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Sutter's Last Blog

Friday, September 8, 2017

See that photograph? That's the oldest picture I have of me in the Paizo offices, taken by former Paizo Art Director Sean Glenn back in early 2006. At that point, I had already been at Paizo for a year and a half, working my way up from website image wrangler and editorial intern to Paizo's sole customer service person, then at last into a coveted Assistant Editorship on Dungeon. Much like Jon Snow, I knew nothing. While I'd spent my college years practicing to be a journalist, and had a whole adolescence of RPG gaming under my belt, I was a rank amateur when it came to professional game design—living proof of the "fake it till you make it" strategy. (I actually bought my first 3.5 rulebooks with the money from "Shut In," the first Dungeon adventure I co-wrote with Wes Schneider.)

It was a crazy time. All of us in the Editorial Pit were pretty much broke—until Paizo brought me on full-time, I'd been teaching SAT prep classes at night and living off some modest Wheel of Fortune winnings—but it didn't matter, because I was spending every day learning about games and world-building from my coworkers. Folks like James Jacobs, Erik Mona, Wes Schneider, and Jason Bulmahn, who remain in my eyes some of the world's foremost experts on what makes fantasy cool. We would argue furiously. We would go out drinking (once I finally turned 21, that is). We would occasionally all ditch work—with Lisa's approval—and go to the movies in the middle of the day. Wes would orchestrate elaborate pranks. Jacobs and I taped off our combined cubicle and declared it the Independent Republic of Jameslandia, within which he would draw me sticky-note cartoons or perform impromptu puppet shows with his collection of Godzilla plushies.

It was, in short, freakin' magical.

Smash cut to September of 2017, and I've been at Paizo for 13 years, almost to the day. A lot's changed. The company is huge. Pathfinder's a household name in RPG circles. I've run a novel line, managed critical teams through high times and crises, written probably millions of words about Golarion, and now find myself Creative Director of Starfinder—a game which, after more than a year of grueling (but exciting!) work, has just had one of the biggest launches of anything Paizo's ever done. Watching the frenzy at Gen Con this year, walking down the line signing autographs and chatting with folks who'd been waiting for two hours or more to buy the Starfinder Core Rulebook, was one of the most satisfying moments of my career.

Which is why it's time for me to leave. As of September 12th, I'll be stepping down as Starfinder's Creative Director and resigning from Paizo to write full-time.

Sound crazy? Let me explain:

As a kid, I was heartbroken when Bill Watterson ended Calvin & Hobbes. I couldn't understand how somebody could do such great work—work that touched so many people—and then just stop. In the last few years, however, I think I've finally begun to understand. By walking away when he did, Watterson ensured that Calvin & Hobbes would never slowly slide into mediocrity. He'd never burn out and start to resent it. He gave us the best of what he had to give in that arena, and then he moved on. So even as I miss those characters, I salute his artistic integrity. And it's in that same spirit that I'm now leaving Paizo.

I'm extremely proud of everything I've helped to create here at Paizo, but of course Starfinder is my most recent baby. While the world is just now getting its first taste of the game, the production times involved mean that we on the Starfinder team have been living it for a year and a half, and I've actually already overseen the whole first year of releases. But as much as there's still plenty more I'd love to explore with Starfinder, I can't escape the fact that I've been making RPGs at Paizo for my entire adult life, and it's time now to devote more than a few scattered hours each week to my other artistic loves—particularly fiction and comics.

Does that mean I'm done writing for Pathfinder and Starfinder? Heck no! If anything, I hope that no longer working for Paizo full-time means I'll have more time to write for both games as a freelancer. And while it's hard to give up Starfinder's captain's chair, I'm positive that Rob, Sarah, Owen, Jason, and the rest of the team are going to continue to take the game in amazing new directions. As both a fan and a freelancer, I can't wait to see where they go.

After 13 years, there are far too many people to thank, so I hope everyone will forgive me if I keep this short and just shout out a few of my fellow old-timers. To Lisa, who scraped together a job for an ambitious kid. To Erik, the editor-in-chief who slapped a copy of his own adventure "The Whispering Cairn" down on the new editorial intern's desk and challenged him to find things wrong with it. To Jacobs, for educational movie nights and teaching me what makes adventures fun. To Sarah, who taught me how to work well with artists, and Bulmahn, who taught me that you should never bring algebra to a drinking contest. To my longtime partner in creative crime, Wes Schneider, for always having my back and consistently forcing me to up my game. To Chris Carey for being my fiction buddy, and Judy Bauer for kindly but firmly teaching me to be a better, more mindful person. And to everyone else—thank you. There's no one here that I haven't learned from or laughed with at some point.

