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They, and many, many others, get the full treatment.
While we'll definitely be previewing more of Inner Sea Gods over the coming days and weeks, if you're keen to learn more soon rather than later be sure to check out the Know Direction podcast tomorrow!
We'll be talking about Inner Sea Gods, what's new, what's awesome, the insanity of putting this thing together, and things so secret I don't even know what they are yet.
Mike Franke wrote:
I personally am heading straight to the chapter on selling my soul!
Rightly so! That's my chapter and includes the second best advice I can give practical-minded future immortals and devil-may-care despots! Win eternal power and influence semi-gods with such irrefutable tips as:
* How to untethered a ratty soul from your gross meat-body!
* Determining (and increasing!) the value of your mortal essence!
* Finding agents you can absolutely, always, 100% trust to give you fair value for your afterlife!
* Tips to assure you'll never, ever, ever, need (or want!) a hereafter!
* Phenomenal rewards vastly outweighing pedestrian mortal taboos.
* Practical ways to make your most depraved—er, LORDLY—dreams come true!
* And Much, MUCH more!
Act fast! Before the soul market's flooded with the tarnished essences of everyone who bought the Kobold Guide to Magic first!
Liz Courts wrote:
Oh to live entirely in the virtual world, where one's blackest sins prove so fleeting.
Boo hoo. Etc.
It is SO tempting to comment on this.
But I'm not.
In fact, I'm going to go make everyone swear a blood oath not to reveal these characters until this product hits and the Meet the Iconics start rolling out in May/June.
I'm going to jump out in front of this WAY before it even comes up (which it certainly will).
Risen from the Sands is awesome—I just ran it last week and we had an absolute blast. Rob McCreary did a fantastic job and poured equal shares of artistry and sadism into this work.
Not detracting from any of that in the least, but still a thing of note, is the fact that there's a very visable typo marring the back cover. In the tagline at the top, in about 1,000-point font, the word "Pharaoh" is misspelled "Pharoah."
And that is TOTALLY my fault.
I made a change to the line during my final approval and no one past me ever saw it. So 100%, unequivocally, absolutely, without a doubt, my fault.
Of course, as always happens in cases like this, that means I learned about this when we got our first printed copies in house. You know, when it's absolutely too late to correct the issue.
So that's a thing. A personally and professionally embarrassing thing that—along with 10 years of dishonor—has resulted in the hanging of a very clearly lettered Post-It note in my office.
While the print copies will bear this beauty mark, the error has already been corrected on all PDF copies.
In any case, my deepest, most sincere apologies to gamers, Egyptian nobility, and literate sorts everywhere. Fortunately, though, my utter failure has absolutely zero impact on the awesomeness you'll find on the front cover or on any of the pages within.
On a slightly lighter note (if there are such things as lightness and joy anymore), if you're a fan of schadenfreude (and who isn't?), here's a link to the moment this was brought to my attention. Enjoy... you jackals.
Steve Geddes wrote:
DAMN YOU JACKALS! CAN'T THERE BE A MOMENT'S PEACE!?!?
I mean. There's certainly a chance. I've got a few other pressing things I need to get through (see that interview I just linked above for the primary example). Beyond that though, more on devils could be fun!
And so could Bastardhall...
And so could writing another creepy AP...
And so could a book on hauntings...
And so could more fiction...
And so could...
With the malbranche I chose to do what we frequently do when it comes to new monsters and divine beings, I drew upon the existing names and cache of creatures already established in folklore, myth, and fiction. That's not necessarily the same as drawing from a primary source, though.
Let me use another infernal figure as an example.
Here's our depiction of Barbatos.
There isn't much in the way of similarities there visually. So why use the character and/or name at all?
Well, aside from some overlap in their description and areas of concern, I picked up this archdevil's in part as a not to the readers out there who would recognize it. The intention is that some readers will recognize the name and even if they don't know all the specifics of Barbatos from the Ars Goetia and similar texts, they'll know that he's an established figure from real-world demonology with all the connotations that implies. They'll also have a thread they can follow if they're looking for more details on the character. So, in part—aside from our own tastes in mythology and demonology—we like to give readers the opportunity to see a cool name, have the satisfaction of finding a touchstone they recognize, have whatever emotional response they have to real-world demonology, and have the option to go on and learn more if they so choose.
