Character Focus: Danicka Raburnus

Hello everyone! I hope you had a great weekend.

This Mother’s Day my kids wrote me poems and stories, drew me pictures, cards, and books. My son even made me a coaster to hold my drink. And my husband? He and my children got me character art commissioned for my favourite Pathfinder Society character!

I’ve never had character art for a character of mine before. My kids and I have drawn pictures of some of our characters on occasion. And sure, a picture here or there might inspire us to make a character similar in appearance. But custom professional art? Unheard of! So it was with great shock and surprise I awoke to discover my family had somehow procured gorgeous art of my beloved -1 PFS character. 

Clearly I have a wonderful family and am beyond spoiled. Today I’m going to share that art with you!

Introducing Danicka Raburnus and her vicious dog, Prickles!

Danicka-and-Prickles
Danicka Raburnus and Prickles. Original characters of mine for the Pathfinder Society Organized Play program. Art by the amazing Joe Nittoly

Danicka Raburnus was my very first Pathfinder Society character. My -1. I had played Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons, and other RPGs for a long time before making Danicka, but she was the first character meant for organized play. She marked my entry into the Pathfinder Society, and was the first in a series of wonderful characters, delightful roleplaying, and exciting adventures.

Danicka is… far from perfect. When it came time to create Danicka I wanted to do something different. Everyone has characters who are attractive, intelligent, healthy, brave, and so on. People who are special. Heroes. They’re not all perfect, and many have a flaw or two, but they usually have quite a few redeeming qualities. I’ve got plenty, myself. So when it came time to make Danicka I wanted to create a character who was different than those I’d made before. Someone who wasn’t a hero. Who wasn’t special. Someone hopelessly flawed and regrettably forgettable. Someone who wanted to be special, who wanted to be the hero, but just wasn’t.

I have a soft spot for making, strong, independent, female characters. I love playing half-orcs and dwarves. I love bards, rogues, oracles, and sorcerers. Adaptable characters with a flaw or two, and a bit of a scoundrel’s streak.

So I went out of my way to make Danicka different.

I made her a wizard, which I rarely do. And I went out of my way to make her as unremarkable as possible. She has an archetype that prevents her from having a familiar or an arcane bond––qualities that make her feel inferior to her fellow wizards and spellcasters. She learned spells that are visually unremarkable. No fireballs or flashy magic for this girl! She was intelligent and wise, but too shy and nervous to speak her mind.

I never use complimentary words to describe her. I don’t call her pretty, or fit, or athletic, or slender. She’s not even skinny. She’s scrawny. Boney. Her hair is frazzled, limp, plain, or mousey. Her skin is not like porcelain, or alabaster. It’s pale, freckled, and ink-stained. Her clothes are nice but ill-fitting, out of fashion, and in dull colours. She doesn’t show off any skin, covering herself from neck to fingers and toes. She doesn’t even wear nice boots, just flimsy cotton shoes that flop and squelch wildly whenever they get wet. She wears a floppy hat on her head. She has poor vision and wears plain spectacles.

It’s not that these qualities are undesirable or unattractive. They’re not. It’s that I designed her to be average and blend in, and that I describe all of her qualities in as uncomplimentary a fashion as I can.

She shrieks in battle. Gets queasy. Stammers, stutters, whimpers, and whispers. Her efforts to make friends are awkward and almost always end in failure. She’s shy and meek. Easily scared (often terrified!). She faints on occasion (though never in a way or at a time that would hinder her mission or the game). She’s weak, awkward, and extraordinarily clumsy.

But amidst all those awkward and oddly endearing qualities, she’s a hero. Not outwardly. Certainly not obviously. But she’s a good person. She won’t take a life. Ever. And she won’t condone it from her allies. In fact, wanton violence, destruction, theft, and other illegal deeds are among the only things that she’ll speak out against. She’d rather remove an enemy from a fight than cause someone harm. I gave her merciful spell as a feat to ensure her few damage dealing spells aren’t lethal. She’ll stabilize unconscious enemies, hurl herself into danger to protect someone else, and is always the first person to offer healing potions to the wounded. She’s generous and kind. She won’t lie and always gives her enemies a chance to surrender.

So, who was Danicka? Where did she come from? And what make such an ordinary, meek woman want to be a hero?

Danicka was born to a hero. Her mother, Portia Raburnus, was a wizard of great renown who helped saved the city of Magnimar not just once, but on three occasions. Danicka has always wanted to be just like her mother, and grew up studying the arcane arts. Her mother passed away five years ago, right before Danicka began her formal training at the local magical academy, Stone of Seers. Danicka always keeps her mother’s arcane bonded item with her—a highly decorative quarterstaff that looks remarkably like a broom. She had hoped to use the broom as her own arcane bonded item, but could never manage to make it work.

Danicka did well in school, but despite her academic achievements she was constantly overlooked—for Danicka was ordinary looking, and incredibly shy. Regrettably forgettable. Most people don’t even remember Portia Raburnus had a daughter.

Danicka’s recently graduated and set out to finally prove herself brave and bold! A hero, like her mother! She marched right into the local Pathfinder Lodge and demanded a job. Unfortunately, her demand came out a nervous whisper and they hired her as a maid. But, sweeping the floors used by bolder souls with her mother’s broom isn’t enough for Danicka Raburnus! She’s going to prove herself one day! Maybe after she’s done cleaning up the common room…

Danicka is incredibly shy. She speaks rarely, and when she does its in a whisper. She’s constantly trying to work up the courage to be louder, to make friends, and to do something, but her attempts at friendship always come out in awkward stuttering bursts, and her attempts to speak her mind end up with her randomly yelling something (and then losing the courage to finish). She’s easily embarrassed and was bullied on occasion in school (when her classmates could be bothered to remember she was there).

Danicka studies hard and loves to learn new things. She knows she’s a young woman of many flaws and is trying desperately to change. She wants to be brave and bold, but has yet to break out of her shell and really be herself.

Mechanically, she’s a wizard with the exploiter wizard archetype that’s a member of the Silver Crusade faction of the Pathfinder Society. She took the traits tireless logic and volatile conduit. Her beginning feats were eschew materials and merciful spell, although she later added spell focus (enchantment). She’s knowledgable and speaks a wide array of languages. For her first exploiter exploit she chose energy shield, although she never had the opportunity to use it until many adventures had passed. Some of her most commonly prepared low-level spells are daze, detect magic, read magic, comprehend languages, mage armour, shield, sleep, and merciful ray of frost or merciful magic missile. In time she learned that outsiders and undead were a threat her non-lethal methods couldn’t handle, so she started carrying a lethal wand, a few lethal scrolls, and some holy water around to combat such irredeemable threats.

I had intended to keep her a wizard for the entirety of her career, but along the way, things changed. Danicka changed.

After Danicka’s first mission in the world of play-by-post gaming, she was invited to join an ongoing campaign run by the delightful and incredibly talented GM ShieldBug. For a wonderful seven scenarios she had the pleasure of playing in a consistent group of awesome players. Her companions were very different from Danicka. Some were weird, some were liars, some were scoundrels, and most were violent. They pushed her buttons, shoved her out of her comfort zone, tested her morals, and urged her to change. With them she found her backbone. She found courage. She faced peer-pressure and discovered that there were things worth fighting for, even if it meant standing up to your allies. She made friends. She made enemies. She made mistakes. She became a hero. She saved people and towns.

Mostly, she was embarrassed.

But it wasn’t only Danicka that changed. Her friends did, too. She made them better people. And they made her brave.

On one of her adventures she was forced to interact with terrifying, man-eating, Thuvian desert dog. Miraculously she bonded with it, though it terrified her to no end. Later in the scenario she was forced to face the dog in combat, and she managed to convince him to stand down. The mission came to an end and I was faced with a turning point. Move on? Or keep the dog?

