Thursday, April 25, 2013

Vivid Vera

Today is the day for V in the A to Z Blogging Challenge! I'm writing about one of my favorite role playing game characters, Vera Cerulean Gaze. She was a fifteen year old Solar Exalted sorceress in our Exalted game Footsteps of the Chosen. Vera was my third major Exalted character, and possibly the most fun to play. Her morals weren't always there - she wanted what she wanted, and often didn't care who got in her way. Usually my characters are out to help people and do good in the world, but not Vera!

Here is the biography from her character sheet:

The sorceress now known as Vera Cerulean Gaze grew up in the tomb city of Sijan, learning the trade of embalming and dressing the dead for burial. She became very good at her trade, the bodies that left her lab were always the best dressed and looked most alive. There was a trick to that, one she didn’t share with her uncle after a minor explosion… he said he wanted to renovate soon, so she just moved his schedule forward a little bit.

But she got tired of living most of her days underground, even though she was learning much, and when a Guild caravan offered her a job working on living people, she jumped at the chance, climbing on a wagon without looking back. Her uncle, the only family she knew, was happy to see her go, knowing that she wouldn’t be destroying his workshop with her new concoctions anymore.

Life in the Guild caravan was quite life-changing for Vera. She changed her name and learned a little humility, meeting people who might know her trade better than her. Might. She never got proof. One interesting individual she met started teaching her about true sorcery, in secret. She built on the knowledge from her homeland, journeying across the world to lands she had only dreamed of in her underground home.

Vera kept moving up in the Guild, a prodigy given her age, making friends and enemies alike. One she even still keeps in contact with, s special Guild factor she hopes can help her out of trouble someday.

Then she met and crossed the wrong Dynast. They were both at a party in Greyfalls, enjoying good food and wine, when she made a joke about his codpiece, wondering how much of it was hollow, and if his legs were that hairy or was he wearing fur leggings. It didn’t help that he had a dead bird on his head, a rainbow colored one. He screamed ANATHEMA! She ran, while he called the Wyld Hunt. You make a little joke about some puffed-up Dynast’s fashion and suddenly you’re a demon.

Funny thing when you have some occult knowledge and the Wyld Hunt is after you, a non-Anathema human. Sometimes you might just turn into what they’re hunting. That’s what happened to Vera. In running from the Hunter that was set on her, she Exalted, fending him off and discovering her manse, and some things her former life had left behind.

The most interesting and quite troublesome of her past possessions is the belt she calls the Caged Demonwolf. Vera calls it that because that’s what it says its name is. It talks, a lot. She usually can’t get it to shut up. But it has some interesting ideas, especially when it comes to what she should sacrifice for her sorcery.

That’s when they sent a Shikari force against her. She finished the final trial of sorcery just in time to cast a little of what she calls defensive magic. So it destroyed a big chunk of land, left a smoking crater… there wasn’t a village or any animals living there, right? Wait, there was? Well blame the Wyld Hunt for stirring up the hornet’s nest! Vera’s just a victim! It’s not her fault her name is reviled across the land now!

Vera's belt, the Caged Demonwolf, is inspired by the character/item of similar name in Adam Warren's comic Empowered (for mature readers). And Vera was inspired a bit by Lina Inverse from the anime Slayers, though the whole fashionista thing was my idea.

As Vera and her companions (she often viewed herself as the main character, they were just there to support her), the other Exalted traveling with her, traveled around Creation, they were hunted by the same Shikari, or Wyld Hunt - Dragonblooded Exalted who hunt down Solar Exalted. See, I took two flaws in character creation that made me a bit of a beacon for them to find. But it gave my character a lot of extra power!

For a few years now, we have been using the website Obsidian Portal to chronicle our games online, post character sheets, different information about the world, and more. After each game, my husband, our game master, writes an Adventure Log from the perspective of one of the non-player characters. Sometimes the log is in the form of a letter sent from one character to another, sometimes it's a third person view of what's happening with that character, or in the area around him or her. The featured character is sometimes one who is friendly to our adventurers, sometimes not. As players, we can make comments on the adventure log from the perspective of our own characters, or sometimes featuring other parts of the world or story, for fun and extra experience in the game. Those comments were a lot of fun with Vera.

For one adventure log in the Footsteps of the Chosen game, the main hunter after Vera, a stubborn Dragonblood man named Cathak Herrod, was the one 'writing' it. Here is how it went:

Journal of Cathak Harrod


4 Ascending Air, RY768

Vera’s trail has picked up again. Reports of her in Rubylak proved substantial. Our logistician, Red Rock Razmier, was right about the other man at the bar. Razmier said his name was Crow, but where he got that from I’ll never know. Why does the All-Seeing Eye have to use mortals to do their dirty work?

It doesn’t matter.

Vera’s an anathema. Crow is connected to her – either an anathema himself or brainwashed by her. He should be made to suffer and die, to cleanse his soul and make it ready for his next life. The possessed must not be allowed to live.

We’ll be pursuing Vera with a group of conscripts provided by Queen Arkasi. I don’t entirelly trust her. She seemed too willing to hand over soldiers for our cause. In 40 years of hunting, I have never seen a monarch hand over resources so readily to the Hunt. Not unless they had an ulterior motive. Perhaps something that Mimthee fellow said.

6 Ascending Air

Temperatures are falling. It’s in the 60s during the day and the 40s at night. We’re moving somewhat slower pace than I’d like, but faster than Pthura believed we’d make with a small army.

We ran across a River Dragon’s corpse floating downstream today. Looks like something ate its heart. Thing was pretty waterlogged and we estimate it will sink to the bottom within a day or so. Probably the anathema’s doing.

