Meet the Iconics: Damiel

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Flayleaf may ease your mind. Pesh may invigorate your humors. Yet as any sage and scholar can tell you, knowledge is the most addictive drug. And once the quest for learning has its hooks into you—once your eyes have been opened—there’s no tearing free.

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Damiel Morgethai was born, as so many elves are, in the nation of Kyonin. One of innumerable scions of the prestigious Morgethai family, he grew up in the picturesque town of Riverspire, where the southwestern border of Kyonin’s great forest gives way to fertile, rolling plains. When finally old enough to pursue a trade, the exceedingly precocious young elf was loaded up with what funds his family could spare and packed off to the shining capital of Iadara, to study alchemy under several of the art’s great masters. And it was here that the trouble started.

Damiel took to alchemy immediately, reveling in the idea of transmutation—the changing of one thing into another, by means chemical or arcane. “Alchemy,” he was fond of proclaiming to his friends, “is pure magic, even when it isn’t.” Within a few short years, the brilliant and studious Damiel had learned enough from his instructors that they set him loose to pursue his own studies, becoming advisors and respected colleagues rather than true masters.

Yet he had learned more than just strange formulae in Iadara. As cheerful and innocent as it seemed on the surface, Damiel’s obsession with what he called “the Change” went beyond the simple curatives of an apothecary, beyond even the magical and explosive concoctions of those alchemists trained for battle. In his eternal quest to understand his theories better, Damiel gave himself literally to his studies, and began to use his concoctions on his own flesh, striving to unlock the full potential of his body. What emerged from those long, sleepless nights was someone new. Someone dangerous.

Officially, Damiel’s banishment from Kyonin was the result of plagiarizing another alchemist’s discoveries, or perhaps siring an illegitimate son with an embarrassed noble. The documents don’t speak of the way his former friends noticed the change in his eyes, which became increasingly wild as lack of sleep and increasing amounts of “invigorating aether” took their toll. They don’t note the sudden rash of crimes in the districts he frequented, daring thefts and capricious arson. And they certainly don’t mention the young woman found in the alley behind his apartment, her face burned near away in an ultimately successful attempt to hide her identity—and the identity of her killer. In truth, the later would be difficult to decipher anyway, as even the killer himself might have trouble recognizing the monster that would take a girl’s life simply for seeing something she shouldn’t.

For Damiel was no longer the man that he once was. In his thirst for ever-greater secrets, he had unlocked enormous potential—strange tinctures that quickened his movements to a blur, or twisted his constitution to survive any poison or malady. Yet while he gained ever-increasing control over the vagaries of his flesh, these discoveries took their toll on his mind. He fell deep into addiction, deeper than even the aether he was so fond of could match. He would lose himself to the Change, only to wake from a maddened stupor and find that he’d done terrible things. And worse, that he no longer cared.

Exiled from his homeland, Damiel wandered for many years, slowly learning to control and live with his addictions. Gone were the blackouts, the uncontrolled and senseless violence. In their place grew a hard and haunted-eyed young man, handsome save for his wild look and the puckered scars along his veins. Seeking to peddle his secret knowledge, he traveled to Daggermark in the River Kingdoms, joining up with that city’s Poisoners’ Guild. For a time, his unique concoctions made him a minor celebrity in certain circles. But as the months passed, Damiel’s control over his base nature slipped, and the old lust for the beautiful chaos of unconscious (and unconscionable) action took over, loosing the beast of the Change to walk the streets. In the end, the Poisoners’ Guild took terminal offense to Damiel’s “exploits,” and though the elf argued hard that his deviant handiwork—being unpaid—was none of the guild’s concern, he was forced to go his own way once again.

Today, Damiel has grown further, into a man of two minds. The first—the greatest remaining shadow of the Damiel Morgethai That Was—truly repents for the arbitrary and senseless suffering he’s caused, and attempts to keep his darker urges in check. The second is that man brought forth by the Change, the mad and capricious soul that holds all other creatures in contempt, and exists only to feel the heat of the explosion on his face or see the shifting colors of poisoned flesh. This latter comes forth primarily in combat, where Damiel’s potions push his body faster than it has any right to move, flitting through the fray to fling corrosive ash or nick warriors so delicately with his poisoned injection-blade that many don’t know they’ve been cut until they find themselves unable to breathe. Though Damiel no longer gives his vile tendencies full rein, and carries himself well in social situations, most who look into those bagged and bloodshot eyes quickly understand the truth of his nature: unbalanced, unstable, unpredictable—and totally indispensable in a fight, which is why he still manages to fall in with other adventurers from time to time. And as he continues to mature, some of them even survive his companionship.

