Wednesday 5 November 2014

Jvala - Pathfinder Interlude Character

This is the character I’m actually playing in the Pathfinder interlude. I went with a spell-less ranger by accident – it’s a third-party created class that I spotted in Herolab, and having already put together a regular ranger in the form of Telina I thought I’d have a play. Then forgot that’s what I’d done until I sent it off to the GM and received his comment that it was an interesting choice. With a druid in the party, it shouldn’t matter that I don’t have any spells.

The name ‘Jvala’ means flame in Hindi: I knew I wanted her name to translate as flame, so sat on Google Translate until I found a word that sounded good. For her real name, I knew she needed an ordinary surname and had it in my head that her brother’s name was ‘Marcus’ so looked into Latin roots to come up with Julia Faber, which is Latin for Smith – I wanted Smith as much for the association with fire as for the ordinariness of the name and I put it into Latin to suggest it’s an old family that’s maybe had better days.

Julia ‘Jvala’ Faber – Chaotic Neutral Ifrit Spell-less Ranger (level 10)
Abilities: Str18, Dex18, Con18, Int15, Wis13, Cha15
Ifrit: Darkvision (60ft); Burning Hands once per day; Fire in the Blood – fast healing 2 for one round whenever hit with fire damage (up to twice level in HP per day); Fire Resistance 5
Languages: Common, Dwarven, Elven, Ignan
Ranger: Favoured Enemy – Incorporeal Creatures (+2), Undead (+4), Magical Beast (+4)
Favoured Terrain – Underground (+4), Plains (+2)
Hunter’s Bond – Flash and Cinder (see below)
Combat Style – Two-Weapon Fighting: Double Slice; (Improved) Two-Weapon Fighting
Ranger Talents – Additional Animal Companion; Skirmishing Attack (add stealth attack damage when attacking after moving at least 10ft); Improved Stealth Attack (extra d6 stealth attack damage)
Skill ranks: Acrobatics 10; Climb 5; Handle Animal 10; Heal 8; Intimidate 5; Knowledge dungeoneering 8, geography 5, nature 5; Perception 10; Survival 10; Swim 4
Feats: Blind Fight; Dodge; Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Katana); Mobility; Two-Weapon Defense
Traits: Crowd Dodger (+2 bonus to acrobatics to move through threatened squares); Starchild (always know north; +4 bonus to survival to avoid getting lost); Unflappable Arrogance (+5DC to be intimidated; if would be intimidated for more than one round, only intimidated for one round)
Drawback: Pride (if threatened, challenged or accused, -2 penalty to diplomacy/sense motive against that individual until they apologise)
Weapons: Main-hand +1 Impact Keen Katana; Off-hand +1 Keen Ghost Touch Wakizashi
Armour: +1 Darkleaf Restful Hide Armour (restful means the armour can be slept in and 2 hours sleep gives the benefit of 8hrs, although this can only be used once per day and additional sleep confers no extra benefits)
Magic Gear: Handy Haversack; Belt of Tumbling; Wand of Cure Light Wounds
Mundane Gear: Usual adventuring stuff (the ‘SAK’, or Standard Adventurer’s Kit, as we’ve always called it); Cold Weather Outfit; Guide to Flora/Fauna (neat bit of kit found in Herolab: a book that gives a +2 bonus to survival); Healer’s Kit; Surgeon’s Kit; Vet’s Kit; 3 x Moonrod (she may have darkvision but her animal companions don’t); Silk Rope; 5 x Tindertwigs (for when she’s used burning hands for something other than lighting the campfire)

Appearance/Personality: Tall and proud with a slender but muscular frame, at first glance Jvala’s hair seems coal black and her skin a dark burnt umber. Closer inspection reveals a flicker of lava red through her hair and a mottled appearance to her skin. As she becomes excited or angry or upset or otherwise emotional, this enhances until her hair seems to be made of flames, and fire seems to flicker across just beneath her skin. Two short, sharp horns protrude from her forehead, as black or flame as her hair. When not in her armour, she tends to wear lots of reds, yellows and oranges, particularly in flowing fabrics.

She is fierce and not very good at dealing with people, preferring to spend her time alone, or rather with her animals. If you can get past this touchy surface, she becomes a loyal ally.

She tries to be good, but it’s not really in her nature and her temper will let her down. She trusts her goddess, Desna, will appreciate her efforts.

Her anger usually burns out as suddenly and as fast as it arises, but if she does hold a grudge it is for very serious reasons and she will not be able to forgive or let go easily.

