Ben Bones

writing & worldbuilding

Max Snow

"You've seen hyenas before. The man walking down the road with you appears to have the face of a hyena - he is a gnoll, and quite clearly an elderly one, judging from the snow-like dusting of white fur across his shoulders."

"At the last rest-stop, he cooked you all the most delicious meal you've ever had. You were wary, at first, as gnolls are known to eat people, monsters, and even other gnolls - but Max assured you he had accounted for your preferences. After dinner, you talked for a while, and then went to bed. Later that night, you rolled over to see him still seated by the fireside, his dog-like face bent intently over a strange black and white game board. His glasses reflected red in the firelight, flashing mysteriously. As you watched, Max moved a pawn..."

Max Snow is my current Pathfinder 2e character! He's a gnoll chef and I love him so much. The idea is that yes, he's a cannibal; yes he eats anything; but he's also a really picky eater in terms of taste, and unfailingly polite. So he'll never feed you anything that would make you uncomfortable, and he'll ask you if you're okay with it before he eats a corpse in front of you. And by Nethys it'll be cooked first!

He's a wizard, because he's my first PF character and I wanted to start with something familiar. I got that spellcaster pride. But also PF is crunchy enough that... maybe I could be happy playing a fighter. So possibly I'll do that next. But yeah ever since I've started playing him, he's developed so much and I'm having so much fun! I really owe a lot of it to the awesome GMs I've had, and the excellent players I'm with - it's a really good crowd.

About Max!

Max Snow came from a pack of gnolls in the [CAN'T REMEMBER THE NAME OF THE DESERT] Desert. He never really fit in! For starters, he was always super picky about eating carrion, and was really fussy about staying clean. He never knew his orcish father - and his mother was just one of many hunters, cubs being raised communally. Despite all this, they were his family and his home, and he never thought of leaving until after Nidae*.

Nidae was a runt, and didn't speak much, but she and Max were very good friends. Every now and again they would play a strange game by drawing a grid in the dirt, and taking turns taking up all the space by putting different colored pebbles on the intersections of the lines - calling it "Stay", since they couldn't go anywhere while playing it**. One day on a hunt, Nidae fell down a shale slope, and died. The other gnolls ate her body without even a pause. Nobody remembered her afterwards. Nobody except Max. He wasn't upset that they had eaten her - that felt completely normal. It was how they hadn't paused, barely slowing to chew. It was how nobody mentioned her afterwards, like she'd never existed at all. It was the waste of it all, the pointless waste. Who would he play "Stay" with, now that she was gone? So Max went.

In later life, and in wider society, Max found his place. He studied to become a wizard of the community, learning architecture and construction, and graduated with a thesis in staves. He was at a disadvantage, both due to his upbringing and his lifespan. Most gnolls only lived to about 60 or so, and by the time of his adventuring career, Max would be in his 40's. He would grow self-conscious about this, and dressed in carefully tailored wizardy robes, afraid of seeming his age.

Mostly though, Max worked as a chef. There were alleys, and bars, and places that didn't care if he was a gnoll: and when Max found himself judged or driven away due to his monstrous nature, he did not grow bitter. He reacted to all the heartbreak of the world (and all its slights against him) with politeness, tears, and geniune kindness. Where others would have grown bitter, or self-absorbed, Max grew into the classic, sweet old wizard. Max loved people. In fact, his spellbook was titled "To Serve Man", as he believed service to be the true role of a wizard. (A note: he did not, however, want to be in charge, and hated having others in charge of him. His background as a member of a pack, where everyone was equal, was the ideal of community that he strived for. Damn communist!)

Max would have been perfectly happy to live in humility, like this, and never wish for more. However, he always lit up at the prospect of a puzzle, and intellectual challenges, and on one of his adventures the party was challenged to a duel of Kingmaker by a captured genie. The genie's name was [I FORGET LOL], and he was ordered by his master to 'best' the party. Being utterly bored, he offered to do so in a game of Kingmaker. Max jumped at the chance. The genie warned him that he had been playing Kingmaker for millennia, and that he was a master such the world had never seen. (I believe Max didn't say anything in response. He whimpered, slightly, but otherwise kept it in his robes). The genie hadn't been kidding, though - Max got a natural one, and was mated in three moves. It was over far too quickly for satisfaction. Ironically, if Max had won, that might have been the end of it! As it was, he implored the genie to tutor him. Private lessons. Pen pals, perhaps. The genie agreed, but only because he was fantastically bored.

From then on, Max spent his time collecting new recipes, new spells, and casually being tutored at Kingmaker on the side. (Mechanical note: I picked up Additional Lore. Not Game Lore, though - specifically Kingmaker lol). He faced strange demons from the Maelstrom, duergar and lions.

So anyway, yeah. Dealing with themes of relative morality, fear of death, body image... and eventually opening a restaurant. Tbh the finale of the character is playing chess against Death. Max wants to win, but I know he won't!! It's about accepting death via the medium of a game... woah, meta.

