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James Jacobs

James Jacobs's page

Creative Director. Pathfinder Society Member. 51,851 posts (54,235 including aliases). No reviews. 2 lists. No wishlists. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 9 aliases.


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Generic Villain wrote:

Hey James. I know we're getting 20 Great Old Ones and Elder Gods in the Edler Mythos article of In Search of Sanity, which is 10 more than have been detailed before. Are those 10 brand new, or have they been name-dropped before? Are the 10 newbies all Great Old Ones, or will we get a new Elder God or two? Can you tell us anything awesome about the article without spoiling stuff?

(Haven't been this pumped since the Dominion of the Black article.)

One is brand new, invented by me for the article. The others are either picked up from previous mentions before, but the bulk of those new ones are entities from writers like Clark Ashton Smith or Frank Belknap Long; authors whose creations we can use in Strange Aeons due to an arrangement with Chaosium, who controls the RPG rights for these creatures more or less. These characters will not be open content though.

And since the article comes out in about a week at Gen Con... you've waited this long. You'll make it to next week! :)

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Justin Franklin wrote:
Did you see that Phantasm V is releasing in October?

I'll believe it when I am watching it. Phantasm V has been more or less complete for about 2 years now, IIRC, and it's had a LOT of false starts as far as releases go...

I certainly hope it does come out soon though!

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Thomas Seitz wrote:
In other news, I wonder if we'll get sections of the stuff from Chambers or by Bierce in terms of using some of that as a way to describe Hastur's rites and stuff.

In fact, Chambers and Bierce and Derleth and Petersen are much more responsible for setting up what gamers regard as the "Hastur Mythology" today. Lovecraft's actual contribution to Hastur is in fact miniscule; he mentioned the name once or twice but that's about it.

So yes, what we do with Hastur in Pathfinder is MUCH more inspired by what's been done with him via Chambers, Bierce, Derleth, and Petersen, along with a SIGNIFICANT dose of my own exploration of Hastur themes.

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
Is it a sign of weakness that just reading the synopsis of a scary story is enough to freak me out (looking at the suggested reading at the back of Horror Adventures I got curious about some works I'd never heard of before and looked up Pontypool and MY GOD did I regret it!)?

Nope; just a sign that you're not used to/interested in horror.

That said... Pontypool is an INCREDIBLE movie with a FASCINATING premise that's fresh and new and super creepy. One of the reasons I love building those lists of "suggested reading/viewing" is to spread the word on obscure but amazing movies and novels.

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Gorbacz wrote:
James, does the incoming Starfinder mean that the Golarion setting will feature a) less b) the same c) more sci-fi and sci-fantasy material?

Starfinder is its own game and its own setting. While it will doubtless influence Pathfinder and Golarion in some way, we will continue to tell the same sorts of stories we've been telling in Golarion for the past decade into the next, hopefully! That means that now and then, sci-fi and sci-fantasy elements will appear in Golarion as the need and interest and desire strikes us.

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Cole Deschain wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
That said, in keeping with Arazni herself, she'd probably have a curse that causes the dead to rise and serve her as their queen, and that anyone who died in her realm would come back as a juju zombie minion of hers.

Would that bother her? Most Ravenloft Darklords get great power from their status, but their curses usually deny them the one thing they want the most- Strahd is tormented by having his brother's betrothed reincarnated every so often, only to escape him(usually by dying), Azalin is incapable of learning new spells, Vlad Drakov can never again conquer anything of value and hold it, that sort of deal.

Does the Harlot Queen of Geb really mind being in charge of piles of undead?

The themes for what makes a darklord of Ravenloft are baked in at the creation/concept of the villain. Arazni and all of the other big bads of Golarion are not created to be darklords, and so wedging them into that role would require a fair amount of re-imagining and rebuilding, in the same way setting up Arazni as a bad guy in Dark Sun or Birthright or Eberron or Spelljammer would require reworking. And this is not the place to expect me to provide full campaign conversions for bad guys.

So no, Arazni is not put out or disgusted by being in charge of undead; not at all. But perhaps if she were rebuilt and retuned and recast as a Ravenloft Darklord, that would change.

She's not, so anything I mention as a potential Darklord version of her has no real bearing or insight into her role in Golarion.

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Rysky wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Belltrap wrote:
Who would your top choice be from Golarion to become a Ravenloft Darklord?
In addition, who would your top choice be from Golarion to become a Golarion Dread Lord?
Dread lord?

... it's a new template from Horror Adventures.

Sorry.

Oh. Dunno. Most of those templates are pretty "generic" in world context, and it'll take some time before they start being adopted into and contextualized in Golarion. Horror Realms (which I developed) does some contextualization for some of these new monsters, particularly the Hive, but at this point there's not really a special role for dread lords in the setting. That may or may not change some day.

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
Any opinions on Sid Meier's Civilization series?

I played the HELL out of Civilization 2. Loved that game. A classic "One more turn" game that makes it shockingly easy to play until sunrise.

I've tried a few of the sequels now and then, but they tended not to capture the lightning in the bottle for me the way Civ 2 did, and after I bought a fancy special edition version of I think Civ 4 or 5 (can't remember which) and actually never played it... never even INSTALLED it... I realized I'd lost interest in the genre and never came back.

Until recently, I guess, when I was convinced to buy Stellaris on the Summer Steam Sale. I've installed it, then played for about an hour... enough to realize that there's a LOT of interest in the game and it has HUGE deep gameplay, but also to realize that the learning curve is super steep and that maybe my time is better spent playing "The Long Dark" or "Witcher" or anything else.

