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James Jacobs

James Jacobs's page

Creative Director. Pathfinder Society Member. 49,970 posts (52,294 including aliases). No reviews. 2 lists. No wishlists. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 9 aliases.


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The NPC wrote:

Mr. James Jacobs,

I know you focus on world content more than mechanics, but would you know to whom or where I can post a request to have the Harrowed Medium* put on your list of content to be produced?

*= A version of the Medium class more like the Medium during the playtest.

As a general rule, things that get left behind in a playtest end up staying there, having been left behind for a reason. The harrow version of the Medium is an interesting idea, but there's two reasons it doesn't belong in a hardcover—it uses too much world flavor (and removing world flavor from the Harrow to make it work is kind of a no-go as far as I'm concerned), and it's far too overly complex with so many options. It's too big for its own good. As such, it's unlikely to really ever be published. I know Mark is really proud of it though, and maybe someday we'll figure out how to get it out there... but it's not high on the list at all at the moment.

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Paladin of Baha-who? wrote:

In the map of the Temple of Asmodeus, there is a second set of stairs shown in areas 25 and 37. I presume these are stairs that connect these two rooms?

Is there actually no way into the Belfry at all except flying up through the hole in the middle of the ceiling/floor? No windows or even slits for the sound of the bells to get out of the belfry?

Correct to both. The belfry is only accessable via flight or other magical means, really, and there are no windows or external entrances. The sound of the bells is magically transmitted out of the belfry though, when they ring, so that they are heard in the temple and in the city itself as if it were a normal bell tower.

Back when the temple was a Temple of Aroden, of course, there were indeed stairs up to the belfry and there were indeed windows. The Asmodeans fixed all that nonsense, of course.

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Lord Fyre wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
MannyGoblin wrote:

James said that Westcrown is in it's original state before CoT so DMs could tailor it as they see fit so.

1.Delvehaven sealed and Morrowfall still there
2.Shadowbeasts roam the streets and Ilnerik is under Walkcourt
3.Pit Fiend still chilling under the manor.

James said the exact opposite.

** spoiler omitted **

Really?

I know that you had been trying to keep from advancing Golarion's timeline.

So this decision seems a bit strange.

We aren't advancing Golarion's timeline overall. This is no different, really, than how we treated Runelords in "Jade Regent." You can certainly still run Council of Thieves before or after Hell's Rebels if you wish, but since there's crossover in the locations we had to decide which one came in which order.

Ultimately, the reason why we decided to go with this decision was the result of a lot of discussions during meetings and the like, and now isn't the place to go over the whys of that decision since we're still half a year away from this adventure being out.

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Dragon78 wrote:
Well at least we know there is more then one secret project.

There usually is, though, so that's not really news.

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Kamicosmos wrote:
... I will be greatly disappointed if half the adventure winds up being Bad vs Bad....

So would we.

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Rysky wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Kieviel wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:
Well whatever the secret project(s) will be, may we find out this Paizo Con and/or Gen Con.

Or before.

Or after.

Or before AND after.

But definitely not AT GenCon?
That's also possible. Don't assume that because I didn't mention something that it's not possible.
How much are you enjoying all of this right now?

It's a combination of enjoyment and frustration. I just hope that folks won't get too disappointed if their expectations go too high, especially given some folks' ability to over-read into words I wrote and make leaps of logic and assumptions that are not directly supported by what I've said before.

(I'd actually assumed that by the time the foreword to #102 was out that at least ONE of the "secret projects" I'm currently involved in, of which there are more than one, would be something I could talk about... but we're still at the very least a few weeks away from being able to talk about that, alas...)

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Samy wrote:

While looking at the last spread where the entire AP summary is, it strikes me that Hell's Vengeance is an #allmalepanel. Even all the sub-articles in book 1 (gazetteer, fiction, bestiary et al.) are all-male.

Next issue looks like it's going to at least have an article on the House of Thrune by Linda Zayas-Palmer.

That happens. And if it's surprising, then I guess that's a good thing because it means folks expect a wider spread of male/female writers in any one volume of Pathifnder these days.

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Dragon78 wrote:
Well whatever the secret project(s) will be, may we find out this Paizo Con and/or Gen Con.

Or before.

Or after.

Or before AND after.

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
I see. It makes me seriously want to reconsider who my Inquisitor pursues romantically...

What works for me doesn't have to work for you, and vice versa. Play the game the way you prefer, I say.

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Who said there's only one secret project?

Mwa ha ha etc.!

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Rysky wrote:

From Dark Souls II what did you think of the expansions in comparison to the core game?

Don't know far you gotten into UD so to make the question vague and unspoilerish what do you think of the antagonistic force?

In Bloodborne, what did you think of Lady Maria?

Quite liked them but thought the snowy blizzard region of the third one was a bit too much and never finished it.

Just finished Until Dawn yesterday. I LOVED the antagonist, but also fully expected it since Larry Fessenden wrote the game.

Lady Maria was a fun fight. And she has good taste in clothes; that outfit is GREAT for fighting the giant fleas.

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Seannoss wrote:
How was Hail Caesar? Thinking about seeing it too.

It was great! I had to squint at the grandeur now and then!

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Gladior wrote:
If you were going to assign Jack Burton freelance work (let's assume as a truck driver he's good at hitting deadlines), what would you want him creating?

I'd send him out to punish freelancers who vex me.

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Cole Deschain wrote:

Oh, man, that FORCES me to ask...

Favorite Jack Burton moment?

The knife throw at the very end, I think.

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Doki-Chan wrote:

With all the new books that have interesting and thematically appropriate spells, feats etc. that have been released recently, would it be an idea to revisit sorcerer Bloodline Spells and Feats to give Bloodline Abilities with more flavor?

i.e. Disable or Awaken Construct, or Memory of Function for Impossible Sorcerer?