Last of all, I want to say one giant thank you to everyone reading this. I've always found the Paizo community unbelievably supportive, and for the last 13 years you've been the reason I'm able to live the dream. Whether you're one of the superfans who sent us pizzas during those first big Pathfinder crunches or a new friend trying out Starfinder for the first time—thanks.

All right, no more stalling. It's time for me to cue up the Annie Lennox track from the end of Return of the King and sail off into the west. I hope some of you will continue to drop in and say hi on my Twitter at @jameslsutter and my Facebook author page, or keep up with my latest work on jameslsutter.com.

It's been an amazing adventure. Now on to the next!

James L. Sutter
Creative Director Emeritus

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Paizo
51 to 100 of 124 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
Paizo Employee Developer

18 people marked this as a favorite.
James Sutter wrote:
Wow, thanks everyone! You're gonna have me crying in my office over here, even as the rest of the jackals in this building start fighting over my office supplies... *looks over at Jason Keeley sneaking away with a stapler*

Hey! You GAVE me that stapler! And then warned me it was haunted. So who's the real victim here?


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I wish you all the best. Thank you to you and your team for creating Starfinder. It is great game!

Dave2


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
James Sutter wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
plassteel wrote:
I hope you come around Paizocon every once a while.
Hmm. Now I'm suspecting that the whole reason he's leaving is so that he can be invited to a future PaizoCon as a Guest of Honor.
I think you should invite both me and Wes as Guests of Honor at the same Paizocon and make us split a room, so it's just like old times.

While the rest of us keep forgetting which is which.

Creative Director, Starfinder

12 people marked this as a favorite.
RyanH wrote:

Very exciting for James! I've enjoyed your Pathfinder Tales, and of course all your Pathfinder/Starfinder RPG work, so I'm sure I'll be following whatever's next.

One concern with people leaving Paizo though... at some point the new employees will be sitting around and realize with horror... no one knows what happened to Aroden or where the heck they left Golarion!

Rob literally just came by and made me go over the Starfinder secrets with him one more time so we're all on the same page. :D

Sovereign Court Wayfinder, PaizoCon Founder

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Such a long time since our Xen'drik days, James. Good luck in all you do, and mind your carrots (as in, don't OD on them again!) ;-)

Grand Lodge

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

It was lovely meeting you, James. I hope to see you and Wes as the PaizoCon guests of honor next year! I can't wait to see all the lovely thngs you create as you travel the wide, wild galaxy!

♫ Come and dance amongst the stars
Come spin among the constellations
That you put in the sky
Do you see them flying by?

Oh James this is your turn
This is where you open your wings
We know you've traveled far
We know that wherever you go you'll raise the bar

Come and dance amongst the stars
You've seen applause and ovations
But leave long before the curtain falls
Time to answer your heart's call

Oh James this is your turn
Out beyond Liavara's rings
Time to find your own rocket ride
Time to discover what wonders lay inside

Oh James this is your turn
You are meant for great new things
Come and dance among the stars
Take your chance, find out all you really are ♫

Happy travels, James from the "other gnome."
Hmm

Creative Director, Starfinder

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Steve Geddes wrote:
James Sutter wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
plassteel wrote:
I hope you come around Paizocon every once a while.
Hmm. Now I'm suspecting that the whole reason he's leaving is so that he can be invited to a future PaizoCon as a Guest of Honor.
I think you should invite both me and Wes as Guests of Honor at the same Paizocon and make us split a room, so it's just like old times.
While the rest of us keep forgetting which is which.

Some things never change...

Contributor

Rock on, man. See you at the con.

Liberty's Edge

9 people marked this as a favorite.

You couldn't have ended on a higher note unless you stood on the counter at GenCon and yelled "I'm out!" and walked away when the last Starfinder sold.
Congratulations on living the dream while keeping other dreams in mind. Good luck!

Liberty's Edge

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

It is a sadness to see so many great people leave the team.

I have not yet read your tales, mister Sutter, but I heard so much about them

I deeply thank you for all you brought us and wish you only the very best in your future adventures :-)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Heh. I can see it. As the last book at Gencon sold out, Sutter announces, "Excellent, thank you guys! And that's all!" He walks out to high-fives all around.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
rknop wrote:
Heh. I can see it. As the last book at Gencon sold out, Sutter announces, "Excellent, thank you guys! And that's all!" He walks out to high-fives all around.

You forgot the mic drop.

Dark Archive

Good luck out there in the wide blue world Mr.Sutter!

Also damn everyone is leaving Paizo! What is going on?!


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

13 years. Wow! That is a serious run, and more than most people can say in this day and age.

You have provided great joy to me the whole time, and I am grateful. I wish you the best of luck on the new chapter, and look forward to what it holds for us all.

