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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Liberty's Edge

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thejeff wrote:
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.

I dunno, if I'd been raised a different gender than my biology was, I think I'd feel a pretty big disjunction between my body and soul.

thejeff wrote:
The alchemical tinctures that "bring their minds and bodies into harmony" would also not needed if that was all it was

The way I read that was, the tinctures were essentially liquid self-confidence to give her the courage to break with social expectations and embrace what she physically was. I don't see anything that says they actually physically changed her. The tinctures could just as easily have been something that brought her *mind* closer to her body, rather than something that brought her body closer to her mind.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
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.

I see your point. I guess I just would like an iconic that was stated in no uncertain terms to be trans. But I can understand how the current writeup caters to a bigger crowd.


Okay, so here's a question that has nothing to do with anatomy and everything to do with my fascination/love/obession with all things religious-ceremonial-priestly-gear:

What smells flow from the censer? What incense varieties are burned? Does she only use it as an occasional spell focus or does it play a part in her daily prayers, minor blessings, and mundane rites?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I wouldn't say risky, so much as restrictive. In the same way that the presentation of characters in the past has been perceived as overwhelmingly heterosexual has restricted those characters and stories from appealing to more players.

Edit:

Samy wrote:
But I can understand how the current writeup caters to a bigger crowd.

Ah, I see by your edit that we are on the same page. :)

Dark Archive

Samy wrote:
thejeff wrote:
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.

I dunno, if I'd been raised a different gender than my biology was, I think I'd feel a pretty big disjunction between my body and soul.

Conflict generates more energy than harmony, I guess. Matter and antimatter, doing their own thing, and bam. Two weather fronts rubbing against each other and it's tornado time.

How about those tuatara?

Golarion sure has some funky animals scattered about. Marsupials in the River Kingdoms, giant constrictors in the River Asp, jaguars in the Mwangi Expanse, monitor lizards from Brevoy to Varisia.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

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I did write her as blatantly transgender. At least as blatantly transgender as you can write a character without using the anachronistic term "transgender." And even if that word existed, most trans women don't grow up thinking "I'm a trans person," they grow up thinking "I'm pretty sure I'm a girl; I wish people would stop treating my the wrong way and my body didn't feel so disgusting and smelly."

I guess I just don't understand how to write from the cis perspective.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

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Necromancer wrote:

Okay, so here's a question that has nothing to do with anatomy and everything to do with my fascination/love/obession with all things religious-ceremonial-priestly-gear:

What smells flow from the censer? What incense varieties are burned? Does she only use it as an occasional spell focus or does it play a part in her daily prayers, minor blessings, and mundane rites?

In my mind, the censer was originally used to burn a variety of earthy-scented fungus, yeast-like molds, and various minerals for color. Basically, Shardra smells like your grandmother's house in the middle of baking.

Silver Crusade Assistant Software Developer

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Samy wrote:


I dunno, if I'd been raised a different gender than my biology was, I think I'd feel a pretty big disjunction between my body and soul.

That. That right there is the essence of what it feels like to be transgendered.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens Subscriber

To be honest, I did not get the transgender description until I started reading the posts too. I guess the language barrier and my complete lack of first-hand experience with transgender people (at least to my knowledge, with the exception of one person in our city council, whom I don´t know personally) made it impossible for me to catch that. Maybe I´m too much used to the binary gender situation to notice that. Whatever.

If people do feel excluded from gaming for being not represented (I guess I´m part of the usual target group, as a white male, so I can´t relate to that feeling very well), and these efforts at including them do remedy that situation, it is a winning situation for everyone. It is a good sign that paizo (and apparently Wizards as well) do think outside the box and make an effort to include people in gaming in a way that no one thought about, say, 10 to 15 years ago.

The writeup is very good, and the artwork completes it admirably, I think.
(and to be honest, I´m quite happy to see a female character not half-nude and probably silicone-enhanced, as I´m tired of those. The latest iconics seem to be more sensible about that. The female iconics on the GM screen get commented on by my female players every time I use it, and the comments are not favorably.)

Good job, once again! Kudos to Crystal for that story.

Grand Lodge

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Samy wrote:
I mean, I would never have even thought she was trans if I hadn't read this thread.
Stebehil wrote:
To be honest, I did not get the transgender description until I started reading the posts too.

Me three. I totally read it as her parents wanting a boy and raising her as such. Guess that's my own worldview limiting what I see.


