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Paizo Publishing's 10th Anniversary Retrospective—Year 5 (2007)

The Year Everything Changed

Thursday, July 26, 2012

This blog entry is the sixth in a series of blogs commemorating Paizo's 10th anniversary.
Click here to read the first installment.


Erik Mona's odd T-shaped map that would eventually become the Inner Sea Region of Golarion.

As 2007 dawned, Paizo had a lot of work to do. The final issues of Dragon and Dungeon were coming in August, and we had already started thinking about what we were going to do once they had run their course. Wizards of the Coast wanted to make an announcement about the magazines coming to an end sooner rather than later, but we knew that this announcement was going to cause an uproar with a fury usually reserved for new editions of D&D—maybe even bigger—and when people came to us with questions, we wanted to have answers. Once again, Wizards was gracious, and allowed us to make the announcement on our own schedule.

Our customers were used to getting something from us every month and we didn't want that to end. But starting a new magazine was not the way to go. Even if we had wanted to try to replace our venerable magazines, we just didn't have the cash reserves needed to make it happen. Besides, the magazine industry isn't what it used to be, and the profit margins on magazines are razor thin; I was very tired of fighting all the inefficiences of that product format.

So we took the thing that was working the best—the Adventure Path concept—and reshaped it into a 96-page softcover book that would provide a full AP over six consecutive monthly volumes. The front half of each book would be the Adventure Path, while the back half would house support articles and a short piece of fiction. In many ways, the front was Dungeon and the back was Dragon. The new book had the same number of pages as an issue of Dungeon, but since it didn't have all the advertisements, we actually had more content to develop each month. Also, it took 12 issues of Dungeon to complete an AP, and we were now attempting to do it in half the time. This task was going to be a tough one.

After much brainstorming, we eventually gave it the name "Pathfinder." (See the sidebar below for a look at how we came up with the name.)

The cover of the first draft of the setting bible that would become the Pathfinder campaign setting. Notice that Golarion was dubbed the "Planet of Adventure" way back then. The front page of the outline for the first Pathfinder Adventure Path. It's called Adventure Path Four because there were three previous APs in Dungeon Magazine. Notice some of the early differences, such as Sularia (Thassilon), Ur-Giants (Rune Giants), and kobolds as the critters that infest Sandpoint. Now the title of the AP is "Rune War" and things are looking closer to the final. Interesting differences include the Dihedron Rune (Sihedron Rune) and Sinseren (Xin-Shalast). This incarnation of the outline finally has the name "Rise of the Runelords," and much of it survives unchanged in the final Adventure Path.

We also had to think long and hard about pricing. The printing quotes we'd received on 96-page full-color softcover books suggested that we needed to charge $24.99, a big jump from the advertising-subsidized $7.99 cover price of Dungeon. And in order to survive, we needed to capture as many Dragon and Dungeon subscribers as we could, and that meant we needed to make a compelling case to our subscribers.

Instead of $24.99, we set the retail price at $19.99. Then, to entice people to subscribe, we set the subscription price at $13.99 plus shipping, with the additional benefits of a free PDF and a discount on almost everything we sell at paizo.com. While it still cost more than Dragon or Dungeon did, we knew that we were providing amazing value, and we believed that once people saw the finished product, they'd understand that.

Another big problem we had to deal with was our subscriber debt. Even though we had stopped offering long-term subscription options the year before, and had recently switched entirely to month-to-month subscriptions, we had still taken a lot of money over the years for issues that would never come out. Some customers had purchased subscriptions extending for a frankly startling number of years into the future. I put together a big spreadsheet that looked at how many issues of each magazine we owed to each subscriber past the last issue, and how much the refunds we owed each of them would be. We looked at the cost for making an AP volume and shipping it to various places in the US and around the world, and then we had to make a gut-wrenching decision—how many volumes do we want to offer subscribers for the remaining value of their subscriptions? If we made an offer people couldn't refuse, not only would we not have to give a refund to that customer, but we'd get the opportunity to show them that we were making a product worth the asking price; hopefully at least some of them would keep their Pathfinder subscriptions beyond those volumes.

We ended up valuing these copies at such a low price that we actually lost money on almost all of them. That is, it cost us more to make and ship each copy than it would have cost to give refunds to the same people. But there was a benefit in addition to the chance to woo them over to Pathfinder: the cost of fulfilling those volumes to subscribers was spread over many months. If we'd had to write everyone refund checks all at once, that would have put us out of business. We also mitigated this problem by offering people the ability to fulfill their remaining issues from our stock of back issues, and by offering the option of taking a higher amount of store credit—120%—instead of cash.

My budget had around 20% of our subscribers taking the Pathfinder AP volumes instead of a refund check. I assumed about 30% would take the store credit option, with the remaining 50% asking for the refund check. I hoped we'd do better than that, that maybe closer to 50% would take the AP volumes, but I budget for what I feel is the most likely course.

We also offered a special messageboard tag for people who committed to an ongoing Pathfinder subscription before they even saw the first volume (not just transitioning issues from their Dungeon or Dragon subscription, but making an actual commitment beyond that). These early supporters received the Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber tag, which they'll keep for as long as they keep their AP subscription going. Charter subscribers who stop their subs for even a single volume lose their charter status, so the number of charter tags slowly decreases over time; there are just 1,075 as I write this. The trust and ongoing support of our charter subscribers means a lot to us.

