Tales of Lost Omens: The Hopeful

Thursday, May 30, 2019

"Pardon..."

Over the din of the bustling street market the young boy's cry reached the passing nobleman. "Pardon me, my lord. Are you seeking the god rock? Do you need the courage to take the leap? The blessing of one who passed the test?"

The nobleman ignored him, but the young merchant persisted, obviously recognizing the robed figure's wealth from the quality of his clothes and the confidence in his step. "I have here the tears of Iomedae herself, shed when she learned of Aroden's death!" The boy pushed through the crowd, following the nobleman, waving a tiny vial that undoubtedly contained ordinary water. "My lord?"

The nobleman paid the boy no mind and walked through the throng seemingly oblivious to the solicitations of its eager vendors.

All along the Avenue of the Hopeful it was the same racket. Everyone had some divine relic to sell: a tabard supposedly worn by Iomedae in the Shining Crusade; a barroom dart thrown by a mortal Cayden Cailean; a blood-rusted dagger said to have been wielded by Norgorber himself. They were all fake, of course, but the visitors that streamed down this road every day to look at the Starstone Cathedral didn't know that—or pretended not to out of willful ignorance. Sometimes even the merchants believed the veracity of their claims, their fraud offset by their misplaced good intentions.

Illustration by Federico Musetti

Among themselves, the charlatans hocking these wares claim the cathedral is the straight man in their cons. Its very presence adds an air of mystery and divine authority to the propositions, no matter how obvious the counterfeit relics are. How could it not? Inside the towering ancient shrine, suspended in the center of an unfathomably deep pit, lay a chunk of rock that fell from the heavens millennia ago amid the untold devastation of Earthfall. Those who brave the cathedral, passing all of its cunning tests, defeating its deadly guardians, and surviving to touch the Starstone exit the cathedral as gods. Many have tried over the centuries since Aroden constructed the cathedral to protect the holy relic within, but only three have ever succeeded. Unsurprisingly, it is Absalom's most visited tourist spot—the epicenter of the City at the Center of the World.

"Just two silver weights!"

The nobleman was now so far from the desperate tear-merchant that the boy's last cries were all but lost to the sounds of the city. The kid was new to the street and if he didn't soon fall in with one of the many organized rings of counterfeiters and con artists who worked in tandem to move their merchandise, he'd undoubtedly end up like so many others in the Ascendant Court, picking pockets to turn a profit from even the most discerning of customers. Those with experience working the God's Market knew not to waste their time with this particular nobleman, either as a customer or a mark.

Lord Synarr arrived in the city only six months ago, and since then he has walked the avenue every morning to gaze upon the Starstone Cathedral. At first, he was swarmed by kids hawking sacred items and protective talismans, but over time, they learned not to bother. Lord Synarr never spared even a single copper for any of their wares, he never once inspected their goods. He only diverted his attention from the Starstone Cathedral at the end of the Avenue of Hopefuls for the hopefuls themselves—those adventurers, demagogues, and zealots ambitious (or foolhardy) enough to plan their own run on divinity.

In a bid to prove their worthiness, most set up in one of the God's Market's many empty stalls and proselytize to what small audience they can wrest away from their competition. Some preach a message that speaks to a particular listener, or are charismatic enough to enthrall the crowd with their pageantry, and convert real followers from among the masses. On any given day a half-dozen or more hopefuls line the avenue, preaching their new faith, offering indulgences for coin, or performing rituals to prepare themselves for their journey.

For his first few weeks in Absalom, Lord Synarr stopped at each one as he made his way down the avenue, listening to the articles of the hopefuls' soon-to-be faiths before stoically moving on. The enigmatic noble no longer tarries before such aspirants, but he listens carefully to their tirades as he walks past, sometimes even smiling smugly to himself when a hopeful exhibits particular skill at capturing the crowd's attention.

Today, Lord Synarr witnessed a Keleshite trade prince offering a golden scabbard to Golinarth, the hulking hopeful who always wears a wooden skeleton mask and claims to have come back from the dead to become the god of second chances—one more rube offering wealth for miracles that would never materialize. A few yards further down the avenue, Ryni the Jest, a prankster hoping to become a god of mirth, gave the stern noble an unreciprocated wink of acknowledgment before turning his attention back to the butt of his public ridicule. The lord had his suspicions that the clown never actually intended to attempt the Test of the Starstone, but was simply amassing followers to start his own cult of personality.