Liberty's Edge

Thanks for all the incredible work! :)


Wow, thanks for the incredible tales. If I can find a way to purchase you independant products in the future I certainly will.


Best of luck, James.

I greatly enjoy your work, but what really impresses me is how generous you are in your interaction with fans. I was lucky enough to first meet you in 2008, and you've consistently been an incredibly positive person every time I've encountered you since. I'm glad now that I got to talk to you again at Gen Con, and convey how happy I am that Starfinder has been received so well.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

......Oh, and I'm taking my ball with me. LATERZ!

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4

Best wishes to you! I can't wait to see what comes next :-)

Creative Director, Starfinder

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Ryan. Costello wrote:
You couldn't have ended on a higher note unless you stood on the counter at GenCon and yelled "I'm out!" and walked away when the last Starfinder sold.

I'm gonna be honest: I definitely imagined doing this. :)

Creative Director, Starfinder

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Timitius wrote:
Such a long time since our Xen'drik days, James. Good luck in all you do, and mind your carrots (as in, don't OD on them again!) ;-)

Tim is, of course, referring to the time I drank so much carrot juice on a daily basis that I turned yellow and stayed that way for months.

But that's a story for another time...

Creative Director, Starfinder

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Hmm wrote:

It was lovely meeting you, James. I hope to see you and Wes as the PaizoCon guests of honor next year! I can't wait to see all the lovely thngs you create as you travel the wide, wild galaxy!

♫ Come and dance amongst the stars
Come spin among the constellations
That you put in the sky
Do you see them flying by?

Oh James this is your turn
This is where you open your wings
We know you've traveled far
We know that wherever you go you'll raise the bar

Come and dance amongst the stars
You've seen applause and ovations
But leave long before the curtain falls
Time to answer your heart's call

Oh James this is your turn
Out beyond Liavara's rings
Time to find your own rocket ride
Time to discover what wonders lay inside

Oh James this is your turn
You are meant for great new things
Come and dance among the stars
Take your chance, find out all you really are ♫

Happy travels, James from the "other gnome."
Hmm

Wow! Thank you! :D

Creative Director, Starfinder

6 people marked this as a favorite.
The Other Shackleton wrote:

Best of luck, James.

I greatly enjoy your work, but what really impresses me is how generous you are in your interaction with fans. I was lucky enough to first meet you in 2008, and you've consistently been an incredibly positive person every time I've encountered you since. I'm glad now that I got to talk to you again at Gen Con, and convey how happy I am that Starfinder has been received so well.

Hey, thank you—that really hits home. I've always felt like the best thing about this job is interacting with fans, and the way it gives you the superpower to make people happy just by hanging out. :)


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

Five minutes before I spotted this post, I finished running my Rise of the Runelords group through a somewhat abridged version of the Seven Swords of Sin, "by James Lafond Sutter and the Paizo Staff." So thank you for that insane deathtrap wonderful mashup of traps, magic, and early Golarian lore, and all of your other work in building such a rich campaign world.

Thank you also for the Salim novels - my 13yo son and I both greatly enjoy his adventures and hope you will find time to write more of them.

Best of luck!

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

The King of Kaer Maga is leaving!
Thank you for wonderful words and wonderful worlds.
M


Putting on arguably my goofiest alias for this...

VICTORY! With the accursed Sutter banished to the Freelance Galaxy, the Imperial Goblin Space Navy can start making proper inroads into the conquest of the Pact Worlds!

Now, we need at least one ship...

(Thanks for giving me an excuse to make an idiot goblin space captain alias. Without you, there'd be no Imperial Goblin Space Navy, and that just wouldn't do. Thanks for everything you've done- and everything you're going to keep doing!)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Best of luck to you, Mr. Sutter. I can't say I'm not tremendously disappointed to see you go, especially so soon in the infancy of Starfinder, as your otherworldly writings have been one of my most treasured parts of PF/SF. It takes a lot of courage to leave the nest of something known and comfortable to follow other dreams, though, and you have my admiration for that. Take care and I wish you much success!


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Good luck, James, and thank you for all your awesome work!

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

James,

Thank you for all you have done with both the Pathfinder and Starfinder lines. Best wishes on what lies ahead!!

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

It occurs to me that I haven't stayed at one job for 13 years ever... and I believe I've got 10 years or so on James. The closest I came was Sep 2001-June 2007, 6 years. Unless you count grad school, which was a smidge longer.

(Fingers crossed for the current job, three years and counting.)

Since you've spent basically your entire adult life (at least post-college) as a Paizo employee, it'll be an interesting life change.

The Exchange

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Good luck and I am looking forward to seeing more writing from you.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Another departure from Paizo, that saddens me and also makes me look forward to what the future may hold.

