Meet the Iconics: Hayato

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Honor is strength. It is a maxim that Nakayama Hayato has known since birth, and one whose barbs he still feels deep in his flesh. Yet Hayato also knows a deeper truth: that just as a sword must bend to avoid breaking, so too must honor. And the more rigid the steel, the easier it shatters.

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Hayato was born a retainer on the estate of Lord Nakayama Hitoshi, just a few days' ride from the great city of Oda in Minkai. The son of the chief falconer and his wife, Hayato—whose name means "falcon"—quickly proved just as proficient with the dangerous birds as his father, emulating their proud and fierce natures.

It was while accompanying his father on one of Lord Nakayama's hawking outings that he first came to the lord's attention. At eight years old, Hayato was assigned the honor of being the personal attendant to the lord's son, Masao, assisting the privileged child with his falcon. All went well until the noble son, still new to the sport, mishandled his bird and nearly lost an eye for his trouble. The furious lordling prepared to kill the falcon then and there, but Hayato interceded, explaining the boy's error. Enraged even further, Masao began beating Hayato, drawing the attention of the rest of the hunting party. Though Hayato bowed low and accepted the savage blows of his master, he neither cried out nor begged for mercy. When Masao finally tired, Lord Nakayama himself addressed the bloody servant child, asking him why he had been so bold as to correct his superior. Without faltering, Hayato bowed to the lord and said simply, "Because it was the truth."

From that point on, Lord Nakayama took the young Hayato under his wing, frequently assigning him duties within the manor house, engaging him as a companion for his son, and seeing to his education in matters both martial and intellectual. In time, Hayato grew to become a powerful warrior, rising to the position of head samurai of the Nakayama holdings. When Masao died in a drunken duel at the age of twenty, thus depriving Lord Nakayama of an official heir, the bereaved lord began to look more and more to Hayato as a son, even allowing him to take the family name.

Yet Masao's death was only the beginning of the Nakayama family's misfortune. It was shortly after this episode that the Nakayama estate was visited by Kaneka Yoshiro, a traveling lord and government official with a position high in the Imperial Court. With considerably more prestige and official sway than Nakayama, Kaneka was received with full honors—yet it quickly became apparent that the guest was interested in more than just hospitality. Within a few days, Kaneka's cunning insults, lewd advances toward Nakayama's wife, and barely concealed challenges to Nakayama himself left Hayato's lord with no choice. Honor forbade him from allowing the slights to stand unanswered, yet challenging a governmental superior was as good as a death sentence.

In the end, honor won out, just as Kaneka knew it would. Nakayama challenged Kaneka to a duel, and was quickly slain by the talented swordsman. In recompense for the "insult" Kaneka had suffered, the Imperial Court allotted all the Nakayama holdings to Kaneka. Nakayama's widow, faced with the prospect of a dishonored existence among peasants, had no choice but to accept Kaneka's proposal of marriage if she wanted to retain her position.

Though the Nakayama samurai were bound by direct order of the court to honor their new arrangement—and plied with substantial gifts by their new master—Hayato saw the theft for what it was. Several nights later, having watched Kaneka's celebrating guards drink themselves into unconsciousness, Hayato crept into his former master's bedchamber and confronted the usurper even as he lay sleeping with his new wife. Though Kaneka screamed for his retainers, in the end it became clear that his only option was to fight. Taking up the sword that Hayato tossed onto the bed, Kaneka did everything he could to kill the samurai quickly, yet Hayato would not be denied his revenge. At last, bleeding from several terrible wounds, Hayato succeeded in getting past the noble's guard, ending his short-lived dominion over the Nakayama estate in a fine spray of blood.

As Kaneka fell to the floor, pink froth spilling from his lips, Hayato dropped his sword and knelt beside it. Knowing that to attack any lord in this manner—let alone the man the government considered his rightful master—would bring sure execution, he drew his tanto and prepared to die with his honor intact.

A hand on his shoulder stayed his blade. When Hayato looked up, he beheld Lady Nakayama—now Lady Kaneka—in her dressing gown, its yellow silk stained with the blood of her most recent husband. With tears in her eyes, she thanked Hayato for avenging Lord Nakayama and returning the estate to her control. Yet with her next breath, she condemned him forever. Taking his hand in her own—an undreamed-of show of affection and familiarity—the noblewoman forbade Hayato from taking his own life. Instead, she snuck him out of the manor and into a carriage bound for Oda, with only a string of coins, his armor, and a command to live as best he could. When the morning sun rose, it found Hayato on a caravan traveling north, bound for the icy reaches of the Crown of the World and from there on to the mysterious lands of the Inner Sea.

