Laying Groundwork for the Future
Thursday, December 27, 2012
This blog entry is the elventh in a series of blogs commemorating Paizo's 10th anniversary.
Click here to read the first installment.
As I sit down to write my last retrospective blog, I find myself in a bit of a quandry. This is about stuff that happened this year, sometimes mere weeks ago. It's not ancient history—it's what I'm living through right now! That makes writing it up as a restrospective a little weird. Instead of providing the perspective of hindsight, I'm hoping that this blog will give you some insight into why we did what we did this year, why we're doing the things we've already announced for next year, and perhaps a little strategic thought about where Paizo will go in the future. Plans could change radically as the future becomes the present, but at least you can see some of what I'm thinking about right now.
Our first big rulebook of the year was the Advanced Race Guide. This book came about due to requests for us to do something similar to the "Savage Species" book that Wizards of the Coast did for Third Edition. Now, I have to let you in on a little secret: Erik has this thing about not wanting to replicate books from D&D's past. When you're brainstorming new books to do, it's really easy to fall back on ideas like "our take on Deities & Demigods" or "our version of the Psionics Handbook." More than once, Erik has said in these brainstorm sessions, "If, at the end of the Pathfinder first edition run, I look back and see a bunch of reimaginings of books that TSR and WotC did in the past, then I'm going to be very disappointed in us." Erik is constantly pushing the staff to come up with innovative ideas, no matter how nostalgic we all are for past books.
So when it came to the Advanced Race Guide, we had a quandry. D&D has always had race books. It makes sense, because everybody has to play a race. But we wanted this to be a bit different. We decided that the first third of the book would have lots of cool stuff for the core races from the Core Rulebook—things that would make you look at each race in a new light. The second half of the book would provide you with playable classes for every zero-hit-die monster out of the first three Bestiaries—every single one. And the last section of the book would give you a rules system to create your own playable races out of pretty much any monster. With all of these things done, Advanced Race Guide turned into a book that I am very proud of, and that's more than just "our version of Savage Species."
For the summer hardcover, we wanted something super crunchy for Pathfinder Society players, so we came up with Ultimate Equipment. Packed from cover to cover with nearly every piece of equipment we'd printed to date, plus so much additional material that more than half of the book is brand new, there's literally something in here for everyone. We were even able to sneak in some of the best wondrous items from the previous four years of RPG Superstar. It's lavishly illustrated with artwork drawn from the decks upon decks of Item Cards we've released over the years; of course, there were quite a few pieces that haven't been in Item Card sets (yet), so there's plenty of new art too!
Vic Wertz channels his inner Karzoug
as he shows off
the Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Deluxe Edition at PaizoCon!
Wayne Reynolds examines the printer sample of the Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Deluxe Edition.
In the end-of-year spot where we've previously scheduled new bestiaries, we decided to try something different this year. Inspired by Gary Gygax's vintage Rogues Gallery product, we decided to come up with a big book of NPCs, which we dubbed the NPC Codex. Our goal was to help GMs who need NPCs on the fly, providing them with a character for every Core Rulebook class at all 20 levels. Add in prestige classes, NPC classes, and our iconic characters at multiple levels, and the result is a ton of very useful characters. This is a book that's going to get a lot of use at my table!
As this year was both the 10th anniversary of Paizo and the 5th anniversary of Pathfinder, we had to do something cool to commemorate it! Our first Pathfinder products ever—and still among our most popular—were the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path volumes, which were originally written for the 3.5 rules system. The original books from that 6-volume arc are either sold out or almost sold out, so reprinting the AP as a single collection—something we do not and will not regularly do—was a viable option. James Jacobs combed through pages upon pages of posts in the Rise of the Runelords forums on paizo.com, reaping the benefit of five years worth of our customers' actual play experiences, and he spent months updating and fine-tuning the book. Then he turned it over to me, and I spent two weeks doing a development pass of my own. Sarah Robinson and her art team made it look super sweet, and Wayne Reynolds provided an awesome new cover. The large hardcover has sold very well and received lots of critical acclaim. We celebrated the release at PaizoCon with all six of the Runelords authors present as guests of honor!