Danicka kept the dog. She named him Prickles, for his spiky fur (matted with the blood of his enemies) and terrifying demeanour. Although I could have just bought a dog and remained a wizard, I chose to multiclass Danicka into druid. I selected another understated archetype (the wonderful wild whisperer!) that removed some of the flashier of the druids abilities and replaced it with investigator’s inspiration and talents. She began to take ranks in handle animal, and survival. She used her druid spell slots to prepare healing magic. She took the feat boon companion, and statted up Prickles as a wolf.

Danicka spent the next while attempting to tame her vicious dog. I took great glee in role-played her fear of her own pet, and her worry that it will hurt someone. Prickles is clearly the alpha of the duo, but he usually listens to Danicka’s pleas. That said, out of fear, Danicka never tells Prickles to attack anyone. She’s too afraid she won’t be able to stop him from killing. Instead, she orders him to stay by her side. Mechanically, Prickles has the bodyguard archetype. He’s always on ‘defend’ and won’t enter a fight unless Danicka is hurt. However, if she’s hurt he flies into a rage and attacks whoever wounded her until they’re dead. Usually Danicka hurls herself between the enemy and her dog before they are devoured, but once or twice Prickles killed something––an event which filled Danicka with great regret. For his part, Prickles is used to his ‘pet’s’ panicked shrieks and mewling. But he’s incredibly territorial and won’t stand for anyone touching his ‘pet.’ Not even her allies. He’s a bit cantankerous, and won’t take ‘orders’ from anyone other than Danicka. And he only listens to Danicka if she begs.

All in all, they’re a comical pair, with my shy wizard desperately trying to handle her overwhelming pet.

On her most recent missions, Danicka’s had to bid her old friends farewell. She’s gone on new adventures with new teammates. Only Prickles has remained by her side. But, despite the distance, it’s her old friends that continue to drive her and inspire her. Mhazruk Kruhl and his terrifying familiar Needle, the burly Yaiho Crasher, the tap-dancing escaped-slave Forrest Glavo, the eccentric Arin Qualnoh blessed (or perhaps cursed) by the gods, and Brock Swiftread, a scoundrel if there ever was one. They’re the closest thing to family she’s ever had.

So here’s to Danicka and Prickles, and all the people and characters who have made her who she is. Here’s to the people who have GMed for her and played alongside her. The people who have put up with her panicked shrieks and bleeding heart. Here’s to my family, who brought one of my very favourite characters to life. And here’s to Joe Nittoly, the amazing artist who drew her. Thank you! Thank you! And thank you again! You’re the best!

And here’s to all of you, for taking the time to read about one of my favourite characters. Maybe I’ll see you around a PFS table one day.

Cheers!

Jessica

The Wayfinders: Part Three: Danger in the Drift

Last year I shared my family’s experiences creating their first Starfinder characters. We had a lot of fun making a kooky crew, and tried them out a bit before deciding they would join the Starfinder Society. There were some changes that needed to be made. Tucker was a halfling, which would have to change, but otherwise the transition went smoothly. Then we sat down and played Into the Unknown. Life got busy. We moved on to play Starfinder Scenario #1-03: Yesteryear’s Truth, which was great fun (for details check out this blog post).

But, my kids have WAY too many characters and not enough focus.

I’m a fan of creating a character and playing them through consistently right to the end. I want to play them every week. I want them to accomplish something amazing over the course of a long campaign. And when their story is done I want to know what happened to them. Did they retire? Get married? Ascend to godhood? Go insane? When their story’s complete I’m ready to make a new character and start all over again.

But, my kids? My kids love making new characters. They like hopping from story to story. But they also don’t like letting characters go. They want to play them all at the same time. There’s tons of them. An unattainable goal if I ever heard one! Haha.

In short? We rarely have time to take our Wayfinders for a spin.

The other day my daughter informed me that she wanted to create her own adventure. This isn’t the first time. She’s GMed for us before and brutally slaughtered us all. It’s partly because she doesn’t have much experience determining appropriate CRs, but it’s also because she’s incredibly lucky. Too lucky. It’s great when she’s a fellow PC but when she’s the GM? Look out! Monsters have awesome aim, enemies are so stealthy they might as well be invisible, and no opponent ever fails a saving throw. It’s not that she’s cheating! We don’t use GM screens in my house so we can all see her rolls, and I help her every step of the way. She’s just that damned lucky.

So when she said she wanted to GM something everyone groaned.

She looked so sad.

“Oh, no! She’s going to kill us again!” my son wailed.

“Be nice!” I scolded my son. Then I whispered to my husband, “She totally is…”

But, I smiled at my daughter and said, “That sounds exciting. Let’s do it.” Because it is exciting. Of course I want my kids to want to imagine, create, and GM.

So my daughter and I went to my room and peered at my bookshelf. Making a one-shot would mean everyone would create more characters, which we didn’t really have time for at the moment, so I suggested she create a mini adventure for Starfinder. Our Wayfinders were in the middle of a journey through the Drift from the radioactive planet Elytrio to Absalom Station. The timing couldn’t be better!

But, they were SFS characters… We decided to play the entire scenario off the books, using the stats for our characters but leaving our actual SFS characters entirely untouched. And while we were at it? Tucker might as well be a halfling again (in appearance).

My daughter thought about the Drift a bit, pulled down the Alien Archive, and got browsing. She stopped on creatures she took a liking to and we chatted about them, brainstorming ideas together. Some she liked and some she didn’t. She wrote down notes in her little Pokemon notebook. When she hit the end of the book she narrowed down her ideas and made some more notes and drawings. An hour later we were picking out miniatures and prepping the table. It was game time!

I started off the session by reminding everyone what we were up to. Where we’d been, where we were going, and who we were with.

Our crew consists of four Starfinder Agents that belong to the Wayfinders Faction. Hoponisa (Hops for short), is a ysoki technomancer from the dark side of Verces who loves to dance. She’s on a mission to find herself the ‘perfect mate’ and is handy both in the pilot’s chair, the engineering bay, and at a computer console. She has a robot rabbit dubbed ‘Snowball’ who is a glorified computer with some minor mobility that she crafted herself, then wrapped in fuzzy faux fur for ultimate cuddle-ability. It’s also her spell cache. Hops has been a Starfinder for a long time and is the person who recruited the rest of the crew into the Starfinder Society (before that they were mercenaries who did work for the Starfinders on a regular basis). Together, the gang travels the Vast, deploying drift beacons for credits at the behest of the Wayfinders. After discovering new planets, collecting data on their environments, and deploying drift beacons, the group prepares a report on the planet for the Wayfinders, which allows the spacefaring faction to better prepare proper Starfinder teams for further exploration on these locations.

Hops and the crew of the Pegasus Class ship, Infinity, have gone on plenty of missions together. Led by their Captain Aya, a wise, enigmatic kasatha mystic who believes that every life is precious, they’ve charted planets and discovered new places. Their roles on the starship change a lot, with the rest of the crew rotating between pilot, engineer, science officer, and gunner as the mood strikes them. Aya and Hops are joined by Tucker Aetherfoot, a ysoki (originally a halfling) operative with the daredevil speciality who’s nimble, acrobatic, and full of boundless energy. He wears a t-shirt with a shirren design on it (to represent his long-time friendship with the shirren Vishkesh), and wears a racing helmet with a rose-tinted visor and stylized mouse ears on the side (which was given to him by Hops as a birthday gift). Tucker’s insatiably curious, and runs a blog in his spare time about his experiences exploring the Vast. He’s a devout Desnan from Absalom Station, prone to dancing when he’s idle too long. …Even in the middle of a mission. Lastly, there’s Vishkesh, a shirren mechanic with a little flying spy drone named Rijin. Rijin is trained to help Vishkesh with repairing starships, and is also outfitted with a flare thrower. He’s a chipper little thing, with a bubbly artificial personality. Vishkesh has a fondness to caring for (and rescuing) larval shirren, and currently has a dozen dangling off of him in their protective canisters at all times. Vishkesh is the proud owner of a pig stuffed animal — a rare creature he’s never seen in in the flesh! He’s also from Absalom Station, and is a long time friend of Tucker’s. Vishkesh worships Hylax.

