About Marya Ilyinichna Belova
Marya’s intended mechanical role is fully based around buffing the team and healing. All of her domain powers and spells are based around making everyone else better. As she levels, she will be able to provide some melee support. Her feats will be a mixture between channeling, improving her melee abilities via Disciple of the Sword type feats, and story things like Deny the Reaper.
Her intended party role personality-wise is as a Team Mom type who is always trying to look after everyone so she doesn’t have to take care of herself. My experience in PbP campaigns is that they last longer and are more enjoyable if there is a conscious effort to create rapport between characters and players. So even if Marya is a pessimist, she still will be group oriented. She has spent enough time at war to know that a group survives much better than a person on their own. Even if she assumes that everything she does is doomed to fail and end in sorrow, she still feels compelled to do the right thing, and she will always advocate for it.
As a fun note, her name is a reference to Marya Morevna, the warrior princess from The Death of Koschei the Deathless (aka one of the inspirations of the lich concept), a Tolstoy short story, and the maiden name of Lyudmilla Pavlichenko, a famous Soviet woman soldier and the single person who has killed more Nazis than anyone else.
Marya has come along way from her upper-middle class family in Ustalav, near Caliphas, to a tired war veteran alone in the world without a soul to miss her. Her father Ilyinich, a Pharasmin priest, and her mother Vasilya, a librarian, had brought her into the very picture of a bourgeois family. She was a quiet, thoughtful child that preferred reading in her room to anything else, and Ilyinich was happy to oblige her, as long as she did her required theology readings. She loved Ailson Kindler stories, even reading them well before she was old enough for her parents to allow her, even though she was afraid of the dark. Were she just the same as any other girl, she would have carried on her father’s profession as he demanded. Unfortunately for her, Pharasma had other ideas. Something about Marya’s spirit just did not quite fit with the body she was born with, much like the Rivethun. Thus, despite being a girl, everyone quite vehemently insisted she was a boy, and—being the well-behaved child she was—she obliged them.
She did as she was told and went to the Pharasmin seminary and threw herself into her studies. She truly loved debating and reading about the deepest questions in the multiverse. Is the concept of “death” inherent to the universe, or is it something that is an aspect of Pharasma’s power? Can Pharasma even coherently be separated from the universe? At what exact point does a soul change ownership when its master changes divine patrons? As much as she enjoyed the subjects of her studies, Marya just did not have the energy to fully apply herself, and she performed well, but never near the top of her class. She never went out to socialize, much less pursue romantic relationships. If she was asked now, she would simply remember those days as a dissociative haze of ideas and theories. She couldn’t even tell you what she looked like. During quiet moments, she would dream of running away to someplace nobody would know her.
She could not keep the act up forever, though. When she graduated and was given her own chapel, she already felt herself wavering. Arranging funerals paraded regret after regret in front of her, her own deeper desire to be herself growing steadily and steadily. By the time she was expected to deliver a baby for the first time, she excused herself, quietly gathered her things from her room, and ran. She could not bring herself to look at that child and decide its gender for it, not after what she had been through. She cut herself off from everything and everyone.
Wanting to just get out of Ustalav, Marya headed into nearby Lastwall, ending up in Rosler’s Coffer. Everyone there was still recovering from the horrors She wanted someplace small and out-of-the-way, where she could spend her first six months on Mulibrous Tincture without dealing with any people she didn’t want to. She rented a room with her savings and waited it out. Near the end of the six months, she began getting bolder, heading into town and offering her services as a midwife. She still felt like an outsider, but she at least felt like a normal human again, and thought that maybe with time she could get accustomed to this life.
Then the Glorious Reclamation began.
