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Meet the Iconics: Reiko

August 4, 2011

Reiko is the iconic character for the ninja class from Ultimate Combat. To read the story for Hayato, the iconic samurai, or Lirianne, the iconic gunslinger—both classes also featured in Ultimate Combat—click here and here.

Situated on the western coast of Minkai, Reiko’s home town of White Wave was a quiet fishing village, little more than a collection of shacks and cabins clinging to a steep cliff face overlooking the harbor. Crushed under oppressive humidity in the summer, the air thick with clouds of stinging flies and gnats, and subject to dangerous storms in the winter, White Wave had little to offer any lord, and thus little was demanded of it.


Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

All that changed when Reiko was twelve. Due to bureaucratic disputes and shifting borders between noble fiefdoms, White Wave fell under the control of a new lord—Entobe Hisashi—and this one had grand plans for the holding. The sea cliffs would be the perfect place for a new shrine, a series of shining towers that would please the gods and bring favor upon the Entobe family for generations. An ambitious project, it would take many hands to complete. And Lord Entobe knew precisely where to find them.

When Reiko thinks of her childhood, she no longer remembers searching through tide pools, or climbing high up the dangerous cliff walls to the sounds of her mother’s laughter and her father’s anxious scolding. Instead, she remembers the smell and taste of rock dust in her mouth, her fingernails smashed and bleeding from hauling rocks. She remembers the long hours of toil in the cruelly hot sun, carrying water for the townsfolk forced to cut stone in the quarry, their fishing dories left to rot in the harbor. Yet most of all, she remembers the faces of her parents growing steadily leaner as they made her take their rations of rice and soup.

For many months, the people toiled. Lord Entobe’s enforcers brooked no laziness—as they deemed it when the old or young keeled over from exhaustion—and punishments were severe. The village’s tiny graveyard filled quickly, and soon bodies began to wash up on the shore as townsfolk too exhausted to dig graves cast their deceased loved ones into the sea.

And then, seemingly overnight, the gods turned against the project. Shortly after dusk one night, three of the five tower foundations collapsed, killing one of the crueler taskmasters. Though it meant months more work, the people secretly took joy in the irony, and that joy sustained them as they began to clear away rubble and rebuild. Yet strange things kept happening to the necessary supplies. Tools were broken. Timbers rotted. Stone turned brittle, and rope frayed and snapped. Guards died in mysterious ways, always seemingly accidental. The fury and fear of the overseers and the architects was a wonder to behold, and the common folk secretly toasted whatever kami were responsible.

Only one house did not share in the amusement. Though they said nothing to her, Reiko could tell that her parents were tense, and the arguments that came through her walls after they thought she was asleep ran late into the night. And then one painfully hot summer evening, unable to sleep despite her exhaustion, Reiko left her room and found a black-clad figure crawling through a second-story window.

Before Reiko could scream, the figure was at her side, hand covering her mouth. And then the tight-fitting black cowl was removed, and Reiko was looking into the solemn eyes of her mother.

After that night, many things changed. Reiko learned that her mother was no shepherd girl from the inland fields, as she had always been told, but had instead grown up in the mountains as part of a clan of ninja, a deadly but honorable band of assassins and spies with a history going back hundreds of years. On the run after an ill-fated ambush, she hid out in the tiny village and fell in love with a simple fisherman—Reiko’s father. Despite her husband’s concern and disapproval, Reiko’s mother began to teach their daughter some of the secrets of the clan. Though she flatly refused to take Reiko on any of the solitary raids with which she plagued Entobe’s people, the two spent many hours together in the darkness, climbing the cliffs of White Wave, practicing with the swords her mother kept hidden in their rafters, and moving silently across rooftops and ship rigging. Reiko proved a capable student, and at last there was something to look forward to after days of backbreaking labor.

And then Reiko’s mother went too far. Caught in the act of sabotaging a stone-hauling cart, she killed several of the overseers before escaping back to their home. Immediately she hid her gear in the midden and put an end to her and Reiko’s midnight activities. But it was too late.

