Meet the Iconics: Kess

Thursday, July 17, 2014

She was raised to be Lady Kessilandrie Anicia Vlastos, but the thousands of cheering fans that fill the arena's seats when she fights shout her preferred name—Kess the Bull.

Kess never squared herself with the life of pomp and nobility. As a kid growing up in an estate in the Westpark District of Oppara, she spent her time in opulent gardens, tipping over rocks to look for bugs, climbing the massive oaks, coordinating mock battles against imaginary monsters with her sisters and brothers in the plum orchard, and generally getting into trouble.


Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

It was during these pretend adventures that she started learning how to fight. Her brothers and sisters were snobbish, bullying brats that never left the awkward young girl alone. Never one to just take abuse, Kess ended many of those make-believe bouts in flat-out fistfights. It wasn't the wooden swords and staves the kids played with that she mastered in these brawls, but rather a solid left jab, a well-placed kick, or a leg sweep. Her height gave her good reach, letting her even get in a good strike at her oldest brother to silence his bullying.

After too many busted lips and bloody noses, Kess's parents tried to send her to dueling masters in order to teach her the art of swordplay, hoping to channel her energy into a safe and respectable form of combat—something of which nobles could be proud.

As far as Kess was concerned, fencing was for dandies and duels were just tiresome ego dramas. This affluent instruction just didn't stick. After losing too many matches by dropping her training rapier and socking her opponent in the jaw, she was nearly expelled. An older student, sympathetic to her fighting style, tipped her off to an underground fighting ring in a seedy part of the city.

Her first night in the pit was exhilarating. The organizers paired her up with a brawny farm boy whose jaw jutted out as far as his forehead sloped back. He hit hard, but he didn't know a thing about technique. Using her skill and rangy frame to her advantage, Kess had him mewling on the ground in less than a minute.

Using the ruse of attending fencing class, Kess made her way to the underground rings every chance she could get. It was there that she discovered real honor—not that bogus social contract she grew up under. In those pit fights, she learned focus and found her calling. The roar of the crowd charged her, and she pushed her body, testing herself.

Kess learned a multitude of styles and forms from the various fighters and promoters that flowed through the ring, as well as the worship of Kurgess, god of bravery, competition, and sports. She also began to dream of bouts in the far-off nations from which many of her colleagues hailed. In particular, she focused on the gladiator nation of Tymon in the River Kingdoms, from which her coach had won a medal.

Yet everything came apart the night her older brother—eager to gamble on the fights—stumbled into the secret venue and noticed her in the ring. Her father was furious, and her mother worried. This was no way for a proper, highborn lady to act. What if she were hurt or killed? What would happen if other families were to find out? Which of them already knew?

For her own safety—and to quash a scandal—her parents threatened to send her off to their country estate, or even to a boarding school. In no way eager to have her destiny decided for her by others, Kess beat her parents to the punch and snuck down to the docks, boarding a Taldan merchant vessel headed up the Sellen River. With her wits, her skill, and a purse bulging with her winnings in the ring, she set off for Tymon. Once there, she fought enough bouts in the arena to get noticed by the masters of the Valknar Gladiatorial College, using the prize money from her Opparan fights to pay for tuition.

Yet Tymon is small, and Kess easily bored. While still one win shy of being considered “bloodied,” she was lured away from the city by the call of new arenas in distant locations, taking up the life of an adventurer not for treasure, but for the fun of it. Every so often, Kess attempts to alleviate some of her mother's worry by sending letters home telling of her adventures, yet has learned to obscure where they're sent from, lest her father send agents to track her down and try to bring her home.

Kess wears her bruises and scars as proudly as she wears the medals adorning her outfit—prizes from various fights, as well as a short stint with a mercenary company. Even though she tries to be positive and upbeat, she knows that she's often aggressive and sarcastic. Kess isn't afraid to say what's on her mind, especially when facing authorities who try to tell others what to do. She doesn't pay much mind to complicated bureaucracies and outdated social mores, and tends to live her life the way she wants. The only time Kess shows a strong respect for rules is during a competition—she doesn't tolerate cheaters. Kess is competitive, though she encourages others in their own tasks. She keeps her body fit, and trains every chance she gets—a crucial counterbalance to her love of good food, strong drink, and long nights of celebration after a fight.

