This is a tabletop role playing game character backstory that I created to run in a pre-built campaign setting, Rise of the Runelords, published legally and fully by Paizo. Some of the names in this story are directly from that campaign book, and therefore are not my own. In this story, intellectual properties owned by Paizo have been labeled with a © symbol.
Pannon Laandish was born to Ned Laandish in the coastal town of Sandpoint©. From what he was told, his mother was a local bar wench turned whore. Pannon never knew her, and his father never made any attempt to bring her into their lives. Ned Laandish was an engineer, and a good one. He taught Pannon all about structural integrity, and how to repair most common construction problems. That was about as far as Ned’s fatherly bond ever went with his son, during his childhood. You see, he was a very good engineer. Some might even say he was one of the best. For this reason, he was never home. Ned Laandish was often credited with single handedly planning the Alabaster District in Magnimar©. Pannon resented him because he was always away, and spent much of his young life searching in vain for his nameless mother. Lucky for him, he discovered that he had an inherently natural talent with any weapon he had ever picked up. Eventually, when he turned 14, he started using his natural abilities to defend Sandpoint from the seemingly regular goblin raids.
Unfortunately for Pannon, all of his youthful rage led to most of his hometown hating him. He was always brazen and hateful toward them in his youthful rage, and he came to expect them to treat him the same. The way Pannon saw it, the townsfolk owed him their gratitude. The way the people of Sandpoint© saw it, he was a awful upstart that was too cocky for his own good.
One of the biggest reasons the locals hated him, involved what he came to call his ‘Rum Days’. The ritual played out the same every time. At least once every few months, Pannon would come into a local bar and take a seat at the end of the counter. At that point, the bartender would already be suspicious of his next choice of words. He would remove his armor and weapons (he typically wore them everywhere due to the high probability of goblin raids) stripping down to his just his everyday clothes. At this point, usually whichever bartender happened to be working that day in whichever bar Pannon happened to choose would sigh a dejected sigh. They always knew what was going to happen next.
Pannon would exclaim very loudly “You know… it’s just been one of those days.”
Their worst fear confirmed, they would produce two bottles of rum for him. Typically the bar would clear out quite quickly at this point. For, you see, once he finished off those two bottles of rum, he would turn around and survey the bar scene, drunk beyond logic. He would pick the toughest looking guy left in the bar, and he would yell, “I’m ready, you ready?”
With that, he’d attack with no further warning. He never aimed to kill. And for what it was worth, he never killed anyone during a Rum Day. Those who would stay loved to fight as much as Pannon did. His Rum Days became a bit of a local attraction for traveling adventurers. He wasn’t a good person, but he wasn’t a heartless one. He’d fight until he couldn’t fight. He’d wake up in a cell in the sheriff’s office, bruised and beaten. Then he’d promptly go back to sleep, usually for at least a week. Eventually the sheriff would come in and wake him up.
“Your time’s up Laandish. Get the hell out.”
Pannon would silently walk out, go and collect his things from the bar, pay the bartender for all of the damages incurred, and carry on with his life.
Even though most everyone in Sandpoint hated Pannon, Ned Laandish had sway in the town. Ned made sure that Pannon received a good education. The local schoolhouse wouldn’t allow him to study there, but his father was able to convince the mayor to send someone to their home on Chopper’s Isle© for private lessons. Pannon learned to read and write from a man named Ranton Buel. He was a ranger from somewhere in the Kodar Mountains©. Pannon came to view Ranton as more of a father to him than his actual father. When he reached the age of 18, Ranton returned home, leaving Pannon alone in the world yet again (In his eyes anyways).
