This is entirely motivated by a present that Smitty half-surprised me with this morning. I'm not sure how to contain my immeasurable glee, so I've decided to do a blog post and just babble for a bit. This is drawn by the amazing Shabazik, probably my favorite DA artist.


(c) Shabazik

This is Shriastae Din'iceayne Tivale, my perennial D&D character. It's odd for me to say that, because I've never had a chance to use her in an actual game before. She was originally a concept character to use as a placeholder when I was playing around with 3.5e powergaming, but over time she grew to monopolize my imagination. Shri is -the- character I think of when I think of D&D. Her story has evolved almost to the point of convolution over the years, and I will happily ramble it off given half a chance.

The interesting thing about Shri is that, due to being a character based primarily on mechanical builds and class acrobatics, a lot of her story has been developed from her character sheets. When the first tricklings of the Shriastae character settled at the bottom of what would eventually be a vast pool, she was something I had up until that point -despised-. Back in the days of yore, before I knew anything about how to optimize a character, I had seen only the casual version of a spellsword character. Normally, this involved a few levels of fighter mixed with a few levels of wizard or sorcerer, and maybe eldritch knight if your DM believed in prestige classes and your character lived long enough for that. This incredibly inefficient build makes your character bad at everything, rather than good at two things.

I found something different, and Shri was born. Initially, Shri used a class called swiftblade to counter what I saw as my main problem. I was building to beat characters who, while decently designed, got most of their power from magic items. The first way I found to beat them was to use an antimagic field, so I needed a character who could perform well above them without magic. The swiftblade PrC explicitly allows you to use haste in an antimagic field, and gives large bonuses while using haste. It was perfect...but it didn't stick. Having beaten a challenge one way, I thought to beat it another. Then another. Then another.

From each variant way I built the crunch character, I started assimilating small parts. From the swiftblade, I got a melee fighter with spellcasting abilities that liked to use haste. From the subsequent jade phoenix mage, I got a potent melee fighter who could charge her blade with spell energy. When I converted her to Pathfinder, she gained the ability to use heavy armor. Each thing added to the idea of the character boiling in the back of my head, and along the way she picked up a genuine backstory.

The most fun part of this was her eye. At one point during her numerous rerolls, Shri was a psychic warrior. She took a feat that gave her a psicrystal, the psionic equivalent of a familiar. These crystals are imprinted with a fragment of the owner's psyche, and in Shri's case, that fragment was her valor. Even after I rerolled her again, I adored the artificial eye so much that I kept it.

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Modern Shri is the youngest daughter of a noble family, meaning she drew the short straw even without her rotten luck. Early, she was her older sisters' favorite punching bag. As she grew up, it was discovered that she was completely incapable of using divine magic. Her mother abandoned her as a result, leaving her to the hands of her sisters. Only through borderine craven paranoia and the help of her older brother (who was trying desperately to create a female who relied on him to survive) did she manage to live to adulthood at all, at which point she was shipped off to a warrior school to keep her out of sight and out of mind of the respectable priestesses of the rest of her family.

There, she met a young warrior from a much less noble family named Alton Tir'tangen. Her equal with a sword, he was also the only drow in the academy with a hint of honor. Neither of them was exactly nice to the other, but much like the Oda-Tokugawa alliance in feudal Japan, each of them knowing that they had just one person in the whole academy that they could trust not to stab them in the back meant that both could work on their skills, rather than their paranoia and deception. As a result, both began taking leaps of skill as warriors, especially compared to the other drow men training with them. They graduated top of their class, and had developed what was perhaps one of the only genuine friendships among drow.

Shriastae's sisters didn't like losing their personal punching bag, and arranged for quite a bit of hell for the two of them. Alton, who was quite the prize, was chosen as a consort for the second-oldest Tivale sister, Pellanistra. Alton's family wasn't exactly in the greatest state, so having their son chosen to be a priestess' consort was probably the best thing that could happen to them. They agreed, and Alton was whisked away for years. Meanwhile, Shri was given the same "honor" that every head-of-the-class female student is supposed to be given at a drow school.

I'll leave it at that. This blog may not be G-rated, but that's one line too many to cross.

In subsequent years, Shri doubled up on her studies as a mage as well as a warrior, attempting to perfect her art privately, away from the politics of her life. She probably would've continued living in fear of her family and anyone below her in power for the rest of her life if Alton hadn't become completely fed up with living as Pellanistra's boy toy and decided it was time to bust out. He snagged the only ally he'd ever really had, packed some supplies, and the two left into the Underdark in a mad bid for some other kind of life than the hell they'd apparently been consigned to simply for being born. After all, any death out in the depths of the world was better than a life spent in constant fear and hatred with everyone around them.

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Now, this is where the story starts getting fuzzier...since it's still being told. I have plans for her future (losing her eye, church of Ardarvia and the like) but it's not entirely up to me where she goes. Someday I hope to actually be able to use her in a damn game, but I have not had a very good track record with finding ANY D&D groups, let alone competent, story-oriented ones that meet consistently. Most DMs don't like the idea of renegade drow beyond the potential for Drizzt jokes, either, which further complicates things.

Until the day I find that mythical group of legend that has literally everything I need to get Shri's story told in a legit game, I'll keep developing her. That little piece of art means quite a bit to me. Now I have something to visualize, rather than hijacking other people's designs just to smile at them and associate Shriastae to them. That image is her. That image is mine, and god it feels so good to say that.

Thank you, Smitty.