About Maya Watersby
Maya Watersby (pronounced My-uh as in Maya Angelou)
Female Halfling Court Bard
Acrobatics +7 (1 rank)
Knowledge (history) +8 (1 rank)
+1 trait bonus on Acrobatics, Diplomacy, Handle Animal, Intimidate, Perform, and Ride Checks with class skills if you spend twice as long as it normally takes to make that check (from Pomp and Pageantry trait).
+2 circumstances bonus on Perform (oratory) checks via Masterwork Speech Training (from Rising Star trait).
Explorer’s Outfit (starting outfit)
Envoy Ring - The ring's competence bonus on Diplomacy, Linguistics, and Perform check is +3. When the wearer activates the ring's disguise, she can read, speak, and understand the most common language in the area that she doesn't already know for as long as the duration persists. Once per day, the wearer can speak a command word to transform her appearance and clothing, as per disguise self. The appearance of her clothing automatically matches the customs of the dominant culture around her, typically that of the local nobility or ruling class. Her physical features don't match those of the local people, but features that would make her stand out diminish, such as elf ears in a settlement where no elves live. This lasts up to 24 hours, but can be dismissed at any time. The wearer can activate the ring to use charm person at will, though if a creature succeeds at its save, it can't be targeted again for 24 hours. The ring can also be activated to use charm monster (DC = 20 + 1 per additional triumph attained) once per day.
Subtle Mask - Fashioned to surround the wearer’s eyes and cover the forehead and cheekbones, this mask is made of porcelain inset with blue and green gems and decorated with golden filigree. When donned, the mask seems to disappear, leaving its golden patterns as tattoos on the wearer’s face and coloring one of the wearer’s eyes green and the other blue. The wearer can remove the mask normally, causing it to appear as a porcelain mask once again. The wearer gains a +2 competence bonus on Sense Motive checks and can use comprehend languages once per day. The wearer can mentally activate the mask as a swift action while conversing with someone or observing a conversation to use detect thoughts (DC = 17 + 1 per additional triumph attained) on a single participant in the conversation. This requires spending the normal number of rounds to detect surface thoughts and can be used for a total of 9 rounds per day. These rounds don't need to be consecutive. The mask grants the wearer a +2 enhancement bonus to Charisma. When the wearer mentally activates the mask, she also detects magical effects as if she were using arcane sight and concentrating on the creature. This happens automatically during the first round of concentration.
Bard Class Features:
Heraldic Expertise (Ex): A court bard gains a bonus equal to half his bard level on Diplomacy, Knowledge (history), Knowledge (local), and Knowledge (nobility) checks (minimum +1). Once per day, the court bard can also reroll a check against one of these skills, though he must take the result of the second roll even if it is worse. He can reroll one additional time per day at 5th level and every five levels thereafter. This ability replaces bardic knowledge.
Well-Versed (Ex): At 2nd level, the bard becomes resistant to the bardic performance of others, and to sonic effects in general. The bard gains a +4 bonus on saving throws made against bardic performance, sonic, and language-dependent effects.
Versatile Performance (Ex): At 2nd level, a bard can choose one type of Perform skill. He can use his bonus in that skill in place of his bonus in associated skills. When substituting in this way, the bard uses his total Perform skill bonus, including class skill bonus, in place of its associated skill's bonus, whether or not he has ranks in that skill or if it is a class skill.
Wide Audience: At 5th level, a court bard can choose to affect a 60-foot cone instead of a 30-foot radius with bardic performances that affect an area. In addition, for every five levels beyond 5th, the area of such powers is increased by 10 feet (radius) or 20 feet (cone). If the power instead affects multiple creatures, it affects one additional creature than normal for every five levels beyond 5th. This does not affect powers that affect only a single creature. This ability replaces lore master and jack of all trades.
The Tragedy of False Hope - You create a feeling of deceptive confidence in an enemy. When you activate this performance, one target within 30 feet becomes flat-footed for as long as you maintain the performance (Will negates). If you target a creature that has not yet acted in a surprise round, the creature does not get to act in the surprise round. Any target with the uncanny dodge class feature or an ability with a similar effect is immune to this performance. This is a mind-affecting emotion effect.