(or the new Transmute Golem in Arcane Anthology, although you may lose Wish as a result...)

I'm sure there are other bloodlines that would benefit as well; it's the Impossible one that came to mind as I've played one recently, and then all the new construct-based spells came in and seemed a better fit...

I saw another possibility to give a choice of one of two spells at each Bloodline Spell level, to have more flexibility as to the direction you want your Bloodline to go (Offensive/Defensive/Utility)... so in the example of the above bloodline, depending on if you want to Make/Repair/Upgrade Constructs or Disable/Control them?

Nope. I'd rather not get on the forever-running treadmill of constantly updating flavor for everything. I'd rather explore new content. Actually, personally? I'd rather explore world content and story content. All of that is MUCH more interesting to me than yet another stack of player options.

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SCKnightHero1 wrote:

Why aren't you a fan of the sideways ears for elves?

Will we get articles on the Dragon Empires deities like the Inner Sea deities? I.e. The article in Night of Frozen Shadows on Shelyn

I've heard from several people that Pathfinder is designed to punish players for multiclassing. Is this true?

What's your opinion on optimizing characters? Do you think it can get out of hand?

I actually am a fan of sideways ears; I love that look. But it's not the look we decided on for Pathfinder elves. Mostly because at the time it was, for me, to identifiable as a Warcraft elf trait, but also because the sideways ears is something that folks tend to make fun of and I didn't want to give the internet the ammuntion.

No plans to do any articles on Dragon Empires deities anytime soon, but perhaps some day.

One of the design goals of Pathfinder was to make sticking with a single class to 20th level more attractive than it was in 3.5, and to limit the "level dip" stunt where you simply take 1 level in a class because you get most of the good things at that 1st level. Those were not intended to "punish multiclassing" but I suppose I can see how reactionary folks might take it that way.

I think character optimization almost ALWAYS gets out of hand. I much prefer organic growth of characters through actual game play. I'm okay with optimizing NPCs for encounters, but PCs? Not as big a fan, because it turns the game into an arms race between players, and that's not the game I like playing.

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AlgaeNymph wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
I decided on Barzillai Thrune as the main bad guy because I wanted a character who was equal parts Thrune (government) and worshiper of Asmodeus (church), then took a lot of inspiration for certain elements of his character from a lot of current events. Also... I'm really tired of a certain video game character look, and wanted to see one who fits into that appearance be cast not as a hero of a game but as the irredeemable villain.
Why is that look popular among video game protagonists?

One element, if I had to guess, was laziness; it's easier to animate a bald or very short haircut than it is long hair. Another element, if I had to guess further, is a timidity and fear among many video game studios to risk something other than the same old look on the same old character.

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My suggestion would be to swap her bard levels directly over to swashbuckler levels; fits her character a bit more to be a swashbuckler/rogue than a full-on sorcerer, and without all those spells, she'll be easier to run in combat (once you get the hang of the flow of how a swashbuckler's combat tactics work, that is...).

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Alexander Augunas wrote:
What kind of sports do kids play on Golarion? My telekineticist is 14 and I feel like he'd be into sportsy stuff.

That depends entirely on the nation and region in question. Five sports that are relatively common throughout most of the Inner Sea Region though would be:

Races (be they foot races or horseback or parkour or whatever)

Fighting (be it boxing or jousting or archery or wrestling gladiatorial stuff or exhibition battles or whatever)

Field Ball games (highly regionalized rules but generally team-based on a field, and not always with balls—see blood pig from "Escape from Old Korvosa")

Small-scale Ball Games (things like olde-tyme golf like games or bowling that doesn't require a large field and don't involve being on a team; these are also highly regionalized)

Gymnastics or dancing or other forms of grace-themed social displays of agility and skill

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Zhangar wrote:

The Southern Reach trilogy is great.

What's your favorite moment so far?

The transition between the 1st and 2nd books was pretty cool. Also quite liked how ...

Spoiler:
the author handled Control's viewing of the video for the first expedition. VERY creepy!

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SCKnightHero1 wrote:

Awhile back you said that kitsune and humans can have children together. If the father is a kitsune and the mother a human, will the children be kitsune as well?

Also, I noticed that in Bestiary 3, I noticed that on the picture of the kitsune, she has tattoos on her legs and she has hair. I thought I read somewhere on the messageboards here that kitsune didn't have humanlike hair in their true forms and is it even possible for a kitsune to have tattoos since they're covered in fur?

Just curious here.

And what is Ameiko's height and weight (I can ask you her weight since it would be rude to ask her myself ;) )?

Since most oni are vulnerable to acid, why isn't Sushien a holy corrosive katana?

Is it true that Daikitsu and Nalinivati are lovers (from time to time I'm guessing)?

How is Shelyn worship in the Dragon Empires?

Where's the temple of Daikitsu in Kasi, the capital of Minaki?

What's your favorite type of off the wall question?

The child would likely be a kitsune, yes. But it could go either way, depending on the story you prefer to tell.

Kitsune are in Bestiary 4, but in any event, it's possible to have tattoos under your fur. Whether or not the kitsune in that illustration is wearing pants with a design or has a dyed mark on her leg fur is unclear by the art to me though, but it's one of those two, not a "tattoo on fur."

I"ve never really bothered to nail down Ameiko's exact height and weight. She's probably about 5' 8" I guess, and whatever sort of weight makes sense for a limber young adult to weigh at that height.

Oni aren't "vulnerable" to acid; it just turns off their regeneration. I didn't make Suishen a corrosive weapon because my design philosophy is to not overcomplicate, and while the concept of a corrosive weapon is not that outlandish, it's not a concept in the core rules, and so by not including something like that in the new weapon's stats I keep folks from having to open one more book just to run the weapon in play. And I feel Suishen is plenty powerful as-is.

Unrevealed, but that's certainly one rumor!

Dunno off the top of my head.