Adam Daigle
Developer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Brawler Iconics Meet the Iconics Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Wayne Reynolds
1 to 50 of 245 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | next > last >>

I rather like Kess. Not my favorite of the new iconics (Jirelle or Quinn holds that honor), but she seems to be a fun character. I'd love to see how she'd interact with someone like Valeros or Alain (especially since they're both Taldan nobility).

Dark Archive

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

Outstanding my favorite so far by a mile.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

wait when did Amiri go blonde and where is her greatsword
or did I wander into the GoT forums accidentally again
surprised her name is not Brienne
not a fan of this one, feels like a missed opportunity


13 people marked this as a favorite.

PUNCH ALL THE THINGS, KESS!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Gentleman Alligator wrote:
I'd love to see how she'd interact with someone like Valeros or Alain (especially since they're both Taldan nobility).

Wait wait wait. Since when was Valeros nobility?! I thought he was a farmboy who left for adventure to dodge marriage!


9 people marked this as a favorite.
Espy Lacopa wrote:
Gentleman Alligator wrote:
I'd love to see how she'd interact with someone like Valeros or Alain (especially since they're both Taldan nobility).
Wait wait wait. Since when was Valeros nobility?! I thought he was a farmboy who left for adventure to dodge marriage!

That'd be Alain, but now that you mention Valeros being a farm boy...

the post wrote:
The organizers paired her up with a brawny farm boy whose jaw jutted out as far as his forehead sloped back. He hit hard, but he didn't know a thing about technique.

hmm...


Espy Lacopa wrote:
Gentleman Alligator wrote:
I'd love to see how she'd interact with someone like Valeros or Alain (especially since they're both Taldan nobility).
Wait wait wait. Since when was Valeros nobility?! I thought he was a farmboy who left for adventure to dodge marriage!

The part in the parenthesis was talking about Alain and Kess, not Valeros. I could have made that a little clearer, my bad :)

Dark Archive

oh I like Kess, now to wait for some of her art of her punching a giant in the face to come along


What's with the bare midriff? I really liked that Paizo avoided the cheesecake reletively well but they seem to be backsliding into that sad old fantasy art habit.


Eh, can't say that I'm into the design. What does this make, 2, 3 iconic women without exposed stomachs? And the armor looks like she buys the same brand as Amiri, Crowe, and Oloch.

I do like the backstory though, it's the sort of thing I can get behind. Though "won't tolerate cheaters" and "disregards the rules to a fencing spar" mesh oddly. Does she only care about cheating in things she enjoys?

My 2cp


15 people marked this as a favorite.

She's a boxer...so she probably doesn't normally worry about pointy stabby things going into her abdomen.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Never bring a sword to a fistfight hehe.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber

The Ronda Rousey of Pathfinder...

Paizo Employee Developer

44 people marked this as a favorite.
Craig Bonham 141 wrote:
What's with the bare midriff? I really liked that Paizo avoided the cheesecake reletively well but they seem to be backsliding into that sad old fantasy art habit.

Wearing clothing that exposes your midriff does not mean that you're trying to be sexy.


Garrett Guillotte wrote:
Espy Lacopa wrote:
Gentleman Alligator wrote:
I'd love to see how she'd interact with someone like Valeros or Alain (especially since they're both Taldan nobility).
Wait wait wait. Since when was Valeros nobility?! I thought he was a farmboy who left for adventure to dodge marriage!

That'd be Alain, but now that you mention Valeros being a farm boy...

the post wrote:
The organizers paired her up with a brawny farm boy whose jaw jutted out as far as his forehead sloped back. He hit hard, but he didn't know a thing about technique.
hmm...

Hey now, Fighters know plenty about tecnique! with one weapon...

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

That and the only revealed spots are her joints, which she would want to be flexible, every other part of her appears to be well armored , hell she's even wearing headgear.

And she wasn't cheating during the fencing bouts, it was more of "Screw this sissy crap !" *proceeds to open a can of whoopass*

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Adam Daigle wrote:
Craig Bonham 141 wrote:
What's with the bare midriff? I really liked that Paizo avoided the cheesecake reletively well but they seem to be backsliding into that sad old fantasy art habit.
Wearing clothing that exposes your midriff does not mean that you're trying to be sexy.

