Iconic Encounter: In Truth’s Light

Friday, July 15, 2022

At least this isn’t in Ustalav, Mios thought, smiling wryly to themself as they approached the Lily Lounge. It hadn’t taken much investigating into the recent mysterious disappearances in Augustana to find all signs pointing to this new luxury lounge, famous almost overnight. If this were Ustalav, Mios figured, the lodge would be full of vampires. Or werewolves. Or some kind of vampiric werewolves like those vukodlaks from last winter.

The Lily Lounge’s clientele, at least the ones who hadn’t been disappearing, tended towards the wealthy; after all, it advertised itself as a luxurious resting place for valiant hunters returning from their hunts. Though Andoran claimed to not have any nobles (technically true), many of these clients were just that in all but name. The real trouble is that the lounge was reported to also let in the less well to do… who would then go missing. Not at the lounge, though, and not right away. Whoever was responsible, likely the owners, weren’t that sloppy. No, these poorer clients were always seen afterwards for some time but mysteriously disappeared within a fortnight, often alongside reports of erratic behavior. Even odds it’s enchantment magic forcing the victim to kidnap themselves, Mios thought, or maybe this is the one time it actually IS a doppelganger replacing them at the lounge.

Regardless, the place was highly suspicious. Though Mios could tell that the lounge’s secrets were rather well-hidden by anyone else’s standards, little things gave it away to their trained eye. Heliotrope planted at the four corners of the lot, to divert close attention. Structure offset slightly from cardinal directions, subtly separating building from external expectations to decrease guard. It even extended to the proprietors—thought of highly, but only ever in the vaguest of terms—even Mios couldn’t discover much about one Gilbert Zoon (the lounge’s founder) or his business partner Sabricia (last name unknown). They’d been seen out during the day, though, so at least they weren’t vampires. And nothing was timed around the full moon…. Mios reflexively reached out and touched the old wound on their leg, another reminder of the past, and what it meant to let down one’s guard. Memories like these were why Mios never regretted leaving Ustalav behind. Here in Andoran, what was the worst it could be? No, Mios thought as they reflexively formed a turning-away sign, better not to jinx it. Some of the old superstitions died hard.

Their reminiscence was broken by an incoming party of young hunters—just the chance Mios had been waiting for. They waited until the hunters had just entered, then adjusted their wolf pelt, held their back straight, and walked forward like they owned the lodge. They’d seen enough nobles in their life that it was easy to put on airs. At the door, Mios made some small talk with the staff before being invited in. Pupil dilation normal, good recall of earlier events, able to respond to abstract questions. The staff didn’t seem to be under any form of direct mind control, though they did seem a bit tense.

After a day or two casing the Lily Lounge, Mios had decided the front door would be better than sneaking in a window or cellar, which would almost certainly be trapped or magically defended against break-ins. Threshold magic—versatile, but dependent on intent. If the owner’s intent was toward privacy, the magic could help reinforce a boundary between the outside and inside. It was the same principle when creating a circle of salt to ward off a ghost—create a boundary, then give it authority. But you can’t bar a door that you’ve opened yourself, like the front door. Let alone put greeters at. Even vampires can freely enter a public building. The staff smiled at Mios, and they walked in.

As Mios entered, two beads on their wrist pulsed once with subtle light, and a tarnished coin on their waist spun slightly. The building had been highly warded, then—but Mios had made it through easily. They absconded down a hallway, away from guests and staff, and reached out an empty hand. Ownership is never broken by mere distance, only a change in relationship. As Mios concentrated on the truism, they felt a familiar weight through their glove. When they looked down at their hand again, their lantern shone in it, and in its light, once-invisible defenses crisscrossed the walls and doors. Mios peered at an especially warded door. Sarkorian abjuration, but corrupted. Strange to see that so far south. It suggested demonic influence, or someone familiar with the Worldwound and its closing. Mios shifted their usual silver blade to a back sheath, replacing it with one of cold-forged iron, just in case. With a bit of effort—more than it usually took—Mios dismantled the wards, opened the door, and crept down the hallway beyond.

Passing nondescript private suites, Mios’s lantern light eventual fell upon a door covered up entirely by an illusion. Curious, since there was no sign of this wing from the outside. Extradimensional, or just a massive illusion? Mios slipped into the room to find out. Ah, the classic trapdoor leading down. That explained it. Maybe just mundane architectural tricks then. The chamber below was furnished in fine silk, imported wood, and elegant paintings, easily the most grandiose and opulent part of the lounge… but in the lantern’s light, the facade melted away. The entire place was a dismal cavern with clear demonic magic coursing through it. Well, clear to Mios. Surely the victims had been fooled. The thaumaturge drew their iron blade.