Good luck and hopefully we'll still be seeing much of your work in the gaming community.

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Best wishes, my friend. Stay sane and keep in touch!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber
Chris A Jackson wrote:
Best wishes, my friend. Stay insane and keep in touch!

FTFY. :-)

Good luck, Mister Sutter.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You're definitely leaving on a high note!

Best of luck in the adventures to come!

Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.

(With apologies to Roy Rogers and, I suppose, Van Halen.)

...

Leshies and gentlebeings, we proudly present, for a one-time engagement, the Kaer Maga Augur Troll Choir.

...

Bom-buh-DEE-uh, bom-buh-DEE-uh, bom-buh-DEE-uh, bom-buh-DEE-uh,
Happy (en)trails…to you,
Until…
We meet...
Again.
Happy (en)trails…to you!
Keep smi-lin’
Un...
Til then!

Whoooooooooooooooooooo…
Cares about the scars upon our tummies?
We know you’ll keep a-scribin’,
‘Bout space…
Muuuuu-uh-mies…

(two, three)

Happy (en)trails…to YOU!
Un-til,
We meeeet!
Agaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiinn!

Liberty's Edge

May your moccasins tread many snows and the rainbow rest upon your shoulder.


All the best to you in your future endeavors, James. I enjoyed running my group through your Kaer Maga Adventures last year and the setting quickly became one of our favorites. I'll certainly seek out whatever you write next.

Creative Director, Starfinder

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Tusk the Half-Orc wrote:

Five minutes before I spotted this post, I finished running my Rise of the Runelords group through a somewhat abridged version of the Seven Swords of Sin, "by James Lafond Sutter and the Paizo Staff." So thank you for that insane deathtrap wonderful mashup of traps, magic, and early Golarian lore, and all of your other work in building such a rich campaign world.

Thank you also for the Salim novels - my 13yo son and I both greatly enjoy his adventures and hope you will find time to write more of them.

Best of luck!

Wow! It's hard to believe how much started with that adventure, back when Kaer Maga was just a one-page setting I threw together to give the adventure some context. :) Amazing how things grow. Thank you so much, and I'm thrilled that you're enjoying Salim's journeys!


I envy you, sir; being able to leave a job you love for something else that you also love is rare, to say the least.

May the road be ever smooth beneath your feet, James!

Creative Director, Starfinder

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Christopher Rowe wrote:

(With apologies to Roy Rogers and, I suppose, Van Halen.)

...

Leshies and gentlebeings, we proudly present, for a one-time engagement, the Kaer Maga Augur Troll Choir.

...

Bom-buh-DEE-uh, bom-buh-DEE-uh, bom-buh-DEE-uh, bom-buh-DEE-uh,
Happy (en)trails…to you,
Until…
We meet...
Again.
Happy (en)trails…to you!
Keep smi-lin’
Un...
Til then!

Whoooooooooooooooooooo…
Cares about the scars upon our tummies?
We know you’ll keep a-scribin’,
‘Bout space…
Muuuuu-uh-mies…

(two, three)

Happy (en)trails…to YOU!
Un-til,
We meeeet!
Agaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiinn!

Christopher, did you seriously just write "Happy (en)trails"? You know I still have two days left to blacklist you for Pun Crimes, right?

(Seriously, though, thank you. :)

Creative Director, Starfinder

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Also, since there's no way I could possibly respond to all the amazing folks coming out of the woodwork to wish me well, here's another blanket thank-you to everyone in this thread. You know how to make a guy feel appreciated.

<3


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'd like to pay my respects as well, James. Your novel "Death's Heretic" was my first introduction to Golarian and the Pathfinder setting; your portrayal of Salim and the Rahadoumi really got my attention. The idea of a whole society purposefully rejecting gods in a world where miracles happen every day was a interesting idea for a high-fantasy setting. It also helped that Death's Heretic had an interesting mystery with some good plot twists.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I also like your Frogatar. It stands out compared to some of the other Paizo staffers who picked people to represent themselves online; although admittedly, I can't look at pictures of Abadar without thinking "Why is Vic Wertz in that illustration" so maybe that was the point. :)

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

See you at the cons and in the writing trenches. Thanks for all the editing over the years. Welcome to the freelancer's life and the open road!

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

:(


Huh. Sorry to see you go, but that makes sense.

Keep kicking ass, sir.

Contributor

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Congrats and good luck on your new plans, James! You're gonna be great. :)


2 people marked this as a favorite.

All the best James, here's hoping that more time results in a new Salim novel, or any new Pathfinder Tales novel. Or a Starfinder Tales line.....?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Wow, we have lost a lot of familiar faces this year, well good luck with this new path in life you are taking.

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