When the Pathfinder Guild don’t have work for her, she tends to follow rumours to explore abandoned ruins and graveyards, looking for discarded items that may be useful to her or others.
Image by Abi Ward

Cinder – True Neutral Wolf
Abilities: Str26, Dex16, Con19, Int2, Wis12, Cha6
Skill ranks: Acrobatics 3, Intimidate 3, Perception 2, Stealth 1
Feats:  Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Natural Armour, Mobility, Toughness
Tricks: Attack (any target), Break Out, Deliver, Down, Fetch, Flank, Heel, Hunt, Menace

Appearance: A large, dark grey wolf with amber eyes.

Flash – True Neutral Leopard
Abilities: Str20, Dex22, Con16, Int2, Wis12, Cha6
Skill ranks: Acrobatics 4, Perception 3, Stealth 2
Feats:  Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Endurance, Mobility, Spring Attack
Tricks: Attack (any target), Down, Exclusive, Flank, Guard, Heel, Hunt, Sneak, Track

Appearance: A sleek, muscular leopard

Jvala was born to human parents in Absalom. Her family was very poor: of the large group of siblings, only she and her elder brother Marcus survived childhood. She was the last to be born; the damage she did to her mother during birth was not enough to kill her, but the woman never fully recovered.

Although Absalom is a melting pot, Jvala (or Julia as she was then known) never saw another ifrit. The other children picked on her – particularly when they realised her short temper guaranteed a good reaction and made her an easy target. Meanwhile, the adults distrusted her and by extension her parents, meaning she often felt isolated and had little support from her family – her siblings usually choosing to join in the bullying rather than marking themselves as targets.

This was fine – miserable for her, but not dangerous – until the day she learnt to throw fire from her hands, badly burning several of the worst of her tormentors. The difficulties her parents faced in dealing with their neighbours rapidly increased and they took some of their frustrations out on her until finally she ran away.

She stowed away on a boat to get away from the city of Absalom. Hideously seasick, she somehow managed to stay hidden for the whole journey. Staggering out the other side, she was amazed by the space: no crowded houses, no hustle and bustle of people everywhere. For the first time, she felt she could breathe.

More than a little unsure (but not prepared to show it), she tagged along with a caravan heading east. With no skills, she had no real way of earning her keep with them so started to learn to find food for herself. Stealing from people in the caravan, though, proved a bad course of action and she was cast out.

She was very afraid that first night, but the stolen blanket and the small fire she managed to keep burning kept her warm even if she didn’t get much sleep. The next day, she started walking again – the fear steadily turning to anger deep inside so that by lunchtime, she seemed almost a flaming beacon. Her feet hurt and her stomach ached where she hadn’t been able to eat properly – not an unusual feeling, but certainly no assistance. A small stream tasted brackish when she went to quench her thirst and she was about ready to scream when she saw the three men walking towards her. Naïve relief flooded over her and her hair returned to its calm, black state.

“Please, can you spare some food?” It embarrassed her how easy it was to play up her vulnerability.

The first turned his smile to a smirk, and she realised she may be the same height as two, but all three were much bigger than she. An uncertain flicker of fear ran through her hair and over her skin. “Sure, sweetheart. We’ve got plenty over here.”

She took a couple of steps closer – she was hungry and they didn’t look violent, but she was remembering cautionary tales her mother had imparted, and something about the speaker’s stance reminded her of her bullies. The tallest, smirk stretched to his eyes beneath his flopping brown fringe, held out an open bag towards her, shaking it slightly as though she were a frightened animal. This action was enough to make her realise the danger she was in; there was a hunter’s look in the eyes of the two men flanking him. She started to back off, looking around.

“Nowhere to run, little one”
“We know these grounds better than you”
“Why so scared? We’ll look after you” They walked towards her, circling round until one caught her arm. She looked down at the calloused and weatherworn hand, up to the leering face with its mud brown eyes, yellowed and broken teeth and scarred nose and screamed.

She wrenched herself free and started to run, but – well-fed and tougher – they caught her quickly. She threw flames at them, and they backed off giving her a chance to start running again, but the fire hadn’t done enough to do more than make them angrier and when they realised that’s all she had they renewed their chase with a fury. They wrestled her to the ground as she screamed and spat, barely hearing what they were saying to her as they tried to pin her there.

A shout preceded a gale force wind that blew them off her – they turned to look at whoever had become involved, but a crackling arc of lightning had them running into the woods. Julius and Elise Stardancer gently cradled her, gave her water and checked she was not hurt.