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donato wrote:
Hey, James! I have a player that is wanting to start a cult of personality centered around a persona of his. He is looking to gain followers, but I'm at a loss as to how best figure out a way for him to gain these followers. He is looking to avoid taking Leadership, as he does not want to acquire a cohort. I've looked over the Leadership rules, but there doesn't seem to be a way for him to acquire followers with a skill check or something similar. Do you have any suggestions or jumping off points for rules on how to do this?

Speaking from personal experience, the MOST fun I've ever had with a character was when she did pretty much this same thing; Shensen built herself something of a cult in Jason Nelson's Forgotten Realms campaign back in the day, and even managed to more or less take over an entire Red Wizard enclave (until another PC burnt it down... grrrr). All without taking Leadership (since we had a LOT of players in that group, some of whom also had Leadership, one more PC would have been clutter).

The easiest way to model a character gaining followers is to simply use the leadership rules for followers. Don't make the PC take Leadership; just let the accumulation of his followers be a reward for game play, in the same way a PC can earn magic items or gold as a reward for game play.

Alternately, you can use the rebellion rules from the Hell's Rebels Player's Guide to model the PC's following, or if you want to incorporate more money/resource management, the organization rules from Ultimate Campaign should work. There's a lot of interesting contacts/organization stuff in Ultimate Intrigue as well.

The best way, in other words, is to turn that player's goal into part of the campaign, and rather than make the player "pay" for the cult/followers by taking feats (that's boring), have him "pay" by requiring elements in the adventures you run. If, for example, the next adventure has the PCs being hired to explore a haunted house, the PC who's building followers might be additionally tasked with "Search the house for any evidence of if there are any living descendants so you can get it out of the government's hands and perhaps use it as a home base for your cult," or maybe "If you manage to exorcise the haunts in the house, your fame will grow and you'll earn a number of new loyal followers."

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TheAlicornSage wrote:

Top 1% in IQ, I could do it, even with my complete lack of people skills.

Be that as it may, this isn't the thread for discussions of your plans upon your eventual achievement of immortality. Please keep the thread to questions for me; if you want to continue the discussion/theorizing of "What would someone do if they were immortal?" that needs to be a different thread of its own.

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Belltrap wrote:

Forgive me if you've elaborated before and I've missed it, but could you please tell us more about your Hell's Vengeance PC?

Do you have any character concepts percolating for your first Starfinder PC? If so, what could you tell us about them?

My Hell's Vengeance PC is Bezlarue, a chaotic evil female demon-blooded tiefling bard who has a super prehensile tail, a crush on Queen Abrogail, and a swiftly-growing frustration with rural life and country bumpkins. She worships Nocticula, is kind of afraid of melee combat, and is increasingly Not A Fan of those Iomedae worshipers. Also, she's keeping a list of those who need to go away, and is probably 1 session away from officially becoming a child murderer.

I have no character concepts for my first Starfinder PC, and if I did, I wouldn't tell because that'd be spoilers about what is or isn't in the game. Although at this point I guess it's not too much of a spoiler to say that my first character will probably be a female human.

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Thomas Seitz wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Thomas Seitz wrote:
Wait...did you just say you added MORE to Castle Scarwall, Mister Jacobs?!
QUITE a lot more, in fact.

OOo....OOOO....oooo

*faints*

All those rooms in the previous version that had either no encounter in them or one of the letter codes for a generic kitchen/armory/whatever? With the exception of the toilets and generic storerooms... ALL of those rooms now have new things, be they actual monster encounters or hidden treasures or haunts or clues or the like. Several of these were things I had to cut from the original adventure, but most are brand new even to Greg.

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Thomas Seitz wrote:
Wait...did you just say you added MORE to Castle Scarwall, Mister Jacobs?!

QUITE a lot more, in fact.

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Snowsarn wrote:

Hello James

Hope you are well :-)
Some Iconic questions:

Which of the Core Iconics were created by you?

Who made the others?

Why was there no Core half-orc Iconic?

Was Seltyiel an Iconic before he became a magus? He was a Eldritch Knight in CRB right? And he is on the GM screen

Cheers

First two questions have kind of a complex answer...

Spoiler:
When we create iconics, we gather and talk out what mix of attributes we want for each one. Typically this comes down to gender, race, alignment, and origin. We then send that information to Wayne Reynolds, and that info is usually pretty sparse, something like "The iconic rogue is a female elf who wears studded leather armor and carries a rapier and daggers." Then Wayne creates the character. Then we name her and create her backstory (and eventually her stats for whatever purpose they're needed for).

The "WE" above has traditionally been myself, Erik Mona, Wes Schneider, Jason Bulmhan, and James Sutter, but we always ask for help naming and the like from the rest of the editorial staff, particularly when it comes to names.

Once we have looks for an iconic done and the art is complete, someone writes up a "Meet the Iconics" for the character. At the start, I wrote all of these, but early on, we didn't even have a WORLD to set the iconics in, so for the first two, Valeros and Seoni, their "meet the iconics" profiles were initially as much introductions to Golarion as they were anything else. It wasn't until Merisiel came along that we had enough context with Golarion that we were able to focus more and more on their backgrounds. I wrote the background for Merisiel and Kyra and Ezren. James Sutter did Harsk. I came back and did the backgrounds for Seelah and Amiri. Mike McArtor did the background for Sajan and LIni. Wes Schneider did the background for Seltyiel. Eventually, we went back and did proper backgrounds for Valeros and Seoni that expanded on the bare-bones ones I did early on, but I don't recall who did those.

Since then, we've added a LOT of additional iconics and a LOT of additional staff members. I can't remember who wrote who, apart from a few stand-outs in my mind. For example, I know I wrote Jirelle's background because I wrote it. But I've written increasingly few of these. I know Crystal wrote Shardra's because that one was so incredible. You can do a search here for "Meet the Iconics" and whoever wrote each one is credited at the bottom of the blog post, in any event.

