Iconic Encounter: The Scientific Method

Thursday, September 26, 2019

It was well after midnight when Barsala had her breakthrough.

She was in the temporary laboratory structure built for her by Iratha Incorporated deep in the swamps of Zulypsindo, a Near Space world known for its extensive marshlands and the site of the latest episode of “Dr. B’s Science Jubilee.” The windowless, prefabricated walls provided ample protection from nearly any environment outside, and the overhead lighting within dispelled the shadows, providing for a clean and efficient work space.

It had been a difficult, but ultimately rewarding, day of shooting. This particular program focused on the breed of caypin native to Zulypsindo, a large amphibious beast with a mass of detachable appendages that function as both eyestalks and chewing mouths. One had been captured for Barsala to show her viewers its fascinating anatomy, and everything had gone according to the script… until the caypin broke free from its enclosure and nearly ate one of the crew. The poor creature had to be put down, but the vidcameras caught every last minute of it. Edson Frost, her producer, had spent most of the dinner afterward exclaiming about the number of clicks the episode would get. Barsala was similarly excited, though she was more interested in getting her hands on the caypin’s corpse.

The exact way the caypin’s appendages functioned independently from its body were still a mystery to the scientific community, and Barsala surmised that if she could solve even a fraction of that mystery, she could help craft an entirely new category of biotech augmentations. When the meal was over, she rushed back to the lab, eager to begin experimentation. Hours later, as she inserted a small vial filled with a dissolved piece of an appendage into a mass spectrometer with one hand and typed frantically on a datapad with another, she reached for her comm unit with a third and started a transmission.

Barsala, the iconic kasatha biohacker, jots down notes on a tablet with one hand while the other holds a pair of surgical scissors near a bloody mass of tentacles sitting atop her lab table.

Illustration by Mark Molnar

A groggy voice answered. “B? Do you know what time it is?”

“Not precisely, Edson, I’ve been a bit too busy to pay attention to the clock.”

“Well, it’s late and I was sleeping… trying to sleep. Is there something the matter?”

“The quantum measurement paradox!” Barsala blurted.

“Who? What?”

“It’s not really my area of expertise, but there is a theory in quantum mechanics that if you could measure the state of a particle frequently—we’re talking thousands of measurements a microsecond or more—you could essentially arrest the decay of that particle. Like they say, ‘an observed cooking receptacle on a heating unit never reaches its boiling point.’”

“B, no one ever says that. But I think I know what you mean.” Edson yawned. “Riveting. Is that why you dragged me out of a peaceful slumber?”

“Yes! No. I mean, sort of. I’ve been in the lab, analyzing one of that caypin’s detachable tentacles.” She poked the grisly blood-red tube with a scalpel she held in her fourth, cybernetic hand. “It has no internal organs to speak of and should be no more animate than a clipped fingernail.”

“Gross.”

Barsala continued. “I wondered: how can these appendages survive apart from the host body for days at a time? How does the caypin know where they are and how does it call them back? I tested a few hypotheses, and I hit on the idea of quantum entanglement. Somehow, the caypin is constantly monitoring the state of its removed appendages on a quantum level, preventing them from rotting like dead meat!”

“Riveting once again. And also gross. But really, you could have just written this down for one of your scientific journals.”

“Right, right, sorry. I also had an idea for the show. I’d love to explain the basics of quantum theory to our viewers, maybe start with the wave-particle duality of light, do a practical double-slit experiment. We’d have to bring in an expert on the subject, of course, and…” Barsala trailed off as she looked down at the dissection tray. The appendage she had removed from the caypin’s body was nowhere to be seen, only a trail of blood and slime that led to the edge of the table.

“Barsala, is everything ok?” Edson asked, though Barsala didn’t hear him. She had placed her comm unit down and was already walking tentatively to the other side of the lab table. The detached appendage lay on the floor, squirming ever so slightly.

“Fascinating.” Barsala’s mind raced with possibilities. How was this thing moving? Delayed muscle death spasms? An internal parasite eating its way free? Necromantic energy? Or…

Barsala hissed in pain as she felt a sudden sting in her ankle. She turned to see several more of the caypin’s appendages wriggling at her feet, their tiny lamprey-like mouths lunging toward her. Surprised, she stepped backward, slipped on the half-dissected tentacle and fell onto her posterior. The mass of appendages slithered toward her.

Barsala fumbled for the custom microlab in her lab coat pocket, pointed it at the tentacles, and scanned them. Seconds later, she had her answer: they weren’t undead. In fact, they were quite normal as far as a handful of ambulatory feeding appendages went. She exhaled in relief. Living creatures she could handle.

