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James Sutter

James Sutter's page

Managing Editor. 2,311 posts (2,342 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 2 aliases.


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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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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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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... ;)

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

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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.

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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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GeraintElberion wrote:

How does James feel about books which deliberately mess with reader expectations? Or those that are crafted with incomplete conclusions?

Some people think that Pathfinder Tales *owes* them third-person, past-tense writing. Are they correct?

To speak to the latter: I'm not saying that *all* fan entitlement is valid. If you expect a happy ending, or past tense, or whatever, and an author chooses to do something different, that's totally fine by me. The point is not that everyone gets exactly the book they want or expect, only that if your selling point is "check out this awesome story arc!" rather than "check out this great standalone book!", it's reasonable for fans to expect you to provide what you sold them on, rather than simply a portion of it.

For instance, if we went crazy and decided to stop publishing Iron Gods at the third volume, a lot of people would be justifiably upset. The whole idea of an AP as we've promoted it is that it has a six-volume arc. Could it be continued beyond there? Sure, and we encourage people to do so, but we're always careful to wrap up the main arc in the volumes we publish. Even though each volume is a great adventure on its own, our advertising focuses on the larger story, and thus we have an obligation (in my mind) to provide it.

Now, that doesn't mean anybody should go to jail, or that GRRM owes people refunds if he doesn't finish, or whatever. This isn't about legislation. The discussion of social contract is really just about recognizing *why* fans might feel a certain way, and admitting that there's validity to it, rather than just waving it all aside and claiming those readers (who are the exact people who supported you as an author) are somehow immature, which is what I feel some authors do.

What should we as authors lose if we violate those expectations? Nothing but our good name with readers. But in this business, until you're as big as GRRM, your good name is all you have...

Thanks for the awesome discussion, everyone!

(P.S: Books that mess with reader expectations or have incomplete-feeling conclusions are just fine. I like the "looking off into the distance" endings, and it's fine if we never see what happens after our hobbit protagonist sails off with the elves. If GRRM wants to publish a one-page book that says "And then everyone dies when the Klingons attach King's Landing," that would be fulfilling the social contract, albeit maybe not in *quite* as good faith as it could be. It would also make him a pretty crappy artist, but that's its own issue.)

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That is absolutely not true.

While Calex is right that we don't discuss why anyone is let go, let alone our employees' gender/sexuality/etc. (talk about a breach of confidentiality!), to my knowledge this claim is completely baseless.

That said, I *do* challenge anyone to read Crystal's awesome write-up of Shardra and call it hamfisted. She did a rad job.

EDIT: When I say we don't discuss our employees' personal details, I mean as a company. Many of us at Paizo are pretty publicly GLBTQwhatever, and if individuals want to talk about it, that's totally cool. :)

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I wrote an essay over at SF Signal about what series authors like George R. R. Martin owe their fans (partially to rebut Neil Gaiman's famous "George Martin is not your b~**~" post), and I thought some of y'all might have opinions on the issue. While Paizo doesn't publish epic novel series, the parallels between something like that and Adventure Paths are numerous. :)

What Authors Owe Fans

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mechaPoet wrote:

All right, here's my prediction for the final chapter:

Brea wakes up, manages to get mortal revenge on Deagan, then takes his head as a prize and flees.

She wanders through rural countryside until she finds a town, and figures she will abandon the life of a soldier and take up entertainment instead. She finds a small theater and gains an audition with the proprietor.

For her act, she brings Deagan's decapitated head and does a number of unspeakable things to it. The proprietor is stunned, and after her shocking performance can only ask: "What is this act called?"

She smiles and replies, "The Kalistocrats!"

:-O

*slow, stunned clapping*

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Dave Gross wrote:

Studies indicate that the most effective means of speeding the arrival of another Radovan & the count novel are heavy doses of five-star reviews for the preceding volumes on Amazon, Goodreads, and right here.

It's scientific.

It is known.

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We used to do Pathfinder Tales bookmarks as promotional items, but it's been a while. I'll see if it's something we can start up again.