With our plans in place, we set a date with Wizards of the Coast to announce the end of Dragon and Dungeon. April 19, 2007 was going to be a nerve-wracking day for the Paizo staff as we unveiled our new plans and then sat back to see what would happen. Would it be the end of our company, or the beginning of a whole new adventure? Would unhappy subscribers come to our offices with pitchforks and torches? As always, the power rested in the hands of our customers.

At 9:00 AM PST, the paizo.com website was taken down for the first time other than to do maintenance; you can see the page we put up here. We were down for approximately two hours while we readied all of the press releases, subscription offerings, FAQs, and such, and when the website came back up at 11 AM, in addition to the press release about the magazines there was a message from Erik and we soon added a message from me on the front page. We explained about the magazines, and we explained about Pathfinder. Then we watched, interacted with everyone posting on the messageboards, and waited. And the most remarkable thing in my history in the industry happened. People came out of the woodwork to support us and stick by us. In the end, close to 66% of all subscribers ended up taking us up on our offer to send them Pathfinder AP volumes in place of their refund, better than double my budget. (The largest number of AP volumes received in lieu of a refund: 44!)

Also on that day, we launched the Paizo blog, which has now become a daily dose of Paizo news! We introduced Varisia on day 1, and the goblins on day 2! In the days leading up to the launch of the Pathfinder AP at Gen Con, we unveiled the new iconics, talked about the non-adventure content, and basically tried to keep up everyone's interest as we headed to launch.


Postage for the first Pathfinder subscription shipment pours out of our label printer in August 2007. (Our label runs are much more organized now.) And the same shipment neatly packed up and waiting for the Post Office.

Of course, there was a still a lot of work that needed to be done. With the magazines, we simply generated an Excel spreadsheet which we then uploaded to our printer, and they took care of all of the logistics of sending issues to subscribers. Starting in August, we were going to have to do that ourselves for the first time. We weren't exactly rookies at shipping products to people; we'd been running the paizo.com store for a few years, and it had grown to a pretty decent sized business. But the sheer volume of a single subscription run dwarfed any amount we had ever shipped at one time thus far. We needed to be able to print out massive numbers of labels at one time—check out the pictures of our first label run in this blog—and then have the manpower to pack them all as quickly as possible. It was "all hands on deck," and even Jeff Alvarez and myself spent many a long hour packing and shipping Pathfinder AP volumes that year.

But the APs weren't the only new line of products. In February, we had announced our line of GameMastery Modules launching in June with Nicolas Logue's now classic Crown of the Kobold King adventure. Our first Free RPG Day product was Hollow's Last Hope, a lead-in adventure for Kobold King that we also gave away as a free PDF on our website as a way of enticing folks to try out the new line of adventures. Follow-up adventures by Jason Bulmahn and James Sutter rounded out the GameMastery Modules launch titles leading up to Gen Con.

In March, we announced the Planet Stories line. The result of Erik Mona's love of old sword-and-planet fiction, Planet Stories was all about bringing out-of-print classics to a new generation of fans. We launched with a super strong line-up of Robert E. Howard, Gary Gygax, Michael Moorcock and C.L. Moore. Our hope with this line was that we could gain a foothold into bookstores with a product type they were used to carrying, and then leverage that into our RPG products. We also wanted to establish a line of products that weren't tied to our RPG business in case that didn't work out as well as we'd hoped.

Our other GameMastery products started to really take off in 2007. We had been selling Steel Sqwire's existing Flip-Mats for a few months before we released the first of our own designs, Flip-Mat: Tavern. We've released a new Flip-Mat every other month since then. Our biggest GameMastery release for the year, though, was a product that has since become a gaming table staple—the Critical Hit Deck. Masterminded by Jason Bulmahn, the Critical Hit Deck has perhaps put more characters in the ground than any accessory in gaming history and has been a consistently great seller for Paizo.

Of course, we still had the final issues of both Dragon and Dungeon to deliver, and we planned to go out with a bang! The final issues of Dragon had a slew of Demonomicons and Core Beliefs articles, as well as the world of China Miéville, the World Serpent Inn, and a super-sized final issue returning to some of the most iconic articles in Dragon's storied history, capped off with a cover by Larry Elmore!

Dungeon finished off the Savage Tide adventure path with a return to the Isle of Dread and a faceoff with the prince of demons, Demogorgon himself! In addition, Nick Logue returned to Scuttlecove one more time and Jason Bulmahn penned his infamous "Kill Bargle" adventure in the final issue.

One of the best things about publishing Dragon and Dungeon magazines was the ability to constantly try out new talent. It's really hard to try out new talent without risking the destruction of your production schedule if the new guy screws up his assignment. Matter of fact, trying out new talent was the very reason that the Class Acts section of Dragon was created. With the magazines going away, Paizo was going to need to find a new way to cultivate design talent.

I was ruminating on this problem when an idea came to me. Vic and I are fans of American Idol; I love the fact that talented unknowns can become overnight stars by winning that competition. Could we do the same thing for RPG designers? And thus was RPG Superstar born. Anybody could enter by designing a wondrous item, and our esteemed panel of judges (that season, Wolfgang Baur, Erik Mona and Clark Petersen) would hand-pick the top 32 before our community voted to winnow that number down via various design challenges until we had a winner. The prize was a paid gig to write a 32-page GameMastery Adventure. More than 1,000 people entered the contest that kicked off late that year, with the winner being crowned in early 2008.


Stonehenge game designers (from left to right) Richard Borg, Mike Selinker, Paul Peterson, Bruno Faidutti, and Richard Garfield pose with copies of the game at Essen Spiel in Germany. Mike Selinker holds a card inquiring about the missing James Ernest.

