Meet The Iconics: Korakai

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Korakai’s earliest memory is of roiling seas. When he was but an egg, his family left the tengu homeland of Kwanlai, first trekking west to the port city of Goka before boarding a ship to the Inner Sea in search for a better life. Like many immigrants from Tian Xia, they headed for Absalom; however, where they eventually settled was not the City at the Center of the World, but the nearby Isle of Erran.

Korakai key art, credited to Wayne Reynolds

Korakai key art, credited to Wayne Reynolds

Korakai hatched and grew up on those shores, running barefoot on the beaches and rocks. Each day, his mother would dive beneath the waves, holding her breath to collect shellfish, seaweed, and other ingredients that Korakai carried to his family’s tavern. There, his father would cook and brew specialties both Tien and Avistani, many a mix of both. The tavern soon became a bustling place for sailors in port, and as Korakai took orders and carried drinks, he’d catch wind of stories from distant lands that he longed to see for himself.

Every so often, sailors would complain of ill winds or other troubles, and wonder whether the superstitions that tengu could ward off bad luck were true. Whenever they’d ask, Korakai’s father would interject, “Kora, go tell your grandfather someone’s here for him.” The old tengu with the faded feathers was well known among the sailors for his raucous stories and his rituals to dispel misfortune. Though Korakai suspected that much of the time, his grandfather was putting on a show, he knew that whenever the older tengu asked for his “walking stick”—a khakkhara, a ringed prayer staff that had been in the family for generations—what followed would be nothing less than a glimpse of old Kwanlai. As his grandfather glided in a whirling dance over the deck of a ship, magical feather fan in one hand and staff in the other, even Korakai’s clumsy grasp of the Tengu language could catch words of power amid the chiming of the staff’s rings.


One day, Korakai demanded to go with his grandfather out on the seas. A ferry needed to cross the channel to Kortos for much-needed medicines, despite signs of a storm, and the captain wanted a tengu on board. At first, it seemed like they would evade the worst, but the sea changes in the blink of an eye. A rogue gust pitched the vessel, almost knocking Korakai overboard, and he reached out with his hand for purchase, finding the end of his grandfather’s staff. For a moment, he clutched the staff, his grandfather holding the other end—then, the heirloom snapped. Korakai’s hand came away with broken metal, and as the khakkhara’s rings scattered into the raging sea, Korakai fell with them. The taste of salt assailed his open beak.

The light from the surface growing distant, Korakai glimpsed a shadow moving through the water toward him: a feathered shape, drinking gourd in one hand. Korakai reached his hand out for help, but the figure was swept away in a twin current of air and water, and Korakai could have sworn he saw a bearded man and a long-haired woman in the spiraling riptide. Again, Korakai tried to swim toward the currents, but again, shadows clashed together—a serpentine creature with a mane of lightning and a pearl-scaled sailfish battled a dragon with salt talons and an invisible force that churned the water into a glaring eye. Blasted back by their conflict, Korakai resigned himself to his fate and sank into the depths.

He fell for minutes, for hours, for an eternity, the surface a distant memory. Against flashes of lightning that had no right shining this far down, Korakai glimpsed gods, spirits, and more primordial things. Yet he saw that each shape, no matter how powerful, always coalesced from the same elements, and always returned to them once their business was done. In that moment, Korakai understood something, and with a peal of thunder, he broke the surface of the water.

On deck, Korakai coughed out seawater. The storm had ended, and though the sails were torn, the crew was miraculously unharmed. The sailors cheered for Korakai’s grandfather, thinking he had warded off the tempest, but the two tengu knew that it was no jinx-eating superstition to thank, but something deeper; the storm hadn’t passed at all, it had come to reside within Korakai. As he released his grip on the now-broken staff, sparks danced between his talons.

In the years that followed, Korakai learned how to channel and direct—never command—the powers he had discovered in the tempest. As his grandfather grew older, Korakai helped more and more with the elder tengu’s duties, and when he passed peacefully in his sleep one spring evening, sailors came from far and wide to witness Korakai return his ashes to the sea, each ship releasing a paper lantern to float across the waves in his memory. Not long thereafter, Korakai decided to leave the island. His parents were supportive; after all, they had crossed half of Golarion once before, why should they object to their son doing the same? Taking up his grandfather’s broken staff, Korakai boarded the next ship out, trading the promise of good luck for passage to distant ports.