James L. Sutter
Fiction Editor

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Tags: Alchemists Damiel Iconics Meet the Iconics Wayne Reynolds
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Dark Archive

DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
You only win the no-prize if you explain how the story DOES work, not pointing out how it doesn't.

His fey heritage includes not just the colorful happy pranksters of the summer court, but also the cruel spite-filled and shadowy horrors of the winter court. Through alchemy, he has unwittingly freed the lurking brute, the 'unseelie' side of any First World scion.

The dark twisted reflection of an elf can be very much like a bugbear, cruelty for cruelty's sake, and that seems to be what has bubbled up from his experimentation.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Set wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
You only win the no-prize if you explain how the story DOES work, not pointing out how it doesn't.

His fey heritage includes not just the colorful happy pranksters of the summer court, but also the cruel spite-filled and shadowy horrors of the winter court. Through alchemy, he has unwittingly freed the lurking brute, the 'unseelie' side of any First World scion.

The dark twisted reflection of an elf can be very much like a bugbear, cruelty for cruelty's sake, and that seems to be what has bubbled up from his experimentation.

Give the boy a No-Prize!


What disappoints me isn't Damiel's race but that he is the cliche; Oh he is CN and therefore must be insane. His Back story seems to be tailored to his alignment rather then vice versa.
IMO he is the most disappointing iconic to date and one who brings with him adverse consequences ripe for disruptive players to exploit.

Oh well still three more iconics on their way :)

Dark Archive

Rob White wrote:
What disappoints me isn't Damiel's race but that he is the cliche; Oh he is CN and therefore must be insane.

A few less 'chaos = insane' and a few more unhinged lawful sorts (perhaps someone who is all obsessive / compulsive, or a ritualistic serial killer) could be neat.

Certainly not as an Iconic, 'though!


I for one am a big fan of everything alchemist, and I like the new Icon not complaints about his story I like a lot. One thing, what kind of dagger dose he have, sounds like a Syringe Dagger. MY alchemist has something similar, just wondering if there is an official Syringe Dagger.


Damiel..Don't make him angry..you wouldn't like him when he's angry


DM Wellard wrote:
Damiel..Don't make him angry..you wouldn't like him when he's angry

Or, you know, if he ever said he needed to take 'his medicine' you probably shouldn't let him do that.

Dark Archive

Cartigan wrote:
DM Wellard wrote:
Damiel..Don't make him angry..you wouldn't like him when he's angry
Or, you know, if he ever said he needed to take 'his medicine' you probably shouldn't let him do that.

Or you go this way and harness his potential...


Nevynxxx wrote:
Cartigan wrote:
DM Wellard wrote:
Damiel..Don't make him angry..you wouldn't like him when he's angry
Or, you know, if he ever said he needed to take 'his medicine' you probably shouldn't let him do that.
Or you go this way and harness his potential...

Well if everyone else is a morally ambiguous loon as well, that would be the way to go.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Variety, upbringing and culture have nothing to do with the root of 'primitive'. There is going to be no cultural differences to speak of between truly 'primitive', bestial humans of one land or another, except based on resources. Bestial savagery is the root of humanity.

Likewise, primitive elven savagery is NOT going to be the same as primitive human savagery...but, it's still going to be the same across all elves, snooty-nosed city dwellers or tree huggers, when they tap that dark part of the soul, they are going back to ALL their common roots.

Fey-like, elemental, uninhibited, and uncaring of others or consequences, if you want the dark side of it. If he's going to be Hyde, make him an ELVEN Hyde.

===Aelryinth

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Aelryinth wrote:

Variety, upbringing and culture have nothing to do with the root of 'primitive'. There is going to be no cultural differences to speak of between truly 'primitive', bestial humans of one land or another, except based on resources. Bestial savagery is the root of humanity.

Likewise, primitive elven savagery is NOT going to be the same as primitive human savagery...but, it's still going to be the same across all elves, snooty-nosed city dwellers or tree huggers, when they tap that dark part of the soul, they are going back to ALL their common roots.

Fey-like, elemental, uninhibited, and uncaring of others or consequences, if you want the dark side of it. If he's going to be Hyde, make him an ELVEN Hyde.