Crystal Frasier wrote:
Necromancer wrote:

Okay, so here's a question that has nothing to do with anatomy and everything to do with my fascination/love/obession with all things religious-ceremonial-priestly-gear:

What smells flow from the censer? What incense varieties are burned? Does she only use it as an occasional spell focus or does it play a part in her daily prayers, minor blessings, and mundane rites?

In my mind, the censer was originally used to burn a variety of earthy-scented fungus, yeast-like molds, and various minerals for color. Basically, Shardra smells like your grandmother's house in the middle of baking.

Now I want a paperback on dwarven religious customs and the paraphernalia involved. Not what I was expecting, thanks!

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Crystal Frasier wrote:
I did write her as blatantly transgender. At least as blatantly transgender as you can write a character without using the anachronistic term "transgender."

I think it would have been more blatant if you had said something along the lines of, "her body changed to match her soul", and that still would not have used to anachronistic term "transgender".

Right now, you only use terms like, "disjunction between body and soul" and "mind and body into harmony", which both leave open *which* part is the "real" Shardra. That's the source of the ambiguity.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Samy wrote:
I mean, I would never have even thought she was trans if I hadn't read this thread.
Stebehil wrote:
To be honest, I did not get the transgender description until I started reading the posts too.
Me three. I totally read it as her parents wanting a boy and raising her as such. Guess that's my own worldview limiting what I see.

Your parsing error lines up with mine, even if not for the same reason.

Also, having already given my kudos in regards to the write-up, I feel it still has the primary detracting factor for me of playing into that unfortunate niche of 'hurr durr no female dorfs!1' among some of the less...enlightened...among my peer group. Granted I hang with a sizable Alphabet Soup Coalition contingent, which is all well and good, but they are not entirely who I game with. I'm fairly certain that the shaman will be part of why some of my gaming groups will remain VERY apart.

Bad enough that one person plays nothing but dwarves and always plays them as the bearded drunken cliché, but the player's interpersonal skills are terrible and they are in a relationship with another person at the table who is a dear friend and I am going out of my way to avoid that flavor of drama, which sucks regardless of what *ware one has under the table.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

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Samy wrote:
Crystal Frasier wrote:
I did write her as blatantly transgender. At least as blatantly transgender as you can write a character without using the anachronistic term "transgender."
I think it would have been more blatant if you had said something along the lines of, "her body changed to match her soul", and that still would not have used to anachronistic term "transgender".

I could have. But I felt it was more important to introduce an accurate and more genuine perspective for a trans character than to build her biography off inaccurate cliches for the sake of quick and obvious identification.

Whether you read her background as being transgender or not, you DID get the fundamental aspect of "this is a little girl whose parents raised her as a boy and it made her unhappy," and that is the real heart of the story and this aspect of her character. It doesn't matter what fleshy bits she may have; what matters more than anything is how she sees herself and how she relates to the world. Those are the fundamentals of storytelling and characterization.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Dire Care Bear Manager

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Removed a post. While "queer" can be used as a non-derogatory word, the context of the post indicates it was intended as a slur. You are welcome to disagree, but you need to do so in a way that does not use derogatory language.

Dark Archive

Crystal what does Shardra feed her familiar?

Liberty's Edge Contributor

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ulgulanoth wrote:
Crystal what does Shardra feed her familiar?

The usual: Bug, spiders, eggs, slower gnomes, birds, fresh fish...


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Crystal Frasier wrote:
ulgulanoth wrote:
Crystal what does Shardra feed her familiar?
slower gnomes

gnomes make the best pet food

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Crystal Frasier wrote:
Whether you read her background as being transgender or not, you DID get the fundamental aspect of "this is a little girl whose parents raised her as a boy and it made her unhappy," and that is the real heart of the story and this aspect of her character.

That I can certainly agree with. :)


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Blackvial wrote:
Crystal Frasier wrote:
ulgulanoth wrote:
Crystal what does Shardra feed her familiar?
slower gnomes
gnomes make the best pet food

They're better than halflings; at least gnomes are denser.


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Crystal Frasier wrote:

Mulibrous Tincture

** spoiler omitted **...

Crystal, do you know if there are any plans to release a similar official substance for those who are looking for a FtM transformation?


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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.

Here's my best tongue in cheek guess, with the disclaimer that this paper will probably not appear in a peer reviewed journal any time soon. ;)

Millions of years ago, some of the earliest squamate relatives began evolving in two directions that distinctively separated them from the rest of Reptilia, into the order Draconus. The first major adaptation of this order was sheer size and bulk. Protodraconus held their chosen territories by tooth and claw, feeding on larger prey and often stealing kills by intimidation from faster mammalian predators. This adaptation was highly successful, and these increasingly massive lizard kings rapidly spread into different environments, adapting to each depending on the opportunities their environmental niches offered.

