Meet the Iconics: Ija

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

In Kiutu, a quiet village on the eastern coast of Terwa Lake, young children often grow up listening to tales of the ruins that are visible on an opposing shore, separated from the hamlet by only a shallow inlet. Some stories tell of draconic monsters who haunt and terrorize those who step foot beyond the threshold of the buried temple, and others of the shadowy, winged figures that come to Kiutu in the night to drag misbehaving children to the ruins; whatever the story, the folklore surrounding ancient Bloodsalt carries with it a strong culture of fear and ominousness among Kiutu’s people. Most children grow tired of hearing such tales as they grow into their adolescence, brushing them off as fantasy, though the ruins always remain taboo. But Ija and her peers always accepted that she was a peculiar child, and the young girl never truly outgrew her youthful curiosity.

From as young as 4 years, Ija exhibited an unusual wisdom among the children that age in Kiutu. Even before she was old enough to begin tutoring, Ija could spin entire imaginary universes of her own, and though she couldn’t yet speak full sentences, she would fill sketchbooks with drawings of creatures and characters from her imagination, and from the tales her parents told of the wonderful things they’d seen on their travels. Her mother, a local artist named Ataya, was ecstatic to see Ija’s knack for building worlds, and often the two would spend days drawing stories together, Ataya often drawing fantastical dragons—Ija’s favorite creature—for the toddler to color in. Together they formulated myriad characters, and Ija developed an affinity for a pink dragon her mother doodled, whom the two decided to name Tuku.

When Ija was finally old enough to journey past the sightline of the village, she would traipse with sketchbook in hand down to the nearby lakeshore, where her father often assisted biologists from across the region to set up field studies on Terwa Lake. She’d ask the scientists questions about the animals that roamed outside of the safety of Kiutu’s borders, offering a drawing of what she imagined they looked like in return.

While most of the scientists found Ija’s “endless conversational charisma” endearing, she’d often find herself getting sent by her father to fetch research materials or supplies from the village instead, and while she was sure she’d been behaving, she could never help but shake that she’d done something wrong.

Into her adolescence, Ija still found herself preoccupied with her imagination; notes she’d meant to take from her studies or her father’s scientific lectures would be covered in doodles, or she’d lose minutes of her tutors’ lectures daydreaming while looking at the Bloodsalt Ruins across the lake, envisioning Tuku swooping about in mighty clashes with the monsters that lurk there. But while her imagination was celebrated in her younger years, expectations that Ija couldn’t keep up with were slowly piled upon her as she grew older. Eventually the fond memories of days laughing and drawing with her mother and father’s colleagues felt more and more distant. As her parents, tutors, and peers pressured her to grow up, Ija buried herself deeper and deeper into her imagination, and every night found solace in envisioning Tuku drifting elegantly through the moonlit clouds, rather than dwelling on what she did (or could have done) wrong that day.

One day, on a short field trip to the Terwa River with her teacher and a few other children, Ija found herself separated from the group; she’d become fascinated by a small copse of brightly colored ferns, and in her fixation wandered off without saying a word to her group. While musing at the strange and beautiful flora around her, noting the unusual shapes of the leaves in her sketchbook, she laughed as she thought of Tuku helping her to grab flowers and leaves from far above her reach. The bright oranges, reds, and violets of the blossoms around her seemed to glow with an otherworldly light when she held them close to her face, and Ija could have spent hours there without ever losing focus. Her wild exploration ended abruptly, however, when she caught the sound of her teacher calling her name from the edge of her hearing. Realizing she had missed her lesson and fearing punishment, she shamefacedly ran to catch up with her peers.

Sketch of a dark-skinned human girl, wearing mage’s robes. She gestures to her eidolon, a dragon several feet taller than her.
art by Wayne Reynolds

As Ija crested a small rise overlooking the riverbank and regained sight of her group, she noticed her teacher and the other children’s eyes widen in looks of surprise and confusion. Ija glanced down at herself, expecting to find her clothes in embarrassing disarray or marked by a stains or tears she didn’t notice, but there was nothing any more out of place on her person than normal. She looked over her left shoulder and then her right, and instantly shared their amazement. Tuku, manifested in physical form, stood a few feet behind her, eyeing her fellow villagers with curiosity.

Ija marveled wordlessly; how could they all so clearly see her imaginary friend? How was Tuku here and not just in her idle daydreaming? Her teacher stepped forward, his eyes fixed on Ija’s forehead, where the runic medallion she’d crafted for herself years earlier hung from a simple headband. The rune was glowing, and it matched an identical symbol on Tuku’s brow.