Of course, we couldn't just stop there! We've always wanted to do a superdeluxe game product and the Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition gave us the excuse to pull out all the stops and really make something special. If you haven't seen the video of Erik Mona unveiling the Deluxe Collector's Edition, you really need to check it out! Words do not adequately convey how cool this product ended up! (We had to make it a paizo.com exclusive because if it went through the usual distributor and retailer markups, the price would approach $1000!)
For our regular Adventure Paths in 2012, we did two very different things. James Jacobs keeps a long list of potential themes for upcoming Adventure Paths, and we delve into its depths a couple times per year as we discuss what to do next. This time, I really wanted to return to more of a sandbox AP, since Kingmaker had been so popular. After looking through the ideas in James' list, we figured that pirates looting ships, establishing a secret base, finding lost treasure and thwarting an invasion would be the perfect backdrop for a sandbox game, and thus was Skull & Shackles born.
The second AP was all James' idea. He'd been wanting to return to Varisia for a while, and the details of what would become Shattered Star had been percolating in his brain. With the release of the Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition, the time was right to write our first "sequel" adventure path. Shattered Star was written as if the events of the previous Varisia APs (Rise of the Runelords, Curse of the Crimson Throne, and Second Darkness) had already happened. Of course, you don't need to have played through those to play Shattered Star, but if you did, you'll find little easter eggs throughout the text.
The Pathfinder Companion line had a revamp this past year. When we launched the line a couple of years ago, we wanted to provide players with a regular supplement that would not only give them some insight into the world of Golarion, but also give them some crunchy rules stuff that they could use with their characters. Wes Schneider and James Sutter had taken ownership of the line, and they had some ideas on how to make it better for players. They began by going to our messageboards and asking what kinds of things you'd like to see in the Player Companion line—what you liked and what you didn't like—then they rolled it into a new format and pitched it to the admin team here at Paizo. The result arrived this year starting with Varisia: Birthplace of Legends. It seems to have been received as a change for the better, garnering many very positive comments on the new look!
For years, we've been contemplating Pathfinder card games and board games, and 2012 saw the beginning of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. In April, we were approached by an old friend of the company, Mike Selinker, with the genesis of the idea that would become the Pathfinder ACG. He had a mechanic that he had been working on with another company which he thought could bring the feel of Pathfinder to a card game format. You'd have a character, form an adventuring party, visit adventure sites, defeat monsters and villains, and find treasure. As you explore, you'd make changes to the deck of cards representing your character, and those adjustments would carry over to the next time you played the game, essentially "leveling up" your character.
Fans at PaizoCon get the first look at "Project Swallowtail", aka the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game!
We decided that we'd base the challenges in the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game around our Adventure Paths, starting with Rise of the Runelords. (We code-named the game "Project Swallowtail" after the goblin fight in the beginning of Rise of the Runelords.) The first release will be a big box of cards representing monsters, items, spells, weapons, and more, including adventure scenarios to play through "Burnt Offerings", the first chapter of Rise of the Runelords; we plan to release subsequent decks for the other five volumes of the AP in a series of bimonthly releases, allowing us to produce a full Adventure Path in card form every year! The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is currently in playtesting, where more than 300 players are helping us make the game the best it can be. In the next few months, the game will be finished, and we hope to release it at Gen Con 2013.
I've personally been spending a lot of time working with Paizo's new sister company, Goblinworks, and the Pathfinder Online MMO. At the beginning of the year, it was pretty much just Ryan Dancey, myself, and a plan. As the year progressed, we've assembled an amazing team and started building Pathfinder Online. Instead of putting together another World of Warcraft "MMO theme park" clone, we're taking inspiration from the Kingmaker Adventure Path and are creating a sandbox in the River Kingdoms that will allow players to seek out fame and fortune, and maybe even one day, own part of the world! This scope allows us to make an MMO with a team and a budget that are much smaller than those used to make most MMOs. Pathfinder Online is a different animal—it's going to be driven by the players in a process we call crowdforging, which is modeled to some extent on the community-driven process we use to make new products at Paizo. The end result is going to be an MMO that I am confident will not only break new ground, but will provide players with a Pathfinder experience that will be one-of-a-kind!
