For those of you following along, today’s post was supposed to be the body of Quest #1 of my Quest Series. There are a variety of reasons that this is not that. I started a new full time job last week and PaizoCon Online 2020 happened, in which I participated in a plethora of Organized Play games during the week. Heap onto over a week’s worth of police brutality during the protests of the murder of George Floyd and my ADHD head could not focus on creating a coherent adventure written in an Organized Play style.
On Monday, Ryan Costello reached out to all of the staff members letting us know that it would be understandable if content was hard to come-by this week for us. I let him know that I would definitely have something to post for Thursday morning, I just wasn’t sure if it would be the planned 2500 words that I had effectively assigned myself. I was still hopeful that I would be able to crank out the adventure, but alas that was not the case.
What I have been able to do is think about a character background in a Play-by-Discord game that my “home” Roll20 group is about to embark on in the coming weeks. It is going to be completely homebrew, so I will take some time to set up the premise and my plan.
Our GM for this Play-by-Discord (PbD) game presented our group with an interesting game premise that gripped many of my group right away. What if there was a “school for reformed villains”? These would be a group of ex-villains that for a variety of reasons are working towards redemption and reform. We are planning on having some shenanigans and hi-jinks with these characters, and we’re wanting the tone to be fairly light. However, as a group we typically lean a bit more towards the mechanical side of our play-style, so for this game we really want to dig a bit more into our characters and the story.
We aren’t going to be just 1st level villains looking to reform though, we are starting this PbD at 10th level. That means these characters have likely done some egregious things in their past
My Character’s Skeleton
The last few months I’ve really wanted to play a necromancer character, not necessarily a “raise an army of undead”, but somebody that practices the darker side of magic (no, not enchantment).
I know it is likely that I probably won’t be running a Pathfinder 1st Edition game after we finish Curse of the Crimson Throne, and my alternating GM is itching to also switch editions once we finish his rendition of Return of the Runelords, so I see this as one of my last opportunities to really make a Pathfinder 1st Edition character.
Not only that though, in the past couple of years my eyes have opened to the fact that not all 3rd Party Publisher material is “overpowered”, in fact a large chunk of it is fairly balanced, especially if you don’t let players have weird interactions between older 3pp material, current Paizo material and mixing a wide variety publishers. That can create some really weird interactions, so I think it is best to monitor those interactions. With all of that in mind, I decided to play a Sacred Necromancer from Zombie Press Sky for my class.
My character’s ancestry was a little harder to pin down, because I wanted my character to be a sort of naive evil. Jack from Nightmare Before Christmas kind of evil. Somebody who grew up in a place where evil was the norm and expected from everybody. Until they were thrust into a realm totally unlike their own and shown a brighter, more majestic world. As far as races there were a few obvious ones that jumped out; Fetchling, Drow, and Tiefling were the first one. It wasn’t until one of my friends suggested playing a Kitsune, modeled after the nogitsune. I took a look at what was out in the world and wouldn’t you know, our very own Alex Augunas’ Everybody Gaming had just what I needed in racial traits in his Kitsune Compendium. (More information on which traits I’m taking in a little bit)
That brings me to two different 3rd Party Publishers material being used, so I know I’ll need to be careful with any unintended interactions from any of the options I select for this character.
The Character’s Home
The GM let us know that we will be worldbuilding together, and that while he has some ideas on who or what the antagonist is, he would be pulling heavily from world elements we put into place in our backgrounds as well. As somebody who thoroughly enjoys the breadth of setting that a place like Golarion or Faerun offer, but struggles with playing in a ‘start small’ setting, this made me fairly happy because I could really put some of my energy into building out the world enough for me to feel comfortable in.
Anyways, after reading the nogitsune article, I latched onto the last paragraph where it discusses the origin of nogitsune as possibly originating from Chinese Buddhists, and that they likely translated it from Sanskrit, where the Indian legends utilized jackals as their purveyor of wicked deeds. Once I read jackals, it made me want to look into other jackal related myths, and I instantly stumbled upon an online article titled “Death Dogs”, which instantly reminded me that Ancient Egyptian mythology has a number of jackal-headed gods. This instantly lead me down the path of a country similar to ancient Egypt/Osirion, however would have some history that has led it to have been led by the church of Set for the past millennia. This would lead many of the churches of Ancient Osirion deities in Pathfinder 1st Edition that have a Neutral alignment on the Good/Evil axis to lean more towards the Evil axis in this country, with the Good deities being worshiped in small, hidden away cults in this country.
