Meet the Iconics: Erasmus

Wednesday, July 8, 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 Erasmus, the iconic medium!


Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Erasmus was born the youngest scion of a minor noble house in Caliphas, Ustalav's capital. Along with his five older siblings, he enjoyed the benefits of a fine education and practice in horsemanship, swordplay, and tutelage in the arcane arts. Yet he understood he had little hope of ever claiming ancestral holdings or heirship. He spent his early life in the cosmopolitan pursuits of the idle rich, and he seemed destined for some opportune marriage to secure his family's comfort, with the resulting life likely to be one of bored leisure.

As Erasmus left his teenage years behind, though, the heirs of his family began to mysteriously die. Authorities discovered Nissa, his eldest sister—a cunning duelist—slain in some underground fighting pit by an opponent she severely outmatched. His uncle, a skilled magic-user, was torn apart by a summoned creature in his own occult library, while the corpse of his son was found broken below his high tower. His second sister, Veldira, choked to death on porridge in the Pharasmin cathedral where she served. Erasmus's closest confidant, his sly older brother Baylock, was found hanged in a dark alley in what authorities ruled a suicide. Amid the turmoil of the deaths, Erasmus's father began to waste away in his council chamber, while the family's eldest surviving heir, Erasmus's brother Vinn, took control of the family affairs.

It wasn't long before the voices started.

At first they were the faintest whispers, which Erasmus dismissed as sleep-deprived hallucinations or echoes bouncing through the corridors of his family's estate. But with each new death, the whispers grew stronger and their message clearer: "Murder." Erasmus ignored the ghostly mutterings as best he could, quietly writing them off as the lunacy of grief. But, with his suspicions aroused, he began to investigate the whispers' claims. Erasmus told no one of the subtly altered summoning circle he found in his uncle's chambers, or of the oily residue that failed to wash from his father's used silverware. The more he discovered, the more intense the chorus of voices grew in his crowded mind. Servants concealed Erasmus's late-night wanderings as best they could, or dismissed his mutterings and wild ravings as overwhelming grief.

It all came to a head when one of Erasmus's episodes interrupted his own father's funeral. Snapping his head back and forth, Erasmus railed against a chorus of unseen phantoms. Amid the outburst, he howled that his family was victim of his eldest brother's deceit.

None who heard truly listened, though, all convinced that grief had pushed Erasmus past the brink of insanity. Vinn, Erasmus's only remaining family member, committed him to Havenguard Lunatic Asylum.

For nearly a year, Erasmus languished at the asylum, baffling his well-intentioned wardens as they sought to heal the man's troubled mind. But on the anniversary of his father's death, another voice called through the darkness. From a neighboring cell, a new prisoner calling himself "the King" counseled the troubled man. With gruff kindness, the stranger with the accent of a northern barbarian taught Erasmus not to fight the chorus, but rather to accept and welcome it, opening his mind and body to its words. Erasmus gradually identified each mysterious voice in turn, and finally understood they were the shades of his family—the spirits of his deceased brothers, father, and uncle—who endlessly dwelled upon the circumstances of their deaths. Over time, he learned to sit in quiet communion with the voices, and to allow them to exercise their influence upon his mortal shell.

With the aid of his uncle's mastery of magic, Erasmus easily retrieved the keys to his cell to secure his escape. Under the control of his battle-eager eldest sister, the asylum's guards had no hope of restraining him. But when he gratefully burst open the King's cell, he found it empty. Too harried to ponder the implications of his friend's disappearance, Erasmus fled, relying on the influence of his roguish brother Baylock to slip through the shadows to freedom.

Yet, the world had not changed for the better during Erasmus's absence. Vinn had used his brother's madness to legally disown him from any claim to his family's titles or lands. His murderous brother had also married into a prestigious noble family, solidifying his holdings and winning him considerable influence in Caliphas's royal court. Seeing little chance at justice, and now questioning the source of the mysterious voice that had counseled him back to sanity, Erasmus knew he'd need living allies to retake his birthright. He boarded a ship crossing Lake Encarthan, the restless spirits of his ancestors following close behind.

Brandon Hodge
Contributing Author

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Tags: Erasmus Iconics Mediums Meet the Iconics Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Wayne Reynolds
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Hmmm. If spirits are based on mythic paths now, I see potential for several third-party paths to become third-party medium spirits...

Liberty's Edge

Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Hmmm. If spirits are based on mythic paths now, I see potential for several third-party paths to become third-party medium spirits...

YES !!!

I just might have to open the class for my JR game. They have not reached That Item yet but it could be a perfect match.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I wonder if this King wore yellow robes and a mask that was not a mask.

Designer

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Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Hmmm. If spirits are based on mythic paths now, I see potential for several third-party paths to become third-party medium spirits...

