Meet The Iconics: Zemir

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Zemir, the iconic human witchwarper, reaches into a parallel reality with a right hand glowing with greenish energy as his eyes crackle with magical power.

Illustration by Remko Troost

Zemir Solodan was born with a gift—but not everyone saw it that way at first.

The only son of miners on a remote planetoid called Pikora 317, tucked within the widest orbital ring of the gas giant Preluria in Near Space, Zemir spent his earliest days exposed to the harsh reality of life in a corporate labor colony. Determined to provide for their son, Zemir’s parents eked out their existence in the Freugan Salvage Company’s starmetal mines. The Solodans never went hungry, though the only delicacies young Zemir enjoyed were occasional tastes of citrus-chocolate pastries, sweet-milk custards, and savory meringues—gifts from the Freugan executives’ own ample stashes of treats imported from Absalom Station.

Even as a toddler, Zemir’s gaiety and thirst for new experiences were readily apparent. The vivacious boy quickly became known for his curiosity around the sparse facilities of the salvage company’s residential complex on Pikora 317. He developed many troublesome talents, such as sneaking into seemingly inaccessible places, turning neat collections of supplies into epic messes, and even finding ways to manipulate control panels into colorful, sparking displays. In fact, whenever a commonplace utility malfunctioned around the Solodan home, his parents joked that the “Zemir effect” had struck again.

Around Zemir’s fifth birthday, it seemed that the boy’s body began to betray him. Always known for eating anything with aplomb—especially new foods—Zemir seemed to sicken overnight. His appetite was as strong as always, but he gained weight, took on a sickly pallor, and grew weak. Despite his healthy diet and robust physical activity, testing indicated that the boy was dangerously malnourished. Even stranger, after every meal, Zemir’s breath smelled eerily similar to his favorite sweet treats, perhaps an indication of a dangerous blood disease, doctors speculated.

One by one, physicians ruled out all known ailments. Though his spirit never dampened, Zemir’s condition continued to deteriorate, even after his family sold most of their belongings to afford vitamin supplements, pediatric medicinals, and batteries of experimental medical tests. Desperate, and carrying news from the pediatricians that Zemir might eventually perish, his parents took to posting details of their son’s strange condition on every related infosphere portal they could find.

In just a few days, the Solodans’ pleas elicited a mysterious message from a Dr. Fainoro Corone, who said he suspected a rare and unexplainable diagnosis and requested to observe the boy in person. Dr. Corone’s long list of credentials indicated he was an expert in “exceptional pediatric conditions.” He hailed from a facility on far-off Arkanen, a Liavaran moon home to scientists, spellcasters, and—as Zemir’s parents believed—medical doctors.

With no other options, Zemir’s parents readily welcomed the quiet damaya lashunta doctor into their home. For a full day, Dr. Corone watched Zemir’s every move, focusing on the boy’s behavior at meal times. As Zemir slurped at his nutritional broth with surprising glee, Dr. Corone studied him closely. Slight mumbling accompanied his look of suspicion, as if the doctor communed with some internal eldritch knowledge.

On the second day, Dr. Corone attended breakfast at the Solodan house wearing a pair of thick, circuitry-etched bracers. Saying nothing, he watched Zemir’s father spoon broth into his pallid son’s mouth. Just before the gleeful boy swallowed, Dr. Corone’s demand rang out:

“Zemir, open your mouth now.”

The boy refused and downed the broth quickly. But at his mother’s command, he sheepishly opened his mouth. A thin film of custard clung to his baby teeth, and his breath smelled like sweet milk.

Dr. Corone pointed this out, and then gently instructed Zemir’s parents to continue feeding the boy. Saying nothing, he flipped a tiny switch on his bracers, which thrummed and glowed with a strange technological energy.

Immediately, Zemir’s eyes widened. His father fed him his broth, and when Zemir drank it, he made a disgusted face.

Dr. Corone nodded and explained: Zemir was not suffering from a physical ailment. The boy was instead, in the subtlest of ways, warping the fabric of reality to suit his childish preferences. For months, the boy had been turning all of his meals into nutritionally empty sweets. Similarly, the messes and mischief he had caused around the residential complex were the result of the boy’s ability to shift reality ever-so-slightly for his own amusement.

Zemir was a witchwarper—one who understands that the universe consists of infinite realities. What’s more, witchwarpers possess the innate ability to peer into those worlds, and to mix and manipulate them at will. Most witchwarpers’ abilities manifested in adulthood, Dr. Corone explained. But Zemir was special, powerful even for a child, and unlike anyone he had seen.

The doctor’s bracers—called reality stabilizers—dampened Zemir’s nascent and unstable abilities and would allow the boy to have a normal childhood. The lashunta was prepared to give the Solodans their own set of reality stabilizers, but with his “diagnosis” came another offer.

Dr. Corone wanted to bring Zemir back to Arkanen with him. There, he’d enroll the boy in the Institute for Extraordinary Minds, a facility that was effectively a school for young witchwarpers.