Stirring Discourse of the Mind - At the end of the round on which you complete this song, all allies within 30 feet who observed your performance gain a new saving throw to end the ongoing effects of certain debilitating conditions. An ally who is exhausted, fatigued, nauseated, sickened, staggered, or stunned as the result of a previously failed saving throw can attempt a new saving throw to immediately end one of the above effects. Characters under multiple effects must choose which effect they wish to attempt to end prematurely. Effects that did not grant a save to resist (such as the stun effect of power word stun) can’t be ended by this masterpiece.
Blazing Rondo - Up to one ally per bard level gains the benefits of haste while you maintain this masterpiece, except the bonus to AC and on attack rolls and Reflex saves is one-fifth of your bard level. These allies must be within 60 feet of you to receive this benefit. When you cease performing this masterpiece, any creature that received this benefit for at least 3 rounds must succeed at a Fortitude save at this masterpiece’s DC or be fatigued for twice as many rounds as they were affected.
A bard is trained to use the Perform skill to create magical effects on those around him, including himself if desired. He can use this ability for a number of rounds per day equal to 4 + his Charisma modifier. At each level after 1st a bard can use bardic performance for 2 additional rounds per day. Each round, the bard can produce any one of the types of bardic performance that he has mastered, as indicated by his level.
Starting a bardic performance is a standard action, but it can be maintained each round as a free action. Changing a bardic performance from one effect to another requires the bard to stop the previous performance and start a new one as a standard action. A bardic performance cannot be disrupted, but it ends immediately if the bard is killed, paralyzed, stunned, knocked unconscious, or otherwise prevented from taking a free action to maintain it each round. A bard cannot have more than one bardic performance in effect at one time.
At 7th level, a bard can start a bardic performance as a move action instead of a standard action. At 13th level, a bard can start a bardic performance as a swift action.
Each bardic performance has audible components, visual components, or both.
If a bardic performance has audible components, the targets must be able to hear the bard for the performance to have any effect, and such performances are language dependent. A deaf bard has a 20% chance to fail when attempting to use a bardic performance with an audible component. If he fails this check, the attempt still counts against his daily limit. Deaf creatures are immune to bardic performances with audible components.
If a bardic performance has a visual component, the targets must have line of sight to the bard for the performance to have any effect. A blind bard has a 50% chance to fail when attempting to use a bardic performance with a visual component. If he fails this check, the attempt still counts against his daily limit. Blind creatures are immune to bardic performances with visual components.
Countersong (Su): At 1st level, a bard learns to counter magic effects that depend on sound (but not spells that have verbal components). Each round of the countersong he makes a Perform (keyboard, percussion, wind, string, or sing) skill check. Any creature within 30 feet of the bard (including the bard himself) that is affected by a sonic or language-dependent magical attack may use the bard's Perform check result in place of its saving throw if, after the saving throw is rolled, the Perform check result proves to be higher. If a creature within range of the countersong is already under the effect of a noninstantaneous sonic or language-dependent magical attack, it gains another saving throw against the effect each round it hears the countersong, but it must use the bard's Perform skill check result for the save. Countersong does not work on effects that don't allow saves. Countersong relies on audible components.
Distraction (Su): At 1st level, a bard can use his performance to counter magic effects that depend on sight. Each round of the distraction, he makes a Perform (act, comedy, dance, or oratory) skill check. Any creature within 30 feet of the bard (including the bard himself) that is affected by an illusion (pattern) or illusion (figment) magical attack may use the bard's Perform check result in place of its saving throw if, after the saving throw is rolled, the Perform skill check proves to be higher. If a creature within range of the distraction is already under the effect of a noninstantaneous illusion (pattern) or illusion (figment) magical attack, it gains another saving throw against the effect each round it sees the distraction, but it must use the bard's Perform skill check result for the save. Distraction does not work on effects that don't allow saves. Distraction relies on visual components.
Fascinate (Su): At 1st level, a bard can use his performance to cause one or more creatures to become fascinated with him. Each creature to be fascinated must be within 90 feet, able to see and hear the bard, and capable of paying attention to him. The bard must also be able to see the creatures affected. The distraction of a nearby combat or other dangers prevents this ability from working. For every three levels the bard has attained beyond 1st, he can target one additional creature with this ability.