During the times between goblin raids, Pannon worked directly with the mayor of Sandpoint© in order to set himself up with a steady job. He went there for regular employment, because he knew no one would be willing to pay him among the common folk of Sandpoint©. And he knew that Ned had some pull there. The mayor offered him a job as a Notary Public. Pannon went through a job training program for it, but he always found it boring. He’d rather swing a sword at a goblin any day than push paper across a god forsaken desk. For this reason, he left the mayor’s employ and decided that a normal job was definitely not for him. He began demanding payment for his work defending the town after each goblin raid, and for the most part, he was paid fairly for mercenary work. After each raid, he would go to the sheriff and ask for an ever increasing fee. Reluctantly, and with a sour look on his face, the sheriff would pay him. Pannon would leave with a bitter taste in his mouth.
“I hate this town.”
Pannon left the mayor’s office to try and forge himself a new path. He looked to the sea for inspiration. He would spend hours, watching the waves. This also gave him a leg up on the now ever increasing goblin raids. Goblins aren’t smart, and they usually attacked from the same locations. Pannon now knew where those locations were. The sounds of the ocean eventually called Pannon to them. He built a small fishing boat, and could almost always be seen fishing off the shores of Sandpoint. He would sell his catches daily at the docks.
On one particularly stormy day, Pannon felt a nudge from the toiling sea. He decided to brave the choppy waters and sail out to the open ocean, despite his better judgement. Something about that storm was calling him. He didn’t bring his nets, nor did he bring any of his other fishing gear. Something was different about this storm. He had to find out what it was. It almost felt as if the waves themselves were beckoning him.
He sailed until reached the heart of the squall, fighting the waves the entire journey. He was getting closer. Was that a voice on the whipping winds?! What or who was calling him? Not once did he question his urge to reach the center of the storm. He just followed the feeling in his gut, and the waves of ever increasing size. Many hours out to sea, with torn sails and snapped rigging lines, he came upon a great maelstrom.
“So this is what you want eyy!? You think I wouldn’t brave such a wonder!?” Pannon screamed to the winds.
He rode the maelstrom for what seemed like days, until eventually his main sail snapped in twain. He was thrown from the deck and into the depths of Davy Jones’ Locker.
And yet, he was somehow at peace.
He awoke on the deck of a grand golden decked ship, with someone he had only imagined before standing above him; a great beauty, clad in the garb of a pirate, stood over him. She had violent red hair and a brutal face, with eyes as wild as the storm he had just awakened from.
“I see you’ve heard the call of the Sea. You worship me now.”
Before he lost consciousness, he uttered two words,
When he awoke in his bed, he knew he had been saved by the Great Pirate God Besmara©. From that day forward, he would forever be her loyal disciple.
Pannon began incorporating his newfound ‘piety’ into his everyday life, basing his choices (maybe too many of them) on what a pirate would do. He wasn’t an inherently evil person by nature, and lucky for him, Besmara © didn’t require that. He drank a lot more around town, and he had a lot more of his ‘Rum Days’. He watched for the goblins less. He worried about Sandpoint© less. In fact, most of the time goblins attacked, he was drinking rum. It made it a lot more fun to fight them when he was drunk. He actually felt some semblance of being in danger.
Different things than before would anger Pannon. The refusal of an offered drink, the unwillingness of the general public to change anything about their goblin problem; in general, his newfound faith made the local townsfolk fear him. Pannon really hated that, and he became more and more jaded toward the people of Sandpoint©. He knew that he needed to leave this forsaken trash heap of a town. When he wasn’t drinking, he was out to sea. When he was drinking, he was out to sea. Sometimes, he would just sail. Sometimes he would fish. He began to learn how to read the ocean. He began to learn how to read the feelings of the sea creatures around him.
Pannon eventually began to see the value of the education that his father had provided for him. He was 20 when he really began to hate his father less. And he was 21 when he told him so. From that day forward, they would regularly work on engineering designs together. For 3 years he apprenticed with Ned Laandish in an official capacity. The first blueprints that Pannon designed independently from his father was a small 5 person ship that he would use to sail even farther out to sea. Pannon would leave for months at a time, all the while becoming closer and closer with the spirit of the ocean.