Questions about my interests outside of gaming, I guess?

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Marco Massoudi wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Zaister wrote:
Interesting, this seems to be the first sourcebook that actually has an author's name on the cover. New trend?

Nope. We've always put the author names on the cover of books if there's only one or two authors... except when we've forgotten... like we did with the Technology Guide... :-(

It doesn't happen often, since we usually have three or more authors for a Campaign Setting.

I noticed that on Module covers but it makes a lot of sense if an entire book is from one writer alone - if it doesn't clutters up the cover too much.

I like it.

Cover clutter is the precise reason we cap cover credits like this.

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Matrix Dragon wrote:
The one thing that was annoying about 3.5 prestige classes was that they made you have to plan out your entire character, from level 1 to level 20, if you wanted to qualify for more than just one of them.

What you call a flaw I call a feature. Prestige classes, to me, are prestigious. They're "rewards" that you earn for devoting yourself to a specific path. Seeking to join/pursue multiple prestigious paths doesn't make sense to me, really, since that's kind of the opposite of focusing to be good at one thing. So, for me at least, the fact that it was tough to qualify for multiple prestige classes was/is a good thing.

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Grond wrote:

If you do mind my asking why then are the prestige classes in the vast majority of cases simply inferior mechanically to regular classes? There are only a few prestige classes that I would argue are worth actually dipping or fully levelling into.

Because of a difference in design philosophy between myself and the design team.

One of the major design philosophies of Pathfinder was to encourage players to stick with one class all the way through to level 20, due to a perception at the time that in 3.5's rules, it was too tempting and too GOOD to dip into other classes and multiclass all over the place.

Prestige classes were sort of caught in that philosophy, for better or worse, and as a result, they tend to be designed in Pathfinder to NOT give a noticeable boost in power in an attempt to not make it the "obvious choice" away from sticking with a class and not multiclassing.

It's worth remembering that at the time we started Pathfinder, the 3.5 rules had a fair number of VERY different takes and themes, and at that time, a LOT of folks were exhausted by the glut of prestige classes and the power creep that was slinking into the game. Ramping back on the power of prestige classes AND presenting a tiny fraction of them rather than dozens of them was a deliberate attempt to refocus the game in a direction that we, and a LOT of the customers, wanted.

It's also worth remembering that in the early days of 3rd edition, there was a design philosophy to NEVER create a new base class, and that the only design space available for folks to build "new classes" was to be prestige classes. Eventually, well into 3.5, that philosophy went away as new base classes were increasingly introduced. The initial philosophy of never doing more base classes was never a part of Pathfinder; we knew from the start we wanted things like witches and alchemists, and so the shifting of attention away from large numbers of powerful prestige classes was intentional there as well; we didn't want to distract folks from new base classes.

That was all ten years ago, of course, and today, I think the pendulum has swung in the other direction. We've got LOTS of base classes and hundreds and hundreds of variants in the form of archetypes, and now you're seeing folks starting to want what we've more or less left behind with prestige classes, I guess, but at this point, the momentum of Pathfinder has kind of moved away from heavy prestige class support.

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Zaister wrote:
Interesting, this seems to be the first sourcebook that actually has an author's name on the cover. New trend?

Nope. We've always put the author names on the cover of books if there's only one or two authors... except when we've forgotten... like we did with the Technology Guide... :-(

It doesn't happen often, since we usually have three or more authors for a Campaign Setting.

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TimD wrote:

I do wish they would do more Prestige Classes, especially as they have newer mechanics which poorly integrate into many existing prestige classes (ex. psychic magic).

That said, as I recall there is a preference to use archtypes for mechanics and to use prestige classes instead to represent flavor where additional mechanics are required to properly portray the effect of the role (ex. Grey Gardeners or Hellknights). Think it was quote from James Jacobs, but I'm not finding it now.

I doubt that quote is from me. I actually prefer prestige classes IMMENSELY to archetypes, as a prestige class is something that you have to earn during play by focusing a character in one way, but also because they're so much more adaptable and can be taken by all sorts of characters rather than just by one class. The fact that prestige classes also often make excellent options for monsters who can often automatically qualify for the class makes them even more useful and interesting to me.

That said, I also think that prestige classes are MUCH more interesting and valuable when they're able to represent in-world things. A Hellknight is more interesting than a blackguard, and a Red Mantis Assassin more interesting than just an assassin. Since our hardcovers avoid world content, I suppose it's for the best that the bulk of the prestige classes we have done have appeared in the Pathfinder Adventure Paths, Campaign Settings, and Player's Companions.

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The Fiend Fantastic wrote:

Mr. Jacobs,

If you would make a PC whose powers were to emulate a vampire's powers, what race & class would that be?

A dhampir enchanter or mesmerist. Maybe a sorcerer with the undead bloodline who focuses on enchantment magic.

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Owning slaves is legal in Kintargo... but it's not very socially acceptable and lots of folks find it gross. It's not something folks parade around with, and those who DO keep slaves in Kintargo tend to keep them out of sight of the public.

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Digital Mystic wrote:
I am about to begin work on a tactical map for the interior of the Sandpoint Cathedral. James could you describe for me any details of how you envision it? Marble or Granite floors, and what color? Friezes? Tile-work? Murals? Stained Glass? Statues? Lots of open space? Any wood work? Any detail would be appreciated. I will be working off of layout done by Cinchbug and Cynge in the community created thread over on the Runelords forum. If you think something should be adjusted, please say so. Have a pleasant day and thanks for all that you do.

I've got a LOT of ideas about the Sandpoint Cathedral, more than I've currently got the time or energy to type out here.

The basic part is that the south part is brand new and made of stone, while the north part is still part of the old building and made of wood; the portion that burnt down was mostly the southern part that's been rebuilt in stone. THere are stained glass windows therein, built by the Sandpoint Glassworks that depict the various deities of the cathedral, and there is a relatively extensive catacomb below that connects to the smuggler's tunnels and to vaults below the graveyard.

