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Meet the Iconics: Zadim

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Today we introduce the next of the new iconic characters from the Advanced Class Guide: Zadim the slayer. Zadim will also be a playable character in the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Wrath of the Righteous set due for release in February 2015.


Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Open hostilities between the kingdoms of Taldor and Qadira ceased more than 200 years ago, but subtle squabbles and sub-rosa schemes continue to the present. Often these intrigues take the form of economic influence or political stratagems, but occasionally, when the stakes are high enough, they extend to outright atrocities. Triggering these strikes (or answering them in kind) without sparking an open war requires an agent with particular expertise. An agent like Zadim.

Zadim, the so-called "Shadow of Sarenrae," travels the lands of the Inner Sea as an associate of Sarenrae's church, providing deadly solutions to problems the religion cannot resolve through diplomacy and forgiveness. The world of Golarion teems with misguided folk who can be turned from darkness, but it also contains multitudes who are beyond redemption, who revel in evil, wickedness, and selfishness. Zadim is one answer to their depravities, and his response comes with an unmistakable air of finality. Zadim was born into Qadira's influential Cult of the Dawnflower, a militant sect devoted to rooting out evil and spreading Sarenrae's light throughout foreign lands cloaked in the darkness of ignorance. His early studies at the great temple in Katheer distinguished Zadim as a dedicated servant of the cult. True, Zadim lacked the divine connection to the goddess that granted many of his fellow cultists command over fabulous magic powers, but his acumen in other affairs soon gained the attention of the cult's inner circle. Zadim excelled in battle training, easily besting his young peers in combat. He also proved himself an expert in observation and understanding, often taking advantage of personality quirks and tells among his fellows that they weren't even aware they had. The cult's leaders knew exactly what they had in Zadim—a weapon to strike killing blows against their enemies.

Zadim's masters began tempering their stories of Sarenrae's mercy and redemption with encouragement to bring justice to the irredeemable. They revealed the scope of their designs not just on familiar foes like the creaking "empire" of Taldor to the north, but also on places like Osirion, Katapesh, and Absalom. Zadim was trained to stand in the shadowy vanguard of their efforts throughout the Inner Sea region, clearing away enemies with blade and garrote long before the more visible elements of the Dawnflower Cult made their presence known.

As the depth of the cult's plan became clear to him, Zadim began to realize that his masters were just as interested in spreading the political influence of Qadira—and its distant puppetmasters in the Padishah Empire of Kelesh far to the east—as they were in spreading the doctrine of the Everlight, but the revelation came too late to inspire a change in Zadim's direction. He had trained for years to become a killer, and kill he must, in the name of Qadira, Kelesh, or the cult. Sarenrae had blessed him with unique talents, and he intended to put them to use in the field.

Zadim's first assignment outside Qadira was meant to be easy, a clear-cut case of a true villain deserving of the cult's final justice. The noble Sir Gordreth Chrysolian—Gordreth the Butcher—had been an administrator in the Taldan caravan city of Yanmass when he publicly executed twenty clerics of Sarenrae about 30 years ago, during a particularly vicious Taldan pogrom against the Cult of the Dawnflower. Shortly thereafter, the Butcher vanished, escaping divine retribution for his unholy crimes. Recently, though, agents of the cult spotted the aging aristocrat in Yanmass, and Zadim was dispatched to put him to the blade.

Upon arriving at the caravan city, Zadim learned from his informants that the Butcher had sought asylum at the manor house of a respected paladin of Abadar named Jevantus, who had gained widespread acclaim in the city after using his god-given abilities to cure hundreds of children infected with the deadly dvezda plague. Further investigation revealed that the paladin Jevantus and Gordreth the Butcher were one and the same man. The decades in hiding must have taught the vile Taldan noble something of chivalry and honor, for Abadar himself blessed the one-time villain with miraculous powers of healing.

A chance encounter with a fellow servant of Sarenrae, an earnest young cleric named Kyra, triggered a crisis of faith in Zadim, and the killer revealed his role in the plot to the young woman. Kyra, who subscribed to a far less militant doctrine than that preached by the Dawnflower Cult, rejected Zadim's bloody tactics, reminding him that Sarenrae herself valued goodness, redemption, and healing over murderous tactics, no matter the quarry. If Gordreth the Butcher had truly been redeemed, killing him for past deeds meant directly violating the most holy values of Sarenrae, erasing the man's redemption in an act of bloody murder.

Such an affront, she assured, would be enough for Sarenrae to withdraw her favor from a dedicated follower, stripping away the divine bond so important to the servant's faith and work. But Zadim was not a cleric, and had no spells to lose. His duty was not just to Sarenrae, but to his masters in the Cult of the Dawnflower, and to Qadira, and to the Padishah Empire of Kelesh. If they decreed that Gordreth the Butcher must die, who was Zadim to deny their wisdom? He assured Kyra that he would not strike against the paladin, but to himself he resolved that he could not make the decision of whether his target would live or die until he could look him in the eye and judge the quality of his character for himself.

