarming.

I was there during 9-11, and my teachers are students were very supportive. It's good to see we're willing to return the favor.

Andoran

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:

In theory, yes. But since you aren't interested in iconics, your post nullifies itself and turns into an incomprehensible series of squeaks and honks, which results in a net modification of +0.

Sounds about right... Squeak!!! Honk!!!

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Folks looking for non-Japanese names in Tian Xia need look no farther than Dave's forthcoming novel Master of Devils, which takes place in one of the Successor States.

Also, I find it amusing that our profanity filter is expressing its own views of the Fukushima situation.


Mikaze wrote:
Oh, and before anyone jumps on WAR about the "kanji" in Hayato's pic not making any sense...

In befor... oh, dang it! At least I'm finally ahead of Skeld after suffering that punishing -5 point hit. I'll take "Osirian Pharaohs" for 2, Nethys.

Cheliax

Eric Hinkle wrote:

I do like the description of Hayato; he sounds like the kind of character who'd appear in a Kurosawa film and be played by Toshiro Mifune.

And not to rain on anyone's parade, but can we see the write-ups for the iconic inquisitor, summoner, and witch sometime?

Agreed; I'd like to see what's already been published to be fleshed out a bit more before the writing team jumps to something else.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Kurt_the_Demon wrote:

Agreed; I'd like to see what's already been published to be fleshed out a bit more before the writing team jumps to something else.

Don't worry, we're not abandoning the Inner Sea region. There'll be a couple of products with strong Tian Xia ties in the coming year, but in general our focus will remain on the nations of the Inner Sea for the foreseeable future.

Which doesn't mean we won't still publish the occasional curveball setting product to keep everything fresh. :)


Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Cool fool.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
In this case, it was important to do so, since we want to get the painting auctioned off ASAP so we can get the money to the Red Cross to aid Japan ASAP. Seems like a pretty damn good reason to sacrifice a day of productivity from a super busy editor or developer to me.

Does this mean we will soon see the ninja iconic write-up to get its painting auctioned off, too?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ashanderai wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
In this case, it was important to do so, since we want to get the painting auctioned off ASAP so we can get the money to the Red Cross to aid Japan ASAP. Seems like a pretty damn good reason to sacrifice a day of productivity from a super busy editor or developer to me.
Does this mean we will soon see the ninja iconic write-up to get its painting auctioned off, too?

I doubt it. It was extremely generous of the artist to donate one piece of original art. Expecting to have two pieces donated is just taking the mick.

andrew


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
We'll do the next one when we have the time. It's not an easy thing to write these; it basically takes about a day for an author to come up with a name and a story for an iconic, and when we're trying to gear up for a huge pile of deadlines that are compounding due to PaizoCon and Gen Con, we simply don't have time to have one of the few folks at Paizo I trust to write an iconic's backstory take a day out of their schedule.

Could make for an interesting contest for the community, though.

I tend to get long-winded in my backstories, though. I had a Shugenja with a nine-page backstory once. Would probably need a word limit.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Ashanderai wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
In this case, it was important to do so, since we want to get the painting auctioned off ASAP so we can get the money to the Red Cross to aid Japan ASAP. Seems like a pretty damn good reason to sacrifice a day of productivity from a super busy editor or developer to me.
Does this mean we will soon see the ninja iconic write-up to get its painting auctioned off, too?

That's not my choice to make.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
We'll have fantasy equivalents of China, Cambodia, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and so on in Tian Xia... but we're not talking about Tian Xia here. We're talking about samurais.

I believe the plural form is simply samurai.

Places foot in the door for an editor position

Osirion

I think it's awesome that this is being auctioned off for the Red Cross for relief in Japan.

Yes, I'd rather see Feiya, but this is really cool of Paizo to do.

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
donato wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
We'll have fantasy equivalents of China, Cambodia, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and so on in Tian Xia... but we're not talking about Tian Xia here. We're talking about samurais.
I believe the plural form is simply samurai.

+ 1,209,589,309


niel wrote:

to go with the obvious

Mark Moreland wrote:

niel wrote:

Is that a carp on his banner pole?

Is that a serious question or are you being koi?

Something seemed fishy about that banner pole.

Does this make it a fishing pole?

Matthew Morris wrote:


Only other complaint is I wish the names had been more pseudo Chinese/Korean than pseudo Japanese.

It's a samurai. How many samurai did China and Korea have? Might as well call him Billy-Bob the Weird Sword Guy ;-P

He's a Tian-Min, and they have names like Hayato or Kaede. Other Tien ethnicities have different naming schemes.

Not all people from Tian Xia are the same, you know. It's racist to assume so! ;-p (But to be fair, they also only think "Avistani" and "Garundi" and tend to lump everyone from the Inner Sea Region into those two categories)

(The Inner Sea World Guide has short descriptions for the five major Tian ethnicities)


donato wrote:
I believe the plural form is simply samurai.

