James Jacobs wrote:
What do you consider to be the "goofy stuff" of the Mystara campaign setting?
James Jacobs wrote:
Very cool! I tend to write longer, more detailed backstories myself, although I do it knowing the GM can change any/all of it, and I happen to have had patient GMs over time.
If you're ever interested in seeing examples, including five Golarion-based characters of mine, you can find them over on the Sample Character Backgrounds thread on the Homebrews and House Rules Paizo message board.
Question: What do you think of the Mystara campaign setting?
Sometimes I end up making character backgrounds that way, too. For example, I once started with the concept "Spiked-chain-weilding fighter from the Eberron setting." From there, I came up with this background (including summary notes for the DM at the end):
Arik’s breath rose through the cold darkness of predawn. He was usually in the midst of his daily warm-up calisthenics by this point, but he realized the significance of the day’s date and allowed himself the luxury of actually paying attention to the rising sun. As the Ring of Siberys slowly began to fade from the brightening sky Arik’s mind began to dwell once again on the road that brought him here.
Arik was eight when Karn’s body came back from the War. His eldest brother had died rather simply—a glancing blow from a maul, but just hard enough to just the right spot on his head. He was dead by the time a Jorasco got to him. His strong voice, that when lifted up in song was the envy of any passing bard, would only be heard again in silent memory. The funeral was short, his body and spirit committed to the Silver Flame in the nice, honorable, and expected fashion.
Not a fortnight had passed after Karn’s funeral when Pyton and one of Father’s swords went off to fight for good King Boranel and the greater glory of Breland. He was only 16 when he left. His sword arm and training served him almost two years before he met his end. Some blast of eldritch flame or some-such on a nameless field of battle. All that was left of him was his right hand, the hand that had held the sword that had finally failed him. He didn’t burn long at his funeral.
Two down, two to go.
Merthew’s dream had always been to captain an airship. He was on his way to making his dream come true when he was enlisted to be a cabin boy on the Dusk Chaser. Most of him made it home—but little was left attached to anything else, for some Karrnathi airship deliberately collided with the Dusk Chaser rather than admit defeat. His dream floated away along with the smoke from his pyre.
That left Arik, the only surviving son left to the ir’Bain family. His father, Therson, was the best weapon smith in Khorvaire, as far as 12-year-old Arik was concerned. That, and the loss of his left leg many years ago in the War, had left Therson at home with his family, busily making deadly (and beautiful) weapons for Boranel’s armies. Therson was determined that his only surviving son would stay out of the War, too, one way or another.
Arik was a natural at the forge. In three short years he could make just about anything his father could. His steady hand and artistic skill in making weapons helped keep his mind off of his three dead brothers, most of the time. When the Conscriptors came to Griffon Way for their monthly culling of able-bodied men for the War Therson had Arik demonstrate his weapon-making abilities to the Serge. That, and a few “complimentary” weapons for the Serge and his men, allowed Arik to stay home and make weapons for King Boranel rather than go off to fight in the War. Arik was just happy he got to keep his legs.
Arik remembered the hot summer day that Thar’s Company came to Griffon Way. They looked like a rag-tag band of brigands to the untrained eye, but Arik recognized the subtle signs of that rarest of things—a well-disciplined mercenary company. Thar—along with the heavy spiked chain that hung from his belt—enforced his strict, hobgoblin ways on his men—hobgoblins, humans, shifters, even a changeling. They lead a wagon bearing something hidden under a canvas. The oddest detail was that each member of the company bore a spiked chain as his weapon.
Arik was surprised when Thar and two of his men made their way to his father’s weapon shop. Thar inspected the weapons in the shop with a shrewd and discerning eye. He gruffly complimented Therson on his skill, and Arik quietly smiled, for a good half of those weapons were of his own make. Thar explained to Therson that under the canvas lay a large chunk of adamantine that fell from Siberys, and that he wanted the best weapon maker he could find to use it to make a spiked chain worthy Thar’s deadly skill. Therson jumped at the chance—and Arik smiled again, knowing he’d get to help his father make perhaps the most beautiful and deadly weapon in either of their careers.
It took a long time to make the chain. In that time Arik came to know Thar and some of his company. There was Sid, the quiet changeling, who seemed to have an eye for noticing things others didn’t. There was Karkuk, the ever-laughing shifter, who never forgot a smell. There was green-eyed Malley, Thar’s second, whose skill with the spiked chain was rivaled only by Thar himself.
Malley noticed Arik’s watching him and Thar doing their morning calisthenics and weapon practice. He invited Arik to have a hand at swinging the spiked chain around. Arik gave it a go…and promptly sliced his hand open. Malley laughed. Annoyed, Arik continued, despite the pain, and gave a display that hinted at an affinity for the chain as natural as his affinity for the forge. Thar was impressed—as far as Thar can be. “You have potential, human. You will practice again tomorrow, if your father-sire grants permission.”
Therson would never approve. The only reason to learn a weapon was to fight with it, which was the last thing Arik’s family wanted. So, Arik lied and kept his daily lessons with the chain secret from his father.