Iconic Thaumaturge holding up a lantern which illuminates two demons standing before them

Mios’s lantern dispels more than just shadows. Art by Roena Rosenberger


As Mios turned the corner, their light shone on two figures who must have been the owners, though no sooner did the light reach them than their true forms were revealed. The man, now a hideous creature with claws and a carapace, shrieked in pain and flinched backwards from the light. Weak to light… no, not to light. Treachery demon. Harmed by truth. An incredibly dangerous threat for the unsuspecting citizenry of Augustana, but Mios began to grin; they were just about the worst possible match-up the demon could face. The thaumaturge reached into one of their many pouches, riffling for a bit before settling on a dried chrysanthemum. They passed the flower through the flame of their lantern and smeared the ash on their pick. They felt the concepts align, felt the tension of forces coming to oppose each other: against an unnatural creature of treachery cloaked in falsehoods, present an object of the natural world, symbolizing honesty, tempered in the light of truth. Three properties from the demon, three from Mios.

Their pick thrummed with power as the creatures howled. Time to get to work.

About the Author

Mark Seifter is the Director of Game Design for Roll for Combat, the former Design Manager at Paizo, and one of the four leads on the creation of Pathfinder Second Edition. He is the author of the thaumaturge class in Dark Archive. You can see him on Arcane Mark with Linda Zayas-Palmer Tuesdays at 7 PM Pacific, and Saturdays at 10 AM Pacific at https://www.twitch.tv/arcanemark, and Roll for Combat Live with Stephen Glicker at https://www.youtube.com/c/RollForCombat/." @markseifter on Twitter.

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: Dark Archive Iconic Encounters Iconics Pathfinder Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Web Fiction

7 people marked this as a favorite.

This story really captures the spirit of the class I think. Very nice!


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Awesome. Really like the anti-mage aspects of the class here. A deep understanding of magic and the supernatural without casting works well for it's identity. Of course, you only get the dispelling effects at 17th level but the iconics have the excuse to show off everything the class can get. Good job.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Now I wonder what Mios's other 2 implements are. They swapped weapons so probably not weapon implement, they work solo so not regalia. I'd wager amulet for defense and wand when they can't chase down their quarry with a bum leg.

Liberty's Edge

Excellent though I was surprised by the strongly analytical method.

I believe Iconics are single class, but I could have sworn Mios had MC Investigator. Up to using the pick, which is good for crit fishing with DAS.


The Raven Black wrote:

Excellent though I was surprised by the strongly analytical method.

I believe Iconics are single class, but I could have sworn Mios had MC Investigator. Up to using the pick, which is good for crit fishing with DAS.

Yeah it's kinda "investigatory" but that could be attributed to the lantern and simply being careful and perceptive. For the clever and careful thaumaturge envisioned here, there could also be a chalice thaumaturge that would just bust down the doors with little care for planning. They have a bag of contingencies. They've done all the planning they need.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Mios's internal monologue reminds me a lot of Geralt. The pacing, to-the-point and lack of flowery language and knowledge of subject matter is almost an exact match.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

The superstition part never clicked for me during the playtest but I see it now. I'm now fully onboard with it being a charisma class. Great story!


3 people marked this as a favorite.
aobst128 wrote:
Now I wonder what Mios's other 2 implements are. They swapped weapons so probably not weapon implement, they work solo so not regalia. I'd wager amulet for defense and wand when they can't chase down their quarry with a bum leg.

They've got the candle. Could just be the bell and book.

Still, yes, it *is* interesting to see Mios at work. I get this funky vibe of... they're a conspiracy theorist, but one where the theories follow along on paths untraveled by more normal logic, and wind up finding real monsters at the end with remarkable consistency. Eventually, your body count of "for-real monsters" gets large enough it has a credibility all its own, even if the explanations sound crazy.

...though, thinking about it, werewolves, vampires, demons and so forth that decide to infiltrate human society generally *would* prefer to be upper-class when they can manage it (and they often can). I suppose that well-earned bias is true enough even outside of Ustalav that it likely leads them right rather more often than it leads them wrong.

"They started acting weird, and then just vanished!"

"I've heard similar things elsewhere. Who were the wealthiest people that they'd spent time with in the month before their disappearance?"

I also notice that they're leveraging that Charisma in another way, too - from the sounds of things, their investigations involved a lot of "Go around and talk to people and ask questions."

