Pathfinder: Reign of Winter
A limb, a curse, but gravitas and skin against the cold
Male Ulfen Aasimar Oracle of the Lunar Mystery 2
Abilities: Strength 10, Dexterity 7, Constitution 12, Intelligence 14, Wisdom 12, Charisma 20
Aasimar Alternate Trait: Scion of Humanity. Oracle Archetypes: Dual-Cursed, Spirit Guide.
Racial Abilities: Darkvision 60’. Resistance 5 to acid, cold, and electricity. Daylight 1/day (sp).
Traits: Dangerously Curious, Dim Seer. Favored Class: Oracle. Add +½ to Valbrand’s level for the purpose of determining the effects of his Primal Companion revelation (2 ranks).
Curses: Haunted and Lame. Revelations: Primal Companion, Prophetic Armor.
Feats: Extra Revelation, Noble Scion of War.
Skills: Diplomacy 10 with Máni) (1), Knowledge (history) 8 in dim light) (2), Sense Motive +7 (1), Spellcraft +6 (1), Use Magic Device +10 (1). Languages: Skald, Common (Taldane), Giant, Sylvan, Varisian.
AC: 20 (chain shirt +4, charisma +4, shield +2), touch 14, flat footed 14. CMD: 9. Speed: 20’
Initiative: +5 Saving Throws: Fortitude +1, Reflex +5, Will +4 Hit Points: 16
Spell Save DC: 15+ spell level. Concentration: +7.
Cantrips: Create Water, Detect Magic, Ghost Sound, Light, Mage Hand, Purify Food and Drink, Spark.
Level 1 (6/day): Command, Cure Light Wounds, Ill Omen, Protection From Evil.
Masterwork hand axe, light crossbow, masterwork chain shirt.
Máni the Bear
Male Black Bear Animal Companion 3
Abilities: Str 16, Dex 16, Con 13, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6. HD: 3 Speed: 40’
AC: 18 (dexterity 3), Bite 3). CMB +5
Special Abilities: Evasion, Link, Share Spells. Senses: Low-light vision, Scent.
Feats: Power Attack, Toughness. Skills: Acrobatics +7, Climb +6, Perception +5, Swim +6.
Tricks: Guarding (attack, defend, down, guard), Come, Detect, Watch.
I have been called foolish. Reckless. Fate-tempter and luck-chaser.
I have been called daytime-dreamer. Far wanderer. Blind visionary and aimless navigator.
I am, perhaps, all of these things. But I am not a death-wisher.
Life is easy for those chosen by the night mistress, lady of the moon-glow moth and the wandering stars. Our fates are our own. There are no dooms that bind us, no runes written irrevocably. We have no futures but those we choose and those that fortune brings. We are free.
I was born from the line of kings and the blood of angels. My father’s father was king of our lands, linnorm-slayer and faerie-wife lover, who died in battle against the ice enemy of Irissen. My father his son was jarl over all he saw, brave of heart, fierce of battle, and sharp of tongue. My mother was a Varisian shield-maiden, a Paladin in the tongue of the Taldanes, a wanderer and a poet and a singer of otherworldly songs. They met in battle, my mother and my father, he with his iron-strong arms and stern counsel, she with her spear-skill and beauty from beyond, with eyes of silver moonlight and hair of molten gold. When I was a child she told me stories of her forefathers, champions all, in whose veins flowed the blood of empyreal lords beyond the stars, who wandered the world righting wrongs and fighting fierce foes for freedom.
I emulated them, as a child. I fought the enemies of my imaginings, slaying slavers and defeating dragons of dream in midsummer afternoons with stick in hand and grass-stained knees. I consumed tales and songs like a winter-starved traveler devours hot stew. I sat at the feet of the skalds and immersed myself in their music, their stories of heroism and tales of tragedy. I wanted to be them. I wanted to live the stories they told, and to tell my own tales in the evening of life. When I look back I must smile at my naive young self, unaware of the dangers of the world. I have led a charmed life, but even I am not a faerie tale character who fights witchcraft with heart and beheads giants with bravery.