Each creature within range receives a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 the bard's level + the bard's Cha modifier) to negate the effect. If a creature's saving throw succeeds, the bard cannot attempt to fascinate that creature again for 24 hours. If its saving throw fails, the creature sits quietly and observes the performance for as long as the bard continues to maintain it. While fascinated, a target takes a –4 penalty on all skill checks made as reactions, such as Perception checks. Any potential threat to the target allows the target to make a new saving throw against the effect. Any obvious threat, such as someone drawing a weapon, casting a spell, or aiming a weapon at the target, automatically breaks the effect.
Fascinate is an enchantment (compulsion), mind-affecting ability. Fascinate relies on audible and visual components in order to function.
Satire (Su): A court bard can use performance to undermine the confidence of enemies who hear it, causing them to take a –1 penalty on attack and damage rolls (minimum 1) and a –1 penalty on saves against fear and charm effects as long as the bard continues performing. This penalty increases by –1 at 5th level and every six levels thereafter. Satire is a language-dependent, mind-affecting ability that uses audible components. This performance replaces inspire courage.
Mockery (Su): A court bard of 3rd level or higher can subtly ridicule and defame a specific individual. The bard selects one target who can hear his performance. That individual takes a –2 penalty on Charisma checks and Charisma-related skill checks as long as the bard continues performing. This penalty increases by –1 every four levels after 3rd. Mockery is a language-dependent, mind-affecting ability that relies on audible components. This performance replaces inspire competence.
Suggestion (Sp): A bard of 6th level or higher can use his performance to make a suggestion (as per the spell) to a creature he has already fascinated (see above). Using this ability does not disrupt the fascinate effect, but it does require a standard action to activate (in addition to the free action to continue the fascinate effect). A bard can use this ability more than once against an individual creature during an individual performance.
Glorious Epic (Su) - A court bard of 8th level or higher can weave captivating tales that engross those who hear them. Enemies within 30 feet become flat-footed unless they succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 the bard’s level + the bard’s Cha modifier). A save renders them immune to this ability for 24 hours. Glorious epic is a language-dependent, mind-affecting ability that uses audible components..
CL 9th; concentration +15, Spells per day: seven 1st level [DC 17], six 2nd level [DC 18], four 3rd level [DC 19]
0 Level: Detect Magic, Read Magic, Daze, Prestidigitation, Dancing Lights, Message
1st Level: Vanish, Charm Person, Heightened Awareness, Grease, Saving Finale
2nd Level: Blindness/Deafness, Invisibility, Heroism, Glitterdust
3rd Level: Haste, Purging Finale, Major Image, Displacement
Satire is like a double-edged sword, it can prove fatal in multiple ways. I try to be clever, but I’m sure my strokes occasionally miss their marks. - Journal Entry from the 5th of Desnus, 4710 AR
Maya Watersby is a female halfling born to parents owned by the Watersby noble family in Oppara, Taldor. As is traditional for halflings, she and her family bore the same surname as the family who owned them. As upbringings go, hers was quite tolerable. The Watersby family wasn’t anywhere near as cruel as many nobles in Cheliax, but they still carried a bit of disdain for Maya, her parents, and halflings in general.
As the only child of her parents, Marra and Sumak, Maya was doted on quite heavily. Her parents did everything they could to delay Maya having to begin her service to the Watersbys. As she grew up, her parents taught her the ways of Erastil and tried to instill in her the importance of community and of caring for others.
Some people think community is important. Others believe friends are good. I say making a name for yourself is exceedingly better than community or friends. How do you get those things anyway without a good name? - Journal Entry from the 20th of Erastus, 4712 AR
Despite her parents’ efforts, Maya maintained only a nominal faith and picked up on some of the more pecksniffian qualities of Taldan nobles. Maya saw these changes in herself, but chose to embrace them. She had been born into service for a noble family. It was all she knew. Best to blend in rather than risk ridicule.
Shortly after Maya turned nineteen, but before she had officially reached adulthood by halfling standards, she was forced to work for the Watersbys’ only daughter, Nerosa Watersby. Again, as halfling lives go, Maya had it fairly easy. She only had to daily see to it that Nerosa had her clothes washed and room straightened.