Our Titanic Games line released its most ambitious product in May. Stonehenge was not just a board game, but a flexible toolkit that could be used to create a wide variety of new board games, sold with rules for five different Stonehenge games from the world's best game designers. We published a sixth game from Paul Peterson called "Stonehenge Rocks" in the July issue of Knucklebones magazine, and launched the Stonehenge Library on paizo.com, where game designers of all stripes could easily publish rules for their own games and anyone could download them as a fully formatted PDF. To date, 42 different games have been posted there for free download!

Gen Con 2007 was one of the most memorable in Paizo's history. Not only were we sending Dragon and Dungeon off with epic final issues, but we were putting the Pathfinder Adventure Path into the hands of customers for the first time. I felt like an expectant parent waiting for the doors to open on Thursday morning. We'd decorated the booth with large banners of Karzoug, Valeros and Seoni. We were running a delve in the booth based on the Seven Swords of Sin module, crafted by the evil minds of the combined Paizo staff as we each tried to outdo each other in killing the most characters. Stats were kept throughout the convention; Phil Lacefield Jr, collected the most overall kills, while Erik Mona's vrock chamber was the single deadliest room.

Gen Con has always been a place where Paizo has made some of our biggest announcements, and this year it was the impending release of the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting in early 2008. With the launch of the Pathfinder AP and the GameMastery Modules, everyone was clamoring to know more about the world we were setting them in. Erik and Jason had already began throwing around ideas for filling out the world around Varisia, but that's a story for next year...

At the ENnie Awards that Gen Con, Paizo won 2 golds and a silver. The awards received were:

  • Best Aid or Accessory: Silver Medal for GameMastery Combat Pad (published in conjunction with Open Mind Games)
  • Best Miniature Product: Gold Medal for GameMastery Flip-Mat: Tavern
  • Best Free Product: Gold Medal for Savage Tide Player's Guide
The final tally for the Seven Swords of Sin dungeon delve in the Paizo booth at Gen Con. Larry Elmore signs copies of the last Dragon Magazine, with his painting gracing the cover. Cover artist Wayne Reynolds poses with the first Adventure Path volumes! James Jacobs stands proudly next to his creation, Karzoug the Claimer. Gary Gygax signs his Planet Stories novel The Anubis Murders at the Paizo booth during his last Gen Con.

Sales during the convention were brisk, and the feedback we received from our customers was nothing short of fantastic. And we needed all that good karma, because we were dealt another blow when Wizards of the Coast announced at the show that D&D 4th Edition was coming in August 2008. We had just launched two new lines of 3.5 compatible products, and it seemed that they could already be on a deathwatch towards obscurity. Sometimes it seemed as if every time we got up, there was something to knock us down again.

However, after talks with our colleagues at Wizards of the Coast, we were cautiously optimistic. There was talk of getting together when we were back in Seattle and running through a playtest of the current rules. We were also promised that there would be a third-party license, similar to the OGL, really soon.

When we got back to Seattle, we anxiously awaited the opportunity to playtest 4th Edition, but that never materialized, and the license that eventually became the GSL was delayed month after month. Meanwhile, the more the public learned about 4th Edition, the more our community—and our gut—was telling us not to go there.

One of the largest threads on the paizo.com messageboards began in October, when Erik announced that Paizo Is Still Undecided. The lack of any information from WotC and the seemingly overwhelming support for us to stay put were making us lean towards sticking with 3.5, but it would be suicide to produce support products for a game that no longer has core rules in print. So if we wanted to stick with 3.5, we knew that we'd have to release some sort of rulebook.

As the end of 2007 neared, we still held out hope that things might work out for 4th Edition. But we were already planning the Pathfinder Adventure Path that would begin shipping the same month that Wizards was releasing 4th Edition, and the deadline for soliciting August 2008 products to our distributors was rapidly approaching, so we needed to make a decision, and fast.

As the year ended, our new product lines were well-received, and the new Paizo was looking healthier than ever. But the decision about 4th Edition was now reaching a critical stage and the new year would again test our mettle. Fortunately, Jason Bulmahn had started tinkering on his own time with some ideas he had for a 3.5 revision, a project he had dubbed "Mon Mothma..."

Employees who started in 2007 (in order of hiring date):
Corey Young, Customer Service Representative
James Davis, Art Director
Keely Dolan, PDF Technician
Chris Sanders, Warehouse Personnel
Chris Self, AP/AR Coordinator
Carolyn Mull, Sales and Marketing Assistant

Employees who left in 2007 (in order of their end date):
Kelly O'Brien
Sean Glenn
Michelle Barrett
Phil Lacefield, Jr.
Keely Dolan


A scan from Wes Schneider's notebook shows some of the brainstorming for the Adventure Path line. We mixed and matched words to create potential names. In the lower left-hand corner, "Path" and "Finder" are conveniently near each other. Coincidence?

Naming Pathfinder

With the name Pathfinder so prevalent in everything we make nowadays, it's almost hard to believe that six years ago, we were struggling with what we were going to call our new line. If you've ever been involved in a brainstorm for naming something, you'll know that it's an agonizing process. We gathered the Paizo creative staff into the conference room and started to brainstorm words that we associate with adventures. Here we see the notes Wes Schneider took from our brainstorm. Once we had a list of words, we started combining some of them to make potential names, so if we had the words crypt, morning, crawl, star, and sword, we'd try names like like Starsword, Morningstar, Cryptcrawl... After three long meetings, nobody was entirely happy with what we'd come up with. The leading candidate for quite a while was actually "Kobold," because we like the little buggers, and because we thought it would be a neat homage to Dragon Magazine (it turns out that Wolfgang Baur had a similar thought process when he named his new magazine). Pathfinder was one of the names that made the finalist list, but it took us a while (and a successful trademark search) to convince us that we'd found the path we were seeking.

