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

A Whirlwind Week!

Whoooo! It’s been a busy week.

My kids had their school holiday concert this week. They were supremely excited for it. My daughter’s been practising her holiday songs and dancing around every day since they first started practising two months ago. She would give me a mischievous smile every time I saw her practising, then shut the door in my face. Haha. Anyway, the concert was a lot of fun. They sang Hanukah, Kwanza, Christmas, and holiday songs, and had a ton of fun. I had my niece and nephew with me for both shows (they do an afternoon and an evening show) which I suppose might make some people nervous. What two and four year old want to sit nice through a concert, never mind the same one twice? But they’re usually pretty good for me, and I bring them with me every year, so they were pretty excited to see their cousins put on a show for them. They had a lot of fun and were actually really, really good. Which was nice. I got to enjoy the show too, haha. I parked my niece in her stroller at the edge of an aisle so she could see, but other parents kept getting up and standing in front of her and blocking her view. I suppose they figured she was ‘just a baby’ and wouldn’t mind. Ha! She’s two and at that age where she’s using new words every day. So, every time someone purposely stood in front of her she’d shake her little fist and exclaim, “HEY! CAN’T SEE! YOU! GO! I CAN’T SEE!”

So many parents jumped and looked around shocked to see it was this tiny, cute little chubby toddler giving them a scolding. Some moved, some ignored her, some scowled at her, some jumped a foot like we were on some gag show, but either way I had a laugh. She’s adorable. Haha.

Later in the show Santa made an appearance and went through the crowd greeting kids so my niece and nephew were just AMAZED. “SANTA! ITS SANTA! LOOK AUNTIE! SANTA!!” My kids up on stage were pretty excited about it to. Apparently Santa had made a few visits to their rehearsal ahead of time to say he was coming and greet all the kids. My daughter explained to me later that night that someone from her class had written him an email to invite him to the concert, so OF COURSE he came. It was cute.


Last night we went to a fancy gala for my husband’s work. Princess Auto is celebrating its 85th year in business. Not only that, it’s a small Winnipeg-based, family owned, Canadian business that stretches from coast to coast. Many of you won’t have ever heard of Princess Auto before, but let me start by saying: no, they don’t sell cars. Haha. They were originally an auto wrecking business based on Princess Street here in Winnipeg, but as the years went on their owners were always adapting to the current and future retail market. They got into army surplus at the end of the war, mail order catalogs, and later stores. They kept changing with the times and now they have 43 stores across Canada and are opening one more that I know of this year, with a few more in 2019. They sell products in all kinds of categories: hand tools, outdoor, farm, trailer, driveline, hydraulics, and surplus (where you can find good deals on just a bunch of.. stuff. Haha). Where I live people either have never heard of Princess Auto, or LOVE IT. Like, OBSESSIVELY love it. Their customers are absurdly loyal. I suppose it’s mostly due to their ethos. Princess Auto has made it their mission, and always has, to treat their customers and employees with kindness and respect. They’re one of those businesses where the regulars come in and hang out all day, chatting and visiting and browsing. Staff probably knows them by name, what they do for a living, and about their family. Like at an independent coffee shop, or your local gaming store. A little community where everyone’s welcome. I’m just some employees wife, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the owners, CEO, and all kinds of other wonderful people plenty of times. A lot of customers bring in gifts for the staff and store, just because. I have some smoked fish and pepperoni sticks made by some happy customers sitting in my fridge right now.

Anyway, the folks over at Princess Auto are super nice, and they always throw a great party, so it’s one of those work get-togethers that is always fun to go to. For the 85th Anniversary Gala they hosted a big dinner and dance, with a live brass band, free food and drinks, prizes, gifts for everyone, and (very important) free cab vouchers to get home. There were staff in from all over the country, and guests of honour from the early days of Princess Auto. It was a lot of fun.

My kids went for a sleepover to my Mom’s house for the evening, so I’m sitting in my living room as I type this with a hot cup of tea and… silence. There’s just the tap of the keyboard as I type, a distant drip in my sink — I really should get up and turn that off — and my husband’s snoring from the other side of the apartment. It’s so… still.

I’m not used to that. Being still.

Even when my kids are at school I’m watching other young children and trying to stop them from tearing my modest apartment apart. Life is never quiet for me. And certainly never still.

It’s weird. But nice. Give me another few hours and I’ll miss my kids. Haha. But, for now, it’s the first quiet break I’ve had in a long time.


Later this week it’s my birthday. I’ll be turning… (pardon me while I count) … 33! Yes, I literally had to count. Honestly, once I turned 18 (which is the year you’re an adult where I live in Canada) I just stopped counting. I’m an adult! That’s all I need to know. Haha. I don’t do much for my birthday. I’m not one of those people who has a big party, or even family over really. I usually just take a day off from babysitting and spend the day with my husband. My birthday wishes? Same as always! Hugs from my kids, a day free from chores and cooking, and a slurpee for a treat.