The second adaptation was the secretion of a unique chemical blend from a series of specialized parotid glands that freed them from dependence on sunlight and external warmth, effectively making them as endothermic as any of the mammals that roamed Golarion. This adaptation first appeared among protodraconid populations in colder climates, particularly the cave dwellers.

The majority of the early plains dwelling Protodraconus species became extinct, but several survived and evolved into related but distinctly different modern forms. One useful response to the demands of survival in a temperate but challenging environment was to evolve higher and higher intelligence. In the grasslands where height was a substantial advantage, bipedalism also emerged in parallel with larger brains.

While living examples of this species do possess some proto-glandular structures near the parotids similar to those that allow the modern Draco to emit fire and other substances, they appear to have an entirely different function in this evolutionary branch, serving as an endocrine system regulator rather than a reservoir for the complex chemical mixture that provided endothermic heat to their cave dwelling cousins in the Protodraconus group.

These glands evolved in a remarkable manner in the underground protodraconid species, not only providing them with internal warmth, but allowing them to externalize that warmth to assist in egg incubation. While the chemical was a precious biological resource, it could also be used to some extent defensively, as the mixture was quite combustible under the right circumstances as well as being a significant eye and skin irritant. It is conjectured that some of its defensive function evolved in response to a predator or prey species that used bioalchemical or magical fire.

There are few fossil records extant for the next several million years of evolution in Protodraconus, and attempts at time scrying have so far been inconclusive. We are indebted to Archimage Asmoda Ruthane Taruanor of House Thrune for the single living Protodraconus thrunei specimen presented for study and vivisection to the Life Studies Enclave of Cheliax.

What we do know is that at some point during this era, this species began to evolve a form of alchemical magic centered around their unique secretionary system. The impetus of this evolution is not yet known, but what we do know is that in conjunction with magic, they also developed much larger brains. Modern Draco species are fully sentient; we believe the earliest true Draco were approximately equivalent in intelligence to the apes of Mwangi, as cranial capacity was no more than a few hundred quire in the largest extant specimens. Alchemical investigation of their potential has proved inconclusive, suggesting that their intellect at that time was subject to purely biological limitations. This is certainly not the case with the fully evolved modern Draco and their significantly enhanced neural capacity.

During this phase of evolution from Protodraco to Draco, which also marked a substantial increase in intelligence as well as the evolution of alchemical and true magic in this order, the defensive capacity of their secretions reached new and impressive heights. Early Draco was the apex predator of its realm, in some cases rapidly outpacing the carrying capacity of its habitat.

The insertion of magic into the Draco genome made many more adaptations possible. Fully alchemical secretions now served a potent mutagenic function as well as a simple exothermic one during egg incubation. Offspring began to be born with radically different adaptations that allowed them to take advantage of other habitats, including the sky, as the first winged dracoformes emerged.

With the rapid spread into new habitats and environmental challenges, their hunting and defensive weapons evolved to match, such as bioalchemical electricity to paralyze prey in watering holes and powerful digestive acids that could be externalized as a defensive weapon or to prepare a meal for hatchlings too young to secrete. And of course, the breath of true fire that characterizes the nominate form of the species, Draco draco.

My lord Arantaros the Blue querulously contends that his own species, Draco ignis, is surely the nominate form, but I must confess that the research we have been able to access from other scholarly enclaves does not bear this out. The first breath of this proud race was a mere spark of chemical warmth, so that dog-sized cavern lizards might better digest their food in the absence of sun and hatch their precious eggs.

This is the ancient truth of their origin, humble as it may be. Discovering it has been a journey of wonder, and it is yet possible that this knowledge may help my lord in his quest to regain the living body he once had.

- Jaspar Silvani, First Research Assistant

Grand Lodge

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Crystal Frasier wrote:
"I'm pretty sure I'm a girl; I wish people would stop treating my the wrong way and my body didn't feel so disgusting and smelly."

What's so smelly and disgusting about the male body? I'm a little dubious on how any talk of trans representation seems to skew quite heavily towards trans women at the near total expense of trans men.

Crystal Frasier wrote:
I guess I just don't understand how to write from the cis perspective.

That's a really lame out. If you want to change someones mind you should try to avoid indicating how much disdain you carry for them.

I actually really like Shardra as a character though, so you can still consider this a positive review.