A half-orc woman with a lilting accent offered Lord Synarr a score of rings, pendants, and bracelets tied to a velvet pillow. "Welcome back, my lord. Taking the test today?"

The noble didn't flinch, continuing his leisurely stroll toward the cathedral without a second glance in the merchant's direction.

"I got a new one, I did. Lets you walk on air." Her arm shot toward the end of the avenue like an arrow loosed from a hunter's bow. "Fttt—straight over the pit!" Recognizing that her daily pitch to her regular "customer" would have the same results today as it had the last six months, she turned her attention seamlessly to a wide-eyed gnome wearing Mwangi fashion to Synarr's left. "How about you, chum?"

Lord Synarr doubted any of the woman's jewelry was even magical, much less powerful enough to help someone cross the yawning expanse that separated the Starstone Cathedral from the surrounding city. Some fool, he was sure, would slip the ring on and dive headfirst into the abyss, cursing the merchant the whole way down. His dark eyes twinkled at the thought. One more shrine for the cathedral of the Failed, if even that.

Finally arriving at the edge of the chasm, Lord Synarr stopped for a moment and looked at the ancient temple. He was not the only one to hesitate near the precipice, and he had noted other regulars with their own routines in his time performing this daily ritual. Very few of them had lasted longer than a month or two, either giving up on their hopes of godhood or having perished in the attempt. Lord Synarr would be neither distracted nor a failure; he had one shot, and he would only attempt it when the time was right.

The robed lord turned to the left and walked around the chasm, the same route he took every day.

As he walked, his gait embodying both purpose and tranquility, Lord Synarr's thoughts turned to the temples adorning the grand plaza surrounding the pit. Iomedae and Cayden Cailean, two of the four whose apotheosis occurred mere yards away, had monuments here, built by their faithful as testaments to their success. A bridge spanned the chasm between each temple and the Starstone Cathedral, a physical manifestation of the gods' connection to the Starstone through which they attained divinity. The ascended god Norgorber, second after Aroden to pass the test, was far too secretive to put his temple out in the open. Those, like Lord Synarr, who studied the Starstone Cathedral could guess in which direction Norgorber's temple lied from the alignment of the third bridge, which appeared to point toward nothing in particular.

Lord Synarr ended his circuit of the Ascendant Court each day before the ruined fourth bridge across the mighty chasm. The missing span once pointed to the city's great temple to Aroden, who had raised the Starstone from the ocean depths along with the entire Isle of Kortos and in so doing captured his own spark of divinity. Though the bridge and even Aroden himself are gone, the temple still stands, now serving as the Chelish embassy. Despite the addition of the infernal insignias of House Thrune, Lord Synarr could still make out symbol of Aroden's eye that was once emblazoned above the grand entry, a negative outline in old dirt and moss.

The noble ended his daily stroll here to remind himself of his own mortality. While Lord Synarr welcomed the dignity and experience the gray in his hair and the lines at the corners of his eyes indicated, he could too easily allow the comforts afforded by his vast wealth distract him from the unwelcome truth that unless he passed the Test of the Starstone, he too would die. Though Aroden, god of humanity, may have died, Lord Synarr would not, he told himself.

His gaze turned from the repurposed Arodenite temple toward the towering cathedral at the city's heart. From this vantage point, he didn't see the gulf separating him from the home of divinity, and the sights and sounds of the bustling metropolis fell away. With the focus of an owl trained on its unsuspecting prey, he was aware only of the Starstone Cathedral and the power within. And just like every other day, he said one word, quietly to himself, before turning and walking back to his stately manor and the day's extravagances.

"Soon."

Jason Bulmahn
Director of Game Design

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Tags: Pathfinder World Guides Tales of Lost Omens Web Fiction
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Actually Cayden was a legendary rogue, his exploits known throughout the Inner Sea Region on the lines of Robin Hood in our world BEFORE he took the test. So I believe Roswynn is correct.

Liberty's Edge

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TBH I find Synarr extremely disquieting


Synarr is Aroden reborn.. hahahahahahahahahahahaha,

anyway wasnt the test supposed to change per person trying to take it???
If that was the case, than it would have been different from when Aroden took it, to when Iomadae tok it., to when Bilbo Bagins too it, to when Norgber took it.

so it would also be different from Synaar attempts it to say if my elven paladin takes it should she chose to do so.