Being respectful of the source material is particularly important to me—I wouldn't drawn in a character just to mock it. But if we can add to a figure's story to make it even cooler or more accessible or more popular, that's great.
We're also not the only folks to do this. There's a long tradition of game makers and storytellers drawing on mythological and fictional primary sources. And in many cases, that causes the new creations to diverge from the original material and take on their own lives.
The comic character Iron Man comes immediately to mind. His original outfit, I dare say, not awesome. His current incarnation, awesome. Same character, but he's changed radically from what he was a few short decades ago.
Closer to our genre, lets take beholders. They began as goofy pun monsters. A few decades later, they're one of most infamous creations of Dungeons & Dragons.
Time, momentum, popularity, and prevailing tastes change our preferences and our stories often change with them.
Getting back to the malbranche, lets see if there are any examples of this.
(Warning: Potential NSFW content to follow)
Here's the Google image results for Alichino. I'm seeing a lot of jesters and seductive pretty boys in here.
Here's the Google image results for Rubicante. I'm seeing a lot of red guys and fire monsters here.
Here's the Google image results for Scarmiglione. I'm seeing a lot of brutish and skeletal monstrosities in here.
Even when we just search for "Malbranche Demons" the results are typically less then comic. Going as far back a Gustav Dore, it looks like the malbranche have terrifying connotations.
While I know these modern visions are far from what Dante intended, they're still powerful characters. Even though their names might have comedic (or, at least, not frightening) connotations in their native tongue, those same names are the keys that unlock a host of fearful connotations for many gamers.
That's what I chose to draw on them in Book of the Damned: Princes of Darkness.
Now, all that being said, I'm not refuting the fact that in Italian, these names don't necessarily work. The hard definitions of those names are much stronger than any implications. So, if I were looking to rename these characters in a way that has a similarly ominous impact, I might suggest the following options.
The first set takes the existing names and replaces them with the names of fallen angels (as listed in Gustav Davidson's A Dictionary of Angels, Including the Fallen Angels).
■ Alichino - Astoreth
Alternatively, if you'd like less directly Judeo-Christian options, try these from Theresa Bane's Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures.
■ Alichino - Ayperor
Hopefully these (or some combination of these) are helpful and don't come off as silly in your language in the same way.
As an aside, I'd love to hear what plots you're cooking up using these characters. The malbranche haven't gotten a ton of play yet and I'm sure lots of folks here would like to hear what you have in store for them.
Also, I was in Lucca a few years back with the crew from Wyrd Edizioni and was shocked how much folks there were digging Council of Thieves. I've been eager to get back to Cheliax, Hell, and some strong political adventuring ever since, so be sure to let me know what you'd think of more in that same vein.
Frickin' fabulously! It was one of those times where you're GMing and know that if the PCs go left they'll find what's to the left and if they go right... well, they'll find what's on the left.
But it was good times! They met a very grabby old tree, almost got killed by their own wall of fire, and ventured into the servant's chapel... where some old magic was keeping a pair of nasty soul eaters contained. Well, contained until the PCs decided to tinker.
We had a harrower in the group who was quite adept at reading her cards, so that was a great addition!
Overall, good times. And I'm already gearing up for this year's game. In fact, I just got to re-run a group through the Black Gardens of Bastardhall, which I'll talk about here on the blog soon.
Thanks for asking!
Alexander Augunas wrote:
For Wes: What's the number 1 word that you most commonly misspell/mistype?
Normally, I would say "silhouette."
This week, I would say "pharaoh." Because I done @#$%ed it up in a very visible way that thousands of people are going to see in just a few more weeks here.
As soon as the product page goes live I plan to being my public flagellation. :(
It's cool, though. The shelf life on cover-bound spelling errors is only about 10 years, so in about 2024 I should have lived this down.
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
As the Empyreal Lord Smiad (he's an archon and exhorts his followers to be honorable and slay evil dragons while aiding good ones) doesn't have a holy symbol in the books (he's one of the lesser ones in the back of Chronicle of the Righteous, and as a result doesn't have a full-page writeup), what, in your mind, would be a good holy symbol for his faithful to use? What would be a good obedience for his cultists to practice?
