|F. Wesley Schneider Editor-in-Chief|
Yay! I'm getting caught up! I'm on the same page as the last questions. Okay, lets see here..
Calder Rooney wrote:
In what ways has Vampire influenced your work on Pathfinder? What were your favorite and least favorite elements of the former?
Very little honestly. We played like three or four sessions of Vampire back when I was in my low teens and I've only played a handful of Vampire games since. I liked the way you could level up specific abilities, but I don't remember much in the way of rules beyond that. After Pathfinder and various editions of D&D the RPGs I've probably played the most are Call of Cthulhu and Mutants and Masterminds.
Calder Rooney wrote:
I'm planning on running a campaign where Death quits his job and souls can't pass on until PCs set things right. What inspirational reading/viewing material would you recommend? Undead apocalypse and Grim Reaper-centric stuff is all right up the alley of what I'm looking for. Stories where Death says "screw it!" and someone else takes up his mantle go without saying.
"The Soldier and Death" from Jim Henson's series The Storyteller. It's based off a Russian folktale and is both creepy as Hell and a joy to watch. It's nearly the exactly plot of what you're going for. I'm betting it's on Netflix and you can probably find it online as well.
Beyond that might want to check out the movie Triangle. It's a total B-horror movie, but it's a good one and plays with the idea of who can influence death very nicely. Watch the whole thing, the end--if I remember correctly--is very worth it.
In the Mouth of Madness and Prince of Darkness play in similar fields as this idea--what if X gained influence over the world, whether X be the devil, a madman, something else. Those are two absolute favorites.
I don't really remember Death Becomes Her, but that comes to mind--as the characters can't die and it's horrible.
I Sell the Dead plays a lot with the supernatural and the death trade. You could probably find some solid stuff in there too.
Those are just a few off the top of my head.
I rode the bus to school from first to twelfth grade. Living at the far-flung edge of the school district, in a wooded area abutting the Patapsco State Park, I and the two other kids on my street had the fortune of growing up amid an awesome forest... but the misfortune of being the first to be picked up by the bus and the last dropped off. At least it gave me a lot of time to get some reading done. The other side benefit was that none of my fellow bus riders knew where we lived, as we were on the bus before them and weren't dropped off until after.
One day in middle school the bus was especially late. When finally it showed up, every other kid on the route was already aboard. There was a substitute driver that day and she'd taken pretty much the opposite route from the usual one. Aside from cutting into my reading time and limiting my choice of seats, this meant that a clique of punks who lived along the route was already on board, whooping about the Great Outdoors and planning to ride up here and... be jerks or whatever.
On the same twisting, hilly road that I lived on is the Oblate Sisters of Providence, a quiet convent--as if there's any other kind. It's secluded back off the road, but you can make out a few buildings, some religious decorations, and occasionally a few nuns walking amid the thin trees. The sisters always seem to have construction going on, and at the time there were several rows staked out by short wooden posts, creating a field of markers.
Having to sit near the toughs in the back since I had boarded so late, and not appreciating the idea of seeing them in my neighborhood, I pointed out the nunnery as we drove by. I explained what it was, how there were often nuns walking up and down the street, and how there was an old cemetery on the grounds. Although they were totally unrelated, the arrangement of the markers seemed to corroborate this. I made sure the other kids knew that there wasn't really anything to do on the street, but if they did ride up, they should go around to the other side of the convent, because in the cemetery were lots of cool graves, including one that was broken and had a pipe sticking out of it. I didn't know why there was a pipe in the grave, but the grave looked like it had been struck by lightning and if you went and listed, you could hear weird things.
What? I don't know exactly. I'd never done it, but my older brother (who isn't real) told me all about it. He said that it was the grave that Bloody Mary (yeah, THAT Bloody Mary) was buried in, but I didn't believe him. But if they were coming up, they should definitely check it out.
The typical dares and chest beating and promises of boldness followed, and I and my Terry Brooks novel were left largely undisturbed--which had been the entire point.
I don't know if those kids ever did ride their bikes up to the Oblate Sisters to check out the creepy grave. If they did, I never heard about it, which makes sense, because those nuns were some sharp-eyed so-and-sos. Even the times me and my younger brother (who is real) rode our bikes up there, they shouted us off. If real hooligans rode up their driveway en mass intent on trespassing, oh you can bet there would be Hell to pay--and few things are more intimidating to a kid then the teacher-priest-mom combo that is a nun. They'd also be pretty disappointed, as there is no cemetery on the convent's grounds (I'm about 80% sure of that... maybe less after seeing this).
That's not to say the whole pipe grave story isn't in part true. There is not a lightning struck grave on Gun Road in Arbutus Maryland. However, not far away is Arbutus Memorial Park Cemetery, which friends and I dared into more than once. One time, while in there, we did find a grave that had cracked and fallen apart into two big pieces. A friend, who was carrying a length of pipe he'd found in the woods, stuck it into the crack and left it there, standing straight up. Aside from being a sketchy thing to do, it resulted in a legitimately creepy image, which I remembered on the bus that day and all the way to today.
I know I told that story about the grave with the pipe several times, whether we were telling creepy stories in school, with friends, wherever, and I know it got mentioned by my friends a few times. So I was pretty pleased that I'd created a very small urban legend--really, more of a neighborhood legend.
But that's where that came from, so I don't expect you'll find any picture of it. Hope that's not a disappointment. :)
...and that magnificent @$&%@ Stephen Gammell's artwork in Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
I have a complete collection of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark visible from where I'm sitting right now. Gammell's stuff: @#$%ed-up, and would NEVER be allowed in a book for kids these days--so I'm glad we got in while the getting was good. I remember the jokey story, "The Viper" being a great intro. You'd get someone reading with that one, and then they'd be hooked and have to read the rest. I used to love/hate getting to the end of those stories, though, as there was always another one of those awesomely twisted pictures at the end, and it'd be staring at you as you read the last page. That's how you get messed-up right. ;)
Whooo. Do you remember the context I mentioned it in or can you find the link?
HA! I have a total professional crush on Dylan Meconis and just got my swag from her Kickstarter. The Bite Me compilation is coming soon, and I haven't read it yet, so no spoilers!
But I already love the chicken. :)
Neil Spicer wrote:
I've heard it said that you're the resident "name inventor" among the Paizo crew. What sources, methodologies, and inspirations do you draw upon to invent new names out of whole cloth? And, what are some of your favorite names you've invented for people and places in Golarion?