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MassivePauldrons wrote:
Crystal Frasier wrote:
"I'm pretty sure I'm a girl; I wish people would stop treating my the wrong way and my body didn't feel so disgusting and smelly."

What's so smelly and disgusting about the male body? I'm a little dubious on how any talk of trans representation seems to skew quite heavily towards trans women at the near total expense of trans men.

Crystal Frasier wrote:
I guess I just don't understand how to write from the cis perspective.

That's a really lame out. If you want to change someones mind you should try to avoid indicating how much disdain you carry for them.

I actually really like Shardra as a character though, so you can still consider this a positive review.

Ugh, stop looking for things to be offended about and putting words in Crystal's mouth. She does not carry disdain for cis people. She just doesn't understand how to write from that perspective because she isn't one.

And she wasn't implying that male bodies are terrible. She was saying that, when you have the "wrong body", it just seems completely terrible.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
MassivePauldrons wrote:
What's so smelly and disgusting about the male body?

Nothing. That's just how her body feels to her.

Feelings are not objective truths. But they feel like they are.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I know that feeling and I'm not even trans. :D

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Quote:
What's so smelly and disgusting about the male body?

MassivePauldrons, think about male and female body norms. Or, more accurately, 'masculine' and 'feminine' norms. 'Hairy and sweaty' are things we would typically identify as 'masculine'. If you want to be masculine, those things are not a bother, at least in their proper context. But from someone who would prefer to be perceived as feminine, those are problems.

Silver Crusade Assistant Software Developer

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Hormones change a lot about how you smell. True facts.


TanithT wrote:
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.

Here's my best tongue in cheek guess, with the disclaimer that this paper will probably not appear in a peer reviewed journal any time soon. ;)

[redacted for brevity]

I liked what you wrote, and you may be interested to know that according to either the Pathfinder Bestiary or Campaign Setting, linnorms were the original race of dragons.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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MassivePauldrons wrote:
Crystal Frasier wrote:
I guess I just don't understand how to write from the cis perspective.
That's a really lame out. If you want to change someones mind you should try to avoid indicating how much disdain you carry for them.

A male writer admitting he does not know how women really think is not expressing disdain for women. Or vice verse. Grok?


MassivePauldrons wrote:
Crystal Frasier wrote:
"I'm pretty sure I'm a girl; I wish people would stop treating my the wrong way and my body didn't feel so disgusting and smelly."
What's so smelly...

Well I did ask about incense, so olfactory sensations might have come to mind as she wrote...


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MassivePauldrons wrote:
What's so smelly and disgusting about the male body?

Imagine you were transformed into another kind of creature that you don't find attractive. Even if that creature was a perfectly good example of whatever-it-was, admired and respected by all of its kind, your subjective experience would very likely still be one of revulsion. I feel the exact same way about my female body. The look and feel and smell is all wrong for me, and it's deeply disturbing and at times thoroughly disgusting. That's what living with gender dysphoria is like.

Gender dysphoria is not about other people and their bodies at all. It's intensely personal and about your own body.

Quote:
I'm a little dubious on how any talk of trans representation seems to skew quite heavily towards trans women at the near total expense of trans men.

Well, if I was going to write a trans* iconic, it would be a trans man, because that's what I feel and experience from my perspective and that's the deepest well I can tap to tell good stories. Hardly think it's fair to blame anyone else for doing the same.

Quote:
If you want to change someones mind you should try to avoid indicating how much disdain you carry for them.

I don't see any disdain in saying that she has her own perspective and experiences to draw from.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
TanithT wrote:
Imagine you were transformed into another kind of creature that you don't find attractive. Even if that creature was a perfectly good example of whatever-it-was, admired and respected by all of its kind, your subjective experience would very likely still be one of revulsion. I feel the exact same way about my female body. The look and feel and smell is all wrong for me, and it's deeply disturbing and at times thoroughly disgusting. That's what living with gender dysphoria is like.

Now I'm curious, are there people who would feel "wrong" about male *and* female bodies? Human bodies in general? Is that a thing?

Silver Crusade Assistant Software Developer

I could not have said it better. Double thumbs up.

Silver Crusade Assistant Software Developer

Samy wrote:
Now I'm curious, are there people who would feel "wrong" about male *and* female bodies? Human bodies in general? Is that a thing?

There are certainly people who fall in the middle somewhere. There are people that might not have strong feeling one way or the other. It would make senses. But I would imagine that most of the people without a strong identity would only exert pressure as a societal statement rather than a need to be oneself. I've not known too many people in the middle though.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

It's gotta be terrible to begin with, to be in the wrong body...but it's got to be even more terrible if there doesn't even exist the right body that you could go to.