Lisa Stevens
CEO

Chris Self: His Account of Things

In summer 2007, Paizo wasn't even on my radar. I had looked at the website once or twice, mostly looking for dice, but I didn't have any ties to the company at the time. I wasn't a fan of the magazines, all of my adventures were homebrew, and I didn't have enough money to buy much of anything, let alone do it through an online store I'd never heard of anyone else using.

Earlier that year, I had packed up my books and my cats in an old station wagon, given away all of my furniture, quit my job, and moved to Seattle. I had always promised myself that I would get out of Albuquerque, and now that I had finished my degree and had a few years of work under my belt, I'd decided it was time to make good on that promise.

Once I arrived in Seattle, I threw around some applications and resumes, found a place to live, all the normal things you do when you move to a new city on a whim.

When I got the email from Lisa that she wanted me to come in for an interview, I was surprised. I had sent in my resume weeks earlier and had, in fact, accepted and been working another job for several weeks. But I was not about to turn down a chance to interview for a game company. So, in for the interview I went.

The offices were a surprise. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't boxes of magazines scattered about, product stacked on shelves in offices, and an office open but mostly deserted after 6 pm. Once I finally tracked down Lisa and started my interview with her and Paizo's corporate accountant, Dave Erickson... that's when the magic of Paizo struck me for the first time.

The vision that Lisa laid out for the company was... enticing. A magazine publisher for D&D who was also rolling out a series of science-fiction classics and expanding their gaming product lines sounded like exactly the type of company I wanted to work for. When Lisa offered me the job, there was no hesitation, despite the hefty cut in pay I was taking to take the job.

My first day in the office is also my most memorable. I had been set up in a desk in a cul-de-sac in the hallway, straddling the area between sales, accounting, Lisa's office, and the editorial pit, and with a view straight down the hallway to see all of the offices that it wasn't adjacent to. This gave me an excellent view of a certain PMG putting an Amazon package on the desk of a certain other employee (who will remain nameless). This also gave me an excellent view of said employee opening this box. This box contained a spider. An electronic spider. A remote controlled electronic jumping spider. And a certain PMG held the remote. The best view, though, was of a large man screaming like a little girl and running, cussing, from his office.

Yeah, that first day let me know that I had really made the right choice in choosing to work at Paizo.

That decision has proven a wise one over the last five years. Paizo has been the first job that I've looked forward to coming to every morning. The people I work with are remarkable, every single one of them; the company is amazing; I believe in the product; and I feel valued every day.

Since this is my moment in the spotlight on the blog, I would like to close with one note: Dave Erickson, the accountant whom I initially worked under at Paizo, was an excellent accountant, and one of the most scrupulously ethical people I've ever met. I learned a great deal from him, and learned even more from him once I shouldered his duties after his passing. You are missed, Dave.

Chris Self
Finance Manager

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Auntie Lisa's Story Hour Paizo
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Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A double take on the artwork for Dungeon 150 ("is that who I think it is?") lead me to Paizo this year. Pathfinder 1 and 2 had already been shipped out by the time I joined the fray by subscribing, starting with Pathfinder 3, Hook Mountain Massacre. Of course I picked up #1 and #2 shortly thereafter.

It's been a pleasure watching the Pathfinder brand grow into what it is today.

I look forward to your reflections on 2008!

Thank you for not naming it Dreamdork.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I have really been enjoying this series of articles. It's all too easy to forget the uncertainty of that time in the gaming community (I wish someone would write a series like this about Third Edition, and the rise of the online community to embrace the web format as well; that was a pretty fascinating time).

On another note- How have I never heard of this Stonehenge game before? And I see it's on sale now? SOLD!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Charter subscribers who stop their subs for even a single volume lose their charter status, so the number of charter tags slowly decreases over time; there are just 1,075 as I write this.

A living limited edition. We should be serially numbered, and have those numbers tattooed on the backs of our necks.

Osirion

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

Gencon 2007 planted the seed that made me a huge Pathfinder fan.

Thank goodness they didn't decide to call the brand Renaissance Realms!


Almost misty-eyed from reading this. Those times were really upsetting, but look what they resulted in. Great stuff, Lisa and Chris. Thanks.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Interesting to see how the Runelords evolved from the servants of evil gods into (mostly) atheists...


What I want to know is will we ever find out what awaits us at the shores of Chorak's Rest and beyond?


5 people marked this as a favorite.

My poor chatroom server the day that the Pathfinder Adventure Paths were announced...


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion Subscriber

Am I reading that correctly in that someone had prepaid for so many years of Dragon and Dungeon that their 'replacement' AP volumes didn't run out until Carrion Crown? Dude.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

Yep.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Modules Subscriber

One of the proud 1075 here, and intent to keep it that way. Yeah, these were some pretty chaotic times, with lots of heated arguments around, to put it mildly. I had a subscription to both mags running at that time, I think it was good for a few volumes, less than five, I think. But 44? Thats like a ten year sub or something.
And with the last few issues, delivery overseas went haphazard, as some british company was not able to deliver, IIRC. Dungeon #149 came waaaay after #150, but in the end, all was good.