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
For the record: I do NOT have any problem whatsoever with Mengkare or Promise. I think it's an incredibly intriguing and fascinating part of the setting, and one that's incredibly well-written and imaginative. The only problem with it is that, as written, Mengkare's actions are not those of a lawful good creature in my opinion, and so if we were to ever feature him in any context in which we'd stat him up (even with a short stat block), such as in an adventure or a sourcebook all about Hermea, we'd have to nail down his alignment, and that would upset some folks because I, fundamentally, do not believe that controlling the aspects of a person's social life is good.
As mentioned above, if you make him a bit Mythic (3 Tiers) and give him Beyond Morality you can actually stat him without revealing this.

I didn't mention this the first time because I didn't want to get into it... but "Beyond Morality" is my absolute least favorite thing in Mythic. It might be my least favorite thing we've published, frankly. I put too much value on the alignment system, I guess, to be able to enjoy or even comprehend the use of the Beyond Morality ability.

So... no thanks. That, to me, is the worst possible solution.

(And regardless of that, Mengkare isn't a mythic character so it's a moot point anyway.)

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Yeah, as folks have pointed out, I feel that my record on designing and requesting/developing lawful good characters is pretty evident. Among the lawful good characters I've had a strong hand in designing or having done significant development work would be Lictor Sabinus, Irabeth, Queen Galfery, the fact that there's such a strong tradition of paladins who serve Abadar (who by all rights should NOT have that big of a paladin segment of his church, being lawful neutral), and more... all the way back to Burnt Offerings, which features the first officially gay character to appear in Pathfinder—a man who is also a paladin.

It's true that I prefer chaotic characters, be they good, neutral, or evil, but I also prefer characters to behave according to their alignments. I'm not a fan of characters who behave outside of their alignments, as a general rule, and unless those characters are being presented at the VERY MOMENT where they're having a change of heart and drifting from one alignment to the other... it's best to have them be labeled by the precise alignment that they are acting like.

For the record: I do NOT have any problem whatsoever with Mengkare or Promise. I think it's an incredibly intriguing and fascinating part of the setting, and one that's incredibly well-written and imaginative. The only problem with it is that, as written, Mengkare's actions are not those of a lawful good creature in my opinion, and so if we were to ever feature him in any context in which we'd stat him up (even with a short stat block), such as in an adventure or a sourcebook all about Hermea, we'd have to nail down his alignment, and that would upset some folks because I, fundamentally, do not believe that controlling the aspects of a person's social life is good.

It's lawful. But not good. Because for me it comes way too creepy close to eugenics and the whole 'breeding a master race' thing for my comfort. Obviously some folks disagree, but I'm the one being paid by Paizo's management and owners to make creative decisions about the world's content.

And I'm not interested in risking that job by being the guy who says, in public, something that the internet can then champion as "Paizo thinks eugenics is a good thing!" Because that's one step away from an even more ridiculous and offensive argument that I really don't want to see happen. No thanks.

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Hanspur is intended to be a deity who "rides the line close" as far as being evil. He's definately more evil than good, but he's still, for now, neutral. That does mean that he has evil worshipers, and it's those who do the drowning. In theory there would or could be an oppositional sect in his church that tends toward neutral good and opposes the evil side with a schism type thing... but that's not yet something that's happening in his faith. Yet.

(IF we wrote it as "all worshipers of Hanspur are expected to drown someone now and then as proof of faith" or something like that, then that's an error in the writing that should have been caught and corrected in development, and I apologize for that.)

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Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:

Sandpoint is one of the most enlightened places in Golarion. Their attitude is expressed by the fact that they hang a mirror on the Welcome to Sandpoint" sign. Sandpoint is the place to build your character with an exotic heritage who encountered little to no prejudice about it.

Fun fact: Sandpoint was lifted almost in it's entirety from it's original incarnation as a sample town in the Dungeon Master's Guide 2 book.

Sandpoint is welcoming and friendly, but it's far from perfect and I wouldn't call it "one of the most enlightened places on Golarion." The sign out front is more of a "be on your best behavior" request and not so much a "We accept all" indication. The way the townsfolk treated Nualia is a great example of them NOT being enlightened, and there's plenty of small-minded or bigoted or just plain bad people in the town. They'll certainly be afraid or prejudiced about exotic races that look monstrous and unfamiliar—aasimars do NOT generally look monstrous or unfamiliar, but beautiful and compelling.

And while Sandpoint AND the city stuff in DMG 2 were indeed both written my the same author (me), Sandpoint does not appear in DMG 2. The town I detailed in that book as the sample town was Saltmarsh, a town from the Greyhawk setting that featured prominently in a series of classic 1st edition adventures but was, curiously, NEVER detailed or mapped until I did so in DMG 2. I drew upon the lore from those early adventures for the baselines of Saltmarsh, but the vast majority of its design was from my imagination, and a fair amount was inspired from my home town of Point Arena. Sandpoint was even MORE heavily influenced by Point Arena (the sign out front was a historical reality in Point Arena, as was the fact that it's a small town with the only theater in a 45 mile radius our so, and that at one point the city dump was the ocean cliff just by the lighthouse, and so on).

Anyway... back to the original poster:

How the town treats another aasimar depends greatly on how that 2nd aasimar looks and acts. Nualia was treated poorly becasue her celestial heritage was mysterious (she was a foundling whose parents remain mysterious to this day) who's adoptive father, while having good intentions, pretty much set her life up to be ruined by being a combination of overprotective and boastful of the fact that he was raising a "child of the gods." Additionally, her unearthly beauty tended to make things awkward for her; it's hard to get friends when they're all either insanely jealous of you or insanely infatuated with you. And on top of that, superstitions about how she would bring you luck with a look or a touch or a kind word ended up basically ruining her private life—she had none.

