Iconic Encounter: To the Last Breath

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Glory to the Dawnflower! Today, Sarenrae answered the prayers of fans of Kyra, the iconic cleric! Enjoy the following piece of short fiction from James L. Sutter in the next entry into our series of Iconic Encounters—brief vignettes of the iconic characters showcasing the myriad stories you can tell with Pathfinder Second Edition.

Illustration by Matteo Spirito

The doors of the refuge shuddered as the monstrosity slammed against it once more. Wood that had protected the townsfolk faithfully for generations cracked and split, the stout timbers no match for the strength of a full-grown troll.

Kyra moved through the cave, tending to the injured in the light of ancient glowworms. She'd long since used up the last of her magic, and now had little more to offer than a kind word and a gentle hand. Yet still she walked among them, head held high—a symbol of Sarenrae's salvation.

"Why don't you fight it?"

The child was small and shoeless, with the unflinching boldness of the very young. Kyra seethed at the question, yet knelt to look him in the eye, careful to keep her voice calm. "We have no fire. Without it, my sword is useless. And I have no magic left."

The child frowned. "But Sarenrae has fire and magic. Shouldn't we pray?"

"Aren't we?" Kyra smiled, reaching out to cup the child's cheek. "Sometimes the best prayer is helping others."

The child opened his mouth, but any further questions were cut off by a final, fatal crunch from the doors as the crossbeam gave way. Kyra turned and drew her scimitar, waving aside the townsfolk who were frantically pressing their backs against the ruined wood.

The doors exploded open, slamming into the unfinished rock of the stronghold's walls. The soft glow of the cave worms spread gentle, syrupy light over the hulking shoulders and shovel-sized claws of the murderous troll.

Kyra stepped forward. Despite her wounds, despite the heaviness of her sword arm, her heart felt lighter than it had since the whole nightmare had begun. She was out of tricks, out of any real hope of defeating the beast—yet here she was, placing herself between the predator and the innocent. Right where she was supposed to be.

As she'd told the child, sometimes that was prayer enough.

"Again, priest?" Wet lips smacked around protruding tusks as the troll chuckled. He spread his enormous arms, showing thin lines of scar tissue that had been gaping wounds an hour ago. "So be it. I'm ready. But are you?"

Kyra said nothing, only angled her blade and slid her rear foot back into Sunrise Wakes the Mountain.

He was right, of course. She'd been outmatched even when she'd been fresh, when her heart-fires had roared with the spells of her faith. Yet the stance still came easily, muscles trained by countless morning prayer forms. Her mind might know she was beaten, but her body didn't.

"You're out of magic." The troll grunted—a boar's wet snort. "Your goddess has abandoned you. But die how you like." He shrugged and reached for her.

That's when she felt it: the familiar warmth, waiting like a hot coal in her chest. She breathed in, letting the embers flare, and sank into the heat like the embrace it was. She raised her holy symbol.

The troll's tiny, piggish eyes shot wide, and then the flames engulfed him, searing green flesh black. He roared, falling backward as he burned.

Kyra let the goddess's symbol fall back against her chest, pain flooding back in as the magic receded.

From the cave floor, the charred mess of the troll glared up with agonized incredulity. His croak was as cracked as his flesh. "How?"

"You were wrong." Kyra stood over him, looking down calmly. "Whatever happens, the goddess never truly leaves us. She'll walk with me until my last breath."

She raised her sword in both hands.

"Or until yours..."

If you liked this week's Iconic Encounter, you won't want to miss next week's exciting entry. Until then, Pathfinders, may you walk in the light and heat of the sun!

Mark Moreland
Franchise Manager

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Tags: Clerics Iconic Encounters Iconics Kyra Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Second Edition
Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Huzzah!


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Sutter is pretty awesome!

Love these trolls, very different from old incarnations thereof...

I wonder... if these vignettes are depicting fluff *and* mechanics, as they did for Harsk, Ezren and Amiri... will clerics be able to come up with extra divine magic in their hour of need? That'd be pretty damn cool...

Oh, and "Sunrise Wakes the Mountain"? At a loss for words here ^____^

Liberty's Edge

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I like the fiction. Like the others it's neat and evocative.

