This past year has been a big wild ride. We launched Starfinder to great success, had a busy Gen Con watching the book fly off the shelves, and put out some amazing books that aren't set in space. We've even had some changes in our line-up, with changing job titles and responsibilities that helped a number of us take a step up. 2017 has been full of excitement (and a little chaos, but what creative endeavor doesn't have at least a little chaos?). It's been a busy year for everyone here at Paizo, and I wanted to give the developers and designers a chance to talk about some of the projects they've worked on this year that they've enjoyed working on the most. Being a creator can be rough sometimes, and it's important to feel pride about the things you've helped make.
*Any developer or designer not included in this blog was far too busy to contribute to this blog I sprung on them. Sorry folks!
Logan Bonner (Designer)
Most of my stuff that came out in 2017 feels like I worked on it a million years ago. I had a big hand in the underlying math and class design of Starfinder, and it was so much fun going into deep design and play with foundational concepts in a way we rarely get to do with the more established Pathfinder. I also worked up the monster creation rules, based on work I initially did for Pathfinder Unchained, during the Starfinder Core Rulebook creation process. Seeing them make their way to the public in Alien Archive was exciting! And speaking of exciting, the highlight of the year was seeing Starfinder fly off the shelves at its Gen Con launch. I was there Thursday morning, went on my scheduled break, and when I came back, it was gone! Mind-blowing!
Jason Bulmahn (Director of Game Design)
2017 has been a truly exciting year in the game design mines... but as with most years, the things I have been working on have yet to even be announced! So, here is to 2018 and all of the amazing things I am looking forward to sharing with all of you in the coming months!
John Compton (Organized Play Lead Developer)
Although its copyright date shows 2016, Pathfinder Adventure Path #113: What Grows Within ended up hitting shelves in 2017, marking not only the first Adventure Path volume of the year but also the first one I wrote. It was a great experience and a great opportunity to create some really weird characters (including Hoshbagh) and present desperate PCs with desperate situations. The process also prepared me for writing the second volume of the Starfinder Adventure Path, Temple of the Twelve, which let me draw on my archaeology training to invent a host of academics—both qualified and absurd—and a lost culture on a hitherto undocumented continent.
On the organized play front, I'm proud of helping Thurston Hillman get the Starfinder Society program up and running, especially in the changes we incorporated into the Guide (like the new approach to boons) and the plans we've set in motion for more than a year of great adventures. In the meantime, Pathfinder Society's been creating great adventures and accomplishing big things. In 2017 we wrapped up the Season 8 plotline, culminating in the excellent Pathfinder Society Scenario #8–25: Unleashing the Untouchable that has ramifications across the inner planes.
Adam Daigle (Managing Developer)
I had a hand in thirteen books that came out in 2017, by either being the developer for the whole book or pitching in on a book with another development lead. (I had a lighter hand in a whole bunch more, but those contributions aren't terribly noteworthy and are frankly quite boring.) Of all of these, I'd have to say that the one thing I'm most proud of is the Ruins of Azlant Adventure Path. This was the first Adventure Path where I got to fully run the show, so to speak. I got to outline the Adventure Path and form the excellent team of writers who brought it to life. Working with all of them was a developer's dream, and seeing this Adventure Path go from ideas to real books that people are playing and enjoying has been a highlight of my work year. I was also happy to get more information about my lil' fear babies, the sahkils, in Book of the Damned.
My favorite personal development over this past year has been stepping up to lead the best damn group of developers in the business. I can't wait to share some of our efforts in 2018. Onward and upward!
Thurston Hillman (Starfinder Society Developer)
As many know, this was my first year working for Paizo. I had been freelancing for Paizo for a while, but this was the year I took on the Starfinder Society Developer position and got to work on helping to build an entirely new Organized Play program (alongside Tonya, John, Linda, and several others.) It's hard to pinpoint a single "best moment” in this year, but I think I have to go with Gen Con 2017, where we officially launched the Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild. Along with getting to see our new game in action, it was an incredible experience seeing GMs from across the world coming to help run the first games of Starfinder Society. Given how we've just announced several (but not all) of our plans for 2018, I suspect next year's PaizoCon, Origins, and Gen Con (ok, and SkålCon) will be full of new Starfinder Society stories!
Amanda Hamon Kunz (Development Coordinator)
Wow, 2017 has been busy! I've worked on a whole bunch of products, but I think the highlight for me has to be the Starfinder RPG. I really enjoyed working on some of the core system design of our new science-fantasy game as a member of the Starfinder design team; you'll see my fingerprints all over the Starfinder Core Rulebook's tactical rules, equipment, and magic chapters, as well as chunks of the character creation and setting chapters and beyond. It's very rewarding to see our game's positive reception among fans, and to be involved with so many great Paizo team members to help create it and get it out into the world. Similarly, writing the third Starfinder Adventure Path volume, Splintered Worlds, was also a huge highlight of 2017 for me. I had a ton of fun creating the creepy atmospheres and plots that pervade that adventure, from a Dead Space-inspired cultist base to macabre adventures among the undead residents of Eox. I'll avoid spoilers and stop there! Regardless, a lot happened in 2017, and it's exciting to think about what 2018 may bring.