Holy Symbols: A scale carved to resemble dragon horns, a sunburst of scales, an armored dragon head (like a dragon knight), a golden eye, a spiral of golden fangs, a stained glass dragon design, a red dragon claw gripping and being gripped by a gold dragon claw. Stuff in that direction.
Obedience: Brew a tea made with scales (any reptile scales if dragon scales are not available; and they rarely are) and drink the bitter liquid while meditating. Burn scales with incense and meditate while standing over and breathing the thin smoke. Polish your collection of dragon fangs, paying honor to each in turn—especially your foes (assumes every worshiper starts with a dragon fang, either gifted by a dragon ally of the church or taken from a low-level dragon). Craft a toy or doll in the shape of a famous or known good-aligned dragon; give this to a child or passerby, making sure they know the story and good deeds of that dragon (helping spread knowledge that dragons are more than just monsters).
Try some of those on.
To not forbid a course of action is not the same as directing one toward a course. By the same token, acknowledging one's options cannot be seen as suggestion action.
In short, any evidence of my involvement is coincidental at best and—
Patrick did it.
1) Probably either Uncle Iro, Asoka, or the "Secret Tunnel!" bard.
2) The episode right before the last two-parter, where Ang asks his past incarnations for advice on how to defeat the firelord, and Every Damn One Of Them is like "Sometimes you gotta killa @#$%&." Certainly a truism I don't remember getting from Transformers.
3) Love it. Haven't finished the second season yet, though.
4) Even with the Rifftrax it was nearly unbearable.
5) I'd nab the Monk of the Four Winds archetype from the APG and then pick up some of the styles from Ultimate Combat (like Efreeti Style). The upcoming Player Companion: Blood of the Elements, might also have a few new toys for ya!
Skipping to this one for purely self serving reasons. ;)
No, there's not a larger shot of Mr. Arudora.
Also thanks! Glad you're digging it.
If anyone else is interested in my Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Erratic Episodes site, professional site, or any of the other places I talk about what I'm scheming or working on, you can find all those links in my profile right here. :)
I'd say so. In fact, in a similar but TOTALLY opposite angle to this, I put in a snippet into Inner Sea Gods about how the archedevils are often revered as secondary divinities among Asmodeus's faith. While polytheism is a different thing in Golarion (see Player Companion: Faiths & Philosophies) there's nothing wrong with occasionally saying a prayer or asking for a blessing from another deity your god is allied with.
Some regions of Golarion have advocates in the Paizo office. Is there a specific advocate for Arcadia, Sarusan or Vudra yet?
There are for some. Adam Daigle is working on some Arcadia love and, along with Patrick Renie, have some very cool ideas.
Sarusan, doesn't have a ton of love yet (or its advocates are being relatively quiet).
In house, I've probably read the most Indian mythology and have slipped quite a bit into our world, but I can't say it's on my top 3 list of side projects. (Maybe top 10, though.) I do have rough map of the place in my notebook, though. (No, I'm not sharing.) Really, though, the person who's probably thought the most about it is Jeff Erwin from right here on the boards. If you're looking for opinions about Vudra well informed by the real world, definitely hit him up!
Jumping ahead a bit...
doc the grey wrote:
Hey just wanted to pull these back up and see if I could get some info on either of these topics.
1. I really don't believe sexuality is a big thing for immortal embodiments of ideals, especially those with infinitely mutable forms. By and large, I'd go so far as saying that the vast majority of outsiders that are still even interested in the sticky fumblings of sexual encounters are probably bisexual. These types of creatures aren't born in the traditional sense, so there's really no reason for them to even have genitals, breasts, belly buttons, etc (or if we really got into it and looked beyond the game rules, there's not a lot of reason outsiders would even need to breathe, eat, excrete, etc—why would your outer planes even need suns or air, except to comfort newly arrived souls with minds locked into a single understanding).
So I'm not trying to be evasive, but I really don't think sexuality is a big deal for most devils or outsiders.
Or, if that doesn't satisfy, then consider them largely uninterested in sex (expect where noted otherwise), but could be swayed by charming paragons of either gender.
2. Good news! Crocell is straight out of the Goetia, so there's more about him in real world demonology than just what's been said in Princes of Darkness. So if you're looking for more inspiration for him, I'd start there.