I’m a fan of the simple things. Haha.

Not sure what I’ll be doing this year. Taking my kids to school. Probably cleaning my house and cooking. Haha. But, my husband booked the day off (he’s a sweetheart), so maybe I’ll make him do all my chores for me.

Hey! A girl can dream!

So, from me and mine to you and yours, here’s wishing you all happy birthdays throughout the year. I value every one of you that comes by to visit our little corner of the internet.

A thousand thanks!


In other news, PaizoCon registration has officially begun!

PaizoCon will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in SeaTac, Washington over Memorial Day weekend (which is May 24–27). I may admit that I’m a little jealous of all you folks who are going to attend. Haha. At PaizoCon you can meet your favorite Paizo artists, authors, designers, developers, editors, and personalities. You can also play games at the Pathfinder and Starfinder Society organized play tables, attend panels and workshops, get some snazzy sneak-peeks, and (of course) buy stuff! This PaizoCon will also mark the relaunch of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (which has been getting an overhaul) and their new Adventure Path: Curse of the Crimson Throne. The Starfinder team  apparently has some secrets to share, and Pathfinder Second Edition is sure to be a hot topic, as well.

The Guests of Honor for PaizoCon 2019 are Liane Merciel (author Pathfinder Tales: Hellknight), Wayne Reynolds (freelance illustrator whose work includes every Pathfinder RPG hardcover release and the Pathfinder Iconics), and The Glass Cannon Podcast (weekly live-play podcasters who play Pathfinder and Starfinder. I’ve previously written about them here.).

Curious about pricing? Look no further!

  • 4-Day Badges are $75.00
  • 4-Day Kid’s Badges are $40.00
  • PaizoCon Preview Banquet Tickets are $45.00 and include an exclusive commemorative item available only to attendees at the Preview Banquet and through auctions or prizes at select charity events.
  • Purchasing a 4-Day Badge (regular) and a Preview Banquet ticket together are $110 ($10 savings)

For more information on PaizoCon 2019 and to register head over to PaizoCon.com. Want to learn more about the special guests? Check out LianeMerciel.com, WayneReynolds.com, and GlassCannonPodcast.com.


In other news, Wayfinder is announcing their accepted authors this week. Wayfinder is a free Paizo magazine written by fans, for fans, which features a ton of new content for the Pathfinder RPG. The issues are always a free download on Paizo’s website, and are always a treat to read. Usually they follow a theme and this year it’s not about Pathfinder at all! It’s about Starfinder! Absalom Station to be exact. They’ve been accepting entries from fans since the summer, and reading through them for another two months, and now this weekend they’re supposed to announce everyone who’s articles and submissions they’re going to use. My kids each created a creature for Wayfinder this year, and I submitted a Weal and Woe article and two themes. We’re all excited to see if any of us made the cut. My kids, particularly, are on the edge of their seats. It’s adorable. We’ve got our fingers crossed.

Wish us luck!


Finally, I want to talk about Pathfinder Friday. This past week’s episode was AWESOME! Erik Mona, Chief Creative Officer and Publisher of Paizo, was on the show and was an amazing guest. Erik has been with the team at Paizo the whole time. From back in the Dungeon and Dragon Magazine days, when Pathfinder wasn’t even born yet. This marked his first time on the show since they got they’re snazzy, comfy set for the twitch stream, and wow! They should really get him on more often!

Erik shared a ton of information with us about the Starstone! From behind the scenes inspirations, to the history and lore of the Starstone, how it arrived on Golarion, it’s effect on the world, its powers, and how you can use it. Just a ton of interesting information. Some of it was even new to me (exciting!).

For those of you who don’t know, the Starstone is part of a giant meteorite that was called down from outer space by some ticked off aboleths in order to put those uppity humans back in their place. The meteorite was slowed and detoxified by two Azlanti gods, Acavna and Amazden, which prevented much of the devastation that could have been caused at the expense of their lives. But, the impact still shook up the world. Civilzations ended, the sun was blocked from the sky, the terrain was literally reshaped, some races fled to different locations, which even created new races. In short, it was a BIG DEAL. A long time later a survivor by the name of Aroden found the stone, raised it up from the oceans, created the isle of Kortos, became a god, and made a city for his worshippers called Absalom. Thanks Aroden! When you interact with the Starstone you undergo a series of phantasmagoric visions and experiences that is different for everyone. This is known as the Test of the Starstone, and it sort of pits yourself against yourself. This inner test determines if you’re worthy to be a god, and if so, what you’ll be god of. If you pass you can become a living god, which is sort of like a demigod and is the most available method for ordinary people to become divine. Some people managed (Norgorber, Iomedae, and Cayden Cailean), while many more died in the attempt. Around the Startsone Aroden built a temple and filled it with dangerous tests, traps, and guardians.

“The first part of the Test of the Starstone, the dungeon part, tests your character sheet, but the second part tests your character,” said Erik Mona.