Building Pathfinder Online won't take the tens of millions of dollars that most theme park MMOs require, but it is still a pricey venture. We launched a Kickstarter in May that helped us to build a technology demo—a proof of concept that tests internal systems and demonstrates to potential investors that you can do what you say you can do. Our Kickstarter was a huge success, raising over $300,000 in 30 days and allowing us to start hiring staff to make the game. In the course of three months, a staff of fewer than 10 people put together an entire dungeon level, built a section of wilderness, created a tower and catapults, and three of our iconic characters, Valeros, Seoni, and Merisiel. Oh, and goblins. Lots and lots of goblins. With the Technology Demo complete, we were able to ensure enough funding to make Pathfinder Online possible.
A by-product of this Kickstarter was a product called Thornkeep. It started off as a simple project, with veteran designer Rich Baker creating the town of Thornkeep, a chaotic hive of scum and villainy which is going to be one of the starter towns in Pathfinder Online. He also created a small dungeon beneath Thornkeep and populated the wilderness surrounding the town. The book would also include a behind-the-scenes look at the building of our Tech Demo. As the Kickstarter progressed, we added stretch goals that resulted in new dungeon levels beneath Rich's original one. By the end of the Kickstarter, Jason Bulmahn, James Jacobs, Erik Mona and Ed Greenwood were each supplying their own dungeon level for the book, which had swelled to a full 96 pages! We also created Flip-Mats for the latter four dungeon levels.
The funding that we received after completing the Tech Demo will ensure that Pathfinder Online is going to happen, but to create the game as big and as fast as we all really want to, we need to hire about three times as many employees as our current funding allows. Rather than seek out a venture capitalist that cares more about profit margins and having a short-term exit strategy than about creating an awesome game that people will play for years, we decided to enlist the support of our community, so that we can keep making the decisions that the community wants us to make. So we recently kicked off another Kickstarter effort, this time seeking the funding we need to make the game bigger, better, and faster! As I type this, the Kickstarter is reaching the halfway point in both time and money, which means that we're likely to get the capital we need!
In conjunction with this Kickstarter, we announced another Pathfinder RPG product similar to Thornkeep; this one is called the Emerald Spire Superdungeon, and it's going to be Paizo's biggest dungeon ever. We've enlisted top Paizo staff members as well as many of our famous designer friends to help out. As of right now, we have dungeon levels coming from Rich Baker, Wolfgang Baur, Wes Schneider, James Sutter, Keith Baker, Ed Greenwood, Erik Mona, Mark Rein•Hagen, Jason Bulmahn, Frank Mentzer, James Jacobs and myself! And if we surpass our funding goal—which is very possible, as Kickstarters usually have a big surge in the last few days—more and more dungeon levels from other amazing designers will be added. This baby could get crazy.
Of course, the Kickstarter rewards include some cool things for the Pathfinder Online game itself, including giving away a new in-game item every day. At the higher reward levels, you can own a tavern in the game, name a spell or magic item after your character, or even have your character drawn by Wayne Reynolds and turned into a prepainted plastic Pathfinder Battles miniature for a future set! And there are more and more things coming down the turnpike. By the time this Kickstarter is done, we'll be offering one of the sweetest deals in gaming history! And most importantly, it will help us to make sure Pathfinder Online is done right, with input from the most important people: you!
2012 has also been a banner year for Paizo's licensing efforts. Our friends at Reaper continued to release two or more new unpainted metal miniatures each month; we now have a very impressive array of over 160 different miniatures to choose from. And Reaper's extremely successful Kickstarter for their Bones line of unpainted plastic miniatures managed to add several miniatures from the Pathfinder line into the Bones line, which means that in 2013, there are going to be some very affordable Pathfinder minis coming in the Bones line!
