About Astar Dijkstra
Hit Points: 52 (8d10+1d6) Current: 52
AC 20 (10 +4 Armor +3 Dex +2 Enhancement +1 Deflection)
Fortitude +8 (+6 Base, +0 Con, +2 Res)
Ranged Heavy Crossbow +11/+6 (1d10; 19-20/x2)
KTE: +2 attack/damage
Hero Points: 7
Scribe Scroll (Bonus) - Make scrolls
Favoured class: Fighter (8 skill ranks)
5 Bonus feats
Bravery +1 - Bonus to Will saves vs Fear
Weapon Training 1, Heavy Blades - +1 to attack, damage, CMB when wielding scimitars
Scholastic - +2 int skill ranks a level.
Maneuver Mastery - +4 to CMB and CMD.
Know thy Enemy - Study an enemy as standard action, make knowledge check, get +2 bonus to attack and damage.
Arcane Bond - Bonded item (Ring of Sustenance)
School: Divination (Foresight)
Spell Mastery (5): True Strike, Comprehend Languages, Cultural Adaptation, Polypurpose Panacea, Endure Elements
(82 points + 16 Int skill only)
Appraise +9 (1 rank, +3 class, +5 Int)
+1 Adamantine Scimitar (5,015 gp, 4lb)
+2 Mithral Chain Armor (5,100 gp, 10lb)
+2 Cloak of Resistance (4,000 gp, 1lb)
+1 Ring of Protection (2,000 gp, 0lb)
Ring of Sustenance (2,500 gp + 200 gp for bonding)
Spellcasting component pouch (5 gp, 2lb)
Horse, Light (war-trained) (110gp)
WEIGHT: 22 lbs overall, with 48 lbs in the haversack.
A two year old feature article from The Stormfare Observer:
People of Potence: Guide to Stormfare's Citizenry of Note
Astar Dijkstra is a fellow that few have heard of, though like one of the dozens of specialty hammers or metal bits a leatherworker takes trade in, to the circles of those 'in the know', he is a favored figure. Having requested this interview quite some time ago, as the moment of 'first contact' drew nearer, I found myself growing tense. Here was a man who had accumulated many accolades from the many universities and colleges of Stormfare, collecting degrees as if they were take out menus-- or, dare my editor let this slip, second hand copies of this very publication.
Indeed it had been over half of one year since I sent the request, and let me be very clear that there was no matter of begging, bribing, or badgering what made this interview come to fruition. No, I received a letter back very quickly with a brief acceptance and the date. I was left with less than two hundred days to consider precisely what to ask of him. It was only after I'd finished procrastinating all but the last dozen or so of those days away that I began to realize that, for the first time since "Slovenly Jared" over one year ago, that I might be in over my head. What's more, precisely like Jared, that lovably crude jester the dockworkers adore, I had no idea how to properly tune the subject matter such that it would be fit to print. No insult to our beloved readers intended, but our machinery simply is not set up to accommodate many of the symbols and figures required to convey certain arcane formula. Further, I doubt our exceedingly talented and ever-sober editor would be able to discern any typographical errors that might see fit to creep in once any sort of multi-syllabic language appeared in front of him.
We'd arranged to meet at De Clieu's Decanter, known to be within spitting distance of the wharves, so that the managerial sorts who worked the docks could have a comfortable spot to spend their coin while still maintaining their distance from those they employ. I've noted this place before in my sister-feature, Places of Potence, so I'll simply remind you that it is nice enough, despite the prices. I was there, and as I'd mentioned, collecting tension in my spine and neck. We'd last corresponded a month prior, a final confirmation of the time and place, so I was worried that one as busy as he is said to be might forget. No such luck. He entered, drawing in a chilly, salted wind as he opened the door to the establishment. He removed his hat, placing it upon a rack, and drew his hand across his shoulder, brushing it off- magic certainly at work, his clothing began drying at a visible pace. I noticed the large curved scabbard at his hip, pommel very clearly exposed from his coat. He locked eyes with me, and moved to sit at the table, across from me. He said "Hello" and motioned to a waiter, who, presumably recognizing a regular, brought a coffee service tray, silver mugs, and a steaming carafe of coffee. Already I was off balance- I had not expected this supposed scholar to be armed. I replied to his "Hello" in kind, and then the interview began in earnest.
I tell you now, readers, that this ordeal has taught me one thing: Not to Fear a Chance to Learn. Astar was nothing less than personable, and mercifully spared us the full brunt of his vast knowledge.
MJM: I will lay my cards out on the table; I don't feel I've studied enough to ask you any worthy questions.
