|Paizo Pathfinder® Paizo Games|
|About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ|
So we're one session away from finishing RotRL, and I figure to myself, go big or go home.
At the end of the penultimate campaign session, my character the protean-blooded arcanist Il'setsya lost her profane gift and the succubus paramour that went along with it. The following is what I wrote to the GM to describe her actions between that session and the finale one:
After witnessing the planetar Ayruzi either banish or kill Valesh, Il’setsya proceeds to rant incoherently in protean for a solid twenty minutes, stomping her hooves and whipping her tail about and threatening to knock anyone over within its multicolored arc. Anyone trying to calm her down gets a murderous look and a series of symbols over her head that briefly take on the appearance of cartoon versions of herself giving a middle finger.
The ranting and raving then descends into drinking and a furious search for any intoxicants on her person (of which she has none since two of the other PCs had previously and wisely taken away from her). A bottle of rumboozle in her system later and she finally loses it.
“If anyone wants to rest and recover anywhere other than here in Xin-Shalast, tell me now.” Actually bothering to ask anyone else’s opinion at the moment seems to be taking a serious amount of effort on her part. “Because otherwise I’m going to be bailing and getting myself royally messed up, or messing someone else up, or yeah, stuff. Son of a &*(&#* goodytwoshoes planetar emerald skinned well meaning busybody ^&*&@$$… GAH!”
The charisma drain has left her a bitter, angry, spiteful mess of a thing, and after acquiescing to party demands for transportation, she proceeds to bamf out with a planeshift to the Maelstrom, and from there to Galisemni for the evening.
Nine hours later Il’setsya returns without any fanfare, looking remarkably relaxed, with a look of eerily calm intent on her face. This is probably the first sign that something is up. The second being that she promptly clears herself a space to draw a circle in chalk, sand, and drops of her own blood when she pricks her palm with her dagger from Runeforge. Completing her triumvirate of crazy is when she proceeds to strip naked and sit in the middle of the circle, with a voidworm protean curled about her shoulders and a lit candle of invocation held in her hands, slowly dribbling molten wax on her exposed flesh without so much as a chirp before she starts chanting in protean in singsong fashion.
Moments later a spherical space confined within the periphery of the drawn circle goes oddly translucent, the air seemingly turning to a glistening blue liquid as if she were calling the underlying substance of the Maelstrom into tangible being by her very presence. The air and earth alike shimmer, glisten, ripple, and seethe as if living things as she begins to call out in supplication and request.
“Ssila’mesh’nik the Colorless Lord!”
The candle flame turns wane and transparent, burning ever brighter with a fierce light.
“Il’surrish the Wanderer!”
Cerulean light begins to leak from every orifice of her body and those of the tiny protean curled about her shoulders.
“Mother of Tongues!”
A whispering chorus of voices rises on the wind, indistinct and incoherent, but somehow address each and every creature within a quarter mile.
“Narriseminek the Crownless, Maker of Kings!”
Burn marks and scars flicker in and out of existence across Il’setsya’s flesh.
“Lord of the Insane!”
Il’setsya cackles wildly but otherwise she seems to have that one handled all on her own.
“Lord of Entropy!”
The candle of invocation burns at a fiercely accelerated rate, boiling wax coating her hands and thighs, shimmering like a sheen of newer scales on her skin where it falls.
“Watcher in the Wheel!”
Purple, opalescent eyes emerge from the circle, glancing about and focusing them attention inwards on Il’setsya.
“Zolo of Hungry Teeth!”
Il’setsya smiles, baring a row of jagged, shark-like teeth, flickering in and out of existence moment by moment, replaced by and then replacing her own tiefling-like teeth and tiny fangs.
“All of you I beseech! All of you I invoke! All of you I beg for your favor and aid in the coming battle! All of you I would give of myself, but I am bound to others, and this you know.”
Il’setsya begins to smile as glistening letters erupt within the air. A cloud of names drifts through the substance of the void, each linked to others by tenuous, sinuous threads, and all of them linked to Il’setsya by the same gossamer chains of chaotic protoplasm.
The next words from Il’setsya’s mouth grate upon the ears, and standing within a dozen feet of her circle causes blood to leak from your eyes and ears. It is protean yes, but yet not. Older. The first tongue of Chaos that echoed through the Deep when there was only the Deep and nothing else.
“Watchers of Galisemni, Seven in all I call to you!”
“Frozen Lords of Chaos wrapped in bonds of Regret and Sorrow I call upon you!”
“Lords of Paradox and owners of my soul I call upon you!”
“Wyrms of Jandalay!”
“You who molded me like clay!”
“You who made me as I should be!”
“You who took my offered life upon the Wall!”
“You who erased the me that was from the pages of history and named me Il’setsya!”
“You who cracked the gates of the Abyss and in your glorious, brilliant hubris made this reality what it has become, and You Seven who have suffered ever since, I call upon you!”
“Chorus of Malignant Symmetry I call upon you!”
The ground below Il’setsya erupts in a column of blue light, obscuring her form, and only after the light has faded, is what emerges visible.
What emerges shall be interesting. :D
James Jacobs wrote:
More protean flavor is always the best option (says the protean obsessed freelancer making fluttery eyelash motions). :)
So Starfinder... you excited for it?
I just finished up working on the 3pp Aethera project (which has some similar science-fantasy themes) and so yeah, I'm eager as a kid watching candy being made in a high end shop through a plate glass window!
I want to devour it and even make some of my own if that's in the cards. It really looks awesome.
Jessica Price wrote:
Jessica has some really great ideas here.
I'll chime in and double down on the idea that you don't have to write something in order. I never do. If a particular idea in a project comes to mind I work on that. If I'm writing a story, any particular scene or even a stray line of dialogue that happens to pop up first, that gets written, and then I'll frequently just jump to something else not even in the same scene. I splice together dozens of disconnected portions later on.
I typically write something every day, but there are times when it just isn't happening, and unless I'm under a deadline I don't try and force it. But if I'm in a creative mood, I'll boot the cats out, close the door, and just keep writing until I can't.
I had my PC in RotRL bail on the other PCs as soon as she learned planeshift (stranding them inside Runeforge), and she proceeded to go on a week's long bender in the planar city of Galisemni, including spending much of the time in and out of various brothels or arm in arm with hired escorts.