This also holds for somewhere around 99.99% of Japanese nouns.

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
Shinmizu wrote:
donato wrote:
I believe the plural form is simply samurai.
This also holds for somewhere around 99.99% of Japanese nouns.

samurai-tachi?

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Jess Door wrote:
donato wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
We'll have fantasy equivalents of China, Cambodia, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and so on in Tian Xia... but we're not talking about Tian Xia here. We're talking about samurais.
I believe the plural form is simply samurai.
+ 1,209,589,309

And the plural of ninja is ninji...

Seriously Jess, you had to know that was coming.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Otherwise my disappointment that an iconic from an unreleased book gets developed over existing, published iconics is rather large. (I mean, seriously, +7 day cracks aside it is an odd way to prioritize.)


Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

What's the reason of your rage, Wolfie? I got a new pretty picture, plus there were lots of words that was all new stuff.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Just to head off any more comments about this particular aspect--we understand that this "meet the iconics" is out of order. As we said, it's because we wanted to have a backstory for the character before we auctioned off the original art to support tsunami relief. Never fear, the others iconics will get their write-ups as soon as it's feasible. We want them as much as you do.

We understand that this messes with the completist/OCD/detail-oriented tendencies we all share... but you know who else is kind of messed up right now? Japan.

Let's keep some perspective, people!

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
Wolfthulhu wrote:
Jess Door wrote:
donato wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
We'll have fantasy equivalents of China, Cambodia, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and so on in Tian Xia... but we're not talking about Tian Xia here. We're talking about samurais.
I believe the plural form is simply samurai.
+ 1,209,589,309

And the plural of ninja is ninji...

Seriously Jess, you had to know that was coming.

Yes, yes I did.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Maps Subscriber
James Sutter wrote:
Let's keep some perspective, people!

But isn't this the internets? ;)

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
What's the reason of your rage, Wolfie? I got a new pretty picture, plus there were lots of words that was all new stuff.

Not rage. Frustrated curiosity, which has been satisfied somewhat. So, I'll move on and continue my mostly impatient wait for other iconics.


Wolfthulhu wrote:
Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
What's the reason of your rage, Wolfie? I got a new pretty picture, plus there were lots of words that was all new stuff.
Not rage. Frustrated curiosity, which has been satisfied somewhat. So, I'll move on and continue my mostly impatient wait for other iconics.

You must be THIS big to rage on these boards.

RAWR!


Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

*Poke-poke*

Very good. I like people who make my demands look reasonable. ;-)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
James Sutter wrote:

Just to head off any more comments about this particular aspect--we understand that this "meet the iconics" is out of order. As we said, it's because we wanted to have a backstory for the character before we auctioned off the original art to support tsunami relief. Never fear, the others iconics will get their write-ups as soon as it's feasible. We want them as much as you do.

We understand that this messes with the completist/OCD/detail-oriented tendencies we all share... but you know who else is kind of messed up right now? Japan.

Let's keep some perspective, people!

THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS

This is a good thing going here, guys. Let's not sour it. :)

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I am happy to see Paizo doing this; especially since I have relatives in Japan that the rest of my family only just recently learned was doing okay, but only just.

Shadow Lodge

Just to clarify, my posts were meant in jest. Although I would like to see Feiya. :)

I'll even take you through my thought process when I saw that there was a "Meet the Iconic" thread...

Oooh, cool, maybe it will be Feiya...
[scrolls down to fully see topic title]
Er...Hayato? WTF?
[click]
Hmmm...samurai...didn't see that coming...
[reads]
Pretty neat! But needs more Zettai Ryouiki...
[decides to needle James a bit]

EDIT: Speaking of which...Interesting Feats


Mikaze wrote:
James Sutter wrote:

Just to head off any more comments about this particular aspect--we understand that this "meet the iconics" is out of order. As we said, it's because we wanted to have a backstory for the character before we auctioned off the original art to support tsunami relief. Never fear, the others iconics will get their write-ups as soon as it's feasible. We want them as much as you do.

We understand that this messes with the completist/OCD/detail-oriented tendencies we all share... but you know who else is kind of messed up right now? Japan.

Let's keep some perspective, people!

THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS

This is a good thing going here, guys. Let's not sour it. :)

+ eleventy bajillion


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:


We'll do the next one when we have the time. It's not an easy thing to write these; it basically takes about a day for an author to come up with a name and a story for an iconic, and when we're trying to gear up for a huge pile of deadlines that are compounding due to PaizoCon and Gen Con, we simply don't have time to have one of the few folks at Paizo I trust to write an iconic's backstory take a day out of their schedule.

Maybe it's just me - but doesn't this sound like a fantastic opportunity to try a "Write an Iconic" competition? First prize is simply having the honor of having named and back-storied one of the iconics.

And of course all this would be done relatively informally - since we don't actually want to have Paizo staff spend more than a day's work on this.


Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

It's a great cause, to be sure. I hope it raises bundles. And if the winner wants the proceeds to go to Japan and the art to go to Mairkurion, well...that'll just be extra.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Thanks for understanding, folks! And no flames intended toward the posters who want to see the other iconics get detailed--trust me, the fact that we haven't written them yet weighs on our souls (and our to-do lists) like a stone albatross. (How's that for some mixed metaphors?)

The contest is a nice idea, but of course, judging a winner would take far more time than just writing the next one. I'll file it away with "Fiction Superstar," however, as something we'd love to do if we had a bit more time, and if the thought didn't make our heads explo-

Spoiler:

BOOM!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

James Sutter wrote:

heads explo-

** spoiler omitted **

Sigh. Where's the mop?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

LoreKeeper wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


We'll do the next one when we have the time. It's not an easy thing to write these; it basically takes about a day for an author to come up with a name and a story for an iconic, and when we're trying to gear up for a huge pile of deadlines that are compounding due to PaizoCon and Gen Con, we simply don't have time to have one of the few folks at Paizo I trust to write an iconic's backstory take a day out of their schedule.

Maybe it's just me - but doesn't this sound like a fantastic opportunity to try a "Write an Iconic" competition? First prize is simply having the honor of having named and back-storied one of the iconics.

And of course all this would be done relatively informally - since we don't actually want to have Paizo staff spend more than a day's work on this.

A contest would only compound the problems.

Having someone here that I already trust to do a great job writing a "Meet the Iconics" takes one person out of the work cycle for a day.

Having a huge contest would take multiple people out of the work cycle for multiple days.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Darn. There goes my plan to pre-emptively become a Paizo Superstar. Now I have to wait til RPG Superstar 2012.

Taldor

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
James Sutter wrote:


We understand that this messes with the completist/OCD/detail-oriented tendencies we all share... but you know who else is kind of messed up right now? Japan.

Let's keep some perspective, people!

+100


This story blows the other iconics away. A great read, thanks.


Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Now look what you people have done. Oh well, at least it wasn't Hyrum's head that exploded.

Spoiler:
The Blog must flow.

Paizo Employee Developer

Mairkurion {tm} wrote:

Now look what you people have done. Oh well, at least it wasn't Hyrum's head that exploded.

** spoiler omitted **

Nah, Hyrum's in my cube right now with head intact.

Sutter on the other hand...


Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Mark Moreland wrote:
Sutter on the other hand...

I'll leave Ross to that mess... and good luck to him.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

It's okay, I keep a spare in the car.


James Jacobs wrote:


We'll have fantasy equivalents of China, Cambodia, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and so on in Tian Xia... but we're not talking about Tian Xia here. We're talking about samurais.

You're now going to have a surge of OA-starved DMs and players swarming all over the Tian Xia material, I'm sure of it. Not to mention the Pathfinder/D&D hybrid crowd that plays in the Forgotten Realms looking to adapt Tian Xia material over to their Kara-Tur campaigns *sheepishly raises hand*

If that happens, prepare to be the new target of OA-starved gamers who will look to you for guidance of their severely-lacking OA games :D


I loved the story. I could see this guy judy choppin his way across the Inner Sea. Hayato sounds like he would make a really good NPC, or even better as a party member in a new Pathfinder novel. Out of curiosity, any chance we can see some sample stats anywhere, or possibly showing up as a stat block in the book?

Andoran

I am very impressed with Hamato as a character, and he is someone I would love to have some of my characters interact with and to have my players interact with as well. He has a great story and I think some characters could see themselves as wanting to help him to seek justice for his homeland.

More importantly, I am impressed with Wayne and Paizo. Japan needs the help of the world community, and I am glad that Wayne and Paizo are doing their part.


A huge +1 to Wayne and Paizo for using this auction to aid Japan.

Kthulhu wrote:

Pretty neat! But needs more Zettai Ryouiki...

[decides to needle James a bit]

EDIT: Speaking of which...Interesting Feats

Another proponent of the golden ratio appears? :P


WE NEED STATS!!

Love the backstory though (wished he could have been order of the warrior though, ronin kinda suffers in terms of badassness)

He sounds more sword-guy than horse guy. GTR WPN Focus I presume?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
Ardenup wrote:

WE NEED STATS!!

Love the backstory though (wished he could have been order of the warrior though, ronin kinda suffers in terms of badassness)

He sounds more sword-guy than horse guy. GTR WPN Focus I presume?

How about a final version of the class first? ;)


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Cool stuff all the way around.


Gorbacz wrote:
Ardenup wrote:

WE NEED STATS!!

Love the backstory though (wished he could have been order of the warrior though, ronin kinda suffers in terms of badassness)

He sounds more sword-guy than horse guy. GTR WPN Focus I presume?

How about a final version of the class first? ;)

I'm hoping that since there was no second round for Samurai that it's pretty unchanged. They may be able to post stats without to many spoilers (I really hope they keep the ability to take fighter wpn feats)

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