===Aelryinth

"...mad and capricious soul that holds all other creatures in contempt, and exists only to feel the heat of the explosion on his face or see the shifting colors of poisoned flesh..."

Sounds like he's got the 'uninhibited' and 'uncaring of others' parts nailed, and I'd argue his capriciousness covers the 'elemental' part as well (presuming you mean what I think you mean by 'elemental').

Dark Archive

Cartigan wrote:
Well if everyone else is a morally ambiguous loon as well, that would be the way to go.

You imply that they are not? ;)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Aelryinth wrote:


Fey-like, elemental, uninhibited, and uncaring of others or consequences, if you want the dark side of it. If he's going to be Hyde, make him an ELVEN Hyde.

===Aelryinth

You might however be misunderstanding what it means to be Elven in Golarian. The Elves of Golarian are not Tolkien or Celtic, they're not the Fey derived species of the Forgotten Realms, They have no connection to the First World, they're more like what Vulcans would be if Surak had never existed.


LazarX wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:


Fey-like, elemental, uninhibited, and uncaring of others or consequences, if you want the dark side of it. If he's going to be Hyde, make him an ELVEN Hyde.

===Aelryinth

You might however be misunderstanding what it means to be Elven in Golarian. The Elves of Golarian are not Tolkien or Celtic, they're not the Fey derived species of the Forgotten Realms, They have no connection to the First World, they're more like what Vulcans would be if Surak had never existed.

Elves = Romulans... I like that annalogy.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

I don't care if they don't have Fey connections or not. They still aren't human, and they definitely have some otherworldly something going for them. They aren't Human and shouldn't be described as one.

===Aelryinth


And around we go.

Yes you do care as your trying to make them act Fey. They much like humans and dwarves are animals at heart. They think somewhat different due to such a long life span and upbringing but they are no more fey then a dwarf.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

seekerofshadowlight wrote:

And around we go.

Yes you do care as your trying to make them act Fey. They much like humans and dwarves are animals at heart. They think somewhat different due to such a long life span and upbringing but they are no more fey then a dwarf.

Their description shows them as fey like. They leave Golarion behind for some otherworldly paradise, then come back. FEY is one way to describe them...regal, graceful, otherworldly. If you want to use ALIEN, I'm down with that, too.

But they ain't human.

==Aelryinth


nope not fey in the lest, they star gated home. Only things from the first world are fey, elves are not.

And no they are not human, but they are just as much not fey. Gnomes are fey, elves are not.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Caineach wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:


Fey-like, elemental, uninhibited, and uncaring of others or consequences, if you want the dark side of it. If he's going to be Hyde, make him an ELVEN Hyde.

===Aelryinth

You might however be misunderstanding what it means to be Elven in Golarian. The Elves of Golarian are not Tolkien or Celtic, they're not the Fey derived species of the Forgotten Realms, They have no connection to the First World, they're more like what Vulcans would be if Surak had never existed.
Elves = Romulans... I like that annalogy.

Close but in thier own way, the Romulans are also a product of Surak in that thier genesis was a reaction to him. As I've read the founder of the Romulan movement was a disciple of Surak himself.


Re-reading the blog I don't really see anything terribly human about Damiel's second personality anyway. There isn't a great deal of text devoted to what his 'Hyde' persona is like, deciding it's a raging but inherantly human beast seens to be a decision by the reader rather than the writer...

Liberty's Edge

I have been intrigued by Damiel since I saw him in the Free RPG Day module in which he debuted. (Something Something Fortress?) He's man-pretty and has a nifty coat, and his CN alignment and worship of Norgorber made me want to know more about him. His pale, sleep-deprived appearance, coupled with the substance abuse/syringe-dagger somewhat reminds me of good ol' Filge from Age of Worms, which of course only makes me like him more. Note: I am predisposed to like Damiel's write-up because I think Alchemists are versatile and fun, and I wondered which aspect the iconic would play up. I was (somewhat incorrectly) guessing the focus would be on poison use, due to the Norgorber angle.

I think Damiel is a complex and wonderful character...to read about. When it comes to seeing him function in a game, I have some misgivings.

Gripe #1: If he truly doesn't care about the damages his actions cause, and persists in his lifestyle choices, only really reigning in his impulses to upkeep the thinnest veneer of civility, that, to me, is not Chaotic Neutral. That is Evil. I have seen CN used too many times as shorthand for, "My character is really evil but my DM won't allow that alignment so I'll write down 'CN' and just do whatever the heck I feel like because it shows I'm a free spirit to go around and randomly murder people." Damiel, I hope you find redemption, but in the meantime, you should follow Seltyiel's example and own up to your evilness.