Now in his mid-thirties, Hayato is a hard man who keeps to himself. Though he has long since learned to speak Taldane, he remains terse by nature, feeling that everyone in his new home speaks too much but says too little. He operates as a fearless and talented mercenary—or ronin, as he terms it—for those whose cause seem righteous, yet refuses to bow to anyone regardless of status, saying only that he has had his fill of masters. Hayato is loyal to those few friends who can get past his stone-faced demeanor, yet remains secretly tortured by his conflicting senses of honor. To continue living as a masterless samurai—let alone one who has committed a great crime—is shameful, yet to deny Lady Nakayama's command would be equally shameful. With no clear answer, Hayato has temporarily shelved the problem. Yet deep in his heart, he harbors a secret hope: that perhaps one day he might raise an army of champions and take it back over the Crown of the World, rooting out the corrupt politicians of his homeland and restoring the honor of himself, his adopted family, and the samurai code he was born to uphold.

James Sutter
Fiction Editor

NOTE: Artist Wayne Reynolds and Paizo Publishing will be auctioning off the original art for Hayato, with all auction proceeds being donated to the Red Cross to help Japan recover from the earthquake and tsunami—check this blog tomorrow for details on how you can help!

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Tags: Community Hayato Iconics Meet the Iconics Paizo Samurai Wayne Reynolds
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Dark Archive

Cool background story. Sounds inspired (in part) by the revenge of the 47 ronin.


rpgsavant wrote:
I loved the story. I could see this guy judy choppin his way across the Inner Sea. Hayato sounds like he would make a really good NPC, or even better as a party member in a new Pathfinder novel. Out of curiosity, any chance we can see some sample stats anywhere, or possibly showing up as a stat block in the book?

Im imagining him with Judge Judy, swinging her around like a katana now :D


Yeah, is it me or do I feel that Hayato will gather the rest of the iconics for his goal to invade Minkai? And could you imagine the misadventures they'd all commit while there?


Odraude wrote:
rpgsavant wrote:
I loved the story. I could see this guy judy choppin his way across the Inner Sea. Hayato sounds like he would make a really good NPC, or even better as a party member in a new Pathfinder novel. Out of curiosity, any chance we can see some sample stats anywhere, or possibly showing up as a stat block in the book?
Im imagining him with Judge Judy, swinging her around like a katana now :D

Well he can't do any ninjee choppin. He's not a ninjee.

Liberty's Edge

Arigatou Gozaimasu


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
rpgsavant wrote:
Odraude wrote:
rpgsavant wrote:
I loved the story. I could see this guy judy choppin his way across the Inner Sea. Hayato sounds like he would make a really good NPC, or even better as a party member in a new Pathfinder novel. Out of curiosity, any chance we can see some sample stats anywhere, or possibly showing up as a stat block in the book?
Im imagining him with Judge Judy, swinging her around like a katana now :D
Well he can't do any ninjee choppin. He's not a ninjee.

It seems to me that some of you are channeling the hillbilly ninja.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
PJOsano wrote:
Arigatou Gozaimasu

Dou itashimashite.


I love this idea. Paizo has eared +10 million awesomeness points for this.

Also, love the samurai iconic. Sounds awesomely badass!


Ashanderai wrote:
rpgsavant wrote:
Odraude wrote:
rpgsavant wrote:
I loved the story. I could see this guy judy choppin his way across the Inner Sea. Hayato sounds like he would make a really good NPC, or even better as a party member in a new Pathfinder novel. Out of curiosity, any chance we can see some sample stats anywhere, or possibly showing up as a stat block in the book?
Im imagining him with Judge Judy, swinging her around like a katana now :D
Well he can't do any ninjee choppin. He's not a ninjee.

It seems to me that some of you are channeling the hillbilly ninja.

Indeed I am. As a matter of fact, Diamond Dave may just appear as a ninja NPC in my game.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Until the book with the samurai class is out, we're not going to be posting stats for him. Once the book is out at Gen Con, THEN we can start thinking about putting his stats up for folks to look at (once we have time and figure out a good place to put them, of course...).

Dark Archive

Domo Arigato, Mr. Hayoto!