I never bothered to look up or set a price since it was all stuff happening in-between game sessions, largely as a bit of email RP and my writing a story to convince the GM to let my PC back into the game after she abandoned with the other PCs. Because she had a Wisdom of 5, little to no self-control, and being flush with gold, I just had her drop a ludicrous amount on it all. Something like 2k gold in the space of a week on flesh and largess, more or less.
Jessica Price wrote:
The connect with Daesh, let alone Islam itself, is pretty tenuous at this point, Todd. It was a homophobic hate crime. Why are you so invested in pushing the Islam angle?
I'm not invested in pushing any angle. When I posted earlier, CNN had just reported that the shooter had called 911 and pledged to ISIS, and that was later confirmed by the ranking Democratic member of the house intelligence committee.
I just said what was on the news about a horrible tragedy and a homophobic hate crime.
Edit: updated. Saw your updated post.
Celestial Healer wrote:
It appears to have been ISIS inspired now according to the news, but regardless of why it happened, it's a horrific tragedy.
My thoughts and prayers to those in the nightclub and the families of all those impacted by this. :(
So Il'setsya ended up getting hooked into allying with a surviving and now much higher level Nualia Tobyn and her demonic allies seeking to awaken Runelord Alaznist. They wanted her back presumably for some reasons relevant to Lamashtu, whereas Il'setsya wanted to accomplish the same purely for either the hell of it, or the (probably idiotic) notion that Alaznist would make for a lovely ally against Runelord Karzoug, and that if Runelords are waking up, a chaotic one waking up would be preferable to a lawful one in the grand scheme of universal chaos versus law.
Of course Il'setsya ended up being stuck in the Abyss, geased by Nualia, stuck with a dimensional anchor in place, and under constant watch by a glabrezu, a nalfeshnee, and later a succubus tasked by Nualia to do whatever the protean-blooded arcanist asked (which was probably an unwise move on Nualia's part in the 'if you give a mouse a cookie' sort of way, except with proteans, profane gifts, and content that won't appear on this forum anytime soon).
It started out as follows, written as a side plot while other players were on vacation:
“Dear Diary,” Il’setsya’s pen scratches across the surface of a page of paper. She wrinkles her nose and stares uncomfortably at the nalfeshnee and glabrezu that seem to hover about her like a pair of hulking abyssal watchdogs. The two remain wardens rather than colleagues, keepers rather than compatriots.
“Day 1: The glabrezu keeps staring at me. Either it doesn’t trust me or it’s just getting an eyeful. They’ve got true-seeing at will, and I’m only wearing illusory clothes today. Demons, pfft. At least they don’t care about my morals or lack thereof in some respects.”
Il’setsya looks up and beckons to the glabrezu with her tail. “You’re a demon, we’re in the Abyss, surely you have access to a decent supply of booze and drugs? Because I seriously need some of the former, I could use some of the latter, and if you know any single succubi that won’t leave me an energy-drained wreck at the end of a fling, I could certainly go there. Also, if you haven’t granted any wishes to a mortal in the past month, I call dibs.”
She flashes a puckish grin and goes back to her writing. Penned in protean, the words on the page physically writhe and mutate moment by moment, betraying any of the concepts of what constitutes a language or an alphabet and the very basic assumptions of linguistics, but remaining intelligible to the chaos-touched arcanist nonetheless.
The only constant in the girl’s writing are how she dots her I’s with the symbol of the Chorus of Malignant Symmetry, the mad keketars supposedly responsible for cracking open the Abyss, or according to some legends, creating it out of hubris, and even other legends doing so only to regret their decision. The latter seems most likely for Il’setsya herself, having acted to better the chances of her friends’ survival against Karzoug, and for the hell of it, but now regretting that course of action due to her current state: locked in the Abyss, away from her friends, away from her loved ones, and with a glabrezu with a wandering eye staring at her.
“Day 1 continued: Ssila’mesh’nik preserve, I am so flipping bored out of my skull. I imagined this all with more happy to be released and swinging my way Runelords of Wrath, and less with demons making me do stuff and a crazy Lamashtu worshiping Nualia Tobyn calling the shots. Now mind you, Nualia is totally hot if you’re into crazy women. Speaking as a finely aged example of ‘bonkers batpoo crazy woman’ myself, I can deal with her rough edges, but I’m pretty sure that her inner Lamashtu would balk at anything that doesn’t involve the possibility of getting knocked up in the name of the Mother of Monsters. That excludes me. Not going there. Not going there at all. That said, I have every intention of leering at her just as uncomfortably as that glabrezu is looking at me is, and making sure to hit on her as obnoxiously as possible. Once she gets tired of me she’ll be less of an intrusive busybody. If she doesn’t get tired of me I can deal with it too. Maybe she’ll let me brush her hair, she can brush mine, we can gossip, have a pillow fight, eat ice cream, give each other makeovers, etc etc. Sleepover in the Abyss! Weee!
Note to self: avoid telling her about my habit of peeing on every altar to Lamashtu I’ve ever come across since Thistletop. That would probably rub her the wrong way. Still, I regret nothing.
I’m totally down with releasing Runelord Alaznist, but unless these rubes start giving me enough leeway to do my own thing or start buttering me up with enough extracurricular substances and activities to fit my proclivities, this is going to eventually go south and I might maze myself just to planeshift out.
I wonder if they can get me some daemonbleed? Even though I said that I’d never try that particular substance again, I might reach a limit here and get bored and desperate if we don’t find the Sword of Wrath soon enough. I swear by Razored Discord I would do a line of the stuff off of Nocticula’s tail if those demons don’t leave me alone or let me work unfettered. You don’t try to shackle a protean or even a protean-blooded… whatever I am… and expect to have things go smoothly.
I wonder if I get Nualia boozed up enough if I can find out the particulars of how she managed to transition from an aasimar to a half-fiend? I’d absolutely be down with perverting the workings of it to make myself even more of a protean.”
Il’setsya looks up at the glabrezu and snaps her fingers, “Garçonne! More wine! Because drunken searching for artifacts to awaken a Runelord is best searching for artifacts to awaken a Runelord! Besides, I have a bit of a tolerance and I’m getting the shakes, so booze me up, drug me up, and get me some eye candy while you’re at at. Now that we’re partners of convenience, make this worth my while. Get me some servitors of the protean variety: a flock of voidworms to shower me with praises and make faces at everyone else would be lovely, and an imentesh bard as an understudy would absolutely rock. I suppose if none of that ends up being workable due to whatever freaky Homeowners Association bylaws you’ve got in this particular layer of the Abyss, a quasit and a boozed up succubus will suffice as well.”
