When the isolation of quarantine began to really take its toll, my friends and I turned to the saving grace of nerds everywhere: role-playing. In this particular instance, we turned to Elder Scrolls Online and Discord.
It’s a unique roleplaying experience we’ve put together. Unlike D&D, we have minimal combat focus and no dice usage. Unlike the other roleplay groups we’ve found in ESO, we don’t do many walk-on scenes or tavern discussions. We’re essentially telling a continuing story, paragraph by paragraph, by each piloting a character. Our characters have their independent goals, but we are also seeking an overarching story goal: build and pilot Tamriel’s first pirate airship.
Pooka was born in Senchal to a master silversmith and a competent tailor. Her birth was unexpected and put her parents in a financial bind. Her mother’s silver craft was the center of her universe, so her father hired on with one of the many merchant ships that sailed from Senchal’s ports for more sustainable income to send home to the family.
Pooka learned self-control before she fully mastered speech, as her mother’s patience was short for anything that distracted from her craft. Pooka became quiet, compliant, and helpful, running business errands almost as soon as she could walk.
Their home was part of a poorly-constructed community dwelling near the Black Kiergo district of Senchal. Pooka’s favorite memories of home include watching the stars through the slats of her walls, holding a tarp over her mother’s work when it rained, and sneaking off from the market stall to listen to a Moon-Singer weave their tale.
Everything changed when the Knahaten Flu reached Senchal, roaring through the Black Kiergo district and spreading from there to the rest of the city. The ports closed, and her father was stuck at sea. The Black Kiergo burned in an attempt to contain the illness by any means, and their home only escaped the fires by the vigilant organization of their fellow residents.
The markets closed, and her mother lost the silversmithing business. Without her art, she lost all grip on her identity and reality. She and Pooka escaped the flu, but she did not escape addiction. The skooma market was still strong, and Pooka would travel through the sickened streets to collect the drug for her mother from what remained of the Black Kiergo. As her mother slipped further into the skooma addiction, it became the only way to keep her happy and calm. Unfortunately, the closed ports and the heavily diminished population led to lower-quality and dangerous skooma. Pooka lost her mother and her home, surviving as best she could on the disease-ridden streets until the ports once again opened and her father was able to find her.
Her father brought her onto his ship, to the chagrin of the rest of his crew, but the captain valued his tailoring skills and allowed it. Pooka was kept belowdecks, out of everyone’s way, but long experience with hunger drew her curious little self to the ship’s cook time and time again.
The cook was an Argonian named Tyrosyna who had escaped life among the Dunmer, but had lost her connection to the Hist. Pooka slowly endeared herself to Tyrosyna by helping with small tasks, until the short-tempered chef took her under her wing, teaching her not only cooking but her peculiar brand of magic. Pooka learned to call ice by telling herself stories that evoked stillness or cold until she could “feel it in her bones” and make it real.
She stayed on the ship for more than a decade, but even as she grew old enough to be a regular crew member, her father insisted that she remain belowdecks and just help Tyrosyna by cleaning on port days. This lasted until the captain grew frustrated with her limited use, and insisted that she aid the crew with the port labor. During this first gig, she learned that her father had been hiding that the ship smuggled skooma among its more honest mercantile goods.
She hadn’t told her father what happened in Senchal, letting him believe that the flu was the cause of her mother’s death, so she had no reasonable vent for her anger and ended up causing an ice storm in the galley. Tyrosyna was poorly equipped to help her, and simply suggested she take some time away from the ship until she could control her feelings and talk reasonably to her father. With Tyrosyna’s help, she snuck out at the port of Solitude.
Pooka spent nearly a year in Skyrim, working odd jobs in and around Solitude and occasionally traveling with a Khajiit caravan when it was in the area, but she didn’t dare travel far in case reply missives came from her father’s ship. Finally, the spring after she’d left, she got word redirected from Senchal that the ship had sunk in the northern seas. With no more family and no more ties, she decided to walk back to Senchal.
In her attempts to avoid the battlegrounds of the Three Banners War, she ended up lost on the Gold Coast and heard half-stories and whispered rumors of a fiery pirate with an unusual moral code and a thirst for Dwemer artifacts.
Since she was already lost, she decided to veer off in search of this captain and find the ending to the half-finished tales she’d been hearing. To her surprise, however, she ended up getting hired on as a cook after a short interview with the mercurial captain (played by my partner).
Her arrival spurred him to make progress on a long-held dream of putting together an airship and a new crew. He set off to find a shipwright and came back with Brels Drelas (played by my dear friend Lyndsay). Of the gathering crew members, Brels has had the greatest impact on Pooka with his unique ability to pull out the anger from her meek persona.
With a crew around her and a surly mentor by her side, perhaps Pooka can finally overcome her belief that she must be useful to be worthwhile and pursue her dream of becoming a Moon-Singer.
Our story is ongoing, but I have compiled and edited the first part of it from the early part of quarantine, with credit to the other writers who were working on it at that time. I owe Pooka and my fellow creators for my reignited passion for writing, as well as providing the opportunity to stretch my character design muscles. I hope you’ve enjoyed this foray into Pooka’s past, and I’ll be back next month with another Meet the Character.