When they joined the Starfinders the crew of Infinity decided they needed a helping hand. They hired two rookies to assist them and round out their crew: Gizdara, a half-orc technomancer who’s a whiz with computers, and Diggs Drifthopper, a burly ‘rabbitfolk’ whose planet was conquered by the Vesk years ago. Diggs was forced into the military, but was recently allowed his freedom and was looking for work. He’s good with a gun, but not much else (which he can’t use in SFS play, as a non-combatant hireling, haha). Still, my daughter insisted on hiring him because he was destined to be Hops’ mate. (Uhhh… Okay? Haha). Diggs’ job is mostly to watch the ship while we’re away from it.

There’s one other person on their ship at the moment: the Membrane Ghibrani Klarima who they were bringing from her home planet of Elytrio to join the Starfinder Society. For now she was a passenger, but the group was teaching her everything they could of the universe as they travelled the Drift.

Travel aboard the Infinity
The crew of Infinity soars through the Drift!

With the recap out of the way my daughter took over, explaining that we had been in the Drift for a few weeks. All of a sudden the alarm blared and there was a strange flash of red light nearing the ship. LAVA!

Wait, what? How could there be lava in space?

My daughter gleefully asked for a Computers check from our Science Officer — Vishkesh at the moment — revealing that a piece of the Elemental Plane of Fire had been torn off and stranded in the Drift (quite recently by the look of it)! We were about to do some more research on this phenomenon when there was a burst of light. Lava and powerful heat blasts from the shard of the Plane of Fire was flying at our ship! Our pilot, Hops (which I was running on behalf of my daughter since she was GMing), flew like a pro, dodging lava balls, and super heated waves of energy. But a few moments later Vishkesh identified that our air lock had been opened. Something was on the ship!

We turned for the elevator only have it DING pleasantly.

As the doors opened Captain Aya ordered Hops, Diggs, and Gizdara to remain at their posts. Gizadara took over as Science Officer while Diggs took on the role of gunner and blasted through the hunks of rock flying at our ship. Vishkesh, Rijin, Aya, and Tucker leapt to their feet — too late!

A trio of fire elementals roared off the lift and slammed into the kasathan captain — the nearest target.

“The elementals are so angry! They must be lost and confused!” my son (Vishkesh) pointed out. Unfortunately, his understanding did little to calm the creatures. The fire elementals tore into Aya and scored multiple critical hits — curse my daughter’s luck! Haha. My kashathan mystic went down before she even had a turn.

Captain down!!
Captain down!

“Sorry, Mom!” my daughter said a little guiltily.

“It’s alright, baby. Aya will be fine.”

The battle continued, and wow was it a tough one! The fire elementals tore into Tucker while Aya slowly recovered on the ground with her SP. By the time she rejoined the fight her healing magic was sorely needed! Tucker was hanging on by a thread and Vishkesh was in big trouble! Not long afterwards the group rallied and took down the last of the exceptionally lucky elementals. But not before Tucker suffered some luck of his own — bad luck!

Crit Fail for Tucker
A critical fail for poor Tucker!

With the fire elementals defeated Vishkesh hurried to the airlock to get it locked down while Aya healed the wounds of her crew. Hops flew us out of the range of the planar anomaly and the journey returned to normal.

For a time…

Not much further away we came upon a strange group of asteroids that looked like they were all part of some kind of large complex — a metallic castle of some sort. It was clearly another broken planar shard torn from another world and deposited in the Drift by Drift Travel. Hesitantly, the group scanned the planar wreckage and detected signs of life. Not wanting to leave anyone stranded in the Drift, Aya ordered the ship to investigate the asteroids.

They flew past chunks of reddish rock, through space strewn with shards of glittering metal. Suddenly they saw a ship! It looked like a hunk of junk cobbled together from — well, junk! They turned on the comms to hail the ship only to be fired upon!

Battle stations!

Hops sailed the ship through space, dodging meteors and make-shift torpedoes, Vishkesh boosted the ships guns, Tucker fired upon the enemy, and Aya encouraged her crew. Although the battle shouldn’t have been challenging, it was — once again my daughter’s good luck conspired to destroy us.

Suddenly Vishkesh noticed incoming projectiles from somewhere other than the ship! One of the chunks of broken castle was inhabited! They fired cannons at the Infinity. Cannons that held… goblins in weird globs of goo! The goblin bombs splattered against the hull of Infinity! Unfortunately for the goblins our ship’s shields were too tough for them to penetrate! Most splattered on impact like giant bugs! But, armed as they were with sharp implements and hacking kits, it’s likely the goblins would have attempted to breach the hull or hack into the air locks to gain entry had our shields been depleted.

Suddenly a voice crackled over the intercom. “AHA! You smart-heads are good! You foil our goo-guns good! But we goblin pirates! Goblins attack and goblins snack! Or…. goblins want to snack! We hungry! Hand over your food and we let you go!”

Snowball Easter Bunny Chocolate Soop
Image discovered on Pinterest and chosen to represent Snowball in my home game. Art by Canadian artist DaCosta! under the studio name Chocolate Soop. Click here to check out their website.

Aya sighed in a rare show of impatience. “All lives are precious…” It sounded like she was reminding herself of this, instead of teaching the others as was typical. “We came here to lend aid to any stranded in the Drift. Surrender, Goblin Pirates, and we will forgive your attack. We have food to spare and tools to repair your Drift Engines. …If you have any.”

The goblin pirate laughed. “AHA! We win! We no shoot and you give us food! Yes! Come! Come to our home and give us many many food!”

“…” Aya decided it was best not to argue with a goblin. “Yes. Exactly. We’re coming in for a landing.” Looking at Hops she ordered. “Hops, take us down.”

“Yes, Captain!”

The gang flew their ship to the strange broken castle and landed — as best as they could. Floated nearby was a better description. After a space walk, Aya, Vishkesh, Tucker, and Rijin set out to meet the goblins. They were greeted by a snivelling, friendly little goblin — not the goblin pirate from before — and given a tour. The castle was hollow and without gravity except around its outer walls. Along these outside walls were small rooms that had both air and gravity — an anomaly the goblins couldn’t quite explain. Up near the broken ceiling (and any holes in the walls) there was a massive makeshift net — to prevent any goblins from accidentally drifting off into space.

On the tour the group discovered that the goblins weren’t just hungry, they were completely out of food! No wonder they had attacked!

But, the goblin had a plan. “Oh, you look so fat and not starving! Oh! Yum! Uh… Yum to your food! Not yum to you!” The goblin laughed, but Tucker was a little nervous. “We have much money to give you! Yes! Lots of shinies! Came here to steal shinies from castle, but ship broke! And shinies not good to eat! Nope! We have tried!” the goblin nodded. “Our King has shinies! You go see him and kill him and take them! And his pet! Must kill it too! Very smart it is. Smarter than King I think!” The goblin nods. “Then you take shinies and give us many many food! Yes! YES! Good plan! See?”

Rijin Jessica Madorran
Image discovered on Pinterest to represent Rijin in our home game. Art by Jessica Madorran. Check out her website for more information.

“Did some of you want to come with us?” Vishkesh asked.

Tucker groaned. “Oh, I don’t like that plan…”

The goblins around all cheered. “Yes! Oh, give us ride! But first take shinies! You take for food! And if you not want we take it and use it to buy more food when you get to… where you go! Me not care! Me want FOOD!”

With a sigh the group headed up to bargain with the King. “All lives are precious,” Aya reminded everyone. “This need not come to a fight.