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Stebehil wrote:
To be honest, I did not get the transgender description until I started reading the posts too. I guess the language barrier and my complete lack of first-hand experience with transgender people (at least to my knowledge, with the exception of one person in our city council, whom I don´t know personally) made it impossible for me to catch that. Maybe I´m too much used to the binary gender situation to notice that. Whatever.

Well, English is my first language and I had trouble figuring out what was actually going on in the story when I first read it. Most of us who lack the necessary familiarity will fail to pick up the clues until they become obvious.


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Okay, I have a couple of questions regarding Shardra, because I don't understand this stuff at all and this thread isn't really helping me. I would be so very grateful if someone could shed some light on this matter for me.

First: What exactly is the current definition of transgender used here? I have read about it and I am very, very unsure. Is it somenone who doesn't like his body? Or someone who feels they have the wrong sex? Like, someone in a male body who thinks he is a female? Or vice versa? I guess it's completely different from transsexuals (or is it?) but I'm still completely unsure.

Second: Is it right that Shardra was born a boy? Completely and all? And not as some kind of hermaphrodite? It seemed to me her parents were confused and at first I guessed it was because the child had a weird configuration of sexual organs. Or did they raise her as a boy but Shardra felt more like a girl so it felt weird to her? Didn't she tell her parents? Or wasn't it possible because of dwarven culture?

Third (and last question, or questions): Since when has Shardra known that she is really a girl? I would guess during puberty, when these things start to matter, but what do I know? And she learned what she was from the whispers in her head, right? They told her what she is. And these voices are the voices from other, dead transgender dwarves, correct? Or did her familiar told her about the transgendered dwarves? Are these dwarves still alive?

I am terribly confused by all of this, sorry.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Werebat wrote:
Crystal Frasier wrote:


New Zealand did in fact have an apex predator. It was a freaking dinosaur.
Now consider that New Zealand also had a giant eagle (the Haast's Eagle) that used to HUNT those things! Yikes!

Then by definition, it wasn't the Apex Predator, the eagle was. You don't count as apex if you're regularly hunted.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber

Thank you so much for this discussion so far. I think I have learned a bunch from Crystal and the other posters that share that experience. So please keep up the enlightenment.

As a GM I want to better be able to represent these types of characters, hell as a person I want a better understanding so as to NOT hurt someone's feelings with my ignorance.

Are there websites, or materials that would be a benefit learning more about this subject that you could recommend?

Thanks again in advance!


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I got into a pretty candid discussion with Crystal and Lissa in the LGBT thread. I asked a bunch of what I learned were un-cool and insensitive questions, but they were extremely patient and answered them.
It was incredibly educational and I'd encourage anyone who's uncomfortable asking questions here to give that thread a look-see.


Samy wrote:
TanithT wrote:
Imagine you were transformed into another kind of creature that you don't find attractive. Even if that creature was a perfectly good example of whatever-it-was, admired and respected by all of its kind, your subjective experience would very likely still be one of revulsion. I feel the exact same way about my female body. The look and feel and smell is all wrong for me, and it's deeply disturbing and at times thoroughly disgusting. That's what living with gender dysphoria is like.
Now I'm curious, are there people who would feel "wrong" about male *and* female bodies? Human bodies in general? Is that a thing?

Yes. Species dysphoria is a thing. There are some interesting studies in the process of publication on the subject.

While the work is very preliminary, it appears to be strongly correlated with gender dysphoria (though the reverse is not true) and may have a relationship with a few other interesting traits that may or may not have a biological component. Way too early to draw many conclusions, though.


Regarding my second question I think I have found an answer in the text itself. This sentence here: "As Shardra's mystical skills and budding femininity began to show..." implies to me that she had a feminine body all along, but still something her parents were confused with at birth.

So I guess she's some kind of hermaphrodite, right?

Oh, wait. Maybe it's her emotional femininty, then my theory would be blasted to pieces...

Still confused.


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She was born female, despite her biological body.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Ceres Cato wrote:
First: What exactly is the current definition of transgender used here? I have read about it and I am very, very unsure. Is it somenone who doesn't like his body? Or someone who feels they have the wrong sex? Like, someone in a male body who thinks he is a female? Or vice versa?

I don't believe just "not liking your body" is enough, because there are plenty of people with no trans inclinations who have a lot of problems with their own body. So I believe it's the latter.