The Glorious Reclamation sent out recruiters throughout Golarion calling for people to join their Crusade to drive the devil-worshippers out of Cheliax. Lastwall, being so heavily devoted to Iomedae, received quite a number of recruiters. The one they sent Rosler’s Coffer was a young blonde ulfen woman with a dazzling smile. One look at that smile and Marya would do anything for her. Hilde—as was the woman’s name—took an interest in the quiet young woman, at first because of her healing abilities and then later because of her quiet, thoughtful heart. Hilde lauded Marya with story-after-story of heroics and bravery—for Hilde’s bardic skills of storytelling were what made her an effective recruiter. Marya feasted on every word. They were barely out of Lastwall on their way to Westcrown when Hilde formally converted. By the time they reached Cheliax, they were a couple. Hilde did not judge Marya for her difficulties with her body; Hilde had her own challenges hiding the orc part of her ancestry. They took comfort in being each other’s confidant. Hilde’s favorite story, and Marya’s for that matter, was a heartbreakingly tragic recounting of Arazni and Iomedae’s love for each other, how Iomedae had been the knight to Arazni’s lady. Whether or not it was true, Marya wanted nothing more than to be Hilde’s knight.
They marched through Cheliax, and Marya saw her first vision of Hell. The Glorious Reclamation was not all glory. Thrune unleashed its most horrific champions upon its own countryside, and Marya saw death in the visceral way she never knew. All those years talking about it and thinking about it, but she never actually saw someone die until the war. A bearded devil shredded a man to pieces right in front of her, and she nearly vomited right there when she saw the man’s brain tissue at her feet. She pushed herself to learn how to fight. Hilde made it easier. They stayed close and protected each other. They were stationed in Westcrown thankfully, the heart of the Glorious Reclamation, so they were free from the worst of it.
Up until they weren’t. Thrune came down upon the city in a flood of red and black. They killed the Grand Marshall and paraded her head on a pike. As recruits, Marya and Hilde could do little else but help with the evacuation. Supernatural darkness fell, and the giggling of a summoned babau filled the air. Hilde screamed out in pain, but Marya could see nothing. She considered raising her holy symbol and healing, but she could not see the battle, and her healing would affect the demon as well. She could still hear Hilde reciting her epic of Arazni and Iomedae, so she trusted that her love was alright. Marya desperately looked for Hilde, but the supernatural recitation seemed to come from everywhere. A crash of steel armor and cold iron weapons burst into the room, and along with it the bright light of a veteran crusader’s daylight. The darkness was gone. The babau burst into energy as it flew back across space to its home plane. Hilde’s words still hung in the air, but her body was not moving. Marya rushed to her and spent every healing technique she knew, magical and then otherwise. But Hilde was dead, and had been dead since the moment she screamed. Her performance had just lingered on. The veteran crusaders had to drag Marya away from the oncoming flood.
And with the fall of Westcrown to Thrune, the Glorious Reclamation lost, and with it Marya lost her home. Hilde was her home. Marya went back to the only place she could go back to: Rosler’s Coffer, the place she met Hilde. She spends her days in Rosler’s Coffer engrossed in reading theology of her current and former faiths, offering medical services around the town, and taking watches when needed. She’s stronger than she ever thought she could be.
But she’s more afraid of the dark than ever.
In the aftermath of the Glorious Reclamation, Marya’s former idealism has been replaced by a heartbroken cynicism that she cannot shake. Deep down, she still wants nothing more than to be that person again, but she cannot bring herself to admit it. She still believes whole-heartedly in Iomedae, perhaps even more zealously now, but she has come to also believe that most people are simply not worthy, including herself. She generally doesn’t see a need to tear other people down, even optimists, unless she is provoked. She is the kind of sad, introverted cynic that just closes off from people. That said, she feels a need to protect anyone near her and will sacrifice her own safety without a second thought. It’s as though everyone is just one bad moment away from leaving her. More than anything, she cannot abide being in the dark. She constantly keeps a light spell on. That’s the reasoning behind her drawback, instead of the normal flavor.
Character-arc wise, I’d like for Marya to grow to become more confident and to come to peace with her past. Whether that means a new romance with a new girl (she’s a big ol’ gay like her player) or finding some way to bring Hilde back to life, that will be to find out.