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Ahh, the T-shaped map. It took me a few weeks to massage and reconfigure that into something close to a rectangle (I still needle Erik about that on occasion.. hey, this is an occasion). I think I still have the original re-drawings of that around here somewhere, with my crazy notions of plate tectonics and basic weather patterns.

2007 was a crazy year.. that is to be sure.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

We are almost to the point when I joined the Paizo community. I had become a lurker by the end of the year off and on. As I had started buying RotRL AP books from my LFGS. The irony on how I got into Pathfinder and eventually a subscriber is something I imagine my LFGS would not find amusing.

The LFGS had game auctions a few times a year. You could sell old game stuff at the auction or buy stuff often for a nice discount. The store keep the money but gave you store credit on stuff you sold. After 4E was announced as coming and I was reading and not a fan of what I was seeing. I was still playing 3E and some other games.

Eventually in fall of that year I saw some new books on the shelf and the clerk told me it was the company that did Dungeons and Drag mags and they was doing new 3.5E stuff. So i picked the first one up loved it. Went back and bought 2 and maybe 3 was out by then not sure. Thats when I became a lurker on the site. Then when CotCT was coming out I subscribed picking AP 6 to start with, as I didn't have it yet.

So thanks to the store credit I made a impulse buy that eventually lead me to buy a lot of my stuff online from Paizo, instead of my LFGS. Though i still buy game master cards, and some other game products from LFGS. Still the bulk of my gaming budget is spent on Paizo now.

These blogs have me in a sharing mood.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jason Bulmahn wrote:

Ahh, the T-shaped map. It took me a few weeks to massage and reconfigure that into something close to a rectangle (I still needle Erik about that on occasion.. hey, this is an occasion). I think I still have the original re-drawings of that around here somewhere, with my crazy notions of plate tectonics and basic weather patterns.

2007 was a crazy year.. that is to be sure.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer

So when are we getting the Weather of Golarion book anyways. :)

Actually I am kinda serious. :D

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Damon Griffin wrote:

Charter subscribers who stop their subs for even a single volume lose their charter status, so the number of charter tags slowly decreases over time; there are just 1,075 as I write this.

A living limited edition. We should be serially numbered, and have those numbers tattooed on the backs of our necks.

The few. The proud. The obsessive-compulsive completionists. Can't remember how many issues I converted over, but it was quite a few. Now I admit financial issues may eventually result in me dropping back a few of my subs to just getting the PDFs, but that Charter status'll be there till the options are 1) Charter status, or 2) rent paying for an address to have the Charter status stuff sent to.

Edit: Getting into the nostalgia theme, I went back over my order history. Looks like I got all of RotRL as conversion of my Dragon and Dungeon subs. Then I saw my 6-digit order number for my first subs for Dragon and Dungeon via the website, dating all the way back to 2004.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

It should be noted that the Gen Con delve actually came *first*... Seven Swords of Sin was written when Erik handed me all the random rooms people had built for the delve and said "use all of these in a module." As I recall, about half of the rooms in that adventure started out as part of the delve.

Not the easiest adventure to write, but the need to place it somewhere in our newborn campaign setting led to the creation of Kaer Maga, so I'm not complaining. :)


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

What a fool I was, taking the Dungeon/Dragon back-stock option for my conversion instead of the AP.
And then compounding that by wandered away from Paizo for 4 years.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Wow. 2007 was a heck of a year. I was still mostly just a lurker. I think I had all of 3 or 4 posts that year. I didn't become much more active until the play test started the following year...

That said, I had already hitched my wagon to Paizo's APs (still a charter subscriber) and have found putting my trust in Lisa and Company well rewarded.

Taldor RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Damon Griffin wrote:

Charter subscribers who stop their subs for even a single volume lose their charter status, so the number of charter tags slowly decreases over time; there are just 1,075 as I write this.

A living limited edition. We should be serially numbered, and have those numbers tattooed on the backs of our necks.

I don't know if I still count among the 1075 - I lost my tag the best possible way. :) Though sometimes I fancy the thought that it's still somewhere behind the custom title.


I've never been the biggest fan of the name "Pathfinder," though I can understand its logic and appeal. And at least we were spared "Epic World" or "Planet of Magic." :)

What WAS the list of finalists, by the way?


Who would have guessed Paizo would one day become the best-selling RPG company. :)

Paizo Employee Developer

9 people marked this as a favorite.
TerraNova wrote:
I don't know if I still count among the 1075 - I lost my tag the best possible way. :)

I dunno, I think the way I lost mine was better. ;-)

Paizo Employee Webstore Gninja Minion

Mark Moreland wrote:
TerraNova wrote:
I don't know if I still count among the 1075 - I lost my tag the best possible way. :)
I dunno, I think the way I lost mine was better. ;-)

Heh heh. :D

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Pygon wrote:
Thank you for not naming it Dreamdork.

I thought that the brainstorm list said "dork" for a second too, but that's just Wes's handwriting—it really says "dark."

Taldor RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Wow 2007 was really a banner year and a bummer too. I think I had just started really spending time over on the boards, especially once the death of Dungeon and Dragon magazine were announced. I had a lot of nerdrage about that and even moreso after the 4e announcement... in retrospect I fully believe that excessive nerdrage caused my appendix to rupture in July, lol!

But 44 issues! I got 3 out of the deal... I was just about to re-up my ususal 3 year deal too (not realizing that option had ended)! But once I read through Burnt Offerings, the Skinsaw Murders, and Hook Mountain Massacre it was an easy step when the Pathfinder RPG was announced. Got my group to switch without any thought of 4e. Been rolling d20's at the Downriver Pathfinder Lodge ever since!