Despite having every intention of actually waking up Runelord Alaznist, inwardly the tiefling’ish-thingamajig misses her former companions something fierce.
Yeah, they were written up to not be absolutely protean specific if you didn't want to play them that way, and more of a case of mortals exposed to planar energies than strictly physical descent from chaos wyrms. The scales and feathers that pop up with ganzi are pretty transparently protean of course. I really do like them as a race, and hope that they're explored further in the future. :)
Alternatively, you could just reflavor a tiefling. Ask Todd Stewart about that (and make sure you have some spare time to listen). :D
Yeah, my current PFS character Il'setsya Wyrmtouched is a tiefling (made her before the ganzi were around as a boon option). The version of her that I'm playing through RotRL right now is often described as a tiefling, but mechanically speaking she's a xaoling (http://www.rpgnow.com/product/127679/Planar-Races-Chaos-The-Xaolings) which are a 3PP race that I created with overtly protean ancestry (including subtypes for specifically naunet/imentesh/keketar).
Davia D wrote:
Did you read the protean ecology 'Keepers of Chaos' back in the 'Legacy of Fire' AP? I think it goes a long way to exploring them, though you're right in that we haven't seen an adventure take place in the Maelstrom itself.
Davia D wrote:
They've been described in printed sources as having movement between castes, and it isn't a top down system except possibly with the keketars (and not always, since the protean lord Ssila'meshnik is directly served not by keketars but by hegessik proteans). Even then the keketars themselves are myriad and splintered amongst the various choruses.
I think the line that describes them best is "However, to imply that the protean castes operate according to rational and self-consistent rules would not only be incorrect, it would doubtless be offensive to the proteans themselves."
Because obnoxiously begging for more proteans paid dividends? Only slightly joking. ;)
But seriously I so very, very enjoyed getting to expand the protean stable in Hell's Rebels. While the core trio of proteans were an intentional nod to the historical Ogdoad of Hermopolis and thus the slaadi from D&D, chaos isn't restricted to just those three (and the voidworm and the pseudo protean in the Giantslayer AP which are both awesome).
I've had proteans brewing in my brain for years now, and the three in Hell's Rebels had the benefit of that longer process of mulling over them concept-wise compared to the shorter time on the core three when I created them in TGB. So a bit more thinking on my part as to protean ecology when I wrote the new ones up, and some little bits and pieces of plot hooks and name drops in their flavor text.
I would absolutely love to do more work on the proteans. They're probably my favorite thing to have worked on in RPG work (including daemons and yugoloths actually), and I've got tons in my head should I ever have the opportunity to put it to something other than personal headcanon if Paizo elects to revisit them and lets me on board.
If people want to see more and want me on board, letting Paizo know that couldn't hurt. I'm just very happy to have gotten to work on what I have. Extra thanks to Adam Daigle for getting me on board for the three in Hell's Rebels. :D
Paladin of Baha-who? wrote:
Huh, I haven't seen that.
I've only seen his statements that transgender folks should be able to use whatever bathroom they feel most comfortable with, and then his offer to Caitlyn Jenner to use whatever bathroom in Trump tower that she wanted (which she accepted and was in the press about). Say what you will about any of his other positions, but he seemed to be pretty solid on this issue on more than one occasion (which isn't going to win him any religious conservative votes, but he was never in that camp anyway).
Do you have a link to where he walked back on what seemed to be a pretty solid rebuke of the sentiment behind HB2?
Sorry for taking so long to respond to this.
These sorts of games are always fun. :)
I'd be tempted to use a generic petitioner race with minor cosmetic differences. It all comes down to if the physical nature of a race in life matters most, or does the essence of the soul matter more, now physically realized in the afterlife? I tend towards the latter for most cases, with some odd exceptions perhaps.
“Now all of that being said, I’m not intrinsically opposed to accepting another quest/geas/whatever else because I’m a picky, greedy little thing with a one track mind, very little self-control, very little propensity to plan things ahead beyond the moment...” She pauses and glances down at Nualia, “... and that top looks exceptionally fetching on you. Wait. What was I saying? Oh yeah.” She shakes her head and stops staring at Nualia’s chest. “I might agree to it, if you do your casting being fully aware of what I said already, and you tell me the obligations of the quest spell ahead of time.”
Atop the pinnacle of Hollow Mountain, the highest point of Rivenrake Island in the sparkling Varisian Gulf, Il’setsya smiles and takes a seat. She pauses for a moment in the sunshine and inhales a gust of the warm, pleasant wind, a sharp contrast from the chill of the Kodar Mountains. Five minutes or so pass as she sets up a hookah, pulls out a spellbook, takes a puff of mild narcotic flayleaf, and prepares to cast. Before starting however, she taps the ring on her left hand, calling into existence a tiny voidworm protean known to her for the moment as Esmeralda.
“So Esmeralda,” Il’setsya flits her tail joyously as the wind tousles her hair. “I want you to be here in case anything goes stupidly, spectacularly wrong, and also to give me a reasonable excuse in that event because you’ll be functioning as both my moral compass and the person to tell me when I’ve gone too far.”
Neither expecting a cogent reply from the tiny, living figment of Chaos, or desiring one at all, the tiefling-ish-thingamajig takes another puff of her pipe and prepares herself to cast.
“Given that we almost had our clocks cleaned by an ice devil,” She makes a face at the mention of the lawful fiend, “And I was nearly snapped in half by what’s his face’s now deceased blue dragon, I’m not entirely sure that we’re ready to fight Captain Greedyboy.”
The voidworm spirals in flight around her head, chasing one of her many ioun stones.
“So I’d like to get outside help.” Il’setsya cackles. “I have so many wonderful -WONDERFUL- ideas of how to go about taking down Balding McTransmutypants himself, and I could explain all of the higher order mathematics behind the magical theory that’ll let me do it… but let’s just say that none of the others would entirely get, well, much of any of it. Alas.”
Il’setsya puffs again on her pipe and glances down at her spellbook, unbridled chaos and frankly madness dancing in her eyes. Tiny proteans spin and cavort in the luminous orange sclera of her eyes for one moment, then she blinks and they vanish.
