A couple of weeks ago Crystal Frasier let me know that she'd be moving on from Paizo to focus on her freelancing career. I was terribly saddened by this news, but I can't say I was wholly surprised. Crystal is an excellent developer and writer, but she's also an amazing artist, illustrator, cartographer, and has been knocking it out of the park with her comics. However, don't fret too much, Crystal has told me that she still wants to write for us as a freelancer, so you'll still be getting her top-notch adventures, monsters, and articles on some of the things she loves. As we do here at Paizo when one of our greats departs, I've collected some heartfelt thoughts and well wishes from the staff to send Crystal off!
Jason Tondro (Editor): "I've only had the pleasure of knowing Crystal as a coworker for a few months, but I have long admired her work in and for the industry. Crystal has made gaming both smarter and more just, and it's no surprise that she's now got so much work on her plate that she can't afford to stay with us here at Paizo. But in this case, what's bad for Paizo is good for everyone, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of Crystal's work on an even larger stage. Sincere congratulations, Crystal, and please just keep on doing what you're doing."
Chris Sims (Developer): "Unfortunately for me, I don't yet know Crystal as well as I might have liked. I do know she brings a ton of craft and skill to this team. More than that, though, she adds a lot of humor and insight. I can't count how many times we've all enjoyed a moment of levity or I've been left rethinking something because of what Crystal said during a conversation or meeting. It's plain we're all better off with her here. It's also clear we'll miss her when she's not. That said, we're lucky she'll still be available for freelance gigs. Don't forget about us, Crystal! All the best to you, too!"
Owen KC Stephens (Starfinder Design Lead): "Crystal was one of the people I was most excited to get to work with when I was hired at Paizo, and I can safely say the experience has been very much worth it. Her game industry career goes back longer than mine does and she's succeeded at many more roles, giving her a vast wealth of knowledge and experience I've been happy to draw on and learn from. As sad as I am to lose her from my daily work routine, I am excited to see what she does in her new endeavors!
We'll miss you Crystal!"
Adam Daigle (Managing Developer): "I'm not crying, YOU'RE CRYING!
Over the years I have known Crystal as a friend, freelancer, and then coworker. When I first came to Paizo, Crystal was in another department, so I didn't get to see her that much during the normal workday, but when she moved into the editorial department as a developer, we sat right next to each other. We were both working on the Adventure Paths and had each other to cheer on, commiserate with, and of course crack jokes with. We both grew up on the Gulf Coast and have a shared love for trash animals, and we often loved to confuse and weird out other members of the crew with our strange bayou lore. I'm not only going to miss not having my swamp sister around for those reasons, but also because Crystal is brilliantly creative, extremely funny, and one of the most skilled storytellers I've had the pleasure to read and work with. Kick ass on your future endeavors, Crystal! I can't wait to see what you create!"
Mark Seifter (Designer): "I first learned who Crystal was roughly 7 years ago, when I started to realize that so many of my favorite Pathfinder Society scenarios, and my favorite module The Harrowing, were written by the same author, and I first met her when she gave me a Harrow reading at the Paizocon Grand Convocation. I later learned that Crystal is as talented at so many other aspects of adventure development as she is at writing adventures, whether it be maps and art, characterization, plotline, you name it. For my money, Crystal's adventures are some of the best in the business, and it's really no surprise that my Pathfinder group opted to play Ironfang Invasion followed by War for the Crown. Those Adventure Paths are just that good, and if you're reading this and haven't checked them out yet, you should. Crystal leaving to pursue full-time freelance is a loss for Paizo, but our loss is the freelancing community's gain. I'll be looking for her name on all sorts of exciting new projects now, just like 7 years ago. But honestly? I never stopped."
Sonja Morris (Art Director): "When I started at Paizo, Crystal was a member of the art department, and she helped me navigate the complex web that was our file storage system. Without Crystal's assistance, I am certain the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords would not have made it to the printer on time, and I don't know what I would have done without her help! Her quick wit is always good for a giggle, or a belly laugh, depending on the gag. Over the years, as she's moved around the company, I have seen her grow both professionally and personally and I can't wait to see what she does next. I am sure what ever it is it will be magnificent!"