For my part, I always imagined Crocell as being tied into mysterious bodies of water, like underground lakes, cenotes, hidden oases, blue holes, hot springs, natural fountains, wells, and the creepy ancient watery graves they found in Mexico. He's big into illusions and language, so I could see him hiding secrets or ancient knowledge in bodies of water, underwater visions, and mist. I think he'd be very into liquid hallucinogenic drugs. I could see his followers being seers, desert dwellers, jungle dwellers, and spear fishers—because I bet he LOVES poisonous fish that can cause hallucinations. I could also see him having some presence in a big city sewer, like a weird sewer seer that sits amid a pristine pool amid a river of sludge and offers visions and dreamlike respite to those who drink from his (poison) font. But yeah, I think his followers could easily be centered around an individual seer—the one who proclaims to see clearly—with followers who ascribe to his mysteries, seek his guidance, are addicted to his tainted waters, or who hunt creatures of the deep to collect their wisdom. I bet this guy LOVES whales and dolphins, especially eating their brains and stealing what they know.
That's the 3 minute stream of consciousness tirade I've got on Crocell at the moment. Hope that helps!
Okay, jumping this in line since AlgaeNymph referenced it on Aug 1 (good gawd I'm behind, oofda).
1. No place in particular, just my brain. Empyreal Lords in general were born during my time working on Dragon, particularly when I was doing the editing on James's Demonomicon series. They were awesome, I love D&D's demon lords, but they always felt limited to just the GM half of our audience. These were massive, super cool articles that players were likely never going to see or be able to use. So it got me thinking, "We should have Demon Lords for good guys."
When we got to Pathfinder, we had a whole world that needed populating. Especially in those early days we were starved for proper nouns, so pretty much anything we dropped in articles could be made to work. That's why in the first few volumes of Pathfinder AP you'll find a few things that didn't take (locations that never manifested on the world map [or have yet to], characters who never took shape). So in my Magnimar article in Pathfinder #2 I put down my marker on the whole Empyreal Lord concept.
Page 59: "Assemblies devoted to the empyreal lords Soralyn, Ashava the True Spark, and the Horseman of War are all known to gather in the city.""
You can see even from there that not everything took. My original idea for the Four Horsemen was that they'd be good-aligned destroyers, but through a series of philosophical conversations and rigid interpretations of the game's alignment system we chose another path. But the overall idea stuck, so I defined these guys more in the Inner Sea World Guide, and then we were off to the races from there!
2. Complained, no, but it was pointed out by Renee Knipe, a friend who spoke on last year's Queer as a Three-Sided Die seminar at Gen Con. Not being transgender, my vantage on that world is limited. Renee read the section on Arshea in advance of Chronicle of the Righteous's publication (hence her Special Thanks credit in that book) and pointed out "Hey, this is cool, but you know this doesn't have to be all about sexy times." To which I was like "OH! DUH! Of course!" The ship had kind of sailed with Arshea since she'd been set on that course since the inn, but that discussion was certainly a "DUH" moment for me and has revised our paths with some transgender content since then.
3. As a goddess of sexuality, I think she mostly just wants people to share and enjoy that in a positive way.
4. I sure would. But for me, suboptimal characters are the most interesting. We're all suboptimal after all. ;)
5. Well sex is only one-third of Arshea's portfolio, along with freedom and physical beauty. I think I might have talked about this upstream a bit, but I could see her worshipers working at or putting together gymnasiums, spas, shelters, contests, and what not. As for what they do at their meetings, meditation, physical competitions, therapy, discussions on improving/loving your self/body, etc all sound strong. I would not think of these meetings in the modern Christian sense, with congregations assembling to listen to sermons. Maybe look into how real world mystery cults worked for some more ideas.
6. "R" and "Shey" (rhyming with "fey").
Late to the party here, but I'm glad folks are digging B4 so much! It's not a big secret to most folks here that I start the lists for our bestiaries from the huge collection of links and notes I'm constantly putting together on cool monsters from myth, folklore, urban legends, film, literature, video games, comics, wherever. I'm a big fan of monsters with a pedigree.
While a bunch of these are pick-ups from other Pathfinder products featuring cool and creatively unique inhabitants of Golarion (brethedan, gallowdead, incutilis), and others are evolutions of existing trains of thought (dark whatevers, soulbounds), I'll give away 10 more of my sources for the guys on Gancanagh's awesome lists.
