Meet the Iconics: Erasmus

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Today, as part of our ongoing Meet the Iconics series, we introduce the next of the six new iconic characters featured in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures. This week we meet Erasmus, the iconic medium!


Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Erasmus was born the youngest scion of a minor noble house in Caliphas, Ustalav's capital. Along with his five older siblings, he enjoyed the benefits of a fine education and practice in horsemanship, swordplay, and tutelage in the arcane arts. Yet he understood he had little hope of ever claiming ancestral holdings or heirship. He spent his early life in the cosmopolitan pursuits of the idle rich, and he seemed destined for some opportune marriage to secure his family's comfort, with the resulting life likely to be one of bored leisure.

As Erasmus left his teenage years behind, though, the heirs of his family began to mysteriously die. Authorities discovered Nissa, his eldest sister—a cunning duelist—slain in some underground fighting pit by an opponent she severely outmatched. His uncle, a skilled magic-user, was torn apart by a summoned creature in his own occult library, while the corpse of his son was found broken below his high tower. His second sister, Veldira, choked to death on porridge in the Pharasmin cathedral where she served. Erasmus's closest confidant, his sly older brother Baylock, was found hanged in a dark alley in what authorities ruled a suicide. Amid the turmoil of the deaths, Erasmus's father began to waste away in his council chamber, while the family's eldest surviving heir, Erasmus's brother Vinn, took control of the family affairs.

It wasn't long before the voices started.

At first they were the faintest whispers, which Erasmus dismissed as sleep-deprived hallucinations or echoes bouncing through the corridors of his family's estate. But with each new death, the whispers grew stronger and their message clearer: "Murder." Erasmus ignored the ghostly mutterings as best he could, quietly writing them off as the lunacy of grief. But, with his suspicions aroused, he began to investigate the whispers' claims. Erasmus told no one of the subtly altered summoning circle he found in his uncle's chambers, or of the oily residue that failed to wash from his father's used silverware. The more he discovered, the more intense the chorus of voices grew in his crowded mind. Servants concealed Erasmus's late-night wanderings as best they could, or dismissed his mutterings and wild ravings as overwhelming grief.

It all came to a head when one of Erasmus's episodes interrupted his own father's funeral. Snapping his head back and forth, Erasmus railed against a chorus of unseen phantoms. Amid the outburst, he howled that his family was victim of his eldest brother's deceit.

None who heard truly listened, though, all convinced that grief had pushed Erasmus past the brink of insanity. Vinn, Erasmus's only remaining family member, committed him to Havenguard Lunatic Asylum.

For nearly a year, Erasmus languished at the asylum, baffling his well-intentioned wardens as they sought to heal the man's troubled mind. But on the anniversary of his father's death, another voice called through the darkness. From a neighboring cell, a new prisoner calling himself "the King" counseled the troubled man. With gruff kindness, the stranger with the accent of a northern barbarian taught Erasmus not to fight the chorus, but rather to accept and welcome it, opening his mind and body to its words. Erasmus gradually identified each mysterious voice in turn, and finally understood they were the shades of his family—the spirits of his deceased brothers, father, and uncle—who endlessly dwelled upon the circumstances of their deaths. Over time, he learned to sit in quiet communion with the voices, and to allow them to exercise their influence upon his mortal shell.

With the aid of his uncle's mastery of magic, Erasmus easily retrieved the keys to his cell to secure his escape. Under the control of his battle-eager eldest sister, the asylum's guards had no hope of restraining him. But when he gratefully burst open the King's cell, he found it empty. Too harried to ponder the implications of his friend's disappearance, Erasmus fled, relying on the influence of his roguish brother Baylock to slip through the shadows to freedom.

Yet, the world had not changed for the better during Erasmus's absence. Vinn had used his brother's madness to legally disown him from any claim to his family's titles or lands. His murderous brother had also married into a prestigious noble family, solidifying his holdings and winning him considerable influence in Caliphas's royal court. Seeing little chance at justice, and now questioning the source of the mysterious voice that had counseled him back to sanity, Erasmus knew he'd need living allies to retake his birthright. He boarded a ship crossing Lake Encarthan, the restless spirits of his ancestors following close behind.

Brandon Hodge
Contributing Author

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Tags: Erasmus Iconics Mediums Meet the Iconics Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Wayne Reynolds
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Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

So his own family members are his spirits.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Awesome story. I love how his "spirits" are his murdered family members. Pretty lucky that they had such a range of talents, haha.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Excellent. I'm curious about the Harrow deck he has, though.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hmm. Cool backstory and very interesting that his spirits are his murdered members of his family (Ah, I see someone else said the same). ;)

Anxious for the Occult Adventures book.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

NONE MORE GOTHIC.