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I may have written two Pathfinder Tales novels about these very questions. :)

Death's Heretic

The Redemption Engine

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Rysky wrote:
James Sutter wrote:

Just found out that both THE REDEMPTION ENGINE and DEATH'S HERETIC are getting close to selling out. So if you like paper books, you should get your copies now!

Thanks to everybody who's picked them up!

Does this mean there's a chance for a collected, illustrated Salim hardcover?

Ha! That would be lovely, but I think a proper omnibus would require THREE Salim novels... ;)

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Orthos wrote:
Okay. "This orange has offended me!", the adorable arbiter, and Muffin Hat have put Death's Heretic up in the same "hilarious moments" bracket as things like the turkey drop in Dresden Files.

Yay, thank you! Also, Muffin Hat wasn't even in the book's outline--I was just writing away one morning, and suddenly he popped up and everything went off the rails for a few pages. Afterward, I was wondering if he was too silly, but he made me so happy I decided to leave him in. :)

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I approve of this thread!

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captain yesterday wrote:
fair enough:) what is your favorite non core race to play as?

That's a tough one! I'm really fond of tengu--I'm currently playing one named Artemis Kraugh--but Associate Editor Judy Bauer's grippli Chitl the Amazing! \o/ (you have to punctuate it by throwing your arms in the air) cracks me up every time. :)

I really enjoy races and characters that lend themselves to the absurd!

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captain yesterday wrote:
James Sutter wrote:
Justin Sluder wrote:
Need more Eldest.
On it.
when?

As soon as it's done. :)

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:

Does a character who's a member of a particular organization NEED to have levels in the Prestige Class associated with it, or can they get away with it through roleplay, like, say, a cleric of Iomedae who wants to be a Knight of Ozem but doesn't take levels in the actual Knight of Ozem prestige class because they don't want to lose spellcasting progression, or a Pathfinder that doesn't take levels in the Pathfinder Chronicler, Delver, Field Agent or Savant prestige classes because they're interested in a different prestige class like Arcane Archer or something?

It just feels to me like the minute an organization gets an official Prestige Class for it, you can't be a REAL member of that organization in-game without taking levels in it, that without the Prestige Class to PROVE you're in the organization, all you have is your say-so, and that negates the idea that it takes effort to join these organizations.

This is always my fear with presenting prestige classes for use with in-world organizations! So let me clarify once and for all by saying that you DO NOT, IN ANY WAY, NEED TO TAKE THE PRESTIGE CLASS OF THE SAME NAME TO BE PART OF AN ORGANIZATION. Many Knights of Ozem are just normal paladins, etc.

Good question!

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Justin Sluder wrote:
Need more Eldest.

On it.

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Thanks to everyone who came out to the Diversity in Gaming panel! It was a great discussion, as always, and I really appreciate folks bringing their insights. Without your feedback, it would be way harder for us to know how to improve. :)

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captain yesterday wrote:

1) are there Androids on Aballon or Verces?

2) what about the robots from inner sea bestiary?

1) Currently unknown!

2) Yes and no. There are definitely creatures with the robot subtype on those worlds, but probably not the specific robots from Inner Sea Bestiary (as those are tied closely to the specific ship that crashed in Numeria). That said, those specific robots are likely really useful in simulating the wide variety of robots out there!

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ulgulanoth wrote:
James, as a writer how do you go about getting inspiration for a novel?

Pacing. I stand up a lot when I write.

...

No, seriously, that's it. The thing about inspiration is that it's not this magical thing. At least not for me. We like to romanticize it as a bolt out of the blue--and I'll even do that in interviews sometimes, in order to skim past the boring parts--but the truth is that I find some tiny little seed that seems promising, and then build from there in a very logical manner. The seed can be anything: a detail in a sourcebook, a philosophical concept, an idea for a neat cinematic scene. And then I ask "who" and "why" and "how" and "so what?" until I've got a solid idea. I may take several of those nascent idea dough-balls and smash them together, then frantically spin out BS to explain the result. ("I want to write about angels and devils. I also want to write about the Caulborn. How can I do both in the same book and have it still make sense?")