AD: Well, what would constitute a worthy question?
MJM: Anything that would convey your 'essence' to our mainstream readers properly. From what I hear, you're quite a person of note in certain circles. You know, scholars, minor nobles, those that frequent salons and open forums for debate... you seem to be almost mythical, in many ways. Like the Baystreet Gremlin, only, well, more rational I'd say, and hopefully less fictional.
AD: [laughter] I can't tell if that's hope for me, or a ward against the Gremlin. You'd have to define your stance on one or the other. I can't promise that I haven't pulled up any cobblestones in recent times, either.
MJM: Ah, well, we all have our foibles. On that point, might I ask about the blade?
AD: [a long, slow sip of the coffee] Certainly. This is your inquiry.
MJM: Alright, well, is it ceremonial? I've heard you are a talented mage.
AD: It could be. I employ it in the typical fashion, though. My knowledge of the arcane is almost entirely theoretical.
MJM: A swordsman then, is it? On top of your other hobbies- quite a testament to willpower.
AD: Less of a hobby, and more of a tool I use when it's required- like the magic. I feel myself to be quite proficient.
MJM: No doubt you are-- I hear some of those higher end philosophical debates can get very heated.
AD: Oh, I wouldn't want to implicate myself in any sort of illegal duelling, especially not in such a widely read paper. [He smiles]
MJM: Now, is it true you can dodge lightning bolts? There was a rumour you've performed such a feat numerous times.
AD: With a priest planted in the audience as a safeguard, yes. But it is true, I've developed some level of precognitive ability, though I don't dare credit my magical studies nor my own mental talents. Given how spells are held within the mind, the line vanishes the closer ones looks at it.
MJM: You can predict things then? That is fascinating.
AD: I hesitate to call it 'true prediction', but I believe it to be something of a function of correlating probability, geometry, physics, and perhaps a smattering of arcane intuition.
AD: I'm more than willing to add 'just plain old luck' to that amalgam, especially if things go badly.
MJM: Brilliance! So tell me of your upbringing, I suppose; I imagine your parents are very proud of your accomplishments.
AD: True enough. They were both traders, buying and selling magical goods. All manner of charms or trinkets found their way into the world from their shop. It was by categorizing objects by usage that I first became deeply interested in magic's workings.
MJM: A profoundly formative environment then! I can imagine that being raised in such a place might make one bored of simple enchantments, seeking ever more complicated ones, correct?
AD: No, actually. It was the difference, which eluded me at the time, between "Magic" and "Mundane" that caused that itch in my mind. It was, to me, like living in a world in which some things are simply just "on fire", even though you can't see or feel it. I started my studies early, and my parents supported me in this. They wanted me to become a skilled wizard, one that could actually create the objects they sold.
MJM: I've heard the 'fire' metaphor in literary works before, to describe magical forces. Are you not a skilled wizard? You hold many degrees from the Mage Colleges.
AD: My area of study, at first, was the typical courses one would take to become acquainted with casting increasingly powerful spells. But, well, that itch in my brain continued to grow worse. I didn't want to ride the currents of magic, I wanted to know where they flowed from. And why they flowed. I dropped out, actually, to apprentice to a planar scholar, who sought vaguely similar answers.
MJM: Lesat, correct?
AD: Yes, him. I don't mean to speak ill of the dead, but half of his favorite books were more myth and lore than actual hard data. Stories, really. He would swear up and down that there were great golden glories to be plucked from the subtext, but, well, one could argue that all of life's answers could be found in your publication's crossword puzzles using that same logic. It's insanity. Though the man could tell a story like few could.
It was at this point I had noticed, reader, that he had drained two mugs of coffee without any signs of slowing, and without it interrupting the flow of conversation. Each sip, each refill, was timed perfectly.
MJM: They say you have a gift for languages, is that correct?
AD: Children learn languages without trying. I don't see it as any special talent; it's a valuable tool that many people would do well to actively cultivate.
MJM: Your reputation as a polyglot seems to have lent you some cachet within the salon scene. I know you've got quite a few associates amongst the intellectual elite, and their hangers-on.
AD: I do frequent the 'salons' quite often, solely for the unique atmosphere it provides. While a pub, coffeehouse, or similar all have their specific tones, I find that a closer knit group of comrades lends itself to a more fervent pitch. I attended one two weeks ago that amounted to three hours of back and forth between three horticulturists about the different methods of constructing a greenhouse to make the most use of what light can be found here. There was a side-discussion taking place about if one would do well to revel in the humid climate, or to modify it so as to grow more exotic things. Things went off the rail as soon as the market effect this could have was brought up. I didn't say a word all night.
