Meet the Iconics: Shardra Geltl

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Today we introduce the next of the new iconic characters from the Advanced Class Guide: Shardra the shaman. Shardra will also be a playable character in the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Wrath of the Righteous set due for release in February 2015.


Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

It's a sorry lot for a proud dwarven daughter to be raised a miserable dwarven son, but everyone receives one lot in life, and Shardra Geltl never knew to expect better. Childhood was kind, her sisters loved her, her brother protected her, and always she had the whispers of tools and books to keep her company. Adolescence, though, came bearing heavy burdens. Her siblings moved on with their own lives, replaced by harsh teachers and taskmasters. She weathered a staggeringly awkward first kiss as her childhood best friend grew into a handsome lad, followed by a painful arranged engagement to a lovely girl from the neighboring Dechl clan. But the mines and refinery of Xolgrit fed the war machine of Rolgrimmdur far above, and militant efficiency demanded all citizen-soldiers accept and excel in their roles, no matter how miserable.

But Shardra still had the whispers to keep her company on lonely nights.

Books quipped bits and pieces of their tales, bowls jabbered gossip shared over breakfast, and picks stammered the poems of the rocks they clove. And while the odds and ends of Xolgrit kept her company, the stones of the Old Road, carved long ago by dwarves still hunting for the sky, sang legends. More and more often, the shy dwarf slipped away to wander the crumbling paths, learning the deeds of her ancestors away from the clamor of duty and expectation. She assumed the whispers were her friends, there to keep her safe and offer respite from the dull ache of life. Then one "trustworthy" stone crumbled beneath her feet, dropping her into darkness.

The fall was short. Her arm met stone with a wet crunch, but the ache from the shattered bone faded away as the whispers rose in deafening song. All around stretched an ancient cavern. Hot springs bubbled across its floor, while mosaics and beaten gold masks decorated the walls. Mundane beasts and fantastic creatures wandered past, unperturbed by her presence.

A single tuatara waddled forward as she cradled her limb. It borrowed a tongue from the whispers and spoke. "What are you?"

"I—" She opened her mouth to speak, borrowing too from those old, quiet chants. And although the whispers had a word for all things in creation, they had no words for the expectations of others. "I don't know."

From that day on, the whispers poured themselves through Shardra's reptilian friend, speaking louder and more clearly with a mouth to form the words. She soon named the creature Kolo—an old dwarven word for the beauty in everyday things—and told Kolo of Xolgrit and Rolgrimmdur, and of the beauty of the stars in the night sky, and how to tell past and present and future apart. And Kolo taught her how to speak to spirits and borrow their favor to mend her broken bones, and of dwarven faith from long before they mingled their worship with the deities of the surface world. It taught her how to glean deeper secrets from the artifacts of the dead, and how to greet the Ladies of Crag and Ember—powerful elementals who laid claim to the hot springs and the surrounding tunnels. Most precious of all, Kolo taught her of the rivethun—dwarves who drew great power by embracing the disjunction between their bodies and souls—and she learned to brew the alchemical tinctures her past sisters used to quiet the rages of adolescence and bring their minds and bodies into harmony.

As Shardra's mystical skills and budding femininity began to show, her parents lamented their loss of a son and the addition of yet another dowry. Their irritation changed to joy as their daughter's dealings with the spirit world guided Xolgrit's miners to rich new veins of ore and long-lost treasure troves. The Geltl clan's fortunes reversed as Shardra's confidence, skills, and womanhood blossomed, and eventually clans from Xolgrit and beyond offered handsome brideprices.

Shardra's gifts attracted more than suitors, however. Lonely spirits and treasure hunters alike came to Xolgrit hoping to profit by the young shaman's insight. Neither settled peacefully into the community's rigid order. The string of lootings, possessions, drunken brawls, hauntings, and soured beer drew the attention of Rolgrimmdur, and the city-state dispatched a squad of soldiers—under the command of Captain Itcel Dechl—to put down the ragtag mercenary gangs squatting in town. Shardra herself turned her magic on its source, driving the spirit invaders back to the hot spring and demanding the Ladies of Crag and Ember keep their subjects under control.

Unsatisfied by her easy victory over a band of drunken thugs and grave robbers, Captain Dechl and her soldiers traced Shardra's path through the Old Roads, and eventually claimed the sacred shrine (and the wealth covering its walls) as a cultural treasure for Rolgrimmdur. The elemental Ladies raged at the presumption, swearing in turn to reduce Xolgrit to rubble. Both sides declared the dwarf maiden a traitor and cast her aside as they charged into battle. Shardra lashed out, seizing control of an earth elemental and using its might to collapse the ancient shrine.