Now, if this 2nd aasimar in town is equally beautiful or compelling, but is 5 years behind Nualia, the town may well have learned their lesson and would be more timid. Not because Nualia turned into a villain (they don't realize that yet) but because they still believe her life ended tragically. The citizens of Sandpoint are not evil and they overall feel guilty about how Nualia was treated in hindsight, and so they might treat an 2nd aasimar as a chance for redemption but also be super nervous about duplicating their actions. They would likely treat a 2nd beautiful aasimar with intense care and be very protective of her, rather than try to treat her as a resource for their own ailments.

Of course, if this 2nd aasimar didn't look insanely beautiful, they might not even know she was an aasimar in the first place and would just treat her normally.

And on top of that, if the second aasimar's parents were better and protected her and treated her with respect, or if she has NO parents and grew up in the orphanage or on the street, chances of a bad parent encouraging the town to treat her as a gift from the gods diminish and the town, once again, might not even realize that she's an aasimar.

SO, it depends a lot on the appearance and personality and background of the aasimar PC, but if this were my game, I'd run it as the town seeing the new aasimar as being a chance to apologize to the race and be super protective and overly gentle with her. Which might have weird backfire repercussions of their own. I'd ABSOLUTELY ...

Spoiler:
...set things up so that she'd be the younger sister of Nualia, and seek to tie in the parents in some way in the rest of the adventure, and make Nualia's potential redemption or her potential use as a recurring villain be a bigger element in the campaign.

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Marco Massoudi wrote:
There better be a sidebar in this adressing things that happened before and how to handle them.

Trust us. We know what we're doing. There'll be information talking about how this AP and Council of Thieves interact. We don't have much more to say about it right now because...

1) It's still half a year away from mattering because that volume is coming out in July, and...

2) It's not matierial that's yet been developed or even created. Development of that last volume of Hell's Vengeance will be starting later this month.

So... have patience and trust us to do what needs to be done, I guess?

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Therrux wrote:

Hey James I have a number of questions if you would willing to indulge me.

1. Does the inner sea region have Germ Theory (our current theory to explain disease), miasma theory (the old theory that said there were bad gases that you could inhale to explain sickness), or something else to explain where disease comes from?

2. Generally speaking, how clean would you say the streets of cities in the inner sea might be?

3. Do you need gold to make magic items, or do you use it to buy materials to make magic items?

4. If evolution exists, then is the reason why dinosaurs have scales instead of feathers because they evolved since prehistoric times and lost them?

5. Would their have been any fantastical creatures that went extinct during prehistoric times? (I don't expect you to name any if there are.)

6. I don't know if you're the best person to ask this question but, would you ever consider making the first pathfinder chronicle as a pathfinder tale?

7. Are there any monsters from dungeons and dragons that you wish you could have brought over that you couldn't? And if so what might they be?

1) Depends on the region/person, but there's lots of theories out there including the germ theroy and miasma theory. BUT If you were to take the "average" theory that's most likely to be in place overall, it's the germ theory.

2) Clean enough that walking on them won't make you sick, but dirty enough that you wouldn't want to keep eating your ice cream cone if you dropped it on the ground.

3) You need "magical components" and reagents and stuff, but what exactly those are is not described. As a result, most games just shorthand it to gold pieces, assuming that when a spellcaster creates an item, that the 50,000 gp she spent on it was actually 50,000 gp of elixirs, components, reagents, powders, eye of newt, toe of frog, harpy tongue, gall bladders, chunks of obsidian, bags of gem dust and so on.

4) Whether or not dinosaurs in Golarion have scales or feathers is a regional thing (in large part due to the fact that artists often have their own interpretation and/or aren't always great at following directions or getting the assignments in on time for us to request changes if they mess something up).

5) Yes. There's plenty of fantastical creatures that have gone extinct, and not even in prehistoric times. One random example is the hallowed lynx, a magical large cat that existed in Thassilon but went extinct after Earthfall.

6) That's more of a James Sutter question, but the logistics of doing that are weird..

7) There were plenty back in the day when we launched Pathfinder, but today I don't really miss them, since we've got plenty of just as interesting monsters with their own ten-years-plus of development behind them now.

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Dragons Revisited is not the best book to cite as "canon" source. In the same way I wouldn't recommend using an encyclopedia from 1965 as a "canon" source for building fiction set on modern Earth.

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YttriumDervish wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

You're talking about Vecna, yes? (We can talk about D&D characters here, no fears!)

In any event, Vecna didn't really inspire Asmodeus at all. The inspiration we've used for our Asmodeus is one part D&D's Asmodeus, one part real-world mythologies about the devil, one part pop-culture lore about the devil, and one part our own spin.

We do have our own homage to Vecna in the game: Tar-Baphon, the Whispering Tyrant.

Not trying to avoid D&D names would have made that post half as long!

Yes, I did mean Vecna, and I did draw the clear parallels between the two liches. I am a fan of T-B, too, but his story doesn't go back 40 years.

And I figured it was just a flight of fancy on my part, but it was a fun bit of theorizing! The "Serpent" giving Vecna power was Asmodeus all along; his "secret" was knowing this. Looking at Golarion as the newest edition of the multiverse puts Vecna as finally successful, until Asmodeus goes "Nah man, I never promised to take you with me" as he poofs creation into existence.

Thanks!

Vecna's didn't go back 40 years 30 years ago either. Give Tar-Baphon time. He'll get there! ;-)

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For James Sutter and Mengkare!

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YttriumDervish wrote:

I apologize if this has been asked, or if it's "above your pay grade," so to speak.

One of the most iconic entities in previous d20 systems is a lich of great power. Over the years, players got to watch the lich grow, until at the time of Pathfinder's inception he was a fully fledged deity. That same setting provides a different version of PF's Asmodeus.

