How About Some Pathfinder Society for the Holidays?
... How About Some Pathfinder Society for the Holidays? Thursday, December 16, 2010 ... It's a crazy busy week here at Paizo HQ, as we all strive to get a jump start on the holiday season. At the moment, we have the Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea World Guide hardcover in the final approval stages before it heads to the printer, as well as the first wave of Ultimate Magic showing up on the editorial wall. Despite these major projects and the impending absences of many staff members...
How About Some Pathfinder Society for the Holidays?
Thursday, December 16, 2010
It's a crazy busy week here at Paizo HQ, as we all strive to get a jump start on the holiday season. At the moment, we have the Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea World Guide hardcover in the final approval stages before it heads to the printer, as well as the first wave of Ultimate Magic showing up on the editorial wall. Despite these major projects and the impending absences of many staff members as people head home for the holidays, we managed to slip a few little Pathfinder Society projects in between the cracks!
While we generally release Pathfinder Society scenarios the final Wednesday of the month, this month we've got two scenarios ready to go live weeks early, in anticipation of the hectic nature of that final week of the year. It's not yet clear when they'll go live for sale, but keep an eye out for Pathfinder Society Scenario 2–11: The Penumbral Accords by Owen K.C. Stephens (which sees the Pathfinder Society return to fan-favorite location Blakros Museum for yet another adventure) and Pathfinder Society Scenario 2–12: Below the Silver Tarn by Crystal Frasier (which pits the Pathfinders against the imprisoned spirit of a pit fiend in a rugged mining village) within the coming days.
If two new scenarios aren't enough to sate your hunger for Pathfinder Society over the holiday break, why not get in on a game of The Godsmouth Heresy, the first adventure in the Pathfinder Modules line sanctioned for Pathfinder Society credit. It's a longer adventure and doesn't conform to many of the standards of Pathfinder Society scenarios, and thus requires additional rules to supplement its play for PFS credit. We've put together a free PDF document that includes these additional rules and the module's Chronicle, which will be available on the module's product page by the end of the week.
Finally, we've made a few changes to the Heresy of Man series by Greg A. Vaughan and Kevin Wright based on customer feedback. These revised and clarified scenarios will be replacing the existing PDFs, so if you've purchased any of the three scenarios already, you'll get an email detailing what changes we've made and be able to download the updated version from your My Downloads page.
What are your holiday PFS plans? Drop by the Pathfinder Society messageboards and let us know.
The Shipping of the City Wednesday, July 14, 2010Heads up, everybody! As of last week (turns out the blog can get a little packed during the summer), City of Strangers has officially left the building, shipping out to subscribers and anyone else who wants to pick up a copy. This'll probably be my last post about the book for some time, but I wanted to reiterate how excited I am (and how cool it is to see folks commenting on the product page!). We put out a lot of awesome books, but this one...
The Shipping of the City
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Heads up, everybody! As of last week (turns out the blog can get a little packed during the summer), City of Strangers has officially left the building, shipping out to subscribers and anyone else who wants to pick up a copy. This'll probably be my last post about the book for some time, but I wanted to reiterate how excited I am (and how cool it is to see folks commenting on the product page!). We put out a lot of awesome books, but this one has been in the back of my head—or on the desktop of my computer, glaring accusatorily at me, demanding to be finished—for about four years at this point. To finally get it out there and see people's reactions, well... it's a lot of fun.
Illustration by Christopher Burdett
And you know, I still haven't gotten over the book itself yet, either. Normally by the time we finish developing a book and drag it, bruised and bloody, across the finish line (also known as "shipping it to the printer"), there's some angst mixed in with the love—not because it isn't great, but because all we can see when we look at it is sweat and tears, and maybe some weekends spent in the office. Yet when it comes back from the printer, all shiny and new, we all get that new-baby glow I keep hearing about. In this case, though the book had a whole lot of midwives, I really feel like the father, and the fact that Jared Blando's maps perfectly captured my hopes, and the artists (and art staff!) outdid themselves to bring the words to life... well, I've probably waxed maudlin long enough. Here's an example instead:
When I first wrote about the city in Seven Swords of Sin, there were quite a few details I threw in at random, which folks then picked up on and asked about. What, for instance, were the wormfolk? I certainly didn't know. It wasn't until Eando Kline came up against one in Pathfinder Adventure Path #3 that I realized they were nagas. And though I had a pretty good mental image of what they looked like, that was nothing compared to Christopher Burdett's fabulous illustration.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the wormfolk. (Though don't let her hear you calling her that.)