With nothing left to fight over, the opposing armies fled.

Lacking any evidence of Shardra's actions but burning with frustration, Dechl used what remained of her authority to accuse the spirit-talker of heresy. Although friends and family staunchly defended her innocence, Shardra took the allegations as a chance to act on plans that had grown increasingly tempting. She left Xolgrit and her tutors, childhood friends, and family by paths only the stones remembered. Shardra reached the surface a guarded but curious woman, more interested in stories of the long dead than the bickering of the living. With Kolo the crag tuatara at her shoulder, Shardra now wanders the world, uncovering lost treasure and listening to the tales it has to tell. Permanent ties still chafe, even ones as shallow as a favor owed or an unpaid tavern bill, but her heart softens toward any who wander. Despite her love of the world's vast mysteries, a small part of the shaman yearns for the joy and companionship she once felt with her sisters, and Shardra corresponds with her family often, ever watchful for any discovery that might provide an excuse to write or visit her distant, glittering home.

Crystal Frasier
Contributor

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Tags: Iconics Meet the Iconics Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Shaman Wayne Reynolds
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Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Crystal Frasier wrote:
Necromancer wrote:
Crystal Frasier wrote:
...but no one has ever asked to know why Merisiel is still an elf.
Alain has. He has to have asked...at least once.
Alain is a walking study in what not to do.

Alain is the kind of jackass who thinks that if you're permitted close, your existence is meant to benefit him, including the details of your genitalia (personality only matters to him if it causes him trouble).

Whereas I kind of see Valeros as being like Denmark here.

captain yesterday wrote:

also Crystal awesome awesome job! (i've said it already as an Alias but it deserves another mention)

its great that Paizo is taking a stand on the fore front of the Human Rights struggle, too often companies sit on the sideline for too long.

kudos,
hopefully we get many more adventures from you as well :)

This is one of the reasons that Paizo and Posthuman Studios are my two favorite gaming companies.

captain yesterday wrote:
So wait elves can turn themselves into humans? that doesn't seem possible(?)

Polymorph spells.


7 people marked this as a favorite.
Crystal Frasier wrote:
So we know details about any other iconic's personal bits? Kyra's cup size? Whether or not Valeros is circumcised? The color of Lini's squeedily spooch?

Yep. Exactly this.

There are many reasons of good storytelling not to spell out quite all of the details, as well as reasons of good taste. Yes, they're fictional characters. Yes, you are still speculating out loud over the state of their junk, which has some unfortunate social consequences that impact people in real life. It's not generally okay to speculate crudely about anyone's private parts - most people find that annoying and embarrassing even if they don't have a history of painful gender dysphoria - and the fact that someone is trans* seems to make people think it is socially okay. It's not.

If you would raise an eyebrow and wonder at the mental state of someone loudly speculating as to whether Imrijka has tusks down there, it's not different for Shardra. And yes, it can make people uncomfortable and create a social environment that feels unsafe and objectifying for the people whose genitals you are making the subject of public dissection. Also kind of juvenile. There are not real half-orcs, but there are real trans* people.

An old and crude historical meme that was picked up in the Hannibal movie was that Japanese women had sideways personal parts. One of the key scenes involved some low class cretins openly speculating about the genitals of Asian women in front of Lady Murasaki. The effect on her is obvious, as is the fact that it is a very not okay thing to be doing. If you mentally substitute "Japanese women" for "trans women", you may better understand the real world social impact that kind of speculation has, even when the specific characters are fictional.

This said, what I would be tremendously interested in hearing more about are the general mechanics of gender variance and transition on Golarion, cultural, magical and biological. Thanks much for the tincture writeup, that was nifty!

I do find myself wanting to know more about the journeys other trans* people go through because it has been inspirational and helpful to me to see the different options and possibilities. I am grateful that others have been willing to share details that helped me consider my own options and possibilities. But it is incredibly difficult to make a safe space to have those kinds of conversations, and it can't be done on a forum that has to have other priorities.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

11 people marked this as a favorite.
Crystal Frasier wrote:
thejeff wrote:

True when it comes to real people. (Or in that case one fictional person to another.)

Somewhat less so when dealing with fictional characters. We often know many things about fictional characters that would be horribly rude to ask of real people.

So we know details about any other iconic's personal bits? Kyra's cup size? Whether or not Valeros is circumcised? The color of Lini's squeedily spooch?

