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James Sutter

James Sutter's page

Managing Editor. 2,357 posts (2,388 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 2 aliases.


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Just to shed some light on the decision, there are two main reasons Paizo partnered with Tor:

1) It's the largest science fiction and fantasy imprint in the world, publishing iconic SF&F books ranging from Wheel of Time to Ender's Game.

2) Tor and Paizo already had several personal friendships tying them together. (For instance, I'm pretty sure that our senior sales guy Pierce Watters and Tom Doherty, Tor's founder, have been friends for longer than I've been alive...)

Those two things combined made us a perfect fit, and I'm super excited to have been a part of making it happen!

As far as the Tor.com article goes, while I don't want to get into an in-depth discussion of that particular essay, I want to make a couple of general points:

1) Tor.com is an online magazine owned by the company, not a blog or company editorial, and the author of that essay was a freelancer, not Tor staff. They run lots of different articles from authors with different viewpoints.

2) Regardless of how people feel about that particular article, gaming culture *does* have a race problem. It's something Paizo staff have been saying for a long time, and is one of the reasons why we try to make our iconics and other key characters diverse in terms of ethnicity (and gender, and sexuality, and body type, and...). Again, I don't want to get into the specifics of that article's points or approach--they're his words, not mine--but the fact that Tor.com would publish something about the issue of race in gaming (which is really just a subset of race in science fiction and fantasy) is yet another reason for us to respect them.

In my mind, our industry is getting more inclusive, but it still has a long way to go. So as much as it may hurt sometimes to have someone tell me "You're not doing enough!", I try to remember that anger is usually a symptom of hurt, and that trying to make our hobby more inclusive isn't an attack on it—it's an attempt to help it grow and flourish. Because when more people feel welcome in this space, everyone wins.

Just my two cents.

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For folks asking: This is indeed a switch to trade paperback for real, not a "trade and then mass market later" setup.

There are a number of reasons for this. Mostly, it's just the way the industry seems to be headed, and for good reason: mass markets have such a small profit margin that you have to sell a *ton* of them to make them financially feasible (the "mass" in "mass market"). And as more and more people switch to digital, the audience for "smallest and cheapest format possible" print books is getting rapidly smaller. So a lot of publishers are starting to move to a two-pronged strategy where digital is the cheap option, and higher-quality trade paperbacks cater to those who want something a bit more substantial. For my money, I really like them: They have more space for cover art. They have better paper stock. They last longer (especially important for libraries). They tend to have larger print and to be easier to read. And, perhaps most importantly, the higher price point allows publishers to keep printing books when it might not otherwise be feasible. :P

I understand why some people prefer mass market, but I hope that when you see the new books, you'll agree that they're things of beauty! And either way, if you're buying through Paizo, the new 30% discount means you'll be paying roughly the same price as before.

Thanks for hanging with us during this transition! I really think it's going to mean great things for the line.

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Wicked Brew wrote:
Any chance we will see audiobook versions?

Nothing official yet, but chances look good. :)

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Lord Snow wrote:

Does moving Pathfinder Tales to Tor have any impact on the line content-wise?

Will we see new authors, and how much control does Tor have on the content of the books?

I'm still the editor in charge of running the line and commissioning all the books, so all the content and quality of the stories will be the same as you're used to (or better, as I like to think I get better at my job all the time). Really, the big impact of the Tor transition has to do with business stuff like printing and distribution and finally getting our books on Kindle. You will certainly see some new authors—being partnered with Tor is prestigious, and I'm already starting to get emails from big names looking to play in the sandbox—but that's nothing new, as I've always been committed to assembling the best roster I can. Rest assured that your favorites of our current authors aren't going anywhere. :)

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Gladior wrote:
Does the new announcement mean that a certain Pathfinder Tales Managing Editor will have more time that might get devoted to producing Campaign Setting and Golarion module materials?

Ha! Not at all—I'll still be doing everything I did for the line before, and more. :) That said, I *am* working on a new campaign setting supplement I'm quite excited about...

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John Kretzer wrote:
Are we also going to see any hardcovers?

Not at first, but it's not out of the question.

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D'oh! You're correct—I meant his new one, Liar's Island.

It's been a busy day today. :P

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Pravus wrote:
so what, if any, impact does this have with subscribers?