“I have every intention of calling down some favors and begging a keketar to come help us in exchange for well, whatever the heck they actually want me to do for them.” She sticks out her tongue. “I don’t particularly have any hard limits when it comes to paying for services granted. Besides, I’m not doing the whole ‘Be the Saviors of Varisia!’ thing for my companions, or even for Sandpoint, or anyone else on Golarion itself.”
The voidworm glances at her, she makes eye contact, chuckles and inclines her head with a smile and a blush at her ears. “Exceptions are made of course for Rynshinn. She’s a cutie and I care about her, so yeah, I’ll admit that I’m partially doing this for her, even if it didn’t start off that way. This of course began with my reason for doing much of anything, ‘Why the hell not?’. Being stranded away from home on another plane of existence also helped drive the point home of doing something to ingratiate myself to the local mortals.”
That omnipresent spark of madness returns to her eyes, with the entwined sigils of Galisemni’s keketar lords visible, coiling about the circumference of her pupils. This time when she blinks, the symbols remain.
“So Esmeralda my little faux-shoulder angel, I’m here atop Hollow Mountain, formerly set within the Thassilonian domain of Bakrakhan, to do something in accordance with those same two reasons I mentioned before: why the hell not, and to ingratiate myself to the local mortals. Well, one particular local mortal who had a rather tumultuous history with Sir Flashy McPolymorph: Runelord Alaznist.”
Il’setsya cackles and prepares to cast a sending spell.
“Yeah I have absolutely no idea if she’s even still alive after all these thousands of years, but on the off chance that she is, or some fragment of her remains in one form or another, she’s the one person who might have a genuine vested interest in helping us take down her former arch-enemy.” Another puff of drugged smoke and another laugh, “Sure we might end up taking down one evil archwizard and accidentally stirring another one from her slumber… but you know what Esmeralda? Who gives a ^&#%? I certainly don’t!”
The arcanist laughs and throws her head back, pointing the tip of her tail at the voidworm, “Besides! She’s totally a hottie! I don’t have a clue if she’d even be into me, but hell and fudgemuffins, I mean… keep the hope alive!”
Il’setsya begins the ten minute casting time for sending, handing the waterpipe off to her prehensile tail and using it to bring the glass tip to her mouth for a periodic puff. Whether the spell reaches its intended recipient or not is immaterial, she’ll try it anyway and see what does or doesn’t occur in the future.
“Runelord Alaznist, you sexy red-headed cutie, I’m Il’setsya Wyrmtouched. I’m going to murder the Runelord of Greed. Any help or advice would be lovely.”
Having cast the spell, she glances over at Esmeralda and shrugs as she awaits any response, “Well that’s that. What’s the worst that could happen?”
My RotRL character, Il'setsya Wyrmtouched [CN Female (MtF) tiefling blood arcanist (protean) 15] is trans, but it's largely an element of her backstory coupled with magical transformation (in which her sex was frankly a minor part). The circumstances of her transition and the costs and obligations it imposed on her afterwords heavily inform her actions and her approach to life (which is to live in the moment, make up for lost time, and go as over the top in virtually everything at all).
Since her natal sex hasn't ever come up, I can't speak to that, and her past history has been purposefully nebulous when the other PCs have asked. She's slowly revealed elements of it over time as she's grown to know and trust them, and at some point she may or may not actually let them know her full story (what she's aware of anyway). An artifact was involved, also proteans.
Excerpt from her backstory:
"It’s nothing much to see from afar really: a long, low and weathered block of black stone at the center of a paved courtyard surrounded on all sides by adjacent buildings and always with one street in and one street out. It moves you see, meandering like a living thing among the tenements and hovels, shops and factories, slums and mansions of the Outer Ring. Curiously enough no building will ever place a door or window in view of the Wall, not even a crack in the stone giving the tiniest of insects purchase and perch to observe. Storytellers say that the Wall is cursed, haunted, and a place to be avoided lest the frozen, ever watchful eyes of the Seven fall upon you and chance turn against you in a downward spiral of fatal probability.
Storytellers say many things. Some of them might even be true.
None can really identify what composes the Wall, though it appears carved by hand with the simplest of tools or even with tooth and claw. Again, none can say which. But what composes the Wall isn’t the most striking feature, no, that would be the names carved across it – the names of those who do not exist. Written in every language from across the planes and hundreds more that no scholar can even identify, much less pronounce without magical aid, the names are Galisemni’s greatest mystery. Carved by hand, by tool, by blade and by spell they sprawl across it like prayers to a god of graffiti, desperately seeking purchase and place, crowding one another for just enough room to find completion, and yet if you felt so inclined, you can always find room to write another. According to those same storytellers the Wall grows just as Galisemni grows to accommodate its citizens, though other bards speculate that the Wall grows not to accommodate, but that it grows as it feeds, growing with each name penned, accepted, and devoured.
There are two hundred and twenty three thousand, five hundred and ninety seven names upon the Wall, and one of them is mine.
Bards and scholars alike repeat the same story after enough drink or enough money: every name upon the Wall was written there by a person that no longer exists, in a manner of speaking. Those who approach the Wall, the desperate, the haunted, the suicidal, the martyrs, the willing – those who write their name and give themselves to the Wall are granted their greatest and most profound wish.
But this is not a gift.
The Wall gives and the Wall devours.
It takes your name, it takes your memories, it takes the memories of every person that ever knew you, and every material record that you ever lived and breathed ceases to exist. History is rewritten or remembered anew so that for any action of consequence that you ever performed the continuity of history no longer requires or contains a trace of your hand. For all intents and purposes, except for the fact that you are there with your hands upon the Wall, you have never existed prior to that moment. An alien name stares back at you, and while you remember your skills and anything you might have learned as a trade or profession, your brain is devoid of any memories that provide any purchase to the you that was. That person no longer exists, but you are free, you are born anew, and your greatest wish is granted, not that you remember it or anyone associated with it, nor is it necessarily what you had in mind when you fed yourself to the artifact that broods, hungers, and weeps for you. A new name finds its place among its kindred, and you are left to find your way in the Drifting City for whatever good or ill the future brings.
My name is there upon the Wall, not that I should be aware of this. The Wall consumed my past and every memory of myself prior to that point in time, but for the fact that it allowed me to know –why– and what I did to satiate it. I know how I draw the gaze of the Seven and why since then I have felt the immaterial tide of history and circumstance tug upon me, nudging me towards places and times, people and events where something will happen, something of consequence, somewhere that I will serve the Seven, somehow willingly or not I suspect.