Why there's no half-orc core iconic:

Spoiler:
There's no core half-orc iconic because of math. For what I assume are obvious reasons, we decided that the 12 covers of the first two adventure paths would be the best place to debut the looks of the Pathfinder iconics. At the time, we weren't sure we'd even get to volume 7 before going out of business, so we didn't worry too much about the fact that we only had 11 classes to put on 12 covers. We also wanted to make sure to get across the point that Golarion was huamnocentric, and we did that by having 2/3 of those initial six characters be humans. And we wanted an equal split between gender (or if not equal, to skew to female since tabletop RPGs have too-long skewed male). And we wanted a range of ethnicities. And we had only 11 classes to illustrate. So ... at minimum that mean 6 humans. We went for 7, because 6 wasn't enough to cover the spread of gender, ethnicity, and ages we wanted to show to promote diversity and inclusivity (and even 7 wasn't really enough, in my opinion). That left only four choices, and so we decided those four had to be represented by the four non-hybrid races—gnome, halfling, elf, and dwarf. When it came to a 12th race to choose for the 12th cover of Pathfinder, we were hit with a bit of a conundrum, since we only had 11 classes to illustrate at the time. My solution was for the 12th character to be the iconic MULTICLASS character, since the other 11 were by definition NOT multiclassed. And when choosing an iconic multiclass character, what made sense was the combination that was hands-down the most popular multiclass choice as evidenced from several decades of fantasy tabletop RPGs: a fighter/wizard. And that pretty much meant that character had to be a half-elf, for traditional reasons and for game mechanic reasons (since half elves do better with multiclassing overall than do half-orcs.) It would be a few years before we did more classes, and when that happened, we made sure that one of those six was a half-orc, but that's why there's no half-orc among the first 11.

About Seltyiel:

Spoiler:
And yes, Seltyiel was an iconic before he became a magus. He debuted on the cover of Pathfinder #12, several years before the magus was even an idea, much less in print as a character class. As mentioned above, he was first presented as the iconic multiclass character (in his case a fighter/wizard). This decision was made before we knew we'd soon have to be building our own RPG... remember, things like deciding the covers of an AP happen a year or more in advance of their publication, so folks were still finding out about Runelords when we had to decide on who would be on the cover to #12. When we did finally build the Pathfinder RPG, we decided to "upgrade" Seltyiel from the iconic multiclass character to the iconic prestige class character. In retrospect, it would have been better to build iconics for ALL the prestige classes, but we couldn't afford at the time to have Wayne create that many additional pieces of art for us (the amount of new art we COULD afford for the Core Rulebook was, overall, pretty small considering the size of the book). Jason Engle did a great job illustrating those other prestige classes, but we've always wanted the baseline "look" of our game to be defined by Wayne's artwork, and so those other prestige class characters never really became iconics, nor do we really ever use them in the same way we use our actual iconics. Finally, when we got to Ultimate Magic and were casting about for what could possibly be a strong "HOOK" for the book (aka a new class) we hit upon the idea of building a fighter/wizard type class. And at that point, we decided that Seltyiel would finally become an official non-multiclassed iconic... and to celebrate, we had Wayne create a second painting of him. As far as I know, Seltyiel is the only iconic that we've had Wayne paint twice in that way.

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Updating a 3.5 product to Pathfinder is more than just swapping out statistics. A lot more. Adjusting the experience point awards is another big part. As with Rise of the Runelords, the Curse of the Crimson Throne hardcover assumes that you run using the Fast XP track, but as Kalindlara pointed out, even our Fast track is slower than was 3.5's XP route.

As a result, Curse of the Crimson Throne for Pathfinder gives out more XP overall than the version for 3.5. This is the same thing for the Runelords hardcover. How does it give out more XP? Two ways:

1) Pathfinder is more interested in actually giving out story awards for XP than was 3.5. You COULD do story awards in 3.5, but game and adventure design philosophy put a much stronger focus on killing as a method for gaining XP, at least as the assumed baseline. With Pathfinder, we give out XP for solving problems via methods other than killing, and also give out XP for completing significant story awards far more often.

2) The bigger way, though, is simply by adding MORE. There's certainly a significant addition to the campaign between "A History of Ashes" and "Skeletons of Scarwall" (a new complex I designed consisting of about 20 encounter areas), but that's not the only place I added encounters. I added encounters to EVERY adventure. Some more than others—in Scarwall, for example, EVERY room now has something going on, be it a fight or a trap or a haunt or a clue or a treasure or whatever. That more or less added, I'm guessing, about 15 pages or so of content to that adventure—all of them encounters. There's additional encounters in the other adventures as well; in some cases things I put back into the adventure after I had to cut them from previous publication for space count, but in most cases entirely new things I added as part of the development process.

So... in the end, you start this campaign at 1st level and can expect to reach 17th level, and more or less will progress through the levels at about the same rate and speed as you did if you played it back when it first came out. All part of my goal of preserving as much of the original play experience as I could.

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Ross Byers wrote:
Is immortality overrated? Underrated?

I think it's absolutely overrated, and I think the human mind is simply not built for it. In time, any mind will collapse on itself from boredom or ennui or the like, if only because it's human nature to attach more significance to suffering and loss than it is to focus on delight and perfection. Any entity that could whether immortality without self-destruction would be by definition inhuman and thus unknowable to a human.

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
When an android undergoes "renewal" is it essentially like reincarnation the way samsarans do it, the same soul reincarnating over and over? Or is it like a new soul occupies the android's body and the old soul passes to Pharasma's judgment?
It's a new soul.

So, bearing that in mind, would the idea of an android medium who connects with and draws power from his/her body's previous souls be a viable character concept, kind of like...** spoiler omitted **

Or do android souls not work the way they work for human mediums?

Android souls work exactly the way any other soul works, so that should work fine.