My guess is that the mechanic being highlighted might be some way to recover Focus, though I'm not at all positive.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Oooh... Like where the story talks about how Kyra felt "right where she was supposed to be." If there is a mechanic where Clerics can regain Focus by taking deity-appropriate risks/sacrifices... That would be amazing.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

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My goodness. The art in this edition.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

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MaxAstro wrote:
Oooh... Like where the story talks about how Kyra felt "right where she was supposed to be." If there is a mechanic where Clerics can regain Focus by taking deity-appropriate risks/sacrifices... That would be amazing.

Spending Hero Points to recover spells, maybe?


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I agree, am curious about whether this is mechanics as well as damn good storytelling.

And it is a damn good story :D

And amazing artwork :D :D :D

Really enjoying these portrait reveals and stories that go with them!


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Charlie Brooks wrote:
MaxAstro wrote:
Oooh... Like where the story talks about how Kyra felt "right where she was supposed to be." If there is a mechanic where Clerics can regain Focus by taking deity-appropriate risks/sacrifices... That would be amazing.
Spending Hero Points to recover spells, maybe?

During the playtest, I experimented with faster ways to give out hero points due to in-game actions, because the out-of-game methods for hero points did not suit our set-up. I gave out hero points for beneficial actions strongly in character. Kyra comforting a child would have counted for a hero point.

Thus, I can imagine the mechanics behind this story as Kyra was out of hero points, too. She earned a new hero point from talking to the child, used that hero point to recharge a focus point, and then spent the focus for a fire ray.


That was quite a talkative troll...I like it.

I'm very curious about her stances.


Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
MaxAstro wrote:
Oooh... Like where the story talks about how Kyra felt "right where she was supposed to be." If there is a mechanic where Clerics can regain Focus by taking deity-appropriate risks/sacrifices... That would be amazing.

That would be awesome!

That could also work with Hero Points, but I like that so much!

Silver Crusade

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Now that’s awesome, and hearteningly familiar. Keep taking names, Sutter!


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I think people are missing a key word in the story: stance. 'Sunrise Wakes the Mountain' is a Cleric stance. Clerics are getting stances like Fighters and Monks! This is very interesting. I wonder hoe many other classes are getting stances too.


I think it's mechanic is the Focus Spell, she's using a Fire Ray.


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She is a warpriest after all, makes sense that she gets a few goodies from the martial side.

Liberty's Edge

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Yeah, looking at it again, I definitely think Clerics getting acces to Stances (at least if going Warpriest) is definitely now a thing. Interesting.

Paizo Employee Designer

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I'm curious because I've seen it in a lot of places, but where are people getting that Kyra's a warpriest? It must be an official source since you have the correct name of the option. I discussed with Mark Moreland when he was ordering the story and he told me he thought she was definitely a <redacted other option>, which had also been our working assumption when we created the options. Did one of the pregens wind up going differently?

Going to also confirm that clerics don't get stances while I'm here, but I'm deeply interested by all the rest of the speculation...Sutter did such a good job with expressing some of the new concepts!

Liberty's Edge

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The version of her used in Jason's streamed demo game at GAMA was mentioned by him as a Warpriest. He also mentioned another more spell-focused option, though he did not name it.

And thanks for the info, Mark. It is, as always, very appreciated. :)


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Mark Seifter wrote:

I'm curious because I've seen it in a lot of places, but where are people getting that Kyra's a warpriest? It must be an official source since you have the correct name of the option. I discussed with Mark Moreland when he was ordering the story and he told me he thought she was definitely a <redacted other option>, which had also been our working assumption when we created the options. Did one of the pregens wind up going differently?

Going to also confirm that clerics don't get stances while I'm here, but I'm deeply interested by all the rest of the speculation...Sutter did such a good job with expressing some of the new concepts!

Yeah, I’ve done the notes for GAMA demo game and she was confirmed as a Warpriest, with a reference to that being why she had access to better armour.

Perhaps if you told us what the other assumption was we could check with Jason for you and solve this conundrum?


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

When the GM gives you a bit of extra XP for good roleplaying, and it levels you up in time to burn the troll. lol. :D

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Love the encounter, - very descriptive - as well as the troll having some dialogue, rather than just being snarly.