Intent may matter in all things.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Voss wrote:
Eh. To me he seemed old enough and wise enough to know that he has nothing to lose by trying. Undeath may not appeal and he may not be wealthy enough for the elixir, so why not go for godhood when the grave is the only thing that awaits?

Also a valid interpretation.

Voss wrote:
the big downside is he'll never get away from the sellers and sneak thieves if he succeeds...
Huh? Gods who ascend via the Starstone aren't location-bound or anything. If he becomes a God he can go wherever he likes.

The folks in the market- the hawkers, hopefuls, cheats and scoundrels seem a good metaphor for the religious followers (or likely to actually become the religious followers) of anyone that passes the test of the Starstone. They'll cling to him like barnacles, assuming he manages to pass.

If nothing else, they'll want the ephemera of his life to sell to the next batch of hopefuls...

Dark Archive

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Fumarole wrote:
Is that guy wearing the Sydney Opera House on his head?

He normally wears the Guggenheim, but it's at the cleaners.


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Feros wrote:
Actually Cayden was a legendary rogue, his exploits known throughout the Inner Sea Region on the lines of Robin Hood in our world BEFORE he took the test. So I believe Roswynn is correct.

Yep. Thank you, Feros. As for Norgorber,

Kasumi Goto wrote:
I'm the best thief in the business, not the most famous. Need to watch my step to keep it that way.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
The Raven Black wrote:
TBH I find Synarr extremely disquieting

This, also. He's... different. He clearly doesn't think the same way most people do. If he fails, it's going to be either completely ignobly or extremely spectacularly. If he succeeds... what kind of god would that man become? Hard to say, but I don't forsee a "G" in his alignment.

He also doesn't seem to be afraid of the test - nothing in his bearing gives that impression. Just not ready yet. So what is he preparing?

Liberty's Edge

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MaxAstro wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
TBH I find Synarr extremely disquieting

This, also. He's... different. He clearly doesn't think the same way most people do. If he fails, it's going to be either completely ignobly or extremely spectacularly. If he succeeds... what kind of god would that man become? Hard to say, but I don't forsee a "G" in his alignment.

He also doesn't seem to be afraid of the test - nothing in his bearing gives that impression. Just not ready yet. So what is he preparing?

I think the "Soon." at the end is what cements my disquiet.

He arrived only 6 months ago. Goes every day to have a look at the cathedral and eyes the competition. And whatever he sees comforts him in the idea that the time will soon be right for his "one shot" at godhood. He is waiting for something.


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Roswynn wrote:
Feros wrote:
Actually Cayden was a legendary rogue, his exploits known throughout the Inner Sea Region on the lines of Robin Hood in our world BEFORE he took the test. So I believe Roswynn is correct.

Yep. Thank you, Feros. As for Norgorber,

Kasumi Goto wrote:
I'm the best thief in the business, not the most famous. Need to watch my step to keep it that way.

Mass Effect quotes for the win! :D


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

This is a good story to give readers the feel of Absalom's streets near the cathedral but I would not put to much attention on this Synarr fellow. He's an old and rich dude who thinks he has a chance at godhood, which undoubtedly mekes him the same as thousands of others before him, no more no less. It's there to give the reader a point of view which happens to be somehow unpalatable (a rich and arrogant guy).

As for the 4 mortals who took the test of the starstone:

-Aroden was already a wizard powerful enough to raise Absalom from the depths (so possibly even mythic).

-Of Nagrober we don't know much, except he was Taldan. It seems likely he was a rogue of great skill and/or possibly an assassin. He spent a lot of effort obscuring his past so nothing is really certain.

-Cayden Cailean was a Taldan sellsword and freedom fighter working out of Absalom. While mortal he was well known, which means he was probably an accomplished hero on his own (high level fighter, possibly multiclassed?).

-Iomedae was an high level paladin and general of the Shining Crusade companion of general Arnisant himself (he was a lvl 20 cavalier), this means she was likely lvl 20 herself.

All in all it seems like those who passed the test of the starstone were all exceptional individuals. None of them passed by mere chance, not even Cayden.
Unfrtunately for him, Synarr here does not seem to be cut out of the same stuff.