That evening, Zadim crept into the private gardens of Jevantus, kukris in hand, his pounding heart nearly giving him away with its thundering. At the center of the garden he discovered the old paladin praying to Abadar before a beautiful fountain. Statues of children rescued from the ravages of disease peered over the paladin's shoulder as Zadim stepped silently toward his prey. As he approached, the paladin turned toward Zadim, a strange expression of calm and acceptance marked upon his visage. It was as if he had expected such a visitor for many years, and knew that final judgment had finally arrived.

As he looked into the eyes of his quarry at last, fists clenched around the hilts of his hungry blades, Zadim made his choice.

Erik Mona
Publisher

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Tags: Iconics Meet the Iconics Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Slayer Wayne Reynolds
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9 people marked this as a favorite.

Oooh! That was SO good!

I wonder what he chose; I'm optimistic and hoping he chose to spare the paladin.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Sweet back story, love the picture to


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Maybe his alignment would provide clues to the answer.

edit: Wait, if he's out adventuring instead of working for the kelesh government, does that mean he actually spared the paladin's life and ran away?


zergtitan wrote:
Maybe his alignment would provide clues to the answer.

I'd think so... Neutral Good would have listened to Kyra's wisdom, True Neutral may have stayed loyal to the cult.

It's a very good story with either choice, though. I really want to know more, this is a great character.


zergtitan wrote:
edit: Wait, if he's out adventuring instead of working for the kelesh government, does that mean he actually spared the paladin's life and ran away?

Or the adventuring is part of some larger mission for the Padishah Empire of Kelesh.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You don't know that he's neutral good. Given the flavor of Golarion, my bet is that he did indeed kill the Paladin and possibly regretted it later. Standard trope of the iconics is that all of them have a skeleton in their closet or three.


8 people marked this as a favorite.

That's a bad ass backstory and DAMN YOU FOR THE CLIFFY!!!


LazarX wrote:
You don't know that he's neutral good. Given the flavor of Golarion, my bet is that he did indeed kill the Paladin and possibly regretted it later.

I'm assuming that as a mundane cleric of sorts he'd be within one step of Sarenrae. Lawful Good and Chaotic Good both seem implausible with the rest of his backstory, so that leaves Neutral Good and Neutral.


Arachnofiend wrote:
LazarX wrote:
You don't know that he's neutral good. Given the flavor of Golarion, my bet is that he did indeed kill the Paladin and possibly regretted it later.
I'm assuming that as a mundane cleric of sorts he'd be within one step of Sarenrae. Lawful Good and Chaotic Good both seem implausible with the rest of his backstory, so that leaves Neutral Good and Neutral.

Really? The character seems quite lawful to me. His duty is to the church and he finds it hard to abandon orders even when its against his gods teachings. That's hella lawful. Dunno if I'd put him at lawful good, nuetral good or lawful nuetral though.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

13 people marked this as a favorite.

It would be a spoiler to reveal his alignment. ;)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

cool, I guess


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Dudes got Windwaker feet.


Erik Mona wrote:
It would be a spoiler to reveal his alignment. ;)

And when will we see that?


Lo and behold, the Cult of the Dawnflower's instrument of their own destruction.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Voltron64 wrote:
Lo and behold, the Cult of the Dawnflower's instrument of their own destruction.

Sounds like an adventure!


35 people marked this as a favorite.

Alignment is irrelevant, all come before me in the end!


Ryuko wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
LazarX wrote:
You don't know that he's neutral good. Given the flavor of Golarion, my bet is that he did indeed kill the Paladin and possibly regretted it later.
I'm assuming that as a mundane cleric of sorts he'd be within one step of Sarenrae. Lawful Good and Chaotic Good both seem implausible with the rest of his backstory, so that leaves Neutral Good and Neutral.
Really? The character seems quite lawful to me. His duty is to the church and he finds it hard to abandon orders even when its against his gods teachings. That's hella lawful. Dunno if I'd put him at lawful good, nuetral good or lawful nuetral though.

I can definitely see the argument for Lawful Neutral, and if I wasn't trying to keep him one step within Sarenrae I would be saying the same. I don't think a Lawful Good character would have accepted the cult's ruling and would have appealed to a higher power (IE Sarenrae herself).

...By Arshea's ambiguous bosom I'm getting into an alignment argument again

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

12 people marked this as a favorite.

JK, he's neutral.


Awesome!


Yes, but is the Paladin dead? you know this will come up in Q&A sessions forever!


VERY nicely done....I've enjoyed most of the character stories....but I think this is one of the best. Really nice art as well.

Grand Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:
JK, he's neutral.

So he could go either way.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wonderful backstory, and it was neat to include Kyra. Love me some Kelesh characters!

Also, love the golden/bronze mask under his chin.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

13 people marked this as a favorite.