My name was not Il’setsya. My last name or title was not The Wyrm-Touched. My nickname -whispered affectionately in bed by a beautiful, brilliant woman- was never ‘crazy-hooves’. I was not a whimsical, carefree tiefling woman of dubious and apparently ever-so-protean-touched descent.
But this is what I am now.
Whatever I was before, now I am happy.
There is more of course, but that’s for another time I think. I’ve given you lot a bit to digest, and you probably suspect that half of it is some mental delirium from the protean-blood running hot and fast in my veins. I have many, many stories more, and in time I’ll share them."
The following is a record of what happens when you have a protean-blooded Chaotic Neutral character with time on her hands and many uses of sending. Consider the following as effectively drunk 4am texts to Runelord Karzoug who was very not happy with them, and it remains to be seen if my PC is going to survive the aftermath. In her defense she has a 5 Wisdom normally, was at a 3 Wisdom at the time, and then used Wyrm Pesh before the first sending. In my defense, I was on prescription painkillers at the game table. I've cleaned up the language from the original --considerably--:
Someone should probably tell Il’setsya to lay off the hard (and magical) liquor for a bit. At the very least make her slow down until she managed to heal the Wisdom damage she’s currently suffering.
“Everything is so amazingly, wildly clear to me at the moment!”
Her pupils are randomly changing size, she’s randomly giggling, talking to herself in the third person, and the runes encircling her head now include what looks like tiny neon signs of her in one two progression for drinking, smoking, and performing acts that would make Sorshen proud.
“I know Sorshen is probably dead, maybe, and in any event she’s probably not the kind of girl that you should be pining after.” The arcanist giggles in a moment of self-deprecation, with a very obvious smudge of something white and powdery on her nose. “But since when have I either cared about the ramifications of my actions or taken a course of action that might be described as prescient or wise? Yeah, ok, so we’re on the same page. Good.”
Il'setsya reaches into a bag to her left and pulls out a large fried confection dusted with powdered sugar. She’s drunk and the sugar is getting everywhere, but at least it puts to rest the idea that she’s been frying her brain by snorting crystalline pesh, though the jury is still perhaps out on that as well.
“So I’ve been blowing through my daily allotment of sending spells and just rambling out into the aether to whoever I happened to be talking to. I got kind of mixed up though, so I’m pretty sure that I was sweet-talked Sorshen in my own crazy way while I was actually sending that all to Runelord Karzoug.”
Another erratic burst of laughter, followed by Il’setsya’s tail winding down to her face. The prehensile appendage errantly pokes the end of a pipe stem to her lips where she purses her lips, takes a puff, and exhales thin streams of purple smoke from her nose and between her teeth.
“Ssilma’meshnik preserve, but Karzoug has to be having a bad day because I’ve been rambling about what I’d like to do to Sorshen or let Sorshen do to me. It has to be bizarre to wake up after thousands of years and have some crazy drunk chick whispering telepathically into your mind about how ‘I totally want to motorboat you...’.”
Wriggling out of the cloud of smoke surrounding Il’setsya, her summoned voidworm Harold aka Susanne aka Vladimir aka Jeanette etc flits about in the air, pointing its tail to the scattered pages of parchment surrounding. “D’zenirusiphia has been pretty naughty.”
Il’setsya aka D’zenirusiphia the Meandering Whisper of Wanton Whimsy rolls her eyes and reaches down for one of the sheets of paper. It and all of the others are covered in 25 word passages of text, some of them heavily revised and marked for edits, and all of them presumably being fodder for her use of sending spells.
“Some of these are pretty bad, and I admit, I don’t really remember which of them I sent to which person. Actually though I probably sent them all to Runelord Karzoug...” Another puff from the pipe and another giggle. “Feel free to look through them if you like, because it’ll probably come back to bite us in the tail.”
Of course, that phrase probably has a double meaning, given that the very first passage has a crudely scribbled cartoon Il’setsya bending over, with an equally crudely scribbled cartoon Runelord Sorshen biting her tail, with a cartoon heart shape floating between the two of them.
“Runelord Sorshen the Most Eminently Nom-nom’able, if you promise not to kill or torture me, I’ll show you a good time worth waiting millennia for.”
Continuing through the first page of many, the pages are stained with errant drops of wine and the ground surrounding Il’setsya is scattered with drug paraphernalia and candy wrappers. She’s been busy and probably worse the wear as a result of it all. Reading the sending spell messages that she’s already sent, gods above she’s probably going to have pissed off Runelord Karzoug something fierce since most of the messages aren’t intended for him, but all of them were sent to him anyways.
The following are around half of the ones that she sent, having blown higher level spell slots to just keep casting sending. She also looks to have doodled herself in various 'romantic' scenes with Runelord Sorshen and Runelord Alaznist, sometimes both of them at the same time.
“Yeah I sort of got carried away. Intelligent, magically skilled women are my thing. I’m mildly concerned about the whole horrifically evil thing on their part, but it’s not necessarily a deadlbreaker.” Il’setsya blushes fiercely and promptly passes out, her voidworm catching her head and ensuring that she doesn’t wake up with a concussion on top of a crippling hangover.
Il’setsya’s sending spell hall of shame:
“Runelord Sorshen. You, me, Alaznist and a five pound brick of Mwangi Flayleaf. My place, Galisemni, this Saturday. Clothing optional. My girlfriend won’t mind. Much.”
“Runelord Sorshen. Come to think of it, let’s make it your place. My girlfriend probably will mind. Sandpoint this Friday. Come meet my other girlfriend.”
“Runelord Sorshen, I’m so stupidly drunk right now. I want to motorboat you. Karzoug is a poo poo head. A greedy poo poo head.”
“Runelord Sorshen, my body is ready. Where have you been all of my life? Actually I don’t know how old I am. Past murkier than Sloth’s Runeforge domain.”
“Lady of magical mystery with mysterious past and ominous allegiance to slithering primordial forces of Chaos with desire to dissolve reality seeks illicit romance. A/S/L?”
“Runelord Alaznist, sorry for making out with your statue below Sandpoint. I don’t know what came over me. Actually I was drunk. I regret nothing.”
