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

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Iconics Meet the Iconics Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Shaman Wayne Reynolds
51 to 100 of 802 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | next > last >>

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Thanks for the great write-up Crystal.

I really appreciate how she's dwarven (stereotypically a very masculine race) and manages to remain unwaveringly dwarven throughout her arc. Also for making the central conflict of the story about her accomplishments rather than her gender.

Anyway, yeah, great story all around.

Also d'awwwww earth tuatara! So cute!

Cheers!
Landon


Her familiar looks much bigger than "tiny". Looks like it could bite a chunk out of ya, unlike this little guy. Is this thing some sort of improved familiar?

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Detect Magic wrote:
Her familiar looks much bigger than "tiny". Looks like it could bite a chunk out of ya, unlike this little guy. Is this thing some sort of improved familiar?

Nope. Kolo is one of these.


Crystal Frasier wrote:
Fun side note: We determined that Kolo is a Deep Crag Tuatara, an offshoot of reptiles separate from snakes and lizards and looking distinctively more primordial. On the surface they're fairly rare, but in the darklands there are several species that have adapted and flourished. Deep Crag Tuataras are camouflaged to blend in with their rocky environments, making Kolo look like it's made of stone.

Cool! If confusing.

Stats like a regular tuatara, but with a stealth bonus in caves, perhaps.

Shadow Lodge

Crystal Frasier wrote:
Detect Magic wrote:
Her familiar looks much bigger than "tiny". Looks like it could bite a chunk out of ya, unlike this little guy. Is this thing some sort of improved familiar?
Nope. Kolo is one of these.

Link fixed =)

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Orthos wrote:
Crystal Frasier wrote:
Detect Magic wrote:
Her familiar looks much bigger than "tiny". Looks like it could bite a chunk out of ya, unlike this little guy. Is this thing some sort of improved familiar?
Nope. Kolo is one of these.
Link fixed =)

thank you, Orthos!

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Crystal Frasier wrote:
Fun side note: We determined that Kolo is a Deep Crag Tuatara, an offshoot of reptiles separate from snakes and lizards and looking distinctively more primordial. On the surface they're fairly rare, but in the darklands there are several species that have adapted and flourished. Deep Crag Tuataras are camouflaged to blend in with their rocky environments, making Kolo look like it's made of stone.

So even making assumptions about her based on the appearance of her familiar is bound to lead to poor understanding. There are so many layers here, this bio is practically an ogre Deep Onion.

Also, does it have a tiny scroll on its back? It's so cute! :D

Grand Lodge

Great story, love the art as usual, but still not feeling the class.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

i want to know more about the tiny scroll on her familiar's back. basically, i just wanna know everything about this character.

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Excellent character. I approve entirely, and it's nice to see an officially trans* Iconic. Beyond that, I really don't know what else to say.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

30 people marked this as a favorite.
inkyclouds wrote:
i want to know more about the tiny scroll on her familiar's back. basically, i just wanna know everything about this character.

Kolo still has trouble telling the past, present, and future apart, so Shardra made a little cheat sheet and note pad so it could keep track.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm super ecstatic about Shardra. It's nice to have a openly trans iconic, and it was nice to have it be accepted by the dwarves. Crystal hits another out of the park. New favorite iconic.


9 people marked this as a favorite.
Detect Magic wrote:
Her familiar looks much bigger than "tiny". Looks like it could bite a chunk out of ya, unlike this little guy. Is this thing some sort of improved familiar?

It's a tuatara (they're in Bestiary 4 and New Zealand). I can't speak for Pathfinder tuatara, but the real things can get to be almost a meter/yard long.

They're also really, really cool. Among other things, they're largely unchanged from their ancestors 200 million years ago and they have a complete but scale-covered third eye on the top of their head.

On topic, some Maori tribes consider them guardians of knowledge. Pretty fitting for a Lore Shaman.

Cheers!
Landon


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Crystal Frasier wrote:
Athel wrote:

Love it. Great addition to the Iconic roster.

I'm curious what her shaman spirit is. Lore (since she's so interested by history and tradition)?

