Welcome to Guidance, Private Sanctuary’s source for tips and techniques for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Everyman Gamer Alexander Augunas. Today, we’re going to be talking about fantastic kids in the real world.
Back in November when I published my Fantastic Kids and Wear to Find Them article, most of my readers were ecstatic that I had managed to note some of their absolute favorite child characters in one place with a brief blurb about why they were fantastic. I don’t think I did a very good job of noting that I specifically chose kids that were within Pathfinder’s Youth age category (Ages 8 to 14) for their initial appearances, but hey! I can note that now! I’m specifically limiting my focus on Fantastic Kids articles to Ages 8 to 14 (or younger) with the exception of one young lady.
Now, I’m not idealistic or anything. I know that some people are going to be adamantly against children in fantasy and consider the use of children to be “immature” or “childish.” I had some readers tell me of GMs or players who discriminated against their children NPCs. I had a horror story or two of a poorly-played child PC. I had one poster who called me a “child-obsessed freak” who then proceeded to imply that my articles were baseless because children were not capable of anything exceptional in the real world compared to adults. Well, today’s articles are dedicated to those people, because as long as discrimination exists in the world, it falls to the enlightened to stand against it. Today, on the final day of 2014, I’ll be providing brief blurbs about a number of real-world, exceptional children who can easily form the basis for a quality PC or NPC. Yes, these children are one in a billion. But does that mean that they don’t exist and you as GMs / PCs shouldn’t portray them? Heck no!
Akrit Jaswal (India)
Akrit was born in 1993 in India, at the foothills of the Himalayas. Now, virtually all of the children on this list began to talk and read at a young age, but Akrit is especially unique because while most kids are reading picture books at age 6, Akrit was reading Shakespeare.
If anything, Akrit is a shining example of what a child can become if given the opportunity to indulge in his passions and learn. After hearing of Akrit’s intelligence, local doctors began allowing him to watch them perform surgical procedures, which he had shown a great interest in after putting down Romeo and Julliet in favor of Grey’s Anatomy. (The medicinal tome, not the TV show.) In 2000, Akrit first put his knowledge to the test when he performed his first surgery. A local eight-year old girl had suffered heavy burns five years before, but was unable to pay for the costly surgery. Akrit offered to perform the surgery himself and was successful.
Today, Akrit is 23 years old and is most famous for his cancer research. He’s claimed to know a way to cure cancer, though that cure has been met with skepticism from other medical professionals. Still, after watching this view from 2007, its hard not to wonder if someday the kid might just do it.
Cleopatra Stratan (Moldova)
While many of the kids I’m going to talk about today are going to involve science, math, and similar fields associated with “traditional” brilliance, sometimes I’m going to throw a curve ball at you. Cleopatra is one of those curve balls. Cleaopatra was born in 2002 an Eastern European country that many of my readers have likely never heard of before, the Republic of Moldova. Although she’s not working on cancer research or didn’t get a Ph. D., she does have the honor of being the youngest artist to ever hit #1 (and subsequently earn a platinum record) in any country in the world; in the summer of 2006, Cleopatra published her first album, At the Age of 3. One of her songs, Ghiţă, went double platinum that summer, selling more than 150,000 albums in Romania alone. Since her birthday is in October, this means that she earned this success at the age of 3.
To date, Cleopatra has four albums produced and also holds the honor of being the youngest artist to ever perform a full concert live in front of an audience; she was three years old when she performed a two-hour, 28-song concert. That +2 Charisma bonus for being young is looking awfully tasty now, isn’t it bards?
Sho Yano (America)
Medicine is a very popular field for geniuses, it seems. Sho is nothing short of a child prodigy: he was reportedly reading by age two, writing by age three, playing classical music on his parent’s piano by age four, and composing his own classical music one a year later. Now, I could talk about how he scored a 1500 of 1600 on the SAT at age eight, in 2001, or I could talk about hos he graduated summa cum laude from the American School of Correspondence at age 12. But what I really want to talk about, despite not being related to his childhood, is his acquisition of a PhD in molecular genetics and cell biology at 18. Furthermore, Sho is the youngest person to ever graduate from the University of Chicago with an MD, and in his never-ending quest to understand how every molecule in the human body functions; he is currently employed as a physician at his alma matar. His specialty? Child neurology.
Aelita Andre (Australia)
I’m sure I’m going to get some snark for this child prodigy, but what if I told you that there was an artist down under who got into her first exhibition when she was two years old? In 2007, when she was 22 months old (that’s two months shy of two years old, for those keeping track at home), Aelita’s mother submitted her daughter’s work to an art curator, who agreed to include it in a group exhibition in the Brunswick Street Galley before he knew that the young lady in question wasn’t even two years old. Despite the lack of communication, Aelita’s work was still put on display. Now, before you laugh at Miss Andre’s story, it is an important detail to note that she sold her first painting during that show for the equivalent of $24,000 USD.
