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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
1 to 50 of 124 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

...

...

Okay, going to try this again.

Damn.

Be safe and careful out there, and may wisdom find you in a generous way.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Good luck, James! I'm sure we'll be seeing some great stories from you! Maybe even another Pathfinder Tales novel?


3 people marked this as a favorite.

;_;

*offers hugs*

Sovereign Court

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

nooooo

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Damn, dude.

A jubilant sadness, indeed.

Best wishes, kick much backside, and thanks for all your hard work!

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank you for all your work at Paizo, and I look forward to seeing what you'll do out there next.

And thanks for all the fish :-P

Liberty's Edge

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

Between Starfinder and Pathfinder Tales, you've been visibly in charge of two of my favorite things. (Well, OK, Starfinder is new enough that I have to live with it and play it more to know for sure, but I like what I've seen so far.)

Best of luck with the whole fiction thing. I hope somebody manages to push the Pathfinder Tales line forward so that (among the other novels waiting) we might have a chance of seeing more Salim in the future....

Dark Archive

You will be missed, but the prospect of getting to see more of your writing is worth it. Good luck to you!

Dark Archive

8 people marked this as a favorite.

Now i'm worried!
A lot of great people left Paizo this year & James is just the latest.

Of course i wish you all the best for your future, i'll always like your Pathfinder Tales and hope to read much more from you!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My first reaction: NOOOOO!

My second reaction (hopefully sounding more mature): good luck with your future endeavours, and I hope to read more of your work! :)


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Thank you for all you have done. Good luck in your next endeavors!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't have words for what I want to say at the moment. (Well, not printable ones anyway).

Best of luck, sir. I can't tell you how much I'll miss your work with Paizo.


Congrats on 13 years.
Congrats on future works. I look forward to seeing (& reading) what comes next!


For the past decade, Paizo's products have been the foundation of countless hours of roleplaying fun, and while I've often dived into other games and settings, Pathfinder (setting AND game) has always been at the center of it all. The Astronomican of my gaming activities if you will.

You've been a massive part of what has made Pathfinder such a vital part of my life, and I thank you for that.

I look forward to following along on the sidelines as you embark on your next journey, and I'm immensely pleased that you're not leaving Pathfinder and Starfinder behind.

Thank you, sir.

Liberty's Edge

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

What the heck is going on. Everyone is leaving these days! I'm panicking!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

*offers more hugs*


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Thank you for everything you've done at Paizo, James. You are an amazing talent and the work you have done is amazing! You should be rightly proud.

Contributor

You've had an amazing run and I wish you luck in your future endeavors and hopefully future freelancing and other writing!

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Thanks for all the goodness you put in my favourite games.

I'll keep watching on twitter for whatever radness you come up with next.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I mean...I was all set to be disappointed, but if this means you'll be writing more then this is a great thing.

Good luck, and I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

Grand Lodge

Wow! Congratulations to you! In addition to enjoying the fine Paizo products you have developed, I've enjoyed your Gen Con seminar talks and chats in the vendor hall. Your work is really impressive and your passion for what you create is obvious.

As a person who has left jobs that I was good at, I understand a) what it's like to give them up and b) what it's like to have people look at me like I have two heads when I tell them I'm leaving. But, as difficult as the decision sometimes is, you know when it's the right one. You will rock. :)

Best wishes!

Grand Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Samy wrote:
What the heck is going on. Everyone is leaving these days! I'm panicking!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ga_M5Zdn4

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

But but but...

Who can I possibly trust to head Starfinder Tales???


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Jelloarm wrote:

But but but...

Who can I possibly trust to head Starfinder Tales???

Well, we at least know who we can trust to write one ^w^

Paizo Employee Software Test Engineer

5 people marked this as a favorite.

I'll miss comparing our hilariously identical fashion sense, and pretty much everything else about hanging out with you! On that note, man oh man am I excited to see what you're up to going forward.

Creative Director, Starfinder

25 people marked this as a favorite.

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*

Seriously, though, it means so much to me that folks have connected with this work I've poured all my creativity into for what's basically my entire adult life. But never fear, you will *absolutely* still see my name in Paizo books! A big part of leaving is having time to work on my own stuff, it's true, but it also means that I might not have to constantly make the choice between my own stuff and Pathfinder/Starfinder when it comes to managing my meager freelance time. (For instance, had I had more time to write, I probably would have tried to keep much of the Pact Worlds book for myself, covering it in vomit like a hyena and growling at anyone who came too close. Instead, I was *forced* to be a responsible manager and assign it to a bunch of talented writers, taking only a modest portion for myself. And you *know* how much I hate being responsible and modest...)

Anyway, the point being, you haven't seen the last of me, and I really appreciate those of you who've offered to check out what comes next. I'll keep you posted!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

You are literally my favorite RPG author and among the finest storytellers alive, by my estimate.

May your new paths bring us all joy!


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Man, sorry to see you leave. You'll be missed. (you even drew me out of near retirement on the boards to write this).

Dark Archive

Please know that you will be sorely missed. Best of luck to you in all your future endeavors. I hope your future writing projects might include the further adventures of Salim...

For everything you have contributed to the world of Pathfinder, THANK YOU.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Wow. Didn't see that coming.

Best of luck in your endeavours, Mr Sutter, I'm sure I'll see a lot of your work for many years to come.

Don't be a stranger.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I can't wait to see what you create next! Good luck!


Pathfinder Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Well thanks for all your great work. I hope you come around Paizocon every once a while. I look forward to reading your next treat adventure what ever that maybe.


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Good luck James.

I'm sure I'll see something awesome from you around every now and then.


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

So long and thanks for all the fish!

Liberty's Edge

Wow, right after the successful launch of Starfinder. Way to go out on a high note =).

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

16 people marked this as a favorite.
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.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'd be down for that. :)


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Clear skies, Captain Sutter. "First star on the right. Straight on 'til morning."


9 people marked this as a favorite.

I've known *of* James, so as to say hi to him at Gen Con once every three years or so, from the old days of me freelancing for the magazines. But even when I was hired at Paizo, for quite a while I didn't work with James, or really get to know him, because that's not how the schedule ended up working.
Now that I've been working under him for more than a eyar and a half, and Starfinder s the spectacular result of that combined effort, I can say I know James. And I am very glad of that fact.
It has been an honor and a privilege, sir.
I look forward to the products of your next adventure.

Creative Director, Starfinder

21 people marked this as a favorite.
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.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

"Make it so, Number One."

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

6 people marked this as a favorite.
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.

Yes!


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

Man what is with all the folks leaving this year making me sad over here. Good luck in your future endeavors!

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I feared that Starfinder might exhaust some people. Well, have some well deserved rest Mistah Suttuh, and don't be a stranger.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
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.

HA!

...

Now you have no one but yourself to blame when that's how it goes down.

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

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!

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Good luck in all things. I remember sitting with you and James and going through the plan for The End of Eternity lo those many years ago in the conference room at the old Paizo building!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Sutter's Last Blog wrote:
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.

Namaarie and fair travels.

... and I'm totally sure that James Jacobs won't resolve that whole Mengkare's alignment first thing on Monday... really ... he's much more likely to assign it to you to write as the "proper" alignment as a freelancer.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Best of luck, James!

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