The two clerics of Desnae were sadly childless. This angry, haughty teen seemed to them to be a gift from Desna to make up for that, and they did their best to raise her. First and foremost, they taught her how to survive in the wilderness – what to look for and what to avoid. Elise had been born into a troupe of acrobats, so taught Jvala some of the tricks she’d learnt. Julius, meanwhile, spotted her love of animals and encouraged her in befriending and taming them – a one-eyed crow they called Jack was rescued and stayed with them until dying of old age. They taught her to fight, to defend herself and those who couldn’t defend themselves.

It was Elise who gave Julia the name Jvala. To begin with, the ifrit was too worked up to speak and the name had been the stage name of one of Elise’s troupe – a name meaning ‘flame’. It stuck and now Jvala doesn’t think of herself as anything else.

Eventually, her adoptive parents convinced her to return to Absalom to make peace with her family and an uneasy truce rose with them. She was not prepared to return to the city permanently, but over the years she gradually grew closer to her surviving brother and his family, making a point to visit them whenever she was in town and trying to make sure she did so at least once a year. She was shocked by how much faster her brother was aging than she, but when their parents died she barely mourned them. The deaths of Elise and Julius some years later she took much harder.

Having found the freedom of the wilderness, she was unable to return to city life, so she followed the footsteps of her adoptive parents in studying ancient ruins, as often taking any goods that interested her or that she felt would sell – the previous owners no longer needed them, she reasoned, so someone may as well get use from them. In this way, she obtained her current weapons, armour and magic items.

She preferred to travel alone after the deaths of Elise and Julius, the first people she met who did not judge her. She’d learnt enough from them that she no longer feared the thugs and bandits who would before have seen her as easy pickings. Her prouder stance and evident strength meant she was rarely challenged.

One day, she came across a pregnant wolf with its leg nearly broken by the trap it was caught in. Furious that anyone would treat an animal this way, she carefully and slowly made her way towards it, offering it some of her food to try and demonstrate she was on its side. The creature was weak, fatigued by the wound and hunger, and ate gratefully. She then carefully freed it from the trap, fearing it would run free as soon as it had the chance and before she could fix the leg. It didn’t, so she set to work with a patience she could rarely find when dealing with people.

She continued to hunt for the wolf after its litter had been born, acting as its pack as it continued to recover. When eventually it moved on, the cub with the darkest coat stayed. She named him Cinder.

Cinder grew into a large wolf; strong and powerful, but always gentle and affectionate with Jvala and those he saw as her allies. The two made a good team, and she became recognised in those towns she most often frequented as she walked in with the wolf padding at her side. Amongst the friends she barely has are various merchants dotted around the Inner Sea: she tends to frequent the same people as often as she can because these are the ones she has learnt she can trust – and because, despite her preference for isolation, it is nice to be recognised and greeted in a friendly manner.

It was from one such merchant that she learnt of a market further along that he thought she would be interested in, dealing in unusual items of the sort she occasionally brought through. It was a travelling caravan of a market, so wouldn’t be around long. She went to check it out and was initially very impressed by the displays, just as her friend had thought; her hair flickering a dark red of interest. Further in, though, she found a tiny, mewling leopard cub, clearly far too young to have been taken from its mother. She asked and was told the mother had been shot and now the cub was for sale. Aghast, her hair and skin started to flicker and she demanded the cub be handed to her. The merchant laughed, saying she could have the cub if she could afford the price. Cinder marched round and growled whilst Jvala again demanded the cub. Again the merchant laughed; as she drew her sword, he became angry and went to call the guards.

Jvala is a little confused about the exact sequence of events that followed, but the upshot was that she ran with Cinder by her side and the tiny cub clutched to her chest whilst the merchant’s stall flamed and the neighbouring stalls started to catch alight. She’s not certain how she managed to dodge the guards, so assumes Desna was on her side as she ran.

Once safely away, she set to work raising the cub, naming it Flash.

The three work together in her primary line of work (tomb raiding, dungeon crawling, whatever you want to call it). When visiting family in Absalom, she caught the attention of the Pathfinder Guild and was invited to join, which she accepted.

She has worked with the party before and is a little unsure of ‘Sam’, who is secretive and impulsive, and of Zabeel, whose reserve or shyness means she knows little about him. With their shared love of wilderness and wildlife, she feels very close to the druid Tanna Freespirit.

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