Jason Keeley (Developer)
Of course, I am very proud about the release of Starfinder, whose popularity has surpassed all of our expectations. But while we were putting the finish touches of the Starfinder Core Rulebook, I was already up to my waist in Alien Archive, corralling most of those weird beasties and fascinating aliens. I couldn't be more excited to have worked on a roleplaying game where a party can consist of a floating jellyfish being, an albino minotaur, a humongous brain, and a lizard person that can shoot blood out of her eye! On a personal note, I am also thrilled to have written the articles on Hadregash and Cyth-V'sug that appeared in the Ironfang Invasion Adventure Path. Two different evil gods, but both so fun to write. And one of them let me indulge in writing some very gross stuff. I'll leave it to you to figure out which deity is more disgusting: the militaristic barghest or the demon lord of fungus and parasites.
Rob McCreary (Creative Director, Starfinder)
This past year was all about Starfinder for me, most notably the Starfinder Core Rulebook. But I'm especially happy with Incident at Absalom Station, the adventure I wrote for the Dead Suns Adventure Path. Besides kicking off the Starfinder Adventure Path, Incident at Absalom Station was also the very first adventure published for Starfinder. The project presented a number of challenges, not the least of which was the fact that we didn't have the final Starfinder rules when I started writing it! But that didn't stop me, and it did give me the chance to bring one particular monster from Pathfinder to Starfinder—the akata, which I've loved ever since it first appeared back in Pathfinder Adventure Path #14: Children of the Void. I also had a lot of fun designing the PCs' first starship, the Sunrise Maiden, which is the Starfinder iconic characters' ship too. I've really enjoyed hearing about people's experiences running and playing the adventure on the messageboards, and can't wait to see how people respond to the rest of the adventures in the Dead Suns campaign!
Joe Pasini (Developer)
In the first few months of this year, I was a contract editor for Paizo, hustling with a fantastic group of people to get Starfinder, a brand new RPG, out the door. Now, as the year comes to a close, I'm a developer for that same RPG, and I couldn't be more proud of the collective effort (including my small part) that it took to bring this game to the world.
In the summer and fall, I got to work with Adam Daigle, Crystal Frasier, and Amanda Hamon Kunz (listed alphabetically, because I'll always be an editor at heart) to put out a couple rad Player Companions (Antihero's Handbook and People of the Wastes) and the back matter of the first volumes of the War for the Crown Adventure Path. Learning at the feet of such titans of the industry was enlightening, humbling—and frickin' awesome.
Here's to an epic 2018!
Owen K.C. Stephens (Starfinder Design Lead)
It likely comes as no surprise that the thing I am proudest of that I worked on in 2017 is Starfinder. My work on the Starfinder Core Rulebook was mostly done in 2016, though some of that work bled into the early weeks of this year, but I'm not even talking about just the rulebooks. With Starfinder, I have gotten to be on the ground floor of a new RPG line again, and that comes with a lot of work beyond the rulebooks. I have enjoyed being part of planning a universe, and expanding it to new places, brainstorming new concepts and new adventures, discussing which of the things we don't have yet we want (and which we don't), and when and how to present them. I'm part of a brilliant team that's setting the tone and course for a brand new venture, and I am proud of both the work we've done and what we have in the pipeline.
Linda Zayas-Palmer (Developer)
I'm bad at picking favorites, so I won't pick just one. I'm pumped about Season 9 of Pathfinder Society, the Year of Factions' Favor, and proud of the work I put into building the overarching story. After seeing the reception to several scenarios, especially Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-02: A Case of Missing Persons, I'm looking forward to seeing what people think of the ways these plots in unfold later in the season. Another fun project I worked on this year was a pair of flexible Pathfinder Adventure Card Guild adventures, #4–P1: Murder in the Marketplace and #4–P2: Dangerous Cargo. I play the ACG almost every week, and there's something amazing about watching my friends have fun with something I wrote. And finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention my first published race: the vine leshy from Ultimate Wilderness. More leshys makes for a better game.
Mark Seifter (Designer)
"The math is going to be completely different, but also it needs to be fully compatible with all the Pathfinder monsters." Doing both of those things in Starfinder seemed like a tall order, so one of my absolutely coolest moments was when I plugged all the required constraints together, working alongside Logan, and tweaked all the variables along until finally…it clicked! I found an arrangement that would allow the brand new combat math, no longer balanced around making attacks at –10 or –15 at higher levels, to mesh directly with numbers right out of the table in the back of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary. There was literally a single path to victory, a ray of light in the sea of numbers. I was able to lay it out, and sure enough, Starfinder characters have math that interacts completely smoothly with the numbers on Pathfinder foes, while retaining a combat dynamic all their own!