Her spirit is Lore, although Kolo keeps trying to talk her into earth.

When I read it the talk she had with the elementals was cool. Since elemental spirits dont actually have gender assignments, they choose the gender based on how they feel.

Perhaps earth would fit her better or any of the elements.


Shardra is now my favorite Iconic! Great job, Crystal!

Crystal Frasier wrote:
Fun side note: We determined that Kolo is a Deep Crag Tuatara, an offshoot of reptiles separate from snakes and lizards and looking distinctively more primordial. On the surface they're fairly rare, but in the darklands there are several species that have adapted and flourished. Deep Crag Tuataras are camouflaged to blend in with their rocky environments, making Kolo look like it's made of stone.

So... will we get stats for tuatara familiars soon-ish?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Crystal Frasier wrote:
inkyclouds wrote:
i want to know more about the tiny scroll on her familiar's back. basically, i just wanna know everything about this character.
Kolo still has trouble telling the past, present, and future apart, so Shardra made a little cheat sheet and note pad so it could keep track.

this is the best possible answer i could have gotten. my dm brain is just going 'squish' about this character so hard.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Ambrosia Slaad wrote:

Shardra is now my favorite Iconic! Great job, Crystal!

Crystal Frasier wrote:
Fun side note: We determined that Kolo is a Deep Crag Tuatara, an offshoot of reptiles separate from snakes and lizards and looking distinctively more primordial. On the surface they're fairly rare, but in the darklands there are several species that have adapted and flourished. Deep Crag Tuataras are camouflaged to blend in with their rocky environments, making Kolo look like it's made of stone.
So... will we get stats for tuatara familiars soon-ish?

Bestairy 4. Also available here.

Paizo Employee Designer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Ambrosia Slaad wrote:

Shardra is now my favorite Iconic! Great job, Crystal!

Crystal Frasier wrote:
Fun side note: We determined that Kolo is a Deep Crag Tuatara, an offshoot of reptiles separate from snakes and lizards and looking distinctively more primordial. On the surface they're fairly rare, but in the darklands there are several species that have adapted and flourished. Deep Crag Tuataras are camouflaged to blend in with their rocky environments, making Kolo look like it's made of stone.
So... will we get stats for tuatara familiars soon-ish?

Basic tuatara are already legal familiars in Bestiary 4. I wonder if there will be anything about deep crags in that upcoming Player Companion, though--Familiar Folio. Hmm... ;)


Crystal Frasier wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:

Awesome. Just fabulous. I'm all glittery.

BUT

'Crystal Frasier, Contributor'

:(

No tears, Gorbacz. It means I have more time to write!

I really hope you will write more because this backstory just blew my mind.

Fantastic work Crystal Frasier, fantastic!

BTW, I love the art as well. She looks mysterious and mean. I bit like a awesome, cool and powerful version of Mona Lisa.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

39 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm just happy we finally have our iconic tuatara! Been pushing for one of these from the start!

Oh, and Shardra is pretty awesome too!


Mark Seifter wrote:
Ambrosia Slaad wrote:

Shardra is now my favorite Iconic! Great job, Crystal!

Crystal Frasier wrote:
Fun side note: We determined that Kolo is a Deep Crag Tuatara, an offshoot of reptiles separate from snakes and lizards and looking distinctively more primordial. On the surface they're fairly rare, but in the darklands there are several species that have adapted and flourished. Deep Crag Tuataras are camouflaged to blend in with their rocky environments, making Kolo look like it's made of stone.
So... will we get stats for tuatara familiars soon-ish?
Basic tuatara are already legal familiars in Bestiary 4. I wonder if there will be anything about deep crags in that upcoming Player Companion, though--Familiar Folio. Hmm... ;)

Tease!


Landon Winkler wrote:
Detect Magic wrote:
Her familiar looks much bigger than "tiny". Looks like it could bite a chunk out of ya, unlike this little guy. Is this thing some sort of improved familiar?