Ron Lundeen (Developer): "I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Crystal, and that probably frustrates her a lot. We've worked closely together as freelancer-developer for years, and as cubicle mates for just over 6 months. She's highly regarded in this industry (and others!) precisely because she's insightful, talented, and really, really hardworking. Early on, Crystal insisted that my relentless optimism wouldn't spoil her crusty pessimism (you'll see she put a Pessimist campaign trait in the Tyrant's Grasp Player's Guide to reinforce her position). And oh, how I've tried! In the end, though, I'm counting her departure as a checkmark on the optimism side of the board, because she's going on to exciting products, fun work, and a great life—you'll see!"
Linda Zayas-Palmer (Developer): "The first time I talked to Crystal was right after a panel at PaizoCon 5 or 6 years ago. I'd recently had a wonderful time running a module she wrote, the Harrowing. I remember sitting there starstruck for a while, psyching myself up to go up to her and tell her how much I loved her writing and to compliment her awesome purple hair. I can't really call this meeting Crystal, since in my excitement, I forgot to introduce myself and just awkwardly fangirled over her for a few minutes. She was very nice about it though :)
I met Crystal for real when she started working as a developer right around the same time that I joined Paizo. And I have to say, I admire her more now than I did as a fan. Crystal is a compassionate, funny, and extremely talented person. She is a wellspring of creative ideas, lovely art, punny humor, and references to 80's and 90's pop culture. It's been a pleasure to be on a team with her. We'll miss you, Crystal! Whatever projects you take on next, I'm sure you'll knock them out of the park."
Jason Keeley (Developer): "I have only known Crystal for a couple of years, but the nice things I have to say about her could probably fill a hardcover. She is talented, funny, clever, and only threatened to drink me under the table like once or twice. We are going to miss her so much. Hopefully, I will still get to game with her so this better not be goodbye forever! We still have that "Pigs in Space" campaign to do!"
Lyz Liddell (Editor): "Crystal is the game designer I want to be when I grow up. She's brilliant, creative, fun, passionate, clever, dedicated to positive and diverse representation in our products, and not afraid to speak her mind. I've learned a ton by working on the materials she's developed, and I'm going to miss working with her."
Leo Glass (Editor): "While I haven't worked with Crystal long, it was clear on day one how her endless creativity and sense of humor make the world around her a better place. I will miss all the laughter she brought to our team, but wish her the best of luck with her next journey. (And look forward to reading all of the super-awesome products she plans to write!)"
Stephen Radney-MacFarland (Senior Designer): "I met Crystal before I came to Paizo. She was in the first game design class I ever taught at the Art Institute of Seattle. She was a fantastic student, someone who I always knew would go far in any pursuit. She had this tremendous mix of analytical force and creative talent that I enjoyed and respected. Hell, I still do. She's only gotten better at her various crafts. Crystal leaving Paizo is a loss for us as a company, but is to the benefit of all the rest of geekdom and beyond. Go forth and conquer, Crystal. It is your destiny."
John Compton (Organized Play Lead Developer): "Before I joined Paizo in 2013, I only knew Crystal by reputation, from her module-writing fame to fan's gushing experiences about her Harrow readings at PaizoCon. After five years with her as my colleague, I can confirm that whatever positive things you've heard? They're true. Anything negative? You can't prove it; we helped her hide the bodies.
Crystal's a wonderful coworker and collaborator, especially in smaller meetings where we can feed on one another's enthusiasm and build upon each other's ideas as happened with projects like War for the Crown. She brings a playfulness to brainstorming, passion to adventures, and a range of accents to the gaming table—all while being so practiced in visual arts that she can idly illustrate characters or sketch maps with more skill than the rest of us can manage with our undivided attention. Beyond that, she's been an outspoken advocate for diversity in Paizo's products, promoting minorities' visibility in our stories in positive ways and showing the rest of us how we can do the same.
Crystal has been a source of inspiration and wisdom in my time at Paizo, and it's helped push me to try and return the favor at least half as often. I hope that we'll have more opportunities to collaborate in the future."
Logan Bonner (Designer): "What an utterly delightful person. What a talented, engaged, and thoughtful coworker. What a champion for justice and compassion. Since I came to Paizo, I've been amazed by Crystal over and over. She's an excellent example, out there being an inspiration to new writers that not only can they do this, they might someday be almost as good as Crystal Frasier.
Crystal has been an institution here at Paizo, and now she's going off to become her own institution. A majestic, terrifying institution.
