Sonja Ilsyth Character in Istralar | World Anvil

Sonja Ilsyth

Sonja Helena Ilsyth

She is an adventurer, you know? It is hard to keep her in one place. I have had the knowing of her for some time, but she is like a bird - she cannot stay for long.
  Raised in the south of the Aletheian Empire, Sonja Ilsyth is a rare example of a psychic spellcaster - a wielder of the newest form of magic to become available to life across Istralar, intent on manipulating mental energy to affect the world and the minds of others. The power has brought her much strife, drawing her to a path of fire and ruin that she has fought desperately to escape from.   Currently, she stands as a powerful mesmerist fighting under fellow psychic-caster Syrin Elathien, who she considers as a brother to her. She holds lofty goals of liberation for those like her and those oppressed by society, seeking to break society's shackles and bring the world into a new age of magical peace - averting any recreation of the Worldrend that sundered the planet when arcane magic made its first appearance.   More importantly, she wants happiness. For her, for her partner Jinne, for Syrin, and for all like them and not.

Physical Description

General Physical Condition

Sonja finds herself to be of completely average strength, though her dexterity exceeds most mortal limits, and she finds herself heartier than most. Beneath the layers of armour and clothing she usually dons, she stays proud of the scars she carries - the searing burn scars from the fire, the jagged lines carved out by the drow, and countless others earnt over the decade or so that she's been out adventuring.

Special abilities

As a mesmerist, Sonja possesses great powers of mental manipulation, both of people's minds and the natural world. In combat, she focuses these energies on her enemies and allies alike: her allies receive boons to their own strength, whilst her enemies suffer great penalties. She wields this mental skill easily outside of combat as well, navigating conversation with ease and finding speech always happens to go her way - unless she meets someone truly prepared for her.   Her skills synergise well with every member of her current group, as they did with her former. She's proud of that, though always wishes she could do more for them.

Apparel & Accessories

Remember when that magic weirdo tried to be her? Dunno why they didn't grab her hat. Made it real easy to know which one to kill.
— Phaiyah
  Though her companions have found it invariably odd, Sonja almost always wears some sort of hat. Her clothes tend to be reasonably practical, yet somewhat fashionable at the same time - always in human fashions, and never anything expensive - but without fail, there will be some sort of hat as an accessory. Her favourite is a comfortable brown beret. She does enjoy tiny hats, too, to her party's chagrin.   Thanks to her rough upbringing due to her status, she does also adapt her clothing for most situations. She keeps a knife readily available and travels in light armour, under which she keeps the supplies needed to live and escape many situations - from simple rope to thin vials of acid and poison. Life has taught her that it is never enough, but she does what she can.

Specialized Equipment

Surprisingly for a caster, psychic or no, Sonja keeps herself armed at all times with a revolver given to her by a past benefactor. She works on its ammunition herself, trusting only her closest allies with assisting her in upkeep. Currently, Zelas has been working most closely with her on her weaponry, as a fellow ranged weapon user - and despite their disagreements, Azsire has reluctantly aided with its enchantments.