In a very real sense, my novels are half me trying to talk through a philosophical argument I find interesting, and half me trying to find a plot that justifies all the neat creatures and places I want to write about. :)

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Congrats to Gabrielle! It's always deeply rewarding to see folks on the message boards connect with an author's characters, and I'm excited to be the editor who gave her her first novel contract. :)

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ubiquitous wrote:


Speaking of the Kaer Maga-Outer Planes parallelism, was that a lucky happenstance of wanting to include both those locations in the novel, or did you plan it from the start?

When I realised the relationship you had crafted there, it struck me as just being so logical I immediately thought: "Of course he planned that, he's an editor." Do you think coming from such a strong editorial background affects your writing?

Honestly, I was stuck on where to go for the second book, when Erik mentioned in passing, "Sutter, why don't you write a novel about Kaer Maga? It's probably the place in Golarion you're best known for." And as soon as the words left his mouth, a light went off in my brain, and suddenly we were off to the races. :)

Being an editor makes me a waaaaay better writer, in that I get to spend all day learning from the successes and mistakes of the folks I'm editing. :) Every time I correct a stylistic convention in someone's manuscript, I'm reinforcing that lesson in myself.

I think that every writer should try editing and vice versa, both for the education and to get a taste of what it's like on the other side of the table. Certainly I think that being a writer makes me a nicer editor--I know firsthand how hard it can be to be a writer, and always try to treat authors well, even if I have to reject them!

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Thanks for all the kind words, everyone! I've wanted to explore Quinn's backstory ever since we first saw the art, so I'm glad people like the direction we've taken. :)

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Ross Byers wrote:
Is there anyone who would disagree with Idris Elba for the Pathfinder movie?

Interestingly enough, I *did* have a cast member of The Wire in mind the whole time I was writing this—but it was Clarke Peters, not Idris Elba. (Because really, Lester is the coolest character in that whole show.)

But Elba's a close second. ;)

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Erik Mona wrote:
Drejk wrote:


While it might be economically reasonable, in case of dimorphic races maybe you should try to order pictures showing both (or all in case of monsters that have more than two) forms - like a picture showing both a male and a female for Lashuntas.

Yes, I agree. This was a mistake that we did not do this. I wasn't so much trying to explain why the mistake isn't a mistake as I was trying to explain the practical context in which the mistake was made in the first place.

Just a note that we actually *do* have an illustration of a male lashunta coming out in the forthcoming People of the Stars (which went to print before this conversation started).

While the sexual dimorphism/"brutish male and attractive female" bit did indeed come from Almuric, I hope folks who read the lashunta's write-ups in various sources noticed that (unlike in Howard's books), both genders are portrayed as intelligent and scholarly, with the women as strong-willed, politically savvy leaders. In this way we hoped to subvert some of the classic pulp tropes. (Of course, some of the art--like the Distant Worlds cover--is still very pulpy, but many of our other illustrations of lashunta move away from that and try to portray them in a more practical/realistic light.)

I'm not saying there's not a problem with hypersexualization of women in Pathfinder--it's something we work to correct every day. I just hope that the lashunta are seen as more than simply "hot women on dinosaurs," since in my imagination their society is so much more!

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:

Thanks for your candor. Here's another question I asked him, and I'm sort of asking this on all your developer question threads for multiple opinions...

Curse of the Crimson Throne is kicked off by each PC receiving a Harrow card that corresponds to both their highest ability score and their alignment. A CN ranger with a high Dexterity gets The Rabbit Prince, for example, while the NG wizard with high Intelligence gets The Wanderer card.

What happens if the PC is Multi-Ability-Dependent, and they have no single attribute that's dominant? For example, if a paladin's highest scores are an equal Strength and Charisma that are both 16, which card does he/she get? The Paladin (LG STR) or The Empty Throne (LG CHA)? How do you, either in your capacity as a developer or a GM, decide how the Harrowing affects PCs with two or more equal high scores, and thus no dominant Harrow suit?

Honestly? I'd pick whichever one interested me most, or choose at random. As I said, I view rules as guidelines and inspiration in my home games, so I don't really spend much time worrying about whether I've made the "right" choices as long as folks are having fun!

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