There's a lot of potential for messing around with the spirits. What the 3pp spirit will need to do to interface with the class is pick one of the main 6 spirits that it replaces (so like a psionic path's spirit would probably replace archmage, or that skillsy Legendary Games path's spirit would probably replace trickster), and then the medium can contact spirits of the new legend instead of being able to contact spirits of the old legend. You can do this same sort of substitution without necessarily having another mythic path, thus allowing for a big potential for tinkering with the medium even without going into archetypes!


So the class is hard-coded to only be able to access exactly six spirits?


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Leg o' Lamb wrote:
I wonder if this King wore yellow robes and a mask that was not a mask.

...or then it was a guy who has a thousand more masks.

Designer

Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
So the class is hard-coded to only be able to access exactly six spirits?

It is hard-coded to access precisely six different legends of spirits (and however many spirits you like within those legends), in the same way the original medium could access a certain number of the Harrow spirits (in this case, the "certain number" is "every single one of the starting ones"). If you think about it (and I know it's harder without the class in front of you), hopefully the preview is enough to make it clear that it would be an extreme balance problem if someone published, say a supplement with 100 new medium legends and then every medium got them all. But picking and choosing, mixing and matching? Super cool!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Icyshadow wrote:
Leg o' Lamb wrote:
I wonder if this King wore yellow robes and a mask that was not a mask.
...or then it was a guy who has a thousand more masks.

Eh, not sold on either of those answers. Hastur's cult tends to be artists and the obsessed. Nyarlathotep isn't a bad idea - there's a possible allusion to how Randall Flagg freed Lloyd Henreid from his cell in The Stand - but I'm not entirely convinced that it's a good one. I mean, what does Big N stand to gain from one crazy guy wandering around Golarion with his family in his head?


They're beyond human comprehension. Trying to understand their motives can only drive you mad.


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Evil Finnish Chaos Beast wrote:
They're beyond human comprehension. Trying to understand their motives can only drive you mad.

Nyarlathotep wants to usher in the end times, furthering the influence and domains of his ilk.

Hastur and Groetus are variations on the same thing, except for Hastur being a extrovert and an independent author that surreptitiously leaves copies of his book in your house.

It's there in the source material, if you're willing to look for it. The unknowable is just an excuse to embrace ignorance and let something outside of ourselves take the responsibility of the course of our lives. It's a seductive impulse, and one that humanity is very fond of.

The King is an archetype of human experience, the decision maker, the father. He could be Ulfen or Kellid, from the description. The theme of the character is one of (recent) ancestors guiding the character from beyond the grave, and Ulfen and Kellid blood does run through many of the families in Ustalav. So I conjecture that this King is the "father's father's father" of the character, and represents the CHA based spirits that Erasmus has access to.

Liberty's Edge

Is the King named Harum ? ;-)

Erasmus' 6 spirits :

- Father = Marshal ?

- Uncle = Archmage

- Sister Nissa = Champion

- Sister Veldira = Hierophant

- Brother Baylock = Trickster

- King ??? = Guardian ?

Contributor

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The black raven wrote:

Is the King named Harum ? ;-)

Erasmus' 6 spirits :

- King ??? = Guardian ?

King is not one of Erasmus' 6 spirits. The Guardian is his deceased cousin, who was protecting his uncle when he died.


I thought the king was the name his father is using as a spirit first time I read it.

Contributor

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Not a bad theory!

It is interesting to note that spirits named "King" have a long and storied history in Modern American Spiritualism, from his first appearance in Koons' "Spirit Room" in the 1850s in Ohio, to the Davenport Brothers, Florence Cook, Helena Blavatsky, and beyond.

Shout out, or something deeper? I'll let you guys keep pondering. =-)


The timeline with respect to Pathfinder Earth is, sadly, all wrong for it to be Elvis.


Is there any reason they called the spirit "King"?

Contributor

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Dragon78 wrote:
Is there any reason they called the spirit "King"?

While noting to readers that "they" here refers to the real-world Spiritualists noted in my comment above, and not specifically Erasmus's mysterious friend from a nearby asylum cell:

Historically, "King" was "King No. 1": the head spirit of a band of similarly-named spirits (King No. 1, King No. 2, etc) who initially appeared at the seances held in the Koons spirit room in the 1850s, it eventually came out that "King No. 1" was actually the ghost of a spirit calling himself John King, who was in life actually named Henry Owen Morgan: aka Captain Morgan, the Welsh buccaneer who later loaned his name to a popular brand of rum.

From the Koons spirit room, John King would go on to have an incredibly busy afterlife, serving as a spirit guide to famous mediums such as the Davenport Brothers, Mrs. Guppy, William Eglinton, Nelson Holmes, Georgina Houghton, W.T. Stead, and one of my favorite spirit trumpet mediums, Etta Wriedt.

