Backstory Block - Writing Advice?


Advice

Radiant Oath

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

I'm struggling with a backstory I'm writing for a Horizons of the Vast game if one ever starts recruiting, and I've hit a block that I'm struggling to imagine writing through to connect the first half of the backstory to the second.

Short version: Rokayla Vonarx started out as your typical ferran living and learning with her parents on the Ratheren moon base, but after [INSPIRATION.EXE NOT FOUND], she diverged from the rest of her family down a more spiritual path by becoming a Solarian, with a solar weapon as dark as the black hole Ratheren orbits. Frustrated with what she sees as her people's inaction in the face of oblivion, she's decided to strike out on her own and save them herself by establishing a ferran exclave in a new colony, and so when she got wind of Project: Horizon, she practically ran to get in on the ground floor.

So...how exactly did Rokayla become a solarian? They're a very spiritual class and Ratheren's culture is a lot more about rationalism and science since out-of-control spiritual fervor was what destroyed Ferrantus-4, so I imagine there'd be very little literature on the philosophy of the Cycle.

I'm already playing a solarian whose training began when he was picked up by an adventuring solarian that Qui-Gon Jinn'ed him back to Absalom Station, where the Cosmonastery of the Empty Orbit, so I wanted to avoid repeating that backstory and having said mentor pass through Ratheren instead of Akiton. I'd briefly toyed with the idea of her having less formalized, one-on-one training with someone like a shakalta Star-Guardian or maybe even a hulsa, but those types of beings are much more about light and active stars than about gravity and dead ones, so they don't really fit the way I was picturing her. I know the Cycle isn't the Force and gravitons aren't "the Dark Side" or something, so Rokayla'd have photon powers of her own, but her mote and weapon are what most people will see of her.

Is there any indication of ways to become a solarian OUTSIDE formal education in a school someplace like a cosmonastery or on the Idari, or mystical instruction from a star-related being like a hulsa or an equinoxian? I feel like if I just overcome this one connective issue, the rest of Rokayla's backstory will come together...now that I think of it, MOST of the characters I play have an education at some formal institution to get their class as the turning point between their youth and the start of their adventuring career. Is there a way I can break Rokayla out of that rut? To those of you who've played Solarians before, how did your backstories turn out? How did your Solarians become Solarians?

Acquisitives

1 person marked this as a favorite.

How about a near death experience with the black hole? Maybe she was on a travel to an outpost, when the ship had a malfunction and it drifted towards the event horizon.
Once the rescue crew arrived everyone on board was dead except Rokayla.

This event left her with a "scar" which allowed her to see the very basic building blocks of the universe and gives her the powers of a solarian.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

[INSPIRATION.EXE NOT FOUND]

A flayleaf fueled night of staring up at the stars

Watching an animal fight back against its predator even though it was doomed and should have given up

meeting solarions coming to study the event

watching a mother space fox dig her cubs out of a den and relocate them elsewhere

observing a planet capturing a wandering moon in its orbit before the moon could hit the sun.

For the science minded...Studying to black hole and its physics and mystics for a year, repeatedly falling asleep on the text books from lack of food and rest. It came to her in an epiphany. Or a nervous break down. They can be surprisingly hard to tell apart...

Quote:
Is there any indication of ways to become a solarian OUTSIDE formal education in a school someplace like a cosmonastery or on the Idari, or mystical instruction from a star-related being like a hulsa or an equinoxian?

Yes, you can find it however you want to. Independent solarion traditions show up somehow...

Radiant Oath

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Peg'giz wrote:

How about a near death experience with the black hole? Maybe she was on a travel to an outpost, when the ship had a malfunction and it drifted towards the event horizon.

Once the rescue crew arrived everyone on board was dead except Rokayla.

This event left her with a "scar" which allowed her to see the very basic building blocks of the universe and gives her the powers of a solarian.

While I like this idea on principle, I worry it's too much like the backstory of another character I'm playing, a Star-Knight Technomancer who had a near-death experience involving a betrayal by a fellow student and a crashed shuttlecraft, where she was subsequently rescued by a Knight of Golarion who just happened to be in the area. Only difference is Rokayla's parents actually love her, while Belmarniss Rycast's parents saw her primarily as a means to advance their standing in drow corporate politics.

I'm honestly just worried that Rokayla will just end up as Belmarniss 2.0 except without the Iomedae worship and less of TEH ANGST (especially as Belmarniss was originally written as a solarian and switched from that to Mystic and then to Technomancer so as not to be redundant with the solarian and paladin-styled mystic that also joined the party)!

Acquisitives

Maybe make her a young scientist who investigated the black hole. She had the theory that the forces of the black hole could be used for good, but no other scientist believed her.
So she studied even harder, reading everthign about the forces of the universe, may it be a scientific paper or a book about solarian philosophy.
Over the time she thought herself how she can harness the forces, but she is not yet powerful enough, so she left her home planet to learn even more about the forces of the universe to some day come back and save her people.

