Meet The Iconics: Barsala

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Barsala, the iconic kasatha biohacker, brandishes a pistol and a syringe in two of her four hands.

Illustration by Remko Troost

The daughter of a renowned biotechnician and a respected priest of Talavet, Barsala Zharliska Sonari of House Ulanda grew up in Trillidiem, the arcology of bubble-shaped domes that floats above Bretheda’s northern pole. Her parents maintained a household in which discussion and debate were encouraged, with most dinnertime talks focused around the dichotomy between faith and science. Even at a young age, Barsala was included, her questions and opinions treated with respect. As a result, she found herself drawn to studying scientific disciplines, but focused on how they could help her neighbors and her community. Barsala witnessed the power of community early in her life when she lost her lowleft hand due to severe nerve damage sustained in a nasty fall and many of her family’s neighbors came together to help her get used to her new cybernetic prosthesis.

Years later, Barsala earned her doctorate from the prestigious Sui Saolus Academy and landed a job as a junior research assistant at Iratha Incorporated, a biotech firm in Trillidiem founded by a lashunta and a kasatha. Despite barathus nearly dominating the biotech field, Iratha Incorporated is a successful corporation, focusing exclusively on augmentations for humanoids. Barsala was happy with her job, but after several months, she began to worry that her research—though pivotal for reducing implant rejection rates among other things—was far too niche. She wondered if there was something else she could do to aid the community at large.

Explaining her dilemma to a friend, Barsala hit on an idea that sparked her interest: she would start a regular holovid stream in which she would explain the basic concepts of science to viewers in a way that was fun and engaging. Branding herself as “Dr. B,” she rented a small studio, set up a simple lab, donned a white lab coat, and began broadcasting in her off hours. Dr. B’s first holovids featured very basic principles—gravity, magnetism, and the like—and her production values were rough around the edges, but Barsala’s enthusiasm and easy-to-understand explanations quickly gained her a wide audience on Bretheda’s infosphere and beyond.

However, her program didn’t reach the same popularity as reality shows and sporting events until it caught the attention of Thalus Enthremian Damru, the kasatha co-founder of Iratha Incorporated. He saw the show’s potential as a marketing tool but also respected Barsala’s commitment to education. One day, Thalus approached Barsala in her Iratha lab to offer her holovid stream an official sponsorship, which would include a new studio, as well as a small staff to ensure that everything looked and sounded professional. Her new role as “scientific ambassador” was added to her job description, and she soon became the holovid icon she is today.

“Dr. B’s Science Jubilee” is popular with young sentients throughout the Pact Worlds and most of Near Space, thanks to Barsala’s engaging personality and flashy experiments. With Iratha Incorporated’s funding, Barsala has been able to travel across the galaxy to showcase interesting scientific phenomena first-hand, including such topics as the life cycles of unusual flora and fauna, the formation of bizarre minerals and crystals, and the odd interactions between certain fundamental forces of physics. Some of the program’s most shared episodes feature Barsala being introduced to a new species of alien animal (often with hilarious results) and the kasatha putting a scientific myth to the test (usually accompanied by explosions).

Between these on-location shoots, Barsala continues her research on biotech augmentations, and occasionally, topics on her show have led her to small breakthroughs in her work and research. While these advancements have garnered some praise in the scientific community, most people only recognize the kasatha through her holovid work, with some people even believing that the “Doctor” part of “Dr. B” is merely an affectation. Nevertheless, Barsala presses on with both aspects of her job, hoping she can positively impact the lives of people in one way or the other.

Jason Keeley
Developer

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Starfinder Superscriber
StarMartyr365 wrote:
Jason Keeley wrote:
Behind-the-scenes fact: While writing Barsala's backstory, I listened to They Might Be Giants' "Here Comes Science" on a loop.
I wonder what you would have come up with if your were listening to "Flood" on a loop.

There may have been a birdhouse in her soul?


CorvusMask wrote:
VerBeeker wrote:
Thinking back on it other than the eyes and distended head underneath their mouth scarves Kasathans have very human facial features at least jaw wise.