In any case, it's been a fabulous ride thus far, and I hope that those of you who check out the book enjoy your time in the city as much as I have!
City of Strangers Thursday, April 22, 2010It is still coming. ... Illustration by Alberto Dal Lago ... ...Man, it's so tempting to leave the blog post at that, but I've got to stop with these one-line blog posts. They're too addictive! ... Suffice to say, then, that City of Strangers, the new Pathfinder Chronicles guide to Varisia's outlaw city of Kaer Maga, has shipped to the printer. What you may not know is that this book has been in the works, in one form or another, for more than two...
Suffice to say, then, that City of Strangers, the new Pathfinder Chronicles guide to Varisia's outlaw city of Kaer Maga, has shipped to the printer. What you may not know is that this book has been in the works, in one form or another, for more than two years at this point. What started out as a few-page setting for Seven Swords of Sin grew into one of the first Pathfinder's Journals in Pathfinder Adventure Path #3: "The Hook Mountain Massacre." From there, with it clear to everyone around that I was in love with this city beyond any affection I'd felt for a game setting before (though a few have since come to rival it—*cough*solarsystem*cough*), it was decided that there should be a book... and not just any book. A setting that was at once a bizarre city filled with subterfuge and strange sights, but also containing a monumental dungeon that people could venture into again and again, with different tropes and themes to the various layers. Not a small order (especially considering Erik, James, and Jason had just finished writing the new Castle Greyhawk book, whose map turnovers were a million times cooler than anything I'd ever drawn). If it was going to be done, Erik decided, it had to be done right, and that meant it needed to take as long as it took. Rather than announce the project and a projected release date, we wouldn't so much as acknowledge the book publicly until it had been completely written.
And so, with nothing on the schedule, I officially unofficially began work on City of Strangers. Six months and a learning curve or two later, I turned over the completed manuscript, and the book was officially put on the schedule. If I may say so myself, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. All the gangs are there—the Sweettalkers, who sew their own lips shut, and the troll augurs, who read the future in their own entrails. The wormfolk and the Tallow Boys, the golem-crafting Ardocs and the mysterious Temple of the Child Goddess. All the districts are there, from the egalitarian Bottoms where freed slaves fight a shadow war of abolition, to the necromantic markets of Ankar-Te where zombies trail after their masters like faithful dogs. The Undercity is there, with levels like the Godsmouth Ossuary, the Dark Forest, the Forever Bore, the Still Place, and of course Xavorax, City of Silence, the city-beneath-the-city that houses the mysterious Caulborn. And despite all the words in this book, I'm perhaps most pleased with the maps—it's downright intimidating trying to design a city map of a Jacobsian or Schneiderian level of detail (especially when they're sitting 20 feet from you), yet Jared Blando did an unbelievable job of bringing both the city and the dungeons beneath it to life in a way that both mirrored and exceeded my imagination.
And now it's away to the printer, set to hit stores and subscribers this summer. I hope you enjoy visiting it as much as I have. It's been a long, strange journey...
... The Best Laid Plans... Wednesday, March 17, 2010I hate airing our dirty laundry in public... ... Who am I kidding, I relish airing our dirty laundry in public, but professionalism and good taste often makes doing so... inadvisable. But this is a special situation and in this instance it's easy to talk around the specifics so to protect the innoce—well, in this case, to protect the guilty. As we've been trying to show off our editorial processes with this project, even more reason to...
The Best Laid Plans...
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I hate airing our dirty laundry in public...
Who am I kidding, I relish airing our dirty laundry in public, but professionalism and good taste often makes doing so... "inadvisable." But this is a special situation and in this instance it's easy to talk around the specifics so to protect the innoce—well, in this case, to protect the guilty. As we've been trying to show off our editorial processes with this project, even more reason to let you all in on how things sometimes play out around here.
