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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Really nice backstory and I'm glad to see Paizo pushing the boundaries even further.


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Crystal Frasier wrote:
New Zealand did in fact have an apex predator. It was a freaking dinosaur.

Those look like some very nice drumsticks right there! Which is pretty much why they are extinct. They are however pretty high on the possible resurrection list, since there is substantial DNA extant from mummified specimens and identified living relatives to grab enucleated cells from.

The problem with any ecosystem that evolves in relative isolation is that introduced predators, parasites and diseases tend to have devastating consequences to organisms that lack natural defenses to those things because they have evolved in a sheltered and specific environmental niche. There's a reason a lot of New Zealand's wildlife is critically endangered or extinct, and basically we are it, primarily via these channels.

It's interesting to speculate the difference in evolutionary consequences on a world like Golarion. On the one hand, what you wouldn't have is the consequences of industrial revolution. On the other hand, people of all races traveling to other lands would still bring things with them such as commensals (rats), companion animals that are actually highly efficient super-predators capable of entirely wiping out native species (cats), not to mention parasites and diseases for which there would be no locally evolved resistance.

That particular picture would get even more complicated with the addition of magic rather than less so, I should think. Invasives in the real world are seriously devastating. I'm imagining how much more devastating an invasive species with magic could be to a local ecosystem. And what defenses an ecosystem or its inhabitants could adapt and evolve, if they had the magical means to do so. What would that ecosystem look like?

Could be some very interesting stories to tell on these plot points.


What exactly does that smoking pot do?


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TanithT wrote:
Crystal Frasier wrote:
New Zealand did in fact have an apex predator. It was a freaking dinosaur.

Those look like some very nice drumsticks right there! Which is pretty much why they are extinct. They are however pretty high on the possible resurrection list, since there is substantial DNA extant from mummified specimens and identified living relatives to grab enucleated cells from.

The problem with any ecosystem that evolves in relative isolation is that introduced predators, parasites and diseases tend to have devastating consequences to organisms that lack natural defenses to those things because they have evolved in a sheltered and specific environmental niche. There's a reason a lot of New Zealand's wildlife is critically endangered or extinct, and basically we are it, primarily via these channels.

It's interesting to speculate the difference in evolutionary consequences on a world like Golarion. On the one hand, what you wouldn't have is the consequences of industrial revolution. On the other hand, people of all races traveling to other lands would still bring things with them such as commensals (rats), companion animals that are actually highly efficient super-predators capable of entirely wiping out native species (cats), not to mention parasites and diseases for which there would be no locally evolved resistance.

That particular picture would get even more complicated with the addition of magic rather than less so, I should think. Invasives in the real world are seriously devastating. I'm imagining how much more devastating an invasive species with magic could be to a local ecosystem. And what defenses an ecosystem or its inhabitants could adapt and evolve, if they had the magical means to do so. What would that ecosystem look like?

Could be some very interesting stories to tell on these plot points.

I think you just justified why there are classes call druid and ranger.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Axial wrote:
What exactly does that smoking pot do?

It's a censer. You burn incense in it.


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Reiko of White Wave wrote:
Dark Psion wrote:

Does Reiko ever take that mask off?

It probably needs to be laundered.

Ugh. I am not an uncultured swine (like some iconics I could name). I have spares.

HA!

His name's Alain, by the way.


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Crystal Frasier wrote:
mechaPoet wrote:
TanithT wrote:
Tuatara stuff

Dear New Zealand,

Look, I realize you were super isolated for, what, millions of years? But did you just not have predators? It just seems like you have produced a lot of animals that are, to be frank, not very smart. I mean, I guess it works when there's no reason to be smart, but still.

Love, mechaPoet.

P.S. I am very much looking forward to the kakapo familiar option. Don't fail me on this, Paizo. It will break my heart if you do.

New Zealand did in fact have an apex predator. It was a freaking dinosaur.

Moas were herbivores THIS was the apex predator

Though it is also a dinosaur phylogenetically speaking.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thank you, Crystal, for a really good background story! (Like others, the first sentence threw me a bit, but I figured it out while reading the rest.)