Contributor

Fun!


Good stuff!


Nice.

Liberty's Edge

Have to say I was expecting him to be Varisian. Not disappointed with that backstory at all though.

Paizo Employee Designer

10 people marked this as a favorite.

You're not necessarily wrong, Deighton; remember, many Ustalavic folks are of the Varisian ethnicity.


Wow, I'm really impressed. He has a great story behind him. It really captures the creepy gothic feel of his homeland.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
KingOfAnything wrote:
Excellent. I'm curious about the Harrow deck he has, though.

Most likely the product of his uncle's influence - an Ustalavan conjurer is quite likely to be familiar with and make at least occasional use of the Harrow.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

24 people marked this as a favorite.

He's Hamlet. But with more ghosts.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Very, very cool. I digs it muchly.


The design was my leasf favourite after the kinetic brat, but his story... damn, really cool!


3 people marked this as a favorite.

and wasnt Erasmus the name of the son of Doctor Van Richten?

Paizo Employee Designer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

The coolest part is how the story ties into some of the subtle details of new stuff from the medium class. You'll have to wait for the book to see it, but when you get it, I really recommend comparing some of the details of each dead relative with the class features and seeing what you can figure out!


I really like the story, and how they tied in his slain family members. It's somewhat sad that we won't be seeing the Harrow Deck-themed Medium that was promised in the initial playtest; Erasmus holding a deck of cards is clearly a relic of that earlier stage of the Medium's development.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:
The coolest part is how the story ties into some of the subtle details of new stuff from the medium class. You'll have to wait for the book to see it, but when you get it, I really recommend comparing some of the details of each dead relative with the class features and seeing what you can figure out!

I haven't seen the class yet (fingers crossed for a notification on the 13th!). That said: it sounds like the medium is a sensate (from the show Sense8, which everyone should watch!) only his clustermates are dead. If true, that's a really great idea.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I really can't wait to see this book!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Axial wrote:
I really like the story, and how they tied in his slain family members. It's somewhat sad that we won't be seeing the Harrow Deck-themed Medium that was promised in the initial playtest; Erasmus holding a deck of cards is clearly a relic of that earlier stage of the Medium's development.

What makes you think it isn't Harrow focused (or, at least, using the Harrow as a metaphor for labeling spirits)? Baylock can still be a Rabbit Prince, for instance.


IIRC they've already confirmed that most of the spirits from the Playtest are being axed.


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JIMMMMMMMM DARKMAGIC

Paizo Employee Designer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Wait for tomorrow for all the best details, but Rynjin is correct that Jason confirmed that the medium has shifted in a new way.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
the xiao wrote:
and wasnt Erasmus the name of the son of Doctor Van Richten?

Yep, just looked it up in my 2nd edition books.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Rynjin wrote:
IIRC they've already confirmed that most of the spirits from the Playtest are being axed.

Did not know that.


Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

If it wasn't for the cards I would say he would have been a better design for the Mesmerist.


Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ross Byers wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
IIRC they've already confirmed that most of the spirits from the Playtest are being axed.
Did not know that.

Yeah, apparently it turns out that fifty-four spirits eats up a lot of space...so they chopped it down to a much smaller number of spirits (ie, six) but with considerably more power, I believe. And Mark hopes to someday get out an archetype for the medium with all fifty-four spirits someday...if he can ever get the pagecount.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I wonder why the Uncle had to die - unless their rules of succession are really weird, the Uncle would be even lower on the line of succession than Erasmus. I suppose, though, he'd be in the best position to realize his brother was being poisoned and do something about it, though. His son would just be colatteral damage. Maybe a witness.

D'oh. Nevermind. If the Uncle were elder, he'd be the current title holder. The succession would have been:

Uncle (current) -> unnamed son (Erasmus's cousin) -> Erasmus's father -> two sisters and Baylock -> Vinn -> Erasmus

Hrmm. It says Eramsmus had five siblings. Who is missing?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm happy that an occultic iconic ended up being from Ustalav. Also, one of the classes I liked; can't wait to see what was done with the spirits.

Wonder what his surname is?

Community Manager

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Uncle had to die because Ustalav.


Luthorne wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:
Rynjin wrote:
IIRC they've already confirmed that most of the spirits from the Playtest are being axed.
Did not know that.
Yeah, apparently it turns out that fifty-four spirits eats up a lot of space...so they chopped it down to a much smaller number of spirits (ie, six) but with considerably more power, I believe. And Mark hopes to someday get out an archetype for the medium with all fifty-four spirits someday...if he can ever get the pagecount.