Is the paladin dead? You'll have to ask Zadim.

If you can find him!

Grand Lodge

9 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

One of my favorite Babylon Five stories was "Passing through Gethesemene", a driving tale about the limits of forgiveness, especially with the way it ended.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ryuko wrote:
Really? The character seems quite lawful to me. His duty is to the church and he finds it hard to abandon orders even when its against his gods teachings. That's hella lawful. Dunno if I'd put him at lawful good, nuetral good or lawful nuetral though.

If he was Good, he would have heeded Kyra's advice and spared the paladin in the face of undeniable proof of his reform regardless of whether he was Lawful Good or Neutral Good. If he took the paladin's life anyway, that would be Lawful Neutral.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In a world where someone can remain a Paladin after butchering two dozen clerics of Sarenrae, all bets and assumptions are off.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Erik Mona wrote:

Is the paladin dead? You'll have to ask Zadim.

If you can find him!

I think he was last seen sneaking around Mark Seifter's office.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

*Slow clap*

Dark Archive

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
LazarX wrote:
In a world where someone can remain a Paladin after butchering two dozen clerics of Sarenrae, all bets and assumptions are off.

I'm thinking he became a paladin afterward, or atoned.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

When we see another Qadira AP, I hope Zadim, Kyra, Alain and Seelah are all in the party.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
LazarX wrote:
In a world where someone can remain a Paladin after butchering two dozen clerics of Sarenrae, all bets and assumptions are off.

Are you referring to the Paladin in this story? He wasn't a Paladin before he executed those clerics, he reformed while he was in hiding and became a healer as penance.


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
When we see another Qadira AP, I hope Zadim, Kyra, Alain and Seelah are all in the party.

There hasn't been one to Qadria yet(you may be thinking of Katapesh in Legacy of Fire.


I think Zadim is my favorite bit of art by Wayne Reynolds. Other than his obsession with weird feat, Zadim's art is just really, really good. I'd love to have him as a mini.


LasarX, it doesn't say he was a paladin 20 years ago. I think he found religion afterward and became a pally.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Alexander Augunas wrote:
Ryuko wrote:
Really? The character seems quite lawful to me. His duty is to the church and he finds it hard to abandon orders even when its against his gods teachings. That's hella lawful. Dunno if I'd put him at lawful good, nuetral good or lawful nuetral though.
If he was Good, he would have heeded Kyra's advice and spared the paladin in the face of undeniable proof of his reform regardless of whether he was Lawful Good or Neutral Good. If he took the paladin's life anyway, that would be Lawful Neutral.

Or Chaotic Fanatic. :) If he did kill the Paladin, which in my mind is a yes, what it would say is where his priorities are. He's a Slayer. He's got no powers for a god to take away despite his personal beliefs in the matter. And a true fanatic can rationalize any decision. It's already clear that one, he did not feel bound in the least by any promise he may have made to Kyra. And he has at least two real world masters to answer to besides a distant goddess whose not likely to take much notice given that the Paladin was not of her faith.

I don't think his alignment would determine or be determined by this act. After all, what's one broken promise to a cleric whose at best, is likely a heretic in his eyes?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

The artwork reminds me a bit of the Hassassins in the Prince of Persia movie. I always wanted a character like that! :-)


If he were still bound by the other two masters he had, he wouldn't have gone off and become and adventurer. I suspect the Paladin is still alive.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Nice officially my favorite Iconic. Of all time!


22 people marked this as a favorite.
Quote:
What can change the nature of a man?
Spoiler:
And the Good Incarnation answered
Quote:
"Regret."

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Assassin with a heart of gold steel.


finally someone uses kukris
i am guessing because they are the closest thing to a scimitar that can be used in two-weapons fighting and are close to Sarenrae's favored weapon?


Not bad.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tels wrote:
If he were still bound by the other two masters he had, he wouldn't have gone off and become and adventurer. I suspect the Paladin is still alive.

Kyra is still the same cleric she was as an adventurer. Zadim might very well be obliged to support himself by taking odd jobs while waiting for mission assignments. As cult assassin, it's probably best that he keeps on the move anyway.

And again, all the best iconics have a dark deed in their past.... even the Paladin.


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

He most likely LN. Following the word of his masters, and then became N upon sparing the Paladin if he did spare him.

Or the 'Paladin' could be a hoax and Zadim saw through his charade and killed him.

Somehow though I dont think he works for any other people anymore.

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I can see this will be as debated a secret as whatever happened to Aroden.


8 people marked this as a favorite.

He could just say The Butcher was dead, and he'd technically be telling the truth.


19 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think we have Schrodinger's Paladin here -- the question cannot be resolved until some official source shows the paladin as alive or dead.


Tels wrote:
If he were still bound by the other two masters he had, he wouldn't have gone off and become and adventurer. I suspect the Paladin is still alive.

unless his adventures are missions from the cult like for example killing an old man in a distant land

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