Meet the Iconics: Rivani

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Today, as part of our ongoing Meet the Iconics series, we introduce the next of the six new iconic characters featured in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures. This week we meet Rivani, the iconic psychic!


Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

The path of the initiate is long and fraught with danger. For Rivani, the journey began as a young girl of 12 in the teeming city of Chendras, in the distant land of Vudra. Born the seventh daughter of a minor functionary in the court of a great rajah, Rivani seemed set to follow her sisters into a life of government service. Always a precocious child, Rivani took well to her studies, spending hours in her master's library studying tomes she could barely comprehend. She especially favored lavishly illustrated accounts of harrowing victories over fantastic creatures, or voluminous surveys of distant lands and their many peoples, monsters, and mysteries. Rivani thrilled at imagining herself traveling to those distant lands as a questing hero, and soon these whimsical idylls consumed her every thought. As her revels grew more vivid, Rivani grew more distant from her sisters, putting her presumed future as a courtier at risk.

The rishis at court saw promise in the young girl's whimsy, and implored the rajah to put Rivani to the Trial of the White Lotus, a simple test to determine a child's mental aptitudes. After a series of intelligence and motor skill challenges, the rajah's poets probed Rivani's knowledge of the world's esoteric nature. They were surprised to discover that Rivani's reading had already set her on the path to spiritual development. She knew of the growth of the soul through reincarnation, of the astral body and the etheric double, and of the distant planes that house them. She knew also the rudiments of ki, the energy force that binds all living things into a spiritual family. In terms of esoteric theory, Rivani knew more than most third-year chelas. A promising child, indeed.

But it all came down to the Trial of the White Lotus. Following the minor challenges, the rishis brought Rivani to a secret room within the onion dome of the rajah's highest tower, and there revealed a lush garden of fabulous flowers and colorful plants. Here was a verris bulb from distant Kaladay, there a purple jonquil from mythical Hermea. A massive quanlum bush—identical to the specimen allegedly recovered by Khiben-Sald himself on the far planet of Castrovel—dominated a far wall, next to a collection of ghorus seeds floating in a nutrient tank. And at the center of the room lay a pedestal, and on that pedestal a simple white lotus—Rivani's final challenge.

"Cast forth your mind," the rishis bade her. "Merge your life essence with that of the flower and realize that you and she are but tongues of the same flickering cosmic flame." Rivani closed her eyes and concentrated on regulating her breath, relying on techniques she'd read inscribed upon an archaic manuscript of palm leaves by a lost yogi brotherhood. With each exhalation, she pushed her consciousness deeper beyond her physical body into the scintillating emanations of ki that comprised her health aura. At first, Rivani wasn't sure if she simply imagined that it was so, but when her mind conjured the thought of her aura touching upon that of the white lotus, she felt her spirit lighten, and a beatific calm overcame her.

Sensing a breakthrough, the rishis instructed Rivani to infuse her ki with that of the plant, to meld her mind with its animating force and open its closed petals. As she considered their instruction, Rivani pictured the bulb of the lotus opening one petal at a time. From within the flower glowed a coruscation of colorful energy Rivani inherently knew represented the force of life itself. It flourished within the tiny cup of the white lotus, but it burned with an intensity that echoed that of the sun. At that moment Rivani realized—not just read, but truly realized—that all life, hers, the flower's, even the sun's, were but aspects of the same glorious creation. As her conviction grew deeper, as the petals of the white lotus opened faster and faster, Rivani became aware that her mind also opened itself one petal at a time. Sweat dripped from her brow, threatening to distract from her spiritual unfoldment by reminding her of the limits of her physical body, but still Rivani delved deeper.

In her mind's eye, Rivani stepped further and further into the light until she could no longer distinguish herself from the flower. But she felt other presences, too. The poets of the court were also part of the fabric of life, and Rivani brushed against their innermost thoughts without even meaning to. She saw their anticipation, their pride, their amazement at her unexpected power. She saw too their betrayals, their scandalous secrets, and their venal, immoral ambitions. Rivani had passed the Trial of the White Lotus, but none of the rajah's rishis celebrated her victory.

Instead, certain that her unexpected foray into their consciousness had revealed secrets that could threaten their status at court, the rishis proclaimed Rivani a mahatma reborn, the vessel of a world teacher consciousness returned to Golarion to guide the people into a new age. Just not in Vudra.