More specifically, the spirits have been shifted from being based on the harrow to being based on the mythic paths. So Erasmus's gladiator sister is probably granting him the powers of the Champion, for example.

This is a really cool backstory for a really cool class. Can't wait for tomorrow's class preview.

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I hope they kept mechanics of the demon lantern - rather liked that one.

Paizo Employee Designer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
DeciusNero wrote:
I hope they kept mechanics of the demon lantern - rather liked that one.

That one actually got some cool upgrades for its eventual release thanks to great playtest feedback from playtesters like John Compton and Hangmanhenry (now the little lights can make more of a nuisance of themselves so enemies are more likely to pop 'em), but the Harrow spirits won't be in OA.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DeciusNero wrote:
I hope they kept mechanics of the demon lantern - rather liked that one.

The developer of the class mentioned a desire to release the original "Harrowed" medium at some point down the line. As to the mechanics of the current version, hopefully we'll get a peek tomorrow.

Edit: Speak of the Devil, he beat me to it.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:
DeciusNero wrote:
I hope they kept mechanics of the demon lantern - rather liked that one.
That one actually got some cool upgrades for its eventual release thanks to great playtest feedback from playtesters like John Compton and Hangmanhenry (now the little lights can make more of a nuisance of themselves so enemies are more likely to pop 'em), but the Harrow spirits won't be in OA.

Sounds good! I'll just have to see how the mythic paths compare :3


2 people marked this as a favorite.

It's time... TO D-D-D-D-D-D-DUEL!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Evan Tarlton wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
The coolest part is how the story ties into some of the subtle details of new stuff from the medium class. You'll have to wait for the book to see it, but when you get it, I really recommend comparing some of the details of each dead relative with the class features and seeing what you can figure out!
I haven't seen the class yet (fingers crossed for a notification on the 13th!). That said: it sounds like the medium is a sensate (from the show Sense8, which everyone should watch!) only his clustermates are dead. If true, that's a really great idea.

Only on reading Erasmus's backstory did I realize that the Medium actually almost perfectly models a Sensate borrowing another person's abilities.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
the xiao wrote:
The design was my leasf favourite after the kinetic brat, but his story... damn, really cool!

I know he's the Medium, but compared to the kineticist, he's a Large.


I don't mind the simpler form, but I really do hope for a harrowed version - maybe a player companion for harrow that is like, 75% that archetype, 25% other things?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This reminds me of a gothic horror story in the best sense of the genre. Madness, ghosts and sibling rivalry.

I am sad that the Harrow doesn't play a big part in our protagonist's backstory, but hopefully we'll see the full Harrowed Medium sometime in the future.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I really enjoy the artwork as well as the story. Great job.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Saved from imprisonment by... Elvis?

Enjoyed this one. The backstory reminds me a little bit of the Gloom card game or the Haunted Mansion; I kind of find it amusing that- given some of the commentary about the iconics always having tragic family backgrounds- Erasmus' story takes it to the extreme. :D


Ross Byers wrote:
Hrmm. It says Eramsmus had five siblings. Who is missing?

Pete Best.

Paizo Employee Designer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
The Golux wrote:
I don't mind the simpler form, but I really do hope for a harrowed version - maybe a player companion for harrow that is like, 75% that archetype, 25% other things?

Not enough pages, actually! A book including it would need to be at least our next-smallest size (64 pages) or more.

Contributor

12 people marked this as a favorite.
Cthulhudrew wrote:
I kind of find it amusing that- given some of the commentary about the iconics always having tragic family backgrounds- Erasmus' story takes it to the extreme. :D

Several of the comments for Rivani's background were like "Oh finally an iconic with a pretty positive background that isn't a tragic setup for vengeance or redemption!" and all I could do was loosen my tie and these "Sheeeeesh wait until you see the dark places I went with Erasmus!"

Thanks for the kind words, folks! This one wraps up my tenure on iconics for this book, and I was honored and thrilled to not only have that opportunity, but to help bring Wayne's amazing art and Jason, Mark, Logan, and Stephen's incredible new classes to life!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
DeciusNero wrote:


Wonder what his surname is?

His surname is Gormenghast.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Nice pic Wayne!


Mark Seifter wrote:

Not enough pages, actually! A book including it would need to be at least our next-smallest size (64 pages) or more.

I love Paizo but WotC did web enhancements...


Are his eyes yellow!?!?!?

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