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The Fabled Appendix – F. Wesley Schneider (Part 2)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Presented here is the second part of my interview with Pathfinder Managing Editor F. Wesley Schneider about the sources of inspiration he would include in Paizo's own Appendix N. In this part, he discusses how Golarion was created to accommodate a wide variety of influences and inspirations, and lists his most recent favorite gothic horror authors!

David: So how did the influences of mythology affect the design of Golarion?

Wes: Well, Golarion is meant to be a place where you can have everything. It's not just a place for editors' pet projects—gamers should be able to run whatever type of game they want in the setting. However, we have only shown 1/16 of the entire world of Golarion, and future products will open new doors for influences and inspiration.

D&D for the last 30 years has been a fantastic thief, stealing ideas from mythology, folklore, and pulp fantasy and horror. Golarion is similar in this regard, as you can see many of the same trappings in our own setting. But we also are trying to present things that people haven't seen before, like a land of devil-worshipers where people live in fear but order has been maintained; or a land where religion has been outlawed, despite the very real presence of the gods; or a land where questionable eugenics are being used for the supposed betterment of humanity. The wide variety of styles and influences is obvious enough when you look at the titles of each nation–Numeria, for example, is described as the "Savage Land of Super-Science." The influence of things like Thundarr the Barbarian is very clearly present. Despite any obvious influences, however, Golarion is meant to fuel ideas for stories and campaigns; rather than present a story for you to participate in, the approach we wanted to take with the setting was "here is an interesting locale in which to tell a story."

David: Give me a quick list of some things that have recently inspired your game design.

Wes: Off the top of my head, I've really enjoyed Sheridan Le Fanu's stories. Among other things, he's famous for writing Carmilla, a vampire story that predated and influenced Bram Stoker's Dracula. I've also been reading M. R. James's work; he wrote tons of ghost stories that have quietly influenced hundreds of stories and movies like The Twilight Zone and the recent film Drag Me To Hell. I also recently discovered the artist and author Wayne Barlowe in my research for the Book of the Damned Volume I, who greatly influenced my take on Hell.

James Jacobs and Pierce Watters also introduced me to the old Hammer Horror movies—they have terrible acting and even worse special effects, but the ideas presented in many of these movies are amazing. The Devil Rides Out has been one of my favorites so far: Christopher Lee fights a cult trying to summon the Devil. Awesome!

Thus ends my interview with Wes Schneider, Paizo's resident expert on the intersection of folklore and horror. And this wraps up interviews with Paizo's editorial pit. Thanks a ton to all the designers and to all of you for reading!

David Eitelbach
Editorial Intern

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