8 Ascending Air

Torn Rose has performed her auguries for us. She tells us this is not a tomb we’re going to. It’s an old wedding chapel to the heretic gods abandoned long ago (though the pathetic Linowan still worship the so-called Incarna). To one of the Maidens called Venus. Apparently, people used to marry there. Probably a Manse there. If not, then at least a Demesne.

Why the anathema are going here, I don’t know. Nor do I care. The people of Rubylak believe this is somehow connected to the rise in Vatal. Probably the anathema’s doing. We shall see. We begin the assault tomorrow.

9 Ascending Air

Torn Rose and Tepet Murada are dead. The anathema slew them. They will be avenged.

Pthura and I escaped, just barely. As I told him before, if you do not have the ability to destroy, to disintegrate, to disinform, then you must withdraw. If you do not have all these things against an anathema, then the anathema will overpower you. Now we know her strengths though – two other demons, like her, travel with her, as does a shapechanger, and a stargazer.

Pthura cornered a disease god as we escaped down the river. He called himself the Great and Powerful Oz, but he was nothing special. He told us where Vera’s going next. A Shadowland? She’s more insane than we believed. Perhaps this is the Crow’s doing. It matters not. We’ll be ready for them.

Next time, they won’t escape.

Current Day
9 Ascending Air

Remember, in Exalted, all non-Dragonblood Exalted are called Anathema by the Dragonbloods, and reviled and hunted down when known of. In this chapter of the game, our Exalted characters were trying to stop a disease of sorts that turned normal people into almost zombie-like cannibals, saving the region from the problem. But Cathak Herrod and the Wyld Hunt just wanted to kill Vera, they didn't care what good she and her friends might be doing.

We escaped from Cathak Herrod and his goonies, of course. This is what I wrote in response to the adventure log:

A message for Harrod

The sun dips low in the heavens as Cathak Harrod rides into Greyfalls. A shriek pierces the air and a cloud of sparkles whips past him, soaring into the heavens. Choking for but a moment on the tail of glittering dust, Harrod watches the demon Aperion Intimus, Hybrid Soul of Koss rise into the twilight sky.

The demon stops over the city, its shriek drawing all the little eyes in the Satrapy to its silver and black net body. It falls silent for a moment, then explodes, sending a shower of light and impish demon-parts to all corners of the city. Where the demon hovered, sparkling gold script now hangs in the early night sky and the small imps echo the words in their clear, young voice, in a language all who hear know instinctively.

“In the name of the Unconquered Sun does Vera Cerulean Gaze send greetings and salutations to the abysmally incompetent yet ever-persistent Wyld Hunt and most specifically the defeat-ridden Hunter Cathak Harrod, lately of Greyfalls,

“My condolences on your failure to capture or kill myself and my companions. You try and try and try, and yet it’s never enough, is it? I hope someday your organization will realize how fruitless its endeavors are.

“We ‘Anathema’ are here to stay, you cannot keep us quiet. Maybe if you started your recruits out with more chiffon, they would be more sure of themselves and not suck and fail so quickly. I mean, c’mon, chiffon is such a light and flowy fabric, it makes even the dourest man smile! Everyone knows that if your helmet matches your socks, your armor would not be so easy for a demon to cut through, though it did prove difficult for my snake-man friend.

“If Torn Rose’s mascara hadn’t smeared she may have survived and just gone running home with all her petals missing. Proper hair and make-up is a must in even the smallest battles!

“I’m sure, however, that you will send more misinformed terrestrials against us in the coming days. Some day, you won’t have enough badly dressed brainwashed souls to hunt me! I do hope those conscripts got home safe. They need to fire-proof their homes! Rubylak is just asking for a pyromaniac to come and set fire to all those wood buildings. Maybe Harrod will do the trick…

“I travel with four others, one like me but sneakier, another like me but corpse-y. They are both wary of my limitless power, something you have in common with them. Some bureaucracy sent a lavender scented tissue spy after me to try and curtail my doings, poor fool doesn’t know what he got into! Lastly, this snake-man sometimes follows us, but he doesn’t do much except chase tail. Sometimes he’s a very pretty woman, but really needs to invest in well-made clothes, not go traipsing about in the nude. Good luck finding that one-eyed snake in a crowd. I brainwashed none of them, each travels where they will of their own accord, with their own god-given power.

“Oh, and to set matters straight, it’s your fault I am what I am. One of your relatives was too embarrassed to stand up to my criticism and set the Hunt on me with no reason. Seems I became what they were hunting after all. Be careful what measures you take in hunting a monster.

“I’m sure we’ll meet again. Before we do, though, my Circle will have stopped the spread of the Vatal disease (well, that’s most of the party’s goal, Vessel, the corpse, seems to just want to study it, maybe take it home as a pet…). When that happens, go ahead and claim the glory of saving the people. You and I will know the true score, no matter what the masses believe.

“We will rise. You will fall.

“P.S. Too much sparkles? Never enough sparkles!

“P.S.S. Your topknot’s crooked, Harrod. Fix it.”

As the imps finish their story, the image of a powerful jungle tiger replaces the glittering script, and its roar echoes across the Satrapy, haunting the people’s sleep that night and the next. Then it starts again, the imps retelling the letter over and over until the townspeople catch them and stomp them out of existence. The sparkles, however, would stick around for weeks.

I may have rubbed his failure in his face a little bit, but it was warranted. And fun! There are many more tales of Vera and her companions, but those can be for another day. 

Do you have any favorite characters you love to read stories about? Maybe you've imagined new stories for them, even written some fan fiction. Share in the comments! 

With role playing games, players get to create their own characters and tell stories with the dungeon master and other players every session, and even online on a website like Obsidian Portal. Great creative exercising and lots of fun too, especially with good friends. Gamers are some of the best friends I've had, I have to say. 

Thank you for joining me again and come back Friday for something that starts with W! 

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