I had my first taste of adulthood when my mother disappeared. Even after she married my father, she his second wife after my brothers’ mother died in childbirth, she could not stay in one place for long. She had a wandering heart, a love of the traveling world and the wonders yet unseen. And she did great deeds in her travels away, fighting rapine bandits and hungry trolls and slavers who forfeited their lives to chains. I am my mother’s son and I share her loves and wonders and furies.
But one day she did not return. She had been gone before for weeks and months but always returned, bearing wondrous treasures in her arms and terrible tales on her lips. But then she did not return. Days passed, moons grew, and seasons changed. Summer came and died to frost and finally a year passed from her departing. My father grieved, in the manner of jarls and kings, with brooding brow and terrible songs. I could not believe she was gone. She must be captive somewhere, my story-addled brain told me, held in a wizard’s tower awaiting a brave warrior to climb her golden hair and defeat her jailor’s magic. She must be in a dragon’s den, prisoner in a golden cage, its songbird for cold winter nights on its hoarding’s bed of treasures.
So I took my young man’s sword, and with seven other would-be heroes, we set forth from my father’s hall to save her. We set out bravely, at night under the full moon’s light so the full-grown men would not jape our earnest heroism, or our parents bind us home with words of duty. We went bravely, us eight, full of hope and clever plans and boastfulness, and only I returned.
We were not defeated by giants, slain in battle against raiders tall and fierce, or even ambushed by wily bandits. No, we died in our bedclothes. Alone, and in terror. Savaged by hungry wolves in the middle of the night. We died with our bladders emptying, screaming in shock-awakened panic and horror, and we lost our lives as meat for animals.
I do not know why I did not die with them. Maybe it was luck, or a wolf-god’s curse of warning and guilt. Or maybe I was just saved for last and my friends were too ample a feast as I lay there, hamstrung and shivering, to the sound of crunching bone and wet tearing flesh. Or maybe it was my mother’s final gift to me, my silver eyes like hers which can see in even the new moon’s darkness, which gave me the sight to fight back the predators better than my friends.
I tried to walk, to crawl home to the safety of the hall and the warmth of the hearth, but my body was scratched and torn, my right leg hamstrung and half-eaten. I didn’t have the strength and soon I shivered with fever in the moonlight, dying slowly in the plains of the world, surrounded by the carcasses of my friends. I dreamed fever-dreams, seeing waking visions as my brain burned its last light under the night sky. I dreamed of the moon singing to me, of the elfin lady dancing amid the silver whorls of that celestial light. I saw the spirits of my friends looking at me with eyes of shame and rage and longing, lost between the cold dead plain and the heavens beyond the sky. I heard the ground speak, weaving stories slower than stone about the ages of the world and the songs of the trees. And finally I saw nothing, as the world dissolved into lights, strength and solidity and form and purpose flowing through my vision like water through dying hands. The world turning to steam and motion and color, like butterflies, like stars. And a Goddess spoke to me.
How can I describe her, a Goddess in dreams? She was uncountable lights in the darkness, dwarfing the land and dwarfing the sky. The moon shone dancing through her, bathing the cold plain in serenity, and she spoke to me from far above and near. Her voice was the song of all the stars in midwinter sky, a song of ancient beauty, a song from before songs were written, a song from the end of everything.
How can I describe the words of a Goddess? With words and softly breathed breath she kindled my life’s embers from corpse coals back to silver-fire flame. I flared to life, my star-dust flesh burning with constellations in the night, baptized in a waterfall of stars, baptized in the end of darkness.
I had a purpose, the Goddess told me. I had freedom. I must live in the lands of the living, under the moon and under the sky. My time would be mine, the Goddess said, and the future would be my lands to till.
I awoke at dawn. The rose gold light opened my eyes from wandering beyond the fields we know. I lived. My body was unbloodied but my scars remained, written in my skin as shame and remembrance, funeral-stone flesh for my friends. I buried them there, digging their graves in pain from my now-lamed leg and grief-heavy heart. I had new silver sight, vision of what was to come, a purpose and a future, but those I had led to death were still dead. I see them still, at times, when the world is quiet and cold and the snow-hush blankets the land. In stillness I can see their spirits, lonely and longing in the moonlight. They are my burden. They are reminders of consequences, reminders of pain, and reminders of purpose.
Valbrand’s holy symbol of the goddess Desna.