We pull a lot of names out of the blue and I can't say that I do more than anyone else at Paizo, but I do have a few favorite tricks when it comes to creating new proper nouns. Let me throw a few names I came up with out there and talk a bit about the methods (/dumb luck) that lead to it.
Varisia: Nearly everyone has heard this one now. "Avarice" is an awesome sounding word. Muck with the letters for a bit, move the "A" at the front to the back, make the "C" sound and "S" sound, throw the fantasy trope of ending names with "-ia" in there, and you've got "Varisia." Stealing the sounds of cool words and repurposing them into something new is always a great way to get a foundation for a new name.
This can have the added bonus of making a link between your new name and the word. "Darth Vader" sounds like "Dark Father." "Venger" sounds like "Avenger" or "Revenge." "Sturm" sounds like "Stern." This can be dangerous and hokey, you can wind up with something too on the nose (like "Darth Sidious") where the connection is way too obvious and makes it sounds like a super hero/villain name. And if you go too far with this, like using actual words for names, it can give away details about your character that you want to keep subtle--it'd be like naming your villain Syn or something. But if you keep the connection subtle, sometimes you can make a connection that works entirely on a suggested level.
"Caliphas," for example, has the word "Caliph" in it, an sounds more regal for it, even though the city has nothing to do with Middle Eastern royalty. The name "Doloras" has the word "dolor" in it, and suggests pain. "Siervage" suggests both the words "savage" and "seer." Don't try and force this. If it works, great. If people get it, great. If they don't and it's just a cool sounding name, that's fine. Better to have a cool name then something that tries to be clever and comes across contrived.
Rahadoum: You know who's an awesome Batman villain with an awesome name? Ras Al'Ghul. You know who's name got tinkered with to be the name of one of our initially more sinister desert nations? In my initial notes this was originally spelled "Ra Ah'Doom." Evidence that saying something out loud and letting someone else spell it can lead to something way better, and way less obvious. This name would suck if the spelling was as obvious as I had it initially, but as it is now, it's a cool name with a neat little factoid.
Kindler: There's another angle on that last trick. You can take the idea instead of the word. You know who's a great horror author? Bram Stoker. There I am sitting at my computer trying to attribute the quote in the Bestiary of Pathfinder #8 to Golarion's new foremost horror author. Stoker. Stoke. Thesuarus.com. Kindle. Kindler. Perfect.
Gozreh: This is one that's so lame it's awesome--and another most folks probably know. This is just director Werner Herzog's surname spelled backwards. This largely because Herzog's outlook on the natural world matched what we wanted from our nature deity, a character we wanted to embody the brutality of nature in equal measure with its beauty. If you're not familiar with Herzog (fix that!) here's a quote from his narration ob his film Grizzly Man: "I believe the common denominator of the Universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility, and murder."
Sturnidae: Words translated from other languages are a great source of cool names. I remember first seeing the word Cazador in Fallout and thinking it was the coolest name! And it's just "hunter" in Spanish. There's a town in the Ustalavic county of Barstoi named Sturnidae. Every county is Ustalav has a literary or mythological thread that defines it, and often its current count. Barstoi's is pretty much: What if Hannibal Lecter was in charge. The name of the town Sturnidae reflects this.
House Vonnarc: But there doesn't always have to be some half-clever trick. Sometimes just playing with letters and sounds leads to great things. My moleskine's notes for 4/28/08 include a list that reads:
As far as I know, not a single one of those names has any meaning in Golarion. You can see there's some sounds I liked in there and played around with, or old standbys I hooked up to neat sounds. But ultimately, nothing. But those last two, with the "Von" and "R" "A" and "K" sounds floating around, at some later point they lined up into "Vonark."
But that's ugly. It's something I don't think a lot of people think about when they're coming up with names. The best names look cool, or look like they flow, are use shapes and letters associated with the character or thing they're meant to represent. Think about some of the coolest character names, most of them aren't terribly clunky and have some interesting twist in their spelling: Loki, Dracula, Excalibur, Saruman, even the topography of those names is cool.
So I smoothed out the shape with another "N" and by changing the "K" to a "C." Vonnarc.
I'm pretty pleased with that one. And word "NARC" at the end has the connotation of something clandestine and treacherous.
Other Notes: If your word processor has a speak out loud function, use it. Write three dozen names and just have it read them. It will pronounce some combinations of letters differently then you were in your head. If you like it, write it down. If you don't, try tinkering with the word's spelling until you get the sound you want--some cool new letter combination might come from that.
Additionally, if you have a sound that you like, but it's not a full name yet, write it down and just start going through the alphabet in order, appending new letters to the end. Say you like the sound "Brona."
Bronaa, Bronab, Bronac, Bronad, Bronae, Bronaf, Bronag, Bronah, Bronai, Bronaj, Bronak, Bronal, Bronam, Bronan, Bronao, Bronap, Bronaq, Bronar, Bronas, Bronat, Bronau, Bronav, Bronaw, Bronax, Bronay, Bronaz.
Lots of those sound dumb. A few though... you might be on to something there.
Personal Favs: A few people, places, and things I named that I've always been quite pleased with (new words only, as there's quite a few portmanteaus): Seltyiel, Tiriac, Nethys, Zirnakayn, Alacavnis, Caliphvaso, Arkminos, Adivian Adrissant, Drovenge, Galdyce, Siervage, Venacdahlia, Karcau, Di'Viri, Ordellia. Those are just a few that come to mind.
I've noticed over the years that I really like "A" names for villains. So that's another thing, be aware when you fall into ruts or patterns. Also, if you have a name that sounds awesome, save it for something fitting, not just the next goblin that the party randomly encounters.
Hope this helps!
Is it possible that there are any remaining Strigoi in Golarion? I'm really curious to see if they'd be stated out as a new monster or a template like other true vampires.
Absolutely. There would only be a handful, but I'm sure there's a couple of survivors in super creepy places out there.
Any chance Ramoska will pop up again soon? I finally got to introduce him to my Carrion Crown group and it's been a blast playing an him! My group's Necromancer tried to exert control over him to interrogate him... it failed and Ramoska taught him a lesson in manners with his telekinesis ability. He really feels kind of like the Lector to the party's Starling in Ashes at Dawn.