Famously, Eusapia Paladino made much use of King, Madame Blavatsky was well-acquainted with him (and some Theosophists suggested the famous Master Mahatma Koot Hoomi was a guise of King) and, above all, the medium Florence Cook summoned not only John King, but even more famously, his daughter Katie King, in a series of manifestations séances presided over by the famed scientist Sir William Crookes, in what are perhaps some of the most sensational and well-documented physical séances in history (if ever there was a real-life example of the Spiritualist class!).

Less famously, famed pirate-themed restaurant and nightclub owner (and the man credited with inventing the modern "night club") Don Dickerson, who owned clubs with Bod Hope, Errol Flynn, and other Hollywood luminaries, AND who consulted the Ouija board daily, communicated with John King regularly. You may or may not be surprised to learn that I own the original séance transcripts of Don Dickerson, where he carries on the tradition of communion with the spirit of John King over the course of several decades of his life.

If there's ever a spirit that needed its own biography...

Now, does all that have ANYTHING to do with Erasmus? Probably not, but what do you think?

The Exchange

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I respect any spirit who is the source of my favourite spirits.


Mark Moreland wrote:
the xiao wrote:
What I meant is, if the material is done already, why not release it?
Because it's not done. It hasn't been developed, edited, illustrated, laid out, or budgeted for in terms of both time and production costs.

Oh, it sounded like you had everything ready and just cut it for more goodies for the book instead of hogging space only for one class. Sorry if I sounded rude.


Brandon Hodge wrote:


King is not one of Erasmus' 6 spirits.

And yet, the flavor text on page 9 of OA would suggest otherwise.

Designer

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Mar Nakrum wrote:
Brandon Hodge wrote:


King is not one of Erasmus' 6 spirits.
And yet, the flavor text on page 9 of OA would suggest otherwise.

In fact, a medium can contact many spirits of each legend (unless they are a relic channeler), so I think what Brandon means is that King isn't one of Erasmus's "first contact" spirits for any of the six legends.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Mar Nakrum wrote:
Brandon Hodge wrote:


King is not one of Erasmus' 6 spirits.
And yet, the flavor text on page 9 of OA would suggest otherwise.
In fact, a medium can contact many spirits of each legend (unless they are a relic channeler), so I think what Brandon means is that King isn't one of Erasmus's "first contact" spirits for any of the six legends.

True, it was his seventh!

The Exchange

The best thing about this, to me, is that this is basically the same backstory I had for my 3.5 binder. Not only that but you did some research and found out I'm half Dutch, and named him after one of my countrymen. I'm pretty sure you guys did that on purpose, and I'm honored.

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mar Nakrum wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Mar Nakrum wrote:
Brandon Hodge wrote:


King is not one of Erasmus' 6 spirits.
And yet, the flavor text on page 9 of OA would suggest otherwise.
In fact, a medium can contact many spirits of each legend (unless they are a relic channeler), so I think what Brandon means is that King isn't one of Erasmus's "first contact" spirits for any of the six legends.
True, it was his seventh!

Yeah--sorry! What I meant by that comment was King was not part of Erasmus's "original suite" of six spirits, who were all represented by deceased family members in the background. Particularly since the story was written with that flavor text in mind!

If it hasn't already been noted, notice how the original six not only conform to the 6 spirit types as far as classes and abilities, but also how the locations of their deaths correspond to the seance locations in the class abilities!


Kalindlara wrote:
John Compton wrote:
Adam Daigle wrote:
Liz Courts wrote:
the xiao wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

Not enough pages, actually! A book including it would need to be at least our next-smallest size (64 pages) or more.

I love Paizo but WotC did web enhancements...
So do we, when our product schedule allows for it. (It usually doesn't.)

*points to every Adventure Path Player's Guide I've worked on*

*and taken art and editor and web team resources to provide for free*

*Comforts the overlooked free products and quests downloads pages for Pathfinder Society Organized Play*
*Comforts the sad developers*

Free comforts for all, freely given; all in the support of free stuff :)

Shadow Lodge

Quote:
It wasn't long before the voices started.

I will have to remember that line


Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I do like the story - very Ustalavic - but I did have two questions, one of which someone pointed out before:

1) Who's the other older sibling? It says he has 5, 3 die, Vinn takes over, but the 5th is never mentioned.

2)Not so much a question as an observation, but: "Erasmus gradually identified each mysterious voice in turn, and finally understood they were the shades of his family—the spirits of his deceased brothers, father, and uncle—who endlessly dwelled upon the circumstances of their deaths".

Why don't his two sisters say anything?

Other than that, pretty cool.

- Cheers, Key


So Erasmus is not a relic channeler? I thought that his deck of cards could be his brother's relic.

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