Furious, Lord Entobe himself came to the site, arriving in a grand procession of warriors, spellcasters—and investigators. The afternoon after his arrival, he halted construction and ordered the townsfolk to assemble. Reiko and her mother—both assigned to the task of serving tea to the guards for the day—stood at the back of the crowd, watching Entobe take the makeshift stage that had been erected in his honor.

Addressing the crowd, Entobe announced that the person behind the attacks had been discovered, and that the treachery in their midst would be ending. Then he held up a familiar object—the black mask belonging to Reiko’s mother, still damp and stained from the trash heap.

That was when the guards parted ranks to reveal Reiko’s father, bound at wrists and ankles. There was no mistaking the gash across his throat, nor the red stain trailing down his shirt.

Reiko shrieked and rushed forward, but her mother caught her shoulder and spun her around. Their eyes met.

“Run, little spider,” her mother said. Then a hidden blade dropped from her sleeve into her hand, and she leapt for the mob of guards on the stage.

Reiko ran. Using all the skills her mother had taught her, she slipped out of the village and away down the cliffs, evading Entobe’s guards and dogs. For days she ran along the sea’s edge, keeping to the stones at low tide to leave no prints or scent trails, until she was sure that she was far from Entobe’s holdings. Then she turned east, into the mountains, in search of her mother’s clan.

In the end, she found them—yet not in the way she expected. For Entobe had also uncovered her mother’s clan allegiance, and in a fit of pique had hired them to hunt down any remaining members of her family. One again, Reiko found herself on the run. And this time she didn’t stop until she was far, far to the west, on the shores of a strange land called Avistan.

Today, Reiko is a grown woman. Cool and aloof, quick with a cutting remark or withering glare, she’s nevertheless managed to get along for nearly ten years in a land where Minkai itself is a legend, and ninja are little more than exotic fairy tales. Though she’s studied with the most capable thieves and assassins in the region, Reiko has yet to find the carefully codified engagements of honor and subtlety that her mother spoke of, and grows tired of Avistan’s seemingly endless collection of brute highwaymen and lowbrow killers. Still, the lack of corrupt lords like Entobe in places like Andoran—her new nation of choice—is a small comfort, and she’s heard whispers that a secret branch of the Eagle Knights may be exactly what she’s looking for. Regardless of whether such rumors pan out, and despite a decade on foreign soil, Reiko still views her time around the Inner Sea as a training exercise. Someday soon, she’ll retrace her steps back to Minkai. And when she does, both the Entobe family and her mother’s traitorous clan will finally learn the magnitude of their mistake.

Liz Courts
Webstore Specialist

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Iconics Meet the Iconics Ninja Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Reiko Wayne Reynolds

Fantastic story/portrait, Liz!
A pleasure to read!

Andoran

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Looks like my 2008-present PFS rogue has been ninja'd :-)

-Reiko Cassomiri

Andoran

Sweet back story. I had her pegged as going to be NE, but living in Andoran, a ninja in Andoran! Awesome! so what do we say, NG maybe?


Mike Silva wrote:
Sweet back story. I had her pegged as going to be NE, but living in Andoran, a ninja in Andoran! Awesome! so what do we say, NG maybe?

I'd say CN, actually, judging by her obsession with revenge against those who attacked her mother.

Silver Crusade

...secret branch of the Eagle Knights...

This is the Twilight Talons the ISWG speaks of, correct?


Liz Courts wrote:


Webstore Specialist

New title?

Or have I not been paying attention again?


Kilbourne wrote:
Mike Silva wrote:
Sweet back story. I had her pegged as going to be NE, but living in Andoran, a ninja in Andoran! Awesome! so what do we say, NG maybe?
I'd say CN, actually, judging by her obsession with revenge against those who attacked her mother.

I think she's more LN, due to this:

"...Reiko has yet to find the carefully codified engagements of honor and subtlety that her mother spoke of..."

Emphasis added. Eye for an eye was justice in many societies, after all. And lawfulness doesn't necessarily mean abiding by the law. It can be abiding by a personal code.

Anyways, not trying to turn this into an alignment discussion. Good story, Liz!