Quote:
Second: Is it right that Shardra was born a boy?

I think the official stance is something along the lines of, "the exact nature of what's between her legs is none of our business".

Quote:
Third (and last question, or questions): Since when has Shardra known that she is really a girl?

I'm guessing this sort of thing is more a spectrum than a binary on-off switch. It's probably something that gets stronger over time but there's no exact defining moment. Just a guess though.


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Ceres Cato wrote:

Regarding my second question I think I have found an answer in the text itself. This sentence here: "As Shardra's mystical skills and budding femininity began to show..." implies to me that she had a feminine body all along, but still something her parents were confused with at birth.

So I guess she's some kind of hermaphrodite, right?

Oh, wait. Maybe it's her emotional femininty, then my theory would be blasted to pieces...

Still confused.

That's after
Quote:
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

, which we can assume is the parallel to modern hormone therapy.

So she was starting to show physical feminity.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Ceres Cato wrote:
Regarding my second question I think I have found an answer in the text itself. This sentence here: "As Shardra's mystical skills and budding femininity began to show..." implies to me that she had a feminine body all along, but still something her parents were confused with at birth. So I guess she's some kind of hermaphrodite, right?

It's left ambiguous what exactly her physical configuration is at any point. Me, I read it so that she was born with a female body, and needed to accept it in order to truly blossom. Others interpret the text so that she was born in a male body and had to change it. And of course there are lots of possibilities in-between.

Silver Crusade Assistant Software Developer

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Ceres Cato wrote:
First: What exactly is the current definition of transgender used here? I have read about it and I am very, very unsure. Is it somenone who doesn't like his body? Or someone who feels they have the wrong sex? Like, someone in a male body who thinks he is a female? Or vice versa? I guess it's completely different from transsexuals (or is it?) but I'm still completely unsure.

Well that's a good question actually. In my time, it was largely considered an umbrella term for anyone who didn't fall neatly into the cis paradigm. This included everyone including but not limited to transsexuals, crossdressers, drag artists, and pretty much everyone else. The transsexual community got really tired of every one assuming sexual connotations with our particular diagnosis. For awhile the terms gender identity disorder and eventually gender dysphoric became the more medical terms and as we were largely the people using transgender the most it kind of rolled in as referring to ourselves as transgender and more and more it was still inclusive but became better known for people with gender dysphoria. So, by and large it can refer to anyone within the spectrum but when used as an adjective, it is more often used to describe specifically gender dysphoric individuals.

Ceres Cato wrote:
Second: Is it right that Shardra was born a boy? Completely and all? And not as some kind of hermaphrodite? It seemed to me her parents were confused and at first I guessed it was because the child had a weird configuration of sexual organs. Or did they raise her as a boy but Shardra felt more like a girl so it felt weird to her? Didn't she tell her parents? Or wasn't it possible because of dwarven culture?

The parents were only confused in that they made assumptions based on physical characteristics that turned out not to be true even those assumptions are usually noncontroversial. And the term one should use is intersexed. The other word is considered impolite and only used to descrive flatworms and the like, not people. =)

Ceres Cato wrote:
Second:Third (and last question, or questions): Since when has Shardra known that she is really a girl? I would guess during puberty, when these things start to matter, but what do I know? And she learned what she was from the whispers in her head, right? They told her what she is. And these voices are the voices from other, dead transgender dwarves, correct? Or did her familiar told her about the transgendered dwarves? Are these dwarves still alive?

Well, as an example, I have memories very early in my life. Like at least 5, I remember a conversation with my mother and one of the caretakers of a preschool I attended at a VERY young age... possibly 3 but the only memories I have from that time are more like portraits so that kind of cognitive awareness might not have quite existed yet at that age and it might have been a little later, like early 4's.

Ceres Cato wrote:
Second:I am terribly confused by all of this, sorry.

It's ok. It can be confusing and using this as a teaching moment is why many transgendered people are refreshing this page constantly. I'm sure others will have more stuff to chime in on.


Ah, thanks to both of you.

I thought the alchemical tinctures were some kind of mind-easer. A confidence-booster like someone stated above. But you're right, somewhere in the depths of this thread I faintly remember something about this hormone therapy thing.

But I'm correct that she learned of the hormone therapy from the voicees in her head?

And we still don't know why her parents thought of her as a boy? That's weird.

But concerning the time of her gender awareness: From own experience I just guessed one becomes aware of their own gender when it matters. What happens to be somewhere around puberty, when you can't swim naked with the boys from the neighbourhood anymore. If you're a girl, that is

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