It’s time for another edition of Faces of Satyrine! The first time I did this, I looked to the work of Tony DiTerlizzi whose Planescape work made it not much of a stretch to get to Satyrine. Today I’m looking at another fantasy illustrator whose work is instantly recognizable: Wayne Reynolds.
Wayne Reynolds has drawn illustrations for tons of RPG products from Dungeons & Dragons (5e and all the way back to 3.5e) to Pathfinder and also games like Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone. His style of fine detail and varied facial features along with heavily layered clothing and over-sized weaponry makes his illustrations identifiable from across the room. He’s intimately associated with the DnD/Pathfinder family of gritty combat games but I wanted to rethink his character portraits for the heady universe of Satyrine and see how they might fit.
Armazuhi Middlemiss, of the Zardim Middlemisses, grew up in luxury. He if the third son of a wealthy shipping family which meant he didn’t really have to find work… and for many years he didn’t. Then came the fateful day when Armazuhi came home to find his older brother possessed by a demon.
Through contact with some dangerous artifact, Armazuhi’s sibling had been hijacked by an entity from the Red Sun and was in the process of smashing and burning parts of the family estate. Armazuhi confronted him and after a bloody fight could only save his brother with a dagger through the heart. Though Armazuhi has made peace with his brother’s death (he visited his sibling in the Pale, no hard feelings), his life was changed by the awful power and pure malevolence of that demon. Armazuhi has trained hard over the last decade to become a skilled demon-hunter and carries numerous artifacts for trapping, killing, and torturing demons.
He is known throughout Satyrine as an effective (if brutal) exorcist who uses ritual to call out the demonic spirit and his blades to destroy them. Though Armazuhi has left his family’s home he still has considerable funds in his account and does not work for money. Instead, he works for information and demonic relics that he can use in his personal crusade, and sometimes for magecoins when working for vislae (although he finds many of them insufferably bookish).
Using Armazuhi Middlemiss: The most obvious use of Armazuhi is in dealing with demonic possession. If the player characters get in over their heads, he’s someone who can come bail it out as long as the case piques his interest. On the other hand, vislae (especially Goetics) regularly deal with demons and so Middlemiss might enter the story from the other direction. Some demonic summoning or Red Sun acquaintance of the vislae might have stayed in Satyrine and started to create trouble for the residents, perhaps without the vislae even knowing. Armazuhi Middlemiss might find them to demand answers and he might not be gentle in asking.
By appearance, it’s hard to know what to make of Bhavani. Most people who see her bone-staff with its hanging skull and the skeletal tools at her side assume she is ghost from the Pale Sun, or maybe even a servant of Empress Xjallad herself. Others might note her silvery skin and milk-white eyes and think that she is a creature of the Silver Sun, either angelic or artificial. Still others might hear her mesmerizing voice and think she’s something of the Blue or see the skittering insects that follow her and see an entity from the fecund Green.
They would all be wrong.
Bhavani is one of the Angels of Decay that hail from the Gold Sun. There is some academic debate about whether they are truly angelic creatures of the Legacy but in practice they embody the joy and hope of new life growing from the decaying remains of the old. When a mighty tree falls and rots, or a being is killed and devoured by hungry worms, Bhavani and her sisters come to witness the fresh shoots that grow in its place. They are stoic, keeping their passion for rebirth on the inside, and rarely show empathy for still-living things, especially those worried about their mortality.
The residents of Satyrine don’t know quite what to make of this attitude from their resident Angel of Decay. Bhavani lives in the city (no one is sure where) but seems quite apart from it. More than one vislae who talked to her has wondered if Bhavani is not in Satyrine by choice. There is, however, one part of the City of Notions that fascinates Bhavani to no end and that is the city’s hate cysts. As the residents of Satyrine rebuild from the War and the Ruined Expanses are rebuilt, Bhavani watches with her unblinking, milky eyes and seems to be looking for something in the pattern… or perhaps waiting for some event that no one else knows to expect.
Using Bhavani: Player characters could run into Bhavani in a few different situations. Exploring somewhere with a lot of dead things, or even one of the hate cysts, could mean a chance encounter with the being as she wanders aimlessly or looks at something. They might also seek her out especially as an expert on rebirth and the renewal of life after death. A Weaver might consult her to discover an entirely new aggregate, for example. Lastly, wandering through the Ruined Expanses is not a safe thing to regularly do, even for something that may be an angel. If Bhavani were to encounter something out in the wreckage of the War that warped or corrupted her she could become a serious threat to Satyrine that enterprising vislae might find themselves dealing with.
The zilats of Satyrine occupy a liminal space between the powerful vislae of Fartown and the workaday nons of the rest of the city. They are magically talented but only within a narrow focus and some have abilities whose utility is hard to imagine. One such zilat is Osian Lawry, a diminutive resident of the Brickenhouse District. Osian’s magical talents lie in the brightening and dimming of starlight. Not the manipulation of light in general, not even in the creation of starlight. Just making starlight brighter or dimmer and sometimes bending it slightly.
It was a minor talent and Osian didn’t bother with it much through most of his early life. As a young man, though, Osian learned a secret that changed his novelty power into something useful and (importantly for such a practical young man) profitable. From an angel that Osian drank with regularly, the zilat learned a ritual called Evening’s Forge which can compress starlight into a soft metal called stellarium. Normally the ritual is only useful for specific magical practices when one can ascend high enough towards the stars that there is enough light present but with Osian’s ability to brighten starlight he could use it from the comfort of his home.
Now Osian runs a business creating stellarium and forging it into artworks. It’s a soft metal and in most cases inferior to steel (though its shine makes it more beautiful) but Osian has discovered that every piece of stellarium has a hidden grain to it that contains runes for specific dates and times. The stars align for important events and when he uses Evening’s Forge Osian can crystallize those events into an item. While he mostly sells art pieces to local homeowners, vislae and others who are in the know sometimes commission specific objects at specific times in order to capture auspicious events in metal.
Using Osian Lawry: The stellarium items aren’t great for everyday use, most imposing a -1 to one’s venture when used. However, when using the items during the moment crystallized in their grain then something wonderful happens. A flute of stellarium might produce the performance of a lifetime which culminates at the time encapsulated in its metal (a big bonus to the venture) while a stellarium dagger might hit just the right spot (an automatic Wound) during its moment. Vislae also commission implements for divination rituals or spells and use them during the appointed time which provides a bonus of at least +3 to the venture of the divination roll. It’s hard for Osian to time when exactly the stars will be in resonance with a future time (for a specific commission) but a level 5 astrology roll can provide the answer.