I fricking liked it it pushed me to do a ninja for serpents skull ap


Not enough weapons.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Dire Care Bear Manager

Holy moly liz this is great! Shivers going down my spine as I read it! Good Job!!!

Andoran

Cartigan wrote:
Not enough weapons.

I suspect the subtle strains of sarcasm ...

Andoran

Fantastic story!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

But when are we getting a Gninja archetype with illustration and full backstory?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

[drums fingers]

Some of us are still waiting on bios for previously released iconics, like Balazar the Summoner, Feiya the Witch and Imrijka the Inquisitor, y'know...

;)

[drums fingers some more]

Cheers, JohnH / Wanda

Andoran

The ninja is a chick? But where is her cleavage?

Lantern Lodge

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Gailbraithe wrote:
The ninja is a chick? But where is her cleavage?

I don't recommend looking for it. With that ninja hidden weapon ability, her cleavage could cleave you. ;)


Good stuff, Liz! Did a nice job blending the asian fiction (of which I'm a fan) with a classic western fantasy touch. :)


I`m assuming she is Human... Is there any plans for Iconics of the new-to-Tian Races?
Or for any Iconics from parts of Tian that aren`t the Japan-analogue Minka?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber
Quandary wrote:

I`m assuming she is Human... Is there any plans for Iconics of the new-to-Tian Races?

Or for any Iconics from parts of Tian that aren`t the Japan-analogue Minka?

Only if Paizo creates new base or alternate classes, or replaces some of the old iconics. I kinda doubt either happening anytime soon.

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber
Gailbraithe wrote:
The ninja is a chick? But where is her cleavage?

You've misunderstood.

WAR does them properly, then some hack comes along and gives them titanic t&@&.

That's how it goes. Sadly.

Shadow Lodge

Wow now she is great, I play a rogue that will become a ninja, so I am looking forward to the new Ultimate Combat book. What I've seen from the Pathfinder Minis I will buy some JUST KEEP THE FROM LOOKING TOO CARTOON-ISH! As always if theirs a "Path" then I will "Find-er" Play on and play hard!!


Hello Reiko. Welcome to the family...

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

I love her. I want her to have my half pirate babies.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

The stabbity geisha girls local #507 wholehearted approve this informative tale of ninja awesomeness. Gratz Liz

For great justice!!!
*smoke-bomb!*

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Whoa. Well done, Liz. Very cool.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Reading this makes me think that Reiko's story would make an awesome Pathfinder Tales novel...

Now that I think about it, it would be awesome to see any of the iconics get their own novel!


eagle claw wrote:
Wow now she is great, I play a rogue that will become a ninja, so I am looking forward to the new Ultimate Combat book. What I've seen from the Pathfinder Minis I will buy some JUST KEEP THE FROM LOOKING TOO CARTOON-ISH! As always if theirs a "Path" then I will "Find-er" Play on and play hard!!

Bad news for you on this idea. By the rules, alternate classes cannot multiclass with the base class they are created from. So without home brewing it and having GM approval, a ninja cannot also be a rogue and a samurai cannot also be a cavalier.


Wanda V'orcus wrote:

[drums fingers]

Some of us are still waiting on bios for previously released iconics, like Balazar the Summoner, Feiya the Witch and Imrijka the Inquisitor, y'know...

;)

[drums fingers some more]

Cheers, JohnH / Wanda

As a sister ninja, I find myself in agreement. While I'm pleased at finding another to work with, we *are* supposed to be hidden.

Hm. Maybe if we locate and reveal info on those others we can slip back into the shadows...


She doesn't necessarily strike me as good, but she got her start trying to be at least somewhat altruistic. I'm going to guess that she's either LN or true-N.

Still keeping my fingers crossed for Imrijka to be next.


Kilbourne wrote:
Mike Silva wrote:
Sweet back story. I had her pegged as going to be NE, but living in Andoran, a ninja in Andoran! Awesome! so what do we say, NG maybe?
I'd say CN, actually, judging by her obsession with revenge against those who attacked her mother.

How is that CN? That's a standard background for about every alignment.