“Girly tiefling-thingamajig age unknown seeks genius female wizard for long intimate walks down the beach at sunset, breaking multiversal laws and causing mischief. Woohoo Xaos!”
“Runelord Alaznist, I’m totally blitzed on pesh. Please have your way with me. Save me from Karzoug’s revenge, because I kinda screwed with his stuff.”
“Runelord Karzoug, I hope this message reaches you. I am a barrister of the 1st Protean Bank of Galisemni and I need to transfer money.” Continued to next sending “If you could provide me with your treasure vault location and passwords past spells and guardians, I will give you a share of this fund.”
“Runelord Karzoug, I’m normally hot for transmuters like yourself. But you’re a dude. I’m not into dudes. Change that and get back to me. Kisses.”
“OMG I have a tail! Holy heck this is awesome! Ssila’meshnk preserve, I also know magic! Who am I talking to? Huh? Say what? *sounds of projectile vomiting*”
“Runelord Karzoug, sorry for that last one. I overindulged in wine, women, and your mom. Wait, no, that doesn’t make sense as a joke. Damn.”
“Runelord Karzoug, Shalast was cool and Imma let you finish, but Gastash and Eurythnia were the coolest of the runelord realms of Thassilon ever. HashtagChaoslife.”
I'm currently playing a protean-blooded arcanist who is more or less a "Fool for Ssila'meshnik' in the 'Fool for Christ' way of thinking. She isn't a cleric, but the assumption is that her current state of existence is the result of a bargain made to a particular protean chorus (the Chorus of Malignant Symmetry). Either the chorus or Ssila'meshnik itself has given her a vaguely defined task in the sense of 'Greed (Karzoug) cannot wake unopposed' but with no real clarity, no specific orders, and a sense of 'make of that what you will, have fun, sow discord, whatever maybe perhaps'.
For a cleric I'd tailor domains to fit a particular chorus or particular protean lord (and feel free to make some up if none of the named ones fit the intended PC). Assign domains according to flavor and run with it, flying by the seat of your pants. Off the top of my head, you could probably find decent rationalization for any of the following: Chaos (protean entropy, revelry, whimsy, riot), liberation (freedom, revolution), trickery (all but greed), destruction, luck (curse, fate, imagination), magic, madness (insanity), knowledge (espionage), travel.
There isn't a ton of information regarding the Speakers of the Depths, though it's insinuated that they might be the proteans' conceptualization of the Maelstrom itself as a living entity. The keketar choruses divine the Speakers' will and the myriad choruses guide the rest of the proteans. As such, I would actually hesitate in having a PC be a direct cleric of the Speakers of the Depths, and instead have them worship a protean lord as a sort of intermediary power and/or follow the guidance of a specific keketar chorus.
Yeah, I need one of those, like right now.
I promise Paizo that I'm not setting up forum proxies to beg on my account. I can do all my begging for such on my own. ;)
I prefer to use singular 'they' unless I'm specifically told otherwise by a publisher. I do the same in spoken language as well.
If someone I know specifically tells me that they prefer a specific generally unrecognized neologism of the xe/ze/faer/etc variety I'll humor the request in their presence, but it doesn't otherwise show in my writing. Singular they is my go-to in any writing.
Following the PCs defeat of Freezemaw in 'Sins of the Saviors':
Il’setsya pokes around at the pile of treasure while it’s still in-situ and doesn’t feel the need to lay claim to any specific object. Before everything is gathered up however for transport and sale, she holds up both hands and a tail.
“Before anything else, let me have this one moment to do something.” Then, after a bought of seemingly pathological laughter she concentrates, wiggles her fingers and casts a spell. A flash of light and Il’setsya is gone, replaced by something significantly less weird (which is usually the opposite effect of polymorph sub-school spells): in this case a medium sized green dragon, albeit with the same shade of amber colored eyes with mismatched, crazy looking pupils.
“Muahahaha! I am the great wyrm Il’setsya the Flippant, Ravager of Order, Consumer of things that you probably shouldn’t binge drink, and Devourer of probably not virgins! Cower before me mortals and gaze with gold-lust upon my vast treasure hoard!” Distinctly lacking both dragon-fear and any sense of shame or public composure, the Il’setsya dragon proceeds to roll around on the pile of treasure while giggling amid puffs of vaguely chlorine-smelling breath and some muttering of ‘Faerie dragons are so passé at this point’ and ‘I’d be a keketar but the laws of magic won’t let me. Yet. Stupid laws of magic holding me back.’
Give the special snowflake an hour to get it out of her system and she’ll (grudgingly) dismiss the spell and even help collect stuff before teleporting folks back to Fort Rannick.
Following the events of RotRL book 4 and the PCs return to Sandpoint:
“It’s not so much hedonism as it is a complete and utter disregard for the consequences of my actions.”
Il’setsya smiles widely with a rosy blush on her face. The morning after her first evening back in Sandpoint, the arcanist doesn’t appear to have slept much, if at all. Her hair is tousled, her neck and face are blemished by lipstick smears in a color very distinct from what she’s using on herself, and for lack of a better term, she’s barely dressed. In whatever alcohol or hash induced haze she was in prior to wandering across town and into the Rusty Dragon, she appears to have not grabbed her own clothes, but a half-completed evening gown from whatever dress-form mannequin it had previously adorned.
“Hopefully you enjoyed it all as much as I did, though to tell the truth I can’t say I remember much after the third Andoran Explosive Rune I chugged. They were tasty to be certain.”
A soft giggle on her part as her tail twirls about a stand of her hair like a nervous teenager staring longingly at their latest crush.
“I’m doing better though. I haven’t gotten addicted to anything, and I didn’t drink until I puked.”
To anyone capable of reading protean, the runes orbiting Il’setsya’s head shift into the following line of text, “I’m a terrible liar when I’m drunk. Of course I drank until I puked. I don’t however know whose chimney it was that was the recipient of it all. Of well.”
“At some point I’ll have to find a way to bring you with me on a shopping spree through a textile market of the City of Glass, or Brass, High Ninshabur, or Galisemni. I also owe you a romantic dinner. Candlelight, fine wine, expensive and finely prepared ingredients, and for music maybe an imentesh chorus… or something else that sounds less like a euphemism. Something fun and sweet, just like you.”
The not-exactly-a-tiefling blushes again and starts making faces.