Also, it's good to get some cultural detail for dwarves and their version of ancestor worship and animism. I also liked the laid-back reaction of Shardra's family to her change.

But I do wonder about another cultural note mentioned: dowries and brideprices. A dowry is traditionally paid by the bride's family to the groom, and a brideprice is traditionally paid by the groom to the bride's family. I would not have thought it to be common for both to exist/be used simultaneously. So is it a case of the two dwarven families exchanging gifts/goods when their children marry?

Art comments: in general, I really like it. WAR has - for once - managed to draw some nice feet. But what's up with the tube-like left arm? It both looks super-swollen and seems to be missing a wrist.


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Werebat wrote:


What I'm getting from your words is that Shardra's tinctures make her body woman-like, but not actually female. In other words, she has male genitalia and would be unable to bear children, etc.

I feel like someone's genitalia isn't of anyone's concern; if she identifies as female, she's female. A person's junk is their business, and no one should be expected to disclose that information to the public, trans* or not.

I know this is a fictional character, but I'm so sick of folks asking trans* folks this question all the time.


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Bellona wrote:
I do wonder about another cultural note mentioned: dowries and brideprices. A dowry is traditionally paid by the bride's family to the groom, and a brideprice is traditionally paid by the groom to the bride's family. I would not have thought it to be common for both to exist/be used simultaneously. So is it a case of the two dwarven families exchanging gifts/goods when their children marry?

Dowry and bride price can and do co-exist on the same society, and the circumstances under which each are most commonly invoked and how the wealth is actually distributed (for instance, in part or in whole back to the couple) tend to vary based on a number of socioeconomic and demographic factors. You do see societies that practice both, but under different circumstances, and some that practice both simultaneously.

In cultures where you see both simultaneously, one of the functions it most commonly serves is an inheritance provided to the couple by both sides of the family. More rarely, you see it used as a redistribution of different forms of wealth along clan or kinship lines created by marriage, eg, salmon for canoes or money for cows, with the bargain sealed and the kinship obligation created by the marriage.


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Paizo boards, where you can learn all kinds of interesting historical/cultural tidbits over the course of a preview thread.


Ok, is it just me or is Shardra's legs... off? Her left leg looks way too long for her body, especially since her right leg looks like it's shorter than it should be.

If you were to extend her left leg, and compare it to the length of her right leg (which seems to already be extended), you would see that the left is much longer than the right. Or am I just seeing things?


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Tirisfal wrote:
I feel like someone's genitalia isn't of anyone's concern; if she identifies as female, she's female. A person's junk is their business, and no one should be expected to disclose that information to the public, trans* or not.

I would certainly not recommend asking Shardra any such rude and impertinent question, not unless you have always wondered what it would feel like to have an earth elemental pound you neck deep into the ground while a tuatara chews your nose off. That's pretty much what a question like that would call for, though she'd probably be much nicer than the rude person deserved and just walk away from the cretin.

Quote:
I know this is a fictional character, but I'm so sick of folks asking trans* folks this question all the time.

Yep. This said, it would be nifty to get more general background on the mechanics of gender swapping on Golarion, including stats on those alchemical tinctures. That would make a very cool supplement. I'd like to know (or expand upon) how it can work, but I'd consider the details of how it did work for any individual person a pretty high degree of TMI that no one but that person and their intimate partners is going to know.

If you seriously plan to run a campaign where one of your players becomes intimate with an iconic, it's not any of Paizo's business to say you can't. It's also not their business to provide you with, ahem, intimately detailed personal statistics for every NPC. Decide what works for you and fill in that part of the story as you see fit for your own home game with consenting adults.

Think about it. Do you really need to know how long a "staff" that random NPC orc shaman is packing? Should that stat be a thing? I don't think so. But if you do, then you get to decide that for yourself. It's not going to make it to the book.

What I like most about this character is not just that she's trans*, but that it's a good back story where being trans fits seamlessly, but is far from the whole focus. That's good storytelling.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

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TanithT wrote:
Yep. This said, it would be nifty to get more general background on the mechanics of gender swapping on Golarion, including stats on those alchemical tinctures.