Innumerable gamers were fond of the lich's progression, myself included. His ultimate goal, IIRC, was to reshape existence to his own liking, a goal shared with today's Asmodeus.

The brief bit of lore I've found shows that the Church of Asmodeus holds him as one of the chief creator deities. Would it be a stretch to say that, inspired by the rise of the lich of old, the designers of PF's deities took hold of the idea and transformed the Lord of Hell into a unique version of the lich, who successfully (to a degree) reached his goal and remade the universe to his liking?

You're talking about Vecna, yes? (We can talk about D&D characters here, no fears!)

In any event, Vecna didn't really inspire Asmodeus at all. The inspiration we've used for our Asmodeus is one part D&D's Asmodeus, one part real-world mythologies about the devil, one part pop-culture lore about the devil, and one part our own spin.

We do have our own homage to Vecna in the game: Tar-Baphon, the Whispering Tyrant.

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Oncoming_Storm wrote:

Hey James, the Smiad discussion has me curious..

I understand everything Paizo does is a part of a long, organised schedule, but have you guys ever written more about a subject thanks to popularity / fan reaction?

You know, a sort of "the kids want more Smiad! Put it in a book!" situation.

Yes. Quite often.

Kingmaker, for example, came about originally because we'd heard a lot of folks requesting a sandbox campaign or complaining that our adventure paths were too "railroady" and that they were too set on a specific path (hence the fact we call them Adventure PATHS, but whatever). The fact that folks have since complained that Kingmaker's story is meandering or doesn't focus on a long buildup toward a single foe is something I sort of expected, but was still amused by...

Mythic was the result of folks asking for something to do beyond 20th level.

Wardens of the Reborn Forge was the result of folks wanting more info about Alkenstar.

Legacy of Dragons is the result of folks asking for more dragon options for their characters.

Pathfinder Unchained was in part the result of folks complaining about rogues and monks.

Etc.

We do listen to what folks ask for and want, but generally use that information to inform our plans for the future rather than just take a single idea and run with it.

As for Smiad... the previous post was the first I'd heard anyone asking for more about that one, and in fact was the first I'd heard the name entirely. It's a super obscure part of the setting at this point and there's a LOT more in line before that to cover, but absolutely if momentum builds for Smiad lore, then the chances of us doing more Smiad stuff increases.

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Ssyvan wrote:

Hey James,

I was wondering what your thoughts are on a Paladin spuring his mount? I get that sometimes it is needed, but shouldn't it be something that is only done when needed? In other words, not every round.

As an aside, thanks for your help earlier with the player who wanted to be a Paladin of Desna. We scrapped that entirely and he's settled on a Warpriest (Divine Commander) which fits a lot better.

Spurring a mount is part of what riding is about. You can also hurt a mount by abusing it by whipping it or starving it or forcing it to work to exhaustion or making it fight in combat. It's the INTENTION that matters. If the paladin is spurring the mount because he enjoys the sweet, sweet feel of his spurs penetrating the flank of his obedient steed, or because he's too proud to admit that he's losing a race and wants a final desperate gasp at a chance to win, or because he hates his mount, then that is the path to losing paladinhood. Intention is what matters, not the act. As far as I know, there's no mechanic for spurs or tracking spur damage or effects in the game, so it's a topic that I think is best left ignored in the game for sake of not cluttering up game play.

Excellent choice on the warpriest! Glad I could help!

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CorvusMask wrote:

Huh, wouldn't that be rather suspicious if I did ask them personality test questions? (though I guess revealing that tracker exists but not what for it is would be kinda fun in a way :D) Or you meant asking it discreetly like "What are you intending?" in response to what characters do?

Ah, remembered a question I forgot to ask in last batch of questions: So umm, how would you stat Aldern Foxglove's menservants on boar hunting trip? I kinda rolled whether they would get the 20% random encounter on return trip after the boar and I did roll under 20, and they might or might not need help with result I got from table :'D

Also, do you use Critical Hit & Fumble Decks in your campaigns?

There's nothing about the sin point mechanic that says "You must hide this mechanic and its existence from the players." In fact, if the players get the idea that you ARE tracking certain choices and that their actions ARE going to matter later on, that makes them actually consider and think about certain actions in game that maybe they wouldn't think about. If I were running Runeforge, I'd even keep track of their points publicly so that each player could see where they stand, with the understanding that if they try to game the system too much to gain too many points they'd end up with gluttony or greed points (whichever one they would rather not collect). Each table varies, but completely hiding the fact from the PCs that their RP actions don't carry repercussions is not really the point of this system.

I'd just use a 1st level human expert for his servants, using the Apprentice Jeweler stats from NPC Codex, page 260, but instead of craft jewelry they'd have Profession (servant) or whatever.

I used to use the critical hit deck but gave up on it because it was kinda cluttering up my game play style. I've never used the fumble deck, and think fumbles are a terrible idea for any RPG. They are simply NOT fun.

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In fact, as I cover in one of the forewords, Iron Gods IS sort of set up as a trilogy... so that's kind of working as intended.

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CorvusMask wrote:

So since some examples for handing out Sin & Virtue points sound kinda like they are aimed at how players react to game mechanics rather than the in character reasons for behaviour (envy for complaining about other players doing more damage at combat, sloth for resting too much between enconters), I've have kinda hard time figuring out what is sufficient in character reason to give points(besides the obvious acts) for some sins or virtues. I've decided on giving characters points if they consistently act in the same way(as in even if actiona themselves isn't big deal, if they consistently act prideful, I will add pride points), though only until first point. If they consistently act the same way, but won't ever do anything greatly sinful, I'll keep them at 1 point. I also am thinking of giving them some starting points based on character backstory and description of how they behave. Also I'm considering Apathy as part of Sloth in the "Doesn't bother to care" way, since that adds more opportunities than if I counted only moments of characters being plain lazy. Any advice on how to handle this? I kinda feel like I'm not sure what I'm doing in regard of this subject :'D

Also, have to check on Thassilonian specialists. Mechanically I don't remember sin points having effect on that, but storywise they do draw powers from sins/virtues? Just checking I have understood right how thassilonian magic works.

