About Ichiro Tanizaki
When walking through the "valley of shadows," remember, a shadow is cast by a Light.
17 years ago, the Westcrown opera scene thrilled to the performances of the brilliant Tian starlet, Sae Tanizaki. Over the prior two years, the young ingenue had burst onto the scene and each new opening left Westcrown eagering awaiting her newest act.
But then, one hot summer evening, everything went horribly wrong. The prior night, Sae had debuted her latest dazzling performance and the entire city was looking forward to their opportunity to see the show. But, as the crowd was arriving for the evening performance, they were turned away with the news that the show was canceled. Throughout the evening, the news slowly leaked out - Sae Tanizaki had disappeared.
Two more shows were canceled before suddenly, as quickly as she had vanished, Sae reappeared. When questioned, Sae insisted that she could not remember a thing. She returned to performing the next night. If anything, her performances over the rest of the showing were better than the debut. She seemed to have discovered new heights of passion. Those with the good fortune to see those performances still talk today about how deeply they were moved.
But, away from the stage, something didn't seem right. Usually a joy to work with, a moodiness emerged and Sae complained of sickness. Dark rumors of what had happened during those lost days began to circulate...rumors involving a performance of the Theater of the Real in Egorian that had resulted in the brutal death of the hero and violent rape of the golden-voiced heroine by a terrible oni. Stories spread that the heroine was Sae Tanizaki and the hero was the now missing son of one of the great houses.
As the months progressed, gossips found further grist for their rumor mills as it became obvious that Sae was pregnant. It was a difficult pregnancy. Sae was sick throughout and increasing turned to succor from the Church of Shelyn. At last, weeks before the child was due, Sae entered labor. As with the rest of the pregnancy, labor was difficult and the mother weakened as the hours went on. Finally, after nearly a day in labor, Sae gave birth to a son. Recognizing that death was near, Sae summoned a priest of Shelyn that had been with her the last few months. Naming her son Ichiro, Sae pledged him to Shelyn, and died.
Ichiro grew up in the close-knit community of Shelyn worshippers that thrive against the odds in Westcrown. Many are associated with Westcrown's theaters and operas, but others honor the city's other great works, including the magnificent artwork and monuments honoring Aroden before his passing.
At a young age, it was clear the boy was favored by Shelyn. He was handsome, with an exotic beauty rarely seen in Westcrown. But he was also gifted with talents of both the fine arts and physical arts and the priests and priestesses encouraged his development. With a fine voice and stories of his mother, Ichiro gravitated to opera at a young age. But the priests and priestesses of Shelyn encouraged the boy to pursue a variety of arts, telling him that there would be time later to choose those he would master. So, in addition to song and acting, the fundamentals of great opera, the boy was also exposed to sculpture, painting and the unique Wiscrani art of the libretto - books containing all of the words and stage direction required for an opera and often works of art with magnificent artwork and design reflected in the most prized works. The boy also was encouraged in the physical arts prized by Shelyn, from dance to acrobatics to the beautiful dance of battle with swords, bow and of course, the glaive, bardiche, and fauchard.
Perhaps even more than the Church of Shelyn, Ichiro was shaped by Westcrown. The darkness, so aptly reflected in the city's shadowy nights, provided a terrible antithesis to the beauty of the church. Like many in Westcrown, the boy came to find close friends swallowed by the shadows or taken by the Hellknights to places unknown. But through the darkness, the beauty of what the city was...is...and could be also shone. The darkness became the anvil on which the boy became a man. Westcrown, marred by the shadows of the night and in continual decline since the death of Aroden forged a weapon against shadow and corruption offering hope for the city. And much as Shelyn will never give up on winning back her brother, so too will Ichiro never give up on Westcrown.
Ichiro is a slight man, only 5'4" and weighing 150 pounds, but he is all muscle, lean and fit. He wears his black hair short and straight which serves to call more attention to his fair complexion. He eyes are unusual, one silver, one black liquid pools you could lose yourself in. He always dresses fastidiously and hates being dirty, bathing whenever he can. Ichiro bears three tattoos, a beautiful kirin racing across his back and twin imperial dragons spiraling around his arms. He wears his chain shirt under a white tunic and favors colorful cloaks, held with a jade clasp of Shelyn's long-tailed bird that was once his mother's brooch. He usually carries his fauchard, but sometimes sheathes it on his back in a clever design that keep it from tripping him.
This world suffered a great loss when Dou-Bral fell into the darkness. It suffered another when glorious Westcrown fell under the dark mantle of the House of Thrune. Yet, just as my goddess does not despair and labors to redeem her brother, I see similar hope for Westcrown. My labor is for my city and the beauty hidden within. If the current ruling houses are to continue, they must turn from their petty ways and come together to work for the greater good of our city.
A paladin is tough to play and perhaps even tougher in Westcrown. Ichiro is not lawful stupid. He will work tirelessly for the improvement of the city and believes whole-heartedly in the tenets of Shelyn's paladin code. He's not going to put his companions at risk or harangue them into taking his point of view. There are foes for which he sees no hope of redemption - shadow beasts, undead, evil outsiders. These are an abomination and need to be eradicated. But there are adversaries or whom there is hope and Ichiro will not be first to cut them down, but will seek to win them to a better cause.