So, let's backtrack a little bit. Here's something most folks didn't notice—unless you've been getting emails from me or really enjoy reading the credits pages of our projects. Around October of last year my title here at Paizo totally didn't change. What comes after that title did, though. Thus, "Managing Editor of Pathfinder" became "Managing Editor of Paizo Publishing." The distinction: now I'm not just in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly for Pathfinder Adventure Path, but everything else we publish too. And, as a special bonus challenge, that it all happens in a timely manner. That's been the real trick. It's like telling someone to build a number of towers (one for each product line) but, hey, for fun, let's start at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon, in this case, is our "schedule debt," a sizable hole with depth markers called Dragon and Dungeon magazines, the Pathfinder Campaign Setting, the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, and other beautiful fiascos that have gradually meant nearly everything we publish has fallen off its intended tracks. A real nasty peril when you've got thousands of gamers rightly demanding the products they've subscribed to and expect from month to month. But with my shiny Paizo-brand carrot and Paizo-brand stick, and the incredible efforts of our insanely talented and even more dedicated designers, editors (with a special nod to Judy Bauer, Chris Carey, Rob McCreary, and James Sutter), and folks at all levels of the company who have sacrificed nights, weekends, sleep, and meals to write and edit, those towers have reached up and up toward the light. The first tower to break the surface was the Pathfinder Module line with From to Shore to Sea, scheduled to go to print, on time, March 5th.
Or rather it would have, if the art we ordered actually came in. Oh, I don't just mean came in on time, I mean, was going to come in at all. What we got on the due date instead of a half dozen illustrations was an apology from Joe "You'll-Never-Work-in-this-Town-Again" and a very empty "good luck!" Lame. Now, art directorix Sarah Robinson is a goddess for a variety of reasons, but the power she employed in this particular crisis was to bat her eyelashes via email and coax a whole host of fantastically talented artists to take up the slack, and in record speed. What that did mean, though, is that instead of going out on time, From to Shore to Sea is now going out next week, three weeks behind my precious schedule. Ugh.
Illustration by Dan Scott
Wolf set us up with this great plan, author Brandon Hodge pulled together a fantastic adventure, the Open Design patrons made a host of inspired suggestions, and Rob developed this thing into a fine addition to our Pathfinder Modules line in record time. And Dan Scott, our ever reliably awesome cover artist, did the incredible cover I’ve attached here. (Again, Dan: great and timely work. We love Dan’s stuff.) Yet despite top-notch materials and everyone who touched the adventure doing heroic work, sometimes things still don't work out the way they should. Sometimes it makes things frustrating and stressful, but never, ever boring.
From Shore to Sea will be awesome, there's no doubt about that, and I'm more excited about this one than I am about most. But, sadly, this one has had a bumpy journey, and my first tower breaking the surface will likely have to wait for City of Strangers in the Pathfinder Chronicles line later this month. Missing a deadline sadly isn't something new, so don't go adjusting orders or rechecking release dates; this happens sometimes and no one outside this building ever hears about it. Our website and warehouse teams are also quite adept—to our chagrin—at picking up our slack. And, should all our plans continue to work and there are relatively few additional catastrophes, you shouldn't ever hear me griping about our "editorial debt" again.
So just a heads-up for all the folks who have been invested in and keenly anticipating Open Design's From to Shore to Sea: it's awesome and it's coming, but sometimes the path from author to your hands has some unanticipated adventures. And expect a very boring blog post from me in a few months announcing that all our product lines are, at last, shipping to the printer on time. It might not matter much to folks outside these offices, but here, it's going to be cresting the top of a very tall hill.
... Winter 2010 Releases: An Early Look! Thursday, February 18, 2010This week Paizo posted new product descriptions for dozens of products to be released in the third trimester of 2010, including new hardcover books, a revision of the Pathfinder Campaign Setting, and a brand new line of Pathfinder novels! ... We've been hard at work on these items for months, and even though you'll have to wait until at least September before they hit your game table, we're thrilled to finally be able to...
Winter 2010 Releases: An Early Look!
Thursday, February 18, 2010
This week Paizo posted new product descriptions for dozens of products to be released in the third trimester of 2010, including new hardcover books, a revision of the Pathfinder Campaign Setting, and a brand new line of Pathfinder novels!
We've been hard at work on these items for months, and even though you'll have to wait until at least September before they hit your game table, we're thrilled to finally be able to discuss some of this stuff in public. The suspense has been killing us!
Folks are already discussing some of our new releases on the paizo.com messageboards, but as the commentary has been flying fast and furious over the last couple days, I figured it might be helpful to post a broad overview of our new offerings here on the blog, with direct links to the products in question.
So without further ado, let's plug ourselves into the future-caster time machine and take a journey forward to September through December 2010. Bring your dice and a few character sheets. You're going to need them!