Bestiary 4: Apocalypse Locust (??) / Astral Leviathan / Boilborn / Brethedan / All Clockworks / Flesh Colossus / Contemplative / Dark Caller / Dark Dancer / Drowning Devil / Nemesis Devil / Dorvae / Outer Dragons / All Drakes / Elohim / Vildeis (??) / Festering Spirit / Fleshdreg / All Fleshwarps / Freezing Flow / Gallowdead / Galvo / Gathlain / Gearghost / Geist (??) / Gholdako / Cliff Giant / River Giant / Slag Giant / All Golems / Grimple / Guardian Dragon / Hungry Flesh (??) / Incutilis / Kasatha / Both Kytons / Leaf Ray / Living Topiary / Living Wall (??) / Lunarma (??) / Mindslaver Mold / Mudlord / Nagaji / Necrocraft (??) / Nycar / Oma / Owb / Yamaraj / Rukh (??) / Saguaroi / Killer Seahorse / Seaweed Siren (??) / Shard Slag / Shobhad / Shredskin / Shriezyx / Shulsaga / Skinstitch / Soulbound Manequin / Soulbound Shell / Soulsliver / Tiberolith / Trox (??) / Tyrant Jelly / Emperor Walrus / Warsworn (??) / Weedwhip / Wikkawak / Wyrwood / Wyvaran
Clockwork Steed: The idea is basic, but is in here because of Vampire Hunter D's awesome cyborg horse.
Dorvae: My original list had these guys as Dirae, the Roman furies. A combination of bizzare but cool art and a pagination issue meant that they got renamed and moved. Sometimes that happens (sometimes both things happen), and a new monster gets invented. Necessity truly is the mother of invention.
Geist: This is just a poltergeist with the "polter" taken off. So "ghost" or "spirit" and German. Our translators in Deutschland are going to LOVE us for this.
Kytons: Barker, Hellraiser, Tortured Souls couldn't be more apparent in these guys. You'll also note the kytons I write are always named after ecclesiastical positions.
Living Wall: Final Fantasy.
Rukh: Variant spelling of Roc with a Ray Harryhausen spin.
Saguaroi: Cactus people with a name that comes from the saguaro cactus.
Skinsitch: Inspired by the Deadly Toys from Castlevania: Lord of Shadows and Leatherface... together... at the same time.
Yamaraj: From the Hindu yamaraja.
There's a few more on there, but for now I'll let you guys work them out. ;)
Wes, James Sutter was saying you wanted more Monsters. My supplement, the Manual of Aurania, written way back in 1977, has a number of weird monsters. Paizo is welcome to mine it, without charge of any kind. (Altho a mention of the source would be nice).
Cool man, kick me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org sometime. I'd love to take a look!
Yay! I was going to quit and totally go full-on Victorian romance, but since you asked for it, I'll stick with horror. :D
How about this for starters: Every hour for all of Halloween I'll post one link to something horrifying on my Twitter account: @FWesSchneider.
In fact, as of posting this, the twelfth one might have just gone up.
Enjoy and Happy Halloween!!! :D
I have a near complete Ravenloft collection, but not this! So it will receive a place of honor.
Thanks a ton man!
What about the Pathfinder Journal for Carrion Crown? (AP's 43-48) I'm playing so haven't read them myself to be sure.
It's called Guilty Blood. I remember quite liking it at the time, but can't recall for the life of me who wrote it.
And Sutter, tell whoever's writing that next Ustalav story to get her/his ass in gear!
Tom Benton wrote:
hi Wes - I'm looking forward to listening to your Lovecraft discussion on Know Direction. In the meantime: Necropants!
Awesome man! For folks who haven't seen, you can check out my discussion with the 3.5 Private Sanctuary podcast on Lovecraftian horror in two distinct flavors:
Private Sanctuary: Lovecraftian Horror (Audio)
Private Sanctuary: 2013 Lovecraftian Horror (Video)
If you want more talk about horror in Pathfinder and RPGs in general, check out these too:
Paizocon 2013: Horror in RPGs (Know Direction, Audio)
Paizocon 2013: Horror in RPGs (YouTube, Video with Notes)
Private Sanctuary: 2012 Horror Podcast
(You can also check out my notes and links that go along with the discussion on my personal site here)
As for the pants: That's horriblawesome! I am now subscribed to this blog.
