Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Iconic Dark•Heritage characters: Keisa Alawasmu

Keisa was born as a slave to the influential Dekewan family in Hu, a major city in Kurushat. Her family was enslaved when her mother was a small child for treason, even though they were an upstanding Kurushi family, and normally not subject to slavery. Her grandfather and grandmother were executed as part of the affair. Her own mother was a beautiful woman, and was eventually employed by Emir Dekewan as a pleasure-slave or harlot. Although it's not entirely clear, the emir is probably Keisa's father.

Keisa herself inherited her mother's good looks, but because her mother was able to use her beauty to negotiate in behalf of her daughter, she was taught to read at an early age, and by the time she was 12, she was more useful as a scribe and accountant than she ever was going to be as yet another pretty face and body for the noblemen and his guests to abuse. Keisa was possessed of an extremely keen intellect.

The emir's occult advisor, Thohilu Kowikpe, took a liking to the shy pretty young slave with her precocious intellect, and started teaching her his own trade on the side, as a "hobbyist" endeavor. Keisa excelled as well at this. Soon, her value as a new occultist, especially as enslaved occultist (a very rare thing in Kurushat) moved her from her accounting duties and into even more pampered lifestyle and more interesting tasks.

Despite her lifetime of slavery, her mother always instilled in Keisa a remembrance that their family was once free, and it was the political maneuvering of the Dekewan family that brought them low. Even as she became a privileged and even pampered member of the household, she nursed secretly a hatred of them and a longing for freedom. Her opportunity came one evening when she was still just a teenager, traveling with Kowikpe and a bodyguard of half a dozen soldiers beyond the border regions of Sutaka in the mountain passes. The occultists had been sent to investigate the falling off of production in the emir's silver mines in the region, which were rumored to be haunted. While Kowikpe was investigating the mines, Keisa stole into her master's study and removed several of his most dangerous restricted scrolls. Keisa summoned the daemon Tamaz Gaagra-Sukhumi, and promptly lost control of him. Due to sheer dumb luck, she somehow survived the encounter which killed Kowikpe, his bodyguard, and the entire camp of miners.

While not freed, there was no effective way for the Dekewan family to bring her back if she left Kurushat, so she made her way as an itinerent begger across the Cavusto steppes and into Terrasan lands, traveling with a caravan, and using her wits and magical ability to protect herself as discretely as possible. Again, in a stroke of luck, she caught the attention of an elderly caravan master, who thought she was "cute" and came to regard her with an almost patriarchal protectiveness, making her travel much more pleasant and danger-free than it otherwise would have been. She also came to nurse a relationship with some of the hunting bands of the cavusti, some of which see her to this day as an important shaman of some kind amongst the foreigners.

Her curiosity continued to lead to trouble for Keisha, however--her near disaster with the daemon Tamaz Gaagra-Sukhumi didn't discourage her from meddling more and more with the occult; rather it encouraged her to learn how to "do it right" the next time. Luck continued to be on her side as she blundered almost accidentally across more rites and incantations, and more and more occult power. Soon she had to worry about the Terrasan Inquisition and other witch-hunters, but her reputation also made her a valuable asset to the right people, and she had just enough business sense to turn her talent into a bankable skill. Always one step ahead of the witch hunters, and often leaving a disastrous mess behind her, she's made her way around much of the Mezzovian Main, always earning enough gold to stay in business (usually from shady if not outright illegal clients) and always managing to find more occult lore as she goes.

Keisa is an extremely attractive, young woman, with dark hair, pale skin, and extremely pale gray eyes; nearly white they are so light. She's cultivated an air of distraction; a scholarly girl so engrossed in her studies that her social skills have atrophied, but in reality this is partly an act on her part; a persona that she cultivates to increase her mystique amongst potential clients. She's also found that it seems to bring out the protective side of those around her, who see her as a "cute" younger sister who needs looking after. She's not blind to her charms; she just is very careful about how she doles them out in her own self-interest.

Mechanics: In d20 Past, Keisa Alawasmu is clearly a Smart Hero who multiclasses into Occultist, and her background was developed around this paradigm. However, the magic options are considerably different with each of the ruleset options; in D&D E6, she'd be a Noble or possibly a Courtier who's spent as much effort as possible learning incantations, while in Pathfinder, she'd be an Alchemist who's done the same.

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