Unfortunately, Aya was wrong. It did come down to a fight. The quartet faced off against the goblin king and his (definitely smarter than him) tashtari pet. For once my daughter’s luck didn’t trump our own and we made quick work of the angry pair. With the shinies and a ton of goblins in tow, the group reboarded the Infinity for the longest, most irritating trip they would ever endure.

Words of wisdom: Never let a pack of starving goblins on your space ship!


Our family had a lot of fun playing my daughter’s Starfinder adventure. Best of all? My daughter was happy she didn’t kill everyone. (Yay!)

Space goblins and fire elementals are from Starfinder: Alien Archive while tashtari are from Starfinder: Alien Archive 2. Pawns for all the mentioned creatures are available in Alien Archive Pawn Box and Alien Archive 2 Pawn Box. The statistics we used for the goblin spaceship came from Starfinder: Core Rulebook.

Thanks for joining us today! I hope you enjoyed hearing about my daughters adventures in GMing as much as we enjoyed playing it.

Jessica

 

Mantisbane Pact: Release

One of the play-by-post campaigns I am lucky enough to take part in is run by the wonderful GM Zek on Paizo’s messageboards. The campaign is called the Mantisbane Pact, and it takes place in Golarion, the world of Pathfinder. Mantisbane Pact involves an alliance of powerful monarchs and rightful rulers who come together to destroy the Red Mantis Assassins and their god, Achaekek. Our players would act as their agents, travel to Ilizmagorti (a city firmly in the grasp of the Red Mantis Assassins), and work to bring the entire organization crumbling down.

A few weeks ago I shared a short story I wrote as part of the application process to get to play in the Mantisbane Pact. In it we met my character, a smart-ass, jaded slayer named Kilarra Calvennis. Throughout the course of this campaign the GM and players have had the opportunity to write a variety other vignettes and flashbacks, often from the perspective of our shaman, who can view moments from the past by using the Akashic Record.

Today I’m sharing with you a flashback from Kilarra’s life I wrote when our shaman (Talia) attempted to discover why Kilarra was out of prison, despite being sentenced to life in jail for patricide. After today it will be available on the d20 Stories section on our website. Enjoy!

Jessica


Release

Its dark.

Cold.

Talia feels like she’s laying on something hard and rough. A stone floor?

There’s sounds. Women crying, wailing voices, a distant scream of pain. Breathing close by — Kilarra perhaps — it’s hard to tell in the dark.

Time passes. There’s the sound of something falling to the ground and tumbling around. It sounds like a dice, but it’s likely a stone. There’s a bit of a slapping sound, then a scraping, as if whoever dropped it was picking it back up.

It falls again. Slap. Scrape. Silence.

It falls again. Slap. Scrape. Silence.

In the distance the crying continues. Different voices, the same sounds. A sigh, a scream, denials, and tears.

“Please! I’m innocent!” someone can be heard to call above the din. A young woman by the sounds of it. “I didn’t kill him!”

Nearby someone scoffs. Talia recognizes it as Kilarra. “No one cares,” she mutters under her breath.

“Yeah, I’m innocent, too!” a different voice calls out. It’s deeper, and clearly mocking the crying woman. “I didn’t kill nobody!” The voice breaks out into a cackling laugh.

The young woman devolves into sobs.

The stone falls. Slap. Scrape. Silence.

Eventually something changes. There’s a lightening of the room. It’s subtle at first, but soon becomes light enough to see vague shapes.

Kilarra’s pale and thin. Her lip is cut and swollen, and a poorly healing wound on her face is clearly going to become the familiar scar she bears to this day. Kilarra lays on her back in a bare, stone cell, staring up at the ceiling. She fiddles with a tiny dice in her fingers, dropping it on the floor, covering it, and picking it back up again. Her other fingers tug on the hem of her ‘dress.’ She wears a filthy sack with a few holes cut in it for her arms and head that looks like it once held potatoes. The fabric’s rough and little bugs scurry around amongst it’s loose fibres.

Behind her is a wall of bars. Outside there are other cells, filled with women of varying ages. Some cry, some speak to themselves, but most sit in resigned silence. The other woman across the hall wears pants and a shirt, has a pallet of hay, a blanket, and a chamber pot — luxuries Kilarra’s cell does not possess.

The world continues to brighten. The walls turn red and the flickering of an open flame can be heard. The light suddenly spills into Kilarra’s cell, and stops.

From her place on the floor Kilarra raises an eyebrow. She rolls onto her stomach, pushes herself up to standing and stalks over to the bars. She grabs hold of them, her knuckles bloody and bruised, and leans her face up against the bars.

Outside her cell is a man in shining armour. He holds a torch in one hand, and a bag in the other. Kilarra’s eyes drift to his belt where she sees a keyring and an empty scabbard — the sword is nowhere to be seen. She smirks, apparently finding that funny.

As Kilarra grabs hold of the bars the guard — a young man, really — steps back quickly. He’s jumpy and nervous.

“You forgot your sword, kid,” Kilarra remarks with a curled lip. “Better go get it before the warden finds out. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. I’ve got nowhere else to be.”

The man shifts uncomfortably, then straightens himself. “It’s not lost. I — “

Kilarra chuckles then nods at the package. “You bring me a gift?”

The young guard clears his throat. “Step back,” he orders.

Kilarra smirks and takes a few steps back. She leans against a nearby wall and crosses her arms. The man steps closer, pauses, and looks at her, then quickly shoves the bag between the bars and steps back.

“You finally returning my chamber pot?” she asks.

“What? No, its…”

As the guard stutters Kilarra opens the bag and pulls out a blouse. She scoffs in disgust and shoves it back in the bag. “What’s the matter? Warden tire of his other whores?” She tosses the bag on the floor. “Tell him I bite. Hard.”

The fresh-faced guard looks confused for a moment, either unsure what Kilarra’s talking about or unsure why she’s angry. “No, it’s… You’re free.”

Kilarra scoffs aloud. “Free. Seriously?” She scoffs again and shakes her head.

The man nods. “By order of the Warden, you’re to be set free.”

“Why?” she asks skeptically.

“Good behaviour.”

Kilarra bursts out laughing.

The guard shifts uncomfortably. “Could you… put on your clothes? You can’t go outside like that. It’s unseemly.”

Kilarra’s laughter fades to silence. She watches the guard for a moment, wary and on edge. Eventually she takes off the rough sack and tosses it to the ground, then empties the bag out and starts getting dressed. There’s a blouse, pants, boots — familiar looking clothes Talia’s seen Kilarra wear every day.

The guard blushes and turns around, giving her privacy — an act which causes her to let out another cackling laugh.

“This place is going to eat you alive, kid.” She laughs some more, then approaches the bars. “Ready.”

The guard unlocks the cell. “Follow me.”

Taldor
The flag of Taldor. Image courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Kilarra slips out behind him, following the guard down the hall. His torch illuminates the cells they pass — some of which are as spartan as Kilarra’s, but most of which have hay, pallets, chairs, simple beds, blankets, one even has a flickering candle and a pile of books. The prisoners are all female of varying ages, some cry, some beg, but most simply watch with tired, hopeless eyes. A few of the prisoners give Kilarra a nod as she goes. A few others step back in fear.

At the end of the hall is a pair of barred doors flanked by armoured guards. Above them is a massive painting of Grand Prince Stavian the third. Words underneath it read: A crime against the empire is a crime against yourself. Repent, Obey, Serve.

Unlike the guard walking with Kilarra, these men are hardened and unafraid. They each draw their swords at her approach. One sports a broken nose and a missing front tooth. He snarls at the sight of her.

She smirks. “Love the new look.”

“Listen up, you bit—“

Kilarra’s laughter drowns out the man’s words as the young guard quickly unlocks the door and ushers Kilarra through it.