Weeks passed, and Arik’s skill with the chain slowly grew greater. Along with the lessons came tales of the Company’s exploits in the War. No king’s pawns, these disciplined warriors fought where and when Thar said, and were paid quite well for it. By the time the great adamantine spiked chain was finished Arik was brimming with new skill and the desire to test it on the field of battle. One full day after Thar’s Company left Griffon Way Arik slipped away and followed after them. He wrote a note explaining why he was leaving and gave it to his little sister, Aria, for her to give to their father.
The next year was exciting for Arik. He fought in many battles with his new brothers, his own spiked chain nearly as deadly as everyone else’s. His nickname among his brothers was Sirocco for how wild and angry he often seemed when in the thickest and most harrowing of battles. Thar took extra time with Arik, teaching him not only the ways of the chain but also of personal discipline and the pride of the old Dakhaani Empire.
Those exciting times came to a close, however. During one battle east of the Cyran border Arik noticed that Malley kept glancing back westward, as if he were expecting something. Arik looked, too, expecting to see an approaching army or other danger, but all he could see was the rising smoke of distant battles, an almost constant occurrence. Turning away to resume fighting, Arik felt and saw a bright flash of light burst behind him, and he turned again to see a vast wall of dead-grey mist rushing toward them from the distant, western horizon. The Mist stopped less than a mile from them in the span of a few heartbeats.
Arik heard a gurgled rasp, and he turned to see Thar, his throat sliced apart, falling to the ground with rage and disbelief in his eyes. Standing over his dying form was Malley, the adamantine chain in his hands still glistening with the blackish blood of his former commander.
The fires of Fernia filled the entire Company as they all unleashed their primal fury upon Malley. But Malley’s skill and his stolen chain were too good. One by one he began stripping the life from each of his former brothers. Arik was the sixth to drop as he felt the sharp chain wrap around his own throat, squeeze, and slice. The darkness was all….
Arik awoke to a warm tingling at his throat. He coughed up blood, right into the face of his healer. The cheerful halfling wiped the blood away as if it were a bit of water. “You’re lucky,” the Jorasco healer chimed, “You weren’t quite as far gone as your friends.” The carnage around them was intense. Arik grimly searched each body. No Malley. The blood-traitor must be alive. Surprisingly, Sid’s and Karkuk’s bodies weren’t there; Arik thought that they were the first to go down, after Thar. Thar’s body was still there. Most of it, anyway; the head was never found.
Arik knew what he must do. He must hunt down Malley and avenge his commander. A head for a head. Only he needed to be ready. His own chain broken, Arik needed a new chain, and the skill to best Malley, chain to chain.
Arik returned home to get a new chain from the best weapon maker in Khorvaire, as far as he was concerned. His family was gone. All of Griffon Way was gone. Just outside the edge of Cyre and the Mist, everyone had fled with a flood of other refugees, reportedly to Sharn. Arik trusted that his family was as safe as they could be in Sharn, but honestly he hardly seemed to care anymore. He picked up a new spiked chain, one that he himself had made. Not his best work, but it should keep him alive until he made a better one.
Arik’s eyes hurt. Then he realized that the sun had finally risen above the horizon. Enough. The anniversary of the Day of Mourning was no excuse to slack in discipline. Arik’s chain clinked, almost merrily, as he drew it out for his morning drills. He needed to master the chain if he had any hope of giving Malley the justice he deserved. Absentmindedly touching the scars on his throat, Arik began Thar’s lessons again.
The morning silence fell away to the singing of Arik’s chain….
Character Background: See above for the details. Arik ir’Bain is the last surviving son of a Brelish family devastated by the Last War. His skill with weapon making kept him out of the War initially, but his fascination with a hobgoblin named Thar and his wondrous spiked chain lured him to run away and join Thar’s Company, a mercenary group who fought for Breland. There he began the path of mastering the spiked chain, and now he sells his skills to keep him afloat on his quest for revenge.
Career Path: Story-wise, Arik seeks to become a master forger and wielder of the spiked chain. Thar’s stories of the glories of Dhakaani hobgoblin chain masters fascinate him, and he works very hard to exceed their legendary skills. Rules wise, I had initially thought of Arik as being a fighter who takes any feat he can get that improves his uses of spiked chains. This was before Book of Nine Swords, so I don’t know what potential that book has to make Arik a better chain wielder than a straight-up fighter. I thought I had also read about Eberron-specific spiked chain feats inspired by the hobgoblins, but I can’t seem to find those. I appreciate any specific help on the best career path for Arik that fits his story, and I am also open to doing what would better make him fit into the party.
Personal Goals: One, master the creation of spiked chains. Arik sees this goal being reached by his making an even better adamantine spiked chain than he and his father built for Thar. Two, master the use of spiked chains. Arik feels born to use these things, and he feels this goal is part and parcel of his third goal. Three, destroy Malley, the man who betrayed Thar’s Company. The last Arik knew Malley was a master of the chain who wields Thar’s stolen adamantine spike chain. Arik needs to master the chain if he hopes to survive a final encounter with Malley.
Fitting in to Eberron: The above story illustrates the Last War’s impact on Arik. Arik’s family traditionally followed the Silver Flame, but Arik is rather disillusioned and bitter with religion in general and enjoys tweaking the sensibilities of uptight Flamers, as he calls them. He grew up in Griffon Way, a small town just on the Brelish side of the border to what is now the Mournland. No one lives there anymore, and Arik feels a bit homeless. Arik’s family may or may not be distant relatives of house Cannith, but they never worked for the house directly. The only house Arik has any respect for is Jorasco because of their ability to heal without the religious aftertaste.