This would be a more positiv, curious and intelectual character. You could even go so far to make Int her highest stat.


BigNorseWolf wrote:


Yes, you can find it however you want to. Independent solarion traditions show up somehow...

Considering the number of solarian NPCs with no obvious scholastic training, I would say there are a huge number of self taught solarians and those take apprentices occaisonally.

Radiant Oath

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Hmm...I've been turning you folks' suggestions over and over in my head throughout today, and I think I've got something starting to come together:

Keep the near-death experience Peg'giz suggested, but instead of a near-death experience with the Maw ITSELF, Rokayla survives an attack from a vorthuul that is subsequently slain by her fellow ferrans before it actually has a chance to kill them. Rattled by the experience, and because the only thing that could have created such a monster was a ferran who'd gone over the black hole's event horizon, she starts wondering if that will be the fate of all ferrans if they don't take action.

So she begins studying the monster that maimed her, but like BigNorseWolf suggested quickly finds scientific texts aren't really going to cut it when the specimen is undead, so she drifts into spiritual texts such as Pharasmin and Urgathoan holy/unholy texts and gravity-based kasathan mysticism. And after going down this rabbit hole long enough, poring over these texts and staring up at the Maw, everything finally clicks for her and she surprises everyone (including herself) by manifesting her stellar mote.

Having come to the conclusion that what happened to her was only the beginning and convinced Ratheren's continued study of the Maw because Ferrantus-4 may have somehow survived is potentially suicidal, she then strikes out on her own to join Project: Horizon, deciding she'll figure out this whole solarian thing as she goes.

Does that work? Is it not too melodramatic? Figure that it could make her more of a Rey to my other characters' Anakin and Luke Skywalkers...


Nah, you actually did something and worked to get your powers and don't make the rest of the party irrelevant...

**ducks**

Acquisitives

I would also see if you can cooperate with some of the other players to connect your backstory with his/hers. This always creates a better group dynamic.

My "problem" with this backstory is that I see no special reason why she should join Project:Horizon - she could stay at Ferrantus or travel to any other world to coninue her research.

So maybe add some connection to Project:Horizon or the Weydana-System to it.
I liked the idea of "creating a new home for her people" you had at the beginning.

I would also encourage the KISS (Keep It Short & Simple) approach for character backstories. Simply because the adventure is the characters story, not his backstory. ;)

Radiant Oath

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

I probably should have clarified: her reason for joining Project: Horizon is because she worries if Ratheren persists in trying to figure out the Maw and what exactly happened to Ferrantus-4, they'll run our of time and the Maw will swallow it, leaving only more vorthuuls as the last echo of the ferran people. So she's decided to join the first colonization effort she can find, hoping it will inspire/convince more ferrans to follow in her wake.

Does that clear it up? And I do agree with the KISS principle on principle, but I do want to come up with an explanation as to why Rokayla chose such an exceptional path, taking a class with such a strong spiritual element when the average ferran's opinion is "spirituality and irrational mysticism is what got our people into this mess in the first place."


Why would Solarians be spiritual?
That they have special powers is an observable fact and they can produce reproducible results with their powers.
There is nothing spiritual about that and for people whos planet was swallowed by a black hole exploring how to control the power of black holes seems like a logical thing to do.

Radiant Oath

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

From the get-go the text of the solarian class talks about how they're agents of cosmic balance in the never-ending dualistic Cycle of stars and black holes. That seems pretty spiritual by my reading.

And in the specific instance of a people whose homeworld was swallowed by a black hole, controlling it seems to edge dangerously close to what caused the swallowing in the first place: a religious movement that worshipped the black hole convinced the majority of the populace to build giant rockets into the planet and deliberately drive itself into the black hole. The ferrans on Ratheren itself were scientists and agnostics who were like "Nope, willingly throwing an entire planet into a black hole is a BAD idea, actually!" and established the moon-base on Ratheren.

The conflict is that recently Ratheren started receiving signals that appear to come from inside the black hole itself, which shouldn't be possible and implies their homeworld may have survived after all, so they're studying this trying to figure out what's going on. Rokayla thinks they're wasting time pursuing this lead when they should be establishing themselves on other worlds so they don't die out if Ratheren has some sort of catastrophe.

Basically she's like "There IS no scientific explanation for this, and we're wasting our time looking for one when we should be working to ensure our survival as a species. Not everything can be explained by science and rationality, and stubbornly insisting it'll somehow bring Ferrantus-4 back is just as suicidal as the fanatics of the past willingly driving it into the Maw. Just like I couldn't process what happened to me from the vorthuul attack until I looked into other ways of thinking and the ideas of other peoples, we can't solve our people's problems alone. And since you're not going to listen to my rational arguments, I'll PROVE them by helping set up a colony on another world. I'll call when we're ready for more ferrans to move in."


Archpaladin Zousha wrote:

From the get-go the text of the solarian class talks about how they're agents of cosmic balance in the never-ending dualistic Cycle of stars and black holes. That seems pretty spiritual by my reading.