With the blessings of a rajah nervous about his advisors' tales of Rivani's mind-reading prowess, the rishis dispatched their blessed student across the sea to the Isle of Jalmeray, there to further study among the adepts of the Houses of Perfection. Each of the that institution's three monasteries welcomed their honored visitor from the East, but the Monastery of Unblinking Flame in particular seemed most eager to accept her into their ranks. Even as far away as Chendas, Rivani had heard tales of the Houses of Perfection and their "impossible" entrance trials. Steeling herself for the test of a lifetime, Rivani prepared, as her books instructed, to outwit an efreeti.

Instead, white-robed warrior monks escorted her to the monastery's courtyard garden for an audience with Anandala, the order's ageless sovereign. She denied Rivani's entrance to study at the monastery, for she was to be a teacher, not a student. "Everything you could teach us you read in a book," she said. "We have read books. Go out into the world and learn to live. Once you know something for yourself, come back to Jalmeray and teach us what you have learned."

Thereafter, Rivani spent several months as a librarian's assistant in Quantium before fleeing the city after becoming a pawn in the psychic espionage and infighting of the Council of Three and Nine. From there she ventured to Absalom, spending most of a year as a translator for the esoteric manuscripts department of the Forae Logos before conflict with a fellow librarian drummed her out on the streets. Although she still reads voraciously and is seldom found without a well-thumbed book or two, Rivani henceforth swore off finding the world's secrets in musty libraries, and finally set out to make some discoveries of her own.

A life filled with so much travel has filled Rivani with a wanderlust that borders on fatalistic. Her relationships burn intensely but briefly, as she constantly guards against delving too deeply—accidentally or otherwise—into the minds of her friends and lovers. She seems always fixated on the next stop on her journey, and while of a generally kind nature and friendly demeanor, she takes it as a matter of faith that she will soon be moving on, and avoids long-lasting, deep connections with others. Rivani loves nothing more than to share stories of her travels and cultural explorations, and to receive the tales of others in return. Through all of this she's begun to develop her own philosophy, but it will be many years, and many many more adventures to come, before she will be ready to share her wisdom with the world.

Erik Mona
Publisher

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Tags: Iconics Meet the Iconics Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Psychics Rivani Wayne Reynolds
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3 people marked this as a favorite.

Awesome picture. Kudos to Wayne and the art-orderer. Because orderer is a word.

Word.

Self-loading floating crossbow. Every kind of awesome.

Oops. Two uses of awesome.

Maybe I can make up for it if I leave out a period

Yisss!!!!!!


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
Maybe I can make up for it if I leave out a period

No


So nobody finds it weird that she uncovered the evil plots of her father's advisers and didn't do anything with that information or even seem to care?

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Dragon78 wrote:
So nobody finds it weird that she uncovered the evil plots of her father's advisers and didn't do anything with that information or even seem to care?

It doesn't say that she didn't care, honestly we didn't really get a good look at her personality other than that she is a NEEEEEEERD, so she may have wanted to help but was finagled into a situation where she couldn't.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Her father isn't the Rajah; her father just works for the Rajah.

Note that the Rajah himself really didn't want her around after he learned about the mind-reading. The Rajah doesn't want his secrets being discovered either.

Sovereign Court

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Zhangar wrote:
Note that the Rajah himself really didn't want her around after he learned about the mind-reading. The Rajah doesn't want his secrets being discovered either.

If you have nothing to hide, citizen, then you have nothing to fear.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Dragon78 wrote:
So nobody finds it weird that she uncovered the evil plots of her father's advisers and didn't do anything with that information or even seem to care?

They aren't her father's advisors- they're his boss' (he's a minor functionary to the rajah).

I'm not sure what more she could have done; it sounds like the rajah was counseled against them (as Zhangar notes, he probably didn't want the mind-reader around either).

I also wouldn't be surprised if their thoughts and fears weren't entirely evil, per se- just your standard run-of-the-mill jostling for position and dark thoughts all of us have at times.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

I distinctly got the vibe that the advisors' plans were more politically dubious rather than outright evil.


Erik Mona wrote:
Yeah, they put her through some simple physical tests as well.

color me interested in why that applies to a psychic. I'm actually not being sarcastic, this really intrigues me.