Now, Korakai wanders the world with nothing more than the desire to see new sights and collect new experiences, above all hoping to one day visit Kwanlai for himself. Yet even so, he writes home often, sending coin for the tavern when he can, knowing that the beach he grew up on is but an ocean away.

James Case
Organized Play Developer

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Tags: Iconics Meet the Iconics Pathfinder Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Second Edition
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Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Tengu~<3

(really hoping they are common :3)


7 people marked this as a favorite.

Hmm...so an Oracle of storms? Or the Tempest.

Khakkhara, a Tibetan Holy Staff, interesting cultural hints for Kwanlai.

So he saw Gozreh, and both pairs of Elemental Lords of Wind and Water, which means...wait has Lysianassa escaped her prison like Ranginori did?


10 people marked this as a favorite.

Still disappointed about losing Alahazra but this character's pretty neat. Love the descriptions of Gozreh and the elemental lords, and the whole "drowning and returning as a prophet" bit reminds me of a more functional Aeron Damphair. Plus I'm just always a sucker for storm-themed characters.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

This was a fun read, almost instantly like this new iconic.

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Aw, the tengu Iconic has a name. I'll have to stop calling them 'Beaky' now. :)

Do oracles in 2nd edition have still have curses? I don't really see what sort of curse he's got, unlike Alhazra, whose blindness was a fairly big part of her character.


7 people marked this as a favorite.

Oh cool, I like this bird!

But now I want to write an adventure where Alahazra and Damiel seek revenge on the other iconics for being abandoned lol. Oracle and Alchemist would be an interesting team up!

Paizo Employee Editor

16 people marked this as a favorite.

Gorgeous story, James! I love the connection to his family, and I can't get over the detail of him leaving Kwanlai "when he was but an egg." Such a small but vivid reinforcement of his tengu-ness.

Silver Crusade

11 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

BIRB FRIEND?

Grand Lodge

8 people marked this as a favorite.

I LOVE KORAKAI.a

Liberty's Edge

7 people marked this as a favorite.

I like him. Seems interesting, though I, too, will miss Alahazra.

Set wrote:
Do oracles in 2nd edition have still have curses? I don't really see what sort of curse he's got, unlike Alhazra, whose blindness was a fairly big part of her character.

They do, but it's mostly cosmetic day-to-day, only getting really bad when they use their magic. This does probably work for Alahazra's personal Curse, since Clouded Vision was always mostly cosmetic in some ways.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Troodos wrote:
Still disappointed about losing Alahazra but this character's pretty neat. Love the descriptions of Gozreh and the elemental lords, and the whole "drowning and returning as a prophet" bit reminds me of a more functional Aeron Damphair. Plus I'm just always a sucker for storm-themed characters.

I always thought her outfit looked kind of ridiculous. The headpiece looked odd as part of an adventurer's outfit. And the rest of it was barely there!

But I am totally digging Korokai. Bird is the word.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Associate

23 people marked this as a favorite.

What a good egg.

Grand Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I will miss Alahazra, but

TENGU ICONIC MAKES ME SO HAPPY

My favorite ancestry (kenku/tengu) is finally getting a bigger spotlight. T_T

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
The Fifth Wanderer wrote:
I always thought her outfit looked kind of ridiculous. The headpiece looked odd as part of an adventurer's outfit. And the rest of it was barely there!

Per her backstory, I always got the impression those were her 'fancy party' clothes more than adventuring ones. That, of course, has the issue of Iconics almost always being shown in the same outfit...


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

A powerful and moving story. Thank you @James Case.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
The Fifth Wanderer wrote:
I always thought her outfit looked kind of ridiculous. The headpiece looked odd as part of an adventurer's outfit. And the rest of it was barely there!
Per her backstory, I always got the impression those were her 'fancy party' clothes more than adventuring ones. That, of course, has the issue of Iconics almost always being shown in the same outfit...

Especially in the first book of Skull & Shackles...