I stand corrected.
Distributors would need to sell 60% to break even if they sold product at 100% of the price. Which they won't. Thus, they'd need to sell more to break even.
Same for the FLGS.
My original point stands.
I e-mailed one of the stores about this matter. Here was their response:
FLGS said wrote:
If accurate, it sounds like Paizo upped the prices of their products to distributors.
I am disappointed.
Likely because the same reason FLGS always have had a beef with Paizo: PDFs and subscriptions. Both drive customers away from the store.
But that has always been the case with Paizo. These two stores had been doing business with Paizo under that model for many years. And now both have suddenly dropped Paizo at around the same time even though that aspect of Paizo hasn't changed.
I very much think it is due to something else.
My two Friendly Local Gaming Stores told me that they are dropping their Paizo business.
The first one said they will no longer be getting any new Paizo products. The second one went into a little more detail. They said, "Paizo's terms and conditions became too toxic, and the owner is no longer comfortable doing business with Paizo."
Does anyone know what the floob is going on? Why would FLGS be dropping Paizo business?
Steve Geddes wrote:
When the pre-order page says, "You may place your paizo.com preorder below," it's clear that their intent was for pre-ordering to be available NOW.
And finally, the fourth member of our all-alemental-touched adventuring party....
Ren, undine cleric of Gozreh:
Initiate's log, supplemental. Captain Noss reports that the Heron should arrive in Absalom sometime tomorrow morning if the winds and currents maintain their course. If that prediction holds true then this will likely be my last log entry as a Pathfinder Initiate. This being the case, I felt it would be prudent (and, hopefully, creative) to end this Initiate's log with a brief epilogue of my pre-confirmed-Pathfinder life.
My given name is Ren of the family Tridentian. I am the middle child of a family of seven children. My parents raised us in a small fishing village called Portma, which lies on the southern cost of Lake Encarthan about halfway between the cities of Detmer and Kerse in the country of Druma. Dad and Mom own a fishing boat (the Gorton), and most of us children worked in one capacity or another with the fishing business, although I moved away in my early teenage years.
That was mainly due to Portia. She was a hermit who some believed to be a witch. In actuality, she was a priestess of Gozreh. She came to Portma on occasion for a few supplies she found impossible to come by on her own out in the wild. She took an interest in my family in particular because we are undines. Undines are humans with some water elemental ancestry. Most of my family easily passes for human, but with my coloration it is obvious I am something more; Mom says I take after her father in that way.
One day when I was 13 the Gorton caught fire. We never found out how or why, but I believe someone set it deliberately on fire. I was the closest one to the boat at the time, and I was able to put out the fire quickly with a spontaneous burst of a powerful jet of water from my outstretched hand. Portia witnessed this, and she told me that the mists of Gozreh flowed strong in my blood. She encouraged me to be her apprentice and study the ways of Gozreh. Dad and Mom were alright with that, and so I began my studies with Portia, just the two of us out in the wilderness.
It was a difficult time for me at first. Portia was hard with her training. Among many other things, Portia wanted me to learn to maintain my composure under the harshest of circumstances. Gozreh, she taught, is a fickle god, as nature itself is fickle. A calm, pleasant day can turn into a deadly storm at a moment's notice, and the best way to survive is to accept and deal with what is, and to do so in as calm a manner as possible.
With time, my training paid off. I eventually was able to consistently pass every test she could throw at me. The ultimate demonstration of my readiness for the priesthood was when I was able to fill a large, empty cauldron with pure water through the power of my faith alone. Portia was uncharacteristically ecstatic by my breakthrough; she initiated me into the priesthood by lying with me--repeatedly--under the rains and winds of a fierce storm that very night. From that day forward we spent the majority of our time sky-clad and sea-clad.
One day, Portia just disappeared. I woke up one morning, and she wasn't in her usual spot beside me. It looked like she had packed her few possessions, and there was no sign of any kind of struggle, but she left no note or other indication about where she had gone or why she had left.
I spent the next few years travelling around looking for Portia, but I have yet to find her. Along the way I found myself healing the sick and injured both to help relieve suffering as well as to keep me fed. I took to medicine like a fish takes to water, and I eventually ended up living in Qadira for a while where I received more formal training in the healing arts.
During my medical studies I heard tales of the Pathfinders. I thought that perhaps becoming a Pathfinder would allow me the chance to travel even further abroad and, just perhaps, put me on Portia's trail. I also thought it might be a great way to find healing magic or technology lost to history and bring them to light for the benefit of all. So, I made my way to Absalom, and I became a Pathfinder Initiate.
That was nearly four years ago now. My time in training was well spent. I learned much, and made many friends, including my roommates Mokosh and Gyson. I even got chances to spread the faith of Gozreh a little bit.
Three years of Pathfinder training prepared me for my confirmation assignment. The Master of Scrolls told me to bring him the Orb of Aziza. Diligent research, hard work, and a bit of luck led me to the heart of the Thuvian desert, where I found the object of my quest buried in the hot sands under the scorching sun. The Orb of Aziza found, I now head back to Absalom.