Well...

I know these things, but I'm a special case, I guess! :-P


8 people marked this as a favorite.
Crystal Frasier wrote:
In a world where magic exists that can turn a forlorn elf into a human so they don't have to watch all their friends grow old, but no one has ever asked to know why Merisiel is still an elf.

In case anyone does... it's because being an elf is right for me. Even if it makes me sad when all you lovely humans get all old and wrinkly.

Liberty's Edge

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

Everyone keeps talking about genital size and such, Imona hafta convert all the Iconics to F.A.T.A.L. This would require me to read F.A.T.A.L. Please don't make me read F.A.T.A.L. :P


Reckless wrote:
Everyone keeps talking about genital size and such, Imona hafta convert all the Iconics to F.A.T.A.L. This would require me to read F.A.T.A.L. Please don't make me read F.A.T.A.L. :P

For the uninitiated, every adult gamer deserves a skim-through to remind us what the real enemies sound like.

CLICK AT YOUR OWN RISK

Dark Archive

Is this the first Iconic that regularly goes by both her given name and her family name? I know that various Iconics have last names, like Merisiel, several posts up, but most of them don't use their surnames regularly...


Set wrote:

Is this the first Iconic that regularly goes by both her given name and her family name? I know that various Iconics have last names, like Merisiel, several posts up, but most of them don't use their surnames regularly...

There's Damiel Morgethai, Nakayama Hayato and Sajan Gadadvara.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

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Wow, this is wonderful. Many thanks to Crystal, Wayne, Crystal, The Paizo editorial crew, and Crystal for such a great character.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Wayne Reynold's designs are really great.

How much input does he have on the designs, though? Does paizo give him free reign?

Editor-in-Chief

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Ganryu wrote:

Wayne Reynold's designs are really great.

How much input does he have on the designs, though?

Significant.

We've worked with Wayne for more than a decade and trust not just his artistic skill but also his fantastic insight into real-world arms and armor. While we very deliberately choose the genders, races, ethnicities, and general weapons and armors of new iconics in-house, Wayne is very much a creative partner in the creation of these characters. Less is usually more when it comes to ordering art, and in the case of art briefs for new iconics our descriptions typically include little more than what I already mentioned, and a sentence or two more of class particulars and other elements we're trying to highlight. Then Wayne does what makes him one of the best in the biz. We sometimes make minor tweaks upon seeing sketches, but more often than not we don't. Turns out Wayne knows what he's doing and getting a new piece from him always causes considerable buzz.

In Shardra's case in particular, we didn't ask for a dwarf-themed headdress, jade dagger, censer, etc. Dude knows the game, the industry, and his craft, and the results endlessly impress.

(You guys know Crowe, the Iconic Bloodrager is his Curse of the Crimson Throne Pathfinder character, right?)

Editor-in-Chief

6 people marked this as a favorite.
James Jacobs wrote:
Crystal Frasier wrote:
thejeff wrote:

True when it comes to real people. (Or in that case one fictional person to another.)

Somewhat less so when dealing with fictional characters. We often know many things about fictional characters that would be horribly rude to ask of real people.

So we know details about any other iconic's personal bits? Kyra's cup size? Whether or not Valeros is circumcised? The color of Lini's squeedily spooch?

Well...

I know these things, but I'm a special case, I guess! :-P

Stop that. -_-


F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Ganryu wrote:

Wayne Reynold's designs are really great.

How much input does he have on the designs, though?

Significant.

We've worked with Wayne for more than a decade and trust not just his artistic skill but also his fantastic insight into real-world arms and armor. While we very deliberately choose the genders, races, ethnicities, and general weapons and armors of new iconics in-house, Wayne is very much a creative partner in the creation of these characters. Less is usually more when it comes to ordering art, and in the case of art briefs for new iconics our descriptions typically include little more than what I already mentioned, and a sentence or two more of class particulars and other elements we're trying to highlight. Then Wayne does what makes him one of the best in the biz. We sometimes make minor tweaks upon seeing sketches, but more often than not we don't. Turns out Wayne knows what he's doing and getting a new piece from him always causes considerable buzz.

In Shardra's case in particular, we didn't ask for a dwarf-themed headdress, jade dagger, censer, etc. Dude knows the game, the industry, and his craft, and the results endlessly impress.

(You guys know Crowe, the Iconic Bloodrager is his Curse of the Crimson Throne Pathfinder character, right?)