The witchwarpers at the institute—like Dr. Corone himself—could help Zemir learn control over his abilities, the doctor explained. Dr. Corone offered full tuition for Zemir and unrestricted visitation privileges for his family. Saddened but understanding the value of this offer, Zemir’s parents agreed.

For the next twelve years, Zemir was Dr. Corone’s protege. Zemir spent the time honing his ability to subtly manipulate his surroundings, growing more delighted each time he created a new sound, smell—and especially taste—that he’d never before experienced. He supplemented his training with an insatiable appetite for learning about far-away cuisine and cultures, dreaming of one day traveling throughout this reality and perhaps an infinite number of others. During this time, Zemir also learned of Eloritu, the god of magic and secrets, and came to view the infinite cosmos as a gift from this mysterious deity.

However, as passionate as Zemir became about his talents and studies, he also grew increasingly cocky and resentful of the reality stabilizers the instructors used to rein his more dangerous experiments.

Near Zemir’s eighteenth birthday, the young witchwarper began the early stages of his final thesis project: an ambitious attempt to create a minute-long rift into a reality adjacent to his own. The institute’s professors approved the project only under their strict supervision, requiring the placement of several stabilizing safeguards during all forms of research.

Zemir bristled at such restrictions. And so, under the cover of night, the brash and charismatic young man convinced three of his closest friends and fellow students to participate in a dry-run of his experiment. With no safeguards in place, Zemir used his substantial willpower to tear open a rift in reality. A primal scream rent his lips and a shock of his hair whitened under the great mental strain. Ecstatic, terrified, but trusting their brilliant friend, Zemir’s classmates stepped through the rift, which immediately winked out.

The human Alena Nidaro, the half-elf Tornil Lee, and the ysoki Smidge disappeared from this reality. Try as he might, Zemir could not reopen the rift nor could he find any trace of his friends.

Panicked, Zemir ran from his lab to the institute’s docking bay, where at least he could be alone and think. For a moment, he considered returning to confess his horrific error to Dr. Corone, but then he saw a midnight supply shuttle about to leave Arkanen for Absalom Station. And in that split second, Zemir decided the course of his own existence.

Posing as a worker, Zemir fled the Institute for Extraordinary Minds in the shuttle, and promptly lost himself in the crowds of Absalom Station. Convinced his friends were gone and he was to blame, Zemir wandered the station in a haze for weeks, performing minor tricks of warped reality for the credits he needed to survive. Eventually, Zemir sent a message to Dr. Corone to confess what he had done, then deactivated his institute communications account.

Despite the institute’s best efforts to track Zemir down and get some answers, Dr. Corone and his colleagues have always remained one step behind him. Although his wits returned, Zemir’s scars are far from healed. He now travels to all corners of this reality, as much seeking to earn a living using his strange magic and indulge his love of new experiences as he is running from a guilty conscience.

Growing ever more powerful daily, Zemir is a mysterious and joyful—if occasionally morose—companion to those who share his goals. He’s known for waxing eloquent about the tapestry of existence and the dangers that other realities hold. The wise would heed the witchwarper’s words, for Zemir has looked into infinite realities—and he’s vowed to never again lose another to the fray.

Amanda Hamon
Managing Developer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Iconics Meet the Iconics Remko Troost Starfinder Witchwarpers Zemir
Wayfinders

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Huzzah!


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Excellent work.


By far my favorite Starfinder Iconic design.

Contributor

This was a fantastic story Amanda and co! Nice job. :D


Great story! Thank you!


Nice!


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Wait....so he was killing himself because he wanted to eat sweets? That’s some Willy Wonka ass s&%# right there.

Interested to see how he interacts with the other Iconics.

Second Seekers (Luwazi Elsbo)

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VerBeeker wrote:

Wait....so he was killing himself because he wanted to eat sweets? That’s some Willy Wonka ass s%!% right there.

Interested to see how he interacts with the other Iconics.

I mean it should be no surprise that a child will always choose sweets if it could get away with it. And changing brocoli to something with sugar would be too great a temptation^^

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Maps Subscriber

Ooh.... Yet another school of magic revealed in our canon! I am excited to see a school for Witchwarpers on Arkanen. I enjoyed the story and background very much. Still... I have mixed feelings about this being the background of an iconic.

I worry that this iconic's backstory and personality will be hard for SFS players to roleplay without being a detriment to their team and the ideals of cooperation. I usually encourage players to read a backstory to get into character when playing a pregen, but I am wondering if I will do that for those playing Zemir. I guess my issue is that he has not faced up to the problems he's created. Guilt is not enough... true remorse requires taking responsibility for the pain your actions have caused others.

Maybe I am overthinking this, or just plain weird. But I want characters with dark backstories to have learned from their past mistakes, and I am not sure that Zemir has.

Hmm


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It'd be funny if Zemir actually opened a portal to the other side of the Gap and his friends are chilling on Golarion right now.