They travel through more corridors and gates, up stairs and through a few checkpoints. Wherever Kilarra was being held, it was a long ways underground. The sort of place where the prisoners are never expected to leave alive.

As they travel the halls get lighter, and the torch is left behind. Kilarra squints into the dim light as if she were looking into the sun. In time they reach a large room. One final gate blocks the way to the prison’s main hall. One final gate to freedom.

A rotund man wearing nobleman’s finery and a deep sneer scowls at her. “I don’t know what strings you’ve pulled, but it won’t last.”

Kilarra smirks. “Hello, Warden. Fancy seeing you here.”

“You’re a degenerate!” the man spits. “You may be free now, but you’ll be back. Scum like you always comes back.”

“Aww,” she replies with a sarcastic pout. “I’ll miss you too.”

The warden stands seething in front of the gate. He takes a deep breath, nods at the guards, and clenches his fists. As the guards unlock the doors he speaks in a grand voice. “Kilarra Calvennis. In the name of Grand Prince Stavian the third, long may he rule, you are hereby released for… good behaviour…” he spits at Kilarra’s feet then straightens himself. He waves his arms through the air, clearly deciding she’s not worth reciting the rest of the words. “I hereby release you. Now go, before I arrest you for loitering.”

Kilarra strides out of the gate, hurries through the waiting room and bursts out of the doors onto the busy streets of Oparra. She squints into the sun and takes a deep breath. Slowly, a smile spread across her scarred face.

“Kilarra Calvennis?” a voice calls out.

Blinded by the sun, Kilarra’s smile slips. A fleeting look of panic crosses her face. A moment later it’s replaced by a look of determination.

“Who wants to know?” she calls back.

But before the voice can reply the vision blurs and fades, leaving Talia back in her own body.


Want to read more about Kilarra? Be on the look out for more vignettes and flashbacks in the coming weeks!

Want to learn more about Golarion, Taldor, Grand Prince Stavian III, Kyonin, Ilizmagorti, Mediogalti, and the Red Mantis Assassins? Check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea and explore Golarion for yourself! For more information on Taldor you can also check out Pathfinder Companion: Taldor, Echoes Of GloryPathfinder Campaign Setting: Taldor, The First Empire, or play the War for the Crown Adventure Path which begins with Pathfinder Adventure Path 127: Crownfall (War for the Crown 1 of 6).

Adventures at RetroCon!

My family and I don’t often have the chance to attend conventions. We don’t usually get to play Pathfinder Society or Starfinder Society games in person. We play a lot via play-by-post (which is a ton of fun) and we play a lot in small family groups. But to actually play in a public venue? That’s a new experience for us.

So, when we discovered that there would be a convention just down the road from our home how could we say no?

I wasn’t sure my kids would behave. Would they remain focused in a noisy room? Would they sit still long enough to get a whole game in? My son’s a fidgeter, and he fiddles with everything, so I was more than a little skeptical. Would we drive our poor GM bonkers?

Most likely.

But, my kids wanted to go, and my husband wanted to go, and of course I wanted to go. So we went.

In the week leading up to RetroCon we decided to make new characters. We have plenty of PFS characters to choose from but my kids wanted to make some that actually matched the minis we own. My son picked out a snazzy little halfling mini and rolled up a gnome shifter to match it — with the new boar options from Wilderness Origins (more on Wilderness Origins in an upcoming blog post!). My daughter chose one of the only minis she personally owns and created a hunter (her first one!). Determined to make use of an adorable little badger mini she owns she selected one as her animal companion. Yes, you read that right. She finally made something that does not involve a rabbit! GASP! My husband made a dwarven warpriest of Cayden Cailean with a mini we picked up from the flea market this past summer. And I was determined to use of one of my painted minis — which means there aren’t many options! Haha. I’ve only painted minis once and, although I had intended to use the four minis I painted right away, none of them ever saw use. I hummed and hawed a bit until I picked up my wealthy looking noblewoman mini and I created an over-enthusiastic librarian who has spent her life reading about the world and was thrilled to finally go out and experience it.

RetroCon Team

We spent the morning packing and double checking our game time. My kids were practically bouncing off the walls in excitement (which is both a good and bad sign! Haha!). It’s a quick walk down the road, but the sidewalks are an icy, rough mess, so that slowed things down a bit. Luckily no one took a spill or got soaked. We had more than enough time to get settled and say some hellos before our GM arrived and the game got started.

Our GM was really great. He had my kids laughing a lot and was super patient. My kids weren’t the most attentive players, my son kept fixating on off-mission activities, and my son made some of the worst tactical decisions of his short PFS career. We probably drove the GM crazy. Haha. Anyway, my kids had a ton of fun. People were saved, villains were defeated, fish were thrown around, my daughter uttered the battle cry ‘nibble nibble,’ and my arcanist finally left the library.

And then we died.

Yup! Total party kill in the final fight. My kids were both in tears.

My son cheered up a bit when he won a special boon — he’s pretty sure he’s going to apply it to Fuzzzy (his forgetful wizard). My daughter didn’t win anything, but someone was walking around handing out bee folders which she assumed was a prize and happily  claimed. She seriously loves this folder. She’s been cooing over it all evening.

By the time we were packed up and on our way home both of my kids decided that — despite having to suffer through their first character death, first PFS character death, and first TPK all in the same afternoon — they had fun. By the time they got home they were already discussing their next characters and when we would get to play next. (I guess we’ll be attending another Game Day in the future). It turned out to be a good first convention for them — tears and all.

Jessica

Near death
We had a good start. The final boss went down quick! Unfortunately, his undead minion did not. A few rounds later and it was the only one still standing. 

Preparing for Adventure

For Valentine’s Day my seven-year old son received the D&D Starter Set. He was pretty proud of this turn of events, as it marked the very first d20 product he has ever personally owned. He has some hand-me-down books, of course. And he reads my books all the time, but this one? This one was HIS.

We opened it up and he ogled the beautiful blue dice it came with, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the swirling colours. He owns a good deal of dice, but this set is one of his favourite. They look great, and they’re really easy to read. We pulled out the Starter Set Rulebook and the adventure it came with, flipping through both to look at the pictures. And then he got to the loose papers.

“What are these, Mom? Boss stats or something?”

I explained they were pre-generated characters.

“Why would I need those?”

“They’re for new players, dear. So you can just open the box, grab a character, and play.”

He looked at me like he’d been insulted. “I think I can handle making my own.”

I laughed. “You’ve never played D&D before.”

Another look like he’d been insulted. “I’ll learn.”

He settled into his bed and read through the little booklets and soon came to three realizations. First: Most of the information in the books was stuff he already knew. Second: There was no information on how to make his own characters. And third: I would DM for him. It was just more fun that way.

I pulled down our D&D Player’s Handbook and opened it up. We settled onto the couch together but, as my son soon pointed out, he could do it himself. Not long afterwards he announced. “I’m going to be an really old dragonborn rogue named Old Sorewing. His clan was destroyed, but he saved all the kids from the clan and brought them with him to Neverwinter. That’s the city that the adventure starts in, Mom. His old clan was called the Dogbone Fliers. But he made the dragonborn whelps his new clan. They are called the Fishgut Clan, cause they survive on fish they scavenge from the ocean. They live in the sewers, and abandoned buildings and stuff. And Old Sorewing robs and steals to support his whelps. He’s their leader, you know. But, one day he paid a guy named Gundren Rockseeker with fake coins — that’s the guy who hires us in the adventure by the way. And he got caught. And Gundren said that if Old Sorewing didn’t do a job for him he would send the cops after his whelps! And Old Sorewing doesn’t want that! His Clan is his flaw. So he is going to do a job for Gundren. Now find me a character sheet, Mom. And write all that down for me.”

“And here I thought you could do it yourself,” I replied.

MOM,” my son huffed. “Fine. Get me a pencil, too. And an eraser! I will need one of those.”