Yeah on seeing her art my first thought was medevil version of a UFC fighter.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adam Daigle wrote:
Craig Bonham 141 wrote:
What's with the bare midriff? I really liked that Paizo avoided the cheesecake reletively well but they seem to be backsliding into that sad old fantasy art habit.
Wearing clothing that exposes your midriff does not mean that you're trying to be sexy.

Meh, not sure I buy the comparision. She may be a brawler, but she's out in the world, fighting stuff with pointy and slicey bits. I just am not a fan of it for anyone who is supposed to be wearing armor.


Of the women iconics, the professional pit fighter is the most plausible one to have a bare midriff. I like acknowledging that her unarmored gut is going to get hit enough to have iconic bruises, too.

The crotchless chaps/loincloth combo is totally impractical in a fight, though.

There's too many grabbable straps for someone engaging in hand-to-hand combat. The helmet looks a little Gambit head-socky but might look better from other angles.

Still, it's relatively restrained by WAR standards.


Rysky wrote:

That and the only revealed spots are her joints, which she would want to be flexible, every other part of her appears to be well armored , hell she's even wearing headgear.

And she wasn't cheating during the fencing bouts, it was more of "Screw this sissy crap !" *proceeds to open a can of whoopass*

I get the feeling that if she was nearly expelled over punching, it wasn't allowed. This being said, I do like the imagery of a dandy fop completely flabbergasted at his opponent flinging her sword away and going in for a facepunch.

EDIT: Also I'd just like to point out that midriff-baring shirts are preferred in MMA and the like because it leaves less for the opponent to grab onto, right? That does not look like it was a concern for Kess here.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Green Smashomancer wrote:
Rysky wrote:

That and the only revealed spots are her joints, which she would want to be flexible, every other part of her appears to be well armored , hell she's even wearing headgear.

And she wasn't cheating during the fencing bouts, it was more of "Screw this sissy crap !" *proceeds to open a can of whoopass*

I get the feeling that if she was nearly expelled over punching, it wasn't allowed. This being said, I do like the imagery of a dandy fop completely flabbergasted at his opponent flinging her sword away and going in for a facepunch.

I was just trying to point out that "doing what's not allowed" and "Cheating in order to win" are two differant things. And yes that is a hilarious image.

Shadow Lodge

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

Kess and Quinn are my favourites of the ACG Iconics; now I'm eager to see them in a comic together!

Right now, my main mental image of her is of her sundering rapiers by grabbing and bending the blades around!


Hah, I like her. The whole "I'm tired of this pansy sword crap!*face punch*" makes me smile.

So about those new iconics miniatures... I am pretty sure no one here wants to wait two whole PF:B sets for a chance to get one of these avatars of badass as a prepainted mini!

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

I like her!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Jirelle and Kess would not get along.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

I like all the trophy medals she has, but I'm trying to figure out what the two sticks behind her back are. Javelins? Whuppin'-sticks for mixed-weapon brawls?

Grand Lodge

"Sponsored by Brawndo Energy Drink! Order your UFC Comcast season pass today!!"


18 people marked this as a favorite.

From the very first sentence all I could thing of was one thing... Toph. The rest of the back story didn't change that much. I'm not complaining though.


IxionZero wrote:

Hah, I like her. The whole "I'm tired of this pansy sword crap!*face punch*" makes me smile.

So about those new iconics miniatures... I am pretty sure no one here wants to wait two whole PF:B sets for a chance to get one of these avatars of badass as a prepainted mini!

Just get the Amiri mini and cut the sword off, instant kess


For someone who may get entangled in a grapple all those "plates" seem to be a disadvantage in some cases and probably a horrible rules violation in others.

Grappling her could be a dangerous affair, like wrestling someone with a fish hook jacket (one of the most terrifying street weapons ever invented)

Hopefully she pares down some of her equipment during her bouts.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ross Byers wrote:
I like all the trophy medals she has, but I'm trying to figure out what the two sticks behind her back are. Javelins? Whuppin'-sticks for mixed-weapon brawls?