I took a merchant ship to Almas, intending to find a connecting ship to Absalom. While in Almas I found three fellow Pathfinder initiates: Mokosh, Sora, and Kai. Given Gozreh's elemental nature I wonder if he worked things out so that the four of us would be brought together at that place and time. The four of us are, after all, touched by the elements.
I am of the waters, and undine. I am rather short and stocky compared to human men. My most obvious non-human features are my hair and skin--I keep my dark green hair and beard long, and my skin is a pleasant, light shade of green. My eyes are deep blue. I strive to project a calm, confident demeanor at all times. I seem to do this well most of the time, so much so that some accuse me of having no emotions. On the contrary, I am rather passionate--I just keep it well hidden.
Mokosh is of the earth, an oread. He is very tall, broad, and strong. His skin, eyes, and hair are all so dark a shade of brown you might as well call it black. In public he is rather reserved, but in our dorm room he could out-talk even Gyson sometimes.
Sora is of the air, a sylph. She is hauntingly beautiful, with a tall, willowy frame; wavy, white hair; and very pale, blue eyes. She is extremely intelligent, but she often comes across as haughty and impatient. She is also a child of the Gozrehn faith, but she doesn't seem to take it as seriously as she should.
Kai is of the fire, an ifrit. She blazes through life with gusto. She is short and curvy, with red hair, black eyes, and reddish skin. She is always smiling about something, and given the chance she can talk your ear off, although most people (men in particular) don't seem to mind. She kissed me once, on a whim I'm sure. It reminded me a little of Portia--she was rather passionate during our last few years together. As much as I enjoyed Portia's pleasures I chose to remain celibate after she left, a choice many in my order make. Kai's kiss reminded me of the pleasures of the past, and while it was a nice reminder it also showed me that such pleasures are no longer as keenly missed as they once were. Not that Kai made it easy, though....
And so I come to the end of the beginning. My first 28 years have led me far; if my future as a confirmed Pathfinder proves half as interesting I should be so lucky.
This makes me sad :(
I've been a subscriber to the PFRPG from the very beginning, and I doubt I'll continue with a PF2 subscription.
Thank you for the 10+ years of fun and memories, Paizo....
Third in our elemental lineup....
Mokosh, oread fighter:
Writing is useful, but I do not particularly enjoy doing it like I do swinging my earth breaker. My time with the Pathfinder society has taught me the power of the written word, and I do respect it more each day. It can change the course of history. I find it much more satisfying, though, to fell a difficult foe with a well-placed blow to the head. Perhaps my writing about my martial exploits will help me to enjoy writing more. Time will tell, as it always does.
I am called Mokosh. Father once told me it was a dwarven word, but I believe he is mistaken; I learned to speak dwarven long ago, and as far as I or any dwarf can tell me there is no such word in dwarven. It matters not. It serves its purpose.
I was raised by Father in the Five Kings Mountains where we lived among the dwarves. We look human, but we are actually oreads. Oreads, simply put, are humans with a touch of elemental earth in their family history. In my case, from my father's side of the family. Our earthen natures endeared us to our dwarven neighbors more than typical humans would, although growing up I was often reminded that I was not a dwarf, especially by Kelgar. Most dwarves treated father and me like any other dwarf, most of the time, but Kelgar thought of any non-dwarf as a lower life form little better than cattle. Thankfully he was the exception rather than the norm.
I may not be dwarven by nature, but I am dwarven by culture and custom. I was raised in an orderly, soldierly fashion, and I was taught to discern right from wrong and fight for what's right. I learned to speak dwarven, of course, and I also learned to speak undercommon and terran. I spent most of my life underground and am most comfortable there. When under the sky I tend to stay indoors when I can. It is not a matter of fear but rather a matter of habit and comfort.
One thing I developed during my time under the sky is a love for horses and a respect for animals in general. This surprised me; I had no hint of this facet of my nature while I lived underground.
When I matured into adulthood I developed a hunger for seeing other dwarven communities. I also developed the desire to see the dwarven people earn back the respect they had lost in the world. I have Junalo to thank for much of that. One of the dwarven elders, Junalo used to entertain us with tales of his youth spent travelling the world as a Pathfinder. I came to the conclusion that if I were to become a Pathfinder myself then I could travel the world and rediscover glories of the dwarven people that have been lost to history. Maybe I could rediscover the good things lost to history and restore them to all good peoples.
With Father's blessing I left home and travelled to Absalom to join the Pathfinder Society. I spent three years in training, and I have learned much that will help me with my lifelong endeavor. I also came to be friends with a few non-dwarves, including my roommates Ren and Gyson.
After three years of training the Master of Swords gave me my confirmation assignment. My task was to recover a relic called the Orb of Aziza. All he gave me was that name, but it was enough for me to put my training to use. From research skills to swinging my earth breaker, my task has tested all facets of my training and knowledge, and they have proven more than sufficient for the task. I found the Orb of Aziza buried in the snow atop the windswept peaks of the Hungry Mountains in Ustalav. I am now on my back to Absalom to complete my assignment.
My last stop before setting sail for Absalom was the port city of Almas. Also there waiting for a ship to Absalom was my roommate, Ren, as well as Sora and Kai, two of our fellow initiates. We are not to speak of our confirmation assignments until after they are completed, but I deduced that they, too, were on their way back to complete their assignments.