Crystal provided the item listing for this earlier in the thread. :)


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Merisiel Sillvari wrote:
Reiko of White Wave wrote:
Dark Psion wrote:

Does Reiko ever take that mask off?

It probably needs to be laundered.

Ugh. I am not an uncultured swine (like some iconics I could name). I have spares.

HA!

His name's Alain, by the way.

I try not to say his name... Saying his name attracts his attention. >.>

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tirisfal wrote:
Werebat wrote:


What I'm getting from your words is that Shardra's tinctures make her body woman-like, but not actually female. In other words, she has male genitalia and would be unable to bear children, etc.

I feel like someone's genitalia isn't of anyone's concern; if she identifies as female, she's female. A person's junk is their business, and no one should be expected to disclose that information to the public, trans* or not.

I know this is a fictional character, but I'm so sick of folks asking trans* folks this question all the time.

Chaoslife has got you covered Pumpkin.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

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Werebat wrote:

Anyway -- is it true that some TG people would genuinely WANT to retain their birth genitalia, if a reliable and attainable option existed that would give them a fully functioning swap?

I honestly don't know. Do you?

I missed this part of the question, but I think it's important to answer it.

Yes. There are absolutely trans people--men, women, and people in between--who have no interest in altering their birth genetalia. For some people it's a comfort issue--they just may not be bothered enough by what they have to want to spend $10-$20,000 altering it. For others, it's political--they might resent the idea that they need expensive and painful surgery to be seen as a legitimate member of their gender, or just hate the idea that society automatically ascribes one set of trait to a man and another to a woman, and they use their own bodies to make a statement. Others just legitimately like their birth equipment--there's something to be said for familiarity.

Dysphoria can manifest a lot of different ways and in different intensities. Being transgender in the modern world isn't like a souffle, where there's one exact way to do it and only a few variations on the flavor, and if you screw it up everything is ruined. It's more like a sandwich, with lots of different parts, no one combination suits everyone, and things can get messy but still be alright.


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Thanks Crystal for your posts.


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Sharda is an amazing iconic, Crystal. Brava!

As for the subject of Shardra's genitalia... this pretty much sums up my feelings on the subject.


TanithT wrote:

Those look like some very nice drumsticks right there! Which is pretty much why they are extinct. They are however pretty high on the possible resurrection list, since there is substantial DNA extant from mummified specimens and identified living relatives to grab enucleated cells from.

The problem with any ecosystem that evolves in relative isolation is that introduced predators, parasites and diseases tend to have devastating consequences to organisms that lack natural defenses to those things because they have evolved in a sheltered and specific environmental niche. There's a reason a lot of New Zealand's wildlife is critically endangered or extinct, and basically we are it, primarily via these channels.

It's interesting to speculate the difference in evolutionary consequences on a world like Golarion. On the one hand, what you wouldn't have is the consequences of industrial revolution. On the other hand, people of all races traveling to other lands would still bring things with them such as commensals (rats), companion animals that are actually highly efficient super-predators capable of entirely wiping out native species (cats), not to mention parasites and diseases for which there would be no locally evolved resistance.

That particular picture would get even more complicated with the addition of magic rather than less so, I should think. Invasives in the real world are seriously devastating. I'm imagining how much more devastating an invasive species with magic could be to a local ecosystem. And what defenses an ecosystem or its inhabitants could adapt and evolve, if they had the magical means to do so. What would that ecosystem look like?

Could be some very interesting stories to tell on these plot points.

We had better hope and pray we're never introduced to extraterrestrial flora and fauna. It might be that Earth's biosphere evolved in relative isolation....


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Axial wrote:
What exactly does that smoking pot do?

Ha! I totally thought for a second you were asking about the effects of marijuana.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Belltrap wrote:

Sharda is an amazing iconic, Crystal. Brava!

As for the subject of Shardra's genitalia... this pretty much sums up my feelings on the subject.

Commander wrote:
"Look, way I figg'r it don't matter worth two s%~@s what a person got in their pants if y'arent plannin on gettin' in there."

Best. Line. Ever.


Rysky wrote:
Belltrap wrote:

Sharda is an amazing iconic, Crystal. Brava!