I see your Necropants and raise you a Cthulhu Tiki Mug (as seen the Lovecraft discussion above).
Congratulations: Your holiday shopping is now done. :D
Lord Snow wrote:
Glad to see so much love for the kytons. The ostairus is a very recent pick up from Shattered Star #64: Beyond the Doomsday Door (if you didn't see the page of kyton philosophy and propaganda in there, you are missing out!). The sacristan is something entirely new... kind of a bruiser... with a portal to the Plane of Shadow locked in his fused shut mouth. So pretty humdrum as kytons go. ;P
Distant Scholar wrote:
Who knows, maybe we'll do Misfit Monsters Redeemed II someday but for now...
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
As promised, my talk with the Private Sanctuary podcast on H.P. Lovecraft, Lovecraftian horror, and horror in Pathfinder is up now.
while the video is up here (including glimpses of Bestiary 4, my office, my awesome Cthulhu tiki mug, Ryan's insane G.I. Joe collection, and lots of talking with my hands!). :D
First off, I'm going to drop a few links (or re-links), since this is something I've talked about extensively over the past couple of years:
Now that the billboard is out of the way, forewarning that I've put a few footnotes at the bottom of this lengthy post, so if you see numbers in the text they're referring to whats at the end.
Beyond aesthetic, beyond tips for making a game creepy, beyond rules that enhance scary storytelling, a lot of what we're talking about here comes down to character agency and consequences: on what level can characters influence a story and what sorts of ramifications are there to characters’ decisions.
In the Pathfinder RPG and games like it, characters are typically either driving factors in the narrative and are empowered to control or overcome the challenges they face. Characters are often referred to as heroes in these games, not just because they're typically good guys but because it's largely assumed they're going to win. At a core level, the Pathfinder RPG wants the characters to win and ultimately characters are more powerful (or will have the opportunity to become more powerful) than the challenges they'll face.
In many games designed to be horror games—Dread, Call of Cthulhu, Shadows of Esteren—the characters have less control, they're more often pawns or victims of the plot and the challenges are greater. Characters usually aren't thought of as heroes in these games—aside from it being a bit out of step with the game's aesthetics, does anyone really think of their Call of Cthulhu investigators as heroes? There's typically the up-front acknowledgement that a character is likely going to die—or go insane or worse—and their victory is not assumed. In many of these games—like in many horror films—a character is at her strongest and most capable at the beginning of the narrative and things go downhill from there.
The other angle here pertains to consequences.
In Pathfinder and games like it, there are really relatively few hard, statistical threats to characters. Lose a hit point? You'll get it back. Lose a level? You'll get it back. Lose a weapon? You'll get/buy another. Die? You'll be resurrected. More characters survive Pathfinder games than those who don’t—in fact, most come out on the other side of an adventure stronger than when they started. While characters decisions may affect the details of the narrative, the game is hardwired to statistically improve characters.
In games designed to be horror games, the consequences are a bit more obvious: you go insane, you die, you fail, you are not promised marked improvement. These consequences are often either set in stone or prove difficult to mitigate. So if you die, that's it. If you go insane, you have to deal with it—you're probably not getting better. If you drop your holy sword in the lava, you shouldn’t expect to get it back. Consequences have permanency and weight that your character might eventually collapse under.
I do not believe there is any combination of written rules or dice roles that make a game system intrinsically scarier than any other (1), rules don’t prescribe narrative. You could just as easily use the Call of Cthulhu rules to play a procedural crime drama as you could a horror story. You can just easily file the serial numbers off the Pathfinder RPG and run games of other types and genres (2). Certain options might be more robust in certain systems, but a game’s mechanics and thematics are distinctive pieces.
So if you wanted to run Pathfinder as a horror game, you have to ask what you really want, Pathfinder with a horror aesthetic or Pathfinder tweaked to adopt the conventions of a horror game.
If you just want to make you're Pathfinder game creepy, there's tons that you can do—use scary monsters, limit humor and distractions, lose the miniatures and grid maps, use music, etc, etc, etc (3). The game remains Pathfinder, but you're essentially tricking the players into thinking the game has fundamentally changed with an increased focus on showmanship and ambiance. It's cool and really fun, but the fundamental rules of the game and your social contract with the players has not actually been altered.