Ha! Yay for pet characters! Lets see, after "Seven Days to the Grave"* he was in "Ashes at Dawn." Since then he just wrote the into for Play Companion: Blood of the Night. As for what's next, Mr. Arkminos is a busy guy. I'm sure we'll see him again.
He's about to get a whole bunch of new nosferatu buds in Bestiary 4 after all.
(*WHOA! Just read some reviews on "Seven Days." Head swell! :P)
doc the grey wrote:
I will have to say that write up for devils was amazing and I must applaud your work with the group. You've really helped promote them up to the magnificent bastard planners they should be rather then bickering side liners they felt like in earlier editions when compared to the demons.
Why thank you! That's been the point all along. :)
doc the grey wrote:
What can you tell us about the Whore Queens, will they ever get more of a write up and time in the sun?
Tons! And maybe. I'd love to write more about them and might someday, but I could say that about lots and lots and lots of things.
Something I definitely want to know is what they and their worshipers call themselves, 'cause you can bet it's not THAT. I'm thinking along the lines of "Queens of Light," "True Daughters of Heaven," "The Unsullied," "Mothers of Fire" or something like that.
Until there's an opportunity in canon to talk about them more, though, I'd refer you to their mythological and literary inspirations--aka, let me tell you what inspired all four of them (in one way or another).
The Whore Queens, as a group, find their roots with the Angels of Prostitution, angels that--depending on the mythology you read--are the angels who preside over sacred prostitution, condemned angels, the brides of Samael (Death), etc. There's definitely some drift in the myths here (evolving and purposefully recast myths fascinate me, by the by, and that you'll find a lot of in Book of the Damned: Princes of Darkness and a lot of other things I've worked on). The farther back you go, the more it seems that the Angels of Prostitution were actual angels who guard sex workers and religious prostitutes. As you get into more modern times, it seems that more sexually repressed sensibilities creep in and these characters get increasingly demonized and associated with ominous characters (like Lilith and Samael). They're awesome, though, and have a fantastic name, which is why I wanted to make them big deals in Hell.
Individually, though, I made quite a few tinkers, and our Whore Queens are not direct transplants from the mythological Angels of Prostitution.
Doloras is largely inspired by Notre-Dame des Sept Douleurs (and other characters who were born from that same source). In our world, I also suspect she has ties to the kytons, who used to live in Hell, but I'm not ready to get into all of that yet.
Eiseth is a reenvisioning of Eisheth-Zenunim. Of all the original Angels of Prostitution, I would say she's taken the relocation to Hell the worst. Gone is her concern for gentle hearts and healing, replaced with the rage of the Erinyes Queen.
Mahathallah is inspired by Agrat Bat Mahlat, whose name, in Hebrew means something to the effect of "Daughter of Illusions" or "Bringer of deception." You can see the influence of "Mahlat" in the beginning of her name. There might also be a bit of Mata Hari influencing that name--I forget where the rest came from. Aside from the name and general schtick, Mahathallah's pretty different from the other Whore Queens as she didn't fall from Heaven. Rather, she used to be a handmaiden of Pharasma. We didn't have either term when I wrote about Mahathallah originally, but now I'd call her a Psychopomp Usher. So she's pretty awesome.
Ardad Lili is Lilith. You see the name in the vardat lilitu, or "maiden spirits" associated with her, and by extension "Lili"-th. She's also mightily inspired by Lilth NSFW LINK) from Wayne Barlow's awesomely grotesque art and novel God's Demon. If there's a true queen in Hell, it's Ardad Lili. But she's not really interested in ruling there. She has other plans.
doc the grey wrote:
Why does Doloras have the Repose domain?
She's a nihilist. Just look at her, she's abandoned her literally perfect angelic body for a body of metal and blades. She is emotionless and blank. Where her kyton associates endless search for perfection, she's found it in a place past passion, past emotion, past hope. Those who embrace her will find their end, and they will not return.
The Repose domain might be spun in a gentle and pleasant direction for PCs, but that's not the only way you can cast those powers.
doc the grey wrote:
Do you have any plans to write more articles on the lords of the rings of hell now that Kobold quarterly has stopped production, maybe as web enhancements or blog updates? I was blown away by the Barbatos entry as before that I really hadn't felt like he was fleshed out enough to get what his schtick was in tempting souls but with that article it put him in a whole new light. Also I'm really waiting to see what you would do with characters like Belial who my group apparently now NEEDS info on and I would desperately want to see you punch out another write up on par with the last 2.
Thanks again! I seriously enjoyed doing them. The fact that I JUST last week sent in my contracts for those should be evidence that I didn't write them for a paycheck, I wrote them because I seriously enjoy these characters, have a lot of ideas about them, and want to see them treated right.
Currently, though, I don't know where--outside of Paizo's operation-- I'd be willing to see similar articles published. We've got a great relationship with Wolfgang, and I knew he'd not only let me write the articles I wanted, but would get awesome art, have great layout, and present the whole thing in a snazzy package. And for those two issues, KQ totally delivered and I was beyond impressed!
But without that, I don't know of another publication that would not only let me do what I want but would put it together in as impressive a package. Not to mention that I'd be willing to do an official Pathfinder RPG article for.
So for now, no plans... but you never know.
doc the grey wrote:
As a duke of what is basically nature used to cause fear and madness why is it that Barbatos doesn't have the Animal domain as part of his repertoire? From his write up in Kobold he really feels like it was a domain he was meant to have.
Why, because he's so nice to them, treats them so respectfully, and wants to see them flourish? No way! Meat is meat to a creature like Barbatos, and all the better if that meat has claws or can be made to do something it shouldn't as a result of his power.
He might delight in acting through the base and primal, but he is certainly not their advocate.
doc the grey wrote:
Why does Geryon have the strength domain and not something more related to knowledge, secrets, or Heresy?
Choosing domains for a pantheon of associated deities is always a puzzle.
I think the Trickery domain argument could be made for nearly every devil, so after Dispater--who made the most sense--got it, that one was off the list. Then, as aligned demigods, archdevils have two of their domains already decided for them (Evil and Law). I also wanted to get each of the four elements into the options for the entire group, so Water made sense for Geryon.
So we're down to one domain left.