A Character is Born
With a home country loosely figured out, I honed in on the Kitsune racial traits that I would want for my Sacred Necromancer. My Kitsune would be a member of the Firekin, but would be born Voidkin with shadowy fur. This would’ve been seen as a blessing of Set by the character’s family and the clan. Hidden amongst the people of Setland [definitely a placeholder name before we start play], the clan of Kitsune would’ve watched the character closely throughout their life for any further sign of Set’s blessing. Upon the character’s 6th birthday, such a ‘blessing’ occurred when a circle of plants wilted instantly when the child was angry. It was then that the character was collected from their family and cloistered with the priesthood of Set, to become a Sacred Necromancer.
A Brief Interlude to Discuss My Background Creation Method
What I have above, is likely more than enough for a player like Ryan, I imagine. Based on what I’ve heard on the podcasts, he likes to keep things minimal and really explore who the character is during play. I am not like that, I love thinking about what my characters did before they started adventuring. It’s pretty straight forward for any character at 1st level, and still simple for characters below 3rd. It starts getting tough at 5th level, and near impossible at 10th level for somebody like me. So I have to try and keep things fairly vague, but still hit the high points of the character’s previous adventuring career that would warrant somebody going from 1st to 10th level! The way I like to do it though, is think of their life in chunks. If it’s a 1st level character this typically includes childhood, teenager and then the call to adventure. For a 10th level character, I’m aiming for pre-adventuring, first through fifth level, fifth to eighth level, and then for this character 9th and earning 10th will be when they begin turning towards wanting to become reformed and search out this school where play will begin. From this point I’ll begin writing as I normally do for my backgrounds, and hopefully I’ll even come up with a character name!
The Background of Taher
Born with shadowy fur and a more jackal shaped head than the normal tawny-fur and fox head of the clan, the elders of the firekin claimed that he was blessed by Set. This land that Taher was born into, while the sun beat down on it, was a bleak dessert of darkness. It has been ruled by the churches of Set, Apep and Anubis for nearly a millenia now. The firekin had adopted the human’s traditions of worshiping these dark gods, and took glee in doling out the gods’ punishments in secret, causing distrust and mayhem amongst many a clueless human.
Taher grew up no different than that, at a young age learning to quickly shift blame on any human children he was playing with and taking pride when a fellow child was hurt during play. On his sixth birthday, another boy tried to take a toy from Taher. In his anger, a red light flashed out from Taher, hurting the other child and killing off many of the surrounding plants. The kitsune adults in the area quickly ushered the humans out of the area and chided the hurt boy for angering Taher. Once cleared, the firekin elders gathered up Taher and secreted him away to a temple of Set to begin going down the Pale Path that he had been placed upon by Set.
Many years passed, and Taher was trained in the many treacherous and murderous ways of the priesthood of Set. He flourished, and as a neophyte was even able to infiltrate a cult of Selket, posing as an undead hunter. It was there Taher had his first taste of “goodliness”, but it was not to his liking, these quivering fools didn’t know the power of undeath could give to a person, and wanted to squander that gift. Taher, along with his fellow infiltrators were able to quash the cult, and cowed the people of the region to the Pharaoh’s will.
A full priest in his own right, Taher was sent as an emissary to an “allied” empire that dealt heavily with the forces of Hell. It was here that Taher grew into his wickedness, doing terrible unspeakable things [For my game, I will may flesh some of those things out, but here I don’t think it is terribly important, suffice to say Taher earns his Neutral Evil alignment for sure here]
It was while Taher was at the allied empire, that he encountered a group of rebels fighting for the freedom of their duchy from the empire. Taher had little care for the reason they fought, he was interested in showing them Set’s power. Alas, Taher succumbed to a plane shift to a snowy part of Nirvana (the spellcaster a cleric of Sarenrae, looking to hopefully redeem Taher). It was here that Taher saw the strength and beauty of Good. The carrier of this information was a fellow Kitsune. This Kitsune [should probably be named], explained to Taher that his clan of firekin were nogistune and as such, would never reach their true potential. Taher was essentially at the pinnacle of power for a nogistune. The Kitsune explained to Taher that to reach further, he and his clan would need to redeem themselves fully and begin the path to one day becoming tenko. Taher, after such a transformative experience (singing “What’s This”) asked the Kitsune how best to proceed. The Kitsune told Taher of a place back on the Material Plane, where those such as he were gathering together to all begin the path of redemption. With a wave and a flash, the Kitsune teleports Taher back to the Material Plane where he first searches out the cleric that sent him to Nirvana to thank her, and then start looking for this “School for Reformed Villains”…
If you read all of that, thank you for bearing with me while I got that out of my creative system. After completing it, I feel a bit better and am (a) looking forward to playing this character and (b) feeling a little more clear headed to work on my adventure. This has taught me that if I have an idea that keeps butting its way into my head when I’m trying to do other creative work, it may be worth the effort ahead of time to get it out of my system. Funnily enough this blog ended up being about 2100 words, but in a much less structured manner than an adventure. Here is to my first missed deadline in my blog posts, and hopefully the next one if fairly far off!
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