If you want to make Pathfinder a true horror game, the social contract with your players has to change (4). The characters' agency has likely shifted from that assumed in a normal Pathfinder game to something more akin to that of a horror RPG, where challenges might outstrip the character's abilities, some penalties might be particularly dire or arbitrary, and survival/victory is not assured (5). Once everyone's on board with playing a horror game, it’s easy to tweak the rules to support this type of game. For example: take resurrection and all related spells out of the game (death becomes more final); make it more difficult to effectively rest and replenish abilities (resources become scarcer); increase the CRs of encounters to be more equal to (or higher than) the PCs' level (closer/more taxing combats); increase scarcity of certain abilities/items/magic or impose ramifications to their use (limitations and danger reduces fire-and-forget effects), etc. Most of the rules remain Pathfinder, but suddenly actions have more lasting effects, the danger level has increased, resources have to more closely rationed, and the question of whether or not something is the right choice at the right time becomes much more meaningful. Layer some common horror storytelling techniques on top of this and you've cribbed yourself a horror game.
Currently, all official Pathfinder RPG products considered horror themed play with creepy elements entirely on the grounds of narrative and aesthetics. The stories might be creepier, the descriptions more lurid, the subsystems engaging more unsettling material (insanity, haunts, curses, etc), but the challenges are not designed to be any more dangerous, the characters face no change in potency, and the game remains 100% Pathfinder.
So, if you're looking to run a particularly creepy game of Pathfinder, there's tons of awesome suggestions in this thread and elsewhere to hook you up with the right adventure or help give your game a spookier vibe. But if you're looking to fundamentally change your Pathfinder game to make it play more like a horror game, think about some of these suggestions and other minor tweaks you might make to adjust the characters' control over your game's narrative and the dire reality of their consequences.
1 Let me call out and use Dread as an example real quick. There is nothing about using a Jenga tower as that game's method of resolving challenges that makes it fundamentally a horror game—you could just as easily tell a sci-fi or fantasy story with no horror elements with the Jenga tower replacing dice. The tension that the Jenga "mini-game" brings with it, however, and the "BOO!" of a collapsing tower hitting the table makes the system FANTASTICALLY effective in helping to tell a horror story. But Jenga itself is not marketed as a horror game. When overlaid with the veneer of a scary story, though, there's a potent connection.
2 For example, I ran a sci-fi game set in the Mass Effect universe earlier this year using 100% Pathfinder rules. There's a ton of details under the Mass Effect tag on my Erratic Episodes site here if you’re interested in seeing how it worked and even downloading that horror-themed adventure.
3 I and others talk about methods of this at length in several of the links above.
4 By the by, this is NOT something that a GM just gets to do. If your players come to the table expecting to play Pathfinder and you've house-ruled it into a horror game, expect them to be jarred. It's important for the players and GM to be on the same page about what type of game is being played. Lack of clarity in this regard can easily result in misconceptions, arguments, hurt feelings, and failed games. Always be talking to your players!
5 Why play a game the PCs can't win? Why watch a horror movie where the protagonists might not survive? The focus is on the danger, the challenge, the struggle, and the story. GMs in horror RPGs face a greater challenge than in games like Pathfinder in avoiding coming across as antagonists. When elements of the story end up being brutally unfair or crippling to an individual player, this can’t be a surprise. The GM has to have been upfront that such things could happen during the game and that such is to be expected, not personal, and is part of the fun. The GM remains in the position of being responsible for making sure that even a hamstrung player continues to have a good time—which can sometimes be challenging. Players who enjoy roleplaying the facets of insanity, the curse that turns them into a zombie, the challenges of a paraplegic, might really enjoy being afflicted with such developments, but some players might consider it unfair and have their enjoyment of the game severely impacted. As always, it's important to know your players and what they want out of a game, and to be clear about the type of game you're running.
To start, Bestiary 4. But there's something else coming down the road that I expect will have some more Golarion-centric details. For now: patience. ;)
doc the grey wrote:
This may be more a question for James Jacobs but here it goes. Considering that Aeons are like the white blood cells of the multiverse; keeping it all running and in balance, how do you think they feel about qlipppoth? Considering that many believe them to be older than or even from beyond the multiverse wouldn't they have a relationship akin to an invading virus or infection vs. the aeon immune system? Also what about the elder gods or other Cthulhuian entities considering that many are at least older then this material plane and survive it's apocalypses and recreations?