Ardenup wrote:
(wished he could have been order of the warrior though, ronin kinda suffers in terms of badassness)

You people. His backstory clearly dictates that he could only be ronin.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

James Jacobs wrote:
Until the book with the samurai class is out, we're not going to be posting stats for him. Once the book is out at Gen Con, THEN we can start thinking about putting his stats up for folks to look at (once we have time and figure out a good place to put them, of course...).

We'll likely have several PFS pregens of the new classes/archetypes at GenCon, which would allow people to see stats and use them in games.

Contributor

golem101 wrote:
Cool background story. Sounds inspired (in part) by the revenge of the 47 ronin.

Good eye. :) I'm a big fan of that story. A few years ago I actually wrote a heavy metal song that tells the entire story of the 47 ronin from start to finish (though most of it is screamed rather than sung). Because really, what's more metal than a bunch of samurai on a suicide mission?

Dark Archive

James Sutter wrote:
golem101 wrote:
Cool background story. Sounds inspired (in part) by the revenge of the 47 ronin.
Good eye. :) I'm a big fan of that story. A few years ago I actually wrote a heavy metal song that tells the entire story of the 47 ronin from start to finish (though most of it is screamed rather than sung). Because really, what's more metal than a bunch of samurai on a suicide mission?

A two years long suicide mission, suffering disgrace and shame, only to reach the optimal conditions to exact revenge and restore their master's name. Ah! :)


James Sutter wrote:
golem101 wrote:
Cool background story. Sounds inspired (in part) by the revenge of the 47 ronin.
Good eye. :) I'm a big fan of that story. A few years ago I actually wrote a heavy metal song that tells the entire story of the 47 ronin from start to finish (though most of it is screamed rather than sung). Because really, what's more metal than a bunch of samurai on a suicide mission?

Is that the movie Chushingura? I own that one. FANTASTIC movie. There's a new Chanbara film being released this year called 13 Assassins that's got a similar story.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

rpgsavant wrote:
Is that the movie Chushingura? I own that one. FANTASTIC movie. There's a new Chanbara film being released this year called 13 Assassins that's got a similar story.

Heh... I've had that movie sitting on my coffee table from Netflix for weeks. Turns out, it's hard to fit a super long movie into your schedule when you're slammed with freelance AND distracted by Dragon Age 2!

13 Assassins looks great too... and weirdly mainstream for that particular director...


James Jacobs wrote:

Heh... I've had that movie sitting on my coffee table from Netflix for weeks. Turns out, it's hard to fit a super long movie into your schedule when you're slammed with freelance AND distracted by Dragon Age 2!

13 Assassins looks great too... and weirdly mainstream for that particular director...

It's kind of like trying to find the time to watch the international version of Red Cliff.


James Jacobs wrote:
rpgsavant wrote:
Is that the movie Chushingura? I own that one. FANTASTIC movie. There's a new Chanbara film being released this year called 13 Assassins that's got a similar story.

Heh... I've had that movie sitting on my coffee table from Netflix for weeks. Turns out, it's hard to fit a super long movie into your schedule when you're slammed with freelance AND distracted by Dragon Age 2!

13 Assassins looks great too... and weirdly mainstream for that particular director...

Yeah. Imagine trying to watch Ran in two parts (which I did.) You have to watch the movie twice and keep notes to remember who is who, but still a great piece of cinema.


Cool auction and cool background story.

One thing confuses me though: Lots of rich folks getting killed, but no mention of raising the dead. There may be restrictions on it in the oriental setting, perhaps a law against raising the loser of a duel for one, so it may work, but it seems like a big plot hole that should at least be explained. Thanks :)


How many of you can spot the ninja in the illustration?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
kinem wrote:
One thing confuses me though: Lots of rich folks getting killed, but no mention of raising the dead. There may be restrictions on it in the oriental setting, perhaps a law against raising the loser of a duel for one, so it may work, but it seems like a big plot hole that should at least be explained. Thanks :)

Ever play Final Fantasy 7? Remember when...

spoiler:
Sephiroth killed Aeris?

Big, dramatic moment in the game. Yet no one bothered using a phoenix down to bring her back from the dead, even though phoenix downs are relatively cheap by that point in the game.

No, it makes no sense. Yet for death to have any sort of meaning in a fantasy setting, sometimes you have to suspend your disbelief (which is already suspended once, given that you're playing a fantasy game).


James Sutter wrote:
A few years ago I actually wrote a heavy metal song that tells the entire story of the 47 ronin from start to finish

That was pretty bad ass.


Has anyone seen how much that stupid MissionFish takes from donations???

A SMALL percentage???