As maybe the largest of the archdevils (if you can apply terms of size to such beings) Geryon is the most like a kaiju of the group. He's even described as a being of "terrifying contradictions," his form being like a force of nature and his secrets and lies casting and recasting reality in countless point of views. Geryon is a creature that will get what he wants, whether he has to destroy a whole nation with his body or seed the multiverse with so many lies and false memories that truth reshapes into what he desires. He is the brute force in words and blasphemy behind even the palest lie. So Strength seemed like a good fit. For those who worship him, I would definitely suggest checking out the Ferocity and Resolve subdomains, as both highlight aspects of his relentlessness.
doc the grey wrote:
Will we ever get more on the Infernal Duke Lorcan (aka the 3rd vampire and duke of undeath)?
Only time will tell. ;)
Just coming down from it, April is the worst month of the year for us, as we're jamming through our biggest releases of the year for their August releases. So not April. Beyond that, pretty much any time.
When you do throw that hat, though, make sure it's memorable.
You know what doesn't get my attention: "Hi! I love Pathfinder and really want to write for you guys. I haven't done anything before and don't have anything to show you, but I promise I'll do awesome with whatever you give me!"
Yeah. You know who I'm certain will do awesome with something I assign them? The dozens of freelancers I regularly use who consistently do awesome work for me. The crew that has done amazing things for me before and who I know will again. The people who know our styles inside and out, and who, in some cases, I've been working with for the better part of a decade.
I've got assignments I want to be as amazing as possible. Why should I risk any of these precious projects on a stranger?
So when you throw that hat in the ring, there's a few things I would suggest.
The Big One: Prove you are awesome.
The easiest way to do this is to show off the awesome things you've already done. It might be your online writing resume of published books, it might be a PDF project you've worked on with another company, it might be your expansive gaming blog, it might be your website all about chupacabras (thus proving your expertise in something insane). Whatever it is, prove to me that you're actually a writer--and even better, a professional writer--and we'll be past the first hurtle.
"But I've never written anything before ever! How do I get in."
The Truth: Maybe you don't. That's not a sad truth or an unfortunate truth or a harsh truth, it's simply a fact. Writers write. If you love Pathfinder and have incredible ideas for this plot, or that character, or developing those nations, that's all awesome. But if you're not a writer--if you're not someone who writes both well and relentlessly--then your best outlets for those ideas might be in your personal game or here, on these boards, where they can take root and inspire others.
To make things even more difficult, we write books for a very particular rules set. If you're not a master of those rules, then it's harder for us to use you. If I can't trust you to write a balanced feat or monster or whatever, then you're already limiting the assignments I can give you.
But maybe you are a writer-type and a gamer and you just need your big break, how do you get in?
The Secret: There are WAY more types of breaks then "big" ones. You say you're a writer, so get writing. Start a gaming blog, start writing your own material, contribute to fan projects (especially Wayfinder!), do work for free, get experience and credits and things to show off. You might not make a cent doing any of it, but you're building a resume and when you do go up for the project that pays or the job you're really keen on, you're ready when a jerk editor like me says "impress me." Even better, you've got not just a bullet chambered, but three or four to fall back on.
But, if you try your hand at this and it doesn't work, or you get distracted, or you find you don't enjoy writing thousands of words everyday, then maybe that's a sign this isn't the way. That's not a quality judgement, you might be an awesome storyteller, but now you've just got to find the medium that's right for you.
Give Me Your Card: This isn't about having a thing--in all honesty, there's about a 70% chance I'm going to lose anything someone gives me at a convention--it's about being professional and ambitious. If you've given me a business card, you've already jumped through several hoops.
First, you've shown up at a convention or event related to the industry you're interested in working in. Sure it might be fun, but it means you're serious about your fun and plugged into the scene in a more than casual way.
Second, you've sought me out and talked to me about doing work on a professional level. Whether you've tracked me down at the Paizo booth or approached me after a seminar, you're serious enough to know who to go to and steal a few moment of face time. There's an impression element here too, so if you do this, be the one who came across as knowledgeable, eager, and professional--not as the one who was dressed as Naruto and told me about how busted fireball is.
Third, you were serious enough about this to get a business card printed. Sure, you can game this--pretty easily even--but if you've gone through the boring trial of putting together a business card you're thinking about this venture as a professional, not as a gamer. That's a huge deal. We might make games, but for me and everyone at Paizo, this is our livelihood. We're gamers and we're passionate about our games, but at the end of the day, our jobs are what keep us in food, clothes, and shelter. If the freelancers we use don't respect that, if they treat their work flippantly, it's our business and our lives that are impacted.
So if we talk face to face, I'll probably tell you right upfront that there's a good chance I'll lose your card or forget parts of our discussion, but to e-mail me and we'll chat. It's a foot in the door, and I tend to use more freelancers who I met at conventions than those who approach me out of the blue. (Not to say that the latter doesn't happen.)
Those are just a few things to think about if you're considering any hat throwing.
Want to know what's trickier then getting your first job, though?
Getting your second.
You ever bought food that sounded good, but turned out to not be good? For example, right now I am eating a black bean burrito from Taco Bell. Sounds good. I love black beans (though I am not a vegetarian, I could be since black beans are awesome)... however it's mostly lettuce, very little black beans, and borderlines on nasty.
Kaiten sushi and "hot dog roll." None of these words go together. You know when you're like, "These folks know what they're doing, I'll try it!" Yeah. Sometimes those folks don't know what they're doing.
Also nearly any convention food--though that rarely even looks good.
For years at Gen Con I walked all the way to Chick-fil-a for every food break to get something that that wasn't thick with red meat, but then they had to mouth off and now we don't give them money.
Fortunately last year there were all those amazing food trucks, so hopefully that will be a regular thing going forward.
On the flip side, I didn't discover Hawaiian food until I moved to Seattle. If you're not familiar, look it up (or see if there's an L&L in your area). I have never had something at a Hawaiian restaurant that I haven't loved. Kalua pork, huli huli chicken, spam musabi, and loco moco were things I'd never heard of back east and are crazy good.
You've been pretty vocal about your love for Castlevanaia; was that what got you into the horror genre?
It sure didn't hurt. Check this out. (Scroll down just a bit)
Growing up I was really into stories about urban legends, ghosts, secret societies, mythology, etc, and was constantly looking for symbols, patterns, and other evidence of what I was sure my parents/teachers were keeping from me. I was quite the conspiracy theorist growing up.