5 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm digging some of the glimpses into Tengu culture we see in this story.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Barefoot sounds odd for a bird ;-)

Dark Archive

Enlight_Bystand wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
The Fifth Wanderer wrote:
I always thought her outfit looked kind of ridiculous. The headpiece looked odd as part of an adventurer's outfit. And the rest of it was barely there!
Per her backstory, I always got the impression those were her 'fancy party' clothes more than adventuring ones. That, of course, has the issue of Iconics almost always being shown in the same outfit...
Especially in the first book of Skull & Shackles...

Or fighting yeti on snowy mountain... Twice

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

36 people marked this as a favorite.

Thanks to the team for giving me the chance to write up our newest iconic! Fly free, young tengu! releases from nest

Grand Archive

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
James Case wrote:
Thanks to the team for giving me the chance to write up our newest iconic! Fly free, young tengu! releases from nest

I LOVE this story! Awesomely written! :3

The family, the story with the grandfather, the explanation for the staff...
And the description of the fighting forces under the sea... Woah.
Also, nice to have a new iconic without a tragic backstory. :3

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

9 people marked this as a favorite.
VerBeeker wrote:

So he saw Gozreh, and both pairs of Elemental Lords of Wind and Water, which means...wait has Lysianassa escaped her prison like Ranginori did?

shrug Who's to say for sure where the line between perception and reality is in an oracular vision?

Set wrote:

Aw, the tengu Iconic has a name. I'll have to stop calling them 'Beaky' now. :)

Do oracles in 2nd edition have still have curses? I don't really see what sort of curse he's got, unlike Alhazra, whose blindness was a fairly big part of her character.

Oracles still have curses yep! The design team recently did a really good breakdown of the mechanics in their PaizoCon stream. They've stated that the curse now manifests and worsens the more and more the oracle actively draws on their power, so it's not illustrated as much in this story.

Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Nice work, James! I appreciate the well-fleshed out view or Korakai’s family life, that helps a lot for roleplay!


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

Is Korakai Lawful Good like Alahazra, or is he another alignment?

Grand Lodge

My guess would be Lawful Neutral, if there's a connection to Gozreh.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Ko(b)rakai never dies!

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Happy day. Paizo box in the mail, Tengu on the Blog. Happy day.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Welcome Korakai

RIP Alahazra

Customer Service Representative

13 people marked this as a favorite.

I love the parallel of Korakai's mom to the Korean haenyeo, and find Korakai and his family to be incredibly relatable and endearing. Thanks for this great glimpse into Korakai's story and culture. Really beautifully written James.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

19 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm looking at new Alahazra art in the APG as the "FLAME AUGUR" sample oracle. Sounds like good preview material...

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Joan H. wrote:
I love the parallel of Korakai's mom to the Korean haenyeo...

One of the earliest notes I had when brainstorming was just "Mom = haenyeo?" :P

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I can't say with certainty until I let it sink in, but I think Kora might be my favorite iconic!


That art is terrible... it looks like a human with the head/hands/feet photoshopped out. It doesn't look anything even remotely bird-like. What's wrong the current tengu look? Where they have a posture that at least evokes an avian image?

The image on the blog post for the Advanced Race Guide has a tengu that actually looks good and way better than this one. ARG blog.


Not really a fan of tengu, but the more the merrier!

James Case wrote:
Thanks to the team for giving me the chance to write up our newest iconic! Fly free, young tengu! releases from nest

In before

"Paizo pointed out that tengu are going to have flying speed by level 1"


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, LO Special Edition, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Cyrad wrote:

Welcome Korakai

RIP Alahazra

I don't think the fact we have new iconics in 2E means the old ones are dead. We might not see much of them, but they're still around somewhere.

Might be interesting to see them meet sometime. :-)


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Myrryr wrote:

That art is terrible... it looks like a human with the head/hands/feet photoshopped out. It doesn't look anything even remotely bird-like. What's wrong the current tengu look? Where they have a posture that at least evokes an avian image?

The image on the blog post for the Advanced Race Guide has a tengu that actually looks good and way better than this one. ARG blog.

I've seen more art of Tengu looking like the Iconic than that picture you linked.