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

Hamon, incredible story. Navasi’s was actually my favorite of the original Meet the Iconics (in no small part thanks to my love of all things pirates), and you’ve got a really personal and dramatic edge to your stories. I was actually thinking to myself that Starfinder’s iconic “Sunrise Maiden” crew didn’t really seem to have that on-the-cliff’s-edge Lando/Zuko/Preed/Jack “Subject Zero”/Gaius Baltar type character that moved much more firmly into morally grey territory; most everyone already has their personal problems somewhat figured out (or at the very least their moral alignment figured out). Zemir’s inclusion really rounds out the cast well, I think, and provides a lot of interesting roleplay opportunities that are unlike any available to other iconics. Although I’ll agree with Hmm playing as Zemir is likely to require a little more thought - I figure that’s an important quality of the Witchwarper class itself - you are literally meddling with the fabric of not only your own world, but infinite worlds. :p

I also enjoyed the clever ways Witchwarper powers were incorporated into this story. The Professor X character was a joy, and I’m so happy something like that exists in Starfinder now. Cheers all around - this season of Meet the Iconics blew away my expectations.


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Hmm wrote:

Ooh.... Yet another school of magic revealed in our canon! I am excited to see a school for Witchwarpers on Arkanen. I enjoyed the story and background very much. Still... I have mixed feelings about this being the background of an iconic.

I worry that this iconic's backstory and personality will be hard for SFS players to roleplay without being a detriment to their team and the ideals of cooperation. I usually encourage players to read a backstory to get into character when playing a pregen, but I am wondering if I will do that for those playing Zemir. I guess my issue is that he has not faced up to the problems he's created. Guilt is not enough... true remorse requires taking responsibility for the pain your actions have caused others.

Maybe I am overthinking this, or just plain weird. But I want characters with dark backstories to have learned from their past mistakes, and I am not sure that Zemir has.

Hmm

His joy in new experiences and fierce devotion to protecting his friends are what should be out in front for roleplaying Zemir. Guilt should color those attributes, not overshadow them.


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So... a witchwarper can transform food items?

Please tell me that's a cantrip :D

Hey, as much as you can laugh at getting sweets, you... could technically transform a poisoned or rotten stuff into an healthy one ;)

Scarab Sages

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Awesome job, Amanda!


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Hmm wrote:
Maybe I am overthinking this, or just plain weird. But I want characters with dark backstories to have learned from their past mistakes, and I am not sure that Zemir has.

I had the same reaction. (As for whether that's weird: for calibration purposes, I did not enjoy the main character in A Wizard of Earthsea.)

It probably won't be too much of an issue at the table (though I guess that depends on how deeply your players generally RP the pregens..?)


logsig wrote:
Hmm wrote:
Maybe I am overthinking this, or just plain weird. But I want characters with dark backstories to have learned from their past mistakes, and I am not sure that Zemir has.

I had the same reaction. (As for whether that's weird: for calibration purposes, I did not enjoy the main character in A Wizard of Earthsea.)

It probably won't be too much of an issue at the table (though I guess that depends on how deeply your players generally RP the pregens..?)

I am a fan of the protagonist of AWoE (if my name didn't give it away) because

A Wizard of Earthsea:
he made an epic mistake by summoning the Gebbeth and eventually was forced to face it and grew as a result.

Zemir is in a good place for a PC as he has lots of room to develop and grow. The issue being, that's not really something that can happen to an iconic. Waiting to see the iconic encounter to get a better read on his personality.


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

Heeeeey, Reed Richards! Safeguards are for squares, am I right?

I like Zemir... because I don't.

He's flawed, selfish person running from the consequences of his actions, and while I find almost nothing to admire, there's plenty of interest.


^I agree with you -- Zemir isn't the first evil iconic (okay, first for Starfinder, but not first overall) we've had even going back before the Evil Iconics that came out around the time of Hell's Vengeance. Remember the Pathfinder 1st Edition Iconic Magus (Seltyiel) and iconic Cavalier (Alain)?


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

I don't even think he's evil- he feels like a fairly specific type of Chaotic Neutral.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yep, smells Chaotic Neutral.


^I should have said on the Chaotic of Neutral, with more than a touch of Evil since he won't own up to what he did. For the previous antiheroic/villainous examples, Seltyiel is officially Lawful Evil, although he seems more Neutral Evil; and Alain is officially Lawful Neutral, but seems more Neutral Evil. So Zemir is not the worst of the lot even if you exclude the Evil Iconics of Hell's Vengeance time, which is what I was trying to say the first time.

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

To be honest, as someone who ran away from a lot of problems in my early 20's, before I learned to deal with them, this guy is actually the most super relatable one! I feel he'll be relatable for quite a few people too.

I totally dig it, and will look for ways to atone slightly when/if I play with him!


I really do like this background!


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

If there isn't a full AP about an academy of witchwarpers who are hated and feared by a universe that doesn't understand them then you wasted everyone's time.

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