I mean, the oldest kasatha art implies they don't have noses and more flat faces like Grey Aliens do. Starfinder art is kinda inconsistent regarding kasatha, sometimes they have clearly human like noses, sometimes they have four breasts, sometimes they have two breasts,(we could argue that sometimes they have no breasts at all since apparently female kasatha are hard to tell difference from male ones at least to most species) sometimes they have white sclera and now they have eyebrows and eyelashes too

Like I'm sure if we could see kasatha mouths, some artists would draw them without lips while others would definitely include lips <_<

(I hope we never see picture of kasatha mouths since I prefer them without lips :P)

You are right that they should probably have two sets of pectoral muscles.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Wait, are living parents SFS legal?

Not without a boon. I assume when they give us her pregen they'll do what they did for the evil Iconics and state that for the purposes of society play, Dr. B has a tragic backstory.


VerBeeker wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:


Like I'm sure if we could see kasatha mouths, some artists would draw them without lips while others would definitely include lips <_<

(I hope we never see picture of kasatha mouths since I prefer them without lips :P)

You are right that they should probably have two sets of pectoral muscles.

Actually since the Shobhads and Kasatha are created from Wytchwyrds, I imagine they have the same mouths.


Misroi wrote:
SCIENCE RULES!

because, you know,

SCIENCE!!


Garretmander wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:

I guess they still haven't figured out how to regenerate lost body parts without a spell that almost nobody has access to . . . .

If you're going to spend a few tens of thousands of Cr on a replacement hand, are you going to grow your old hand back, or are you gonna replace it with a robot hand with an integrated shout projector cannon?

I'll take my hand back. I have visions of a robot hand getting hacked and turning out to be a Dr. Strangelove hand . . . .

Dark Archive

thecursor wrote:
VerBeeker wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:


Like I'm sure if we could see kasatha mouths, some artists would draw them without lips while others would definitely include lips <_<

(I hope we never see picture of kasatha mouths since I prefer them without lips :P)

You are right that they should probably have two sets of pectoral muscles.
Actually since the Shobhads and Kasatha are created from Wytchwyrds, I imagine they have the same mouths.

Well we have never seen what full witchwyrd face looks like(though one in Agaisnt the Aeon Throne again has weirdly human like face judging by shape of the mask/hood that doesn't show up in other art), but if you go by shobads, that'd be kinda weird :P

Like I'm not sure that starfinder shobbads can even close their mouths

VerBeeker wrote:
You are right that they should probably have two sets of pectoral muscles.

Thats... Actually true, huh.

Didn't even think of that, but Pathfinder kasatha shirtless pics are also inconsistent with each other xD


thecursor wrote:
Actually since the Shobhads and Kasatha are created from Wytchwyrds, I imagine they have the same mouths.

The shobhads were, but based on iron gods backstory I didn't get the impression the kasatha were.


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Jason Keeley wrote:
Behind-the-scenes fact: While writing Barsala's backstory, I listened to They Might Be Giants' "Here Comes Science" on a loop.

Yessss! Those songs are my childhood.

Dark Archive

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Starfinder meets Mythbusters!!!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

^Mythbusters takes a whole different meaning when some of the myths are real . . . for one thing, they need to double as Ghostbusters.


The Drunken Dragon wrote:
Is...is she basically just Bill Nye with an extra set of arms? Cause I dig it

I went with Beakman's World. It sounded a lot more like that to me~ Her story and how she started sounds a lot more like creation of Beakmans than Bill Nye for me.

(but I am biased in that I think beakman mixes education and entertainment better-and the host never talks down to folks.)

Its even funnier because she could easily have a ysakoi partner.

This is a real fun icon


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Barsala sounds like a ton of fun. Super wholesome. I'm also picking up more than a little bit of a Mordin Solus (Mass Effect 2-3) vibe, which I love!

I suspect the slight Solus ~ Sui Saolus similarity is likely coincidence, but I'd absolutely love to be wrong about that one!