For example, at some point in middle school I kept noticing this weird rune showing up on book covers. WHAT COULD IT MEAN?! I asked my parents, even my art teacher, and no one knew. MYSTERY!
In fact, we were all just dumb as hell, because it was just artist Clyde Caldwell's stylistic signature (I was like 11, what were their excuses). But that was the sort of thing I was always watching out for.
About that time a friend's older brother left for college and left a whole bunch of his RPG books behind. Among them were several Vampire accessories and a copy of [i]The Book of Nod[/url]. When we got our hands on it, we had no idea what it was and treated it like the Necronomicon (which I wasn't even aware of at that point). That eventually got us into Vampire--hardly an intro RPG. We had some fun with it, but were totally not the demographic for it and quickly got tired of roleplaying in the real world. So we switched our Vampire game's setting... to the Forgotten Realms (like you do). My bud's brother had a smattering of RPG products, so we were working with what we had.
I had started reading Dragonlance and FR novels about that time, so being the person who knew the most about the Realms (I knew who Elminster was!) I got elected GM and we played this totally over the top Vampires on the Sword Coast game. We'd get bored with games fast, though, so by the time we'd gotten through a dozen or so sessions of that I'd gotten my own Forgotten Realms boxed set. I totally loved all the little symbol cards in there and spent most of a Summer memorizing all of them. So I was fairly hooked at that point.
Oh, I also started out reading my dad's copies of Terry Brooks' Shannara novels and I'll never forget the maps in the fronts of those. So even before I got into roleplaying, I was drawing maps of my own fantasy worlds. I've still got a sketch pad with different fantasy continents on every page. I never fancied myself an artist, but I like to think I draw pretty decent maps, and my love for it definitely stemmed from there.
So youthful paranoia, awesome fantasy art, and kitbashing RPGs--along with Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy for the NES--are probably the things that most set me along the path that led me here.
Alexander Augunas wrote:
Do you approve of the cursed sword that my GM gave to my kitsune samurai?
Whoa. Elaborate! Nice. That's got a very super sentai vibe to it too. I feel like somewhere we published an amulet or ring or bag or something that teleported your armor on to you. You could nab that and have the whole Ronin Warriors effect! :)
I'd like your opinion on Devils, since you are the Devil Master Supreme! With demons and demon lords, they can take power with force and strength. Some examples include Noctula and Lamashtu. For devils and their Infernal Dukes and Archdevils, how does a devil usurp their power?
Something I never liked about many RPGs' visions of Hell was that it's so frequently presented as this squabbling court, full of backbiting, one-upmanship, and endless obvious betrayals. Most tended to have this intense vibe of warring Renaissance Italian families/city-states--which makes some sense considering that most are based off the Inferno--but nearly always taken to a ridiculous degree. Hell is as much about law as it is about evil, and the law aspect always seemed to be subsumed by the evil aspect.
(I'm breaking this up, as things got... out of hand.)
Alignment in Hell
Hell is where lawful evil characters go when they die--characters of the mastermind alignment. So why did Hell's rulers never seem like Hannibal Lecter? Saruman? Palpatine? Maybe because convincing master plots by beings with deity-level intelligence are difficult for we mere mortals to convincingly write? Or was it just that these big-bads were so good that they were quietly taking over whole Material Plane planets in the background without anyone ever noticing?
Remaking Hell and the Archdevils
Hell needed to be ordered, which meant, to a greater or lesser degree, united. There is no doubt that Asmodeus is the boss in Hell. He's even brought a few of his favorite children and servants from Heaven with him, with Baalzebul, Belial, Dispater, Mammon, and Moloch being among some of the oldest beings in existence. Belial and Mephistopheles are both creations of Asmodeus, the former an experiment in creating the perfect being, the latter a layer of Hell itself given humanoid form. Barbatos and Geryon are the outsiders, the first being from... elsewhere (check out my article on him in Kobold Quarterly #22 if you missed it), the second being a thing born from the corpses of fallen divinities and the first lies to ever ring through the Multiverse. Among them is tension, favoritism, alliances, and suspicion, but Asmodeus brooks no dissension in his house. Baalzebul is the only one of the archdevils who has ever dared to make demands of Asmodeus, and his angelic form was shattered into a billion s#@&-fattened flies for his arrogance. But even then he was still allowed to retain his demense.
Archdevil Brushes with Death
Overall, these guys are phenomenally difficult to put down.
Climbing Ladders in the Pit
In many ways, Hell is a military meritocracy. Devils have their fortunes hitched to specific lords and serve obediently or are destroyed. Those that excel are often rewarded for their service, as their victories become their lord's victories. The devils that prove most capable survive and are over immeasurable spans of time are granted increased responsibilities and dominion over others. This allows devils to not just rise through the ranks of various diabolical forms and specializations--with every type of devil being essentially a rank in a highly complex, semi-organic structure--but also to amass personal power. Those who prove most fit will eventually rise to the level of pit fiends and similar high-level devils. The infernal dukes eventually take notice of these rising devils, making them agents of their own objectives.
The Iron Ceiling
Should an archdevil fall, though, a replacement is likely to be selected from among the ranks of the infernal dukes. This does not mean that the murderer of an archdevil immediately claims that archdevil's responsibilities and powers, though. The archdevils include some of Asmodeus's oldest allies and creations, and in most cases he would not take their murder well.
Hell is Hell
Do You Want to Know More?
Thanks for asking!
I've heard you helped design the mythic vampire. Was the ability name (and function of) "blood omen" an intentional nod at the Legacy of Kain series? If so, you sir deserve the highest of fives.
Nope, no, not at all, TOTAL coincidence. I have NO idea how the title of one of the most awesome vampire video games EVAR might have happened to sneak into the list of abilities of a vampire I wrote. It's also total happenstance that this link to the names of Legacy of Kain abilities just happens to be in among my bookmarks.
Wolf Munroe wrote:
I've been waiting for a Pathfinderized nosferatu template. When I statted Viscount Oilic Galdyce (a nosferatu mentioned in Rule of Fear), I had to work with the 3.5e template and compare it to the nosferatu statted in Carrion Crown. I'll probably rebuild him once I get Bestiary 4. I doubt my party will be close to fighting him yet. At his current version he's CR14, I think. The party is level 3 right now. :-)
Whaaaa!? Prove it! Post it in a new thread and/or link to it or it's not real! ;)
Are there more ______ in Bestiary 4? What about ______ ? Can you tell us more about ______? Will ______ be like ______?