Mostly your books will get bigger and prettier. :)

The MSRP on these is going up to $14.99, but we'll be offering a 30% discount on paizo.com (for subscribers AND non-subscribers), so you'll keep paying essentially the same amount, just with trade paperbacks instead of mass markets!

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MMCJawa wrote:


Will Tor be reissuing any of the already released novels in Kindle? I'd love to read Death's Heretic, but having to move back in with my parents until this upcoming Fall means space for books is at a premium, and the Kindle does help with that...

We're still working on that, but the prognosis looks good. :)

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captain yesterday wrote:
well i'm not paying $15 for a paperback, not trying to be critical or negative, just saying that might be too high a price point, the books are good but with one income they aren't that good, i'm actually rather crushed by that:(

Ah, BUT: We'll be selling them on Paizo.com for a 30% discount. So if you buy them from us, you'll actually get them at basically the same price, just in the bigger and nicer trade paperback format. :)

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For those who've asked questions about Pathfinder Tales, or when the next Dave Gross book was coming out, and other things of that nature... the truth has finally been revealed:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/industry-deals/ar ticle/65682-tor-will-do-pathfinder-novels-with-pazio.html

There'll be much more information coming shortly, but now you know why I couldn't say anything. :)

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Haladir wrote:

Hi, James.

Two years ago, I asked a question about the Council of Truth on the Campaign Setting thread, and never got an answer...

When was the Council of Truth was active, and when did they disappear?

I imagine that you're the man to ask: You introduced them to Golarion in the module Seven Swords of Sin. You also wrote about them in the Campaign Setting City of Strangers, and also in Pathfinder #63: The Asylum Stone.

We know that the Council of Truth was active in Kaer Maga starting in the fairly recent past, and then disappeared without a trace "some years ago."

Have the dates of when the Council of Truth was active in the City of Strangers ever been published? Were they active for a long time? (5 years? 50 years? 500 years?) And, how long ago from the present day did they disappear? (5 years ago? 20? 50?)

** spoiler omitted **

The Council of truth was active for a while—definitely more than 5 years. And we've never published an answer to precisely when the Council of Truth was active or when they disappeared, as the dates might be too big a clue as to what actually happened to them. Sorry to leave you hanging. :)

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Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

Happy 1000th AMA post!

How's that feel?

Ooh, you're right!

I'd say it feels good, Abe. Real good.

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Darkborn wrote:
At the beginning of Chapter Eleven, Sutter wrote:
“Despite it being only early afternoon, the open windows disgorged laughter and music, as well as the occasional inebriated tenant. One such long-haired vagabond was currently doing some disgorging of his own against the side of a muraled wall, while a leather-clad elven woman laughed and another woman covered in red silks and blue tattoos looked on in disgust.”

The iconics Valeros, Merisiel, and Seoni with their first cameo appearance in a Pathfinder Tales novel? Well played, sir.

:D

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Kir'Eshe wrote:

Hi Mr. Sutter,

I've enjoyed Death's Heretic and The Redemption Engine, and am part way through Liar's Blade. Liar's blade I have digitally, (purchased all 3). How do you feel about me letting my friend have a copy?
Yarr, Gav wouldn't have even asked:)

I believe Paizo's official policy is that digital files can't be shared.

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Kendrosthenes wrote:
James Sutter wrote:

Believe it or not, I've actually always enjoyed writing erotica, and my first-ever editing gig was a zine some friends and I created while still in college called "Penitalia: Literary Erotica at the University of Washington," which featured all work by students and faculty. Though I hadn't sold any straight-up erotica in years, when Shanna started talking about the project, I thought it sounded like a blast, and was extremely excited to be invited. (I actually wrote two stories--the other one is about a bunch of female astronauts on a mission to mars. Still hoping to sell that one somewhere at some point. :)

So might there be a "Fifty Shades of Golarion" some day? :-)

I'm sure there already is, somewhere... Rule 34!