Javelins would make perfect sense considering she also manages to be our first Iconic Kurgess worshiper.

I'm...
less impressed with the artwork, though I will jump on the 'this is the first character where midriff baring armor actually makes sense' bandwagon.
This doesn't mean it's bad. It just doesn't seem as...
I don't know, ?invigorating? as some of the others have. The original Seltyiel was amazing! I not only knew pretty much everything there was to know, I gave a s##$. This...
doesn't grab me that way & after reading the story I really want it to.

Also, Lamontius...
Actually, I like that idea. Thanks.


7 people marked this as a favorite.
Dead Phoenix wrote:
From the very first sentence all I could thing of was one thing... Toph. The rest of the back story didn't change that much. I'm not complaining though.

THATS who the backstory reminded me of. That was bugging me for a while. Thanks for the unintentional help!


7 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Now I want to see a picture of Kess and Sajan sparring, with the other iconics in the background watching with a few of them making bets. :)


Hmm, exposed battle skirt kind of makes sense for a theatrical fighting suit but the bare bladed dagger right at the top of her leg is just asking for a bad day. Hope she doesn't try lunging with that set up.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Green Smashomancer wrote:
Dead Phoenix wrote:
From the very first sentence all I could thing of was one thing... Toph. The rest of the back story didn't change that much. I'm not complaining though.
THATS who the backstory reminded me of. That was bugging me for a while. Thanks for the unintentional help!

Yeah that's also exactly where my mind went as well.


11 people marked this as a favorite.

The Brawlbarian

"This...is awkward. Well, one of us is going to have to change."

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Maccabee wrote:
"Sponsored by Brawndo Energy Drink! Order your XFC Comcast season pass today!!"

Linked, heh.


I like her backstory, and the fact that she worships a lesser-known deity is fun.

The design is...eh? It's not all bad, it's just that nothing grabs me about it.


9 people marked this as a favorite.

I love that shes Taldan. Requesting official or fanart of Kess competing in the Running of the Raptors in Oppara, and clothes-lining a dinosaur.


Lamontius wrote:

The Brawlbarian

"This...is awkward. Well, one of us is going to have to change."

Oh man, the same pose and everything.

They both even have spears strapped to their backs.

Dark Archive

3 people marked this as a favorite.

The true reason armor takes so long to put on in Pathfinder? ALL OF THOSE BELTS! She has like 15 on her arm alone.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Lamontius wrote:

The Brawlbarian

"This...is awkward. Well, one of us is going to have to change."

<Humor> The Brawler Iconic looks nothing like Jodi. :P</Humor>

In all seriousness, I don't see these two as being all that similar, even in your side by side comparison, they have a similar color palette(sp?) and that is about all. I honestly think you are making too much of this. Just my opinion.

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I could totally see Kess, Valeros, Amiri, and Alain trying to drink each other under the table. :)

Silver Crusade Assistant Software Developer

4 people marked this as a favorite.
catron1601 wrote:
I could totally see Kess, Valeros, Amiri, and Alain trying to drink each other under the table. :)

Never try to out drink the barbarian unless you can trick your way through it.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Dire Care Bear Manager

6 people marked this as a favorite.
catron1601 wrote:
I could totally see Kess, Valeros, Amiri, and Alain trying to drink each other under the table. :)

Harsk in the background brewing hangover relief tea?


Interesting. One of my top 3 favorites so far. Hmm... I wonder what's next?


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Adam Daigle wrote:
...Kess beat her parents to the punch...

ISWYDT... >.>


"Beat her parents to the punch."

She's awesome.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Theocratical wrote:
Lamontius wrote:

The Brawlbarian

"This...is awkward. Well, one of us is going to have to change."

Oh man, the same pose and everything.

They both even have spears strapped to their backs.

Haters gonna hate....or get punched in the face, or chopped in half...depends on which icon response is first.

*all in jest*


Azten wrote:

"Beat her parents to the punch."

She's awesome.

I read it as "She beat her parents."... I had to stop for a second. But then I finished the sentence, and I was like "Oh. That makes more sense.".

1 to 50 of 245 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder RPG / Paizo Products / Product Discussion / Paizo Blog: Meet the Iconics: Kess All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.