It is strange that the four of us should happen to meet under such circumstances. Coincidences do happen, but I wonder if something else is at work here. Not only do we share similar tasks, we share similar ancestries, for each of us has one of the fundamental elements of the multiverse coursing through our veins.
As I have mentioned, I am an oread, a human with the touch of earth. Unlike some oreads, I have learned, I look remarkably human. I am 6'6" and 220 lbs. My skin color is a nearly-black shade of brown. My eyes are also black, as is my hair, although I keep my head and face shaved. I work hard to keep my body in top shape for the rigors of combat. My favored weapon is an earth breaker, which some describe as a giant hammer.
Ren is an undine, a human with water elemental in his ancestry. He has deep green hair. Both his head of hair and his beard are long and unkempt. His skin is a light green in color. His eyes are a dark blue. He seems to be happy all of the time--not the boisterous, loud way of so many, but rather the quiet, confident way of so few. He stays that way no matter what may be happening to him. He is one of the bravest men I know.
Kai talks a lot. It's a good thing she has a pleasant voice and the wit to make almost everything she says at least somewhat interesting. She is a tiny little thing--what she lacks in height she more than makes up for in, shall we say, other dimensions. Her appearance lives up to the fiery nature of an ifrit--fiery red hair, sunburned fair skin, and eyes the color of coal. She is loud and flirty. She once tried to kiss me--I like women as much as the next guy, but I prefer my women to be, shall we say, not quite so seasoned in terms of experience. She has a reputation I don't want to risk getting into the middle of. She gives good conversation, though.
Sora the sylph is frustrating. I don't know if this is typical of the air-natured, but she is not very good at hiding the fact that she thinks everyone is a fool. The fact that she is a genius makes that especially frustrating. Torag forbid you ever disagree with her on anything, though. Her frame is willowy to the point of starvation. Her unkempt hair is platinum-blonde, her eyes are a pale blue, as is her skin. As smart as she is, I get the impression that people are an enigma to her. Including me, the way she stares at me, trying to figure me out. Well, let her ponder--maybe it'll do her some good.
Captain Noss says that our ship, the Heron, should arrive in Absalom sometime tomorrow morning. I am looking forward to it--the sooner I can get started as a fully-recognized Pathfinder, the better.
Our second party member is....
Kai, ifrit sorcerer:
I love writing! In moderation. More precisely, I love writing when I feel like it, which IS getting to be more often the more I do it. I tend to write a LOT in short spurts, then nothing for a while. I also tend to write quick little notes, phrases, even single words when the mood strikes, then collate the good stuff later if I need to write something that might be published someday. I'd LOVE to be published in the Pathfinder Chronicles someday!
Mum named me "Kai." I asked her once what it meant--she smiled coyly and said that the name reminder her of my father. Mum's humor can be quite acidic sometimes--neither of us have any idea who my father is. Mum is a companion. Some call them "comfort women," others "whores," but Mum always preferred the term "companion." Besides the obvious, she is skilled at the arts, especially the art of conversation. She taught me that well--I've always been outgoing, eager to meet new people, talk with them. I picked up my knack for diplomacy from Mum--it comes in handy in so many situations.
I considered becoming a companion, too, but Mum absolutely forbade it. She wanted me to become a Sister of Sarenrae, of all things! The fig sometimes can fall far from the tree, but the tree would have to have thrown this fig to the moon for me to become a Sister! Instead, I studied what interested me--arcane things, stories about other realms of existence. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I "grew up." I got bored.
Then I noticed boys! Or, rather, they noticed me. I started getting curves at an early age, and I LOVED the attention I got! Most of the boys were sweet, if often in a silly way. One of Mum's clients, though, tried something he very much regretted.... How was I to know that my inborn, fiery bloodline would manifest at that moment and nearly kill the man with a burst of flame from my hands? It almost killed him--Mum came a close second to killing him. He never bothered either of us again.
In any event, it became obvious that I had a natural talent for sorcery, and so I convinced Mum to let me go to Absalom where I could study it and hone it. Once there, I looked into joining a magical academy, but they seemed too stuffy and aimed at "intellectual" pursuits of magic. Now, I'm rather smart myself--smart enough to know such a school would be BORING....
Then, one of the boys I partied with (Gerson? Gyson? Gary? Something) told me an entrancing story about an adventure he went on for the Pathfinder Society. I looked into them, and they had a training program! It sounded like it would be a lot more fun than some magic school. When I applied, one of the things they asked me was why I wanted to join. My first answer--because it sounds like fun--got a chuckle, but they wanted more. So, I told them I wanted to meet and understand new peoples--I have a knack for getting along with people--and tell others about it so they can get along with them, too. They liked that answer better.
It was hard work! But it was worth it. I made a TON of friends there! Mostly superficial, but a few gems. Like my roommates, Sora and Yaliria.
It was during my training as an initiate that I discovered that I am not entirely human. I am known as an ifrit--mostly human, but with a little bit of fire-elementally-goodness thrown in. Thanks Daddy! I was kind of shocked at first, but it helped explain a lot. I've always gotten along well with people, but I never quite felt connected to anyone, not in the same way I see how others can be connected. I don't know...words are failing me. In any event, I decided to keep my inhuman nature mostly to myself--I found out the hard way that others can easily become uncomfortable with that knowledge. I don't really know why.