20% of the initial $49.99 donated ($10) + 15% of the initial $50-$199.99 donated ($32.50) + 10% of initial $200-$999.99 ($112.50) + 5% of initial $1,000-$4,999.99 ($312.50) + 3% of remaining donation

So right now, about $100 of the $760 for that print is going to soem sponsor organization?????

That really pisses me off...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Xaaon of Korvosa wrote:

So right now, about $100 of the $760 for that print is going to soem sponsor organization?????

That really pisses me off...

If you want to be a millionaire, become a CEO of a private corporation. If you want to be a billionaire, become the head of a nonprofit charity. Truth.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Generic Villain wrote:
kinem wrote:
One thing confuses me though: Lots of rich folks getting killed, but no mention of raising the dead. There may be restrictions on it in the oriental setting, perhaps a law against raising the loser of a duel for one, so it may work, but it seems like a big plot hole that should at least be explained. Thanks :)

Ever play Final Fantasy 7? Remember when...

** spoiler omitted **

Big, dramatic moment in the game. Yet no one bothered using a phoenix down to bring her back from the dead, even though phoenix downs are relatively cheap by that point in the game.

No, it makes no sense. Yet for death to have any sort of meaning in a fantasy setting, sometimes you have to suspend your disbelief (which is already suspended once, given that you're playing a fantasy game).

Heh common misunderstanding (I had the same problem too) but...

Spoiler:

When in combat if you hit 0 HP your status isn't "dead" it's "knocked out". Phoenix Down thus doesn't restore a character to life, it actually removes the "knocked out" condition.
I realised that playing the game about 10 years later.

Silver Crusade

DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Generic Villain wrote:
kinem wrote:
One thing confuses me though: Lots of rich folks getting killed, but no mention of raising the dead. There may be restrictions on it in the oriental setting, perhaps a law against raising the loser of a duel for one, so it may work, but it seems like a big plot hole that should at least be explained. Thanks :)

Ever play Final Fantasy 7? Remember when...

** spoiler omitted **

Big, dramatic moment in the game. Yet no one bothered using a phoenix down to bring her back from the dead, even though phoenix downs are relatively cheap by that point in the game.

No, it makes no sense. Yet for death to have any sort of meaning in a fantasy setting, sometimes you have to suspend your disbelief (which is already suspended once, given that you're playing a fantasy game).

Heh common misunderstanding (I had the same problem too) but...

** spoiler omitted **

I demand phoenix downs be replaced with Left4Dead-style adrenaline shots now. WUBUBUBUBUBU

On the story, yeah Minkai culture seems like it could easily have some laws on who does or doesn't get raised. Seems to me that the scumbag Hayato chopped would be on the greenlit list, which could give our samurai extra motivation to head back home on a roaring rampage of revenge. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

When in combat if you hit 0 HP your status isn't "dead" it's "knocked out". Phoenix Down thus doesn't restore a character to life, it actually removes the "knocked out" condition.

I realised that playing the game about 10 years later.

Yeah, I actually did know that. It's why your status is "KO'd", not "dead." Mainly I was making the point that, in a "realistic" fantasy setting (whether Final Fantasy or Dungeons and Dragons), death loses meaning. With all the incredible magic available, raising someone from the dead is pretty ho hum.

Yet sometimes, you need a meaningful death to tell a story. So what's a GM/storyteller to do? Option one is to make up some arbitrary reason why Dead Guy can't come back - maybe there's a powerful curse, or his soul is locked away, or the villain killed him with an anti-resurrection knife. Option two is to handwave the matter entirely, and just leave it at "he's dead."

In the case of all the rich murdered people mentioned in Hayato's story, there could be all sorts of reasons why they weren't resurrected. Or no reason at all.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Generic Villain wrote:
In the case of all the rich murdered people mentioned in Hayato's story, there could be all sorts of reasons why they weren't resurrected. Or no reason at all.

Very true, but it would be better to provide a reason. Knowing about resurrection spells and how a wealthy person would be in position to have them cast can take the reader out of the story, especially when it would be easy to explain why that route wasn't taken. It could be (as someone mentioned upthread) that there is a cultural prohibition against raising people who died in honourable duels. It could be that the family thought that their son was a disgrace not worth a second chance, and that the lord was too ashamed to return when/if called.

On another note: what alignment do we see for Hayato? The obvious choices are LN or LG. I could see either, but I lean a little more to LG.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Resurrection spells and things like lichdom cause all sorts of problems for inheritance based stuff. I think I remember reading somewhere that many noble families in the Inner Sea region have laws governing inheritance upon the first death of a title holder, so their heirs can actually inherit. I imagine any culture will have to deal with this somehow. A few notes would be cool on how each culture handles such things.