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skizzerz wrote:
My players are going to be making a long trek from Magnimar to Numeria in the coming weeks, and I was trying to figure out what sort of course they would likely take in doing so. Going from Magnimar to Korvosa via ship seems obvious, but from there I'm trying to figure out where they would pass through the mountains. The Bloodsworn Vale looks promising as a means of traversing the mountain range, however I'm having a heck of a time finding more information about it. Could you explain roughly what that area is like or point me towards some books that may have more information on it?

There's basically two "safe" trade routes one could follow (both of which avoid danger zones like Irrisen and Belkzen).

1) Magnimar to Korvosa to Bloodsworn Vale, through Nirmathas and Ustalav to Numeria. (Bloodsworn Vale is the ONLY pass from Varisia to the Encarthan region through those mountains, other than serious mountain climbing or serious Darklanding.)

2) Magnimar to Corentyn to Cassomir, then up the Sellen to Numeria.

Option 1 is the better choice if you want to make the journey a string of mini adventures along the way. Option 2 is the better choice if you want to hand-wave the journey and have the PCs arrive in Numeria without much adventure.

If you want more information about Bloodsworn Vale, it's detailed pretty exhaustively in the second adventure we published for Golarion, Conquest of Bloodsworn Vale.

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captain yesterday wrote:
What's your favorite part of Into the Darklands that Greg added. :-)

Hmmm... a LOT of options to choose from there, and it's been about a decade since we worked on it so I'm not 100% sure what parts were his or mine now. I believe he did the majority of the work on Nar-Voth though, and of those regions, I think I like the Court of Ether the best, since it's new and not a thematic inheritance from D&D.

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Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
When an android undergoes "renewal" is it essentially like reincarnation the way samsarans do it, the same soul reincarnating over and over? Or is it like a new soul occupies the android's body and the old soul passes to Pharasma's judgment?

Follow up: by reading AZ's question I'm going to assume that androids have souls.

Q: With the creeping up of 'immortal' PC races like androids and samsarans, what do good old liches and vampires think of this? i.e. why don't they just transfer their souls into an android/robot body upon death, instead of having to resort to evil necromancy, alignment change, etc. I'm talking about the willing vampires and liches here, not the humanoids that have ended up as undead due to accident or affliction... thanks!

Androids absolutely have souls, and in fact that's a significant part of their lore and part of a plot point in Iron Gods. It's what makes them not robots.

And neither androids nor samsarans are immortal. If they die, you make a new character in the same way you do if a human character dies. It doesn't really impact lich or vampire opinions at all, since it's a non-issue.

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Mogloth wrote:

O Great and Wise T-Rex,

Spoiler:
At the end of book 5, there exists an option for a PC to become the Herald of Iomedae. Is that something that the current herald can pass on? Or does this only come from Iomedae?
This ties into me having the herald grant the PCs a vision for a quest to help close the Worldwound.

Does it make you smile getting a decent amount of questions lately regarding Wrath?

Spoiler:
Only a deity can make someone a herald.

Considering the volume of questions on this thread, I actually hadn't noticed any upsurge in questions about Wrath... but I do appreciate that the relentless crusade a few people in particular waged against the campaign seems to have largely wound up.

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The NPC wrote:
There will be an NPC with a Kyton Eidolon. Will that be available as a player option?

The rules for kyton eidolons are in the book's appendix. Whether or not your GM makes those rules available to your PC for this adventure or for any adventure is up to your GM, of course.

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MMCJawa wrote:

1. Speaking of movies, did you hear that the Adam Wingard ("Your Next, etc.) movie "The Woods" was announced at comic con with a new name, "The Blair Witch"?

2. Does this make you more excited or less? I love that director and was excited, but admittedly the idea of an original movie from him is somewhat more appealing than a sequel to a franchise that hasn't had a new entry in quite awhile.

3. Do you have a current favorite "active" director of movies (horror or otherwise), a director that automatically makes you pay attention to their next project?

1) Oh my yes. I was already a fan of Adam Wingard, since the home-invasion sub-genre of horror is one of my LEAST favorite sub-genres of horror, but what he did in "You're Next" blew me away. And Blair Witch Project is one of my favorite movies. And I was already eager to see "The Woods" before I knew the truth. SO... yeah. VERY excited.

2) It makes me more excited. I went from interested to "I might have to see this movie on the VERY first showing, be it the midnight before release or perhaps take the day off to watch it" level of excitement. The advance word I've seen on the movie is VERY encouraging as well.

3) Yup, I've got a few who fall into that category. My "top three" directors of all time are John Carpenter, Akira Kurosawa, Werner Herzog, and Martin Scorsese. Others bounce in and out of the top five, filling that fifth slot—Guillarmo del Toro and Quentin Tarrintino and Ridley Scott and Stephen Spielberg usually fight for that role.

That said. If there's one director who makes me sit up and instantly pay attention to their next project, that'd be Ti West.

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The Doomkitten wrote:

Oh Mighty T-Rex,

The group that my friend and I run can only be charitably be called a group. Since we run our game in a public place, and the whole thing is actually a way to get more people interested in RPGs, we have people dropping in and out constantly, and a veritable flood of new players.

Don't get me wrong, I love this! It's fun introducing a bunch of new people to the game, they often come up with fun and interesting ideas that our vets, set in their ways as they are, didn't even think of. But, it's created a bit of a problem for us.

It's rather difficult crafting adventures with how that other than our few vets, different peoples' interests vary wildly as they come to our table, and we often don't know who's coming in advance. In addition, it takes an hour out of our game time to make new characters for the newcomers, and its difficult to explain what already happened in the campaign to new people.

The other DM and I have bounced around a few ideas (creating modular, mostly self-contained adventures with a myth arc, using pregens, perhaps converting a system that's a bit more simple than PF), but what's your take?