Gripe #2: I could see this character wreaking havoc in a campaign. He is unstable and murderous, and doesn't seem to have a great desire to change his ways. Sure, he feels a little bad about it, but not bad enough to quit giving himself over further to The Change. What I would like to see is a character hook that would make him eager to be a team player, other than the fact that an adventuring party gives him an outlet for his pyromania and other depravities. Clearly, he's quite capable of finding flammable objects/individuals on his own. Between the crafting, blackouts, murderous rampages, poisonings, acquisition of illicit substances, and whatever else, this seems like a character prone to needing a lot of the GM's attention/private scenes. Even in the best-case scenario (which I would LOVE to see, BTW), Damiel would be struggling with his inner demons, coming to grips with personal accountability and the weight of his actions, and still probably taking a lot of the spotlight time, as he struggles through redemption/rehab plot arcs. As long as everybody in the group is excited to tell this kind of story, I think it could be all kinds of amazing, but I could see some players getting quite bored. Also, it sadly seems far more likely that the solo scenes would consist of Damiel burning or maiming as many targets as possible, before another party member comes racing after him to do damage control.

Finally, I feel it's worth mentioning that for all my concerns, the fact that I've already put so much thought into this character means I think he's really cool and unique and grabbing of my attention. I'm eager to learn what all the iconics, new and old, think of one another, and to continue reading fan reactions to the new iconics.

Dark Archive

Honestly, what meaningful difference is there between Man's civilized veneer and his animal/savage core and the Elf's civilized veneer and his elemental/chaotic fey core?

And if there is a difference, it is so earth shattering that this write-up should be considered "written poorly"?

Perhaps we should find a real elf and have him give us his opinion on this matter. Until then, I guess we are left having to make assumptions about other races filtered through Man's perception of reality.


Lilith wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
Pfft. She easily surpassed Seoni for me the first time I saw a color picture. Then again, I never did consider Seoni to be the best looking of the iconics...Amiri and Lini have her beat, and Merisiel is about dead even with her. From the APG, Alahazra is also about dead even, and like I said, Feiya beats her easily.
Yeeeeah. And sometimes they all get together and wash each other's hair and have splash fights. We've actually got art of that here, actually. We just don't feel it'd be appropriate to share. :P
Yeah. Kyra's STILL angry that Merisiel "accidentally" cut her bra strap with that "wildly thrown" dagger when they were tormenting Valeros.
...Can I draw this? :D

Please do *Grins*


Nice work on Damiel. What can I say, I like mad scientist alchemists, esp. if hey sound like they'll end up entering the Master Chymist PrC.

And now I wonder about his mutated form -- maybe it looks like a fiendish drow? The only way that could get any worse would be to pull a 'Doctor Jekyll & Sister Hyde' on him.

Dark Archive

So it has been a long time. When are we going to finally see the rest of the new Iconic's?

Shadow Lodge

Dark_Mistress wrote:
So it has been a long time. When are we going to finally see the rest of the new Iconic's?

Yes, I want Feiya. And not just in a sexual way.

Contributor

Dark_Mistress wrote:
So it has been a long time. When are we going to finally see the rest of the new Iconic's?

As soon as the schedule quits making Wes bleed from his eyes. By which I mean as soon as we have time--probably after the holiday madness.

Trust me, we enjoy doing them as much as you enjoy reading them, they take a lot more time than a normal blog!

Liberty's Edge

He's from Kyonin... he's a douchebag by nature of his land of birth.

There isn't a single elf in that place that isn't a 5 alarm asshat.

By the end of Second Darkness my party was contemplating just moving and letting the damn drow get away with it... just to get rid of those douchebag elves -_-


Eradarus wrote:

He's from Kyonin... he's a douchebag by nature of his land of birth.

There isn't a single elf in that place that isn't a 5 alarm asshat.

By the end of Second Darkness my party was contemplating just moving and letting the damn drow get away with it... just to get rid of those douchebag elves -_-

This. Nicest person we met in Kyonin was a Succubus... only one who played it pretty much straight with us, without a bunch of lying and sneaking around (and trying to imprison us, etc). By the end of that adventure path, it was pretty much "meh, if it wouldn't wreak havoc on the surrounding kingdoms, the dark elves probably have the right idea".

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