Mental characteristics

Personal history

It's always the same for us. Hunted for power we didn't ask for, killed for asking questions. We're a risk, and someone out there knows it.
— Sonja
  Sonja was born to hardworking peasants in the south-eastern forests and fields of the Aletheian Empire; her father made a name for himself in her village as the town's sole blacksmith, and her mother made use of their house's heat for her bakery. Until the age of four, the trio lived in peace - it was not a rich upbringing, but it was kind, and she knew love. At four years of age, however, everything changed - a raid on their village left her mother bitter and changed and her father buried. The love that had once been faded. Without the friendship of others, Sonja was alone.   When she was seven, her powers began to manifest. Odd powers, for a girl like her - she knew how to demand what she wanted and get her way, she knew how to make people behave. And if they didn't listen, she knew how to truly make them do as she wanted. Her mother was terrified: this was magic, but not a kind she recognised. She knew that this abnormality needed to be stomped out, and so she turned her attentions to stopping her daughter.   It didn't work. If anything, it made the situation worse. Her mother's new partner, the town butcher, was equally cruel, and the constant disparagement and abuse took their toll. Her breaking point came in mid-autumn, when the sun was highest, and the heat at its worst. All she'd done was experiment with her magic - lifted a box, that was all - and her mother had launched into a tirade. She was a freak of nature, an abomination, never to be seen - and certainly not part of the family.   Psychic power reacts to emotion. In this case, it reacted violently - slamming into the mother with enough blunt force trauma to kill her instantly, and with enough bad luck to strike the edge of the fireplace. The flames caught, spreading to the house - Sonja, still in shock, could do little to prevent their travel.   She awoke much later, in the care of an orphanage miles from her home. It was the beginning of a new chapter of her childhood - one filled with instability and uncertainty, and a defiant refusal to touch the powers that had killed her mother. Years later, when looking back on the past that had shaped her, it would be this she mentioned with most sadness. The rest was too hard to even speak of, apparently.

Gender Identity

Female - uses she/her pronouns.


Pansexual, leaning towards women.


Hah! We could be a regular bunch of heroes, our lot. Certainly nobody would expect it, what with the stick up his-- hey, don't look at me like that
— Esran, ifrit sorcerer (now deceased)
  Though Sonja had worked in a number of ways to keep herself alive and fed, the first 'job' she was truly proud of was when she joined an adventuring party. She was twenty years old when she made fast friends with an odd group hellbent on seeking adventure and protecting the realm, and she would stay with them for four years before their untimely deaths at the hands of drow in the Underdark of Aletheia.   That group had been leaderless, and was comprised of the following:
  • Taenion Naralthar, snow elven mage. Captured by drow and fleshwarped; mercifully, died in the Underdark's collapse.
  • Tyrik Reiduln, dwarven cleric from Gildómar. Killed by House Umbra whilst trying to find and save Taenion.
  • Kesia, suli fighter from the Southern Continent. Met the same fate as Tyrik, unfortunately.
  • Esran, ifrit sorcerer from Yulan Sheng. Was captured by Riven Drast and sacrificed in the ritual to bring back the Spiritblade; was turned into an otherworldly horror and killed by the Lost Ones
  Notably, this particular adventuring group aided Alysia Undria with struggles across the northern reaches of Aletheia. They intervened in the terrible witch-enchantments of Roseford and saved over twenty children from being devoured by the wicked witch, assisted the Sylvancliffs with the waterborne attackers seeking to destroy the town and Arcanium, and even slayed a dragon in the swamps of Ashmire that had developed a taste for grippli flesh.   That group met the Lost Ones at an annual ball in Undria, hosted by Lord Andron Undria and Lady Ceridwen Undria. They lost their snow elf shortly after, and joined forces with the Lost Ones to take Fort Kildaine and found Ironfalls. After the critical fights, they descended into the Underdark - which was where they fell. All excepting Sonja, who found herself captured by none other than Lord Riven Drast.  

Her Second Party

  Eventually, Sonja managed to escape Drast's grasp, slipping free of the controlling collar House Umbra had placed on her and finding her escape. She joined another adventuring team in this time - this time, one far more powerful, and with more lofty goals than simple heroism. Syrin Elathien, who she'd long since claimed as a pseudo-brother and a fellow psychic caster, led the group. Phaiyah Asthakhan, half-orc fighter with a too-big axe, drew all the attention, whilst Zelas Merimien, halfling warpriest, covered their backs with his archery.   They had travelled with a human wizard by the name of Kals, but the man fell victim to his greed in the Tower of Sathelis - a snow elven settlement run by the Querei, the selfsame tribe that Taenion had been proud to be part of. This caused Sonja's new team issues, as they needed the mage for their goal. Luckily - or unluckily, depending on one's personal opinion of the man - Azsire joined them.   Though her new group had its fair share of adventures before they ended up in Iskaldhal, it was there that they joined forces with both Azsire and the samsaran priestess Jinne of the Way of Runeblessed Dreams. Sonja found herself once again aligned with the goals of the Lost Ones, though for entirely different reasons - both teams sought a shard of the Void, the Harp of Virtue.   The two groups managed to mostly avoid each other prior to locating the Shard, and Sonja was key to the discussions that swayed the other team into a peaceful resolution - they would both go for the Shard together, and imprison it in Azsire's demiplane. Sonja wished to sway the Shard from Void to Source so that its great power could be used for good - especially to fix situations like hers, where factors she could not change led to abuse, hurt, and near-death. Though members of both her team and the other disagreed with this, all ended up deciding that it would at least be a good idea to learn more before acting.   Currently, Sonja is still with this group. After sealing the Shard in Azsire's demiplane, they spent some time in Ironfalls - the very town Sonja had helped the founding of, and the place sitting just above the graves of some of her dearest friends - to recover, before returning to Iskaldhal to Moonsfall Temple. Here, they plan for the next stage of their journey.