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Kendrosthenes wrote:
James Sutter wrote:

I think that writing in multiple genres is really fun, and helps broaden you as an author. Heck, I enjoy writing in other mediums as well--in addition to gaming and fiction, I write a ton of music, and just wrote part of a Pathfinder comic. Variety keeps things exciting! That said, there's no question that I think I'll always have science fiction and fantasy as my main fare. Everything's better with a solid dose of weirdness. :)

James,

1. In the near future, do you have plans to write a novel set outside of the Pathfinder universe?
2. If so, where would the story take place--in a setting of your own imagination or somewhere else?
3. Would the genre be fantasy, general fiction, or science fiction?
4. Would the main character be a hero or a villain?

(My apologies if you've already answered these questions somewhere else.)

Yup! I actually just finished up a first draft of a creator-owned YA fantasy novel. It's a teenage lesbian romance about two ballerinas who fall through into a magical world that's totally empty except for this old woman and a bunch of weird little creatures that get reshaped by human thought. It's waaaay different than anything I've written before, and it's felt good to stretch out a bit.

As for whether the characters are heroes or villains... that would be telling, wouldn't it? :)

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xeose4 wrote:

Rereading my comment I feel like I sounded really critical and like I had my own idea of what "should" have happened - I didn't mean it that way at all. I'm really sorry if it seemed like that. I just straight-up meant it as "gee this was what I walked away from the book with and reading the short fiction was very different from what I had anticipated", nothing more.

Can I ask - if it doesn't reveal too much - what the process for choosing this story, this time period in these characters' lives, was like? I ask just from a place of intense curiosity! There are a lot of places the story could have picked up - either at their first meeting, at their first induction into the Iridian Fold, at their reasons for leaving for Kaer Maga - what was it that appealed about starting their story here?

No worries--I didn't take any offense. :) And despite the fact that I'm lurking, a book club is absolutely the place to criticize said work! Please don't hold back just because I'm here.

Lurks in the corner watching you with giant bugged-out eyes.

There were a couple of reasons I chose to write about that time period for the short story. One was that I wanted a chance to show off some Casmaron in detail, and this was a nice opportunity. :) Another was that, since the novel deals with them after they've already been together for a long time, I wanted to write something that showed them early on and really gave you a sense of their characters and their relationship before they'd had a chance to grow and mature together. But I also wanted to show something about the Iridian Fold. So this seemed like a good midpoint!

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Ross Byers wrote:
Why didn't we get a Varian & Radovan novel in 2014?

See my previous post. Also, a novel a year is a pretty brutal pace for a lot of authors—even Dave needs a vacation now and again!

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xeose4 wrote:

Sorry if the Paizo book club was meant for certain people. I really love the idea and would like participate - if it's an error for me to chime in, just me know (I would also like to see discussion of the Redemption Engine next).

I would echo the appreciation for Delani - he was the first character that felt "normal", odd as that sounds. He wasn't so extreme like the Jackal and the Half-Elf, and he wasn't reserved or posturing or obsessed with position and titles. And more importantly, the moment that he does overstep his bounds, we're shown him getting taken down a peg (or several). Him getting called on his s@&# really endeared him to me, on top of the (imo legitimate) grievance of the fey.

My favorite scene was, hands down, the encounter with the Protean (while an inevitable was there as well, no less!). Previously I'd only viewed proteans as stupid, crazy, idiot-wurms that just floated around and were weird! Quirky! That scene breathed more life into them than anything else I'd seen anywhere, ever. It was really, really cool and I'll remember it for a long time.

If I could add one character that really frustrated me, it was Neila. I commented elsewhere, I think, that she doesn't seem to have a lot of purpose in the book, aside from "generic love interest". I don't want to rag on a story I did enjoy (and I know people enjoyed her), but there were just enough times that I wanted to roll my eyes at her lack of... anything... beyond the role of "female companion that always has the right support option available for the main character" that by the end I... really did not feel that their parting was an emotional moment for either of them.

If I have a single great regret about Death's Heretic, it's that we didn't get to see enough of what makes Neila a badass in her own right. If there's a third Salim book (and I hope there will be!), my plan is to bring Neila back so she and Salim can interact more as equal partners (by which I mean probably get on each other's nerves terribly :).

She's been doing some interesting things since the events of Death's Heretic...

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Dragon78 wrote:

1)Was the race that lived on Melos a known race or something that has not been stated up yet?

2)Does Dykon have a crystal based playable 0HD race?

3)Would the centaurlike race from Arkanen be a playable 0HD race?