Thanks to everyone for all the great questions and enthusiasm. To comprehensively answer all of your questions without any biased order, we will put together an exhaustive response and release it soon.
Watch for it this Fall.
Folks wanted a dhampir book, they got a vampire book with some vampire hunters and dhampirs sprinkled on the top. So all I ask is for some consultancy with Paizo's Department of Expectations Management :)
What's nice is that covering an idea once doesn't preclude us from covering it again in a different way--just look at how many different ways we've covered the various fiends. So if there's still demand for an ur-dhampir book, that's definitely something we'll consider.
Can you hear me complaining about doing ANOTHER book about the undead (and their happy families)? ;)
But pleeeease make sure it's better than Blood of the Night, pwetty pwease?
I have two distinctly different responses to this, so I will offer them both:
Blood of the Moon will have a distinctly different format than Blood of the Night. Every product is an experiment, a learning opportunity, and a stepping stone to a place of greater awesomeness.
The only people who get to stop learning and improving are dead.
Paizo, in general, does not employ the dead.
*Strangle Hands* ;)
William Ronald wrote:
I see that the elohim are mentioned as a race. Am I correct in presuming that they may be inspired/connected to the Elohim race in the Chonicles of Thomas Covenant as opposed to a more religious approach?
To the contrary. Though now Mr. Covenant is on my reading list. ;)
Again! Bestiaries are Educational!
Steven "Troll" O'Neal wrote:
Can't say! But I do know there's a bunch about them in Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Chronicle of the Righteous. Do with that info what you will. ;)
So, is a license from Chaosium required to use Cthulhu and the Mythos creatures, since they own the trademarks for names and likeness? (Not to be confused with copyright of the HPL works themselves and the public domain.) This question has been popping up ever since this started making the rounds? Just curious.
We've worked with Chaosium on a few similarly Lovecraftian projects in the past. Creatures they invented or hold the copyright on we've used with permission. Those that they don't own creative rights to, we're free to use. I'm not going to get into what deals we might or might not have worked out (as that's a bit of a give away when it comes to content) but rest assured we have no interest in infringing on any other company's copyrights--especially such a group of swell guys like our friends at Chaosium!
Jester David wrote:
Then it seems like the alternate summoning list in Pathfinder Player Companion: Champions of Purity will be up your alley. Keep an eye out for more of those in the Player Companion line as they're appropriate.
You would be mistaken... So far every Bestiary has included a few playable races.
It's true! We've had quite a few CR 1/2, player friendly races out there in the past and the hits just keep on coming. There will be a few familiar ones finally slipping into the limelight this time around too.
We're going to need a new wish list here soon.
I've been reading since the beginning and many suggestions from folks on here made it into my first monster lists then into the book. I've got some shout outs to you guys in the announcement blog even.
Ultimately, I think most of you will be quite pleased.
(Still passionate, fractious, and vocal--but pleased) ;)
Thanks for all the help!
How soon before the new stuff starts showing up in PFS scenarios?
In all of our products, including PFS, you might start seeing Bestiary 4 monsters slipping in a month to two prior to it's release--but they'll have to use complete stat blocks (instead of the quick Bestiary reference notes) until the book's release. Since that's not a terribly economical use of space, we usually limit those or keep them attached to characters getting full write-ups anyway like that one manical outer dragon that's getting stated up in Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Mythic Realms.
So you might see a preview in a PFS scenario later this year, but no promises.
What's the F. stand for? (Provided it's not too embarrassing to share =) )
Jumping out of order (if you haven't noticed, I've been answering these questions in order) to address this immediately:
NONE OF YOUR GOT@#$&ED BUSINESS.
(And if you know, keep it to yourself if you know what's good for ya.) -_-
Though my favorite guesses involve true names or my full name actually being a PG-rated insulting sentence. ;)
Wow, thanks for THAT rabbit hole. I'm going to go with favorite as in I enjoy them, as opposed to favorite meaning "useful"--of which there's a whole other awesome variety.
If I just put Dracula and a bunch of Barker, King, Le Fanu, Lovecraft, and M. R. James stuff here it's going to be really cliche, huh. Hum...
Okay, let me throw you some stuff that might not be so obvious, because while I love those other authors I listed: DUH.
The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard: A fantasy writer listing the father of Conan as an inspiration--SHOCK! Honestly, I only started reading Howard two or three years ago and, yeah, I was blown away by how legitimately cool the Conan stories were and how fantastically that man wrote action scenes. But when Del Rey did a compilation of his horror stuff, I was all in. "The Black Stone" and the "Haunter of the Ring" are both fantastic--the former having a lot of influence on everything I've written about Sarkoris.
And "Pigeons from Hell" is one of the best things ever written. By anyone. Ever. EVER.
Ultimately, if you never got into Howard or thought Conan was cliche, put all the sword and sandals stuff aside and check out this collection. It's not only a great intro the the larger body of Howard's work, but it's its own special demented thing altogether.
(Not long after I read this collection I mentioned to Adam and Brandon Hodge, who both lived in Texas at the time, that I'd love to have a rubbing of Howard's grave. Like super heroes, they went out and got me one. I have a few rubbings like that now...)
Beserk by Kentaro Miura: This is the only manga that I keep up with and have been for years now. If you take your fantasy black, this is for you. Violence, gore, horror, all sorts of themes it would be NSFW to even mention here, along with awesome art and a bizarre mythology, it's got everything. This got turned into a great anime series and is being redone as three animated films right now (the first is already out in the U.S.) but they can't do the full story justice--the parts they cover are little more than the intro, because they really can't show what comes after. This series has more than a little influence on Golarion's Hell.
Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination by Edogawa Rampo: Booooring name, but filled with great stories and serves as a fantastic introduction to a masterful storyteller. The first Japanese mystery writer, Rampo was obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe (just check out his pen name). So he's reading tons of Poe as it's trickling into Japan in the earlier part of the twentieth century and starts to try his hand at doing the same. And then World War Two happens. If you've ever wondered why Japanese horror (especially their body horror) is this alien thing so divergent from tales of terror from anywhere else in the world, imagine what it would have been like if Poe was writing in a nation suffering the aftereffects of a nuclear bombing. That's the source material and inspiration behind tons of what we're seeing today. "The Human Chair" is a bizarre (but somewhat neutered) story about an disfigured man who decides to live inside a hotel lounge chair so he can finally be close to other people. "The Caterpillar" is about a mute, blind, paraplegic leaving his wife. They're indescribable. Check 'em out.