Silver Crusade

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Myrryr wrote:

That art is terrible... it looks like a human with the head/hands/feet photoshopped out. It doesn't look anything even remotely bird-like. What's wrong the current tengu look? Where they have a posture that at least evokes an avian image?

The image on the blog post for the Advanced Race Guide has a tengu that actually looks good and way better than this one. ARG blog.

From the stance and the way they're holding the dagger I'm pretty sure they're just crouching.

Grand Archive

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
VerBeeker wrote:
Myrryr wrote:

That art is terrible... it looks like a human with the head/hands/feet photoshopped out. It doesn't look anything even remotely bird-like. What's wrong the current tengu look? Where they have a posture that at least evokes an avian image?

The image on the blog post for the Advanced Race Guide has a tengu that actually looks good and way better than this one. ARG blog.

I've seen more art of Tengu looking like the Iconic than that picture you linked.

Yeaaah, that picture is in the minority. Also, just crouching

See more pics here:
Pathfinder Wiki : Tengu
And description:
Wiki wrote wrote:
Tengus, like birds, reproduce by laying and inseminating eggs.[2] However, apart from their reproduction, beaks, feathers, and taloned feet, they have humanoid traits like fingered hands with opposable thumbs, and plantigrade legs.[1]

And a bonus one, from this blog


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Does this officially start our APG teaser posts as we near July...?


5 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm still sad we're losing Alahazra, but at least she has a worthy successor!

And as someone who came home from seeing Thor: Ragnarok wanting desperately to build a storm oracle - and then immediately ended up drafting a Storm mystery upon discovering there wasn't one - I greatly approve of this backstory :)

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

11 people marked this as a favorite.
Ed Reppert wrote:
Cyrad wrote:

Welcome Korakai

RIP Alahazra

I don't think the fact we have new iconics in 2E means the old ones are dead. We might not see much of them, but they're still around somewhere.

Might be interesting to see them meet sometime. :-)

Stay tuned!

Silver Crusade

11 people marked this as a favorite.

"KORA KAI!"

"May the Duke of Thunder in his drunken hangover not smite you by mistake!"


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Mark Moreland wrote:
Ed Reppert wrote:
Cyrad wrote:

Welcome Korakai

RIP Alahazra

I don't think the fact we have new iconics in 2E means the old ones are dead. We might not see much of them, but they're still around somewhere.

Might be interesting to see them meet sometime. :-)

Stay tuned!

Please be the previous winners of the Ruby tournament. Please be the previous winners of the Ruby tournament. Please be the previous winners of the Ruby tournament. The thought of Alain, Alahazra, Damiel, and Oloch in the same party, and Alahazra not allowed to put ANY of them in time out, gives me such a warm feeling.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Sasha Laranoa Harving wrote:
I LOVE KORAKAI.a

Wei Ji will be so happy.


question: if this is the new Oracle iconic, what happened to Alahazra?


spectrevk wrote:
question: if this is the new Oracle iconic, what happened to Alahazra?

She still exists (I think someone confirmed she appears in the APG even!), but she's just not the iconic anymore. I don't know the politics of iconics exactly.

Scarab Sages

Love it!

Grand Archive

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The official iconics can’t be NPCs because they are Player stand ins. Maybe they can “graduate” into full NPCs?
More likely, they will be used as “minor” iconics for sub classes/example build.

Sovereign Court

3 people marked this as a favorite.

On the day following the announcement of COBRA KAI ?!?? .... ... ...

...very timely. :)


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Khakkhara confirmed? I hope so. I'd love to see more cultural player options delivered early on in PF2s lifeline. We have quite a few options already where weapons are concerned, like the katana or khopesh. But i fear with items like the tetsubo being seemingly phased out, no longer being Yamatsumi's favored weapon; it seems we may be backpaddling and missing opportunities where real world cultures are concerned. Maybe I'm over thinking it, but I feel with the new trait system for weapons and armor, the change and omission of the tetsubo as a unique weapon separate from the average two-handed club was odd. Could have had an armor breaking trait imo.

That said, I love this overall. Very evocative of how an Oracle might function from a lore inspired standpoint. Something that I very much appreciate. Can't wait to see any future Iconics that may get meet down the line. They really help to visualize and explain what it means to be a class from their personal experiences.

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