A few minutes later we were settled at the table, working on his character sheet. My son was surprised at how quick and easy making a character was. He’s used to playing Pathfinder, so in comparison making a D&D character is easy. Sure enough, he stuck with his plan. He made an old dragonborn with white scales who was graying in places. He has a white dragon as his draconic ancestry and can breathe out a cone of cold. He wears fake wings on his back, and a fake tail (to make him look like a real scary dragon!). He chose the criminal background, and took the gear packages that came with his class and background. Old Sorewing is incredibly smart, charismatic, and dextrous, with Strength and Constitution both tied for his lowest stats. He’s trained in Deception, Intimidation, Perception, Persuasion, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth. He fights with a rapier and a shortbow. My son filled in his sheet, draw a picture of his character, and explained his background, flaws, and traits again, so I could write it all down for him.

“Is that it?” he asked.

“Yup, that’s all.”

“That was easy. I like that. But I also kind of don’t. There weren’t many… choices. To make me different from other rogues.”

“Dear, I promise you, Old Sorewing is very different from other rogues. He’s going to be great.”

“Yeah, but only cause of his story and stuff. Don’t I get a feat at least?”

“Nope. No feats. Although you can choose to take one at higher levels instead of increasing an ability score, if you want. You don’t need to worry about that now, though. In a few levels you’ll get to make some more choices for your rogue. That’ll make you feel more unique.”

“Well, alright…” he said, still uneasy with how easy it had been.

“You do have one more job, though, dear,” I pointed out. “Convince your father and sister to make their own characters.”

My son grinned and was off. Convincing my daughter to make a new character is the easiest thing in the world.

“Hey, come make a — ” my son started. But before he had even finished his sentence my daughter cut him off.

She raced to the table shouting, “I heard! I want to make a goblin named Zig who is a bard and wants to help people! I’ll shout, ‘ZIG HELP!’ all the time!” She laughed and leaned over to whisper to me. “I got that idea from the character Zig from that Pathfinder Society Scenario we are playing, Mom. Zig is the BEST!” (Zig is from PFS #10-06: Treason’s Chains)

I laughed and whispered. “I know. We’re all playing it together, remember? But goblins aren’t a playable race in D&D.”

“Well, fine. I’ll be a gnome then. Now get the dice!”

My daughter had a ton of fun making her new character. In the end she decided to make a Forest Gnome Bard Entertainer. Charisma was her best stat, with Dexterity, Constitution, and Intelligence all a close second. Her Wisdom was low, and her Strength was even worse. She chose to be proficient in the mandolin, harmonica, piano, and flute. For skills she chose Animal Handling (of course!), Acrobatics, Performance, Nature, and Survival. For cantrips she selected dancing lights and message (along with minor illusion, which she gets for being a forest gnome). Her first level spells were animal friendship, feather fall, healing word, and speak with animals. She loves the idea of the ritual spells! From there she started filling out her background. She decided that Zig was trained by the fey as a bard and is the youngest bard in gnomish history. She has a pet rabbit named Ziggy, that she loves very much. In fact, the rabbit is the only family she has. What happened to the rest? Tragedy, of course! One day when she was very young, Zig’s grandfather was attacked by a werewolf and barely escaped with his life! Unfortunately, he became a werewolf the next full moon and ate everyone in her whole family! Zig only escaped with the help of her fairy friends! To this day, Zig is terrified of lycanthropes of all kinds (a trait she shares with my daughter).

“But, all that sad stuff is a secret, Mom!” my daughter explained, “Because she doesn’t want to talk about it!”

Fair.

With a bit more work, my daughter decided that Zig loved animals more than anything. She sings songs about animals, in the hopes she can make her audience love them as much as she does. She also sings to animals, which is one of her favourite things to do. If an animal is in danger, Zig will selflessly hurl herself in the way (“Zig save!”) and if she finds out an animal is abused she’ll sneak back later to free it (“Zig free!”). And, of course, Zig loves to help. In fact, she even tries to help when she’s horrible at it. (“Zig help!”).

“I am SO EXCITED!” my daughter shrieked as we finished up her character.

“Me too,” I replied. “She’s going to be a lot of fun.”

My husband was next. He whipped up a half-elf paladin of Kord named Argo Grey. Raised by the priests at the church of Kord in Neverwinter, Argo had a thorough education, but always had a hard time focusing. He was constantly daydreaming of adventure and glory. Although pious, Argo wasn’t meant for book learning. He was meant for sports! He became a competitive athlete, but to this day he needs to stop and reference his holy book whenever he’s asked to recite a prayer or perform a ceremony. As the only half-elf in the church, Argo covered his ears with a bandana, to hide his heritage as a way to better fit in with his peers. It became habit, and he still passes himself off as a human whenever possible. Tying his character into the upcoming adventure, he decided that Argo was once mentored by Sildar Hallwinter, a man who was acting as a guard for Gundren.

Strength, Constitution, and Charisma are all Argo’s highest ability scores, with Dexterity a distant second, average Wisdom, and poor Intelligence. He fights with a longsword and javelins, and wears sturdy chain mail and a shield. He chose the acolyte background, and ended up proficient in Athletics, Insight, Medicine, Perception, Persuasion, and Religion. Like my son, my husband was a little disheartened at the lack of extra options at level one. Although he likes the simplicity and ease with which you can create characters, he also likes making decisions. There wasn’t all that much to fiddle with at level one. Still, he was excited to give Argo a whirl, and looks forward to selecting a fighting style and sacred oath at later levels.

Which left me. Shockingly we had no major arcane caster, which is a role I never get to fill at home, so I decided immediately to take the opportunity to make one. I was going to make a sorceress, but frankly, as a fan of the many different bloodlines available in Pathfinder, having only two options for sorcerer bloodlines wasn’t cutting it for me. Wizards are always fun, but I decided to make a Warlock. It’s not something I’ve made before and I enjoy playing a creepy weirdo now and then. And her race? Dwarf, obviously! It’s one of my favourite races.

I created a hill dwarf named Eldeth, who was once a soldier in the dwarven infantry. She was tasked with escorting a eccentric sage to an old ruin underground. While there she discovered a beautiful green orb, which she felt compelled to claim for her own. Unfortunately, her unit was attacked by duergar and taken captive. While imprisoned, Eldeth had strange visions. Her fellows believed she was going mad. In her dreams the orb was speaking to her, and in one particularly lucid fever dream she accepted its aid. Only it wasn’t a dream. Eldeth had been bound to the orb and it’s fiendish master. In exchange she was granted the power to escape. She returned to her people much changed. She was deathly pale, with dark black veins around her eyes, inner arms, and over her heart. Her irises had turned black, as had her once vibrant hair. They called her Eldeth Darkvein, sole survivor of the Stonton Massacre, and though they were happy she returned home, she made them uneasy. She couldn’t spar with her fellow soldiers — she was too violent. And when she bled her blood came out a thick black ooze. It wasn’t long before she was ‘honourably’ discharged, and went on ‘vacation’ to the surface. Her clan was relieved, but Eldeth had lost her purpose. All she had left was the orb, and her fiendish master, which whispered dark thoughts to her. She hated and loved it, which terrified her. Recently a dwarf she used to know, Gundren Rockseeker, offered her some simple guard work, escorting a caravan from Neverwinter to the tiny town of Phandalin, which she accepted. Few folks would give her work these days, and she needed the coin.