Probably because a lot of this philosophy is based on prominent Eastern philosophies, many of which tend to push at least a basic level of physical fitness. Tai chi ain't just for fighting, y'know?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Rivani's design is A+, which I feel notable considering how critical I can be of Reynolds' art style. Who she is, what she does, and that she is capable of doing what she does is all fully apparent from the artwork alone, which is pretty rare for female fantasy character designs.

I really like her story as well; it has much of what one would expect from the Iconic Psychic, but has just enough of a spin on the usual to prevent her from being too tropey. She feels like a fresh and interesting character, and one that would be fun to have at my table.

Scarab Sages

8 people marked this as a favorite.

I think that in addition to a great story by Erik, the ART just really grabs me. Especially that Wayne used very clear style to make her appear Vudran. And the salwar, choli and dupatta (or sari) that she's wearing give her a very specific cultural appeal, while adding a sort of far-away mystery to her. Even her hairstayle seems to convey how strange she would be to someone from, say, Absalom.

From when I first saw Rivani on display at PaizoCon, I absolutely adored her. I love all things psychic/psionic, and Inidian/Hindu mythos is chock full of it. And I love the fact that Paizo isn't shying away from that historical feel of a fantasy India. I know that Vudra is far, far cooler than just a Mythic India, but, I like stuff like that.

I can't wait for the tidbits of info to begin trickling out about Vudra and Jalmeray. I *SO* want more Vudrani stuff!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but, in this case, I don't think that even 1,282 words (yes, I checked. <sigh>) begin to touch how much there is to her story.
I'd love to read a Pathfinder Tales novel devoted to her.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I do rather like that the psychic is going for a more mystic spiritual feel rather than just "mind powers".


Her tale is an interesting one, and the art looks nice.

As for that earlier cheesecake debacle, I say let people have their opinions.

You don't have to agree with them, but you shouldn't deny them their freedom to express it either.

I think the clothes she wears suit her just fine. And really, if people want to draw her in less, they probably will do so.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Icyshadow wrote:

Her tale is an interesting one, and the art looks nice.

As for that earlier cheesecake debacle, I say let people have their opinions.

You don't have to agree with them, but you shouldn't deny them their freedom to express it either.

I think the clothes she wears suit her just fine. And really, if people want to draw her in less, they probably will do so.

Privately owned forum, you don't have the freedom to express yourself in a way that Paizo's moderators disagree with. And thank god for that.


Arachnofiend wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:

Her tale is an interesting one, and the art looks nice.

As for that earlier cheesecake debacle, I say let people have their opinions.

You don't have to agree with them, but you shouldn't deny them their freedom to express it either.

I think the clothes she wears suit her just fine. And really, if people want to draw her in less, they probably will do so.

Privately owned forum, you don't have the freedom to express yourself in a way that Paizo's moderators disagree with. And thank god for that.

Thank who? ;)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Lord Fyre wrote:

I'm going to risk being pummeled.

I wish her costume had a bit more "fanservice"

It's not like other Patfinder iconics din't fill the part. *cough* Seoni and Freya *cough*

Still, Vudrani appear to be much more modest with their gowns.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Grow up, guys.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Arachnofiend wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:

Her tale is an interesting one, and the art looks nice.

As for that earlier cheesecake debacle, I say let people have their opinions.

You don't have to agree with them, but you shouldn't deny them their freedom to express it either.

I think the clothes she wears suit her just fine. And really, if people want to draw her in less, they probably will do so.

Privately owned forum, you don't have the freedom to express yourself in a way that Paizo's moderators disagree with. And thank god for that.

I would never thank anyone for limiting freedom of speech (with some rare exceptions), but whatever floats your boat I guess.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Great back-story - with minimal trauma, even! :)

And I heartily approve of her style of clothing.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I rather like her 'reason' for adventuring; part 'benevolent' exile, part mystical journey. Remind me a bit of quarian pilgrimages.

Hope some of those locations will have some more light shed upon them!


11 people marked this as a favorite.
Lord Fyre wrote:

I'm going to risk being pummeled.

I wish her costume had a bit more "fanservice"

It services those of us fans of clothing design.


Her white lotus experience seems to be akin to the rising of the kundalini. The awakening of her serpent fire is not something I would expect to happen at first level.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

The iconics tend to pull off stuff beyond their level quite often.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

What makes you think they're first level? Iconics are basically every level at once.