Of course, if no cleric is in the immediate vicinity and the enemy lord took control of the treasury rather quickly, paying for the ressurrection would be an issue right off.

As a noble with eager to inherit heirs ready to grab control of the money once I die...I'd invest in a contingency body teleport to a nearby temple and a prepaid resurrection scroll or something!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

kinem wrote:

Cool auction and cool background story.

One thing confuses me though: Lots of rich folks getting killed, but no mention of raising the dead. There may be restrictions on it in the oriental setting, perhaps a law against raising the loser of a duel for one, so it may work, but it seems like a big plot hole that should at least be explained. Thanks :)

You can't raise someone from the dead if they don't want to come back. And in Minkai in particular, if you're slain... chances are you're pretty ashamed by that and won't want to come back in the first place. Which, of course, assumes that your allies who remain alive themselves aren't ashamed at your failure to survive in the first place.

And even rich folks balk at spending the kind of money that raise dead and resurrection costs.

AND... raise dead type effects simply aren't all that common in the first place in Golarion. 9th level spellcasters aren't sitting on every street corner.

Dark Archive

They tried to resurrect him, but 'Lord' Kaneka Yoshiro ended up in the Hell of Having Your Mouth Sewn Shut and was tragically unable to say 'yes' to the resurrection spell.

Contributor

In my mind, the lord wouldn't be allowed to be raised because of politics. As it says in the story, though honor demanded that he attack the visiting court official, he knew it was a death sentence--it's essentially an attack on rightful government authority (as corrupt as it may be in this situation). There's no way the government would allow Nakayama to be officially resurrected, and even if someone managed to secretly bring him back to life, he'd never be allowed to retain his station. As it stands, he died at least somewhat honorably as a lord. If he came back, he'd be a dishonored commoner in hiding--and one whose wife has married his killer. Not really that enticing for someone who's concerned primarily with honor and reputation!

Contributor

Generic Villain wrote:
If you want to be a billionaire, become the head of a nonprofit charity. Truth.

Maybe that's true for some of the bigger ones, but most of the nonprofits I know consist of idealistic folks dumping tons of sweat and money into keeping the organizations alive. I know nobody's making money off of my charity, The Power of Hope... most of our full-time staff could make more working as baristas. :P


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Sutter wrote:
Maybe that's true for some of the bigger ones, but most of the nonprofits I know consist of idealistic folks dumping tons of sweat and money into keeping the organizations alive.

Yeah, there's a huge difference. I've done work with local charities, and those people work their butts off without any thought of making cash. Yet I also read stories about people who work with large charities and misspend funds on all kinds of personal stuff.

Whenever someone asks me to donate to a charity, my first question is "what percentage of my donation will actually reach those who need it?"


The closer 'to the ground' a charity is, the more likely I am to dig into my pocket, doubly so if its doing work in my area.

I'm a huge fan of direct action charity (as in personally go help out) as opposed to anonymous giving.

That Power of Hope group above is just my cup of tea :)

Contributor

Shifty wrote:

The closer 'to the ground' a charity is, the more likely I am to dig into my pocket, doubly so if its doing work in my area.

I'm a huge fan of direct action charity (as in personally go help out) as opposed to anonymous giving.

That Power of Hope group above is just my cup of tea :)

Agreed on all counts! It's always nice when you can see your 20 bucks (or however much you're giving) actually do work.


Quite a compelling background. Really stirs the question of what Honor truly is.


When I was 16, (I'm now 37,) in my junior year of high school, a bunch of us sat in the back of study hall, and rolled up some AD&D characters. The DM I was playing with at that time, even though we were using 2nd Edition rules, allowed me to role up a Samurai from the original Oriental Adventures book. 21 years later, I am proud to say, he has survived MANY DM's, 2nd Edition, 3rd Edition Rokugan Oriental Adventures, and now converted to Pathfinder Ultimate Combat! With that being said .....

This write-up is just amazing!! I wish I would've seen this a couple years ago and was able to get in on the picture auction. But these Iconic write-ups are awesome!

Now .... if I could only get you guys to give the same treatment to Tian-Xia that you have given to the Inner Sea, (meaning gorgeous hardcover love!) everything would be peachy!!

(btw, I know you all have said that a hardcover of Tian-Xia isn't in the plans anytime soon .... but I still gotta try)

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