4)So for the red skinned people of Akiton should we just use human stats or would they be modified human stats? example would be they loose the bonus feat or bonus skill points for an endure elements or fire/cold resistance or different racial mods such as hardy(+2 Con), intelligent(+2Int) but weak because of the low gravity(-2Str).

5)The People of the Stars book says for stats for Vercites use ether Elf or Half Elf as the base, so wish one do you think is closer the Elf or Half Elf?

1) Ain't tellin'. :)

2 & 3) Sure, why not? Again, though, I try not to state definitive decisions about things unless the answer is about to be published anyway, because if someone else at Paizo someday stats up those creatures and they're not 0 HD, I don't want folks to tell them they're wrong. :P

4) I'd modify them. Variety is the spice of life!

5) Hmm... I'd probably go half-elf, though of course that's only for the ones that haven't augmented their meat-bodies. :D

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Guang wrote:

Hi James

I have a few Triaxus questions for you.

1. With an orbital year of 317 years, and "many" generations of each summer and winter, and "a single" generation of fall and spring, what is your definition of generation? It's obviously not lifespan, as 80x4=360.

2. Are there any plans for Triaxus (or Verces) in the foreseeable future? Do you have more details on the creatures of Triaxus all figured out, or will you wait to fill in details when needed?

3. How, specifically, would Spurhorn and Ivoryglass be different in Summer from the way they are presented in Frozen Stars? It seems to be implied that the Vahara glacier never completely melts.

4. What does the Triaxian language sound like?

1. I was thinking of generations in the sense that your parents and grandparents are all different generations than you. So in that sense, I was pegging a generation at something like 20 years.

2. No plans yet! I don't think it's too much of a surprise that I'd love to write a novel set there someday, but that day is still far off, if ever. :) And no, I try to make a policy of not coming up with a bunch of "head canon" beyond what gets published in a given sourcebook. That both makes sure that other designers don't accidentally introduce "conflicts" (which of course aren't really conflicts, if the details they're conflicting are only in my head), and it also ensures that I have plenty of questions to answer and room to play if I revisit the subject later!

3. Spurhorn and Ivoryglass are really Rob's babies, so I cede that part of the map to him. :)

4. I'm not sure! My first guess would be something fluid and kind of twittery, humanoid with hints of ferret or birdsong, but I'd want to consult with folks who know way more about linguistics (like Paizo editor Judy Bauer) before I nailed anything down.

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Zeugma wrote:
GeraintElberion wrote:

So...

A sci-fi author with no web-fiction and no published novel-length fiction is dropped into cliche-danger territory.

I am concerned.

James better be showing some mad editor-fu here and have gone full diamond-in-the-rough with this author.

Do you have any links to any of Gary Kloster's short sci-fi, or a blog, or something? My Google-fu was weak and I had trouble finding him and wasn't sure if I had him or some other Gary Kloster in my search results.

Hopefully more info about the author will be forthcoming.

For the record, both Gary and I are fully aware of the danger inherent in a novel about the Mwangi Expanse—and the opportunity. The reason Gary hasn't done any web fiction yet is because the web fiction story I assigned him was so good that I immediately made him turn around and make it the first four chapters of this novel!

Long story short, I'm *really* excited about this one. Gary took on a monumental task, and knocked it out of the park. I can't wait for you all to read it. :)

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Liane Merciel wrote:

Salim Ghadafar - Death's Heretic

Almost as soon as I started to consider this character, one answer leaped out at me: Tauer's L'Air du Desert Marocain. Obviously. It could be nothing else.

L'Air du Desert Marocain is an interesting composition. It's a dry, spicy Oriental that harkens back to an earlier age in its style. This is an intense, complicated, powerful scent that can easily become overwhelming if not applied with care, which I think mirrors Salim's personality quite nicely. It doesn't make any attempt to be nice or accessible in its first impression -- there's no gentleness in its opening and very little sweetness until you get to the drydown. Instead it hits you immediately with a full-force gust of arid desert spice and resinous woods.