Despite the relative ease of Maya’s life, the day-in and day-out dullness slowly began to set in and Maya longed for something more. Something that might make her life feel meaningful.
Being a noble is the best thing in the world. After all, what could be better than sitting around all day and talking about who’s marrying who and which senator was caught up in a scandal this week? The answer is nothing, nothing at all. - Journal Entry from the 14th of Gozran, 4715 AR
As it turned out, Nerosa Watersby had also been doted on as a child. Her parents, Drina and Jakorin, had raised her with the intention of sending her to one of Oppara’s renowned bardic schools, the Rhapsodic College. Maya noticed Nerosa’s resentment for her parents. The young noblewoman had apparently intended to chart her own course in life, so to have so much of it planned out by someone else was most unpleasant for her.
Maya, for her part, was still trying to learn a bit more about what she wanted from life. She was twenty when she discovered she could straighten Nerosa’s room with a few waves of her hands. It made her daily chores much quicker, but also left her with lots of free time in between her duties.
There’s this thing called magic. People say it makes life easier. But it leaves these huge gaps between tasks. What are people expected to do with so much free time? There’s far too much of it when magic is involved. This magic thing is overrated. - Journal Entry from the 9th of Neth, 4715 AR
Nerosa would often return home from the College with a variety of volumes containing bardic knowledge. The noblewoman would start to read them, then toss them across the room in frustration before ignoring them entirely.
Once Maya’s tasks were finished for the day, and when no one was around to stop her, she would read from the volumes. She was especially enamored by the sections on oration and satire. The idea of moving people with just words intrigued Maya. Could she do such a thing? She resolved to learn all the information that Nerosa had chosen to ignore.
With each new book that Nerosa brought home, Maya’s knowledge of bardic ways grew. She continued to focus on learning more about oration and satire, finding immense enjoyment from the fictional literature that Nerosa brought from the College. Maya even managed to learn Elven through her studies.
I understand why Nerosa ignores her textbooks. The information is just too rich and helpful. For instance, why would anyone want to know the proper techniques for maximizing the effectiveness of your inflection during oration? Preposterous. Absolutely preposterous. - Journal Entry from the 18th of Sarenith, 4717 AR
By the time Maya turned twenty-two, she was much more knowledgeable about bardic ways than Nerosa. The young noblewoman, now an adult, told her parents that she was leaving the Rhapsodic College, which did not go over well. Maya mostly just watched in amusement as the conflict played out. Nerosa’s parents eventually agreed to send her to a different institution where she could be taught about politics and, hopefully, advance the Watersby name.
This change in direction for Nerosa meant that Maya would no longer have access to a plethora of volumes enabling her to grow as a fledgling bard. She would have to teach herself if she wanted to grow in her bardic abilities.
Woe is me! I have nary a book to turn to nor even an article to read. How will one such as I advance in society? It seems nigh on impossible. Perhaps all hope is lost. - Journal Entry from the 31st of Abadius, 4718 AR
Being an adult now, Maya decided that the only way to teach herself more was for her to practice in front of a real audience. The young halfling had kept a journal since her early teens. In it, she had recorded humorous quips and odd anecdotes that she had observed over the years. She decided the time was ripe to share those things with others.
The small social gathering Nerosa was to attend in a few days provided just the opportunity Maya needed. It was one of the many festivities preceding the Grand Day of Exaltation. It took little work to convince Nerosa to bring Maya along. The young noblewoman was quite needy and jumped at the chance to have someone else do work for her. With the gathering coming soon, Maya was hopeful she would have the chance to show the nobles what a halfling could do.
Maya’s task for the gathering is simple enough. Nerosa has given her purse to the halfling to carry around. A simple task, perhaps, but not so easy. The purse is excessively large, so it strains Maya to tote it around. It's almost as large as she is.
The massive purse, however, can’t keep Maya from her excitement. She's in the middle of a crowd! This is her chance to prove herself! Everything she has done up to this point has been theoretical or in private. Now she can test her skill in front of a live audience.