It's all pretty cool.


12 people marked this as a favorite.
Sanityfaerie wrote:
I also notice that they're leveraging that Charisma in another way, too - from the sounds of things, their investigations involved a lot of "Go around and talk to people and ask questions.

That's definitely something I wanted to get across using as few words as possible (so like not writing out those pre-investigations, going straight to the action of checking the lodge, but instead presenting the info they had dredged up in a way that I hoped you could feel came from those kinds of interactions). Glad to see you picked up on that!


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Sanityfaerie wrote:
I also notice that they're leveraging that Charisma in another way, too - from the sounds of things, their investigations involved a lot of "Go around and talk to people and ask questions."

Even though the investigator has the Columbo catchphrase "Just one more thing," it sounds as if Mios is more similar to Columbo than Quinn would be.

Apart from the demon-/monster-/undead-slaying bit, of course.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Love the story! The book is going to be glorious!


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

I love everything about this-- how Mios works, how thaumaturgy works (at least for Mios), and of course the social commentary. Thank you so much, Mark and Roena!

Liberty's Edge

Sanityfaerie wrote:
aobst128 wrote:
Now I wonder what Mios's other 2 implements are. They swapped weapons so probably not weapon implement, they work solo so not regalia. I'd wager amulet for defense and wand when they can't chase down their quarry with a bum leg.

They've got the candle. Could just be the bell and book.

Still, yes, it *is* interesting to see Mios at work. I get this funky vibe of... they're a conspiracy theorist, but one where the theories follow along on paths untraveled by more normal logic, and wind up finding real monsters at the end with remarkable consistency. Eventually, your body count of "for-real monsters" gets large enough it has a credibility all its own, even if the explanations sound crazy.

...though, thinking about it, werewolves, vampires, demons and so forth that decide to infiltrate human society generally *would* prefer to be upper-class when they can manage it (and they often can). I suppose that well-earned bias is true enough even outside of Ustalav that it likely leads them right rather more often than it leads them wrong.

"They started acting weird, and then just vanished!"

"I've heard similar things elsewhere. Who were the wealthiest people that they'd spent time with in the month before their disappearance?"

I also notice that they're leveraging that Charisma in another way, too - from the sounds of things, their investigations involved a lot of "Go around and talk to people and ask questions."

It's all pretty cool.

Wealth and status attract attention and envy.

The wise disguised monster will live the life of a mundane nobody easily overlooked.

Thankfully, most monsters we know about have more Ego than wisdom.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

Oh, just when I thought I couldn't love the Thaumaturge class and Mios more...an excellent story!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

This thoroughly reinvigorated my hype for thaumaturge. I love the flavor of being powered by superstition.


This was a fun read. I would read a novel in this style, a mystery adventure where the protagonist is steeped in so much folklore and esoteric knowledge that there's always 5 guesses what is truly going on. Is it possible this is the one time it's actually a bunyip and not Judy a really big vampiric hare? Mios was a fun protagonist to read.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Is Mios going to banish those two demons I wonder or slay them? A Glabrezu is a pretty tough encounter and it's not alone so I hope they're strong enough to survive.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

A glabrezu is rough, but Mios in the story is well prepared, and they aren't kidding that they were one of the worst possible matchups for the demon to face, including starting off the fight with 3d6 mental damage before Mios even did anything from the lantern due to its truth vulnerability (you can see the glabrezu flinching back in the art), plus the cold iron sword is going to add 20 damage per hit from weakness, and possibly more if it was able to deal good damage. A prepared thaumaturge is a dangerous foe.


Mios also is at least 4 levels ahead of the demon going by the dispelling effects of the lantern.

Dark Archive

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Thanks Mark for the class and for this story! You've now brought us two of my favorite classes (Summoner and now Thaumaturge). This story really helped me put the finishing touches on my Thaumaturge. I had the mechanics down, but was really struggling with ideology and thought process to bring the character's personality to light. The story has helped me understand what is behind the class a bit better.

The Dark Archives is fantastic, thanks to everybody who had a hand in it!


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Baller. Question: can Exploit Vulnerability be used for things like Golem Antimagic or Sin Vulnerability? I know Mios triggered the sin weakness via the lantern, but Golem Antimagic is something named in Exploit Vulnerability so I'm wondering if the Thaumaturge is meant to leverage that themselves, and Sin Vulnerabilities feel like the sort of conceptual exploitation that is the class bread and butter.

Neither totally feels supported by RAW, and they might not be balanced, but man it fits the flavor.

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