ICHIRO TANIZAKI CR 1/2
Male Human (Tian-Min) Paladin (Oath of Vengeance) 1
LG Medium Humanoid (Human)
Init +0; Senses Perception -1
AC 14, touch 10, flat-footed 14. . (+4 armor)
hp 13 (1d10+3)
Fort +4, Ref +0, Will +1
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Masterwork Fauchard +6 (1d10+6/18-20/x2) and
. . Unarmed Strike +5 (1d3+4/20/x2)
Special Attacks Smite Evil (1/day)
Spell-Like Abilities Detect Evil (At will)
Paladin (Oath of Vengeance) Spells Known (CL 0, 5 melee touch, 1 ranged touch):
Str 18, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 16
Base Atk +1; CMB +5; CMD 15
Feats Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Fauchard, Power Attack -1/+2, Weapon Finesse (bonus)
Traits Child of Infamy, Intense Artist: Perform (Act), Perform (Sing)
Skills Acrobatics -2, Climb +2, Craft (Books) +6, Diplomacy +7, Escape Artist -2, Fly -2, Perform (Act) +8, Perform (Sing) +8, Ride -2, Stealth -2, Swim +2
SQ Aura of Good (Ex)
Combat Gear Chain Shirt, Masterwork Fauchard; Other Gear Artisan's tools, masterwork: Craft (Books)
Aura of Good (Ex) The paladin has an Aura of Good with power equal to her class level.
Detect Evil (At will) (Sp) You can use Detect Evil at will (as the spell).
Intense Artist: Perform (Act), Perform (Sing) Your devotion to Shelyn has caused you to delve more deeply into your art. You gain a +1 trait bonus on two Perform skills of your choice, and Perform is always a class skill for you.
Power Attack -1/+2 You can subtract from your attack roll to add to your damage.
Smite Evil (1/day) (Su) +3 to hit, +1 to damage, +3 deflection bonus to AC when used.
Shelyn's Paladin Code:
The paladins of Shelyn are peaceable promoters of art and beauty. They see the ugliness in evil, even when cloaked in the form of beauty, and their job is to prevent the weak and foolish from being seduced by false promises. Their tenets include:
• I am peaceful. I come first with a rose. I act to prevent conflict before it blossoms.
• I never strike first, unless it is the only way to protect the innocent.
• I accept surrender if my opponent can be redeemed—and I never assume that they cannot be. All things that live love beauty, and I will show beauty’s answer to them.
• I will never destroy a work of art, nor allow one to come to harm unless greater art arises from its loss. I will only sacrifice art if doing so allows me to save a life, for untold beauty can arise from an awakened soul.
• I see beauty in others. As a rough stone hides a diamond, a drab face may hide the heart of a saint.
• I lead by example, not with my blade. Where my blade passes, a life is cut short, and the world's potential for beauty is lessened.
• I live my life as art. I will choose an art and perfect it. When I have mastered it, I will choose another. The works I leave behind make life richer for those who follow.
Westcrown is the greatest work of art I know. Seeing Dou-Bral's minions rule her nights and the corruption of our officials and the dottari is heartbreaking. I vow to change it. No longer will our people cower in the night. No longer will we distrust our leaders. I will work for change. I will destroy those that refuse to turn to light. Our city will shine again.
Ichiro is an Oathbound Paladin with the Oath of Vengeance. This is not an essential element, so I will remove it if you would prefer. But, I like the idea of the oathbound paladin and how it relates to Ichiro's goals for Westcrown.
"An oathbound paladin swears an oath to eradicate a certain kind of evil." In this case, that is the evil that is destroying Westcrown. Corruption doesn't work because it really focuses on aberrations. Fiends doesn't work because that is more of Cheliax as a whole instead of Westcrown's particular problems. The others are pretty far off, but Vengeance seems to fit, though it is a hard walk with Shelyn's code as well.
The Church of Shelyn in Westcrown:
From the Council of Thieves Players Guide...
No worship is outright forbidden in Cheliax, but going against tradition can draw unwanted attention. The exception to this is the church of Shelyn. Her followers openly maintain shrines and conduct colorful, beautiful ceremonies in public (usually involving acrobats and musicians). For the darkness pervasive throughout Cheliax, even the decadent nobles can't resist the appeal and entertainments of the goddess of beauty.
You can include these or not, but given that the Church of Shelyn is a very important part of Ichiro's character, here are a couple of shrines for Westcrown.
The Lay of Roses (Rego Aerum)
NPCs with whom Ichiro has a relationship:
Amaya A beautiful, black-haired Tian woman who is part of the same small Tian community in Westcrown that brought Sae Tanizaki to the city. A lute player, Amaya was attracted to the Shelyn faith as a teenager and has been a friend to Ichiro and Alarra Dayne. Ichiro and Amaya have flirted a bit since Alarra went off to live with her uncle, but guilt and shyness have kept him from acting on his feelings.
The Badger Little did Ichiro know that standing up to an older Chelaxian bully when he was eleven would lead to a lifelong enmity between the pair. Flavian Chillarch has grown up to become Maralictor Flavian Chillarch, a Hellknight with a dire reputation for hunting down rebels in Westcrown. While the Order of the Rack generally allows the Church of Shelyn space, The Badger is notoriously suspicious of the faith and is all too aware of Ichiro's hatred of the book burners. The Badger would like nothing better than to provoke Ichiro into an act that would land him in Citadel Rivad's dungeons.
Alarra Dayne Foster daughter of Aeliana Dayne, a priestess of Shelyn who helped to tend The Shrine of Song, and the actor Patrek Dayne. Like Ichiro, Alarra was raised by the church, but suffered tragedy when her foster mother died unexpectedly when she was 12. Not long after, her foster father, who began drinking heavily after Aeliana's death, famously disappeared into the Westcrown night vowing to end the nocturnal menace. Ichiro and Alarra drew very close after her mother's death, but have grown more distant in recent years as Alarra was taken in by her maternal uncle, a dottari captain in Parego Spera. Unbeknownst to Ichiro, Alarra is a changeling and her true mother may have her own designs on the city.