After three years of fun and hard work the Master of Spells FINALLY gave me a hush-hush confirmation assignment. He wanted me to find and bring to him something called the Orb of Aziza. I spent some time hitting the books with research. That led me to people, which led me to more books and people, etc. etc. etc. After following a trail of clues half a continent long I finally found the Orb of Aziza hidden in the hurricane-drenched reaches of the Sodden Lands. Now, I'm on my way back to the Master of Spells.
Oh! Guess who was in Almas. Sora! So were Mokosh and Ren! It was like a reunion or something! Anyway, each of them was rather reserved about what they were up to--I can only assume that, like me, they were working on their confirmation assignments. And like me, presumably they were successful, as they were also on their way back to Absalom.
We are all writing, now. I wonder if they're writing about what I'm writing about? Well, I'm writing about them, so it'd be rather self-centered for them to be writing about themselves. Well, I know that I am writing about myself, but that IS different.
Speaking of me, you may not know me! Well, I am 20 years old. I look like a human (even though I am ifrit). I am quite short, and quite curvy! My hair is sunset red, and my skin is a healthy pink. My eyes are huge and black as midnight. People tell me it looks like I am always thinking about something funny--and it is weird how some people love that and some people don't. People also say I don't so much walk as I do slither across a room.
Sora is a sylph. Like me, but with air instead of fire. She has this ethereal beauty about her that I envy sometimes. Very tall, almost painfully slim, with gently waving hair (literally!) the color of platinum, eyes like chipped ice, and skin the color of a cold winter sky. She doesn't speak much, but she is brilliant when she does. I taught her to lighten up and laugh once in a while. I think she likes me for it.
Mokosh is a towering mountain of a man. He is an oread--like me, but with earth. Tall, broad, muscle-ful (new word!), with skin the same color as my eyes. Shiny bald. He seems rather shy--like Sora, he doesn't talk much. His eyes are dark and intense when he looks into yours. I tried to kiss him once, and the look on his face was priceless! I think he might be a little bit afraid of me. All in all, he has the aura of a leopard about to pounce, only all the time. I did hear him laugh, once...it was a beautiful sound. I want to make him laugh again. Maybe someday.
Ren is an enigma to me. Firstly, he is an undine--like me, but with water. His hair and beard are long and dark green. His skin is also green, though not nearly as dark. His eyes are pretty, though--dark blue. He is always calm, serene. He never seems to get excited about anything. I'm always excited about something. He's nice company when I'm tired and just want to relax, though. I tried to kiss him once--his only reaction was a broad smile. Hah!
Captain says the Heron should arrive in Absalom tomorrow. Finally! I want to be a confirmed Pathfinder now! That will be worth celebrating!!!
And now, the first of four entries from an all-elemental-touched adventuring party....
Sora, sylph rogue:
I am not yet used to writing. It is so often so limiting, like trying to mime the unseeable. I never found it necessary before choosing to become an initiate with the Pathfinder Society. My every thought was my own, recorded perfectly in my own mind in a "language" perfectly suited for my audience of one. If I am to excel in my chosen path, however, I must exercise this new-to-me skill of translating my nigh-untranslatable thoughts into a form more likely to be at least partially understood by future sentients.
I am called "Sora." I do not know why for certain, as I have no memories prior to the age of six months, but that is what the Sisters of Sarenrae called me at the orphanage. I understood so little of what was happening at the time, and some of it is still unclear. I wasn't much older than that before I understood that I did not want to stay there; the Sisters were (mainly) acceptable, but the other children there were not. Suffice it to say, most of them were rather cruel. One of them even dropped me out of a sixth-story window to the street below shortly before I began my nineteenth month of sentient memory. It was the only time I ever found falling to be less than exhilarating. It was also the first time I made use of my inherent feather fall ability; I softly landed on the street below, much to the disappointment of many of the other children. That was when I decided to leave the orphanage and begin my life on the streets of Absalom.
The next few years were disturbing at times, but I quickly came to learn the behaviors necessary to survive, even thrive. Apparently I appeared to be a "cute" child to many, so panhandling garnered me the resources to keep myself warm, fed, and dry, at least most of the time. Now and then a creep would try to take advantage of a cute little waif like me, but I easily outsmarted and escaped 99.7% of them. Along the way, I found that I had a penchant for language; Absalom is rather cosmopolitan, even in the poorer districts, and I picked up half a dozen languages by the time I was eight years old. I also took it upon myself to break into libraries at night and teach myself to read the languages I had been hearing. It was in a library that I learned what I was--a sylph. How a human with a touch of elemental air in her ancestry came to be orphaned in Absalom I still do not know.
At around age eight I finally ran into Double-Oh-Three (that is, the first--and so far only--of 00.3% of creeps for whom my vast intellect made no difference). He was a towering brute of a man. Ugly as anything I had encountered. Half-orc, I believe. He had me pinned to the ground in an abandoned warehouse, a dull (but not dull enough) dagger to my throat, and half my clothes torn off before the life suddenly left his jaundiced eyes.