MJM: I assume you've adventured with some of these? I hear you've been employed on numerous occasions in such a manner.
AD: Not so much with those types of folk in particular. I've been tasked with retrieving certain things, or protecting certain things, for a few years now. It must be true that my talents are sought, otherwise I wouldn't've been paid for them.
MJM: Your talents as a theoretical magician must give you some ability to stand head and shoulders amongst competition in that regard. But have you not considered furthering your practical spellcasting abilities? Many of your colleagues, I presume, do well in that way.
AD: Given the way one's mind must work with magic, to form those patterns, to hold them for such lengths, well, I'd prefer to use my mind for its natural purpose. And, in many ways, as I've mentioned before, there is a wide area of crossover. For example, I can cognize many spells from my own memory. It takes time, those patterns need to be unfolded, so to speak, but I do not have to scour a tome, refilling my brain bit by bit, with those fragile pieces of ideas. It's a technique that might finally dismiss the image of all magicians as old nearsighted fellows glaring at their tomes.
MJM: Truly the brain is powerful, yours especially. I cannot help but feel, though, that you are circling around giving away any real information about yourself. My feature is intended to be less about listing the deeds of a person, and more about the unsung details of their lives. What about Astar needs to be sung?
AD: I'm uncertain.
MJM: Do you not have a grand goal for your life?
AD: Omniscience, I suppose.
MJM: Well you certainly seem well on your way.
At this point he loosed a chuckle that grew to convulsive laughter. I placed a hand on the coffee service to keep it from shaking as the table did.
AD: Sorry, sorry. That was refreshing though.
MJM: Oh? Did I hit a nerve?
AD: I believe you did. Your talents as an interviewer are counter to mine as a 'genius'. You've struck me with a lightning bolt. I will tell you a story. Let me get a glass of water and think about precisely how to phrase it.
He ordered a glass of water, and we made small talk as he drained it. I do not feel the need to recount this sundry conversation, for what follows trumps it by a hundred-fold. I will simply note that the glass of water took a few minutes to be consumed, and during that time he never once seemed to be thinking about anything beyond the task at hand. It is this that leads me to believe that the following could not be a fabrication.
AD: During my time studying simultaneously at the colleges, and under Lesat, I found myself keeping multiple circles of friends within these academic and arcane circles. There was some overlap of, like me, especially curious and autodidactic people. I was invited to a sort of get together amongst them. There, they surrounded me and asked if I had ever heard the story of an individual named Karl Hendricks. By what I refuse to credit to luck, it was Lesat's favorite.
AD: Karl was a scholar who traversed the planes, seeking answers to the fundamental nature of existence. An eccentric to the core, he was fabled to have refused the notion of wealth or currency. But his mind was unspeakably sharp- and it is all too true that the sharpest blades chip and dull the easiest. He was involved in many sordid tales, something of a mythological figure to some. But when one who knows of Karl thinks of him, they think of how he met his end: It is said that after years of feverish searching, he found the twin sources of time and space, from which all existence flowed. Right as he began to truly realize the truth of this, he was slain by the first living being. Something of a parable about the nature of the search for knowledge. Of course, many of these myths contradict. The less charitable tales tell of how he died painfully due to a floating disk spell miscast from his rotted mind, of course, but most figures have their detractors.
AD: I was able to recite all of this to them, and they seemed to derive no small pleasure from it. They were thrilled. I was asked to join them in what they called The Cult of the First Truth. For many months as an initiate I was allowed access to certain clubs, certain personal libraries, and certain secrets. It was very seductive. In return I simply had to be willing to, once a month or so, delve some crypt, retrieve some stash of scrolls or sacred token from some disused temple, or some other simple task. I thought nothing of those thefts, and, to this day, can't say I feel troubled by them. Of course, my true value to them was transcribing texts. They were compiling all knowledge they could into the common tongue, with some grand hopes to usher in an age of unlimited, free knowledge. They seemed to especially value my knowledge of extraplanar languages.
AD: After one year of this sort of discreet service, I was led to a stable some miles East of the city. There was a grain cellar, and I remember noting immediately that something was amiss: The doors were not properly sealed, and any grain stored inside would rot due to the humidity within days. Of course, this was correct, and underneath this stable was a labyrinth of brick. It led down. And then the walls were stone. And it went further down. And then there was a gold-leafed door. And behind that door was a room filled with books. They were blank. There were two further doors in this room, that I was told were composed of sheets of lead, silver, and adamantine. Behind the door on the left was a room that contained a table and a devil. The room on the right contained a table and an angel.
