My Tuesday-night RPG group has changed ‘seasons’. Now we are playing Savage Worlds: The Last Parsec.
Askha bel Sayid Zadasi
Askha grew up in Odezza, the capital city of Tazan on Rakhat, in the heart of what outsiders call the Tazanian Empire. The Great Empire counts non-habitable planets and planetoids among its holdings; many of these are mined for their resources even if they have not been completely terraformed to sustain rakashan life. Rakashans are often thought to exaggerate the size of their empire because the name of their empire (in Tazanian) translates literally into Common as ‘The Empire of a Thousand Worlds’, even if the actual tally (including planetoids) is closer to two hundred. This is because of a quirk in translation: the word meaning ‘great’ or ‘exceedingly numerous’ also translates as the word for the number ‘thousand’. Sometimes the name for the empire is translated as The Great Empire; however, as a rule, Tazanian rakashans are proud of their empire and prefer the hyperbolic translation.
Askha and her twin, Nikith, are middle children. (Nearly all rakashans are fraternal twins.) Her older sisters are fierce, disciplined, and rule-abiding, perfect daughters of their retired Marine mother. Following them, Askha and Nikith both were misfits: Nikith, an introvert in a large and social extended family, and Askha, resentful of her older sisters and protective of her brother. From an early age, Askha chafed at being told what to do, especially by her bossy sisters. Manasa and Akasis dominated the cubs in their family, but Askha habitually ignored them, only increasing the tension between them. Where her mother was pleased at Manasa and Akasis’ leadership skills, she also despaired at her youngest daughter’s lack of discipline.
The only one of her siblings that Askha likes is her twin, Nikith. She frequently fought with the others on his behalf, fiercely protecting him when he wanted to be alone and read or keep accounts of their toys or books. When it came time for their military service, however, they were separated and served in different units. Askha trained hard and took naturally to weapons and combat. Like most rakashans, Askha’s blood sings in the heat of battle: once she has drawn blood, she desires nothing else than to bring down her foes, and nothing is as satisfying as feeling her enemy’s flesh give way beneath her claws. (Thus is the brutality that made their empire and puts down any rebellion.) Even so, the strict discipline of the military was too much like being ordered around by her sisters. When her military service was completed, Askha returned to Rakhat.
Both of Askha’s older sisters were already career officers in the Marines, following in their mother’s footsteps, and Askha had no desire to imitate them and continue to compete for their mother’s favor. Instead, she tried various stints as a bodyguard or security officer, but neither saw much action in the heart of the Great Empire. Eventually, her father suggested that Askha leave both Rakhat and the empire for a more satisfying career. It pained him to send one of his children so far away, away from both clan and empire, but he also hated to see her so dissatisfied with her life in Tazan.
The next year, Askha bought passage on a ship that took her to the edge of Tazanian territory, and from there she worked her way across several systems as a mercenary of sorts. Askha accepted a position in JumpCorps’ Security division at a time when she needed a more steady income. After more than a year on Harmonia Station, though, she was beginning to get bored with the work, all of it routine. Then she received a message from the station’s Administrator with a new assignment…
It’s taken a while for me to get a feel for Askha. I purposefully built her to be unlike any of my other characters: Tess is the mad scientist and gentlewoman adventurer and Maya is the privileged and charismatic privateer, but Askha is the bloodthirsty mercenary. She’s a fighter, not a diplomat; noncompliant, rather than rules-abiding. Case in point: During last night’s session, our team ran into a group of thugs in a darkened corridor on a mining station — there were 11 of them and 5 of us. One of our team set off a smoke grenade and in the confusion of the darkness and smoke, Askha slipped forward and efficiently clawed out the throats of four of the thugs. She had to be pulled back from chasing the remaining four that fled. In addition to being an effective killing machine, Askha is also somewhat arrogant, firm in her belief that the Great Empire is the paragon of civilization; a bit aloof, but also loyal to her crew. She does care about them even if it’s sometimes difficult for them to tell that she does.
Askha, obviously, is very different from my own personality; to help me play her, I’ve decided to channel Zoe from Firefly and Carol from The Walking Dead (the TV version). Because she is so different from what I usually play and because the setting is new without much of an established canon, I’ve often felt adrift when playing her. As one player put it, we all have creative imaginations but also don’t want to impinge on anyone else’s world-building. In order to create a shared universe, though, we each need to speak up, step on each other’s toes, and negotiate when ideas clash. So, before returning to The Last Parsec, our GM asked us to do some more backstory- and world-building and we went over these developments as the introduction to our third season. This post is the product of my own world-building and definitely helped me to play her better last night.
Regarding her mini: Sci-fi big cat minis don’t exist, and the existing fantasy big cat minis are ridiculously ill-suited for a sci-fi setting. Luckily, the GM who makes our minis was able to order a mini for Askha from Hero Forge, a company that uses 3D-printing to print out any mini that you design on their website. Of course, the coloring I chose for Askha (tortoiseshell, with forest green and grey clothing) makes her very difficult to take pictures of, but rest assured, she’s pretty awesome.