Also I think it would be a poignant character moment, at the end, if Max were to say to Death "You know what old chap, I hear you're pretty good at this game. How about a bout, just for fun! No stakes. If I win or lose, I'll move on either way. How about it, hmm?" The point being, of course, that it's a way for him to own his death. It would also be funny to see if we could hit on Death itself. Pop that sapiosexual boner LOL.

Max's ultimate goal, beyond lichdom and restaurants, beyond funny games... is to be remembered. And what do you remember better than a good meal? My beautiful wizard chef... lol anyway, I love him.

Next character's a witch! Which you can do in PF!! I've only been waiting FOREVER!!!! TO PLAY A WITCH!!!

*As in Hyaenidae. You know, hyenas aren't dogs or cats? They're their own thing. Damn, hella gender.

**It's Go, lol

Also! I have to put this somewhere because I feel SO BAD! I fucked up a Blazing Bolt... I'm used to DnD, where you double the dice on a crit?? And I did that, and then the spell tells you to double it, but I did both by accident! It was so much damage... I'm so so guilty... that lion got fucking vaporised. I need to get better spells so I can do 50 dmg honestly. There's a funny story behind it, though: the cleric cast a very sad 'Harm' right before, which was like, 3 dmg total. So I used 'Subtle Casting' to hide the fact I cast it, so that it appeared to be the cleric who vaporised the lion.

Still a fuckup, but at least it's funny! But still, blugh.

Session Notes: 12/05/24

Most recently, Max assisted with the building of a bridge in the desert sands of [I FORGET LOL]. In the process, however, the party discovered strange robotic humanoids, ruined and dismembered, crawling out of the deep desert, all fleeing a central ruin. There, they found an ancient elephantine statue, from [ANCIENT ROBOT EMPIRE I FORGET THE NAME OF], which introduced itself as a keeper of knowledge. Specifically, the knowledge of immortality.

The rest of the party was able to put the peices together. The construct spoke of souls, and of placing them inside reliquaries of iron and steel, with or without their consent. They looked outside the ruins and saw those strange robots crawling desperately away, their broken bodies speaking of an eternity of suffering. This was not the sort of immortality anyone might wish for.

Max, however, was staring down the barrel of his lifespan. He was all too aware of the eternal nature of his tutor - a literal genie, who talked about Earthfall as if he'd been there. Max Snow heard the word 'immortality' and was unable to hide how badly he wanted what this old god had to offer, whatever it might cost.

Not being a fool, of course, he refused the offer - but he took care to ask diplomatically where one might start, if one were seeking the knowledge this old elephant remembered. The construct replied; one might start with itself, and one might look to the [FORGES OF THE IMPERIUM I THINK IT WAS CALLED]. And here begins Max's research into lichdom.

Additional Session Notes:

  • Max's genie tutor is (canon) visiting the lodge... hell yeah. I'm used to imagining this sort of stuff for my characters... but the GM just gave this to me... man I'm so lucky. Also established that Max is a bottom. Hot!
  • I think often about the kobold girl Max helped tutor in a previous adventure... she got an A+ on an exam, and sent it to him, which was so sweet. Why am I thinking about this? Because it makes fighting kobolds a moral nightmare. Guess how many kobolds we fought this session! So many!
  • Got Raph to help us butcher them afterwards though, so that was nice. Max is a sweetie, but he'll eat a motherfucker. Gnoll, remember? He doesn't have the same taboo around it that humans do. In fact, he does it because he cares. They were really fucking excellent pies.
  • There was a really fun character this session too: a transmigrated wizard from another world, who has lost all his spells and is now lvl 1 again, played by a DnD friend. Had some fun banter where Max got a wee bit catty. Called him "Archmage" a bunch. You say you're more powerful, hmm? Very well, I'll leave it all to you! This is also because Max is lvl 4 now, so he's getting too strong for the other ppl he's playing with. So that's also why he took the backseat on a lot of the rolls.

Session Notes: 19/05/24

In his most recent adventure, Max helped escort an all-powerful and extremely mysterious oracle. To be honest I was pretty out of it for this session! The party assisted a ritual to save a green dragon though, thus allowing her to continue protecting a great forest. Fun!

Additional Session Notes:

  • Fellow party member was a massive fan of the oracle. She was also a small kobold druid, and at a certain point when Max went down, she charged in to stand protectively over him. Given Max's history with kobolds, I believe he would now die for her.
  • Oh yeah! Max went down in a big way. I liked getting to describe it though, because he used his 'Orcish Resilience' Feat to bounce back from the penultimate hit. It was like, he reels from the hit, looks like he's about to fall, then snaps his head forward. But what comes back is far more gnoll than wizard. Almost purely animal. I just like the image of a hyena covered in blood, teeth bared, and eyes glazed with red fury - because it's so far from how Max presents himself! It's like, if you take away everything else about him, if you take away the society and the intelligence and narrow him down to the core, he's... primal. It was a fun moment, but it didn't matter, because right afterwards he took another hit and went down anyway. Still felt really cool to get a glimpse of it though.
- Follow Site Here -