I actually didn't care for Desert Marocain the first time I sampled it. The intensity was overwhelming, and there's really no compromise with this one; you either accede to its presence or you don't. But on a revisit, the complexity and nuance of the fragrance won me over. This is a powerfully evocative scent, and what it evokes is the archetypal image of a dusty, sun-baked city of the ancient Middle East, all spice and exotic smoke and fragrant, carved screens of cedar and sandalwood shading windows overlooking the market square, with a whispery tumble of dried rose petals blowing over the flagstones.

So that one seems like a fairly easy pick to me.

Wow, that's awesome!

*crosses out his own guess, which was "sweat, dust, and ghoul entrails"*

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I'm loving this thread. While it's true that (as far as I know), Erik didn't have a specific meaning in mind when he came up with the word, the idea of it being elves from Castrovel's name for the planet would probably be my explanation of choice.

(As always, this is on the messageboards, and thus not canon... though if I had thought to put it in Distant Worlds, it might be. ;)

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Personally, I've never been a fan of the "undead = evil" trope--to me, it's always seemed unnecessarily prejudiced. So I think the idea of a non-evil organization that protects undead and helps them deal with their weird existence sound pretty awesome!

In addition to your suggestions, I could honestly see a lot of gods being willing to support this sort of thing: Shelyn, because she's all about love and sees the potential even in Zon-Kuthon. Sarenrae, to try and redeem the redeemable. Abadar, because hey, maybe you've got a contract, and here's folks trying to find a way to make the undead productive members of society. Really, it's only Pharasma who has a direct doctrinal edict against the undead--most other gods can be swayed (hence the reason Geb hasn't been wiped from the map).

Note that this is all just *MY* opinion. No single staffer gets to speak for the gods in an official capacity unless it's in a published book. :)

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Just wanted to drop a link here for anyone interested in the fan-run Pathfinder Tales Book Club's read of Death's Heretic and its webfiction prequel. There's still time to get in on the discussion!

Pathfinder Tales Book Club

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It's been so long since I wrote this one that I only kind of remember what happens, which makes reading this analysis even more fun and surreal. :D

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Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
James Sutter wrote:

Karazh in Casmaron is also a good spot, as it drew a fair bit of influence from Mongolia and Kazakhstan. So far, it's only been detailed in the web fiction story Boar and Rabbit.

So far. :)

Karazh = Cambulac?

Not exactly! The capital (such as it is) of Karazh is Ular Kel, but while I drew inspiration from all over the region, I didn't have a direct analogue for the city.

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Karazh in Casmaron is also a good spot, as it drew a fair bit of influence from Mongolia and Kazakhstan. So far, it's only been detailed in the web fiction story Boar and Rabbit.

So far. :)

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Drejk wrote:


In a completely unrelated announced, I would like to see more about Kaer Maga.

I know we're entering Shameless Plug Town*, but did you Kaer Maga fans know that THE REDEMPTION ENGINE is set there? I do a fair bit of expanding on the details from CITY OF STRANGERS in that one, as well as in Pathfinder #63: The Asylum Stone.

Spoiler:

*Welcome to Spoilertown! Population: Me.

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Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:
I like places that are more questions than answers.

Hear, hear!

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Yay! These are so cute!

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W E Ray wrote:

Absalom.

Really, Absalom is my my top 5 -- then, in order: Korvosa, Egorian, Augustana, Nisroch, Ilizmagorti, Magnimar and Katapesh.

But it's a shame the designers seem to refuse to do much with the Flagship Location of the campaign setting. Absalom needs so much more development!

That's because Absalom is destined to be Erik's opus, and he refuses to do anything in half measures. One day he'll reveal his glorious city-child, and all will quail in love and fear...

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*stuffs ballot box*

*whistles innocently*

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While I know staffers shouldn't play favorites, it really warms my heart to see all the Kaer Maga love in this thread. :D

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Varian and Radovan will be back with significant fanfare this summer. :)

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Narquelion wrote:

This is very nice thank you for sharing!

Anyway, I was contesting the much wider assertion that the planets "behave according to normal scientific principles". Liavara and Bretheda have moons with liquid oceans - of water, on their surfaces. Triaxus doesn't get as cold as it should traveling so far from its star. Verces laugh in the face of meteorology. Etc Etc.
Thankfully it's a fantasy world with magic and Shantaks and Aucturn so we can come up with explanations.

Actually, I designed Verces to be consistent with an astronomy paper I read once about tidally locked planets and how the weather might not be as extreme as you'd think, though I sadly no longer have the link.