Before their sharp little teeth could shred her boots, Barsala grabbed the edge of the table, pulled herself up to standing, and grabbed a syringe and a handful of test tubes. She mixed together several reagents, along with a fast-acting catalyst, inserting the resulting mixture into the syringe as Edson’s voice continued to call out from the comm unit. With a grunt, she jabbed the syringe down into the tentacles. A high-pitched squeal of pain emitted from the mass, and Barsala brought back a hand covered in several small bites.

“Let’s test this hypothesis,” she muttered to no one in particular as she stepped backward to a supply cabinet. “If I’m right, the gene-altering chemicals I’ve just injected into one of you should affect you all, thanks to your quantum entanglement. Making you particularly susceptible to this!” Barsala picked up a container of hydrochloric acid from the shelf behind her and hurled it at the throng of tentacles. The glass jar shattered, covering the feeding appendages in highly caustic acid. They writhed in agony as they dissolved into a disgusting puddle of acrid-smelling goo.

Barsala pressed her damaged hand into an armpit as she gathered up her comm unit. “Edson. Edson! I’m fine. Don’t worry. Just a minor accident.” She paused for a second. “The caypin. You’re sure it was dead, right?”

“We hit it with the electric prods until it stopped moving and then put the body in the lab’s freezer unit like you asked. Why?”

Barsala turned to see the freezer’s door wide open. A streak of bloody bile was smeared down the outside.

“I’m going to have to call you back.”

About the Author

Jason Keeley is a Developer at Paizo, working primarily on the Starfinder Adventure Path line. His work has appeared in all sorts of products, from adventures to supplements to short stories written for Paizo and many other RPG companies. You can find him (and pictures of his dog) on Twitter at @herzwesten, and also watch him as Professor Nikodemus Thorne on the Oblivion Oath stream every Thursday!

About Iconic Encounters

Iconic Encounters is a series of web-based flash fiction set in the worlds of Pathfinder and Starfinder. Each short story provides a glimpse into the life and personality of one of the games’ iconic characters, showing the myriad stories of adventure and excitement players can tell with the Pathfinder and Starfinder roleplaying games.

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Tags: Barsala Biohackers Iconic Encounters Starfinder Web Fiction

3 people marked this as a favorite.

She's adorable and I love her.

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Barsala is definately my favorite pregen now.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I have concerns about Edson.

Barsala is cool though.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

From my heart and from my hand

Why don't people understand

My intentions?


6 people marked this as a favorite.

"The detached appendage lied on the floor, squirming ever so slightly." should be "The detached appendage lay on the floor, squirming ever so slightly."

(Unless you're saying that the caypin is actually a politician? That would be really gross.)


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Superscriber

My new favorite aphorism is, ‘an observed cooking receptacle on a heating unit never reaches its boiling point.’


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Superscriber

LOVE it!!!


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

DOCTOR B! DOCTOR B! TEACHES SCIENCE EX-PERT-LY!

Liberty's Edge

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Starfinder Superscriber

All the talk of boiling water and quantum measurement reminds me of this image:

https://i.redd.it/xq8pp5rnjpp01.jpg


rknop wrote:

All the talk of boiling water and quantum measurement reminds me of this image:

https://i.redd.it/xq8pp5rnjpp01.jpg

Linkified for your convenience.


[u]SCIENCE!!![/u]


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Is it just me or is Barsala coming across as a kind of alchemist? Mix reagents together and shoot vs mix reagents together and throw or drink...


SPACE Alchemist.


Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:
SPACE Alchemist.

I find myself wondering, why wasn't the class just the Alchemist with Biohacker as an Archetype?


?

Why would it be?

This is Starfinder not Pathfinder. Soldier isn’t Fighter with the Soldier Archetype, Operative isn’t Rogue with the Operative Archetype (I don’t think we even have class specific archetypes).

Paizo Employee Developer

4 people marked this as a favorite.

There's a fair amount of alchemist DNA (pun intended) in the biohacker, but we definitely wanted it to be a Starfinder class, with its own science-fantasy feel!


Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:

?

Why would it be?

This is Starfinder not Pathfinder. Soldier isn’t Fighter with the Soldier Archetype, Operative isn’t Rogue with the Operative Archetype (I don’t think we even have class specific archetypes).

Because Alchemy is a fantastical science and fantastical science is precisely what the Biohacker is a practitioner of. Alchemy could be ddirectly ported to a higher tech setting without having to change or evolve it.

Jason Keeley wrote:
There's a fair amount of alchemist DNA (pun intended) in the biohacker, but we definitely wanted it to be a Starfinder class, with its own science-fantasy feel!

I wanted a space Monk.

Any portrayal of qausi mystical martal skill in a higher tech setting could be used as insperation?


Thrice Great Hermes wrote:


Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:

?

Why would it be?

This is Starfinder not Pathfinder. Soldier isn’t Fighter with the Soldier Archetype, Operative isn’t Rogue with the Operative Archetype (I don’t think we even have class specific archetypes).