The biggest announcement is a brand new line of Pathfinder novels written by some of the biggest names in fantasy fiction! The first book, Winter Witch, by New York Times best-selling author Elaine Cunningham, explores the tale of a barbarian shield maiden who ventures from Varisia to the winter-locked land of Irrisen to rescue a possessed sister—and the canny young cartographer who follows her into that haunted land. The book formally releases in September, but we'll have copies on hand at this year's Gen Con Game Fair as a special preview. October sees the release of Prince of Wolves, by former Amazing Stories and Dragon editor Dave Gross, which revisits the Pathfinder agent Varian Jeggare and his tiefling assistant Radovan, last seen in the Pathfinder Journal section of the Council of Thieves Adventure Path. Additional novels will follow in 2011 from well-known authors including Paul S. Kemp and other familiar faces. Stay tuned for more info!
Following up on the forthcoming GameMastery Guide
and Advanced Player's Guide, 2010 will see the release of one more hardcover rulebook in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game line: Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2! Like the first Bestiary, Bestiary 2 will include more than 300 monsters for use with the Pathfinder RPG, including old favorites like the hippogriff and new planar creatures like the aeons and proteans. This book will cover most of the standard monsters from the history of the game that we couldn't fit in the first Bestiary, as well as tons of other great monsters you've never seen before. Each monster will receive a full page or a 2-page spread, using the same format as the original book.
Supplies of the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting hardcover are dwindling faster than we can count, so in September we'll release a revised edition in the form of the Pathfinder Campaign Setting World Guide: The Inner Sea. Fully updated to the Pathfinder RPG rules and with expanded coverage of nearly every nation, the latest version of this book contains a new cover from Wayne Reynolds, an updated map, fixed errata from the first edition, and more than 300 pages packed with tons of information about the lands, peoples, beliefs, and cultures of the world of Golarion. Paizo Creative Director James Jacobs is giving this project his personal finish, making sure our campaign setting book is a solid bedrock of our publishing operation for years to come. We're really pleased with the early development of this book, and think it will be an ideal resource for all Pathfinder players and game masters.
In addition to the revised campaign setting, in late 2010 we'll release the Inner Sea Map Folio, a massive 32-panel map of the Inner Sea region containing all "canonical" locations from every Pathfinder product published to date! This monster is sure to brighten up the gaming room or man-cave of any Pathfinder enthusiast, and its "four poster" format will even allow for easy reference at the game table for those lacking the wall space to do it justice. The Campaign Setting product line will also see a new Classic Monsters-style book in the form of Misfit Monsters Redeemed (and you won't believe what that's about until you read the description, believe me) as well as Lost Cities of Golarion, which explores six adventure locales from throughout the world of Golarion.
PATHFINDER PLAYER COMPANION
We can't let the GMs have all the fun, after all, so we've also planned a couple of sure-fire player's guides for the last third of 2010 that will be must-buys for Pathfinder RPG players. October sees the release of the Inner Sea Primer, a slimmed-down overview of the Pathfinder world designed specifically for players. This book will include tons of new character traits tied to the regions and religions of Golarion, and will provide a perfect "gist" of the setting for those looking to dip a toe in the water without needing to buy a big hardcover book. December sees the release of Halflings of Golarion, which rounds out the player's guides to the standard "demihuman" player character races in the Pathfinder RPG with plenty of details on how to integrate them into Golarion campaigns. Lots of fun equipment and lore in this one for fans of halflings (and everyone else, too)!
Gamers have been asking for a high-level Pathfinder adventure since the very beginning, and now I'm pleased to report that the time has come at last! Shipping in September, The Witchwar Legacy takes 17th-level player characters to the snow-shrouded witch kingdom of Irrisen to thwart a plan by the Ice Queen involving the insidious Baba Yaga herself! If that's not enough, in November we'll release a brand-new 1st-level starter adventure called The Godsmouth Heresy, set in the shadowy city of Kaer Maga, site of June's City of Strangers sourcebook!
Paizo's popular map products keep on coming in the last part of 2010, including the first-ever crossover between the Map Pack and Flip-Mat lines! Everything starts innocently enough in September with the release of Flip-Mat: Forest, but things really get interesting in October, with Map Pack: Shops. This 18-tile map set includes the interiors for several different stores, apothecaries, taverns, and the like, but things become super-special when you combine this pack with November's Flip-Mat: City Streets, which details a mercantile district suitable for use with other city Flip-Mats. The roofed buildings on this Flip-Mat (suitable for rooftop chases) correspond exactly to the interiors presented in Map Pack: Shops, providing a uniquely immersive tabletop experience. And if that's not enough to impress your jaded players, spring December's Map Pack: Ambush Sites on them. They probably deserve it.