Contributor

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Thanks everybody! And sorry for the red herring about the stances—I wasn't thinking about the term in the context of the game, but rather in how I imagine Kyra herself would think about her swordwork. The fact that she learned not just in a martial tradition but a religious one made me think that there's probably a meditative and worshipful element to a lot of her training—hence you might have sacred, Sarenrae-specific names for various stances/moves/etc. Her role as a holy warrior is so central to her faith that I've always imagined her practicing forms at dawn as part of her daily prayers...


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James Sutter wrote:
Thanks everybody! And sorry for the red herring about the stances—I wasn't thinking about the term in the context of the game, but rather in how I imagine Kyra herself would think about her swordwork. The fact that she learned not just in a martial tradition but a religious one made me think that there's probably a meditative and worshipful element to a lot of her training—hence you might have sacred, Sarenrae-specific names for various stances/moves/etc. Her role as a holy warrior is so central to her faith that I've always imagined her practicing forms at dawn as part of her daily prayers...

I think you did a great job of that, not everything in lore needs a mechanic behind it. In fact I often rename feats/techniques for my characters to make it fit their aesthetic.


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Mark Seifter wrote:

I'm curious because I've seen it in a lot of places, but where are people getting that Kyra's a warpriest? It must be an official source since you have the correct name of the option. I discussed with Mark Moreland when he was ordering the story and he told me he thought she was definitely a <redacted other option>, which had also been our working assumption when we created the options. Did one of the pregens wind up going differently?

Going to also confirm that clerics don't get stances while I'm here, but I'm deeply interested by all the rest of the speculation...Sutter did such a good job with expressing some of the new concepts!

From Jason. When there are unplanned spoilers, the answer is always Jason :D


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So...I generally haven't been a fan of these -- tying the "stories you can tell" to a set of RPG rules seems...pretentious? -- but this one was quite good.


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Mark Seifter wrote:

I'm curious because I've seen it in a lot of places, but where are people getting that Kyra's a warpriest? It must be an official source since you have the correct name of the option. I discussed with Mark Moreland when he was ordering the story and he told me he thought she was definitely a <redacted other option>, which had also been our working assumption when we created the options. Did one of the pregens wind up going differently?

Going to also confirm that clerics don't get stances while I'm here, but I'm deeply interested by all the rest of the speculation...Sutter did such a good job with expressing some of the new concepts!

It was in the same place that said that tomorrow at noon you will explain some new rules here in the forum.

Glad we could remind you in time!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

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James Sutter wrote:
Thanks everybody! And sorry for the red herring about the stances—I wasn't thinking about the term in the context of the game, but rather in how I imagine Kyra herself would think about her swordwork. The fact that she learned not just in a martial tradition but a religious one made me think that there's probably a meditative and worshipful element to a lot of her training—hence you might have sacred, Sarenrae-specific names for various stances/moves/etc. Her role as a holy warrior is so central to her faith that I've always imagined her practicing forms at dawn as part of her daily prayers...

It's always good to keep the community on its toes...


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James Sutter wrote:
Thanks everybody! And sorry for the red herring about the stances—I wasn't thinking about the term in the context of the game, but rather in how I imagine Kyra herself would think about her swordwork. The fact that she learned not just in a martial tradition but a religious one made me think that there's probably a meditative and worshipful element to a lot of her training—hence you might have sacred, Sarenrae-specific names for various stances/moves/etc. Her role as a holy warrior is so central to her faith that I've always imagined her practicing forms at dawn as part of her daily prayers...

Makes total sense. I hadn't thought she could have stances, I did guess it was "simply" flavor, but certainty is nice.

Also, the image of Kyra performing kata with her scimitar while praying at dawn... ah, damn it, Sutter, you did it again! ^__^


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

Just checked forward and it looks like they will get these done for each iconic right before PaizoCon begins...almost liked it was planned that way...

;)

Grand Lodge

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Charlie Brooks wrote:
James Sutter wrote:
Thanks everybody! And sorry for the red herring about the stances...
It's always good to keep the community on its toes...

That sounds like a stance.

The community gets Stances like fighter: Confirmed!


My take on the 11th hour renewal of power was that Kyra's daily allotment of spells were renewed in the nick of time, and her aid of the innocent was close enough to meditation for Sarenrae's blessing.

A good read regardless of the mechanic.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I suspect if that were the case there would have been a mention somewhere in the story about it being close to dawn.