As for the subject of Shardra's genitalia... this pretty much sums up my feelings on the subject.

Commander wrote:
"Look, way I figg'r it don't matter worth two s@$@s what a person got in their pants if y'arent plannin on gettin' in there."
Best. Line. Ever.

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.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

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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?


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Elephant's trunk.


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, apparently we do now.


5 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?

...so everything I've accumulated from Invader Zim, H. P. Lovecraft, horror films, scifi films, Pathfinder art featuring gnomes, and the dark corners of the internet just exploded inside my mind...

I have no regrets. o________o


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?

Gnomes actually have a squeedily splooch? Man oh man, I thought that was just an urban myth. Does it really change color and number of barbs based on how often they sneeze?


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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?

No. Though from the art, cup size could probably be guessed. We do however know, or at least can assume barring accidents or other unrevealed trans characters, the basic nature of their bits. Color, size, circumcision and such things all are much smaller details.

More importantly, this is a character detail as well as a physical detail, which the other things you list generally aren't. Did she seek out a magical method to change her personal bits? Did she choose not to? Has she not made up her mind? Is she still looking for a way? And more importantly, for all of those, why?
There's character insight in all of that.

Again of course, I'd never ask a real person about any of this, unless we were very close.


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thejeff 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?

No. Though from the art, cup size could probably be guessed. We do however know, or at least can assume barring accidents or other unrevealed trans characters, the basic nature of their bits. Color, size, circumcision and such things all are much smaller details.

More importantly, this is a character detail as well as a physical detail, which the other things you list generally aren't. Did she seek out a magical method to change her personal bits? Did she choose not to? Has she not made up her mind? Is she still looking for a way? And more importantly, for all of those, why?
There's character insight in all of that.

Again of course, I'd never ask a real person about any of this, unless we were very close.

I wouldn't ask at all; close or not.

If it's really that important for you to know (and it really isn't), why haven't you spoken up about Val's junk, or how Alain manscapes, or whether or not Imirjika's any different downstairs than a human woman? How is any of that unimportant to you when you so desperately need answers for this?

Edit; ninja'd by Crystal, but my point still holds >:(

Silver Crusade

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thejeff 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?

No. Though from the art, cup size could probably be guessed. We do however know, or at least can assume barring accidents or other unrevealed trans characters, the basic nature of their bits. Color, size, circumcision and such things all are much smaller details.

More importantly, this is a character detail as well as a physical detail, which the other things you list generally aren't. Did she seek out a magical method to change her personal bits? Did she choose not to? Has she not made up her mind? Is she still looking for a way? And more importantly, for all of those, why?
There's character insight in all of that.

It seems to me that if there's an important character question here, it's whether Shardra is in harmony with her body as it is. And the writeup makes clear that she's at peace with her body now, whatever its precise physical configuration may be. :-)

Beyond that, the details don't seem to matter much. (Or at least, if you do think they matter, you're going to have a tough time saying why they would matter for Shardra and not for other iconics.)


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Tirisfal wrote:
thejeff 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?

No. Though from the art, cup size could probably be guessed. We do however know, or at least can assume barring accidents or other unrevealed trans characters, the basic nature of their bits. Color, size, circumcision and such things all are much smaller details.

More importantly, this is a character detail as well as a physical detail, which the other things you list generally aren't. Did she seek out a magical method to change her personal bits? Did she choose not to? Has she not made up her mind? Is she still looking for a way? And more importantly, for all of those, why?
There's character insight in all of that.

If it's really that important for you to know (and it really isn't), why haven't you spoken up about Val's junk, or how Alain manscapes, or whether or not Imirjika's any different downstairs than a human woman? How is any of that unimportant to you when you so desperately need answers for this?

Because those are all trivial details, almost completely unimportant to the character's background and motivation?

I don't desperately need answers. It's not that important.
I do think there's a significant difference between asking such questions about a fictional character and about a real person and between minor cosmetic details and major life choices.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

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thejeff wrote:

More importantly, this is a character detail as well as a physical detail, which the other things you list generally aren't. Did she seek out a magical method to change her personal bits? Did she choose not to? Has she not made up her mind? Is she still looking for a way? And more importantly, for all of those, why?