And in the specific instance of a people whose homeworld was swallowed by a black hole, controlling it seems to edge dangerously close to what caused the swallowing in the first place: a religious movement that worshipped the black hole convinced the majority of the populace to build giant rockets into the planet and deliberately drive itself into the black hole. The ferrans on Ratheren itself were scientists and agnostics who were like "Nope, willingly throwing an entire planet into a black hole is a BAD idea, actually!" and established the moon-base on Ratheren.

The conflict is that recently Ratheren started receiving signals that appear to come from inside the black hole itself, which shouldn't be possible and implies their homeworld may have survived after all, so they're studying this trying to figure out what's going on. Rokayla thinks they're wasting time pursuing this lead when they should be establishing themselves on other worlds so they don't die out if Ratheren has some sort of catastrophe.

Basically she's like "There IS no scientific explanation for this, and we're wasting our time looking for one when we should be working to ensure our survival as a species. Not everything can be explained by science and rationality, and stubbornly insisting it'll somehow bring Ferrantus-4 back is just as suicidal as the fanatics of the past willingly driving it into the Maw. Just like I couldn't process what happened to me from the vorthuul attack until I looked into other ways of thinking and the ideas of other peoples, we can't solve our people's problems alone. And since you're not going to listen to my rational arguments, I'll PROVE them by helping set up a colony on another world. I'll call when we're ready for more ferrans to move in."

Being agnostic in Path/Starfinder is pretty much denial of reality similar to the flat earth theory as there is ample proof that gods and outsiders exist and divine magic influences the world daily which can be seen by everyone.

Even people who think that those specific gods are not real can't deny that magic exists and how it works and that includes the power of Solarians and that they are able to in some way manipulate black holes. Thus there is no real reason why the Ferrans would not make use of it. After all in the world of Starfinder magic, including the powers of Solarians, are as scientific and rational as gravity and physics.
So at best Solarion powers would be culturally forbidden science, but dabbling in that is much easier to explain than a ferran turning spiritual.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Peg'giz wrote:

My "problem" with this backstory is that I see no special reason why she should join Project:Horizon - she could stay at Ferrantus or travel to any other world to coninue her research.

There's 11nty billion scientists already approaching the problem from that angle, lets have a plan B and a planet to get to in case that doesn't work

Entropy is inevitable. Locally. The only solution is to move.

Radiant Oath

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Peg'giz wrote:

My "problem" with this backstory is that I see no special reason why she should join Project:Horizon - she could stay at Ferrantus or travel to any other world to coninue her research.

There's 11nty billion scientists already approaching the problem from that angle, lets have a plan B and a planet to get to in case that doesn't work

Entropy is inevitable. Locally. The only solution is to move.

Right, this is what I was trying to say but much more concise.


Exploring a black hole is actually quite easy in Starfinder (planeshift to the ethereal plane. And once you know where to go you can use interplanetary teleport there while wearing earthbound anklets. Or just normal anti-gravity technology which seems to exist. Depending on how you see being insubstantial a ghost drive might also work)

So its just a matter of time till the ferrans find out whats going on and you think your time would be spend better doing something than to simply wait.


Ixal wrote:


So its just a matter of time till the ferrans find out whats going on and you think your time would be spend better doing something than to simply wait.

1) I think they've been at it for a while and haven't figured it out yet

2)Not everyone has the starting 18 int they'll need to solve the problem that way.

3) What if they find out the situation is WORSE than just an ordinary black hole? What if its an aspect of the devourer, or a black hole with an eldritch abomination inside or a non dimensional portal to a hell layer?

Having a planet/continent/large tract of land to colonize seems like a really good plan B and in starfinder thats something an individual can work on.

Radiant Oath

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Incidentally, I am TOTALLY gonna change Rokayla's theme from Colonist to Death-Touched with this new backstory element. I've wanted an excuse to play a character with that theme for a while and I assume in any given Horizons of the Vast play-by-post will get a ton of applicants with Colonist theme characters anyway, so this'll be a great way to stand out!

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Ixal wrote:


So its just a matter of time till the ferrans find out whats going on and you think your time would be spend better doing something than to simply wait.

1) I think they've been at it for a while and haven't figured it out yet

2)Not everyone has the starting 18 int they'll need to solve the problem that way.

3) What if they find out the situation is WORSE than just an ordinary black hole? What if its an aspect of the devourer, or a black hole with an eldritch abomination inside or a non dimensional portal to a hell layer?

Having a planet/continent/large tract of land to colonize seems like a really good plan B and in starfinder thats something an individual can work on.

OR...

there's something on their world that keeps the Ferrans there, either because of its cultural importance, or for biological reasons [the root of the Hecar fungus can only grow there and Ferran females have to eat it to remain fertile] or something else entirely [Ferran souls which die off-world are condemned to hell, Ferrans who leave the world for long enough go mad, etc.]

I know this isn't exactly on point for the OP, but darn, I kinda wanna homebrew it...

Community / Forums / Starfinder / Advice / Backstory Block - Writing Advice? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.