“Ija,” her teacher asked in wonder, “how long have you been a god caller?”

She just shook her head, trying to make sense of what was going on. Had she done something wrong again?

Her teacher knelt to look her straight in the eye as he spoke. Tuku snorted defensively behind her as the kindly elder reached out for Ija, but quickly calmed as the teacher spoke:

“My grandfather was a refugee of the Worldwound, you know. He fled Sarkoris a century ago, as a child, when the demons overtook his land. He kept few of the traditions of his people when he met my grandmother and settled here in Kiutu, but he told stories of his childhood. Most memorable among them were his stories of the god callers—those among the Sarkorians who could summon a powerful ally from beyond our reality to aid and guide the people in times of trouble. The Sarkorians called these beings gods, but others call them eidolons, and don’t worship them as my grandfather’s people did. It appears that you are a god caller, too, Ija, and that dragon—”

“Tuku,” she said without thinking.

“—Tuku, as you say, is your eidolon,” her teacher explained. “Just as you and Tuku share a connection, symbolized in the glowing rune upon both your bodies, so too did the holy runes of the Sarkorian god callers shine when the gods were among their people.”

Ija turned to look at her eidolon inquisitively. Tuku returned the look and tilted his head playfully, like a pet dog expecting its owner to throw a stick. Who was this strange creature, who wasn’t quite as imaginary as she’s always thought? She felt as though she already knew him so well. She’d created him as a toddler, after all—or had she?

A small group of researchers working a short distance down the riverbank had made their way up to where Ija and her eidolon now stood. Her father was among them. None of them appeared scared of Tuku, or of her glowing rune. They were simply curious, interested in a new occurrence to document in their findings. Her father, however, looked proud and overjoyed at his daughter’s newfound calling.

Her teacher, noticing the confusion in Ija’s face, offered words of reassurance. “Yes, there is much for you to learn about yourself, Ija. Perhaps you struggled so much to walk the path set before you because you had a different path you were meant to walk, shoulder to shoulder with Tuku here. We can’t teach you these things, your parents and I. You must learn about Tuku and your bond with him on your own, but don’t worry—we will help you how we can, and I am sure Tuku will guide you in his own way as well.” The teacher paused momentarily with thought. “Do not be afraid, young one; the path you walk may be yours alone, but you are never truly alone on your journey.”

Over the coming weeks and months, Ija and Tuku traveled farther from Kiutu than she’d ever gone before, to Nantambu where the libraries of the Magambya promised answers to her calling (if she could focus enough to read them). But unlike the lessons of her youth, Ija found the questions she had sufficient motivation to learn all on her own. And since she learned better by doing than from reading or listening to a lecture, the fact that she could now explore the limits of her power and the strange bond she shared with her dear Tuku meant she never lacked the will to get up and approach the day’s challenges together.

Ija has met many fellow knowledge seekers in her travels, and she makes a loyal, if mischievous, companion. Tuku tends to be aloof and curmudgeonly when interacting with anyone other than Ija, though he eventually warms to those who clearly don’t mean his summoner any harm. Together, Ija and Tuku plan to one day visit the Sarkoris Scar, to learn what they can of their connection from the god callers repopulating the land now that the Worldwound is closed. Until then, however, Ija and Tuku go where their fancy takes them and return often to Kiutu to share drawings and verbal tales of their adventures with her family and friends.

Lu Pellazar
Senior Editor

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Tags: Meet the Iconics Pathfinder Pathfinder Second Edition Web Fiction
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9 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I love stories like this, where the 'responsibilities and monotony' of growing up, breaks via the sudden appearance of magic. This legitimately made me more interested in the Summoner Class.


20 people marked this as a favorite.

Awwwwww this is so cute! :D
More iconics without tragic backstories please.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

5 people marked this as a favorite.

I love it. One of the reasons I love the summoner is the number of ways you can flavor the eidolon.

Also, we need Iconic Heroes Boxed Sets again so we can get a miniature of Tuku.


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

Love This!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

What a brilliant story! This was exceptionally well done.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

Excuse me a moment while I bask in the glow of correctly guessing Ija was related to god caller lore with a dragon eidolon.