There's character insight in all of that.

Again of course, I'd never ask a real person about any of this, unless we were very close.

I am afraid you'll need to find a way to cope without this minor character insight.

Silver Crusade

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Again, what would further detail tell you? We already know that Shardra (1) was unhappy in her body as it was, (2) used an alchemical remedy to bring her body into harmony with her soul, and (3) is now at peace with her body.

What of significance would any further detail add to that?


Crystal Frasier wrote:
thejeff wrote:

More importantly, this is a character detail as well as a physical detail, which the other things you list generally aren't. Did she seek out a magical method to change her personal bits? Did she choose not to? Has she not made up her mind? Is she still looking for a way? And more importantly, for all of those, why?

There's character insight in all of that.

Again of course, I'd never ask a real person about any of this, unless we were very close.

I am afraid you'll need to find a way to cope without this minor character insight.

Fair enough.


Joe M. wrote:

Again, what would further detail tell you? We already know that Shardra (1) was unhappy in her body as it was, (2) used an alchemical remedy to bring her body into harmony with her soul, and (3) is now at peace with her body.

What of significance would any further detail add to that?

I think, at this point, we step into mechanics territory surrounding alchemy and its limits. Character-neutral discussions would probably be more successful and easier to approach.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

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thejeff wrote:

Because those are all trivial details, almost completely unimportant to the character's background and motivation?

I don't desperately need answers. It's not that important.
I do think there's a significant difference between asking such questions about a fictional character and about a real person and between minor cosmetic details and major life choices.

I think I understand what's going on here, and why you think the contents of a trans character's underwear is a relevant character detail. It's a common misconception that transition is all about genetalia, and that being transgender is about "wanting to cut off your junk" or otherwise focuses entirely on the personal bits.

Being trans is much more about body chemistry and how you interact with the world than about any specific bit of flesh. The fact that Shardra feels comfortable with her body and interacts with the world as who she wants to be is a far more significant to her character than what she may or may not have beneath her chainmail.


I just thought of something: one advantage of not having an medical fact sheet for the first iconic transwoman is that you don't split the audience you were trying to reach out to in the first place. I was happy with the mystery, but now there's a legitimate reason for it. Neat.


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thejeff wrote:
Tirisfal wrote:
thejeff 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?

No. Though from the art, cup size could probably be guessed. We do however know, or at least can assume barring accidents or other unrevealed trans characters, the basic nature of their bits. Color, size, circumcision and such things all are much smaller details.

More importantly, this is a character detail as well as a physical detail, which the other things you list generally aren't. Did she seek out a magical method to change her personal bits? Did she choose not to? Has she not made up her mind? Is she still looking for a way? And more importantly, for all of those, why?
There's character insight in all of that.

If it's really that important for you to know (and it really isn't), why haven't you spoken up about Val's junk, or how Alain manscapes, or whether or not Imirjika's any different downstairs than a human woman? How is any of that unimportant to you when you so desperately need answers for this?

Because those are all trivial details, almost completely unimportant to the character's background and motivation?

I don't desperately need answers. It's not that important.
I do think there's a significant difference between asking such questions about a fictional character and about a real person and between minor cosmetic details and major life choices.

The thing that you should realize here is that, regardless of their fictional status, these characters are still written by real people and real people relate to them. If you don't think it's appropriate to ask a cis person about their body parts, you certainly don't ask it about a transperson, especially because many of them have body dysphoria. You're not offending Shardra, she's a character, but you're reinforcing the idea that it is okay to ask something like this about a person just because they are trans. Real or not, it's an implication that is very real for transpeople, and there are several of them in this thread alone; there's more to their identity than what's below their waist. If someone's body parts are trivial to you because they are cis, they should be trivial to you if they are trans. It's not your business and they don't come up on a roleplaying level unless you're drawing fanservice Paizo art (hi Liz!).

On a happier tone, I've been basking in how awesome Shardra is for the past two days, Crystal. Wonderfully done, and I am so proud of this thread.