As Nerosa wanders about the gathering from noble to noble, trying to prove her proclivity for politics, Maya grows increasingly impatient. When should she try speaking to the nobles? She hasn’t really planned this part.
Thinking on her feet, Maya decides the meeting hall’s raised dance floor is the perfect place from which to orate. She’ll wait for a quiet moment when the dance floor is mostly empty.
While she waits for her moment, Maya practices some of her planned presentation in her head.
So you see, the Watersbys are a grand family. The grandest, really. So grand, in fact, that their daughter insisted on making it even more grand by forging her own path.
Perhaps you’ve heard of a fellow called Stavian. I hear he’s an important chap. Lots of money and political clout. Maybe he would have even more if his crown ever sat straight on his head.
Between you and me, I think Oppara’s a bit outdated. Lots of nobles, lots of senators, lots of politicians. But I repeat myself. Oppara, and Taldor in general really, could use a fresh perspective. Perhaps it’s time for change. What change? Well, any would do at this point.
Maya intends for her words to be understood as satirical and exaggerated, but in reality they probably bear more truth than the halfling would readily admit. Hopefully the nobles won’t be too offended by her having a bit of fun with them.
Her opening comes with about an hour left in the gathering. In her excitement, Maya walks up to the dance floor, Nerosa’s purse still in tow. Realizing that it will be silly to hold the purse while she speaks, Maya places it down besides her before turning to face the crowd. Most of them ignore her entirely.
She does her best to recall what she has read from chapter two of Handbook for the Loquacious. It’s the chapter on how to get and hold people’s attention.
Clearing her throat loudly for a few moments, Maya is surprised to see that the technique actually works. Most of the nobles turn to look at the halfling. They look quite annoyed by the disruption in their normal activities.
Maya doesn’t know how long their attention span will last, so, with a deep breath, she launches into her oration. Speaking as loudly as she can, she waxes eloquently about Taldan nobility, about the order of things in the city and nation, and about the hottest topics of gossip for the week.
At one point, she says, “Some might say the city could use some sprucing up, but I think it’s perfect. Its dullness is second to none. Nowhere in the Inner Sea region can you find a place quite like Oppara.”
As Maya speaks, she begins to notice strange happenings among the crowd. They look uneasy, perhaps even unwell. Her words seem to be weakening them in some way. Could she be doing what the textbook War of Words had suggested is possible? Has she actually affected her audience physically with just her voice? She has to be certain. And so she continues.
“There are so many nobles that it’s hard to imagine where you’d put more. There must be a noble-making business somewhere that just constantly produces them.
“The Watersbys must not have gotten the message about the noble-making business, though. They only have one daughter, and it’s doubtful she’ll ever wed. Perhaps the noble-making business is only for those in-the-know. Speaking of which, do you know what Nerosa said the other…”
Maya’s words are cut off by a sudden shout near the back of the crowd. It’s Nerosa.
“Thief! That halfling stole my purse! Guards, arrest that halfling now!”
Nerosa’s outburst could have come at any point during Maya’s oratory, but it makes sense to Maya that it comes now. The young noblewoman cannot stand to be embarrassed, especially not in front of other nobles by a halfling of all people. Nerosa’s purse by Maya’s side creates the perfect means by which to abruptly end her presentation.
In hindsight, Maya should have expected something like this to happen. There is a mythical sliver of nobles who respect halflings, but the majority assume halflings are only good as servants or slaves. The Watersbys are most certainly part of the majority. The idea that a halfling can rise above her station is unthinkable for people like Nerosa.
A pair of guards push their way through the crowd toward Maya. She freezes in place. What should she do? Should she run? Maya can probably slip through the nobles’ feet easily enough, but she has nowhere to go if she runs.
Instead, she decides to use Nerosa’s shout and the guards’ arrival as a cue to end her performance early. A shame, really, as she has only made it about halfway through her planned remarks.
Maya is able to compose herself well enough to conclude her oration before the guards make it to the dance floor.
“Nobles tend to be finicky. Likely has something to do with their upbringing. So I suppose the lesson to take away from all this is that it’s time for new management at the noble-making business. Sadly, that’s all for this evening. Fare thee well, ye nobles of Taldor.”