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber
magnuskn wrote:
Kilbourne wrote:
Mike Silva wrote:
Sweet back story. I had her pegged as going to be NE, but living in Andoran, a ninja in Andoran! Awesome! so what do we say, NG maybe?
I'd say CN, actually, judging by her obsession with revenge against those who attacked her mother.
How is that CN? That's a standard background for about every alignment.

It's all point of view: 'obsession with revenge' could as easily be 'thirst for justice' against those who slew her family and destroyed her community. Those are some serious bad-guys she's dealing with.


Note that the story says she "has yet to find the carefully codified engagements of honor and subtlety." I am 99.9% sure that is supposed to mean that she hasn't figured them out and therefore doesn't follow them. Not Lawful. I am going to say True Neutral on this one. Lawful in her single-mindedness of purpose and when it suits her otherwise, Evil if necessary, but well-meaning and probably wouldn't hurt innocents (Good), and willing to forsake laws and perform underhanded deeds to achieve a goal.

That screams balance to me, just not in the sense of actively pursuing balance.

I LOVED this backstory. Easily my favorite thus far, and ninja isn't even my favorite class. I'd really love to see the witch now; flavor-wise it's my favorite. (Wow, and two iconic stories in less than a month?! I thought these were of some moderate difficulty to churn out, hence why we haven't gotten all of them. ;D No pressure, just sayin'.)


Foghammer wrote:
Note that the story says she "has yet to find the carefully codified engagements of honor and subtlety." I am 99.9% sure that is supposed to mean that she hasn't figured them out and therefore doesn't follow them.

/me rolls 3d10... 10,10,10 = 1/1000

If you look closely, that description is actually referring to Reiko's time studying with Avistan's 'greatest rogues': her mother's tales of ninja skills and altruism set her up for disappointment when she encountered their Avistani counterparts, who are (in her eyes) mostly amoral, clumsy brutes. It would seem that she went looking for folk heroes and met a lot of hoods... none them named Robin. :(


was I the only one who didn't notice that the ninja was female?
Perhaps I was used to the more oracle-y depiction. Anyhow, I prefer this, even tough I wonder if she hides her face even in public.
Nice background.


Great picture.

Everything that is wrong with the theme park version of ninjas can be found in this picture.


I hope you get your justice Reiko. The Company of the Silvershield would gladly aid you...but alas...they're currently in the Mendev aiding the crusaders against the demons of the Worldwound.

Andoran

Richard Leonhart wrote:
was I the only one who didn't notice that the ninja was female?

I had no idea until I read her bio. I was thrown off by the lack of gratuitous cleavage. Besides, everyone knows that the female ninja is the sluttiest mammal known to man (seriously). You don't expect them to dress modestly.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Andoren Ninja?

AWESOME. :D

Looks like we're back to tragic backstories after the brief break with the gunslinger, but this was a good solid one, and it even has a nice tie-in with the peasant roots of ninja. Good stuff. :)

And again, awesome to have a full-clad ninja. No Mai Shiranuis or Narutos here.

Also, hot damn the nobility in Minkai are asses. Barring Hayato's old master perhaps, but then he's dead...

(also also, having a hard time seeing how anyone could seriously be confused about Reiko's gender)

Arevashti wrote:
Still keeping my fingers crossed for Imrijka to be next.

Same. NG half-orc servant of the death-birth goddess background plz!

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Gailbraithe wrote:
The ninja is a chick? But where is her cleavage?

Pffth. Cleave is a horrible feat for ninja

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Enevhar Aldarion wrote:
eagle claw wrote:
Wow now she is great, I play a rogue that will become a ninja, so I am looking forward to the new Ultimate Combat book. What I've seen from the Pathfinder Minis I will buy some JUST KEEP THE FROM LOOKING TOO CARTOON-ISH! As always if theirs a "Path" then I will "Find-er" Play on and play hard!!
Bad news for you on this idea. By the rules, alternate classes cannot multiclass with the base class they are created from. So without home brewing it and having GM approval, a ninja cannot also be a rogue and a samurai cannot also be a cavalier.

It's not all bad news. She can however take ninja tricks as rogue talents and even use a feat to get something of a ki pool. Add dressed to kill Ninja outfit and you're good to go.

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