Guidance—Iconic Design: Dealing With Death

Howard loved to paint his own miniatures, and he was really good at it.

On Friday, January 12th, James and I lost a close friend. He was the manager of the FLGS that I ran Pathfinder Society out of, and a member of my Strange Aeons campaign. For those who knew him, Howard was synonymous with the store. He had a way of speaking that could make you laugh and tear you to pieces in the same sentence. He was an acquired taste, to be sure, but once he rubbed off on you, you couldn’t help but like him.

If you’ve never lost someone, I can’t begin to tell you what it feels like. That’s literal, by the way. One thing that I learned from my experience losing Howard is that everyone processes death differently. I’ve lost people before Howard, but they were family, not friends. Another thing I learned is that losing a friend is very different to losing a family member, by the way. When my grandparents and uncle passed away, I had a family support network that I could rely on. But when Howard passed away, I couldn’t rely on my family for support. They didn’t know him—all they could do is offer me their condolences, saying they’d support me any way they could. I reached out to Facebook with the news, and I got a similar response. And in that, I learned something else about how I personally react to death.

I needed someone who had similar pain to what I was feeling to begin to heal. All the talks and morale support I got from friends and family who had never met Howard didn’t really help me—I knew they were trying to be nice, but I also knew that they really couldn’t understand the connection I had felt, and what I had lost. So things people would say ended up falling flat. A common one that I got was people who said, “Wow, Alex. You wrote that so beautifully. Howard is smiling down on you from Heaven,” or whatever. And I always had to log off of Facebook or close the tab when I say that because I practically wanted to scream, “No, you don’t get it! He might have been touched later, but first he would have made SO much fun of me for writing that about him!” That’s just the kind of man he was.

I was originally going to try and turn this into an article where I connected my emotions back to Howard, but I decided against it. I’m doing a lot better—really, I am. Instead, I decided that I wanted to dedicate today’s Iconic Design to him. Howard had a favorite character—a barbarian/fighter who used the Thunder and Fang feat chain. Sadly, Howard’s character sheets are currently among his possessions with his family so there’s no way for me to know if I got it right. But I’m going to try.

Build Concept

Any information important to understanding the build or its roots goes here.

  • Classes: Fighter 6 / Barbarian 6
  • Feats: Weapon Focus: earthbreaker (Human), Weapon Focus: klar (Bonus), Two-Weapon Fighting (1st), Thunder and Fang (Bonus), Power Attack (3rd), Weapon Specialization: earthbreaker (Bonus), Improved Shield Bash (5th), Improved Two-Weapon Fighting (Bonus), Step Up (7th), Following Step (9th), Step Up and Strike (11th)
  • Abilities: armor training 1, bravery +2, danger sense +2, fast movement, improved uncanny dodge, rage, uncanny dodge, weapon training +1
  • Rage Powers: shove aside (2nd), quick reflexes (4th), no escape (6th)

Howard wasn’t like me when it came to building characters—he liked his builds simple and straightforward usually. This character, “Svenny” was a Thunder and Fang character who was all about getting up into your face. He was actually the first person I had ever seen take the Step Up feat, and boy, I was confused why I had never saw it before after he used it to absolutely destroy this wizard!

I don’t have much to say on this build—it’s Howard, and I will forever cherish the memories I had with it. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

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 also cohosts the Private Sanctuary Podcast, along with fellow blogger Anthony Li, and you can follow their exploits on Facebook in the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Group, or on Alexs Twitter, @AlJAug.

Alex Augunas

Alexander "Alex" Augunas is an author and behavioral health worker living outside of Philadelphia in the United States. He has contributed to gaming products published by Paizo, Inc, Kobold Press, Legendary Games, Raging Swan Press, Rogue Genius Games, and Steve Jackson Games, as well as the owner and publisher of Everybody Games (formerly Everyman Gaming). At the Know Direction Network, he is the author of Guidance and a co-host on Know Direction: Beyond. You can see Alex's exploits at, or support him personally on Patreon at

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