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Troll: Haha! You only have cantrips left, and they only deal 1d3 points of damage!

Kyra: *smirk*


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I actually really hope thats a hint in there about power recovery, that can make for some really dramatic stuff! (If not, I may houserule that hero points can be used to fuel powers)


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Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Awesome story James!!! This may be my favorite vignette thus far. Really good.


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Elorebaen wrote:
Awesome story James!!! This may be my favorite vignette thus far. Really good.

It's certainly a strong contender. Not that I disliked the others, quite the opposite in fact, but I suppose when you get so intimate with a character's emotions, so close to a moment of defeat and then get to view the tables turn for the better, it makes for a powerful, compelling narrative. Add faith and spirituality and there's something primordial in our very own nature as human beings that usually just can't resist, at least at a subconscious level, just because the divine is such a universal and all-pervasive facet of our mortal experience.

Also Kyra kicks ass like a f*&@ing boss.


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MaxAstro wrote:
Oooh... Like where the story talks about how Kyra felt "right where she was supposed to be." If there is a mechanic where Clerics can regain Focus by taking deity-appropriate risks/sacrifices... That would be amazing.

Dammit, Max, I hadn't read your comment attentively enough.

James L. Sutter wrote:

Kyra stepped forward. Despite her wounds, despite the heaviness of her sword arm, her heart felt lighter than it had since the whole nightmare had begun. She was out of tricks, out of any real hope of defeating the beast—yet here she was, placing herself between the predator and the innocent. Right where she was supposed to be.

As she'd told the child, sometimes that was prayer enough.

I'd bet good money (unless we're reading too much into this of course) that 2e clerics can regain their spells (or maybe their focus points?) either by normally praying after some hours of rest or by upholding the tenets of their faith in a non-trivial situation, preferably something fittingly dramatic and dangerous that in the GM's opinion would attract the favor of their deity. Since protecting the innocent is such a big part of Sarenrae's creed, I think Kyra just triggered that mechanic. Having another glance at the comments above it appears Max and I aren't the only one wondering whether this could be the case.

This behavior would also be a ripe example of deserving a big juicy hero point, though. So perhaps clerics can use a hero point (or whatever they end up being called) to recover some amount of focus points/spell slots. This too has been hypothesized by others - at this point I'm just listing the 2 mechanics I find most likely here.

Liberty's Edge

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I think the mention of 1 hour between the two fights with the troll has significance


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The Raven Black wrote:
I think the mention of 1 hour between the two fights with the troll has significance

Nice catch!

Perhaps it's a minimum cooldown before getting back spells/focus points, or using a hero point to do so.

Then again, it might be another unintentional red herring...

Can't wait to read how it all ties together in the final product ^___^

Liberty's Edge

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Roswynn wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
I think the mention of 1 hour between the two fights with the troll has significance

Nice catch!

Perhaps it's a minimum cooldown before getting back spells/focus points, or using a hero point to do so.

Then again, it might be another unintentional red herring...

Can't wait to read how it all ties together in the final product ^___^

There will undoubtedly be several people who are going to re-read these blogs once we get our greedy hands on the CRB :-D


The Raven Black wrote:
There will undoubtedly be several people who are going to re-read these blogs once we get our greedy hands on the CRB :-D

You bet!


I'd dig that idea a lot. Could make for some really cool story moments.

The Adventure Zone spoilers:
The Adventure Zone was often pulling similar shenanigans, only it was the wizard getting their spells back and the cleric kept getting cut off.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

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The Raven Black wrote:
There will undoubtedly be several people who are going to re-read these blogs once we get our greedy hands on the CRB :-D

So what you're suggesting is that we pull the blogs from the site on August 1, and then charge people to read them and compare?

Sounds like a plan! Thanks for the suggestion.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I am pleased by this.

Chatty troll.

Badass cleric putting herself between the innocent and harm.

Boom.


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Mark Moreland wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
There will undoubtedly be several people who are going to re-read these blogs once we get our greedy hands on the CRB :-D

So what you're suggesting is that we pull the blogs from the site on August 1, and then charge people to read them and compare?

Sounds like a plan! Thanks for the suggestion.

Hello, good sir! I wonder if you could spare a few moments to talk about what Mammon means to you in your life...

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