I don't know how or why it occurs, but I know that if I'm just wandering a book store, and I see his art on the cover, I pick up that book. I may not buy it, but that's a phenomenal talent. My favorite's still the black and white interior art from Tome and Blood, though...

Lantern Lodge

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

I am feeling so much pride in this company right now. You all do an amazing job of keeping the bar set incredibly high. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

NOW SEND ME BOOKS - QUIT STALLING AND MAKE WITH THE GOODS

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
thejeff wrote:
So we know details about any other iconic's personal bits? Kyra's cup size? Whether or not Valeros is circumcised? The color of Lini's squeedily spooch?

Well...

I know these things, but I'm a special case, I guess! :-P

Figures. JJ has Golarion's equivalent to the Repository of the Ancients on all things - relevant or trivial - related to the Pathfinder-verse.

Oh, I could make so many wonderful, socially unacceptable jokes about my musings on the iconic characters..... But I will refrain.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber
xidoraven wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
thejeff wrote:
So we know details about any other iconic's personal bits? Kyra's cup size? Whether or not Valeros is circumcised? The color of Lini's squeedily spooch?

Well...

I know these things, but I'm a special case, I guess! :-P

Figures. JJ has Golarion's equivalent to the Repository of the Ancients on all things - relevant or trivial - related to the Pathfinder-verse.

Oh, I could make so many wonderful, socially unacceptable jokes about my musings on the iconic characters..... But I will refrain.

Leave it to me :)

I think I finally figured out how JJ lost so much weight. It started with a loss of appetite after having to measure and record Alain's banner pole. At Alain's insistence, of course. He had to use the Southpark T.M.I. method of measuring/calculating.


Captain K. wrote:

This sexuality discussion could be resolved if the Iconics get together and Feiya spams Misfortune > Evil Eye > Cackle > Unnatural Lust on everyone and sees who makes their saving throw.

Then records the zany fun on some crystal ball or whatever.

Anyway, here we go on Iconic sexuality...

I love it, though two things I'd change or like to add.

Ezren - I like to point that Ezren is likely het considering the implied attraction he has towards Sheila Heidmarch in the City of Secrets comic.

Seltyiel - To me, he's bi. But he is always a top.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

Glad to see another Dwarf iconic. Not so glad to see 10 pages worth of discussion on Shardra's junk instead of all the spirit connection, and the fact that they never thought she was mildly insane for constantly talking to inanimate objects.


Oh, I thought it was normal to talk to inanimate objects.


It's abnormal not to talk to inanimate objects.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

2 people marked this as a favorite.
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Crystal Frasier wrote:
thejeff wrote:

True when it comes to real people. (Or in that case one fictional person to another.)

Somewhat less so when dealing with fictional characters. We often know many things about fictional characters that would be horribly rude to ask of real people.

So we know details about any other iconic's personal bits? Kyra's cup size? Whether or not Valeros is circumcised? The color of Lini's squeedily spooch?

Well...

I know these things, but I'm a special case, I guess! :-P

Stop that. -_-

I'll tell ya if ya want. Lini won't mind.

Silver Crusade Assistant Software Developer

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Removed a troll post and a couple of replies. Flag it and move on please

Webstore Gninja Minion

8 people marked this as a favorite.

Removed an additional post. Further insulting posts will not be tolerated.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Doggan wrote:
Glad to see another Dwarf iconic. Not so glad to see 10 pages worth of discussion on Shardra's junk instead of all the spirit connection, and the fact that they never thought she was mildly insane for constantly talking to inanimate objects.

She's a shaman, duuh. They do that kind of thing. I'm more interested in the tuatara, and how various aspects of reptile biology might evolve in a magical ecosystem. One of my first speculations is that if the existence of magic made it possible to evolve a way to surpass ectothermic limitations, that would likely be a retained and rapidly spreading trait very early on.

Hmmm. Dragons. That would actually be a pretty solid explanation for the evolution of fire breath. It might not originally have been either for hunting or defense. Venom wasn't. Its original function was speeding digestion and keeping a meal from literally rotting in the belly if the snake didn't get enough postprandial basking time. That was a crucial advantage in unpredictable climates. The rest came later.


TanithT wrote:
Hmmm. Dragons. That would actually be a pretty solid explanation for the evolution of fire breath. It might not originally have been either for hunting or defense. Venom wasn't.

I don't think I've ever heard anyone offer that theory before. That's great.


I'm really happy that Paizo is representing trans* people in its game and stories. I hope that in the future Paizo will widen its thinking and embrace other life styles too.