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Rogar Valertis wrote:
None of them passed by mere chance, not even Cayden.

Actually, due to a slight bug unknown to all except maybe Aroden, the Starstone will grant divinity to anyone who shows up blind drunk. Cayden can't remember how he passed the Test (at least according to the wiki), so the bug is still unknown to all.


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Given the discussion about Norgorber's origins, I feel like this is a good place to propose the theory that Norgorber is actually a halfling, a gnome and a goblin, who are the aspects of theivery, poison, and murder, all stack and hiding in an intelligent cloak who is the aspect of secrets. After all, they say if the true identity of Norgorber were revealed, he would be undone... :D


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Captain collateral damage wrote:
Given the discussion about Norgorber's origins, I feel like this is a good place to propose the theory that Norgorber is actually a halfling, a gnome and a goblin, who are the aspects of theivery, poison, and murder, all stack and hiding in an intelligent cloak who is the aspect of secrets. After all, they say if the true identity of Norgorber were revealed, he would be undone... :D

....Yup. That's headcanon now. XD


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^Or maybe make the intelligent cloak was actually an undersized but unusually cunning Cloaker . . . .


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I think it's Dr. Strange's cloak.

Or, the illegitimate child of Dr. Strange's cloak and Aladdin's carpet.

That night they were watching Tangled and things got unusually literal in bed.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Captain collateral damage wrote:
Given the discussion about Norgorber's origins, I feel like this is a good place to propose the theory that Norgorber is actually a halfling, a gnome and a goblin, who are the aspects of theivery, poison, and murder, all stack and hiding in an intelligent cloak who is the aspect of secrets. After all, they say if the true identity of Norgorber were revealed, he would be undone... :D

He's actually three halflings in a sentient longcloak, but solid guess. Goblins are too spindly to sell the disguise if they're forming the legs, and I've yet to meet a gnome or halfling who'd let a goblin clamber on top of them long enough to pass from Absalom's gates to the Starstone itself.

Silver Crusade

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Michael Sayre wrote:
Captain collateral damage wrote:
Given the discussion about Norgorber's origins, I feel like this is a good place to propose the theory that Norgorber is actually a halfling, a gnome and a goblin, who are the aspects of theivery, poison, and murder, all stack and hiding in an intelligent cloak who is the aspect of secrets. After all, they say if the true identity of Norgorber were revealed, he would be undone... :D

He's actually three halflings in a sentient longcloak, but solid guess. Goblins are too spindly to sell the disguise if they're forming the legs, and I've yet to meet a gnome or halfling who'd let a goblin clamber on top of them long enough to pass from Absalom's gates to the Starstone itself.

That's what makes them god material though.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Rysky wrote:
Michael Sayre wrote:
Captain collateral damage wrote:
Given the discussion about Norgorber's origins, I feel like this is a good place to propose the theory that Norgorber is actually a halfling, a gnome and a goblin, who are the aspects of theivery, poison, and murder, all stack and hiding in an intelligent cloak who is the aspect of secrets. After all, they say if the true identity of Norgorber were revealed, he would be undone... :D

He's actually three halflings in a sentient longcloak, but solid guess. Goblins are too spindly to sell the disguise if they're forming the legs, and I've yet to meet a gnome or halfling who'd let a goblin clamber on top of them long enough to pass from Absalom's gates to the Starstone itself.

That's what makes them god material though.

...Touche'.


Lot of assumptions here. ;)


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Roswynn wrote:

I think it's Dr. Strange's cloak.

Or, the illegitimate child of Dr. Strange's cloak and Aladdin's carpet.

That night they were watching Tangled and things got unusually literal in bed.

That is a crossover, that needs to happen^^


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lowfyr01 wrote:
Roswynn wrote:

I think it's Dr. Strange's cloak.

Or, the illegitimate child of Dr. Strange's cloak and Aladdin's carpet.

That night they were watching Tangled and things got unusually literal in bed.

That is a crossover, that needs to happen^^

Sorry, not writing that fanfic!

(Dead set on a RotR one though, just love it too much. The question though is, Italian or English?...).


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Just posted this in the Broken Lands thread but I'm copying it here.