I went through my extensive collection of lady knight artwork and found this winner that shows exactly how I imagine her. In addition, she also always wears a tabard of the Glorious Reclamation. As the magic of the tabards only worked for Glorious Reclamation members, and the Glorious Reclamation failed and disbanded, hers doesn’t work anymore. It still has Hilde’s blood on it, and Marya will not allow anyone to touch it or to clean the tabard.
I’ve been playing 3.X games since the release of 3.0. I’ve run homebrew games and am nearing my 4th GM star in PFS. For furthest I’ve gotten in an AP, I’ve played Mummy’s Mask from start to finish and Hell’s Rebels into book 4. I’m currently in a Wrath of the Righteous PBP that’s well into book 2. Here’s an RP post I’m proud of from the WotR game I’m in.
I am a noted Iomedae fangirl. I really tried to make a Pharasmin cleric! It’s where I got the idea for Marya’s background. But the potential for Iomedae stuff in this AP just grabbed me. I really, really love role-playing, and I want everyone to enjoy themselves.
As for where I’m at IRL, this fall, I’ll be graduating with an MFA in Creative Writing. I’m happily married and at a nice stable point in my life.
When Marya first came to Lastwall and Roslar's Coffer around three year ago, about six months in, a single woman came to town. Heike Franke was from the Barstoi province of Ustalav, known for its vast forests occupied by villainous creatures and cultists, as well as its military history. (I think of it as Prussia, hence the German names) Heike's parents had forced her out of her home when they discovered her pregnancy. She had come over the border to stay with her cousin at his bar/inn, The Jig and Whistle. She still needed help with her baby, preferably from an individual who wouldn't ask questions. She found Marya on her cousin's recommendation, and Marya agreed to help and even keep the entire matter quiet on the condition that Heike raise the child without gendering them until the child chooses one for themselves, if they even do. Heike agreed, even if she didn't quite understand, and that rule became Marya's one condition for helping someone with childbirth.
Heike almost died from the werewolf child ripping through her belly. She had suspected something of the sort would happen, having been assaulted by a werewolf wearing a necklace of a skull with chains through the eyeholes, and warned Marya, who was able to prepare.
That child is now three years old and recently chose the name Konstanze. In many ways, Marya sees the dark-haired girl as who she herself could have been. Heike's cousin died in the intervening years and she took over the bar, and Marya is often found drinking there. However, she only drinks when Konstanze is around, as she knows she won't let herself drink too much and set a back example. She likes to listen to the little girl talk, and Konstanze is happy to go on for hours and hours about her imagination games.
Marya Ilyinichna Belova
Human Cleric of Iomedae/3
NG Medium humanoid (human)(varisian)
Init +0 Senses: Perception +3
AC 17, touch 10, flat-footed 17 (+5 armor, +0 dex, +2 shield)
Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +7
Conditional Modifiers: +1 Trait Bonus vs Illusions and Charm
Speed 30 ft (20 ft. in armor)
Melee Mwk Silver Longsword +5 (1d8+1/19-20), Cold Iron Longsword +4 (1d8+2/19-20), Cold Iron Morningstar +4 (1d8+2/x2), Cold Iron Dagger +4 (1d4+2/19-20)
Ranged Dagger +2 (1d4+2/19-20)
Special Attacks Bolstering Touch (6/day), Channel Positive Energy 5/day (2d6, DC 15, Bravery/Valor Variant), Seize the Initiative (6/day)
Cleric Spells Prepared (CL 3rd, Concentration +6)
2nd—Lesser Restoration, Rotgut, Bless Weapon (d)
1st—Bless, Shield of Faith, Weapons Against Evil, Magic Weapon (d)
Orisons—Light, Detect Magic, Guidance, Create Water
Domains Glory (chivalry), War (tactics)
Str 14, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 14
Base Atk +2; CMB +5; CMD 16
Divine Fighting Technique (Iomedae’s Inspiring Sword), Heavy Armor Proficiency(b), Deny the Reaper(b), Ferocious Loyalty(b), Power Attack(b), Deadly Aim(b), Combat Expertise(b), Selective Channeling
The Pessimist, Blessed Touch, Cynical