Because Alchemy is a fantastical science and fantastical science is precisely what the Biohacker is a practitioner of. Alchemy could be ddirectly ported to a higher tech setting without having to change or evolve it.

Why would they want to do that when they can evolve it? I don't want P1 classes ported as-is into Starfinder.


Thrice Great Hermes wrote:


Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:

?

Why would it be?

This is Starfinder not Pathfinder. Soldier isn’t Fighter with the Soldier Archetype, Operative isn’t Rogue with the Operative Archetype (I don’t think we even have class specific archetypes).

Because Alchemy is a fantastical science and fantastical science is precisely what the Biohacker is a practitioner of. Alchemy could be ddirectly ported to a higher tech setting without having to change or evolve it.

Jason Keeley wrote:
There's a fair amount of alchemist DNA (pun intended) in the biohacker, but we definitely wanted it to be a Starfinder class, with its own science-fantasy feel!

I wanted a space Monk.

Any portrayal of qausi mystical martal skill in a higher tech setting could be used as insperation?

Maybe not quite to the right level, but Dune's Bene Gesserit?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Thrice Great Hermes wrote:


I wanted a space Monk.

Any portrayal of qausi mystical martal skill in a higher tech setting could be used as insperation?

Solarians are space monks, with a sprinkling of space cleric.


Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:
Thrice Great Hermes wrote:


Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:

?

Why would it be?

This is Starfinder not Pathfinder. Soldier isn’t Fighter with the Soldier Archetype, Operative isn’t Rogue with the Operative Archetype (I don’t think we even have class specific archetypes).

Because Alchemy is a fantastical science and fantastical science is precisely what the Biohacker is a practitioner of. Alchemy could be ddirectly ported to a higher tech setting without having to change or evolve it.
Why would they want to do that when they can evolve it? I don't want P1 classes ported as-is into Starfinder.

The art and science of Alchemy would doubtlessly have evolved over the centuries, but Alchemist would still be recognizably Alchemists.

thejeff wrote:
Thrice Great Hermes wrote:


Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:

?

Why would it be?

This is Starfinder not Pathfinder. Soldier isn’t Fighter with the Soldier Archetype, Operative isn’t Rogue with the Operative Archetype (I don’t think we even have class specific archetypes).

Because Alchemy is a fantastical science and fantastical science is precisely what the Biohacker is a practitioner of. Alchemy could be ddirectly ported to a higher tech setting without having to change or evolve it.

Jason Keeley wrote:
There's a fair amount of alchemist DNA (pun intended) in the biohacker, but we definitely wanted it to be a Starfinder class, with its own science-fantasy feel!

I wanted a space Monk.

Any portrayal of qausi mystical martal skill in a higher tech setting could be used as insperation?

Maybe not quite to the right level, but Dune's Bene Gesserit?

Dune's Prana-Bindu.

Equilibrium's Tetragrammaton Cleric.

Battle Angel Alita's Panzer Kunst.

Alterd Carbon's Envoys.

Fist of the North Star.

John Wick and his fellow Continental Assassin's.

All of these hold aspects of what a Monk in a higher tech setting should be.

AnimatedPaper wrote:
Thrice Great Hermes wrote:


I wanted a space Monk.

Any portrayal of qausi mystical martal skill in a higher tech setting could be used as insperation?

Solarians are space monks, with a sprinkling of space cleric.

Mechanically maybe, trope wise no.

The Monk is a genre transplant from Eastern myth/folklore to Western fiction.

A quasi religious warrior, specializing in hand to hand combat, who's esoteric training allows them muster an internal force, and through it attain a superhuman level of performance.


Fist of the North Star is a great example of a fictional martial arts character. I remember hearing/reading about how they wanted to include a class that has unarmed combat as the main focus, with Fist of the North Star as inspiration, iirc. Idk what happened to that, lol.

Not really important, but John Wick probably just has improved unarmed strike, since he's much more effective with firearms than unarmed attacks. Unless your suggesting he's a gun-monk :p


Sauce987654321 wrote:

Fist of the North Star is a great example of a fictional martial arts character. I remember hearing/reading about how they wanted to include a class that has unarmed combat as the main focus, with Fist of the North Star as inspiration, iirc. Idk what happened to that, lol.

Not really important, but John Wick probably just has improved unarmed strike, since he's much more effective with firearms than unarmed attacks. Unless your suggesting he's a gun-monk :p

John Wick fits the trope of a normal human who does extraordinary things just because he trained hard enough.

[https://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/core-classes/monk/archetypes/paizo-monk-archetypes/zen-archer/]John Wick is a Zen Archer[/url].

I think that Paizo is more focused on the Science Fiction aspects of Starfinder and establishing it as it's own setting. Thus the Fantasy and Pathfinder legacy content has been overshadowed.

I also feel that Starfinder was very concerned with replicating Space Opera archetypes with their classes, and there just enough aren't enough examples of "Space Monks" for them to have built such a class.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Thrice Great Hermes wrote:
A quasi religious warrior, specializing in hand to hand combat, whose esoteric training allows them muster an internal force, and through it attain a superhuman level of performance.

Sounds a lot like a Solarion to me. *shrug*

I mean, you can quibble about the "internal" aspect of the forces they manipulate, but... Solarions are clearly our space-monks as far as design intent went.


Cole Deschain wrote:
Thrice Great Hermes wrote:
A quasi religious warrior, specializing in hand to hand combat, whose esoteric training allows them muster an internal force, and through it attain a superhuman level of performance.

Sounds a lot like a Solarion to me. *shrug*

I mean, you can quibble about the "internal" aspect of the forces they manipulate, but... Solarions are clearly our space-monks as far as design intent went.

Classes are archetypes.

Wizards,Clerics, and Druids, are all spellcasters, but they are all separate archetypes.

Alita, the Battle Angel is Space Monk.

Binary(Ms.Marvel), is a Solarian.


If you want a brawler we have that option both as Soldier and Solarion.


Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:
If you want a brawler we have that option both as Soldier and Solarion.

Neither of those are the Monk archetype, adapted to a higher tech setting.

This is a rendition of Starfinder Monk, and it's close to what I mean.

I know why there isn't a Monk and why the Biohacker isn't just a biology/biochemistry focused archetype for the Alchemist.

But I still think it's a little sad they aren't here.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:
If you want a brawler we have that option both as Soldier and Solarion.

To say nothing of the Vanguard.


Misroi wrote:
Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:
If you want a brawler we have that option both as Soldier and Solarion.
To say nothing of the Vanguard.

The Vangaurd isn't a...

"A quasi religious warrior, specializing in hand to hand combat, whose esoteric training allows them muster an internal force, and through it attain a superhuman level of performance."


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Thrice Great Hermes wrote:
Misroi wrote:
Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:
If you want a brawler we have that option both as Soldier and Solarion.
To say nothing of the Vanguard.

The Vangaurd isn't a...

"A quasi religious warrior, specializing in hand to hand combat, whose esoteric training allows them muster an internal force, and through it attain a superhuman level of performance."

COM Playtest wrote:
The entropy within the universe—the level of chaos within any system—is at your disposal, and you channel it into potent combat abilities and steely resolve. In your hands, the cosmic forces that control how suns form and galaxies die allow you to bolster yourself and your allies against damaging effects, manipulate basic aspects of nature to turn the tide of battle, and infuse your very fist with the destructive power of the cosmos.

I dunno... It seems pretty similar. If we wanted a straight up monk, why not just pine for old classes to get remade? Where new classes are concerned, I think Starfinder is more about reimagining fantasy tropes instead of playing them straight. That said, it would be really cool to see more martial arts options come in to play: an archetype or two inspired by prominent martial forms in the galaxy, and a number of feats centered on unarmed combat that could make any class into a martial adept.

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Folks, let's try to keep this thread focused on Barsala's story. If you'd like to continue discussing character classes/archetypes/roles, please move it to its own thread. Thanks!


Opsylum wrote:
Thrice Great Hermes wrote:
Misroi wrote:
Rysky the Dark Solarion wrote:
If you want a brawler we have that option both as Soldier and Solarion.
To say nothing of the Vanguard.

The Vangaurd isn't a...

"A quasi religious warrior, specializing in hand to hand combat, whose esoteric training allows them muster an internal force, and through it attain a superhuman level of performance."

COM Playtest wrote:
The entropy within the universe—the level of chaos within any system—is at your disposal, and you channel it into potent combat abilities and steely resolve. In your hands, the cosmic forces that control how suns form and galaxies die allow you to bolster yourself and your allies against damaging effects, manipulate basic aspects of nature to turn the tide of battle, and infuse your very fist with the destructive power of the cosmos.
I dunno... It seems pretty similar. If we wanted a straight up monk, why not just pine for old classes to get remade? Where new classes are concerned, I think Starfinder is more about reimagining fantasy tropes instead of playing them straight. That said, it would be really cool to see more martial arts options come in to play: an archetype or two inspired by prominent martial forms in the galaxy, and a number of feats centered on unarmed combat that could make any class into a martial adept.

The Mystic and the Technomancer are both users of Vancian magic, even share some spells, but they represent different flavors.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

^ Dude, move on (as was asked by the Creative Director), OR start a new thread that will more likely get the developers' attention on your request (instead of it being buried here in a thread about a new iconic).

Thanks.


Say NO! wrote:

^ Dude, move on (as was asked by the Creative Director), OR start a new thread that will more likely get the developers' attention on your request (instead of it being buried here in a thread about a new iconic).

Thanks.

No thank you.

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