And if you want the crossover between Rampo and Miura, check out Junji Ito's manga Uzamaki, Gyo, and others. Ito is likely a strong inspiration for Miura and is totally worth your time. I'm sure I've got some links to his work around here if anyone's interested.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson: I could have put Jackson on my list of "duh" authors, but I'm calling this book out just for how misrepresented its been in films. This is a fantastic story that has such depth to it that my interpretation has changed entirely over the years. Everyone I talk to about this book seems to have their own take away from it as well. Is it a story about ghosts, insanity, gas lighting, or something else entirely, and who's doing what to whom? Fascinating. Pretend no movies of this exist and go straight to the source on this one--it's short and a fast read.
I'd also say nice things about the writing of James Tiptree Jr., who's a fascinating author in her own right and whom I totally recommend, but I've purchased an anthology of her short stories Her Smoke Rose Up Forever three times and each time I've lent it out and each time its vanished. So check that one out too... and tell me if you see my copies out there.
Of course anyone could go on and on, but I'll leave it at that for now. Thanks for asking!
Ha! It's one of those things that I've been told that if I write it, we'll put it on the schedule. And I have been writing it... at a rate of about two to four pages a year for the past 4 or 5 years. Even though even those are mostly just notes... and maps... and stat blocks... okay, I guess it's quite a bit.
It's just that it's a HUGE undertaking, and even though I have the majority of the plot and big secrets worked out--and have dropped them in several projects throughout the years--there's a few other things on my plate that take priority over a mega-adventure.
The other trick is that we don't really have a great format for this. A 32- or even 64-page module isn't near enough, and while a whole AP might do it, I have serious doubts about the viability of and interest in an AP that takes place in just one location--mostly because we've never done it before... but I guess it's not that different from an AP that takes place in just one city. Hum, hum, hum...
In any case, for the foreseeable future, this is just going to be my signature Paizocon game. I am--of course--planning to run the next session at the con this year, so if you're interested, as soon as the event calendar goes up, throw your name in the hat and hopefully you'll get in! Even if not I've got a run down of details on Bastardhall over here and I'll strive to keep it up to date.
How about this, I'll make a deal with you all. I'm working on (slowly) putting together a personal website. Once that gets up and running and I have a good place to squirrel away my notes and images and what not I'll post some pictures from my past workbooks, as well as some maps of what's come before. Cool?
Thanks again for all the interest in this everyone. There were really three places in Ustalav I targeted as potential Castle Ravenloft stand-ins and even though it wasn't the one I guessed, I'm glad this one took off (as it easily has my favorite name). :)
My only concerns about threads like these have been ones of use and utility conflicting with perception. I love that folks can come to these boards and ask for advice on running encounter X, get clarification on rule Y, or find insight into thing Z. Even better, other people who have the same questions might see those threads and have their questions answered without even having to ask. But that only really happens when the name of the thread is in the related forum with a title like "My Question About THIS!," not so much when it's in an off-topic forum with a name like "Ask the Lovesac Anything!"
Additionally, remember that these are off-topic discussions. Even if an in-world or rules question gets asked and answered, regardless of who answered it--Lisa, Vic, Erik, Jeff, James, Jason, Cosmo, Sutter, Me, the Lovesac, whoever--until it sees print in one of our books or official source that answer is NOT canon. We might go with a direction like that in the end, but only after the entire creative team has had their opportunities to weigh in. These threads are not meant to be a method of circumventing our in-house creative process or--intentionally or unintentionally--keep the folks who make the decisions about or world out of the loop. There will also ABSOLUTELY be topics and opinions raised in these threads that will NOT be the way those or similar ideas are presented in our actual products. That doesn't mean that these discussions aren't fun, inspirational, or insightful, but what's right for one creative off the cuff, or sounds right given their point of view, might not be exactly how we want to handle an idea in print. As such, taking anything you read in any of these off-topic discussions into other conversations and saying "Lisa, Vic, Erik, Jeff, James, Jason, Cosmo, Sutter, Wes, the Lovesac SAID..." amounts to about the same as "My buddy at the game table said."
It's helpful for us in-house at Paizo to remember this as well. I'd hate for anyone on our team to think that a discussion they had in this forum granted their voice priority over the other creative voices that that fill our conferences and brainstorms.
We've got a bunch of super talented, incredibly smart, frighteningly creative folks at Paizo, but it's really the collaboration and the shared world nature of our world and rules--both internally and with the larger community--that makes our best products sing. I love that folks are so interested in the great people behind the projects, but remember to take everything you read in this forum for what it is: off-topic and personal opinions--hopefully fun to read and helpful opinions, but not content staged for publication.
All that said! Thanks a ton everybody! These discussions have been really fun and a great way to get some crazy stories and wild ideas out there! :)
Lots of you might have already heard, but we got Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Mythic Adventures off to the printer yesterday! (Huuuuraay!) That's a huge deal and means that barring catastrophes, kaiju, and/or grand mal cluster@#$ery, we're going to have something very, very cool to show off in August.
But that was just one mountain.
We have one week left to get a ton more done, so the majority of our amazing production staff is in here again, chugging away to make sure there's more than a little awesome ready for convention season. And this time around Liz came in and made us all pancakes!
So just like last week, chime in with you support, last minute requests, and your perfect mimosa recipes (because we wanted it mix it up this week after just having orange juice last time).
Neil Spicer wrote:
This is going to sound weird, but one of my favorite breed of freelancer are the ones who tell me "no." Specifically, those who tell me "Sorry, I can't take that assignment, I don't have time for it." If I offer someone an awesome assignment and they're both professional and aware enough to judge the project's scope in relation to their other responsibilities and then make a call that doesn't end in money or credits, that's a freelancer I WILL go back to again.
We've been burned again and again by enthusiastic freelancers, first timers and thousandth timers, who heap an assignment on top of a shaky mountain of other personal and professional responsibilities. When something in that mountain inevitably crumbles, the resulting landslide means that not just the freelancer, but our project, gets buried. At that point, I have developers not working, editors not editing, art not being assigned, projects falling off schedule, and my bosses looking at me saying "WTF!?" That puts me in one of two positions: A) I never use that freelancer again and I or someone on my team writes the assigned thing in my/their off time, or B) I never use that freelancer again and I find some brilliant, super dependable other freelancer to save my ass.