In last month's retrospective, I talked about how our partnership with WizKids, to make Pathfinder Battles prepainted plastic miniatures, came about. Well, 2012 saw the release of the first two full sets of miniatures in the line. One thing that most people don't know is that WizKids was planning to enter the fantasy prepainted plastic miniatures market on their own when talks with us started. They had a number of miniatures in various stages of completion that we adopted—and in many cases, greatly modified—and that helped us get Heroes & Monsters out as quickly as we did. For the second set, based on Rise of the Runelords, we were able to work with WizKids from start to finish, creating one of the most breathtaking sets of prepainted plastic miniatures ever! Our third set of minis, based on the Shattered Star, is set to release in January, and there's a lot more on the way for 2013.
Our friends at Lone Wolf have been doing a great job making Hero Lab the go-to program for creating Pathfinder characters. They make a great effort to get new rules elements into the program at superhuman speeds. We've seen more and more of our customers using Hero Lab to make character creation a breeze, and their release of a Mac version this year was very welcome. We also saw two new Pathfinder dice sets from Q-workshop with the release of the Carrion Crown and Serpent's Skull sets. Our friends at Diamond Select Toys created the much-requested Pathfinder Goblin plush, which has been selling off the hooks since its introduction at Gen Con this year! Also at Gen Con, we announced a deal with Steve Jackson Games to create a Pathfinder version of Munchkin for release in 2013. Drawn by John Kovalic and designed by Steve Jackson himself, this promises to be a hilarious look at the Pathfinder game!
On the language translation front, we already have strong licensees for French (Black Book Editions), German (Ulisses Spiele) and Italian (Giochi Uniti). We also have a few other languages in the works, including Spanish and Portuguese, that will likely be announced in 2013. These translation partners around the world, coupled with the ceaseless work done by our international Pathfinder Society Venture Captains and Lieutenants, have helped Pathfinder find a strong international audience. Pathfinder is now a global brand, and we are looking forward to continuing our expansion!
The last big licensing news of 2012 was line of Pathfinder comics from Dynamite Comics. We'd always wanted to do comic books, but we needed a great partner. When Dynamite approached Erik with an offer to chronicle the adventures of our iconic heroes, it didn't take too long to say yes! The first issue was released at Gen Con with a convention-exclusive cover. Author Jim Zub really captures the essence of our iconics and is helping us to fill in their backstories. James Jacobs is writing small Golarion-specific background articles in each issue, giving these comics a shelf life beyond your first read-through. We're halfway through the first six-issue story arc, and they're already working on the story that will begin in issue 7. I can't wait to see where Jim and the team at Dynamite take these comics next!
At the ENnie Awards, Paizo won 7 golds and 1 silver. The awards received were:
- Best Aid/Accessory: Silver Medal to GameMastery Chase Cards
- Best Art, Cover: Gold Medal to Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box
- Best Cartography: Gold Medal to Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Jade Regent Poster Map Folio
- Best Free Product: Gold Medal to Pathfinder Module: We Be Goblins
- Best Production Values: Gold Medal to Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box
- Best Miniatures Product: Gold Medal to Pathfinder Battles: Heroes and Monsters
- Product of the Year: Gold Medal to Pathfinder Roleplaying: Game Beginner Box
- Best Publisher: Gold Medal
At the end of the 2011 blog, I mentioned the impending announcement of 5th edition that had us wondering what Wizards had up their sleeve, and what it would mean for Paizo and Pathfinder. Wizards made their announcement in January, and released the first playtest materials in May. At Gen Con, Wizards announced that 2014 was a likely release date for their new edition.
So what does this mean for Paizo? We've decided to stay the course. Pathfinder is doing amazingly well, with our products selling better and better each year, and our licensing partners are helping us make it the top RPG worldwide. We have a lot more that we want to explore with Pathfinder and we know that we have devoted fans and customers like you that want to go exploring with us. Paizo is good at making tabletop RPG products and we aren't deviating from that. We wish Wizards well with their edition launch; we will be creating cool Pathfinder adventures, expanding our Pathfinder campaign setting, and exploring new Pathfinder RPG rules while they do that. We will keep making Pathfinder until you tell us to stop.