~ ~ ~

Okay, I'm done. That was a cute story and I appreciated the bits about different learning and the pressures to grow up, they could be felt vividly in my own life. ~w~


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Love this little lass. A very cute backstory indeed, and a worthy replacement for one of the two most forgettable iconics (goodbye forever, Arcanist whose name I don't remember)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This is fantastic! Well done!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Love the fiction Paizo's writers put out. Now I want more stories with some of the lesser known iconics, or even more of the radio plays.

Also I second the call for another round of updated Paizo Iconics, though I want ones Reaper or like the Deep Cuts range.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Cyder wrote:
Also I second the call for another round of updated Paizo Iconics...

Thirded!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Very cute.

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.

This is a great story. Love it and it's non-tragic origins. Have to wonder how old she is as an adventurer though. Something about taking a child into grueling battles makes part of me cringe...but then stories like Avatar the Last Airbender and Demon Slayer (and many other animes) make it work.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

A most excellent backstory. In some ways it mirrors my life. My new favorite iconic!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

What's a scientist?
This is HIGH FANTASY!!!

;P


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder PF Special Edition, Rulebook Subscriber

BOO BRING BACK BALAZAR


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ravingdork wrote:
Cyder wrote:
Also I second the call for another round of updated Paizo Iconics...
Thirded!

Add me to the list as well!

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Love this!

Verdant Wheel

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Scientist, biologist.... Hmmmmmm


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Rip my boi. She seems cool but imaginary friend is kinda lame without a little more backstory to it. Not being tragic is pretty redeeming, though!


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Nice Lu.
I enjoyed it a lot.

Horizon Hunters

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Well done! I want to see more arts of Ija and Tuku's Interactions and adventures *-*

Editor

9 people marked this as a favorite.
Ravingdork wrote:

What's a scientist?

This is HIGH FANTASY!!!

;P

Oops; my Starfinder is showing!!

Grand Archive

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

She is precious! :3
That was awesome.

Sovereign Court

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Love seeing this as the new summoner iconic!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Alfa/Polaris wrote:
Excuse me a moment while I bask in the glow of correctly guessing Ija was related to god caller lore with a dragon eidolon.

Is she though? The teacher called her a god caller because of the stories they'd heard, but she doesn't actually seem connected to them directly at all, other than sharing the class. Terwa is pretty far from Sarkonis.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Cyrad wrote:
Also, we need Iconic Heroes Boxed Sets again so we can get a miniature of Tuku.

That would be neat, wouldn't it?

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Invictus Novo wrote:
Have to wonder how old she is as an adventurer though. Something about taking a child into grueling battles makes part of me cringe...

She's just out to find answers to life's big questions. If adventure finds her in the process, that's just the price of knowledge. I don't think she'd seek out battle--and Tuku certainly wouldn't let anyone TAKE her into one--but it would give her an excellent opportunity to "learn by doing" which is far superior to just reading about monsters in books.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Squiggit wrote:
Alfa/Polaris wrote:
Excuse me a moment while I bask in the glow of correctly guessing Ija was related to god caller lore with a dragon eidolon.
Is she though? The teacher called her a god caller because of the stories they'd heard, but she doesn't actually seem connected to them directly at all, other than sharing the class. Terwa is pretty far from Sarkonis.

My thoughts also. Besides, would the Sarkoris God-Callers have come up with a dragon puppy?


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I like mentions about different style of learning that this iconic's spotlight presents. Especially intertwined in a history of a child. And how adults, once the recognized her predisposition, let her develop in accordance with it. Nice.


6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game, Rulebook, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Invictus Novo wrote:
This is a great story. Love it and it's non-tragic origins. Have to wonder how old she is as an adventurer though. Something about taking a child into grueling battles makes part of me cringe...but then stories like Avatar the Last Airbender and Demon Slayer (and many other animes) make it work.

Last I checked, most Pokémon trainers begin their journeys at the age of 12 or so. She'll be fine.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
L Pellazar wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:

What's a scientist?

This is HIGH FANTASY!!!

;P

Oops; my Starfinder is showing!!

I'm the one who wants Path/Star crossover and scientist( as class)!


UnArcaneElection wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
Alfa/Polaris wrote:
Excuse me a moment while I bask in the glow of correctly guessing Ija was related to god caller lore with a dragon eidolon.
Is she though? The teacher called her a god caller because of the stories they'd heard, but she doesn't actually seem connected to them directly at all, other than sharing the class. Terwa is pretty far from Sarkonis.

My thoughts also. Besides, would the Sarkoris God-Callers have come up with a dragon puppy?