The type of game you describe is not really one that works best as a custom campaign with a detailed overarching plot, like you see us do in our Adventure Paths. What it REALLY sounds like you're running is something that is pretty much identical to Pathfinder Society; if you AREN'T actually running the Pathfinder Society organized play game, you should absolutely consider making that change, since it was built specifically for your exact situation—games run in public venues with a constantly rotating cast of players and a relatively thin overall metaplot that focuses on self-contained one-shot adventures.

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
Does bustin' make you feel good?

Not particularly.

Spoiler:
Nor does it make me feel bad. I was never what you'd call a "fan" of Ghostbusters, and while I've seen it a few times, it's far from my favorite movie. It's a fun movie, but it's got parts that annoy me, particularly some of the humor and goofy elements. It's not a movie I've ever felt compelled to own, nor is it one I've ever felt compelled to watch on my own. It doesn't really have any inertia at all for me in one way or another.

I haven't seen the new Ghostbusters movie yet. I an DELIGHTED that the ghostbusters this time around are all women; I think that more movies should do stuff like this, and I hope the movie's success in the face of the haters and misogynists is proof to Hollywood and the world at large that we WANT more women in movies, in roles that aren't defined by the woman needing to be a mother or a nurse or a girlfriend or whatever. But beyond this "ABOUT DAMN TIME" element of the movie... there's not much about the movie from it's trailers or from what I've heard that makes me eager to see it.

This is, of course, complicated by the fact that all of my friends who have seen it have LOVED LOVED LOVED it. And that sort of triggers a warning bell in my head. More often than not, when there's a big popcorn/summer movie like this and everyone else seems to love it, I end up watching the movie and either don't like it or simply like it. AKA: If everyone around me gives it an A+, I'd give the movie in question a B or even a B–. Which still means I liked the movie and am glad I saw it, but when other people who LOVE something are confronted with someone who only likes it, they get weirdly defensive and crusade to try to explain to me why I should like it... perhaps not exactly like that, but they start talking about the parts that they felt made it a GREAT movie and I get the vibe that they think that I simply didn't pick up on that and if I learned about it I would suddenly change my mind.

But here's the thing.

I've been watching movies for close to 40 years. I've been reading and writing for about the same amount of time. I do have a pretty good grasp of what makes a story good or bad, particularly what makes one good or bad to me. I also understand that sometimes, what makes a story good for me makes it bad for others–I love Blair Witch Project, for example, but a lot of folks whose movie opinions I trust hate that movie. I get it, and I don't try to convince them to love it, because I respect their opinions.

I don't enjoy when friends don't pay me the same respect.

I've been through this a fair amount... most often, recently, with superhero movies. There's been a few that I've legitimately LOVED, like "Guardians of the Galaxy" and the Nolan Batman movies, but many of them I only enjoy and never feel the need to watch again. I've only seen the Avengers once, and don't feel the urge to see it again. Same goes for the Thor movies, the Iron Man movies, Deadpool, etc. Fun movies, but none of them are "A" movies to me (like Guardians was, and which I've seen more than once as a result). Note that this can also go in reverse. I quite loved "Jurassic World" and the new Godzilla movie was GREAT (as in I saw it twice on opening day great), but when folks I talk to are lukewarm on the movie, I generally just pull back and stop the conversation. No need for me to blather about it and annoy them, and I'm not interested in them trying to tell me why they feel it was a mediocre movie.

So... I've not yet seen the new Ghostbusters, and there's a very good chance I won't see it in theaters. If I do... It'll probably be on my own. More likely, I'll wait to see it on DVD/Netflix/whatever. Instead, I went to see "Lights Out" this weekend, which was a pretty average horror movie with a few nifty elements to it.

Whew... long answer to a short question. I'll spoiler the above to cut down on the wall of text syndrome.

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Axial wrote:

1. What color is Alexeara Cansellarion's hair and eyes?

2. What do you think about the idea of homebrew Glorious Reclamation campaign?

3. What would be a good 1st-level quest for a bunch of Glorious Reclamation PCs; an anti-Thrune mission that some low-level initiates could handle?

1) Have no idea. I've not reached the point where I've encountered her in that campaign (we're still about 1/2 way through the first book). Good question for Rob though, I guess. Or if you have the volume with her npc writeup, her art will help you.

2) Not interesting to me.

3) Anything that starts them down the road toward reclaiming Chelaix, I guess. Dunno. I'm playing in that AP. I didn't write/outline/develop it. AKA: Glorious Reclamation characters are for KILLING!!!

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MythicFox wrote:
If someone was making their own fantasy setting purely from scratch and you could only give them three pieces of basic world-building advice, what would they be? (If you'd absolutely have to give more than three, go ahead, three just seems like a good number for keeping it simple)

1) Start small. Begin by building a village in a rural area.

2) Read voraciously/game voraciously/watch voraciously for inspiration.

3) Every time you answer a mystery about your world, pose two more new mysteries to replace the one you answered.

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Dragon78 wrote:
I don't remember seeing any horns on denizens of leng. But he could have a template or even class feature for that anyway.

They normally hide them under their turbans/headwear, and often aren't so huge... but horns on the denizens of Leng is direct out of Lovecraft...

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Thomas Seitz wrote:
*wonders if the Necronomicon will show up in this...*

That's hardly something a player should get to read about.

It also sounds like a great subject for a support article for an adventure path focused on Lovecraftian themes. Hmm! :-P

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The NPC wrote:

Mr. James Jacobs,

If someone was making a class or alternate class that focused on changing the character into one of the outsider types (Angel, Demon, Daemon, etc.) would the spell casing of that class be divine or arcane in your estimation? Also, which class spell list would it use?

I wouldn't make that a spellcasting class at all.