We have already announced two rulebooks for 2013 that have me excited. The first, Ultimate Campaign, is one that I have been pushing for for years. It's the book that gives you rules for everything you do OUTSIDE of the adventuring in your campaign. It will have a robust character background generation system, "downtime" rules that help you keep track of what your characters are doing between adventures, an expansion of the kingdom-building system from Kingmaker, and much, much more! This is a rulebook that I've wanted since I first started gaming in 1981, and I'm thrilled that I'm finally going to get it!
The other book that has me jazzed is Mythic Adventures. One of the earliest RPG products I had a hand in was The Primal Order, the very first book from Wizards of the Coast, which presented a model for divine influence in fantasy settings. Now Paizo's own Jason Bulmahn has crafted his own system for divinity-touched characters that I think is really elegant. You can have your high-level characters work their way towards godhood, or you can introduce the rules earlier in a campaign to simulate a mythic hero like Hercules. We've been playtesting this product for about a month now, and the feedback has been great! Wayne Reynolds' cover for the book just showed up in house, and it is epic—or rather, mythic!
We're also planning a big change in our Pathfinder Module line for 2013. Pathfinder Modules—then under the name GameMastery Modules—were among Paizo's first RPG products to come out after the announcement of the cancellation of the magazines. Crown of the Kobold King kicked them off and since then, 62 modules have been published. At 32 pages, these adventures were great for short campaigns, or to insert into adventure paths. But in recent years, they seemed to get lost in the shuffle, so we've decided to make these adventures into individual events, starting by making them larger and packaging them with a poster map. The first, The Dragon's Demand, is a 64-page module by Mike Shel, due out in May. Expect us to push the boundaries a bit with these modules and make each one of them something that everyone is looking forward to!
One more change that you will see in 2013 is the retirement of the GameMastery brand. GameMastery predates every other Paizo RPG product, appearing on our first non-D&D product, Dark Elf Sanctum. Since those early Compleat Encounters, the GameMastery brand has adorned Flip-Mats, Map Packs, Item Cards, the Combat Pad, and a host of other gaming accessories. But we've decided that we should really brand them with the #1 RPG brand in the world, Pathfinder, since most of our customers are going to use them with our game. The name Pathfinder has much more cachet with retailers, so this should help us get our accessories into more stores. In preparation for this change, we decided to buy all of the rights to the Combat Pad and the Flip-Mat brand, which were previously produced under license from our friends at Open Mind Games and Steel Sqwire respectively. New Pathfinder-branded versions of these products will be hitting stores in 2013.
There's another major effort that has seen a lot of work in 2012, but that most people won't see until 2013: Paizo Game Space. For years, I've wanted to provide you with a means to play games with each other through paizo.com. There are a number of great virtual tabletops (VTTs) out there, but most of them require you to run a program on your computer. We wanted you to be able to play through your browser, anywhere and anytime. Earlier this year, Gary Teter finally had the time to focus on Game Space, and we announced it at PaizoCon. Since then, his team has been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get it ready for launch. We had hoped to release it in the later part of 2012, but it wasn't ready, and I don't like to release products before they are ready, even if that makes them late. Gary and his team are currently doing small-scale testing with outside participants, and all indicators are that this will open up to everyone early in 2013. We have big plans for Game Space, but like most things in the future, it will take time for those plans to be revealed. We are going to launch with a simple VTT and iteratively work on it in conjunction with you, our fans, to give you more options and a better and better experience over time. Just as the paizo.com website has evolved over time, Game Space will do the same. I can't wait to fire up my first game on it, or use it with a big monitor in my home game.
Sara Marie and Mikey Teter, with his official Paizo golem onesie!
The newest Paizo family member, Morgan Nicole Kenway!