“Seriously though, you’re so damn adorable. I can’t believe that you did your hair up like me. That must have seriously taken some effort and a considerable amount of dip-dying. I’m impressed sweetie pie.”
She cups a steaming mug of hot cocoa in her hands, though it wasn’t there a moment before. The steam rising up from the mug forms tiny whirls and spirals that look deceptively like tiny spinning voidworms before they evaporate against the tyranny of high vapor pressure.
“I’ll have to be gone for most of today though, as fun as the idea of just staying all warm and snuggled up with you is. It’s probably the ‘responsible’ thing to do to go investigate the catacombs and what not.” Il’setsya rolls her eyes and emphasizes a certain condescension to the word ‘responsible’. “Plus I know that you’ve got to finish some of those new designs that you’ve been working on. I really like that black and purple one; super pretty. You’ll have to let me model it for you once I’m done dungeon crawling. I’ve also got some magical crafting requests for folks to start on.”
At some point someone should probably tell the arcanist that she’s spent the last ten minutes talking to her reflection in a mirror.
So whats the new protean like?
Well the book is out to subscribers now, and since no one else has answered the question (and since I wrote the critter in question), I'll field the question. :)
The hegessik proteans are serpentine in profile, but plumed and multi-armed, with a third eye. They act like wandering clergy who mediate between and at times coordinate between various keketar led protean choruses.
CR 15. Gaze attack, a ranged telekinetic attack, and an aura of confusion. Various other abilities as well.
Some examples of known hegessiks, including a group that act as servitors of the protean lord Ssila'meshnik, and a nearly mythical individual hegessik known as Galisem the Whisper of Malleable Dissonance.
Lots more and more detail than that little bit. I hope folks enjoy it. I'm also a big fan of the Strix ecology article in this AP entry.
Four days after defeating Mokmurian, Il’setsya gathers everyone together to hear the “true and absolutely accurate tale of the wizard Mokmurian’s defeat by noble adventurers”. Why she felt the need to tell everyone rather than just Hajime, being that you were all present for that event, eludes your comprehension. Of course the sending spell she used was somewhat slurred, so she may have been drinking, which would explain a lot. She also asked one of you to bring “more firewood”. Presumably explanations will be forthcoming.
What follows when you arrive at the house she shares with Sandpoint’s resident master seamstress is very odd and thus not at all out of place for the protean-blooded thingamajig.
“Causality is always the first victim when proteans are involved.” The not-exactly-a-tiefling pauses to puff at an ornate glass waterpipe in the shape of a dancing faerie dragon, filled with iridescent purple mist of unknown origin. Her eyes briefly cross before she exhales a shimmering cloud of sparkling mist and taps a finger to her nose to remove a patch of sudsy bubbles.
This is probably the best time to explain Il’setsya’s current status, which is lounging half-submerged in a literally giant-sized iron cauldron covered in now very much defaced Thassilonian runes. Mokmurian’s former undead spawning artifact is now in-use not to make undead servitors but to serve as a giant impromptu hot tub filled to the brim with a combination of magically colored bubble bath and Crazy Hooves herself. Bubbles cover up for the lack of clothing either by design or simply by bizarrely modest luck.
An empty bottle of champagne drifts lackadaisically in the water and a mostly empty bottle of white wine sits on the ground. Clearly the party started prior to your arrival and she had a grand old time by herself if the empties are any indication. Where she got the patchwork classically styled witch’s hat currently perched atop her halo is anyone’s best guess, but hopefully she’ll explain that too.
Then again, explanations –or at least cogent explanations– and Il’setsya are not often frequent bedfellows, which perhaps makes explanations exceptions to the rule.
“What was I talking about again?” Il’setsya turns her attention back to the present moment; both pupils are actually quivering and alternately going from blown to pinpricks.
“Ok, so this all happened after we killed Mokmurian, or possibly prior to that. Proteans were involved. I was involved. A protean staff was snapped in two over my leg. Stuff happened.” She waves off such concerns as temporal continuity with one hand wiggling in the air, still holding onto the waterpipe stem. “Give me a moment to concentrate on this and I’ll try to weave together something vaguely coherent, or if not, just something informative, and if not even that, hopefully something that’s at least amusing which is probably the most important thing to aim for in life in general.”
Having said that, she sinks further down into the artifact-cum-hot tub, finally ending with the water level at her chin. She blows a few bubbles before re-emerging with soap suds still conveniently in place, presumably again either by luck or magic.
“So around the point that I remember what happened, I was sitting in a booth in the Laughing Dragon in Galisemni. Now normally I prefer to drink at the Velvet Imentesh, but I’m banned from the premises at the present time. Long story.” She rolls her eyes, brushes several strands of wet multicolored hair from her face and takes another puff of her pipe. “So I was there with Grover, Francisco, and Esmeralda. We were all drinking, I was paying, and I think I did some lines off of the small of Ariel’s back, or Xenia did a few off of mine when I got onto the bar after making out with Celine. Yes, in case you must know, yes we got thrown out of that bar as well.”
Il’setsya giggles to herself, puts the fingers of her left hand into the vague shape of a pair of lips and moves them as if they were talking. Holding a conversation with her hand which is apparently supposed to be one of her protean partners with a perpetually shifting nom-de-amore, the arcanist eventually remembers that she was in the middle of explaining events.
“So yeah at some point we decided to come back to Golarion. I don’t recall how we actually got back, and there were some other things that happened as well, but for the sake of Cairn’s preferences I’ll hold off on the juicy details. That’s really the only reason though because let’s face it, I’m completely blitzed at the moment and I really don’t have much of a sense of shame even without that particular qualifier.”
She offers the waterpipe to anyone curious and then continues the story.
“So I showed back up with Larry, Darryl, and the other Darryl just shortly after everyone inclusive of me had just killed some freaky Tindalos hounds in the Thassilonian library.” She reaches an arm out of the water and off to one side, retrieving a mug of steaming tea and a shot glass of some variety of whiskey, shifting hold of the water pipe mouthpiece to her prehensile tail. “Oh yeah, and in all that previous stuff, Hajime was there too.”
Shamelessly and perfectly in line with her previous commentary about her lack of shame the arcanist drops the shot glass into the mug of tea and proceeds to chug the now exceptionally alcoholic drink. Her face contorts and her tail shakes as the alcohol hits her bloodstream with sudden alacrity.