Even during their backstories?


Well at least her backstory is not a tragedy or redemption story.

I am more interested in this Khiben Sald who has been to Castrovel. Who was he and what time period did he exist.

Dark Archive

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Icyshadow wrote:
Even during their backstories?

The story skipped that down-and-out period in Katapesh where she was stuck in a pesh den run by vampires and lost twelve levels and is now kind of foggy about that whole thing (other than having a rabid dislike of pesh, and being bitten) and having to start over at level 1 with the clothes on her back and random crap she grabbed when she escaped that place.

"Hey, are you the same Rivani who caused the gnoll berserkers of the Blighted Paw to fly up into the sky until they became streaks of fire, and who used an entrancing dance to bring peace to the Efreeti Pasha of Fire Within Stone?"

"I don't remember anything like that... I can levitate this teacup, 'though! Hold on, you're thinking of a number between six and fourteen..."


Finally, a proper psychic character. The telekinetically floating trinkets made me grin widely.

I wonder if psychic spells have their own share of "earth shattering kaboom" tricks?

Silver Crusade Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Dragon78 wrote:

Well at least her backstory is not a tragedy or redemption story.

I am more interested in this Khiben Sald who has been to Castrovel. Who was he and what time period did he exist.

From the Inner Sea World Guide:

563 AR: Khiben-Sald, the legendary Maharaja of Vudra, spends a decade on the Nexian Isle of Jalmeray, bringing Vudran culture to the Inner Sea.

According to Legacy of Fire, his bloodline sprang from those who stood against Kothogaz, one of the Spawn of Rovagug. He united all the kingdoms of Vudra as their Maharaja.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Nicely written and as always, wonderful artwork from Wayne Reynolds to match. Out of the new iconics for the Occult, I think this one is my favorite.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Liz Courts wrote:

So, out of 29 posts in this thread, ten of them discuss her appearance in some fashion, from desiring more fanservice to "wanting to nail her" and comments on those.

Can we steer the conversation away from this? There's plenty of other things to discuss about Rivani *besides* her appearance.

srsly. Spilling so much internet ink on the clothes of the iconics.... That's just weird. :)

Can we get an AP that's just 18 levels of Rivani and Enora sitting quietly in a library researching and talking about their loving, yet somewhat estranged, families over lunch breaks.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Another awesome iconic image by WAR and a very cool backstory by Mr. Mona. Another great iconic!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Icyshadow wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:

Her tale is an interesting one, and the art looks nice.

As for that earlier cheesecake debacle, I say let people have their opinions.

You don't have to agree with them, but you shouldn't deny them their freedom to express it either.

I think the clothes she wears suit her just fine. And really, if people want to draw her in less, they probably will do so.

Privately owned forum, you don't have the freedom to express yourself in a way that Paizo's moderators disagree with. And thank god for that.
I would never thank anyone for limiting freedom of speech (with some rare exceptions), but whatever floats your boat I guess.

Be careful questioning NeoPuritanism, or it will be a cyber Scarlet D for you....Just kidding (I hope).

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I love she'll be a perfect fit for a political intrigue-type plot... in Vudra.

Homebrew fingers start tingling.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:

Her tale is an interesting one, and the art looks nice.

As for that earlier cheesecake debacle, I say let people have their opinions.

You don't have to agree with them, but you shouldn't deny them their freedom to express it either.

I think the clothes she wears suit her just fine. And really, if people want to draw her in less, they probably will do so.

Privately owned forum, you don't have the freedom to express yourself in a way that Paizo's moderators disagree with. And thank god for that.
Thank who? ;)

I'm pretty sure at least one of Vudra's gods is the patron of people who don't want to listen to other people's crap.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Interesting that they left out of the history books he went to Castrovel. I wonder if he is the reason psychic magic is a part of Vudra.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Lord Fyre wrote:

I'm going to risk being pummeled.

I wish her costume had a bit more "fanservice"

Why? I think Rivani's pretty hot. I want my characters to wear that outfit.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Arachnofiend wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:

Her tale is an interesting one, and the art looks nice.

As for that earlier cheesecake debacle, I say let people have their opinions.

You don't have to agree with them, but you shouldn't deny them their freedom to express it either.

I think the clothes she wears suit her just fine. And really, if people want to draw her in less, they probably will do so.