Intellectual Characteristics

Though she never pretends to be the most intelligent - book-wise, at least - in a room, Sonja is certainly not dumb. She relies little on the knowledge she's managed to hold onto through the books she's found time to read, trusting instead her instincts and natural charisma to guide her. Lying to Sonja is perhaps one of the worst moves her enemies can make: though she seems completely innocent in speech, she takes the time to test the motives of their every word once her suspicions are aroused, and can run verbal rings around the best of diplomats.   That being said, she does let her emotions lead her. Azsire, master of cold logic and assholery, has suggested (in far more words and with far more disparaging remarks) that it's her nature as a psychic caster. Sonja disagrees. Logic has its place, but emotion guides her moral compass. It certainly succeeded in guiding her to Jinne.   She's also never had much luck with languages. Some of her friends have tried teaching her some, and she does grasp a few, but she'll always feel most comfortable with plain Common.

Morality & Philosophy

Laws mean nothing if the ones making them don't care.
— Sonja, to Syrin
  Sonja's morals revolve more around people than institutions, working on a smaller-scale model than any aristocrat would care to consider. She sees castles and nobility, and she's reminded of the suffering brought to her through no more than a mistake of her birth. That isn't to say she breaks laws - she fights for good, and stays within the lines most of the time - but she knows what's really correct.   Perhaps this dream of equality is what joins her and Jinne so well - the priestess's dreams of the Source are certainly founded in a desire for truly deific levels of justice and fairness.


Fire still spooks Sonja. She can handle it in combat, and small fires are no issue, but raging infernos collapsing buildings and houses atop her - it's enough to send her back to her childhood, to that little girl curling up helpless by her mother's still-warm body as choking smoke stings her eyes and throat. That situation has arisen once in recent years, and luckily, Syrin was present to teleport her out and calm her down.   Her other taboos are more normal. Threats to her friends, especially Syrin and Jinne, can and will thrust Sonja into a desperate fury. Equally, if she finds herself alone and cornered - like so many times, when she lived on the streets - her usual aura of calm shatters into a panicked need to escape, where she'll use everything at her disposal.

Personality Characteristics


She's probably the most driven of us. 'Least the most outspoken about it. She wants acceptance. Do you really disagree?
— Zelas
  Above all, Sonja is buoyed forward in life by the drive to stop her scenario from happening to anyone else. Though she has rarely faced discrimination on the scale of someone like Phaiyah - who, as a half-orc, has forever been relegated to the role of savage by society - for her looks, her magic has caused her no end of trouble, and her lack of family and station mean she earns nothing but disdain from her "betters".   They would leave her to die, if she didn't drag herself from the mire. She knows that for a fact.   This is an injustice she cannot let stand. She refuses to stand by and let children be murdered by whatever strange force seeks the extermination of psychic magic - finding out their identity and stopping it with final permanence stands as one of Sonja's strongest motivations alongside her desire for equality. She would go as far as using a Shard to gain the power needed to protect her brethren and level the playing field, if need be. She'll go further, too. All she needs is the knowledge, and her burning drive will keep her travelling forward. There are no regrets when the outcome is positive, even if sacrifices must be made - provided those sacrifices are the ones causing misery, of course.