And that's how I first met Dak. Dak had put a more-than-sharp-enough dagger in between Double-Oh-Three's second and third vertebrae. It turns out Dak was a member of the local thieves guild who didn't take kindly to the Double-Oh-Threes of the multiverse. After feeding me and giving me some new-to-me clothes Dak asked if I wanted to learn how to better defend myself. It took 0.9 seconds for me to answer yes.
And so my career with the Guild began. Dak and the Guild taught me how to survive when my intelligence proves insufficient to the task. In return, I did jobs for them--pick pocketing, squeezing into hard-to-reach places (until my growth spurt at age 12, anyway), etc. I was especially good at second story jobs, even though the jobs themselves often took me to higher floors than that, since I could always make a quick getaway with my feather fall trick. Sometimes I'd use my trick even when I didn't need to--climbing a tall building, leaping off the top, and luxuriating in the rush of air as I fall just before I float the final few feet down--I think only flying itself might be able to top that experience.
In between jobs (and occasionally during some of them) I'd spend much of my time reading. Over the years I came to understand something--reading about things just wasn't cutting it for me anymore. You can't ask a book questions and get any answers from it. Asking sentients is a little bit better, but often they don't know any more than a book.
That's when I decided to join the Pathfinder Society. I wanted to be the discoverer, to answer my own questions about what is out there in the world. It took some convincing and one last big heist to convince Dak to let me leave the Guild--he was rather high-up in the Guild by that point, and he didn't really want to let me go. He did, though, in the end. Anyway, I easily passed the initiate tests. The three years of training was mostly fine, although I had to learn much patience. My two roommates for those three years were an ifrit named Kai and a human named Yaliria.
Finally, the Master of Scrolls gave me my top secret confirmation assignment--bring him the Orb of Aziza. I had never heard of it, so I spent my first few weeks researching. That led me to clue after clue after clue, eventually taking me to a system of underground caverns below the border shared by Irrisen and the Lands of the Linnorm Kings. I finally found the Orb of Aziza, and am now making my way back to Absalom.
Strangely, I ran into Kai in the port of Almas in Andoran, my final port of call before Absalom. Ren was also there, along with one of his roommates, Mokosh. It turns out that all of us are on our way back to Absalom to complete our respective confirmation assignments. I am curious about their assignments, but of course those are as top secret as mine, so I will have to wait until the confirmations are complete before inquiring.
My companions on this final leg of my journey are an odd mix to say the least. We each share something in common, besides the obvious--we each have the touch of the elements. As a sylph I have the air of--pardon the pun--air about me. I am rather tall compared to human women, although not overly so. I am also rather skinny--when Ren first met me he was afraid I was ill, but I wasn't, of course. My long, sometimes-floating hair is a very pale blonde, my eyes are a pale blue, and my skin is very fair, almost the slightly-bluish hue of a too-cold Ulfen.
Kai the ifrit, on the other hand, has some fire in her sorcerous blood. She is quite opposite of me in many ways--quite short, curvy and plump in just the way most men seem to notice. Her wild hair is blazing red, her eyes are a deep, obsidian black, and her skin looks a bit pinkish, like an Ulfen with a slight sunburn--only all the time. While I tend to be quiet and try to go unnoticed, she is loud, flamboyant, and about as hard not to notice as the sun itself. She was a frustrating roommate sometimes, but she does make me laugh, and my time at the Grand Lodge was more interesting in unexpected ways because of her.
Ren the undine has the calm serenity of the watery depths of the ocean, as befits a cleric of Gozreh. He is shorter than I, with a long, deep green beard and matching mane of hair, a very slight green hue to his otherwise fair skin, and deep-blue eyes. I've only seen him angry once, and it was quite a sight to behold. Otherwise, his demeanor is usually very calm and relaxed, like nothing can ruffle him. We share the same faith, so we usually get along pretty well, although he takes his religion much more seriously than I do.
Mokosh the oread just seems to rub me the wrong way, but I've read that is to be expected given his earthy nature. He is often quiet but always observing. He has trained vigorously in the ways of a warrior, and it shows--his overly-tall, broad-shouldered frame is covered in well-developed muscles. His skin is a dark color resembling rich topsoil. I don't know his hair color as he is meticulously clean shaven. When he deigns to speak it is often to disagree with me about something. That is most often simply a foolish thing to do, but he is quite intelligent compared to the mean, so occasionally he can make a convincing argument.
And so, I pass my final hours before arriving at Absalom writing my final journal entry as an initiate. The Heron should pull into port by morning. For now, I shall get a few hours of sleep. Tomorrow is a momentous day--it's not every day that one becomes a genuine Pathfinder.
I thought this would be a great place for Pathfinder players to share character backgrounds for the community to enjoy (and steal ideas from!).
Here's my first entry....
Salah Kalosyni, human paladin of Erastil:
Salah Kalosyni was born 30 years ago on a small farm located a day's ride from Liberthane, a settlement near where the Chalkstone and East Sellen rivers meet in an unclaimed area of the River Kingdoms. An only child, Salah grew up with Momma, Pappa, and a small, ever-changing group of hired hands. Together they worked the small plot of land, growing and raising enough food for themselves with just enough left over to trade at the farmer's market in Liberthane for life's necessities. They were moderately poor, but they were also happy, content with the fruits of their hard labor.