Aelita’s style has met mixed criticism, like most of our child prodigies, and she is most commonly compared to Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dali, and Pablo Picasso in style. Although some scoffed that Aelita’s success would be fleeting, her most recent exhibition was in New York City in 2011. She was 4 years old at the time.
Marko Calasan (Macedonia)
There’s a lot of irony in the fact that a boy from the country of Macedonia is best known as being the youngest certified Microsoft computer systems administrator. Born in 2000 (now 14 years old), Marko is the youngest person to ever receive the MCSA certificate (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator), which he earned at the age of 8. If we’re being technical, though, Marko earned his first computer systems certificate when he was 6 years old. He teaches computer basics in his former elementary school, wrote a 305 page book about the installation process of Windows 7 (the rights of which were bought by Macedonia’s Ministry of Education, to be distributed to its schools for free), and was even granted an IT lab by the prime minister of Macedonia himself to help further his learning. When he’s not deciphering computer language, Marko engrosses himself in foreign language, and can reportedly speak three different languages (he’s working on his fourth).
Elaina Smith (Great Britain)
Now, here’s an exceptional child that I bet you’d neer thought that you’d see: a kid who acts as an agony aunt. Born in 2002, Elaina was hired by her local radio station to act as an agony aunt, a woman who offers advice to other woman to help them with their troubles (the GB equivalent of Ask Abby). Elaina was listening on the radio one afternoon when she heard a caller to the radio station talk about her boyfriend troubles (specifically, the caller wanted to dump her boyfriend). She called in and told the listener to go bowling with her friends and drink a mug of milk before making her decision because she might regret it later. The radio station was so impressed with her advice that they offered her a weekly slot to give tips to their listeners.
Unlike the other children mentioned so far, Elaina’s advice isn’t prodigal or anything; its good advice, but its definitely phrased like a young child’s advice. She’s a good example of a high Wisdom kid. A lucky, opportunistic kid with a high Wisdom score.
Krishna “Dylan” Mahalingam (America)
Dylan might be my favorite story out of this entire article. Born in 1996, Dylan is best known as a co-founder of Lil’ MDGs (along with wo other children), which is a non-profit group dedicated to educating, engaging, and inspiring youth throughout the world in order to help the next generation of global citizens meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
To date, Lil’ MDGs has a volunteer base of 24,000 members with chapters across the United States in and in 41 other countries across the world. Dylan’s roll in the organization is mostly one of inspiration; he gives speeches on the organization’s hoping into inspire others into working with the Lil’ MDGs in order to usher in a brighter tomorrow.
Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan)
By far, Malala is the most well-known of all the young people mentioned in today’s article, and although her most famous achievement happened when she was 17, Malala’s extraordinary tale began when she was as young as 11. For those that don’t know, Malala was born in 1997 and is best known as an activist for educational rights for children and women, which she won the Nobel Peace Prize for in 2014.
When Malala was 11, she wrote a blog for the BBC under a pseudonym, detailing her life in Pakistan under Taliban occupation. A documentary was made about her and she gave interviews both in print and on television, going so far as to receive a nomination for the International Children’s Peace Prize.
Years later, when Malala was 15, a gunman boarded her school bus and asked for her by name, shooting her in the forehead when her terrified classmates pointed her out. The shot was a side shot and the bullet passed through the length of her face and ultimately landed in her shoulder. This failed assassination attempt ultimately sparked international coverage for the state of women’s affairs in a Taliban-controlled Pakistan and using her time in the spotlight, Malala pushed for the ratification of Pakistan’s Right to Education bill, which earned her Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize. Two years later, when she was 17, Malala co-received the Nobel Peace Prize and has been called the “identify of Pakistan.”
And with Mala, that’s all I have to say for exceptional, real-world youths today. Overlooking them, there’s definitely a trend for mentally-inclined characters; most of the young people I’ve looked at are brilliant intellectually (Int), wise beyond their years (Wis), or leaders of their generation (Cha). While I’m sure some will try to use this as a reason that children are physically inable to be adventurers, I figure it’s the mind and maturity that determines if you can be a PC, not just your physical states. After all, if someone physically weaker or smaller than a human adult couldn’t be an adventurer, then we’d have no halflings, gnomes, or Strength-dumping human wizards out there, now would we?
Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex’s favorite color is blue, his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is kitsune activist.