Savvies & Ineptitudes

As mentioned, Sonja has a scary level of ability for social skills. She can bluff her way through almost any situation if her heartfelt words and diplomacy fail, and if lying fails - when her tone turns to cold steel, few are brave enough to endure it. Her time on the streets helped develop this, along with her abilities to keep watch, stay hidden, steal as needed, and determine the motives of any speaking to her. All have become invaluable skills in her adventuring career.   That being said, whilst she's stellar in the spotlight and just as brilliant when hidden, she does have her fair share of struggles. She's absolutely horrible at any game involving significant amounts of memory - whilst she has a fairly good memory on the road, she finds it hard to deal with cards. Perhaps this is from her general lack of book-smarts and formal education - she's just as bad with any significant fact-recall on the fly, though give her time and she'll find her answer. And never ask her to do maths.


Family Ties

All of Sonja's blood ties are dead - she has no true family. That being said, Syrin Elathien serves as a pseudo-adoptive brother to her, and Jinne is who Sonja rather wishes to start a new family with. She has a few other people she considers part of her little 'family', but for their sakes, she keeps that quiet. Too many people would see her kind exterminated to speak openly.

Religious Views

Though she has no direct deity, Sonja has always appreciated the message spread by Milani - freedom. This extends to a general appreciation of similar deities, such as Cayden Cailean and Desna - even if she holds a strong dislike towards Desna's champion, Licia Galewen. She also holds a quiet but deep appreciation of the Way of Runeblessed Dreams, and has participated in events for the group through her closeness with Jinne.

Hobbies & Pets

At home, Sonja keeps three cats - looked after by her other friends and 'siblings' when she's out adventuring. They keep her collection of interesting trinkets company, and generally get fluff all over the place. She's glad to not be allergic.


Sonja Ilsyth


Towards Syrin Elathien


Syrin Elathien


Towards Sonja Ilsyth


Sonja Ilsyth


Towards Jinne




Towards Sonja Ilsyth


Sonja Ilsyth

close ally

Towards Zelas Merimien


Zelas Merimien

close ally

Towards Sonja Ilsyth


Sonja Ilsyth

bloodsworn ally

Towards Phaiyah Asthakhan


Phaiyah Asthakhan

bloodsworn ally

Towards Sonja Ilsyth


Sonja Ilsyth

former ally (?) (Important)

Towards Azsire




(formerly?) aligned interest (Trivial)

Towards Sonja Ilsyth



Sonja Ilsyth

defender of Syrin

Towards Licia Galewen


Licia Galewen

rough ally of circumstance

Towards Sonja Ilsyth


Wealth & Financial state

As she's an adventurer of relatively low social station, Sonja holds onto little material wealth and dislikes living in excessive comfort. What she has, she spends on supplies to keep herself alive and in top fighting form, or on nice things for her friends. Jinne is chief in her list of people who deserve nice things - Sonja often christens her partner with wooden necklaces and flower crowns amongst actual jewels and fine cloaks.   She does have a small home, the address of which she keeps close to her chest. It is a simple place, decorated with mementos from all her life - she keeps a memorial there for the friends she's lost, in particular.
Chaotic Good
Current Location
Year of Birth
5599 EA 27 Years old
Circumstances of Birth
Born a psychic caster to nonmagical parents.
Southern Aletheia (small village)
Brown, flecked with hazel.
Dark auburn, kept a little above her shoulders. Slightly wavy.
Skin Tone/Pigmentation
Warm-toned, light tan from travelling.
Aligned Organization
Other Affiliations
Known Languages
Common, Elven, Samsaran, Undercommon, and Abyssal. Blame her parties for most of these - she definitely does.

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Jan 3, 2021 01:14 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

I'm curious about the names of her cats! :D   I feel really bad for her losing her first party like that. That must have been hard for her. I'm glad she found a new party that she's close to, though.