The Human Being is an extreme and vast thing. Does any species on our planet have more variation? Why wouldn't we want our roleplaying games to incorporate this vastness of human culture?

The Pathfinder roleplaying game (and 3.5 before it), embraced a large number of transitional paths. Man to Machine/Plant/Dragon/Undead/Fairy/Unicorn and probably some other prcs I'm forgetting.

I was really surprised to see the extreme nature in some recent books, like Occult Mysteries including body dysmorphia options through the Agonizing Obedience feat. Or even the Demonic Obedience to Orcus requiring a character to perform necrophilia (Perhaps we'll get non-evil necrophilia content in the future).

I am all for the inclusion of extreme, unusual or out of the ordinary lifestyles being a part of the game.

I do not mean to offend anyone by comparing these things to transgenderism. I would hope trans* people, given all the discrimination they face, would be willing to support other marginalized communities too. Marginalized communities that must remain unnamed, apparently.

I am not trolling.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Crystal Frasier wrote:
thejeff wrote:

True when it comes to real people. (Or in that case one fictional person to another.)

Somewhat less so when dealing with fictional characters. We often know many things about fictional characters that would be horribly rude to ask of real people.

So we know details about any other iconic's personal bits? Kyra's cup size? Whether or not Valeros is circumcised? The color of Lini's squeedily spooch?

Things I learnt today. Crystal is an Invader Zim fan. Thus making her even more awesome than she already was.

Also... I just realised that Lini could legitmately have a squeedily spooch, because as Dib says, humans don't have squeedily spooches, but Lini is a gnome. Mind blown...

Also, to actually have some of my post be relevant. Thanks for the awesome depiction of a trans* iconic in such a positive way. I have a 14 year old cousin who's going through this at the moment, and I've been getting him into RPGs. Next time we cycle around to playing Pathfinder, I'm sure he'll appreciate seeing a character like Shardra.

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.

nthrun5000:

I think the issue is that you're comparing being trans* to things like, oh, necrophilia. Which is not a flattering comparison in the least, especially given the fact that actual necrophilia is highly immoral by most reasonable moral codes in almost all cases (which is not true at all of being trans*). And necrophilia being a sexual kink/orientation (more or less)...which being trans* is rather definitively not. Now, I didn't see all your other posts, but if the compared being trans* to similar things, it's no wonder people were less than thrilled.

In short, being trans* really isn't comparable to at least some of the things you're comparing it to, and doing so misrepresents being trans* in an extremely unpleasant and inaccurate fashion. Not all minority groups are equal or readily comparable. So please stop doing that kind of comparison between those that aren't.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

nthrun5000:

I think the issue is that you're comparing being trans* to things like, oh, necrophilia. Which is not a flattering comparison in the least, especially given the fact that actual necrophilia is highly immoral by most reasonable moral codes in almost all cases (which is not true at all of being trans*). And necrophilia being a sexual kink/orientation (more or less)...which being trans* is rather definitively not. Now, I didn't see all your other posts, but if the compared being trans* to similar things, it's no wonder people were less than thrilled.

In short, being trans* really isn't comparable to at least some of the things you're comparing it to, and doing so misrepresents being trans* in an extremely unpleasant and inaccurate fashion. Not all minority groups are equal or readily comparable. So please stop doing that kind of comparison between those that aren't.

I can understand how it could be perceived as offensive. It is not my intention to belittle trans* people.

Whether necrophilia is immoral or not is beside the point when concerning the game. Characters and NPCs can be of nine different alignments, 3 of them evil.Expanding the game to include a larger variety of real world culture makes the game more interesting. I love digging through history, anthropology and ethnography to add new cultures and people to my game.

Isn't it funny that starting in 3.0 we had man-to-dragon prestige classes and now, over 15 years later, a designer posts rules for male-to-female alchemical items?

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
nthrun5000 wrote:
I am not trolling.

Regardless, you've been told three times that what you are posting is inappropriate in the eyes of the moderators.


KSF wrote:
TanithT wrote:
Hmmm. Dragons. That would actually be a pretty solid explanation for the evolution of fire breath. It might not originally have been either for hunting or defense. Venom wasn't.
I don't think I've ever heard anyone offer that theory before. That's great.

An even better explanation for acid breath. I'm not sure how lightning fits in though.


Question about terminology:
Why is it spelt "trans*"? Why is that asterisk there? Seriously, I keep looking for notes at the end of posts.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

I would guess that it's to show that it's usually either trans-man, or trans-woman, but the person writing want to include both options.