There was a mention of god callers repopulating the land and the duo looking into their connection with them. So I got an impression of hereditary ability and/or a long, long tradition with wiggle room in the small gods involved. But perhaps I was hasty!

Grand Lodge Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I love them both so much!

Fantastic job, Lu!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

So.... how many more iconics before we get a new set of iconics evolved minis? My daughter would love to play this Summoner

Wayfinders Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Oh! This summoner is adorable! Fabulous job, Lu!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder PF Special Edition Subscriber

Great story! The eidolon's origin as an imaginary friend is a really cool idea. And the art... Wow. Well done guys!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
L Pellazar wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:

What's a scientist?

This is HIGH FANTASY!!!

;P

Oops; my Starfinder is showing!!

Maybe they are visiting scientists from Sincomakti School of Sciences in Ustalov.


9 people marked this as a favorite.

I love how some folks are surprised about scientists and biologists when the Mwangi Expanse is home to one if not *the* premier academy in all of Golarion.

Makes sense to me, though the terminology is a bit suprising.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
VerBeeker wrote:

I love how some folks are surprised about scientists and biologists when the Mwangi Expanse is home to one if not *the* premier academy in all of Golarion.

Makes sense to me, though the terminology is a bit suprising.

I certainly hope most people realize that I was joking. :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
VerBeeker wrote:

I love how some folks are surprised about scientists and biologists when the Mwangi Expanse is home to one if not *the* premier academy in all of Golarion.

Makes sense to me, though the terminology is a bit suprising.

"Scientist" isn't a word commonly associated with academies of Magic.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
thejeff wrote:
VerBeeker wrote:

I love how some folks are surprised about scientists and biologists when the Mwangi Expanse is home to one if not *the* premier academy in all of Golarion.

Makes sense to me, though the terminology is a bit suprising.

"Scientist" isn't a word commonly associated with academies of Magic.

Arcane magic is extremely similar to science : reasoned study (Mental) of the physical world (Material).

Also the root word of science is the Latin Scio (I know). Also pretty appropriate for Arcane magic.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Captain collateral damage wrote:

Awwwwww this is so cute! :D

More iconics without tragic backstories please.

Agreed! Great backstory and I love that it wasn't a tragically scarred child for once, I love doing these types of Backstories for my own PCs and so it's great to see it on an iconic.


I really like that one of the iconics is a child.
Children are often forgotten when people talk about representation.

And even more so than most other kinds of games, RPGs should provide characters that people can identify with - and children often play them.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
thejeff wrote:
VerBeeker wrote:

I love how some folks are surprised about scientists and biologists when the Mwangi Expanse is home to one if not *the* premier academy in all of Golarion.

Makes sense to me, though the terminology is a bit suprising.

"Scientist" isn't a word commonly associated with academies of Magic.

Magaambya isn't solely a school of magic though, it's an academy of culture, history, diplomacy, and studying the balance of the natural world, magical aptitude is important but it isn't fully integral I don't believe.


VerBeeker wrote:
thejeff wrote:
VerBeeker wrote:

I love how some folks are surprised about scientists and biologists when the Mwangi Expanse is home to one if not *the* premier academy in all of Golarion.

Makes sense to me, though the terminology is a bit suprising.

"Scientist" isn't a word commonly associated with academies of Magic.
Magaambya isn't solely a school of magic though, it's an academy of culture, history, diplomacy, and studying the balance of the natural world, magical aptitude is important but it isn't fully integral I don't believe.

...Wow, "Scientist" isn't a word only associated with Numeria.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Magaambya will blow up preconceptions go what High Fantasy is and I'm here for it.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Aaron Shanks wrote:
Magaambya will blow up preconceptions go what High Fantasy is and I'm here for it.

Looking forward to it!

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

Aaron Shanks wrote:
Magaambya will blow up preconceptions go what High Fantasy is and I'm here for it.

of*

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Quote:
...expectations that Ija couldn’t keep up with were slowly piled upon her as she grew older.

Well, that just got too real.

Anyway, rather cool summary of gaining an eidolon, especially bringing in the God Caller aspect and a secular viewpoint on the phenomenon.

Looking forward to the class and what changes there were! :D

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
BretI wrote:
L Pellazar wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:

What's a scientist?

This is HIGH FANTASY!!!

;P

Oops; my Starfinder is showing!!
Maybe they are visiting scientists from Sincomakti School of Sciences in Ustalov.

Or *ahem* my ulma mater of Lepidstadt. u.u

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