Momma and Poppa were both in their middle years when they had Salah. They called her their miracle girl, for they had tried and failed for over 20 years to have children before Erastil blessed them with Salah. They loved her dearly, and they dedicated themselves to teaching Salah about Erastil and how best to honor and take care of the land and its life-sustaining bounty.
Shortly after Salah turned 10 Momma became very ill. She was a strong woman, but in the end her aging body just couldn't beat the wasting sickness within her. Thankfully she passed peacefully in her sleep.
Shortly after turning 16 an extraordinary traveler arrived at the Kalosyni farm. Pappa invited the traveler to enjoy his family's hospitality for the night. Salah learned much about the traveler during dinner. His name was Jahno. Not much older than Salah, Jahno was an eager new paladin of Erastil. His ultimate destination was Mendev, where he could help wage the war against the demons of the Worldwound. However, he was planning to pass through Brevoy on his way there so as to learn some more fighting techniques from the Aldori swordlords.
Early the next morning Salah awoke to the sound of her father screaming. She ran outside to find her father being attacked by a huge, terrible creature with armor-like skin and a gaping maw of sharp teeth. A moment later Jahno ran out from the farmhouse, bastard sword in hand, and immediately attacked the beast. The creature (which Salah later learned was called a bulette) turned his attacks upon Jahno. It bit down on Jahno's left arm, causing him to scream as he slashed (and broke) his sword across one of the creature's eyes. Roaring in pain and rage, the creature fled, burrowing into the ground to get away--taking Jahno's arm with him.
Salah and the farmhands got Jahno and Pappa back into the farmhouse. Trained in the ways of healing, Salah did her best to heal them. Pappa was a lost cause; the creature had damaged him too severely, even before she and Jahno arrived to help. Jahno nearly died; he fell into a coma for nearly a fortnight. By Erastil's good grace, though, Jahno survived, although with the loss of his arm his fighting days were effectively over.
During Jahno's recovery he and Salah got to know each other very well. In time, they fell in love. Seeing a new lease on life, Jahno now saw that his duty and honor lay in marrying the woman he loved and working the land in Erastil's name.
So, at the age of 16, Salah was married. She and Jahno (and the farmhands, of course) worked the farm together, eking out a modest living. During their happy years together Salah and Jahno taught each other all they knew. She taught him the ways of the land and how to manage a farm. He taught her they ways of battle, how to use weapons and wear armor. More than that, he taught her how he honored Erastil as a paladin, how to live on one's own in the wilderness, and how to map where one has travelled so as to aid future travelers in their own explorations.
Salah and Jahno wanted children, but it seemed that the same malady that had beset her parents beset Salah as well; try as they might, Erastil didn't bless them with any children. Salah had faith, though. If her parents could wait 20 years for their miracle, she could wait, too.
Alas, it seemed that Erastil had another Path in mind for Salah. After five years of marriage Jahno fell ill to what seemed like the same wasting disease as her mother had. Despite his youth and strength, however, Jahno ultimately succumbed to the illness and died.
Salah was distraught. She began to question what the point of life was, the point of anything. Everyone she had loved had died. She felt alone in the world. In the depths of her despair, she cried out to Erastil. Why?
And to her utter shock, Erastil answered.
Not with words, but with a vision. In her mind's eye she saw a map of northeastern Avistan. A growing red line marked a long, winding road--the Path of a traveler. The line grew and grew--until it ended at her farm. There the line lingered, faded, and finally disappeared.
In its place a red dot appeared on the map, on her farm. A new red line sprouted from that dot, growing up the East Sellen river, into Brevoy, where it lingered before growing again, across the Lake of Mists and Veils, and into Mendev.
Salah knew what she must do. She must become the traveler, to continue along the Path that her husband had started along at Erastil's urging. She must travel the Path, to Brevoy, to Mendev--to wherever it may take her, trusting that Erastil will lead her true and not lead her astray.
Soon Salah sold her modest farm and used the funds to equip herself for the life of a paladin on the road. It took her time, and a number of harrowing adventures, but she eventually made it to Mendev. There she fought in the crusades against the encroaching demons. She learned much, and her skills in dealing out death in justice and for the protection of others grew strong.
After a few years there Erastil sent Salah another vision. This vision showed her that it was time for her Path to continue, this time back to the River Kingdoms. Ever faithful, Salah went back, but she didn't go back to her farm. Instead she spent the next few years travelling back and forth across the River Kingdoms, mastering the ways of living off of the land, righting wrongs, helping those in need. Her course seemed random at times, but Salah trusted that Erastil knew best.
A short time ago, just after turning 30, Salah learned that the Swordlords of Restov were trying to bring civilization to an area of the River Kingdoms called the Stolen Lands. This sounded like the perfect opportunity for the civilizing influence of Erastil to take hold there. It also sounded like an opportunity for the lawless and dark-hearted to take advantage of a delicate situation. After praying on the matter Salah concluded that her next stop on the Path of the traveler is the Stolen Lands. More specifically, an area called Greenbelt.
And so, with almost half a lifetime of experience and faith behind her, Salah walks the long road to Greenbelt, quietly hopeful that, if nothing else, she can make a positive difference along her way to the Clearing at the End of the Path.