Project Manager

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Justin Sane wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Some explanation.

"While I’m down with trans* as a more inclusive and rich expression, the explanation of the asterisk’s original meaning is a misunderstanding of how it applies in computing. /* tech geek, sex ed geek */

“The origin behind the asterisk, as I understand it, is a bit computer geeky. When you add an asterisk to the end of a search term, you’re telling your computer to search for whatever you typed, plus any characters before and after (e.g., [extra letters][search term*][extra letters], or trans*[-gender, -queer, -sexual, etc.]). ”


further explanation

"Wildcard" is the term the blogger was looking for and the asterisk is generally used as a wildcard.

Grand Lodge

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If you want to know more about Shandra, Crystal was kind enough to answer a few questions about the iconic shaman and the feedback she's received thus far.

Enjoy!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
thejeff wrote:
KSF wrote:
TanithT wrote:
Hmmm. Dragons. That would actually be a pretty solid explanation for the evolution of fire breath. It might not originally have been either for hunting or defense. Venom wasn't.
I don't think I've ever heard anyone offer that theory before. That's great.
An even better explanation for acid breath. I'm not sure how lightning fits in though.

They have to recharge their phones somehow. How else are they going to take hoard selfies?


ThreeEyedSloth wrote:

If you want to know more about Shandra, Crystal was kind enough to answer a few questions about the iconic shaman and the feedback she's received thus far.

Enjoy!

Cheers for that! Thanks.

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I think the thing that bugs me about Shardra is that it's not explicitly stated that she's trans. It's subtext that one can choose to pick up on, but I think the text is hedged enough that one can also choose the interpretation that she's not trans.

I mean, I would never have even thought she was trans if I hadn't read this thread. All I took home from the text was that she was born biologically female but her parents tried to raise her as a male, and that her awakening was just her asserting her original biological gender. Which is an interesting enough angle in itself. And frankly, that's the way it still reads to me.

I'm fine acknowledging that officially, apparently her genitalia actually changed. But the picture I have painted in my head so far, she's not trans, she just had messed up parents.


Samy wrote:
but I think the text is hedged enough that one can also choose the interpretation that she's not trans.

Hedged implies that the writer didn't commit to the idea that the character was trans. That's clearly not the case. This is a trans character written from a trans point of view, and it's pretty committed to that point of view.

Samy wrote:
I'm fine acknowledging that officially, apparently her genitalia actually changed.

Whether they changed or not, we don't know. The only one who knows, or needs to know, is Shardra. There's some discussion of this earlier in the thread.


Samy wrote:

I think the thing that bugs me about Shardra is that it's not explicitly stated that she's trans. It's subtext that one can choose to pick up on, but I think the text is hedged enough that one can also choose the interpretation that she's not trans.

I mean, I would never have even thought she was trans if I hadn't read this thread. All I took home from the text was that she was born biologically female but her parents tried to raise her as a male, and that her awakening was just her asserting her original biological gender. Which is an interesting enough angle in itself. And frankly, that's the way it still reads to me.

I'm fine acknowledging that officially, apparently her genitalia actually changed. But the picture I have painted in my head so far, she's not trans, she just had messed up parents.

You have to read between the lines a little bit, but I think it's pretty clear in the text. The bit about "the rivethun - dwarves who drew great power by embracing the disjunction between their bodies and souls" is telling and wouldn't really make sense if she was just a woman whose parents had tried to raise as a boy. The alchemical tinctures that "bring their minds and bodies into harmony" would also not needed if that was all it was, though admittedly something "to quiet the rages of adolescence" could be useful to anyone.

Though I will say that I was wondering if she was actually intersex rather than trans. I think the text could be read that way as well.

Silver Crusade Assistant Software Developer

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Which, please, please, please, lets not get back to talking about her genitals... -_-

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Samy wrote:
I mean, I would never have even thought she was trans if I hadn't read this thread. All I took home from the text was that she was born biologically female but her parents tried to raise her as a male, and that her awakening was just her asserting her original biological gender. Which is an interesting enough angle in itself. And frankly, that's the way it still reads to me.

And that's actually a strength of the writeup. If you don't want to play her as trans, you can interpret her exactly as you first read her. If your group isn't comfortable with including these themes in your game, you don't have to. Crystal has given us a well formed iconic that can suit any player in multiple ways depending on how they envision her. The same way that it was left to the players to decide how Zadim resolved his mission at the end of his iconic writeup.

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