--Detroit Vrock City!

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

MythicFox wrote:
Am I reading that correctly in that someone had prepaid for so many years of Dragon and Dungeon that their 'replacement' AP volumes didn't run out until Carrion Crown? Dude.

There were a number of people who signed up for three-year renewals every year. I think many of them probably did it partly as insurance against increasing subscription prices.


I remember the whole Dungeon/Dragon fracas that happened. Well not much of a fracas really, more of a "Huh". One group I played with continued to use 3.5 product and we were happy. Shortly after the Beta rules came out was when I joined the Sunday group I've been playing with. I looked at these rules for Pathfinder and I was floored. It still felt like 3.5 but something so totally different and amazing that I was hooked.
Paizo is an amazing company and I am happy to continue supporting it :D


Ah, the entry I was most looking forward to reading! I'm not sure if I count as one of the 66% who converted or not, because I sat on my store credit for months before taking the leap.

The decision to offer the extra store credit was truly significant! Even though I was a long time subscriber to both magazines, I didn't know Paizo from WoTC (from TSR). At the time, I was just a consumer. Between extra store credit (what gamer could turn that down?) and a killer first AP issue, I was hooked.

I also believed I wasn't alone, and now I know for sure.

Brilliant decision, Lisa and crew. Brilliant!

[Edit: fixed the bolding]

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber

I remember Erik's 4e post, I had bought Burnt Offerings and a 5-pack of player's guides after downloading the Player's Guide for free and getting super-excited by it. After that I was on Paizo.com regularly and the 4e wobble was like watching agonising soul-searching and really wanting to help but not having anything useful to say.

I can't think of a better way to launch than with Burnt Offerings, the PG, Hollow's Last Hope and Crown of the Kobold King. Each and every one blew me away and then I was hooked. The amazing community on the boards just sucked me in deeper - I can still remember taking notes from Mary Yamamoto's experience/suggestions/advice for RotRL as she seemed to shoot through the AP volumes.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion Subscriber
Stebehil wrote:
One of the proud 1075 here, and intent to keep it that way. Yeah, these were some pretty chaotic times, with lots of heated arguments around, to put it mildly. I had a subscription to both mags running at that time, I think it was good for a few volumes, less than five, I think. But 44? Thats like a ten year sub or something.

If they had, say, 5-year subs to both magazines it comes across as only slightly less crazy. But still, I reiterate: Dude.

Taldor

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber
Mark Moreland wrote:
TerraNova wrote:
I don't know if I still count among the 1075 - I lost my tag the best possible way. :)
I dunno, I think the way I lost mine was better. ;-)

In a way, you'll always be Yoda8myhead. :D


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion Subscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
MythicFox wrote:
Am I reading that correctly in that someone had prepaid for so many years of Dragon and Dungeon that their 'replacement' AP volumes didn't run out until Carrion Crown? Dude.

There were a number of people who signed up for three-year renewals every year. I think many of them probably did it partly as insurance against increasing subscription prices.

Fair enough. I know I did that a few times with magazine subscriptions over the years, although it was partially because I got into the habit of sending in my renewal slip every year but would forget that previously I'd had a little extra cash and sprung for a longer subscription to save a few bucks in the long run. Whoops.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Nukruh wrote:
What I want to know is will we ever find out what awaits us at the shores of Chorak's Rest and beyond?

Some day. yes.

At one point, Chorak's Rest was one of the big dungeons we were going to feature in the Shattered Star Adventure Path, but we thought of something even better that fit the themes even more.

But Chorak's Rest will some day get more attention.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I was one of those that took store credit, and am still using most of the stuff I bought.

I was a regular on the boards by then, mostly in the "is there a Black Hole at Paizo?" thread. spoilered for derail...

Spoiler:
I remember Class Acts queries and still have the letters from Mike starting out 'no thanks' changing to 'no, but here's why,' and finally 'yes, please submit the article'. Alas he got it and said, I want it but by now you have heard..."
Oh yeah. RPG Superstar FTW!

Andoran

2 people marked this as a favorite.
primemover003 wrote:

I think I had just started really spending time over on the boards, especially once the death of Dungeon and Dragon magazine were announced. I had a lot of nerdrage about that and even moreso after the 4e announcement... in retrospect I fully believe that excessive nerdrage caused my appendix to rupture in July, lol!

"Had" a lot of nerdrage about that? Vrock You! What is this past tense grammar you are employing here? :)

Honestly, I still have a little of it, to this very day. I still remember the Internet essentially exploding on the day the cancellation was announced (and nobody referred to it then as "a failure to renew the license", to the fans it was a *cancellation*, plain and simple). I also remember just staring in open-mouthed disbelief when Chris Perkins a former Editor-in-Chief of Dungeon who clearly loved the magazine, later wrote that same week that the magazines were "coming home".

If by that he meant "funeral home", sure. Otherwise, no. Truth was, Dungeon was cancelled during the height of its Golden Age, cut down before its time.

Indeed, this whole series of retrospective blogs has allowed me to dust off that nerdrage so I can look at it and polish it a bit before I put it back away in my sub-cockle area.

I suppose we can say it's a case of all's well that ends well, except, truth is, I still miss Dungeon to this day. Dragon was a part of my childhood and 1st ed fandom - but Dungeon was at that time the favorite part of my adult hobby. *sigh*

I take some solace in the fact that, in hindsight, cancelling Dungeon and Dragon magazine was - when combined with the OGL itself, clearly the single worst business decision that WotC ever made concerning the D&D brand. Don't get me wrong, I love the OGL as a gamer; but the lawyer in me recognizes it as utter madness from a longterm business perspective.