I have mentioned in the past that Paizo is a lot like an extended family. We had our first intracompany marriage a few years back when Gary Teter married Sara Marie Rip. Earlier this year, they had what I like to think of as the first Paizo baby. Former employees Lisa Chido, Stacey Fiorito, Theresa Cummins, Josh Frost, and James Davis all had babies while they were employed at Paizo, but Mikey Teter is the first child of two Paizo parents. We all take great pride in Mikey. We also had our second intracompany marriage this year; longtime partners Crystal Frasier and Lissa Guillet were among the first in the state to be married after Washington voted to allow same-sex couples to wed. And Paizo's extended family grew by one just a few days ago when warehouse worker Mike Kenway and his wife brought Morgan Nicole Kenway into the world. We look forward to meeting her!
One other very cool thing happened at the end of 2012 that for me encompasses the adventure we have been on here at Paizo. In 2004, I had to lay off a number of employees to save a struggling Paizo, and one of the casualties was Jenny Bendel, our Director of Marketing. Jenny wasn't let go because of performance; she was amazing, but Paizo didn't have any money to spend on marketing. And if we didn't have money for marketing, we didn't have money for a Director of Marketing. So I had to lay Jenny off in a tearful meeting. She went on to do amazing things for computer game companies. We reconnected last year on Facebook, and when I saw that she was looking for a job earlier this year, I saw a way to correct an ancient wrong. I am really happy to say that Jenny rejoined Paizo a few months ago, and is already making a huge difference in our company. It gives me great pride that a friend whom I had to lay off can work with me again in a company that is growing and thriving. In many ways, the story of Jenny Bendel is the story of the old Paizo and the new Paizo. And that is very, very cool.
So where will Paizo go as we look into the next 10 years of our existence? We have a lot of cool things to do with Pathfinder, and I'm excited to see them come to fruition. There will be more licenses with companies that will allow us to expand the Pathfinder brand into different media—some are already in the works! I expect Pathfinder Society to grow even larger and better, becoming one of the main ways that Pathfinder fans can find and play with each other. Initiatives like Paizo Game Space will launch and continually improve, providing players with a new way to connect with their fellow gamers and play the game they love. And I expect that there will be more weddings and more babies. There will be triumphs and defeats. There will be life. And we will be living it together, with a sense of adventure and determination. I hope you will be there to live it with us. Here's to another ten years! I look forward to telling you the tales in 2022 as I write the blogs for Paizo's 20th anniversary. Thank you for indulging me in this trip down memory lane, and most of all, thanks for supporting Paizo and allowing us to do what we do!
Employees who started in 2012 (in order of hiring date):
Adam Daigle, Developer
Kevin Underwood, Warehouse Personnel
Matt Renton, Warehouse Personnel
Adam Lovell, Sales Representative
Jessica Price, Project Manager
Logan Bonner, Developer
Sonja Morris, Graphic Designer
Jenny Bendel, Marketing Director
Employees who left in 2012 (in order of their end date):
From Freelancer to Family
I first found my way to Paizo, like many of you, through Dragon and Dungeon magazines. I was just buying them off the rack, and after a while I figured it was time to get a subscription, so I headed over to the website and set that up. Shortly after I renewed for the next year, I heard the dreaded news that the magazines were going away. It was a particularly painful thing to read considering that very day I was ready to send in my very first pitch for an article.
Well, there went that idea—time to look elsewhere to pitch and keep trying to break into the freelance gig. I knew that being an unknown in this competitive world of freelance game writing there wasn't a place for me in Paizo's new endeavors, but maybe if I reached out to other game companies and built up a list of credits, hopefully good credits, I could get my chance. I transferred my leftover subscription credit to check out Pathfinder, knowing it would be great stuff. If I liked what that group was doing with Dungeons & Dragons, just imagine what cool things would come from having the freedom to do whatever they wanted!