Constitution is Eldeth’s highest ability score, with Strength and Charisma a close second. Her Dexterity is fair, her Intelligence is average, but she’s weak-willed, with a poor Wisdom score. She’s a warlock with a fiendish patron, and the Soldier background. She gained proficiency with Arcana, Athletics, Intimidation, and Investigation, and chose to fight armoured and with her trusty battleaxe. For cantrips she selected eldritch blast (of course!) and prestidigitation. For first level spells she chose hellish rebuke and comprehend languages. Eldeth is power hungry, dour, and intimidating. Traumatized by her time as a prisoner of the duergar, Eldeth is paranoid everyone is out to get her, and terrified of being imprisoned or enslaved. She hopes to one day discover the identity of the demon she accidentally bound herself to, but hasn’t had any luck yet. When she thinks no one is looking she talks to her orb, holding it close and whispering gently.

With all our characters ready to go we sifted through our minis and each picked one out. We were ready to begin the adventure from the D&D Starter Set: Lost Mine of Phandalin. Or rather, everyone was ready but me. I still had to read the adventure.

Thanks for joining us today! Tune in later this week for a review on the contents of the D&D Starter Set, and a campaign update on our first session playing Lost Mine of Phandelver!

Jessica

 

The Mantisbane Pact

One of the play-by-post campaigns I am lucky enough to take part in is run by the wonderful GM Zek on Paizo’s messageboards. The campaign is called the Mantisbane Pact, and it takes place in Golarion, the world of Pathfinder. Mantisbane Pact involves an alliance of powerful monarchs and rightful rulers who come together to destroy the Red Mantis Assassins and their god, Achaekek. Our players would act as their agents, travel to Ilizmagorti (a city firmly in the grasp of the Red Mantis Assassins), and work to bring the entire organization crumbling down.

No pressure, right? Haha.

This awesome custom campaign was recruiting by application, meaning interested players would need to create a character and submit it for review. After a while the GM would select which players they wanted to play in the campaign. This is pretty common practise for online play-by-post campaigns, due to the high interest of players, and the length of the campaign. It’s important you find a team of characters and players who work well together. Unlike other campaigns I had applied for, The Mantisbane Pact asked interested players to create a short story for their characters as part of the selection process. My character, a smart-ass, jaded slayer name Kilarra Calvennis, was accepted alongside a team of other awesome PCs to undertake this mission. At various times throughout the adventure we also had the opportunity to write other vignettes and flashbacks, often from the perspective of our shaman, who can view moments from the past by using the Akashic Record.

Today I’m sharing with you the initial short story I wrote for my character, Kilarra. After today it will be available under the d20 Stories feature on our website. Enjoy!

Jessica


Beginnings

Kilarra Calvennis stood in her boyfriend’s bedroom preparing for the worst betrayal of her life. She strapped on her armour slowly, fussing with the buckles with sweaty, shaking hands. She was nervous and excited, all at once.

She was about to undertake a test—one of many she would have to pass in order to become a Red Mantis Assassin. The target was her father. He wouldn’t die—this wasn’t an official assassination. It was just a break in. A simple test of skill, stealth and loyalty. Get into her father’s office without being seen, knock him unconscious, remove all the documents in his office, and slip away without being caught.

She could do this. She knew she could. So why were her hands shaking? And why was her heart fluttering like a panicked bird trapped in her chest?

Kilarra sighed. Her father deserved everything that was coming to him. He was one of the many corrupt nobles that dealt in lies and bribes. Just one among hundreds, but his methods sickened her. She had rebelled against him and against her country. She tried to bring about change, first with words, and then more drastic measures. None of it worked. In the end it wasn’t her father that had changed, or Taldor… It was her. And it wasn’t for the better. She did more harm than her father ever had.

“It’s his fault,” she reminded herself aloud. Her voice shook, but she continued. “He deserves this. He brought it on himself.”

She slipped her hands into her black and red leather gloves, grabbed her helmet off her boyfriend’s bureau and left the room.

Bastien grinned at her. “You look beautiful, love,” he said.

Kilarra smiled. If her father was everything wrong in the world, Bastien was everything right. He was her beloved. Her mentor. Her life. He pulled her up from the life of gangs and crime that her father had driven her to and stood her back up. He gave her purpose. He gave her love. He was intoxicating. So when Bastien confided in her that he was an assassin, she accepted that. And when he asked her to worship his strange mantis-god, she prayed with him. And when he said that she was gifted and that he wanted to train her to be like him, she was proud.

Taldor
Taldor’s coat of arms. Image courtesy of Paizo Inc.

She would do anything for him.

 

“I’m ready,” she replied.

Bastien nodded. “You are.”

She kissed him goodbye, slipped her red, mantis shaped helmet over her head and crept out the window onto the roof. If she had to rob her father to prove herself to Bastien, she would do so gladly.

The trip to her father’s office was short and uneventful. She kept to the shadows and stayed quiet. She slipped in through an open window on the third floor and crept down the dark halls with ease. There was a light around the edges of her father’s office door. He was in there, just as Bastien said he would be. She reached for the doorknob and hesitated.

This would change everything. Whatever happened between her and her father… Whatever he discovered and whatever she did… There was no going back. After tonight Bastien would take her to train among his fellow Red Mantis Assassins. He would train her to kill.

She never wanted to kill anyone. She still didn’t. But the thought of letting Bastien down made her sick to her stomach. She didn’t want to disappoint him. Not after everything he had done for her. She wanted to make him proud. She would make him proud. No matter what.

Kilarra took a deep breath and turned the doorknob. She cracked the door open and glanced inside. Her father was at his desk, back to her, clutching something at his chest. She moved in silently and shut the door.

He didn’t notice her. He didn’t hear her coming. But something about the way he was twitching in his chair put her on edge…. And the smell… Smelt like…

Red Mantis
Symbol of the Red Mantis Assassins. Image courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Blood.

 

Kilarra inched across the room, hands shaking, afraid of what she would see.

Her father jerked erratically and fell from his chair, landing in a heap on the floor. A letter opener protruded from his chest.

“Dad!” she exclaimed.

He flinched when he saw her and tried to scream, but the blood in his mouth made it come out a wet gurgle. She tore her helmet off, and tossed it aside. It’s black insectile eyes watched her accusingly from across the room.

Her father’s eyes widened. He gurgled again, trying to speak, but she couldn’t make out what he was saying.

Pain exploded across the back of her head. She fell to the ground in a heap. Her ears rang and her vision blurred. She reached a shaky hand to her head. It was wet. And something was in her hair… She looked at her fingertips and saw they were covered in blood.

The killer was still here. How could she have been so stupid?

Kilarra crawled forward, but the blow she’d taken to the head had been fierce. Her arms were shaking and she couldn’t focus.

Behind her she heard laughter. It was familiar, but… wrong. Cold and cruel where it had once been warm.

“Ba- Bas- tien..?” she whimpered.

“I thought you’d be harder to take down than that! Didn’t you learn anything from me?”

It wasn’t him. It couldn’t be. He loved her.

There was motion beside her, and then pain. The man who sounded like Bastien kicked her so hard in the chest her whole body was lifted off the ground. She fell on her back, her head cracked against the floor with a wet crunch.

And there above her, smiling, was Bastien.

“Why?” she whimpered.

“Sorry, love,” he replied. “But I’ve always loved playing games.”

He struck her again, knocking her unconscious as a tear streamed down her bloody, swollen face.


When she woke up Bastien was gone, but she wasn’t alone. The guards had found her, bloody and beaten, clutching a bloody letter opener in one hand and her fathers coin purse in the other. Her gear was missing. Her father was dead. Bastien was gone.

She would have done anything for him. Anything.

He took everything from her but her life.


Six Years Later…

Kilarra stepped out of prison and into the busy, sunlit streets of Oppara for the first time in six years. She looked around, and took a deep breath. Slowly, a smile spread across her scarred face. Gods, freedom smelt good.

“Kilarra Calvennis?”

As she opened her eyes her smile slipped. A woman in a military uniform stood in front of her. She was middle-aged, blonde, clean-cut.

“Who wants to know?”

“Officer Landau. Agent of the Crown.”

“I didn’t do it,” Kilarra replied.

“Do what?”the woman asked.