The next time a goblin raid happened, (at least while he was physically in the town of Sandpoint©) he did not intervene. He learned from the local sheriff that the casualty list was twice the usual number. He took a sick pleasure in knowing that this town really needed him, and instead of helping them the next time the goblins would attack, he would wait for them to officially hire him.
He was tired of begging for payment after the fact. That’s definitely not the pirate way. The goblin raids continued, coming more and more frequently than ever before. No one ever contacted him for help. He recalled a teaching from Ranton Buel, during one of the goblin raids in the Capital District of Sandpoint ©.
“Look inside yourself” Ranton had once told him.
Pannon didn’t understand what he had meant back then, but now he was beginning to.
He learned to meditate during times of strife. He became connected with the inherent energy around him. He used these self-reflection times to thank Besmara© for all that she had provided him. These meditation sessions connected him with a previously dormant side of his mentality. He learned that he was particularly gifted in the art of alchemy, and that if he focused his mind, he could summon a small amount of magic from within himself.
Pannon’s faith also changed him in other ways. He stopped caring about what the locals thought of him. Even though he disliked them, he wished them no ill will. He began to regard the local populace as an inherently neutral entity. He and they could coexist without liking each other. Money became a driving moral in Pannon’s life. He was never bloodthirsty, so he never went out of his way to pillage or plunder, as certain pirates might. But he did discover something about himself that was not entirely pirate like. In his free time, Pannon would garden. He mostly grew food, but he did have a small wildflower bed. He believed, and still believes in the simple beauty of a flower, so long as the sea is within view. All pirates have a degree of romanticism in their lives; usually that romanticism goes no farther than the ocean for followers of Besmara©. That wasn’t the case for Pannon. He seemed to have an inherent love for his flowers, especially the roses.
Pannon’s faith had led him down a path he’d never imagined before, and at the end of it, loomed the most terrifying beast the ocean would ever know. He believed in the ancient tales that the Kraken were the embodiment of true evil, that they are the dead old gods made physical, that those legends were long forgotten truths. He sings the songs to ward himself from the gaze of a Kraken while he is at sea.
“From the depths of the ocean, doth come,
Of the legends of forgotten lore and the devil’s left thumb.
Those wise to the sea, stay wise to this fear.
When dangerous, this is, this storm so severe.
We sing out of fear, ye terror of the deep,
For away you must stay, for away you must keep.”
Pannon takes the rare threat of a Krakens presence as a sign of doom and death. He firmly believes that in his life, he will have to fight and die at the many arms of a Kraken. On that day, he will be praying the whole time. Until he became a follower of Besmara©, he had never even heard of a Kraken. Now, he knows them. He knows what they are. He knows what they do. The morning following his miraculous rescue from the bottom of the maelstrom, a Kraken appeared off the western shore of Chopper’s Isle©. Pannon was in his garden at the time. He went down to the shoreline and put his hand in the surf,
“Aye, ye great beast, we will meet face to face one day. That is the day I’ll dread.”
The anger he felt when his hand touched the water was unlike anything he had ever felt before. He knew that his fate was connected to the darkest of the ocean depths.
“What do I have to hide? Nothin at all.”
This is what Paanon would say if you asked him. While Pannon wears his fear of Kraken plainly on his sleeve, he would never admit to anyone that he found his birth mother in the Heart of the Magnimar© slums at the age of 15. He would never tell this story, because it is his most painful memory. He spent much of his childhood and young adulthood tracking her down, thinking about what he would say to her. Thinking of a hundred different ways to tell her how much he hated her for not staying with their family. He wouldn’t believe his father that his mother was a whore. When he found out that Ned was telling him the truth his entire life, he pitied his mother, and deep down he hated his father a lot less; though he’d never tell him back in those days. Kendy Weyer was a pathetic ruin of a person. Her mind was addled and crazed when Pannon found her among the rats. He put her out of her misery with a single stroke of his blade.
That was the first human life that he’d ever taken.