The druid does something similar; it has spellcasting and can change shape. It's an exceptionally powerful class with a lot of versatility AND very complicated.

IF I were to build a class that was about becoming an outsider, it would not cast spells. It would be a full BAB class, most likely, that would gain as its class abilities new powers and themes along the lines of what outsiders get. Among those would be a SMALL number of spell-like abilities.

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RHMG Animator wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
RHMG Animator wrote:
Any chance some Ultimate Intrigue stuff got put in like, a Heist.
There's a Vigilante, but that's about it from Ultimate Intrigue. No heists or anything like that.
Nuts, I felt like there were some ideal spots to put some of that stuff in...

The point of this whole book was to update it to the current rules but to keep the same flavor and experience as closely as possible to the original. It's not really a "remake" at all. As you saw with Runelords, the end result is pretty much the same game, with a few expansions here and there.

Since there was never a heist in the original, there's no heist in it now.

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captain yesterday wrote:

Art question!

Why are Urdefhan always wearing leather strips over their eyes, is it just because it makes them look cool, or is there a reason behind it. :-)

Have a splendid weekend!

Because that's something that kinda got latched onto, I guess. There's not really any in-world reason for it. And indeed it makes no sense for their stats since they have to be able to see. In my homebrew, where they come from, they have red eyes that look creepy because you can see through the eyelids.

They've proven to be one of the most difficult things to get illustrated "right" for whatever reason, though.

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Grond wrote:

James,

You mentioned before that you wanted to do the Red Mantis Assassin companion book and I know that I am not the only person that would love to see a book dedicated to Golarion's greatest assassin cult. Is there a chance we could see this book within the next two years or so?

I suppose there's a chance... but not a big one. Not a big one at all.

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Hayato Ken wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
I managed to squeeze in some elements from Occult Adventures here and there into the new book. Not a lot, but the book DOES, for example, give advice on what happens if you bring a spiritualist into Scarwall, or how some occult options might allow for strange new potential interactions with the Harrow deck or other things you find along the way!

That´s pretty cool.

I know quite some people who GM and feel overwhelmed by new options and have problems incorporating them into APs. They will surely appreciate it.

True... but that said, a GM who's overwhelmed by the new options and has problems dealing with them absolutely should NOT allow those new options into his game. That's not the mark of a lazy GM... that's the mark of a skilled GM who knows what his limits are.

Personally, I suspect that many GMs who find their games aren't "challenging" enough when they run a game run into that problem precisely because they allow players carte blanche to build characters from books and options the GM isn't familiar with. In a best-case scenario, the GM is the one with the best rules-fu at the table, and when a player knows the mechanics of a class a lot better than the GM the GM is more often going to be blindsided by things.

And to you players out there... if you DO get to build a class that you think the GM isn't familiar with, don't use this as an opportunity to trick/ambush your poor GM. Work with him to make sure he's aware of your character's options, tactics, and potentials. The whole mindset of "if the GM knows my tricks then he'll use that knowledge to win and kill my character" is toxic to the game. As are GMs who do that, of course... if you have a GM who pulls this kind of stunt, though, chances are good you know that already and the solution there isn't really to build a sneaky character using options that GM isn't familiar with but to either find a new GM or volunteer to be the GM for your group.

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The NPC wrote:

Mr. James Jacobs,

Between Shackled City, Age or Worms, and Savage Tide, which do you think would be the most readily convertible to Golarion?

Also, which is the best substitute for Demogorgon?

Savage Tide, since it takes place "off the map." I think the Isle of Dread would work well to the southwest of the Shackles. And the other stuff would fit in well there as well. Sasserine would be a city on the mainland coast of the Shackles, while Cauldron would be inland.

Which means Shackled City would fit pretty well in there as well, I guess... but the fact that Shackled City relies so much on a specific D&D only monster means you'd have a bit more work cut out for you to adapt it.

Age of Worms would work the worst, because it's SO heavily invested in Greyhawk lore. I think it's actually a disservice to that AP to set it anywhere but Greyhawk.

The best choice for Demogorgon is to NOT substitute him at all but use Demogorgon. Golarion's Abyss is perfectly capable of having room for Demogorgon as one more demon lord, perhaps one on the same tier as Nocticula or Pazuzu for power. He'd still be under Lamashtu, but that doesn't mean he can't still be the demon lord of demons.

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Rysky wrote:
Also, similar to how Arazni made "the Harlot Queen" title her own rather it remain an insult have the Erinyes Queens done the same, or do they actually have another title other than "Whore Queens"?

The Whore Queens do not have another title. Hell is misogynistic. That's one of the ways hell is such a bastion of evil, and the concept of pure LAWFUL EVIL (aka the concept of traditional evil, or the evil of blind adherence to outdated or destructive traditions set up by ignorant or cruel predecessors) fits misogyny very well in my opinion.

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Kalindlara wrote:

So I stumbled across this post. As someone who ran that adventure, I just want to say that that sounds like an awesome archetype.

If we ever get a Paths of the Profane Player Companion, is there any chance we could get prestige classes for all four whore queens? I've always felt they were rather underserved, and would like to see them get a little more material. (Plus, giving each of them unique content lets you use their collective term a bit less, if that's a factor.)

Short answer: no

Longer answer...

Spoiler:

If a potential "Paths of the Profane" PC were to come out, it would have room for 14 prestige classes. Of those 14, 6 would be focused on the 6 evil deities of the core 20, leaving 8 open slots.

Of those 8 open slots, 5 would be taken up by classes for Achaekek, Ghlaunder, Droskar, Gyronna, and Zyphus, as the most significant other deities of the region, leaving 3 open slots.