But yeah, there's certainly still a fair amount of magic and handwavium going on in the setting. I was heavily *inspired* by real science, but ultimately, "how much fun would it be to adventure here?" was my primary concern. :)

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As has been mentioned, Opparal from King of Chaos is an LG paladin and one of the three POV characters, and I think of Drelm from Stalking the Beast as lawful good, so there are definitely some folks around already who likely fit your bill.

That said, I've already purchased a novel starring an LG paladin and a GG* cleric from Gabrielle Harbowy, so if you're willing to wait a little bit, I think I've got the novel you want pretty much made to order. :)

Spoiler:

*Gnome Good

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Rysky wrote:
On reading through a bunch of the Tales: Why is there always a gnome on the ships?

I think it just pairs well with their interests. Gnomes are naturally in a constant search for novelty and exploration, so what better way to see the world than to become a sailor? Plus, their small size makes them extra useful in the cramped spaces one finds on ships, from making repairs down in the bilge to taking up slightly less space when hanging a sleeping hammock.

Really, the question should be "Why don't captains hire *more* gnomes?" (I presume the answer has to do with the problems that come with an overabundance of curiosity and distractibility...)

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Hey, thanks Darkborn! I hope you enjoy the novels--I think I'm honestly better at those than adventures, though I'll admit that I had a lot of fun designing my Emerald Spire level. Once you read Death's Heretic, you'll know why I absolutely *had* to have proteans in my level... :)

Also, to the book club as a whole: A book club should absolutely be an author-free space so that people can voice their honest opinions without feeling like jerks. That said, if the book club covers a given author's book and has questions, I suspect that many of the authors who hang around these boards would be happy to stop by and answer them, provided they're in a separate forum so we're not stepping on toes.

Have fun, everyone!

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I am super supportive of this sort of thing! Good luck, Darkborn!

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Alayern wrote:
Is it safe to assume that the same requirements for Tales writing for newer authors also applies to the webfiction? I.E. the 'having been previously published' caveat?

At the moment, yes. But if you don't want to wait until you've published elsewhere, there's always Wayfinder and Pathfinder Chronicler, both of which are awesome fanfic communities!

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I also think it's worth noting that Associate Editor Judy Bauer, like all our editors, has had significant influence on the development of the game and our setting. Speaking as someone who's been both a developer and an editor (and a customer service person, and a website person...) at Paizo, there's a lot more overlap between the jobs than people might think. And Judy has extra influence in that she's in charge of hiring all our freelance editors—folks like Lyz Liddell and Christina herself, who you may have seen in the credits in the last year.

This is not to say "Oh, we have some women on the team, we're covered." Not at all. We're still a long way from gender parity (and even farther from an ideal racial distribution) on our creative staff, and it's one of the reasons we've been trying so hard to get the word out to people who feel underrepresented in the industry. I just don't want the contributions of folks who are already here to get overlooked.

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Just noting that I read the title of this thread, and my head immediately began putting it to the tune of "If I Were A Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof.

If I were a Razmir... yubba deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle deedle dum..."

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If you want to hear a Rahadoumi explain it in his own words, you might want to check out Death's Heretic...

Spoiler:

THE SHAMELESS PLUGGER STRIKES AGAIN!

*vanishes in a swirl of cape*

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Congratulations to all of the finalists, and kudos to everyone who participated! It take courage to sit down and write a story, and even more to submit it for critiquing, so everyone who wrote for this contest clearly has that first and most important part of being a professional author.

As always, it was an honor to be involved. And though this is my last year as final judge, it's *not* the last year that the final round will involve a special Paizo judge. Stay tuned... ;)

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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Oh man, I'm super excited to see what shows up on this thread! :)

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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It's like Fight Club.

The first Law of Man is: "Let no man be beholden to a god."

The second Law of Man is: "Let no man be beholden to a god."

Spoiler:

If this is your first night in Rahadoum, you have to reject the gods.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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HikariStarshine wrote:

That thumb.

Just.... that thumb.

What on earth is the purpose of an extra thumb like that?

Apparently Tim imagined it being on the *other* side of the hand, which would admittedly be more useful. But sometimes the art is cool enough that you just run with it!

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