It's a tuatara (they're in Bestiary 4 and New Zealand). I can't speak for Pathfinder tuatara, but the real things can get to be almost a meter/yard long.

They're also really, really cool. Among other things, they're largely unchanged from their ancestors 200 million years ago and they have a complete but scale-covered third eye on the top of their head.

On topic, some Maori tribes consider them guardians of knowledge. Pretty fitting for a Lore Shaman.

Cheers!
Landon

Well, that is something I've learned today. Little details like that make the picture that much better.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

now I want a Volcano Tuatara!


I was wondering when we'd finally get a new dwarven iconic.

My shoulders and neck ache just looking at her gear.

Silver Crusade Assistant Software Developer

11 people marked this as a favorite.
Landon Winkler wrote:
It's a tuatara (they're in Bestiary 4 and New Zealand).

Best line ever. =) True facts: Crystal and I both dated kiwis before we started dating each other. New Zealanders are very passionate about their homeland so we both got a lot of conversations about places they liked to go and the tons of interesting creatures there.


Wow, very nice!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
ulgulanoth wrote:
now I want a Volcano Tuatara!

Dwarven Shaman of fire from a volcano with a tuatara familiar?

Yes yes yes!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

With regards to Earth (capitalized!), aren't tuatara from New Zealand?

EDIT: ninja'd

More importantly: Crystal, it took reading the first page and a half of comments to actually understand Shardra's story but I must congratulate you on a double-entendre of becoming a shaman (historically, to be a "shaman," you must first have suffered some sort of medical malady, and after venturing into the spirit-world and overcoming the malady, you would have the insight to qualify you into shamanism). I thought that the broken arm was a relatively weak malady, story-wise, but as I came to realize that the arm wasn't it, her story really came together. Kudos and well written (even if it took a little explaining for me to get it)!

Liberty's Edge Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Lissa Guillet wrote:
Landon Winkler wrote:
It's a tuatara (they're in Bestiary 4 and New Zealand).
Best line ever. =) True facts: Crystal and I both dated kiwis before we started dating each other. New Zealanders are very passionate about their homeland so we both got a lot of conversations about places they liked to go and the tons of interesting creatures there.

Yeah, Shardra's familiar was either going to be a tuatara or a weta (google it).

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Awesome!

To note, her headgear looks less awkward than Alahazra's.

Silver Crusade Assistant Software Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Don't google it. O_O Horror stories. Besides, vermin aren't traditionally familiars(though there are some ways around that),


The tuatara packs even less of a bite than the standard lizard familiar, and yet, I'm kinda scared of the one depicted in the art. That thing looks like a mini-linnorm or something.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I'm going to say I'm glad y'all went with the tuatara. :)

Dark Archive

15 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank you to Crystal and the rest of the Paizo staff for this. Representation matters, and I've been asked to leave more than a few gaming groups for being non-binary and expressing it. My current group in Asheville, NC has been nothing but welcoming, and seeing this just reminds me how much things have changed in the past few years.

Kudos to you from this MOGII member, and a hearty thanks from this genderqueer.


I just had a vision of Crystal purposefully sleeping in late today, preparing a bunch of coffee and James ordering her a pizza. She then sits in front of her computer, loads the blog post, and readies herself to have this conversation all night long to keep it accurate, fair, and as anti-nasty as possible.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

15 people marked this as a favorite.
Lefty X wrote:
I just had a vision of Crystal purposefully sleeping in late today, preparing a bunch of coffee and James ordering her a pizza. She then sits in front of her computer and readies herself to have this conversation all night long to keep it accurate, fair, and as anti-nasty as possible.

Actually, I haven't had to fight down my urge for nasty at all. People on the boards have been frustratingly polite. I'm never gonna get to lay down the smack on someone in here :(


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


Actually, I haven't had to fight down my urge for nasty at all. People on the boards have been frustratingly polite. I'm never gonna get to lay down the smack on someone in here :(

Never call me unhelpful.

You're stupid!
And half-orcs are stupid too!!!111oneoneone

;)


Crystal Frasier wrote:
I'm never gonna get to lay down the smack on someone in here :(

Did someone request my services?


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

One thing that seems to be missing from this story is a name change. "Shardra" seems to be a very feminine sounding name. Since her parents thought she was a boy when she was born, wouldn't they have originally given her a different name?

Liberty's Edge Contributor

6 people marked this as a favorite.
David knott 242 wrote:

One thing that seems to be missing from this story is a name change. "Shardra" seems to be a very feminine sounding name. Since her parents thought she was a boy when she was born, wouldn't they have originally given her a different name?

We never said they didn't


12 people marked this as a favorite.

While the opinon of Yet Another Cisgendered Male will likely matter little, I would like to also give praise and thanks and specifically note my appreciation for Shardra being explicitly NOT being given the 'Poison' treatment a la Capcom. Not only is the shaman compelling and impressive of her own right, but the depth of the story and choice of focus on the conflicts in her life makes what any character intended for a protagonist role should (ideally?) be; relatable and engaging.

That said, I must confess that a part of me, on first read, parsed the initial sentence as 'proud Dwarven daughter to be raised BY a miserable Dwarven son' and had thought she had a father so offended by the notion of having a girl child that he specifically raised her male out of spite. That would've, admittedly, been a drastically different feel.

Obviously Paizo doesn't do one-note anything, characters or otherwise, I won't lie; still, I'm pleased and reassured to see the standard upheld, especially in the face of complaints of slippage from other fans with whom I am not in complete disagreement. People may disagree about mechanical rulings, class bloat, and optimization, but this shows that any hand-wringing over Certain Topic Inclusions is both unfounded and unjustified.

Magnificently done.


Cranky Dog wrote:

I was wondering when we'd finally get a new dwarven iconic.

My shoulders and neck ache just looking at her gear.

that's because you are human

love the new Iconic, I just have a question about her dagger's hilt and pommel, are they made out of jade or emerald? either way those are expensive as hell

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Blackvial wrote:
Cranky Dog wrote:

I was wondering when we'd finally get a new dwarven iconic.

My shoulders and neck ache just looking at her gear.

that's because you are human

love the new Iconic, I just have a question about her dagger's hilt and pommel, are they made out of jade or emerald? either way those are expensive as hell

Greenstone, actually. Not nearly as expensive and a common mineral for tools in precolumbian Mesoamerica, which inspired a lot of Shardra's flavor.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Blackvial wrote:
Cranky Dog wrote:

I was wondering when we'd finally get a new dwarven iconic.

My shoulders and neck ache just looking at her gear.

that's because you are human

love the new Iconic, I just have a question about her dagger's hilt and pommel, are they made out of jade or emerald? either way those are expensive as hell

She's a divine/semi arcane 9th level full caster who is a dwarven gold miner, money is utterly trivial to her.

Silver Crusade Assistant Software Developer

Blackvial wrote:
love the new Iconic, I just have a question about her dagger's hilt and pommel, are they made out of jade or emerald? either way those are expensive as hell

It looks like a bit of blade might be poking out of that heavily worn scabbard.


Crystal Frasier wrote:
Greenstone, actually. Not nearly as expensive and a common mineral for tools in precolumbian Mesoamerica, which inspired a lot of Shardra's flavor.

thank you for the clarification


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm really happy to see this character exists.


Lissa Guillet wrote:
It looks like a bit of blade might be poking out of that heavily worn scabbard.

you're right the entire dagger is made of that greenstone

Silver Crusade Assistant Software Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Jade daggers are not super rare and it would make sense for a dwarf, I feel. I'd be worried about breakage but at a large enough thickness I don't think it would be a problem. Looks like it's a thick blade. Super neat. Adds that nice bit of bright color to an otherwise very earth-toned portrait.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

10 people marked this as a favorite.

I really love that it's a story more about confusion, discovery, and acceptance... Sharda has problems, but they revolve around her powers not her gender choices.

Also, the familiar rocks!

51 to 100 of 802 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Paizo Products / Product Discussion / Paizo Blog: Meet the Iconics: Shardra Geltl All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.