Of those three remaining slots, I'd probably assign 1 each to the 3 evil alignments. The chaotic evil one would likely be focused on a demon lord, the neutral evil one on a horseman of the apocalypse (which ones chosen would depend on the ones who thematically allow for the exploration of new ground not already touched upon by the other classes already in play—for example, since there'd be an Urgathoa prestige class, the demon lord chosen would probably not be Zura, since undead and vampire themes would likely already be covered by Urgathoa.

Which leaves 1 "other" category for the last lawful evil one. And I would probably have this one be a prestige class for one of the 8 arch devils.

THAT SAID... not sure if you've checked out Hell's Rebels, but that AP has actually quite a bit of info about one of the whore queens...

And THAT said... a prestige class book isn't really the best place to explore an obscure deity in the first place since the prestige class's powers must take the center stage, which leaves very little room to detail the deity and her faith at all.

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kevin_video wrote:

Hey James. My reading comprehension is pretty abysmal compared to most other people, so I thought I'd double check before I did anything drastic to my players.

Under the gray ooze entry, it says for its CR 6 variant "Id oozes are advanced gray oozes". Now, does that mean literally that it has the Advanced Creature template? That was my interpretation to help explain why it went from CR 4 to CR 6 and has Int 2.

That's precisely what it means. Id oozes are gray oozes with the advanced creature template. Normally that would only boost a monster's CR by +1, but in this case, there's more going on with the id ooze beyond that simple template. The fact that they are intelligent (and thus have skills and feats), can communicate telepathically with other id oozes (and thus use complex tactics), and most important use confusion attacks helps to bump their CR up another point.

That said, if/when I ever stat up an id ooze in print, I would ALSO raise its Hit Dice by a few so that it would hit the numbers found on Table 1–1 in the Bestiary's appendix for a CR 6 creature.

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IDTheftVictim wrote:
So level 20 Wizards are the shapers of nations, level 20 Fighters are the slayers of tyrants, level 20 bards and experts are artisans that create masterpieces, and a level 20 Alchemist reversed aging. If we assume it is possible to gather the levels what would a level 20 Commoner be?

I don't believe we ever said any of the above. A level 20 bard can be a slayer of tyrants. A Level 20 wizard can reverse aging. Grouping bards and experts in the same category is kinda silly too.

I'm pretty sure that although the rules allow for a 20th level commoner that no such thing has ever or will ever exist in print for Pathfinder. Commoners above 8th level are pretty, well.. UNcommon. Those above 12th? I doubt they exist.

Likewise, while you can build a character who takes a new class each time she levels up... I doubt that any character like this exists. Just because you CAN build something with the rules doesn't by any means guarantee that thing should exist in world.

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I managed to squeeze in some elements from Occult Adventures here and there into the new book. Not a lot, but the book DOES, for example, give advice on what happens if you bring a spiritualist into Scarwall, or how some occult options might allow for strange new potential interactions with the Harrow deck or other things you find along the way!

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Thomas LeBlanc wrote:
James, what is the best birthday present you have ever received? And what is the best reaction someone gave you for a present you gifted them with?

Hmmm. In 44 years, I actually can't think of a "best birthday present" that I've received. My birthday is on January 9th, which is only a few weeks away from Christmas, which means a LOT of my presents growing up blurred together there. In some cases, literally—in that I've received a fair amount of "This big present is your birthday present AND your christmas present." Which is soul-crushingly demoralizing for a kid, even if the present you get in such a situation is better than what you might have gotten otherwise. I guess one of my fondest memories of a present was unwrapping the wrapper and finding a copy of the 1st edition AD&D adventure "Queen of the Spiders." That one went on to be one of my favorite ever adventures, so that was pretty cool. Another (much more recent) surprising present was an old fancy copy of Moby Dick from the 50s. I guess the wagon I got as a kid was a big hit, but I don't really have many memories of that today other than amusement at how frustrated my dad's reactions are today when he thinks back about how tough it was to put together. OH! Also, the Hastur-themed mysterious package present folks got together to get me a few years ago was cool, but that was Christmas. Most of my birthday presents lately tend to be whatever neat book or video game is out at the time or stuff that's more utilitarian than surprising. Hmmm... I think maybe the best most recent birthday present I got, come to think of it, was a little tiny bigfoot walking on a little grassy hill inside of a little square plastic case. It's one of the cutest and most unique bigfoot themed things I've ever seen. (THANKS JESSICA!!!)

The best reaction I've gotten for a present I've gifted is a hug.

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Adam Daigle wrote:
Have you found the Yellow Sign?

Indeed I have. Found it for the first time in 1989, inside of this product. Of course, it was in black and white at the time...

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:

Is it possible for a character to travel from Jinin in the Dragon Empires to Riddleport in Varisia WITHOUT gaining character levels along the way (essentially remaining a first level character until they arrive and their actual adventures begin)?

Would you consider a crane more along the lines of a familiar or an animal companion?

If the character is an NPC, absolutely. NPCs don't gain experience points. Whether or not an NPC levels up depends ENTIRELY on the GM's whim.

If the character is a PC, I suppose its possible if the GM's campaign is intended to be focused on Riddleport and not Jinin or the journey to Riddleport from Jinin. Remember, in effect, until you sit down and play your character in game it's not an active PLAYED character. All of the stuff you come up with for a character's history before that very first session is essentially stuff that your character did as a NON-PLAYED character. You are a player, but for your PC's pre-game history, you are in effect the GM of that NPC character. And thus, that NPC doesn't gain XP and won't gain levels. It's only when a character gets PLAYED that they can earn XP. (NOTE: This does include characters that a GM runs as an NPC who adventure with the PCs—things like cohorts or allies fall into this category, but even then exactly HOW those characters earn levels is largely left to individual GM preferences.)

I consider a crane to be far too large to be a familiar. Works better as an animal companion.

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Well, I guess the good news there then is that it's ABSOLUTELY gonna be out for Gen Con 2017! Way early even!