The Starstone is an artifact which had a huge historical impact on Golarion, it’s people, and the Pathfinder Campaign Setting as a whole. It even has a role to play in the Starfinder universe. Which is why this episode was such a neat one to get to see. Because, despite its importance, the Starstone isn’t really something that Pathfinder has focused on. It set the stage for the game and the world, but then it’s been sort of… idle. Nothing’s really happened with it lately, in and out of game. This is something that they hope to remedy in Pathfinder Second Edition. Erik explained that they’re going to do the Test of the Starstone one day, but the question is when and how. Is it better served as an Adventure Path or a high level deluxe adventure? He also mentioned that the team at Paizo is putting in a lot of thought into some central themes which may have been neglected over the last few years. This includes Absalom (which only PFS has focused on), Aroden, the Starstone, and much more.

If you haven’t seen the most recent Pathfinder Friday episode, I highly suggest you give it a watch. You can watch it and other previous episodes on Paizo’s Twitch stream, as well as on youtube. Although, I highly recommend watching it on Twitch so you can see the Q&A portion of the episode as well.

Enjoy!

Have a great week everyone,

Jessica

A Trip Down Memory Lane…

I recently started watching iZombie (iZombie: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)) on Netflix. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a show about zombies that is currently starting its fifth season. Now, this isn’t some depressing ‘Walking Dead’ (The Walking Dead: Complete Series) type show (although I also love that…). It’s more like a funny cop/murder mystery show. Except if one of the main characters was a zombie who needed to feast on brains in order to retain her humanity. Oh, and she works in a morgue. It’s loosely based on the comics (iZombie Volume 1: Dead to the World) that were written by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, and published by Vertigo.

My husband and both thoroughly enjoy it, and are currently nearing the end of the third season. Anyway, we were watching last night and suddenly came upon an episode entitled “Twenty-Sided, Die” wherein our beloved zombie heroine devours the brains of a dungeon master in order to help solve his murder. It was a hilarious episode, and completely absurd, but halfway through she convinces her friends to play a session with her, in order to help stimulate memories of the deceased. So there they are, sitting at the table: four people attempting to humour their friend. One secretly wants to play, one’s there to give it a shot, and the other two would rather be doing anything else. By the end of their session nearly everyone has had a blast, and gotten right into it. At the end the episode one of the serious cop characters tells the zombie girl that she should run a game every week. It was just SO refreshingly entertaining.

Which got me thinking.

It’s rare you get to see d20 games featured in popular media. I adored this episode of iZombie, and of course, there’s plenty of wonderful Dungeons and Dragons cameos and references in Stranger Things (Stranger Things (Season 1: Collector’s Edition))). But where else have I seen good d20 references? I know there’s others out there, but I couldn’t recall any specific instances.

More than that, though, it brought back memories.

The first time you played a d20 game.

Remember that?

Trying to figure out the rules while you make your first character? Being a little nervous at first, as you figure out what you can and can’t do? Finding your voice? The laughter?The nerves?

The first time I made a character for Dungeons and Dragons I was in high school. A friend had insisted a big group of us make characters and get together to play. Most of my friends said no, but I was one of the few who said I would. A few years before that I had stumbled across a copy of the Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook (3.5) in a bookstore and flipped through it. I wanted the book so bad, but had no idea what it was. I must have looked at it over the next twenty trips. Passing by, browsing, but never buying. Flash forward a few years and I suddenly went ‘A-ha! That’s how you use that book!’ I made myself a dual-wielding elven ranger with long red hair named Meloriel. We went to the store and browsed minis until I found the perfect one. And then…. Nothing. We never played.

It wasn’t until many, MANY years later that I finally had the opportunity to play again. This time I made a half-elven bard named Lorelei. My husband (we had just started dating at the time) played her boyfriend, a gnome illusionist named Blount who worked as her stage-hand. My brother played a fierce minotaur warrior, while co-workers of my brother and husband played a lizardfolk and a half-orc monk. It was DMed enthusiastically by another co-worker of my brother’s. The game wasn’t very long-lived, but it sure was fun. We immediately began buying the rulebooks and campaign settings. I got addicted to Dungeon Magazine. We went out and bought pewter miniatures, only to paint them ourselves with whatever we had on hand. I even cracked out my pencil crayons and drew my own character art. Sadly, the campaign came to an abrupt end when my husband and I went on a vacation, but we never lost our love of the game. We were hooked from that first roll of the dice!

In the years since we must have remade our characters at least three times. But, each time, they never get further than a few sessions into their tales. Maybe we’ll make them again one day. Perhaps as Pathfinder Society characters, or in a home game with my kids.

It’s funny, I suppose, that something as simple as playing a game for the first time can change your life so completely. But, here we are.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Have any stories to tell me about your first characters or first experiences playing a d20 game? Know any awesome shows or films that reference d20 gaming? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Jessica