“That of course was when Mokmurian showed up, not that I knew it was Mokmurian. In fact I gave my whole ‘I’m not a villain but I’m going to act like one for the purpose of giving a threatening speech’ speech.” Il’setsya blushes, both as an effect of her emotional state, the heart from the bubble bath, and the booze in her system. “There was a cold fog that completely obscured our line of sight, so if I recall correctly, I think I promised to pay whoever cast that spell double what Mokmurian was paying them. I may have also threatened to disintegrate them. I also also might have promised them a date if they were cute and fit my metrics.” She pauses and makes a face and a quick laugh at her own expense. “He did not as it turned out, obviously. Heh.”
She tosses the now empty mug and its accompanying shot glass carelessly over her head to shatter somewhere out of sight and out of mind. The water pipe goes back to her lips and she blows a serious of purple, orange, and green smoke rings with a pleasant sigh on her part.
“Mokmurian ended up filled the whole room with fog and a poisonous cloud. The end result of this was that everyone backed out of the room and left me alone to my certain doom.” She quirks an eyebrow and blows a stream of phosphorescent smoke in your direction, flicking a forked tongue with a soft hiss at the tail end of that. “Was that intentional? Did a devil, archon, or axiomite pay one of you to get me cornered in a room so that I’d be taken out and give the terrible forces of Law and Elemental Boring a victory in the cosmic scheme of things? Was that payback for my streaking across the rooftops at 4am the other night during the full moon? Was it retroactive revenge for something I’ll invariably do in the future that’s embarrassing or so amazingly awesome that one of you becomes evil, learns time manipulation magic, and comes back from the future to do…”
Il’setsya narrows her eyes and points accusingly with a steadily rising volume to the hiss she’d started before. The witch’s hat sitting atop her halo slides down as the halo flickers and becomes momentarily less solid, dropping the hat onto her head. She pauses and puts both hands up to grab the hat, placing it back atop the circle of runes. The runes steady and then blink in and out of cohesion, drifting more and more erratically over her head. Il’setsya concentrates, closes her eyes, and then does her best to hold onto them as a solid object as if steadying them might steady herself.
“I’m drunk aren’t I?” She looks up with a confused, concerned look, “Crap.”
She waves off the worry and continues with a now much more abbreviated version of what happened.
“Lots of fighting. I almost got disintegrated myself. Proteans are awesome. Cairn is a really good shot with arrows. Siorm’s druidic shapeshifting looks like fun and it boggles my mind why I haven’t learned any more advanced polymorph spells for myself.”
You notice as she lists things out, her speech becomes faster and a greenish pallor hits her cheeks.
“Esper you should know that Milani was and continues to remain pretty awesome in my eyes. Acid arrow is a very fun spell. Books! So many books!” She unconsciously bites her lower lip, “Soooo many books! And… uh…”
Il’setsya’s eyes suddenly go wide and she abruptly spins around in the water, leaning over the far side, losing any remaining self-respect as she violently upchucks, “Bleeeeaaaaarrrrugggghhhhh!!!!”
An awkward silence ensues as she continues to spit and sputter, her face thankfully out of view. She whispers the words to a spell to clean up her face before turning around and somehow manages to not completely expose herself from the waist up by carefully and probably unconscious use of her tail.
“Wait, what was I talking about again?”
baron arem heshvaun wrote:
*blush* Alright then, I'm going to be smiling for the rest of the day now. :D
Wow, that's a serious compliment right there. Thank you!
I'm doing edits on another one in the Baernaloth series right now as well, hopefully to post it over on Planewalker relatively soon.
After some other PCs muttered about her wisdom (or lack thereof) and what exactly she was and what to call her:
“Hey, I’ll let you know that I’m exceptionally intelligent. There’s reason however bizarre and flighty behind anything that I suggest. I’m just not exactly the wisest woman out there, to say the very least. I’m aware of this fact. That I don’t care is something else entirety I suppose.”
Il’setsya looks up from her spellbook and sticks out her tongue, forked tip dancing around lazily before she slips it back in and touches up the purple gloss on her lips with a cantrip. For a moment her eyes shift color as one pupil dilates and the other contracts in equal time before returning to normal.
“Mad woman works perfectly well. I’ll happily answer to that. I’ll also answer to Drunkard Queen of Galisemni, snakey-tongue’d fiend, wyrm at the bottom of every bottle, division by zero, and Dzenirusiphia the Whisper of Wanton Whimsy – honorary keketar of the Chorus of Rampant Delusion. But arcanist works as well. I don’t get too hung up on names. Or reason. Six or one half dozen of the other.”
baron arem heshvaun wrote:
I'm generally a better GM than a player since in the former case I know everything that's going on and largely have complete control over the situation, so the RP is a lot smoother and with less thinking and hesitation on my part.
Currently though it's largely a complete disregard for consequences and a GM in Steve Miller who's willing to indulge me and my Olympic dive into crazytown. I'm honestly having more fun than I have in years playing a character.
and the third-party project I'm part of has wood elementals. Designed by Paizo contributor Todd Stewart, even.
Just so I don't get undue credit for someone else's work, I wrote up the bone elementals (corrupted wood elementals) while David Ross wrote up the wood elementals themselves. :)
Yeah, it's a difficult topic since many people are often coming from different definitions of the same thing based on what field they're coming from. Gender theorists and other critical theory/philosophy groups don't communicate much with neuroscientists and biologists, and there's more than a little acrimony between some of those disciplines over standards of evidence and other topics. I would venture to say IMO that some of the critical theory bunch have a bad habit of simply making things up and spinning theories based on zero empirical evidence.
Gender roles and social standards of gender expression are clearly social in nature and learned. Gender variance in behavior versus social norms might not have anything to do with being unhappy with your gender identity versus natal assignment. These things have little to nothing to do with biology most likely, but neurochemistry is a subtle, cantankerous thing and it worms its way in like a whispering familiar of influence.
Internal gender identity however seems to the best of our knowledge to be exclusively biological in nature, but it isn't a simple binary either, as it seems to occur on a sliding scale. It's a fascinating field and it's exploded in terms of the number of studies and the quality of the studies in the past five to ten years.
But there's still not much talk between the critical theorists in social science departments and their hard science colleagues doing neurochemistry/developmental biology work. They should, and let the pieces fall as they may insomuch as it concerns the true nature of it all.
Obviously with more data, we learn and understand thing better, and my beliefs are open to change with that new evidence.