I think I figured this thing out. Lord Synarr is Razmir. Seriously, the clues are all over that Lost Omens post. The art, the fear of mortality, the kid trying to sell him god's tear?! He plans to become a real good very soon, until then he isn't taking any chances with Tar-Baphon.


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^This is a disturbingly plausible hypothesis . . . .


Melech Gidon wrote:

Just posted this in the Broken Lands thread but I'm copying it here.

I think I figured this thing out. Lord Synarr is Razmir. Seriously, the clues are all over that Lost Omens post. The art, the fear of mortality, the kid trying to sell him god's tear?! He plans to become a real good very soon, until then he isn't taking any chances with Tar-Baphon.

That would be interesting...

Liberty's Edge

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Melech Gidon wrote:

Just posted this in the Broken Lands thread but I'm copying it here.

I think I figured this thing out. Lord Synarr is Razmir. Seriously, the clues are all over that Lost Omens post. The art, the fear of mortality, the kid trying to sell him god's tear?! He plans to become a real good very soon, until then he isn't taking any chances with Tar-Baphon.

This fits right in with my God of Obsession theory. Well, God of Obsession, Ambition, and Lies in Razimir's case, but still...

Dark Archive

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I don't think our hopeful here is arrogant. Rich sure, it states he's a noble. He's a man of schedule and repetition. This tells us he's researching and studying. He ignores the hawkers and children because he knows they can not offer real help. It isn't derived from sense of being better it is simple knowledge. Age is coming to take a hold on the man and death frightens him. This is a quest about extending his life for a much more indeterminable amount. His goal isn't even the power.. or is it. We know he's calculating and waiting for an opportune time. This may be an allusion to looking for a sign. Something that changes along his routine that speaks to him enough to take the steps. He doesn't attempt to gain followers in any capacity as someone who is wanting to take the challenge. This speaks to not having an ego that needs stroking. If I were to suggest I would think he would be a god of Vigilance and Knowledge.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Melech Gidon wrote:

Just posted this in the Broken Lands thread but I'm copying it here.

I think I figured this thing out. Lord Synarr is Razmir. Seriously, the clues are all over that Lost Omens post. The art, the fear of mortality, the kid trying to sell him god's tear?! He plans to become a real good very soon, until then he isn't taking any chances with Tar-Baphon.

I would say this is going in the right direction.


Thalizure Grave wrote:
I don't think our hopeful here is arrogant. Rich sure, it states he's a noble. He's a man of schedule and repetition. This tells us he's researching and studying. He ignores the hawkers and children because he knows they can not offer real help. It isn't derived from sense of being better it is simple knowledge. Age is coming to take a hold on the man and death frightens him. This is a quest about extending his life for a much more indeterminable amount. His goal isn't even the power.. or is it. We know he's calculating and waiting for an opportune time. This may be an allusion to looking for a sign. Something that changes along his routine that speaks to him enough to take the steps. He doesn't attempt to gain followers in any capacity as someone who is wanting to take the challenge. This speaks to not having an ego that needs stroking. If I were to suggest I would think he would be a god of Vigilance and Knowledge.

True, except that if he already has followers under another identity, he wouldn't want to spoil things for that identity by trying to claim followers under this one. Razmir is still a candidate . . . .


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UnArcaneElection wrote:
Thalizure Grave wrote:
I don't think our hopeful here is arrogant. Rich sure, it states he's a noble. He's a man of schedule and repetition. This tells us he's researching and studying. He ignores the hawkers and children because he knows they can not offer real help. It isn't derived from sense of being better it is simple knowledge. Age is coming to take a hold on the man and death frightens him. This is a quest about extending his life for a much more indeterminable amount. His goal isn't even the power.. or is it. We know he's calculating and waiting for an opportune time. This may be an allusion to looking for a sign. Something that changes along his routine that speaks to him enough to take the steps. He doesn't attempt to gain followers in any capacity as someone who is wanting to take the challenge. This speaks to not having an ego that needs stroking. If I were to suggest I would think he would be a god of Vigilance and Knowledge.

True, except that if he already has followers under another identity, he wouldn't want to spoil things for that identity by trying to claim followers under this one. Razmir is still a candidate . . . .

Theoretically. He doesn't sound like it too me though. There's no hint of a second life, of conquering and ruling his own kingdom. Nothing explicitly rules it out, but I don't see the hints either.

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