Their loss - our gain as fans.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Timtao wrote:
I'm not sure if I count as one of the 66% who converted or not, because I sat on my store credit for months before taking the leap.

Nope, the 66% counts only people who said "send me Pathfinder." We've never attempted to count the people who clicked the "give me store credit" button and then spent that store credit on Pathfinder (which wouldn't have been nearly as good a deal).


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Cosmo is apparently seventeen times as vicious as Wes.

Taldor RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

Steel_Wind wrote:
primemover003 wrote:

I think I had just started really spending time over on the boards, especially once the death of Dungeon and Dragon magazine were announced. I had a lot of nerdrage about that and even moreso after the 4e announcement... in retrospect I fully believe that excessive nerdrage caused my appendix to rupture in July, lol!

"Had" a lot of nerdrage about that? Vrock You! What is this past tense grammar you are employing here? :)

I spored, stunning screeched, cast mirror image, and heroism while using Power Attack and Cleave WHILE doing the dance of ruin... and I rolled a Nat 1!

If I do that again I may have an anuerysm and since that's already hereditary in my family I'm trying to keep all zen-like. As much as an 8 foot vulture battle demon emulating dude from the Murder Mitten can!

--Toxic Vrock Syndrome


James Jacobs wrote:
Nukruh wrote:
What I want to know is will we ever find out what awaits us at the shores of Chorak's Rest and beyond?

Some day. yes.

At one point, Chorak's Rest was one of the big dungeons we were going to feature in the Shattered Star Adventure Path, but we thought of something even better that fit the themes even more.

But Chorak's Rest will some day get more attention.

Thanks for the update and I can't wait to one day see it. I had a feeling that Shattered Star would be a fitting place it might have finally shown up in.

P.S. If you end up finding yourself in need of a name for an NPC during say a draft related to it, feel free to use Nukruh as I have it under good authority it has not been taken elsewhere.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I've been waiting for this one too. This was the year I made the leap with both feet. I was a long-time Dragon subscriber and a charter Dungeon subscriber, but I left the games for a while and I let my subscriptions run out. I still picked up an issue of the magazines (especially Dungeon) here or there at the FLGS and i would pick up rulebooks from various games that interested me, but I was reading more tham gaming.

In 2007, my sons had turned 11 and 8 and were expressing interest in all of my old gaming materials. I wanted to start them with the same game I started with and had the 3.5 rulebooks, but I knew I wouldn't have time for writing my own adventures. So I turned back to Dungeon only to find the license had been pulled and the magazine was ending. But, I was familiar with Paizo's Dungeon APs and was delighted to hear about the new line. I started by picking up Burnt Offerings at my FLGS and subscribed in time for the Hook Mountain Massacre.

It took a couple more years to really get things going. It was quickly clear that I probably needed to wait to run them through Runelords (we're starting this summer with the Anniversary edition). Instead we started with the D&D basic set, a little bit of Shackled City, and some old adventures. I followed the developments around 4e and then Pathfinder. It was pretty clear which way to go. Five years later, we run a weekly PFS group that my 16-year old is now also GMing and we're coming off our first family PaizoCon and heading into our third GenCon. Both boys are avid players and getting every bit as much love out of the game as I did as a teen.

Thank you Lisa and all the Paizo gang. What you guys have been through over these ten years is amazing and it is incredibly moving to read these posts. I can't believe the blows you have sustained and every time you seem to come back stronger than ever. Not only have you built a truly amazing company that inspires such a passionate and committed community, but in my little world you have been directly responsible for hours of enjoyment for my family and a growing number of others. It is an immeasurable gift and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Nukruh wrote:
Thanks for the update and I can't wait to one day see it. I had a feeling that Shattered Star would be a fitting place it might have finally shown up in.

It was actually kind of tricky coming up with the six dungeons that would be featured in Shattered Star. The ones in part one and part six were pretty much locked in due to the nature of the campaign, but the locations for parts 2–5 had a LOT of competition. Locations that were on the list but got cut include not only...

Spoiler:
Chorak's Rest, but also Wormwood Hall, Viperwall, Hollow Mountain, Crystilan, Caves of the Craven, and the Mobhad Leigh...
...but we eventually settled with...
Spoiler:
the Lady's Light, Kaer Maga's Undercity, Windsong Abbey, and Guiltspur...
...for the 4 middle dungeons.
RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

I remember being at Origins, taking notes about this new "Pathfinder thingee" and diving in. I guess I can take even more pride now in being a charter subscriber. :-)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion Subscriber

I wonder where all those "Paizo should go 4E, it's TOTALLY going to be the edition for decades to come!" folks have gone.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Disappeared up their own asymptote?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Steel_Wind wrote:
primemover003 wrote:

I think I had just started really spending time over on the boards, especially once the death of Dungeon and Dragon magazine were announced. I had a lot of nerdrage about that and even moreso after the 4e announcement... in retrospect I fully believe that excessive nerdrage caused my appendix to rupture in July, lol!

"Had" a lot of nerdrage about that? Vrock You! What is this past tense grammar you are employing here? :)

Honestly, I still have a little of it, to this very day. I still remember the Internet essentially exploding on the day the cancellation was announced (and nobody referred to it then as "a failure to renew the license", to the fans it was a *cancellation*, plain and simple). I also remember just staring in open-mouthed disbelief when Chris Perkins a former Editor-in-Chief of Dungeon who clearly loved the magazine, later wrote that same week that the magazines were "coming home".