So all contact being lost with Grubber's hermitage, is that reference to events from Shadows under sandpoint, does one of Paizo's adventure's go there or is it just adventure hook without canon answer for what is happening?

So Swallowtail Release/Festival takes place in Rova that is equivalent of September? Does it snow in Varisia when they reach winter?

And finally(for this post :D), is it possible to repair Hellfire Flume? I'd guess not since its not anywhere close to its original height, but power source IS nearby, whatever that does.

It sounds like you're doing a pretty good job handing out those points already; I'd keep going like you are. Maybe ask the players what THEY think their characters should be doing, out of character, to see what they're hoping to achieve in their RP?

Thassilonian magic does not draw power from sins or virtues. It's thematically associated with sins, but not mechanically tied to it. There are other things, like runeforged weapons, that do though.

Grubber's Hermitage is indeed a story element that plays into Shadows Under Sandpoint. There's no in-print information about it yet, but I did run a Paizocon game about it a few years back.

Anything is possible, including the repair of a Hellfire Flume. The setting has giant flying dragons and wishes and teleportaiton and so much more; there's plenty of room for a story about the repair or rebuilding of an ancient artifact.

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Tels wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
4) To learn about the true nature of what lies below the Grand Mastaba would be on par with learning about Xin-Shalast and the Pinnacle of Avarice; aka, it should be something that builds over the course of a campaign and culminates in a high level adventure. Those chambers deep below Castle Korvosa are appropriate for 16th level play on up and NOT below.

Would you say actually exploring what's below the Grand Mastaba should be the end of a campaign, like an adventure path; a megadungeon; or perhaps a high level adventure module?

I'm trying to get a sense of the scope of any future plans you might have for the Grand Mastaba in the chance my CotCT group decides to explore what's under there. I imagine it will be quite some time before it gets explored officially, so if I were to ever have to design it myself, I could know a relative scale of how big it should be. Not sure if I'm explaining myself well here.

My plans for what's below the Grand Mastaba are still QUITE some time away from seeing the light of day, and I'm not gonna say much more about them in case they end up being wrong and thus disappointing folks.

If your players want to explore down there, don't wait for me to do it for you; have fun building those dungeons for your group and customizing them to your play style.

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Kalindlara wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
"Sin Magic" is not actually a term we use—it's something that has kinda popped up in the vernacular of these boards. As detailed in Inner Sea Magic, this older version of wizardly specialization is called "Thassilonian Magic." Practicers of this magic are still called by the name of the school they focus in. You'd call such a wizard a "Thassilonian necromancer" or a "Thassilonian enchanter." Or just a necromancer or enchanter. You wouldn't call them a glutton wizard or a lust wizard.

I believe "Sin Magic" is d20pfsrd's world-neutral term to avoid copyright conflict. :/

As someone running a version of Golarion with ongoing continuity, and who hasn't yet run RotRL...

1) How commonly known are the Thassilonian methods of magic? Are their greed wizards about, or is that specialization not really rediscovered until Rise takes place?

2) How hard is it for anyone to know anything about ancient Thassilon? It's a DC 35 just to learn who Karzoug was. Is this a good guide to Knowledge DCs about Thassilon in a pre-Rise continuity?

3) How well-known were the Whispering Tyrant's links to Thassilon (specifically, the Cenotaph)? About as mysterious? More so?

4) How hard is it to know the true nature of the Grand Mastaba under Castle Korvosa? Same basic difficulty?

Thank you! ^_^

Ah; that's a good choice for d20pfsrd to call it, but it's a little frustrating to see it cause confusion (and not only because I'd rather folks buy our books, of course!).

1) The basic idea is that until you run Rise of the Runelords, Thassilonian magic is NOT well known in Golarion. The events of Runelords are what brings a lot of Varisia into sharp focus for the rest of the region, as well as re-introduces the legacy of Thassilon to the world. If you don't assume the events of Rise of the Runelords have taken place, knowledge about Thassilon will be in the high DC 30 or above zone, and limited to only the most knowledgable and remote of sages or libraries. As a general rule, there are not a lot of Thassilonian specialists active in the world today, and those who are active are mostly ancient undead leftovers waiting to fight the PCs in forgotten Thassilonian ruins.

2) "Just a DC 35 check" is hardly child's play. Furthermore, that mere check also requires access to an ancient library the PCs have to go on an entire mid-to-high level adventure just to access. As written, learning about Thassilon and its runelords is intended to be a part of an entire long campaign, not merely the results of a few lucky Knowledge checks. If you don't intend to run Rise of the Runelords, you should still study it for advice and examples of the steps a party needs to go through over the course of several adventures to learn about Thassilon.

3) Even more rare and mysterious, in that those links do not exist in Thassilon lore repositories, and only really exist in incredibly dangerous locations like Gallowspire.

4) To learn about the true nature of what lies below the Grand Mastaba would be on par with learning about Xin-Shalast and the Pinnacle of Avarice; aka, it should be something that builds over the course of a campaign and culminates in a high level adventure. Those chambers deep below Castle Korvosa are appropriate for 16th level play on up and NOT below.

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Hodge7233 wrote:
What character build generator (point buy, 3d6, etc.) do you use for your home Pathfinder games? Also, how is the developer CoC game going? I have not seen it mentioned in a while.

I generally allow players to choose between a 20 point buy or the 4d6/drop the lowest method for generating characters. Personally, for PCs, I prefer the risk and fun of rolling dice for stats over point buy, but intellectually understand that this method can result in player characters with an unfortunate wide range in capabilities.