I knew some of the freelancers that Paizo used for Dragon and Dungeon, made friends with them online, and ended up getting invited into the WereCabbages, a guild of freelance writers and game designers. From connections within the group—which I learned a ton from—I got my first paid gig. After that, I kept working, never going more than a week or two without an assignment. It wasn't too long after that that Liz Courts reached out to a few of us with a task Wes asked her if we could help with. The task was to reformat all the spells and magic items from the SRD to the new format that was going to be used for Pathfinder Beta. I jumped at the chance, did my part of the work, and turned my section in well before deadline. Wes's response was, "You're a rockstar! What can I get you working on now?" I was elated. I let him know that I liked monsters and worldbuilding, and from that point on I was almost constantly writing for Paizo and for Pathfinder.
A little later down the line, I saw that Paizo was hiring, so I sent my resume. I didn't get the job then—the opening was filled by the ever-awesome Rob McCreary—but I was touched that Wes called me at home to let me know that they were going with Rob. That meant a lot. Despite being bummed that I didn't get the gig, it reaffirmed the awesomeness of the company, and of Wes. So, I kept writing, kept going to conventions and hanging out with the crew, and kept my eye on one day sitting here writing a blog about how I got started working for Paizo. (Whoa, that got a little meta.)
There was one other time that Wes called me to see if I was interested in a job, but the timing wasn't right to uproot myself from Texas and move halfway across the country. I hated to say no, but it was the right decision at the time. However, as time went on, I realized I should have taken the job. My day job, while it paid well, didn't really have much of a chance of giving me what I needed other than a big paycheck. I'd go to work, set up networks, cable offices, then come home and write all night before sleeping for a few hours and doing it all over again. So, when a little less than a year ago, Wes called me asking if now was a good time, I had no other response than, "Yeah. Now is a good time." I spent a few weeks tying up loose ends and packing my life into a truck before driving across the country to my new apartment (that I had never seen).
It was great getting here and having Wes, Sutter, Patrick, and Mark slip out of work to help me and my wife unload the moving truck. That showed great character for the company and the people I had regarded as friends even before working here.
The best thing about being part of the staff (instead of just a contributing freelancer) is that I already felt like part of the family. When I got here, other people kept asking me things assuming I had been here for much longer than I actually had. I was getting questions like, "This isn't your first PaizoCon with us, is it?" or "Were you at the last company party?" So it was good to know that the fact that I was finally here felt as normal to the rest of the crew as it did for me.
From Playing to Making Pathfinder
RPGs are something I should have gotten into early: throw collective storytelling, world-building, social gaming, miniatures and systems for doing all this into a beaker together and stir, and you've tailor-made a drug guaranteed to hook me immediately.
But for some reason, I didn't try it for most of my life. It wasn't until I moved out to Seattle and was working in the game industry that my boyfriend floated the idea of his returning to the Pathfinder campaign that our friends Lisa and Vic hosted, and he mentioned that they'd invited me, too. Flattered that this group of industry veterans was willing to let a newbie join them, I said yes.
My first act in the game was to offer to pay off a bunch of thugs who attacked us in an alley so we wouldn't have to fight them. A few of my fellow players were horrified ("Do you understand how much gold that is?" one of them asked incredulously. "You just paid for their retirement, a new wardrobe for each of their wives, their children's college educations"). Four years later, I like to think I've gotten a bit more savvy, but I'm still learning from them.
Meanwhile, however, I fell in love with Golarion. I also came to admire Paizo, a company, I felt, that was doing it right: forming a mutually beneficial and respectful relationship with their player base, building a well-thought-out game world, treating their employees well, portraying a diverse and balanced slate of characters, and having fun doing it.
There came a point when I was ready to leave Microsoft and Paizo needed a project manager, so I came on board. During my first few days here, as I geeked out over favorite books and movies with my new coworkers, I felt like I'd come home. I'm now GMing my own Pathfinder game, and playing in a campaign with another first-time GM, and am grateful on a near-daily basis that my coworkers are kind enough to answer my questions and help me pretend I know what I'm doing. The most uneventful day here is still better than the best days at most of my other jobs. It's amazing how the most Sisyphean task seems possible when you're surrounded by brilliantly talented and genuinely good people. I'm thrilled to be in a position to contribute to my favorite RPG, and can't wait to see what we do with the next ten years.