If by that he meant "funeral home", sure. Otherwise, no. Truth was, Dungeon was cancelled during the height of its Golden Age, cut down before its time.

Indeed, this whole series of retrospective blogs has allowed me to dust off that nerdrage so I can look at it and polish it a bit before I put it back away in my sub-cockle area.

I suppose we can say it's a case of all's well that ends well, except, truth is, I still miss Dungeon to this day. Dragon was a part of my childhood and 1st ed fandom - but Dungeon was at that time the favorite part of my adult hobby. *sigh*

I take some solace in the fact that, in hindsight, cancelling Dungeon and Dragon magazine was - when combined with the OGL itself, clearly the single worst business decision that WotC ever made concerning the D&D brand. Don't get me wrong, I love the OGL as a gamer; but the lawyer in me recognizes it as utter madness from a longterm business perspective.

Their loss - our gain as fans.

Yeah I gotta second you on this one Steel Wind, I still get pissed when I get reminded about it. For me it was much more about Dragon than Dungeon, but I had a subscription to both at the end.

JD


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

According to my order history, I got the first two volumes of PF for $0, so I guess my subscriptions were nearly out. I seem to remember that I was just about to renew when the end of the (printed, Paizo-produced) magazines was announced.

I kept the subscription even for a couple of years where I didn't really expect to ever run D&D again. Really, if it weren't for the APs, I probably wouldn't be running any D&D or D&D-derived game right now.

2007 was also the first year I went to Gen Con. I died a couple of times in that delve. Danged fireball trap!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

My first real encounter with Paizo was through the Shackled City adventure path. I had briefly held a subscription to both Dungeon and Polyhedron during my youth, but had never really gotten too heavily into either of them. I was one of those kids who bought tons of RPG books, but didn't have anyone interested in playing them around. After college, however, I found a group and the D&D bug bit me hard.

In those days, I was struggling to find steady work and my finances were in pretty sorry shape, so I'm little ashamed to admit I stumbled on to Shackled City through an illegal pdf of the adventures ripped from Dungeon magazine. I downloaded it on a whim, and was blown away by its exotic setting, the recurring characters, and the epic scope of the campaign. Nothing I had ever read before was anything like it.

Just like that, I was hooked. Once I found a decent job, I bought the Shackled City hardcover, then once I had devoured that, I bought up the Dungeon issues which contained the Age of Worms adventure path. I then signed up eagerly for a subscription to Dungeon so that I could see what happened with the Savage Tide. These were exciting days - being able to interact with the designers of these adventure paths while the formula was still being refined was quite an experience, and Dungeon magazine especially was at its creative height - truly the greatest value in gaming that the industry had seen before or since. Because of these factors, I quickly became a huge fan of Paizo.

Shortly before the termination of the Dungeon/Dragon liscence, I took a customer survey on the WotC website. In one of the comments, I wrote that WotC's relationship with Paizo was a huge advantage for the company. The low cost, high quality content in both Dungeon and Dragon combined with the way they conducted themselves on their own forum and others, and the sheer creative energy they brought to the magazines made them a huge positive contributor to the success of the D&D brand, in my eyes.

Although I'm sure it was only a coincidence, the timing of the announcement of the cancellation of Dungeon and Dragon only a few weeks or months later felt almost like a slap in the face. To their credit, Paizo has always been positive about the whole experience and how generous WotC had been in working with them for the transition, but for fans like me, it was still a bitter pill.

I worried about what would happen to the company that had released these fantastic adventures.

I worried about what would happen to the community that had been growing on the Paizo site.

I worried about the designers and editors who took so much of their time to interact with fans, answer questions, and occasionally to just unexpectedly chime in and mention that some custom content that someone had posted was really cool.

I believe my subscription expired with the final issue of Dungeon, but I was going to be damned if I turned my back on Paizo after so many good times when they were at their most vulnerable. I set up a subscription either on day 1 or pretty close to it, and I haven't looked back since. It's been my distinct pleasure to see Paizo succeed where so many (including myself!) feared they would falter - if you had told me back in 2007 that in 5 years, they would have released an RPG which would be outselling D&D, I'd have called you crazy!

The fact that things have turned around so thoroughly in such a short time is a credit to the passion and dedication of Lisa, James Jacobs, Erik Mona, Jason Bulmahn and the rest of the Paizo crew. I am proud to be one of the thousand-odd who still has the Charter Subscriber tag. I don't know about the rest of the Charter Subscribers out there, but I don't see my tag going anywhere anytime soon.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Rofl, Revolution Land. I love it :p Can't quite read all the text on the map unfortunately :s

Still, a great read as always guys :)

Andoran

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Reading through the "4.0: PAIZO IS STILL UNDECIDED" thread that Lisa linked, I ran across this quote from Ryan Dancey:

With so much of the 30+ year legacy D&D game in the SRD, I believe it is impossible to ever make a game that would be accepted by the fans as "D&D" without it being possible to alter whatever is necessary to make the Open Game version of D&D compatible with whatever product is being currently sold as "D&D" by WotC. A game divergent enough to break that legacy with the SRD is simply not going to be tolerable to anyone vested in the D&D player network. Such a radical break would almost certainly result in a 3rd party version of the game, published under a new brand name, becoming the de-facto inheritor of the D&D player network externality, coming into direct competition with whatever faux "D&D" product is being marketed, and probably crushing it.

It's not a perfect prophecy of what happened, but it is eerily close.

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