As she sails off into the sunset aboard her Footski, I can almost hear her cursing our names, but kindly, as is her way. We'll miss that clever cursing. Thank you for being a friend, a colleague, and a force of nature. Dammit, we'll miss you!"
Amanda Hamon Kunz (Managing Developer): "When I first started working at Paizo three years ago, I was star struck by the thought that I would be working with the Crystal Frasier. Crystal was a titan of the industry—a woman who had done so much, from designing and laying out products to creating awesome art to writing some truly impressive first- and third-party products. But once I walked into the office, I realized that not only are all of those things absolutely true, even more than I realized as a freelancer, but that Crystal is also one of the most creative, most energetic, most uniquely awesome people I have met. As the months and years rolled on, Crystal taught me a lot about being a creative, but she also taught me how to be a better person and how to always fight for what I believe is right. She became one of my closest friends in the office, and I'm a better person for it. Crystal, as sad as I am to see you leave, and as much as I will deeply miss your incredible presence here, I know that you have fantastic things ahead of you. I can't wait to see what you do next. I will always be here to cheer you along from the sidelines."
Judy Bauer (Managing Editor): "Crystal cares a LOT, and it shows. Her writing is always exciting, with frequent moments of hilarity (the attack of the crawling hands in Pathfinder Adventure Path #79!), but when it's serious, it's SERIOUS—her foreword to Pathfinder Adventure Path #117 brought me to tears. It also shows in her relationships at work: she's been a mentor, a friend, and a source of inspiration for many at Paizo over the years. And it shows in her life: she's politically active, and a strong voice for representation and justice. I'm going to miss her enthusiasm and intensity so much!
Crystal, all the best luck with your (many) new ventures, and I hope to get to edit much more of your awesome writing in the future!"
Chris Carey (Senior Editor): "I've known Crystal for almost ten years now. She first came on board as an intern in Paizo's art department when we were still over at the old office building, and I think she may be the most recent hire to be able to still remember the stained carpets and the tiny, cramped workspace that penned in the editorial staff over there. Of course, Crystal left the art department back in the day and has been an outstanding game developer and Pathfinder writer for years now, both developing and authoring some of the most enjoyable and creative turnovers to come across the editors' desks. But more than that, she has made Paizo a more enjoyable place to work with her laughter and wit and uniquely Crystal sense of humor. I'll miss you, Crystal, but I'm excited for the path that lies ahead of you!"
Mark Moreland (Franchise Manager): "I first met Crystal at the second PaizoCon, way back in 2009. I recall her approaching Erik Mona and Sarah Robinson about possibly interning at Paizo and how envious I was of her simply for living in close proximity to the office and having the guts to get a foot in the door. Just over a year later, I moved across the country to join her at Paizo, and she was one of my most helpful cube-mates until the first of many desk reshuffles happened. Every time the ongoing game of musical cubes put us near one another, I was always ecstatic. There are many fun people in this office, but few are as funny, intelligent, and creative as Crystal, and she has an aura effect that gives morale bonuses to these same stats to everyone in a 30-foot radius.
I first developed Crystal's work when I tackled her innovative Pathfinder Society Scenario, Below the Silver Tarn just a few months after I took over the Pathfinder Society Organized Play campaign back in 2010. Her unique encounter designs, incredible mapping skills, and layered storytelling quickly put her at the top of my "would work with again" list, and made her the ideal candidate to write one of my all-time favorite Pathfinder adventures, Pathfinder Module: The Harrowing. We knew we wanted to make an adventure wherein the PCs travel inside a harrow deck and meet the creatures and threats on the cards themselves, and there was no one else on the list of potential authors other than Crystal. Her ability to interweave 54 random illustrations into a cohesive narrative with a deep, expansive mythology and a subsystem of using the harrow deck itself to augment gameplay resulted in a product I am incredibly proud to have worked on.
That's not the only time Crystal made me look good, either. I had the pleasure of working closely with her on the back matter of the Ironfang Invasion and War for the Crown adventure paths, and she developed Taldor, The First Empire into a better final book. She's also had an immeasurable influence on how I look at issues of inclusion and diversity in game design, and the different perspectives she brought to the creative process over the years has made an indelible mark on my narrative sensibilities.
I'll miss having you around the office, Crystal, but am overjoyed that you've promised to continue writing for both Pathfinder and Starfinder in your newfound free(lance) time. The future for someone with your myriad talents is certainly bright, and I wish you all the best. Don't be a stranger!"