AD: They had been captured through some methodology I do not feel needs to be discussed. Regardless, I was expected to speak to them, and learn from them anything I could. Suffice it to say that I set to work with joy. The devil was talkative enough- willing to share all it could with me about itself and its millenia-long existence. His enemies, his friends, his patrons, his followers. Enough to fill, over the course of the following months, many books which, later, would be dissected and categorized and cross-referenced.
AD: The angel, though, for all of their blinding glory, spoke nothing. Others had worked torture upon them to no avail. Bribes and promises, of course, failed. These beings had been captive for nearly two years. It was apparent to me that I had been sought out especially for my knowledge, in the hopes of conversing freely with the being. But, despite casual tactics, attempts at humor, and downright pleading, nothing I tried worked.
AD: During these months, something crystallized in my mind, piercing through that terrible itch I'd had all my life. I called together all of the higher ups within the group that I could, and explained to them how, truly, most of the information from the demon was useless. And, truly, keeping a celestial prisoner for no reason was unjustifiable. They were not swayed by this. They saw them as tools. But I knew that I could render their tools useless in their eyes. I explained to them, how above all, truly, none of what the angel or demon could ever say would be able to be recorded as 'truth' without being verifiable. I'd collected a list of all of the contradictions the demon had offered us, and displayed it. This did the trick. The next night, at dark, we arranged to have the beings dismissed to their home realms.
AD: The demon thanked me, though I know it was not sincere. But the angel spoke to me. It spoke into my mind without words. This memory, like those spells, I can recall with perfect clarity. But even with my knack for languages, the precise words I would ascribe to its message changes the more I think on it. In essence, it told me this: "You will not learn enough to be sated in your lifetime." It said this not as a grim warning, but, in a way, I feel that it sought to set me free from my own lust for knowledge. Regardless, it would be folly of me to change my ways because of this sort of prediction, for many reasons. One, if I simply 'gave up', as it were, of course that prediction would come true. Second, even if the prediction was accurate, merely by virtue of telling me, in theory, the scenario of my life would be changed enough to allow my 'goal' to be met. And, third and most importantly, I have no reason to believe that this forewarning is true. It's unethical to act on a belief with no evidence behind it. To that end, I will pursue my studies as I always have- and with perhaps even more zeal.
AD: I renounced my membership after that, in that by discarding what many considered to be their most valuable assets and curiosities, I earned quite a few enemies. I simply prefered not to be around them any longer, and besides, they had little more in the way of rare knowledge to offer me. I've been asked to return from time to time, apparently they found some book of secrets in some unknown script that they're just dying to figure out. While it's tempting, I'd rather not get jumped and beaten to death in some vault underneath a stable. Perhaps the danger the angel's prophecy intended to warn me of?
[He was grinning, and had drained the carafe of coffee empty, and signaled for another one. I had been jotting this all down as best as I could, while simultaneously becoming lost in the tale. It was some moments before I realized he was staring at me, waiting for my next question.]
MJM: That...that is some tale. But I can't help but feel that, well, like you said, it's unethical to believe anything without evidence. The symbolism alone of you interviewing a talkative devil and a laconic angel, well, there are humorous parallels to this current situation.
AD: I will offer no proof at this time. I believe your readers will do well to think this one out on their own. The fact of the matter is, is that Karl Hendricks may have found the source of all existence, but even that is not the first truth.
MJM: I don't think I follow.
AD: The first truth, by necessity, would have to be that truth exists. Everything would have to flow from that. My entire existence is framed from the notion of truth, and until I have proof of it existing, my own existence is, by my morals, unethical. Certainly there are logical proofs to this, but one can use logic to prove that a chair doesn't exist when you're not looking at it. I need evidence.
MJM: So you'll keep searching, like Karl?
AD: Correct. And, just to be safe, I'll avoid any rogue floating disks.
MJM: Well, I wish you luck.
AD: Please don't. As I said, I only credit luck when things go poorly.
So there you have it, kind readers, a tale by Astar Dijkstra. Either fictitious or truthful, it is obvious that the man is passionate about his search for knowledge. It will be a pleasure to see where this passion takes him, and I feel some certitude that we will be seeing him make the rounds in our own paper again in the future. And with another great Stormfare citizen's life etched onto the presses, so ends another installment of People of Potence.
Check back next week, for someone you may know, want to know, or even need to know about!
-Senior Staff Writer and Journalist Extraordinaire, M.J. Mayhan.