The guards arrive at the stage only moments after Maya finishes, almost as if on cue. The fledgling bard spots Nerosa near the back of the crowd. Her face is almost as red as a ripe apple and she looks… displeased… with Maya. The halfling doesn’t get a chance to ask about Nerosa’s specific disposition as the guards carry her out of the gathering hall and straight to one of Oppara’s many prisons.
What would happen to her now? Maya doesn’t think she can bear to face her parents. They have tried so hard to teach her how to respectfully conduct herself amongst humans, but it seems all their efforts have been in vain. Maya’s best guess is that the Watersbys will use the ‘theft’ as an excuse to sell her. Perhaps they will sell her to someone outside of Taldor so they never have to be troubled by her again.
The question of what would happen to her continues to weigh on Maya’s mind until she finally falls into a fitful sleep that night. She receives her answer the next morning when she awakes to the sound of her cell opening. As she removes the sleep from her eyes, Maya expects to see one of the Watersbys, come to take her to an auctioneer.
Instead, Maya finds herself staring at Lady Martella Lotheed. As it turns out, Lady Martella was one of the nobles in the crowd during Maya’s performance. She’s also part of that mythical sliver of nobles who respect halflings. Lady Martella is impressed by the halfling’s skill at oration.
The good Lady paid the Watersbys for Maya and subsequently set the halfling free. Maya doesn’t know what to say. For once, she’s speechless. She has only known servitude her entire life. She was been born into it. To be free is unbelievable. Maya thinks about making a sarcastic remark, but, for once, thinks better of it. What will she do with her newfound freedom? It’s something she has never contemplated even in her wildest dreams.
Lady Martella offers Maya two choices. The halfling can go her own way or she can come work for the burgeoning spymaster. Maya chooses the latter.
Description & Personality:
Maya stands 2’11’’ tall. Her pale skin and brown eyes give her a rather stern face which contrast with her long, flowing black hair. She prefers her hair that way. This was perhaps her first act of defiance against the more conservative tenets of her parents.
Like other members of her race, Maya has to constantly look up to speak with most civilized races, with the exception of the occasional gnome. She is normally quite straightforward when speaking with others. She also doesn’t mind letting others know how she really feels. Maya takes immense pleasure from watching others react to her words.
Despite having some rebellious tendencies and holding a nominal faith in Erastil, Maya still holds to most of her parents’ values, even if she does sometimes take liberties with them. While her satire can sometimes be interpreted as malicious, she sees what she does as educational. Nobles need to be taught a thing or two every now and then.
While Maya is currently neutrally-aligned, she’ll likely lean toward neutral good over time. She holds some regret for only following Erastil’s tenets loosely and so will likely seek to rectify that over time. While she’s unlikely to ever be completely lawful in her alignment, she does see how the law can be useful when wielded by the right hands.
Above all else, Maya wants to become an accomplished bard. She’s taken the first steps to doing so in studying Nerosa’s textbooks, but she knows she’s only just begun if she hopes for her name to be remembered. Even though she’s been freed, Maya has decided to keep the Watersby name, both as a bit of a humorous jab at the family and also to give her a chance at bringing some respectability to the name since Nerosa has thus far failed to do so.
Progression Plan & Party Role:
If selected, I plan for Maya to continue taking levels in Bard throughout the campaign. It’s always possible that events during the campaign could change that plan, but Maya wants to be a world-renowned bard, so she’ll likely stay the course.
I see Maya as providing a fair bit in the way of debuffs, given her archetype. She’s not likely to do much in terms of raw damage, but she should reduce the damage of the party’s foes as well as enable herself and other magic users to successfully debuff enemies. As a bard, she’s able to provide a fair bit of utility with her spells and can even heal if given a wand.
Socially, she’s also quite adept at diplomacy, bluffing, and being up-to-date on local and noble happenings thanks to her Heraldic Expertise. She can be the party’s face when the need arises.
Subterfuge - 5 (10 agents)
Active Effects: Satire (-1)
Spells Per Day - 1st: 6/6, 2nd: 4/4, 3rd: 2/2
Runestone of Power - (1st)[ ] (2nd) [ ]
Bardic Performance - 21/21 Rounds