EDIT: I just realized that her mace and Kolo's tail look alike. That is far too adorable.


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Crystal Frasier wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Because those are all trivial details, almost completely unimportant to the character's background and motivation?

I don't desperately need answers. It's not that important.
I do think there's a significant difference between asking such questions about a fictional character and about a real person and between minor cosmetic details and major life choices.

I think I understand what's going on here, and why you think the contents of a trans character's underwear is a relevant character detail. It's a common misconception that transition is all about genetalia, and that being transgender is about "wanting to cut off your junk" or otherwise focuses entirely on the personal bits.

Being trans is much more about body chemistry and how you interact with the world than about any specific bit of flesh. The fact that Shardra feels comfortable with her body and interacts with the world as who she wants to be is a far more significant to her character than what she may or may not have beneath her chainmail.

I was trying to disengage, but...

I don't think that's where I'm coming from. I'm not actually particularly interested in the contents of her underwear. What I think would be interesting is why. Why, in a world where a complete transformation is possible (and fairly easy at high levels, I'd think), would she not choose it? If she didn't, was it a hard decision? Something she never really considered because she became comfortable with her body before it was really an option?

Thoughts like that.

I suspect part of the reason you chose not to tell us is meta. Because it is, or at least should be, such a taboo thing to ask about in real life. The mystery lets her remain in the state many trans people are in real life.


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thejeff wrote:
What I think would be interesting is why. Why, in a world where a complete transformation is possible (and fairly easy at high levels, I'd think), would she not choose it? If she didn't, was it a hard decision? Something she never really considered because she became comfortable with her body before it was really an option?

First, we don't know whether or not she took it.

Second, this question has already been answered in this thread, in this very page. There is a multitude of reasons, and not all of them are related to finances, to the result of a surgical procedure, or the chance of something going wrong.

To use a poor analogy, imagine that you play an amateur sport. Why don't you want to go 'all the way' and become an Olympic athlete? There's a multitude of reasons for that, and whatever her body looks like, I'm pretty certain's Shardra's answer as to why it is like that is "because I am happy with it that way; another round of beer, please!"

Her present happiness and harmony with herself should be enough of an answer.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

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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.


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Crystal Frasier wrote:

It's a common misconception that transition is all about genetalia, and that being transgender is about "wanting to cut off your junk" or otherwise focuses entirely on the personal bits.

Being trans is much more about body chemistry and how you interact with the world than about any specific bit of flesh. The fact that Shardra feels comfortable with her body and interacts with the world as who she wants to be is a far more significant to her character than what she may or may not have beneath her chainmail.

This x1000.

Caeliat wrote:
You're not offending Shardra, she's a character, but you're reinforcing the idea that it is okay to ask something like this about a person just because they are trans. Real or not, it's an implication that is very real for transpeople, and there are several of them in this thread alone; there's more to their identity than what's below their waist.

I think this is an important point (and very well put). Remember that one of the reasons Paizo and its staff have stated for the inclusion of LGBT characters (or for other underrepresented or poorly represented groups), is to make it clear that, as I think Wes has put it, there's a spot at the table for everyone.

Paizo introducing a trans Iconic, Crystal writing an awesome backstory for that iconic, that welcomes trans people to the table. The generally positive reactions and comments of people in this thread, that welcomes us to the table. Asking what's in the pants of this new trans Iconic, that has the opposite effect.


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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.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

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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.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So wait elves can turn themselves into humans? that doesnt seem possible(?)


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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.

To which the obvious answer would be: "Now that you mention it, I've got a better idea. I'll find a way to turn all my friends into elves, so we can all live a reasonable lifespan.

Nobody tell Alain."


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Alright, I really am disengaging here now. If I've given offense, I'm sorry. It wasn't intended. I don't think I've been trying to say what you think I've been trying to say, but I don't know how else to say it, so I'll stop.

Crystal, she really is a great character with a great backstory, both the trans part and the rest of it.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

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 :)


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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 waking study in what not to do.

It's like watching the most beautiful train wreck that crawls up onto an overpass and somehow snakes into an office building; you just can't look away. Now I want an iconics downtime sitcom like nobody's business.

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