About the qlippoth? Aeons would not get on well with them, but so long as they keep to their crevices—so long as their benign viruses—they're not worth the expenditure of time and energy to wipe out. That said, qlippoth are not about keeping quiet. While one or two creeping out to do evil isn't worth their notice, mass uprisings are a problem. Fortunately, when it comes to qlippoth, demons do most of the aeons jobs for them, as the demons are even more interested in keeping the qlippoth down—and certainly from overrunning the Abyss—than the aeons are.
As for Great Old Ones, they're also not a huge problem. The drift around in the Material Plane and are relatively small in number. So long as none get too disruptive of the greater planar structure, they don't have a reason to strike en masse.
Overall, the aeons are interested in the foundations of the multiverse and the structure of that vast body. A termite in your home, you don't notice; 10, you've got bigger problems; even 100, there are probably bigger issues. A thousand? Termites dropping into your soup? Things that you can't ignore they can't ignore either.
This makes it great for big plots though, because that way you and your PCs know that when an aeon shows up the whole multiverse is paying attention—and that's a big deal.
Pipe kitsune are Japanese. I learned about them from XXXHOLIC years ago.
Ha! YUP! Awesome. That was definitely the first place I saw them as well and a HUGE reason I put them on the initial hit list for Bestiary 4. :D
If you're really digging on pipefoxes, let me suggest going to Google image search and typing the following "pipefox etsy."
Also, it's worth noting that the pipefox comprises the far less @#$&ed-up half of my favorite spread in Bestiary 4. So just wait and see the creepy "P" monster he's sharing a bunk with. ;)
Cori Marie wrote:
If you wanted to do this, you've got a few options. Shutting down Shub-Niggurath is a pretty major deal (and who knows what mythic taint might leak into the world). The weird powers in Schloss Caromarc could infect the PCs with something, as could the Palatine Eye's secret relics or something at the Stairs of the Moon. Adorack is pretty much a mythic location already, and defeating Marrowgarth or, prior to there, the Gray Friar, could both trigger new tiers. The relic Raven's Head could also release some pent up Pharasmin power.
So there's a few options.
You can DEFINITELY add mythic to your Carrion Crown game, but go into it aware that it's likely going to make your campaign less of a horror game and more of a high powered, "super heroes"-like game. I'm not saying mythic obliterates moodiness, but... well... what does Superman have to be afraid of?
Cori Marie wrote:
2) I'm definitely adding in other encounters as well, like the two AP add-ins that Legendary Games did and Carrion Hill. However I'm a little bit writer blocked when it comes to addressing the lesser seals. a) Could you tell me where they are? b) How would you address their getting broken?
We've touched on one of the lesser seals in Pathfinder Module: Hungry are the Dead, so that's done for ya. :)
Ultimately, though, whatever you decide to do, I promise that no one from Paizo is going to come to your house and tell you you're wrong if you move them to more convenient spots. Like all around Ustalav and the surrounding areas. There's also a ton of great options for that:
The Spiral Cromlech in Lepidstadt could be a good place for one. So could Kalexcourt (the CR 19 Charnel Colossus from [the ENnies Award Winning] Inner Sea Bestiary even lives there, and he'd make a fine mythic challenge). My termagant kyton from that same book could also make a fine protector for another one, say in the Chapel of Guilts in Barstoi? The Cenotaph, right outside Canterwall, is detailed in Mythic Realms and is even tied into Tar-Baphon. Demons Revisited also gives stats for Kalestrua, the CR 21 mistress of Casnoriva in Virlych if you wanted to go there. I wrote up Dragons Unleashed's cover girl, Serzilian, as a CR 19 menace who lives in Baallalota, deep in the Graidmere Swamp, so she also could make a great seal guardian.
So pleanty of options here, again proving that there's no campaign problem that can't be solved if you throw enough books at it. ;)
Cori Marie wrote:
3) Lastly I just wanted to say thanks for the Gallowspire article in Dungeons of Golarion, as I've spent downtime at work the past few weeks drawing the levels and such. I finished drawing out the Silent Shrine today, and have the main chamber in the shape of the Tyrant's head.
That's awesome! So, so glad you're digging it!