“Whatever it is you think I did.”

Officer Landau smiled. “I think you’re the woman who spent six years of her life serving jail time for killing her father. The same woman who spouted tales of mantis headed assassins for years.”

Kilarra sighed. “And what? You want to hear it again? You want to laugh? I’m out now. A free woman. ”

The officer smirked. “Yes, convenient, isn’t it? Serving only six years of a life-time sentence.”

Kilarra’s frown deepened. Landau was right. Officially she was being let out for good behaviour, but that was clearly a lie. Kilarra hadn’t been good in prison. First she had cried, and then she had yelled, and then she fell in with a bad crowd all over again—or rather, she made her own bad crowd. “Leave me alone,” she growled.

The woman raised an eyebrow. “Why? So you can track down who hired the Red Mantis Assassins and beat them bloody? So you can hunt down your mom, or your grandmother or you brother or any number of other potential suspects and wind up back in the prison you just left by days end?”

Kilarra repressed a frown. That was exactly what she had been planning to do. She plastered a smile across her face and fluttered her eyelashes sweetly. “I’m reformed.”

“Whoever hired you did so for power, or money, or some other petty reason. You weren’t the target, you were the scape goat. It wasn’t personal for them. But this person—this guy you were with. Bastien. He made it personal, didn’t he? Isn’t that who you should be getting revenge against? The man who betrayed you?”

Bastien. The sound of his name sent a wave of anger surging through her. If she ever saw him again she would cram his stupid mantis helmet down his throat. Focus…”Did one too many blows to the head make you deaf, Officer Landau? I said I’m reformed. I’m not going to kill anyone. I’m not searching for vengeance. And I’m not talking to you.”

“That’s too bad. See, I’m recruiting for a special assignment. Grand Prince Stavian the Third has entered into an agreement with—“

“Spare me the politics. It’s boring.”

Officer Landau continued as if she hadn’t been interrupted by a dirty ex-con, but Kilarra could tell her smile had turned cold. “It’s called the Mantisbane Pact, and its purpose is to send agents to kill the Red Mantis Assassins, destroy their organization and assassinate their god.”

Kilarra froze. “Achaekek…” she breathed.

The soldier smiled. “Got your attention, have I?”

“You’re looking for people to assassinate a god?” She burst out laughing. This woman was clearly mad. “How’s that working out for you?”

“Finding brave enough—”

“Crazy enough, you mean.”

Driven enough volunteers who might actually be able to get the job done is… difficult. Which is why I’m here.”

Kyonin
Kyonin, home of the elves. Image courtesy of Paizo Inc.

“Obviously.”

 

Officer Landau grit her teeth. “I’m giving you the opportunity to apply for the team. There’s no guarantee you’ll get in. There’s other volunteers just as driven—”

“Crazy.”

“As you. Now are you in or can I wash my hands of you?”

Kilarra smiled. “Well with a sales pitch like that, how can I refuse? Where do I sign up?”

“Iadara.”

“Where?”

“Pack a bag. The applicants sail for Kyonin tomorrow.”


Want to read more about Kilarra? Be on the look out for more vignettes and flashbacks in the coming weeks!

Want to learn more about Golarion, Taldor, Grand Prince Stavian III, Kyonin, Ilizmagorti, Mediogalti, and the Red Mantis Assassins? Check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea and explore Golarion for yourself! For more information on Taldor you can also check out Pathfinder Companion: Taldor, Echoes Of GloryPathfinder Campaign Setting: Taldor, The First Empire, or play the War for the Crown Adventure Path which begins with Pathfinder Adventure Path 127: Crownfall (War for the Crown 1 of 6).

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Realms of Atrothia

Today we’re talking about a Kickstarter I’m super excited for: Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion which just launched this morning! I’ve already made my pledge (although my children are urging me to give more) and  today we’re doing our part to make this book a reality!

So what is Realms of Atrothia?

Realms of Atrothia Primary Expansion

In short, Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion is a high quality hardcover d20 book that offers players a rich new campaign setting, imaginative character options, and exciting game mechanics to play around with. It’s Pathfinder First Edition compatible, and scheduled to be released this fall. Realms of Atrothia is the brain child of my brother, Kris Leonard. Kris is the founder of Sunburst Games, an independant Tabletop RPG company focused on Pathfinder Compatible content for the next generation.

I’ve had the opportunity to create plenty of content for this amazing book already, which has been an awesome (and time consuming!) experience. Even more exciting, my daughter’s rabbitfolk race will be featured as a new primary race in Realms of Atrothia! She’s over the moon with this development!

Want more details? Read on for more information straight from the source: Sunburst Games mastermind: Kris Leonard!

“Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion is a hardcover book that will surely be the newest addition to any Tabletop Gamer’s library. With an expected release in fall 2019, our Kickstarter just launched this morning. Building upon the legacy of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and the existing d20 game system which is over 35 years in the making, Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion includes all new game mechanics, and player options.

Featuring the Realms Campaign Setting, the Ascended system for running a game beyond 20th level, and expanded player content, including new archetypes, base classes, feats, gear, magic items, races, and spells, Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion is sure to capture the imaginations of Players, and GMs alike.

You can adventure through a whole new world with lost civilizations, unexplored jungles, and political intrigue abound. Dine with the Hegemony of Kalmarune’s vampire aristocracy. Contend with the Trennian Empire’s claim of national superiority through widespread use of black powder. Push back the ever-expanding armies from the forsaken lands of Xer-Kol whose fanatical peoples serve the whims of the god of corruption bound within their borders. The Realms of Atrothia await.”

Awesome! But, what will we actually be getting?

New Races

Packed with over 25 new playable races, Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion features an expansive array of racial options including Alternative Racial Traits, Favored Class Bonuses, Racial Archetypes, and Racial Feats. Including fully re-balanced Legacy Races already seen in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as well as new Primary Races such as the Anithrope, Caitsith, Giantborn, Half-Troll, Hecavus, Immortis, Lupine, Minotaur, Rabbitfolk, Tortoisefolk, and Volaris. If that’s not enough, get ready for dozens of Monstrous Races, such as Cyclops, Dracolyte, Gargoyle, Harpy, Oni, Medusa, Moonbeast, Pixie, Sphinx, Treant, and Yeti! These are powerful races which are modified for play at 1st character level, but cannot reach full strength without pursuing the Exemplar Primary Class for one or more levels.

New Classes

New heroes have arrived with Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion. Featuring seven new Primary Classes including Artificer, Erudite, Esoteric, Exemplar, Knight, Priest, and Spellsword, as well as dozens of new Class Archetypes for both the Legacy Classes already seen in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Primary Classes. In addition they’re introducing a new kind of archetype: Universal Archetypes, which can be taken by any class.

New Worlds

Get ready for a whole new world of adventure! Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion includes a new Campaign Setting, the World of Atrothia. Featuring over 25 new deities, including the redeemed knight Davros, and the corrupter Xeronoth, and more than 50 regions to explore, such as the undead aristocracy of the Hegemony of Kalmarune, the pinnacle of prosperity that is Palisade, and the unexplored reaches of the Mogen Wildlands.

New Equipment, Spells, and Game Mechanics

But, that’s not all! There’s new equipment, magic items, spells, and feats for characters of all kinds. There’s also new game mechanics, including the Ascended System, which allows for high level play past 20th level, and ascending to godhood!

To learn more about Sunburst Games, Realms of Atrothia, and their products be sure to check out their website: SunburstGames.com! Want to support the Kickstarter, see some awesome artwork, or find out more? Click here! You’ll be happy you did!

Thanks for joining us today. We hope you enjoy taking a look at Realms of Atrothia!

Dream big,

Jessica

Check out some of the wonderful art that will be featured in Realms of Atrothia: Primary Expansion! Art courtesy of Sunburst Games. Illustrated by Rigrena