Dark Archive

Had to go to Wikipedia to find out about Bill Nye - doubt anyone here in Australia’s seen him unless they’ve got pay-tv (“cable” in the States) - but after reading the entry the references make sense...

Lantern Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Garretmander wrote:
thecursor wrote:
Actually since the Shobhads and Kasatha are created from Wytchwyrds, I imagine they have the same mouths.
The shobhads were, but based on iron gods backstory I didn't get the impression the kasatha were.

This was actually clarified in 'Ecology of the Witchwyrd' in Pathfinder 2e 'Against the Scarlet Triad,' where the witchwyrds are explicitly defined as the ancient root race which became kasathas on a colonized world, along with being the Shobhad/Witchwyrd split. In this sense, we can assume a few things about kasatha and witchwyrd physiology based on what we can see on the others.

I'm actually surprised this iconic backstory defined literally none of the most breathtaking features of Dr. B. The skin color/texture, eyes and facial hair, along with the cranium attachment which I assumed was augmentation when I first saw it - literally none of them are even mentioned. That is striking, considering a player is going to have to explain why their kasatha iconic pregen is so non-kasathan in appearance. I was really hoping this would at least mention something so off-precedent.

In any case, she is lovely, great backstory, and happy to have so much extra setting content to work with. Next time, no pink elephants in the room, though, okay? ...At least not without some sort of explanation or allusion.


She’s a biohacker, what more do you want explained for a non-event?

The headpiece is probably just a part of her outfit/gear, whereas her arm prosthetic was brought up in story.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:

She’s a biohacker, what more do you want explained for a non-event?

The headpiece is probably just a part of her outfit/gear, whereas her arm prosthetic was brought up in story.

Some context for the conspicuous alteration. Mindset, purpose/intention, or circumstances before or after the changes. How her parents feel about it now. Something.

Also, her prosthetic arm also functions as her custom microlab, so I expected that part to come into it, and it received that deserved treatment. Changing your own appearance so drastically is not a non-event.


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xidoraven wrote:
Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:

She’s a biohacker, what more do you want explained for a non-event?

The headpiece is probably just a part of her outfit/gear, whereas her arm prosthetic was brought up in story.

Some context for the conspicuous alteration. Mindset, purpose/intention, or circumstances before or after the changes. How her parents feel about it now. Something.

Also, her prosthetic arm also functions as her custom microlab, so I expected that part to come into it, and it received that deserved treatment. Changing your own appearance so drastically is not a non-event.

Why do you think her appearance was drastically changed and not just what some Kasatha look like?


So, I'm really trying to understand this character's sheet. She's a Biohacker with Intelligence 8 (-1), and I can't get ANY of her Science SKills to work out!! +6, +9, +7, +9 which are ALL based on Intelligence.

What am I missing here?


Tuleen Donai wrote:

So, I'm really trying to understand this character's sheet. She's a Biohacker with Intelligence 8 (-1), and I can't get ANY of her Science SKills to work out!! +6, +9, +7, +9 which are ALL based on Intelligence.

What am I missing here?

She's instinctive method so a bunch of them go off wisdom.


Xenocrat wrote:
Tuleen Donai wrote:

So, I'm really trying to understand this character's sheet. She's a Biohacker with Intelligence 8 (-1), and I can't get ANY of her Science SKills to work out!! +6, +9, +7, +9 which are ALL based on Intelligence.

What am I missing here?

She's instinctive method so a bunch of them go off wisdom.

I guess I need to read more. I TOTALLY missed that!!


So, I was able to get all the modifiers in the right places to add up correctly, except, Life Science +9 and Physical Science +9. They are both +8 right now.

I know I'm missing a +1 modifier somewhere for BOTH of these, but I can't seem to find it. I already have the +1 modifier for the Instinctive Scientific Method.

(BTW, I'm doing this in a VTT, right now Fantasy Grounds - if you were wondering.)

Also, her RP are coming up 4 not 5, and her Will is a +3 not +4. Any clues here would help as well!

Cheers!

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