Why do you think Adam Daigle has a job here? I can't count how many times I had freelancers pooch it at the eleventh hour--especially working on monsters, which I commonly used as testing grounds for new writers. I'm not at my office desk at the moment to pull an actual message, but there was a span of years where I was very familiar with writing e-mails like this late on a Friday evening:
So we're in a bit of a sticky place. We had a freelancer fall down on writing two CR 88 kyton gardeners for Pathfinder #118. I've attached the complete details below. Here's the trick: I need this Monday*. I'm headed out, but if you have the interest and the time just run with it. Thanks a ton man! Hope things are going great!
(* I usually had till the following Friday, but if he couldn't take (or just needed a couple more days) I wanted to have some wiggle room, even if I had to do it myself.)
Easily 9.5 out of 10 times I would come back Monday morning to two e-mails. One from Adam dated the past Friday or Saturday pretty much saying "Got this!" and a follow-up from him dated the previous night or that morning saying "Here's a thing! Check it out!" and an attachment.
Ultimately, Adam saved me from so many crunched deadlines and late night writing sessions that when it came time to hire someone to do exactly that full time as a new developer, he was the first person I held out a chair for. And you know what the mother@#$%er did?
He turned it down.
What an @$$! But the timing wasn't right and he and Heather had other responsibilities at the time. So after months of searching, we finally got Sutter's spirit animal, Patrick Renie, out of that deal--though we had to wait for him to finish college. (Well, well worth the wait! Except he always makes the rest of us feel old. -_-)
It would be more than another year, but when surges in the company's growth gave us the opportunity to add another hand to team Adventure Path--specifically to fill my role as guy handling the AP support articles and Bestiary--the chair again got held out for Adam, and that time he actually took it.
The editor-author relationship can be like any other relationship. If either side doesn't live up to their promises or out-right lies, there's friction, stress, hurt feelings, anger, bad endings. But when editors and authors can trust and rely on each other, it can lead to a fantastic working relationship. I've had authors who have done right by me dozens of time get in hard spots, and I'm happy to make concessions for them, give them assignments when they need them, see if we can do anything on our side to make life easier, or pull strings with contacts throughout the industry. I don't do that for people who don't live up to their sides of bargains.
Adam's not the only freelancer I or Paizo uses who's done fantastically fast and consistently reliable work. Every editor develops their own stable of authors who they can rely on not just to do the job, but to do it fantastically and make their lives easier when they get in sticky spots. I've got several favorites at the moment, many of whom I'm working with to get even better. It's those folks, the ones who are eager and invested, the ones who are professional and responsible with their time, the ones who look at what we make and try to emulate our styles and techniques, who ask questions and demand feedback, who don't let their e-mails get forgotten, who know and use our game rules, and who, on top of everything, have fantastic imaginations and are solid writers that I'll go to again and again and again. And when huge projects come down the pipeline or new chairs get added around here, those are the authors--the ones who are already making my life easier--I save the awesome stuff for.
What are all of the secrets of Bastardhall?
Rule of Fear says there's an angel named Cevairiel in the vaults there. How weird is that!?
If you want to find out more, though, come to Paizocon and play in my yearly Bastardhall game (which I talked a bunch about over here).
I started the map of the place last year. I should show that off sometime... but I don't think anyone's really interested. ;)
Hum, lets see here. Well, Varisia for one. James and I were coming up with stuff for that nation before there was even a world for it to go in. There was a point where we didn't know much more besides that place except that there were wizards, giants, and magic tied to the seven deadly sins. Then we talked around which wizard to make the big boss for the new AP--there was a while where the boss of what would become Rise of the Runelords was a resurrected buried giant, but we reused a lot of those ideas for the end of Legacy of Fire. Anyway, for the wizard, Wrath was too obvious, lust was pandering, pride was also obvious, gluttony and sloth were boring, envy--meh--so we finally ended with greed. Or avarice.
I was doing a lot work coming up with deity names at the time, writing big lists and moving around letters--hoping to hit on something like reordering the letters in "Vance" to get "Vecna." So I started spit balling names for the place in the moleskine I was using at the time... Avarice... Avarise. Avaria. Avarisa. Avarisia. Varisia.
That last one, obviously, stuck.
Beyond that, Varisia was really a team effort between James, Sutter, myself, and lots of others at the time. James did Sandpoint. I did Magnimar (I've got a HUGE map I sketched of it around here somewhere; that was also where I first name dropped Empyreal Lords). Sutter did the original Varisia Gazetteer. So that's where we spent a lot of our first year or two.
Since we've had a full world to play in, I--of course--moved a lot of my focus to Ustalav, but I've also written a lot on Nidal, the Worldwound, and Numeria in the Inner Sea World Guide. Zirnakaynin and the drow houses took up a lot of head space back in the Second Darkness days (I've got another HUGE map of Zirnakaynin's layers around here too). I've spent quite a few words on Sarkoris, my lost kingdom of choice, in the past year or so--trying to mix things up with the clans and pantheism and god callers--and even getting some stink from there into neighboring Ustalav (see Dragons Unleashed). Bits of Cheliax, especially with my details on the Hellknights. And a few others I'm sure I'm forgetting.
Monsters, deities, and the planes are really some of my big interests, though. There was quite a while where I had a new monster or two in every other volume of Pathfinder--the Sandpoint Devil, strix, the first heralds of the gods, all the devils in Council of Thieves, etc. But putting a lot of thought into how the planes work, especially Heaven, Hell, the Boneyard, and the Plane of Shadow has grown out of a lot of those creature descriptions.
(Now if I could only come up with a satisfying way to map those places...)
But even for all these spots, no one at Paizo can really honestly say "This is all mine." We've got dozens of super creative, super talented people at the office and we brainstorm and bounce ideas off each other constantly. Add into that the work of hundreds of freelancers and nothing is purely the effort of one person. There are certainly people who are experts on specific places, but no one can honestly point at a place and say "I did all of this." It's a shared world after all, and all the pieces are stronger for the collaboration, the plotting of in-house schemers, and the stories of players out there everywhere.