GameMastery Cards keep coming as well, this time in the form of new GameMastery Condition Cards, handy reference cards for all of the various conditions in the Pathfinder RPG rules.
PATHFINDER ADVENTURE PATH
And, of course, we haven't forgotten the date that brought us to the big dance in the first place. The last trimester of 2010 will see plenty of action in the Pathfinder Adventure Path line, as the Serpent's Skull Adventure Path takes a jungle trail toward its stunning conclusion! Ruined Azlanti cities, Red Mantis assassins, monkey-men, the Pathfinder Society, ancient serpentfolk, and one very, very angry Gorilla King are all in store in a quartet of adventures by Tim Hitchcock, Kevin Kulp, Greg A. Vaughan, and Graeme Davis! The Serpent's Skull is a return to classic-style adventuring in the Pathfinder tradition, and we can't wait to get you guys into the jungle!
I'm saving our Planet Stories releases for tomorrow's blog, so be sure to tune in then for some of the biggest Planet Stories news we've had yet!
So much is happening here at Paizo these days that it's difficult to remember the uncertainty and horror of the last few years, with major changes to our business, our game system, and our lives. All of us really appreciate the support you have shown us so far, and we look forward to more exciting products in the months and years to come!
Kaer Maga Wednesday, August 22, 2007Now that D2: Seven Swords of Sin is starting to make it out into people's hands, I'd like to talk a little bit about my favorite part of writing it: designing the city of Kaer Maga. ... Going into the project, there were two different ideas for where the adventure should be set. For me, it seemed to call for an urban setting, a crazy city where anything went and the law was sketchy at best. Publisher Erik Mona, however, was eager for Varisia to have an...
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Now that D2: Seven Swords of Sin is starting to make it out into people's hands, I'd like to talk a little bit about my favorite part of writing it: designing the city of Kaer Maga.
Going into the project, there were two different ideas for where the adventure should be set. For me, it seemed to call for an urban setting, a crazy city where anything went and the law was sketchy at best. Publisher Erik Mona, however, was eager for Varisia to have an iconic castle, a massive dungeon complex that we could return to again and again as we saw fit. The solution? Push the two together and build a city inside a castle—an enormous Thassilonian ruin of unknown function, to be exact. At this point Erik and the rest of the GameMastery team gave me the go-ahead and, armed with the working title "Dark Market," I sat down to write.
As anyone who's played in one of my adventures can probably tell you, I like to play with morality. To me, the interesting thing about evil is that it's so rarely self-identified as such. One of my biggest peeves in adventures, fiction, or film is what we around the office refer to as "moustache-twirling"—villains that are evil simply because they enjoy being evil. (Shortly after that comes my disdain for boring ol' "insanity" as a villain's motive.) In real life, things are usually much more gray and fuzzy—no evil deed exists in a vacuum, and even the most "evil" people I can think of tend to have reasons why their actions make sense in their own minds.
This aesthetic was at the front of my mind when writing about Kaer Maga. To me, all big cities are by definition neutral—get enough people together, they'll balance each other out. In Kaer Maga's case, this neutrality is the result of a free market taken to the extreme, an anarchist, libertarian utopia where people are left to sink or swim entirely through their own machinations. While many would look at the gritty streets, where every shameful vice is yours for the purchasing, and call it evil, I'd point out that Kaer Maga is also the freest of the free cities of Varisia. In rooting the city's "evil" in an ideal many of us share, I hoped to make the scene feel a little more familiar and organic.
Along with the questionable morality, it was important to me that Kaer Maga be a monstrous city, a place where we could get a taste of the alien delights that Golarion has to offer and remind the folks who inhabit Varisia that there's far more beyond the mountains than they might imagine. For those purposes, a city of refugees and squatters seemed perfectly poised to capture the sort of cultural mish-mash that I love in places like Star Wars' Mos Eisley or China Miéville's New Crobuzon. Knowing that I wouldn't have space in a 32-page adventure to truly detail many of the residents, I took a page from some of my favorite sci-fi and fantasy authors and tossed in a bunch of allusions and off-hand references with only the barest explanations. Wormfolk? Bloated Ones? Sweettalkers? When I first wrote those names, at 3:00am in a darkened room, my bleary brain didn't know any more than their names. As soon as I went back and read them, however, my imagination went into overdrive trying to think up what they could be... which is exactly what I hope happens to everyone else. While I couldn't resist from detailing some of them in the Pathfinder Journal for The Hook Mountain Massacre, I promise I'll try to leave at least a few of them alone.