Privately owned forum, you don't have the freedom to express yourself in a way that Paizo's moderators disagree with. And thank god for that.

Actually, that is mildly unfair to the Paizo moderators.

I realize that I am part of a minority opinion (more so then in the past), but the Mods have never squashed me from saying what I feel (... the Paizo community however ...).


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Cyrad wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:

I'm going to risk being pummeled.

I wish her costume had a bit more "fanservice"

Why? I think Rivani's pretty hot. I want my characters to wear that outfit.

Characters? I would totally wear that outfit.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Echo Vining wrote:
Cyrad wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:

I'm going to risk being pummeled.

I wish her costume had a bit more "fanservice"

Why? I think Rivani's pretty hot. I want my characters to wear that outfit.
Characters? I would totally wear that outfit.

Sadly, I don't have the figure for that outfit.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

8 people marked this as a favorite.
Ajaxis wrote:
Very nice. I do wish it had something on Rivani's reaction to her abilities and trials. Disgust, awe, simple acceptance? I know what she's been through, but not what makes her tick. Valeros, for example, I understand.

From my perspective, I think she was likely surprised by the potency of her initial trial, but after she settled into it a bit she redoubled her efforts at studying esoteric secrets in hope of unlocking even more of this power. That accounts for her post-trial work in libraries in Quantium and Absalom.

I should probably have pointed out that she hasn't quite been able to duplicate the power surge she felt during that first test, and she's still very guarded about the ramifications of others learning of her inherent gifts. So while she individually continues to hone her craft, she's a bit wary of letting others in for fear of their reaction. This plays into her "rambling man" style approach to personal relationships as well.

Rivani is incredibly knowledgable, very intelligent, and extremely inquisitive. Nearly everything she has learned about her powers has come not from human interaction, but from personal introspection and the written words of long-dead adepts. This has bred in her a sense of self-reliance that can easily be interpreted as arrogance, but those who attempt to forge a lasting bond with her find Rivani to be a welcome ally and companion, albeit a very guarded one.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
the xiao wrote:
awesome story, hottest iconic but... she looked like having gotten enlighment at... 1st level? she sounds too powerful but thats also cool I guess... but damn, isn't she hot or what? AND SMART! and loves books! she is my hindu waifu lol!

I wouldn't call it enlightenment, certainly. More like a glimpse at the awesome powers to come through mastery of the self and a greater understanding of the esoteric underpinnings of the world. Rivani has a _lot_ of psychic potential. So much so that her initial trial frightened the rishis of the rajah's court, and they exiled her because they saw that one day she could easily outstrip even their power.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Helcack wrote:
Wonderful story, I especially enjoy the description of coming to understand the flow of the universe. It is rather accurate to others accounts, though I do wonder is it simply that those who become monks focus more upon bringing the physical in alignment with the metaphysical compared to psychic where they attempt to overcome the physical with the metaphysical...

I think that's a pretty accurate view.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Troodos wrote:
Is the whole White Lotus thing intentional?

If you mean, is the allusion to the famous 1890 occult novel "The Idyll of the White Lotus," by Mabel Collins, intentional, then the answer is "absolutely yes."

If you mean, is the lotus meant to be a metaphor for the crown chakra, then the answer is "kinda, sorta, yes."

If you mean something else, then the answer is "not intentionally."

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

10 people marked this as a favorite.
Robert Little wrote:
The story seems to imply both of her parents may still be alive...what kind of adventurer has those?!?

Not only that, but she has six living siblings as well!

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Albatoonoe wrote:
I distinctly got the vibe that the advisors' plans were more politically dubious rather than outright evil.

This, but then again, you never know....

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

7 people marked this as a favorite.
c873788 wrote:
Her white lotus experience seems to be akin to the rising of the kundalini. The awakening of her serpent fire is not something I would expect to happen at first level.

You could certainly look at it that way. If so, I'd consider it more of a temporary "first time" sort of a thing. She's definitely not meant to be an omnipotent 7-chakra psychic god at first level, but I can see the rajah's advisors being worried about what could happen if she one day became one.

To put it in very unfortunate nerd terms, "No one has a count that high, not even Master Yoda."

:)

Liberty's Edge

4 people marked this as a favorite.

You went there.

Boo, Erik. Boo.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

21 people marked this as a favorite.

Hey, now, don't be hateful.

Hate leads to suffering.

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