Recently I started running a Pathfinder RPG session with some of the ROTDOG staff.
Craven just sent me his character background and its so good i thought i would post it on here fro you guys to read as well.
Andy @ ROTDOG
Josef Gagarin was, like most half orcs, the product of an unplanned union between father and mother. He never knew the full story of his conception, save to say that it was against his mothers will and part of a larger tradegy involving her home village. She never spoke more of it, and he never felt the need to ask. Despite the horror of his lineage, Gagarin was raised with nothing short of devotion by his mother who viewed his birth as a blessing in disguise. She cared for him, provided for him and educated him as best she could whilst holding down a living.
It was fortunate that her distant family, a wealthy and landed bunch, viewed her in such high regard as they provided her not only a steady source of income but also safe and secure lodgings in their estate. Her skills in the kitchen were put to good use over seeing the sizaeable facilities, a position trust and esteem. Gagarin, looking more human than orc as he aged, was welcomed and treated with respect, if a little wariness. He spent most of his time helping his mother attend tasks in the kitchen, becoming an able chef in his own right, whilst also being allowed to train at arms with the family militia.
Things were not to last however. One particularly dreary winter, his mother contracted an illness from which she never recovered, her lungs giving out just before the spring. With their cherished relative no more, family opinion soon turned against Gagarin. His heritage was no issue while his mother was alive, but with her gone, tolerance for him soon started to wane. In a short while he was asked to leave the estate and find work and support himself. This was something quite difficult for him to achieve. With no one to vouch for him and despite his good manner and intelligence, he was simply a half orc and the natural distrust of his heritage made finding legitimate work near impossile. Before long he had resorted to petty theft simply to make his way.
Whilst locked up in a small, town gaol for a period of four nights having stolen a bushel of apples from a market stall, Gagarin met Varlamov. Varlamov was a mid ranking member of a prolific bandit group who had been arrested under a false identity for a small bar brawl several nights before hand. Had his true identity been known he would have been hung for many outstanding offences against the regional nobility. He took a shine to Gagarin and offered to give him work when they were both released. Gagarin, knowing banditry was what it was, had no choice but to agree.
He spent several years assisting Varlamov and his cronies in their endeavours to harrass trade caravans. His natural size, sharp wits and strong spear arm came in good use and as much as he disliked doing what he did to survive, he was exceptionally good at it.
Gagarins life as a bandit came to an end during a raid that also took Varlamovs life. Gagarin had long suspected a mole was selling out their movements to local authorities and one particular attack on a lone caravan put him in no doubt they had a traitor in their midst. Dozens of town guard emerged from the tree lins, surrounding them and cutting down the bandits with no quarter. Whilst trying to flee, Gagarin was dragged from his horse and passed from the world with a dagger in his belly.
He came to in what appeared to be a graveyard. For as far as the eye could see were shallow graves, over flowing with bones. A long line of people wound their way through them, standing where they could on the blasted black earth. In the distance a tower rose into the purple sky, and the line of people stretch all the way to its base in the horizon. Gagarin felt compelled to shuffle forward with the people in the line, all of them head down, clearing displaying the wounds that had led them here. Some had an arrow in the eye, others were the pallid colour of the diseased. Others were children, no taller than his knee, others old crones who had seen too many winters.
Many ignored him, many screamed at him when he asked where he was – whether through fear or insanity he could not know. Only a few knew for certain, those with the robes that suggested they were holy men.
"You are in the bone yard, Boy" one said, "Waiting for him who sits in judgement".
"The God of Knowledge, he knows all" said another "He knows what you have done, what you will do"
Judgement. That word hung around him for days as he shuffled forward in the line. Every step seemed to take him closer until he looked away, and then the tower was back in the horizon where it always had been. It took him several more days to recognise a feeling inside him, a knot in his stomach that was no longer there. Whether fear no longer held him, or some other force compelled him, he found himself stepping out of the line and walking up and down it, faster than those who simply ambled along as part of it. He spoke then to all and sundry. Butcher, warrior, priest, surgeon, cartographer, ranger, librarian, guardsmen, farmer, sorceror and sailor. He spoke to them all as they made their slow progress towards the tower. He quizzed them on their lives, their skills, their experience. If this god of knowledge was waiting for him then he would not find him wanting. He had craved knowledge once, before he decided to make a nuisance of his life. Perhaps at this last moment, he could reverse the last few years.
All the while he never got closer to the tower. The line moved inexorably forward, he never seemed to approach. Once in a while he could hear the mad laughing wash over the blasted, bone scattered plain. The mad laughing of Pharasma, they said.
Days turned to weeks. Weeks to months and then months to years. There was no sun to measure it by, a low dark sun always hung above the horizon there, but inside he knew. For years he was amongst the bones and the knowledge of the dead. Never once needing food or nourishment, talking all the while, learning, absorbing.
He was mid conversation when it happened. The laughter that was always far away in the distance was suddenly all around him. It was inside him, he felt the over bearing weight of a God's vision upon you and then one simple word.
It ruptured his ear drums, forced him to his back and a sudden, excrutiating pain raced through his belly.
And then light. Day light, bird song and a man standing over him, pulling a blade from his belly. Mralfred was name, he told him some hours later when he had passed out and come to several more times. Mralfred, a monk of Phrasma. He had found his body, bleeding out and on the brink of death in the tree line and had done what he could to save him. It had been just enough. Perhaps an hour more laying there would have been enough for him. It was nearly evening and he would not have lasted the night with wounds like that.
He had been laying there for two or three hours, Mralfred suggested. When Gagarin told of his visions, the young monk smiled knowingly. "You," he said "You have a purpose, it would seem. Perhaps mine is tied to yours also?". To this day, Gagarin knows not why Mralfred would trouble himself to help a dying bandit when many would have left him rightfully for dead. He has never asked. Unable to commit to the life of a monk, Mralfred tutored Gagarin in theology, but the young half orc knew more than even he did. He introduced him to an order that would take him in and formalise what he had learnt, allow him to pledge his vows and become a priest of their faith. All the while the dagger that had been taken from his belly was with him, a symbol of his new faith. Pharasma had given him a second chance, allowed him to learn beyond his years, and had placed him back on the living world with a purpose.
Since his experience in the boneyard, Gagarin seeks sleep as often as he can. Occassionally he finds himself back there in his dreams, standing alongside the line of the dead. Everytime he returns to the boneyard he finds some information that he needs by chance, whether he knows he needs it or not. He considers it another gift from Pharasma, a kind of foresight that he is as of yet unable to control or predict. He sorely wishes to have the ability to reach that line with no time limit and under his own control so that he might seek his mother before her judgement and attempt to ensure she is not condemned.
He is also completely fearless, having visited the afterlife and been returned by a God, he perceives he is invincible and will remain so until he has completed his purpose. He will not plough relentlessly into combat – that would be an insult to the knowledge he has gained of martial arts and being a warrior. But, he fears no enemy, for his faith in that knowledge leaves him feeling invulnerable to those without it.
He is of course close to Mralfred, considering him a physical embodiment of his "second chance", and will allow no harm to come to him.