There is no "developer CoC" game. The game I'm running for the developers is a Pathfinder version of Temple of Elemental Evil; it's going strong, with the next session happening tomorrow night (they're now exploring level 3 of the temple dungeons).

The Call of Cthluhu game I've been running is Horror on the Orient Express, and that's for a much smaller group that includes project managers and publishers and designers and editors and developers and friends who don't even work at Paizo. We just re-started this campaign after a many-months long hiatus brought on by the combination of convention season and holidays; the first game of the year was earlier this January, and before that, the previous game was a few weeks before Gen Con. We were SUPPOSED to play last week but half the group had to bail on the game at the last minute for various reasons. Hopefully we'll get to play next Thursday though.

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CorvusMask wrote:

So was Abjurant Halls of Envy's destruction's out of story reason that Runeforge was already really large dungeon(page limits and all that) or was it so that there would be asymmetry or something else?

I'm kinda sad about it kinda removes benefits from one of sin/virtue point factors. Though I guess dungeon based on magic that is about removing effects of magic might kinda unbalanced in that the enemies would target spellcasters mostly... Still, all other sins have really weird and cool dungeons, so it makes me wonder what Abjurant Halls would have been like xD

Having the Abjurant Halls be somewhat destroyed was entirely a space limitation thing in the original version of the adventure. When I went back and revised the adventure for the anniversary edition, I chose to maintain the destruction rather than actually build out more encounter areas for another wing not because there wasn't room (there certainly could have been room), but because Runeforge is already a GIANT dungeon crawl and one more wing was a bit over the top. Furthermore, it would have changed the nature of the dungeon's original backstory too much—I tried not to change drastically for change's sake when updating the adventure.

The two major changes I made to Runeforge were:

1) I simplified the map of the Ravenous Crypts to make a more interesting game play and less frustrating one of maze exploration + lots of empty boring rooms, but I didn't really change the actual content and theme of the encounters much when compared to the original adventure.

2) I added the sloth wing. In the original adventure, this wing still existed, but it was just not detailed. That's very different than the envy wing, which WAS detailed but was destroyed. Adding details to something that simply wasn't detailed before (which is what I did with sloth) doesn't change the original adventure, it just provides missing details. Undestroying the envy wing WOULD Have changed lots of themes and events in Runeforge's history in a way that I wasn't really all that interested in doing.

AND, by having one of the wings be partially destroyed, we do mess a bit with expectations. If while exploring Runeforge the players encounter a wing that's mostly devastated, then that puts into their minds the possibility that other wings might be destroyed or otherwise not exactly what they expected.

AND, having the wing destroyed allowed us to have some of the internal politics and strife between the seven wings to have real and physical ramifications on the entire structure, which is more realistic than having all seven wings NOT impact one another in any way at all.

AND in the end, having elements in a published scenario that leave areas unexplored for a GM to expand upon and to make his own is a long and time-honored tradition. It's a fine line between "encouraging GM additions" and "lazy adventure design." I think that the first incarnation of the adventure's treatment of the slot wing is more lazy than encouraging, and that's why, when I had the chance (and the extra space), I fixed it. I think that the ruined envy wing is perfectly functional in the grand scheme of the dungeon and doesn't thus feel lazy but still gives eager GMs a place to expand Runeforge if they're inspired to do so.

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Gorbacz wrote:
Am I alone in thinking that Hermea, like Taldor, has several conflicting visions at Paizo regarding the themes present there?

Read the post I just ninjaed into the thread just above yours.

AKA: You're spot on.

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Rysky wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:
A dragon themed AP would be awesome.

Distracting wall of text to follow...

** spoiler omitted **

Hermea adventure path?

Nope.

Hermea is something I've pretty much put off-limits, because nailing down the dragon's true goals and thus alignment in print will angry up too many folks for different reasons. It's a cool concept, but as written, it's not one that we can really explore without frustrating a lot of people.

A bit more detail...

Spoiler:
I am 99% convinced that Mengkare is lawful evil, and that his experiments in what is essentially eugenics to breed a "superior race of human slaves" is fundamentally at its core a lawful evil pursuit. The remaining 1% of my convictions are that Mengkare isn't as evil as that but also not fully grasping the implications of his actions and is probably dealing with some internal problems among his strongest allies as well, in which case he's probably lawful neutral but STILL an antagonist.

I do not see Mengkare as an ally to PCs, nor do I see Hermea as a paradise or a place to look up to as an example of a healthy society.

Others don't agree. Some folks even push that Mengkare is lawful good. From what we've put in print, I am ABSOLUTELY NOT COMFORTABLE with saying that Mengkare is good (and beyond that, the concept of a non-good gold dragon is pretty fascinating). So if we DO publish more information about Mengkare, and thus Paizo does have to take a stand on the dragon's alignment, it's not going to be Lawful Good as long as I'm here in the role of Creative Director, and that means some folks are going to be incredibly frustrated and angry, I fear. And not just customers.

Thus, for what I see as the foreseeable future, Mengkare and Hermea are more or less consigned to the realm of tantalizing hints and inspiration for individual GMs to expand upon as they see fit in their home games, as each GM has the advantage of being able to handle this very politically-charged topic in a way that his/her table is comfortable without forcing that decision on the entire Pathfinder community. It's a luxury the individual GM has that we, as the publishers of the setting, do not have.

At some point in the future, if the creative staff at Paizo has undergone a major change and the folks running the show then are different than those running it today, who knows what's possible? At this time, though, I am simply not interested in doing anything more with Hermea or Mengkare other than dropping a few more tantalizing hints here and there.

Never say never though. My opinions might change... but I doubt it. Selectively breeding a master race of superior humanity type stuff is pretty much a no-go for a good guy in my opinion. There's just too many uncomfortable and politically charged real-world analogs that, for Godwin's sake, I won't go into here. But they should be obvious.

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