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Hey there, folks!

So, there's no way I can ask this without making folks start to speculate and wonder... so speculate and wonder away.

What part of Golarion (preferably the Inner Sea region) would your 18th or higher-level character want to go explore and learn about? If you also have areas beyond Golarion (other planets or planes), feel free to list them too, but ONLY if you first list a place ON Golarion that you'd like to see more about!

Three locations you can't nominate:

  • Starstone Cathedral
  • Gallowspire
  • Pit of Gormuz

Because I already know folks are interested in those locations! :-P

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Arcaian wrote:

I haven't yet reviewed the products here on paizo because I want to run each book before I review them, but absolutely loving Hell's Rebels so far - both from what I've run and from reading it (same for Serpent's Skull actually).

My questions is about the Darklands - as far as I know there aren't any sources for areas of the Darklands that aren't close to or under the Inner Sea, except slight mentions (like a Munavri colony on the edge of the Sightless Sea underneath Arcadia), so do you think there are significant differences between the areas of the Darkland we know about and areas that are not yet explored, or is it more homogenous? :)

I certainly understand that stance, but waiting until you run an adventure (which may be months or years away, or indeed might never happen) does us no good, especially since the best time to have reviews in for a product is closer to their launch date when they're still at the forefront of folks' minds. There's no problem posting a review about an adventure with the caveat "I haven't run this yet, but the art/writing is excellent/terrible" or whatever.

SIDE NOTE:

Spoiler:
It further complicates things from a player side—when a player reviews an adventure, I can usually tell if they're actually posting a review of the adventure or (knowingly or not) a review of their GM. It's pretty frustrating to see someone give a bad review of an adventure and then learn through reading that everything that they complain about was an error or a change or an addition their GM made. Especially if in the same review they laud and brag about "How great their GM is." Saw a review back in the day of an adventure I helped write called "Red Hand of Doom," which overall got pretty decent reviews, but one HUGE review over on enworld was SCATHING and tore the adventure apart, giving it 1 star "because the GM managed to salvage something here and there" and then, upon reading the review, it was cripplingly obvious that every single thing the reviewer hated were changes or additions his GM made to the adventure. Put me in a frustrating spot, to say the least, since there was pretty much no way for me to step in and "correct" the review without looking like an egomaniac or a thin-skinned crybaby... :P

There is information about the Darklands below Tian Xia in the Dragon Empires Gazetteer. Each region has its own Darklands, and each is sort of influenced by the surface land above.There are no drow or duergar below Tian Xia, for example, but there sure are ratfolk and clockworks!

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Gark the Goblin wrote:
Are there any colonies of dwarves/duergar in the areas of the Darklands outside of the Inner Sea Region map? Or former colonies, from before the Quest for Sky? Just wanting to double check before I develop a complex backstory for a duergar under Garund.

Not really, but even if there were in print, that shouldn't keep you from making your version of Golarion your own.

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Paladinosaur wrote:

James, I have a few more questions:

Are rangers that worship a deity bound to the same alignment restrictions as clerics? Or could I have, say, a CG ranger of Erastil?
And how common are non-casters that worship deities that don't match their alignments, like a LN fighter that worships Gorum?

ANYONE who worships a deity pretty much ends up being bound by the same rules that restrict clerics, because if you faithfully worship a deity and follow that deity's teachings, the result is that you're the same alignment as that deity. The rules don't come right out and say it, but it's common sense. If you're acting chaotic enough to be chaotic in alignment, you're not really doing a good job honoring a lawful deity.

People who worship off-alignment, such as a lawful fighter who purports to worship Gorum, are either very rare heretics/blasphemers, or merely lip-service worshipers who don't really get the faith and aren't actually all that religious OR are simply ignorant and don't get the whole idea of faith/worship. OR have players who are trying to be special snowflakes and trying to break the rules rather than play by them, I guess... which happens a lot, since there's a lot of players who like to fish for attention by creating characters that break the mold or stand out from the norm or otherwise do something "unexpected."

In fact, if your character has a tragically low Wisdom score (say, 9 or lower), having them worship a deity that's not their alignment is an excellent way to model that sort of thing, in the same way playing a character who can barely talk in complete sentences is a good way to model low Intelligence or playing a character who has no personality and doesn't talk during roleplaying encounters is a good way to model low Charisma.

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Isabelle Lee wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
And absolutely I would LOVE to see more prestige class books in the Player Companion line. Something like Paths of the Green (prestige classes associated with nature deities, the Green Faith, the Eldest, and the like); or Paths of the Wicked (prestige classes for evil faiths); or Paths of the Crusader (prestige classes based on war faiths or mercenary groups or national armies); or Paths of the Forgotten (prestige classes based on obscure organizations and forgotten faiths); or Paths of the Hidden (prestige classes based on secret societies) or so on. I'd love to see it expand beyond just being themed to religions, but there's hundreds of other faiths that can each still support their own prestige classes for sure.

If you did add these books to the schedule, are there any lovely and talented freelancers you'd ask to write for them? ;)

(You don't actually have to answer that.)

James Jacobs wrote:
It's more likely that you'll see us continue to periodically include stuff beyond the Inner Sea in books but not devote entire books to regions beyond—like how there's information about the Crown of the World or Shenmen in the upcoming "Horror Realms," or how the upcoming Qadira book touches upon Kelesh and Casmaron.
My excitement for Horror Realms has officially doubled. ^_^

I'm not on schedule to work on the Player Companion line as of today, but things like that lately have changed on a weekly basis... so time will tell!


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Hayato Ken wrote:

Despite actually knowing the name is Shenmen, i still repeated the wrong one^^

Perhaps i should somehow connect Shensen to spiders in my game though :D

As long as it's not gorillas.

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