Alternate Racial Traits
Skills (armor check penalty -5
Acrobatics +0 (-5 with armor and shield)
Climb +2 (-3 with armor and shield)
Escape Artist +0 (-5 with armor and shield)
Knowledge (geography) +5 (background skill)
Knowledge (history) +6 (background skill)
Knowledge (nobility) +6 (background skill)
Knowledge (planes) +6
Knowledge (religion) +8
Linguistics +7 (background skill)
Profession (midwife) +7 (bonus level 1 skill)
Profession (soldier) +7 (bonus level 1 skill)
Ride +0 (-5 with armor and shield)
Sense Motive +7
Stealth +0 (-5 with armor and shield)
Swim +2 (-3 with armor and shield)
Languages Taldane, Varisian, Celestial, Necril, Infernal, Sylvan
Scale Mail, Masterwork Alchemical Silver Longsword, Cold Iron Longsword, Cold Iron Dagger, Cold Iron Morningstar, Iron Holy Symbol of Iomedae, Glorious Reclamation Tabard (no longer functional), Gambeson, Squire’s Outfit (free starting clothes), Heavy Steel Shield, Masterwork Heavy Steel Shield w/Arazni Sigil, Waterskin, Smoked Goggles, Teapot, Mulibrous Tincture x2, Silk Rope (100 ft), Healer’s Kit (10 uses), Blue Book (Roslar’s Coffer), Cards, Grooming Kit, Backpack, Teapot, The Acts of Iomedae (Iomedae Holy Text), The Bones Land in a Spiral (Pharasma Holy text), 9 sp
Special Ability Descriptions:
Aura (Ex): A cleric of a chaotic, evil, good, or lawful deity has a particularly powerful aura corresponding to the deity's alignment (see the detect evil spell for details).
Channel Energy (Su): Regardless of alignment, any cleric can release a wave of energy by channeling the power of her faith through her holy (or unholy) symbol. This energy can be used to cause or heal damage, depending on the type of energy channeled and the creatures targeted.
A good cleric (or one who worships a good deity) channels positive energy and can choose to deal damage to undead creatures or to heal living creatures. An evil cleric (or one who worships an evil deity) channels negative energy and can choose to deal damage to living creatures or to heal undead creatures. A neutral cleric who worships a neutral deity (or one who is not devoted to a particular deity) must choose whether she channels positive or negative energy. Once this choice is made, it cannot be reversed. This decision also determines whether the cleric casts spontaneous cure or inflict spells (see spontaneous casting).
Channeling energy causes a burst that affects all creatures of one type (either undead or living) in a 30-foot radius centered on the cleric. The amount of damage dealt or healed is equal to 1d6 points of damage plus 1d6 points of damage for every two cleric levels beyond 1st (2d6 at 3rd, 3d6 at 5th, and so on). Creatures that take damage from channeled energy receive a Will save to halve the damage. The DC of this save is equal to 10 + 1/2 the cleric's level + the cleric's Charisma modifier. Creatures healed by channeled energy cannot exceed their maximum hit point total—all excess healing is lost. A cleric may channel energy a number of times per day equal to 3 + her Charisma modifier. This is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. A cleric can choose whether or not to include herself in this effect. A cleric must be able to present her holy symbol to use this ability.
Seize the Initiative (Su): Whenever you and your allies roll for initiative, you can grant one ally within 30 feet the ability to roll twice and take either result. This decision is made before results are revealed. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier.
Bolstering Touch (Sp): You can touch a willing creature as a standard action, bracing it against frightening situations and allowing it to remain calm. The first fear effect that would affect the subject within the next hour is suppressed for the first 1d4 rounds of its effect. If you touch a creature currently suffering from an ongoing fear effect, this ability instead suppresses the ongoing fear effect for 1 round. The rounds during which the subject ignores the triggering fear effect still count against the effect’s duration. If the fear effect is suppressed for longer than it lasts, the subject isn’t affected by the fear effect at all. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier.