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James Sutter

James Sutter's page

Managing Editor. 2,268 posts (2,299 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 2 aliases.


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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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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:

What's the best way to add variety when you're playing a class you're unfamiliar with and as a result resort to stereotypes.

For instance, I wanna play a rogue at some point, but my problem is that my conception of rogues is basically a taciturn yet sarcastic guy in black leather with a hood obscuring their face with a crossbow and rapier or short sword and a lot of daggers who spends their spare time picking everyone's pockets, including those of his teammates. You know, like Garret in the Thief games or the Grey Mouser? How can I play a rogue that isn't THAT?

Hmm... I'd say just figure out a character concept or motive that you're interested in that has nothing to do with the class, then figure out how to accomplish that via the class. Are you the former head of the royal guard? Are you a searching for a way to avenge your brother? Are you trying to feed your family, or uncover the secrets of the universe, or advancing the cause of your god? All of those can be fine rogues (or wizards, or clerics, or...).

If you're really stuck, try taking the stereotype of one class, and playing it as a totally different class. ("He'll be the sneaky guy... but he's a wizard!")

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Dragon78 wrote:

1)What are your favorite places/regions in the Inner Sea?

2)What continent are you most interesting in seeing something done for? Which one would you like to write for?

3)Do you have any favorite giant monster movie?

1) Probably Rahadoum (no surprise there), but I'm also deeply attached to a lot of the sections I did a bunch of work developing, such as Kyonin, Belkzen, Varisia, and Hermea/the Ironbound Archipelago.

2) I'm interested in all of them, of course, but at the moment I'm really taken by Casmaron. I'm actually in the middle of presenting a new city there, Ular Kel, in the web fiction that's running right now!

3) Jurassic Park. ;)

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Anorak wrote:
James, finished the book this morning and all i have to say is that I love it. Oh. And when is the third book out? 2015 right? :)

*head asplode*

Thanks for the votes of confidences, dudes. :D

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Thanks for the kind words, everybody! I really enjoyed writing this story, both because of the characters and because of the opportunity to lay some groundwork for part of Casmaron we've never seen before. :)

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Tinkergoth wrote:


On another note, are you able to confirm or deny my theoretical scenario about how that tricksy t-rex James Jacobs tricks you into taking the time to write more Kaer Maga material? :P

The Redemption Engine was my own idea, but what you describe is almost *exactly* how I ended up writing Pathfinder #63: The Asylum Stone. :D

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I realize that this thread basically is an AMA, but if anyone here is a redditor, I'm doing an AMA tonight over at r/fantasy! Come ask me questions and make me feel even specialer*!

My AMA!

Spoiler:

*As Managing Editor, I am allowed to declare things words as I see fit.

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
Okay, so the Kellids are the Celts and the Ulfen are the Germanics, according to what I can see. Who are the sort of nomadic tribes, like the ancient Roxolani or Scythians on Golarion? Who are like the Celtiberians, like the Arevaci or Lusitani?

We haven't really tried to match historical analogues directly with our barbarian tribes... To be perfectly honest, it was more "Okay, so the Ulfen are Vikings, and Kellids are Conans..."

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fine_young_misanthrope wrote:
Just want to push this up. I still want audiobooks!

Me too! We're actually making some potential progress on that front right now... Stay tuned!

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Mikaze wrote:

Digging. :)

I wonder if we're seeing the homeland of the Iridian Fold here.

Maaaaaybe. :)

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Just dropping in to point out that the new web fiction series which started today is chock-full of gay romance. (It's basically the story of Aladdin if both he and Princess Jasmine were men.)

Don't mean to spam, but I thought some folks here might be into that. :)

Link: Boar and Rabbit

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Thanks, everyone! You folks are the best! :D

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YeOldAdventurer wrote:

Hey, James, big fan. I have a question about publishing novels set in Golarion.

I have scrolled several message boards on the topic, and as an aspiring author, the situation looks bleak. Is there no way for a virgin author to get what might just be a great novel published, assuming said novel is set in Golarion?
I understand that sending out an open call would flood your office with millions of pages of crap. But I wonder if persistence COULD ever pay off in this situation.
Thoughts?

Thanks for the question! Unfortunately, the answer is that nobody gets to write a Pathfinder Tales novel without first proving themselves in other arenas. Publishing your own short stories or novels through outlets with editors--publishers, magazines, e-zines, etc.--and building up your name and skills that way is still the only way to get your foot in this particular door.

You might be thinking, "But I'm a great writer! Why won't they give me the chance?" And the answer--in addition to the one you mention about an open call totally flooding us--is that even if you showed me a great writing sample, writing ability is only half of the game. The rest is all about the skills and knowledge that you pick up by working in the writing trenches for a while. Things like the ability to hit deadlines, to know how to interact with editors, to be creative under pressure, to outline well, to accurately judge how long each phase of writing will take you, and so on. As someone who's been writing professionally for a decade at this point, I know that it's been a continual learning process, with veil after veil falling from my eyes as I deal with other professional writers and editors. And it's the resulting dependability--the ability to trust an author who says "I can deliver X by Y date" because you know that they've done it before and understand the process--that is so vital to a tie-in editor like me.

Which isn't to say that there's no hope for new folks! I'm only talking about novels that are *commissioned*, as all Pathfinder Tales novels have to be in order for us to have adequate input in their creation. For the vast majority of fiction markets out there--the ones dealing with creator-owned work--you get to just write what you want to write, submit it, and hope that they publish you. Usually the answer is no. But if you keep at it long enough--gaining experience and skill and battle scars--eventually someone will say yes, and you'll get professionally published.

And then I'll welcome your new battle-hardened author self into the gladiatorial arena of my potential writers pile, and we'll see what happens. :)

Above all, don't give up hope! Writing professionally is a long, hard road, but if there's anything I've learned, it's that perseverance is the most important part. Everything else you can pick up along the way--as long as you don't quit.

Good luck!

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AlgaeNymph wrote:
You...might want to have a look at this.

Huh! News to me. Still, with all respect to everyone involved, the messageboards aren't where Paizo makes decisions. That's what meetings are for. :P

We all work together to make the books and create "canon." We're not always going to agree with each other or with every decision that's made, but that's part of the creative process--and at Paizo, the whole is very much greater than the sum of its parts. So lest people think that divergent personal opinions or messageboard comments indicate a schism, or that someone's right and another's wrong, rest assured that that's not how it works. Disagreement--sometimes passionate disagreement--is how we push each other to get better. :)

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Davick wrote:
I'll definitely need to start reading your novels to see if this is addressed (they sound right up my alley), but do you feel atheist is the appropriate term for the character? Does he actually disbelieve in their divinity? Or would it be more correct to call him an antitheist or misotheist (or both)?

Actually, the best term for his beliefs I've been able to find is alatrism/alatry, but it turns out that basically no one knows what that means (including me until a few weeks ago :). So while I still think "atheist" was the right choice in terms of making things broadly understandable for the casual reader, in my mind "Rahadoumi atheism" is basically alatrism.

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Matthew Morris wrote:
"Saranrae's burning bush!" Double entendre for the win.

I think that was the moment I first truly understood Roshad's voice. :D

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Mark Moreland wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:

Just started reading this.

Also, I realized that Salim is Golarion's answer to Captain Jack Harkness.

Sutter is one of the many (unfortunate) Paizo staffers who has yet to be indoctrinated into the ways of Who, so I doubt he even gets the reference. That said, I am in 100% agreement with your assessment.

While it's true that Erik and Mark haven't been able to drag me into Dr. Who yet (mainly due to lack of free time on my part), I've picked up just enough knowledge to be *extremely* flattered. :D

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MMCJawa wrote:

Hey James

So reading your interview on the blog, I didn't realize you invented most of the Eldest. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions concerning these?

1) What are the odds of getting a campaign setting book focused on the Eldest, ala Chronicles of the Righteous?

2) What are the odds of getting new Eldest?

3) Is there a specific reason why the Eldest vary so much in alignment, but non of them are Good? Any possibility of getting a Eldest with Good in it's alignment?

1. Very, very good. ;)

2. Less good! While there are totally other Eldest out there, I want to focus on the ones closest to Golarion for now in order to keep from cluttering the field too much.

3) The original idea was to make them all neutral in some facet, to reflect the fact that their mindsets are alien and different than ours, unconcerned with our conventional views on morality. That said, I think a lot of them probably have good *aspects*, they're just not dependable in the ways we think of. Are there Eldest out there somewhere with an NG alignment? Quite possibly. But then, I think alignment is an illusion anyway. ;)

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JoelF847 wrote:

James, can't wait to read this one. One burning question about the interview though:

What share of rent does the death ray pay?

Man, the death ray is who we pay rent *to*!

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James Jacobs wrote:

I call upon the internet to photoshop Sutter's beard on to that grippli!!!

GO, INTERNET! GO!

I APPROVE OF JACOBS'S MANDATE.

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CalebTGordan wrote:

When writing rules in English there isn't a gender neutral pronoun, making it difficult to be inclusive to both genders all of the time.

What does Paizo do to be gender inclusive, and do you feel you have been successful?

I noticed that classes and archetypes follow the gender of the iconic, but many other rules use 2nd person. Why is this and is there a reason behind why some class specific rules, like oracle mysteries, use 2nd person instead of 3rd?

Also, I recently have been bitten by the editing bug and am doing some freelance work for a small 3PP. Do you have any advice on how to be good at editing? Where should I go to find more work if I am ever interested in doing more?

We *do* try to be gender inclusive! And while there are always ways to improve, I think we've been pretty successful so far. A lot of our efforts simply involve creating gender balance in our characters and ordering gender-balanced art (and pushing back when artists give us ridiculous chainmail bikinis, etc.). We also try to make sure that there's gender balance within character types as well (so it's not all male fighters and female witches, etc.) In terms of text and pronouns, defaulting to our gender-balanced iconics is pretty effective, or we just try to flop back and forth. Worst-case scenario, you can try to pluralize things or use "he and she," etc. (While I know that such things enforce a false sense of gender dichotomy, we haven't yet found a gender-neutral singular pronoun that doesn't rankle the majority of Grammar Gods, and as editors we feel we have to comply... for now.)

As for the second/third person switches--a lot of those are relics carried over from 3.5, or else based off of similar rules elements that were that way in 3.5. Wooo legacy grammar!

The best ways to get good at editing are:

a) Study it, via books, blogs, school, and just being around editors.

b) Edit! Volunteer to read slush or intern for publications and editors you respect! There's always more work than an editor has time for, and a willingness to do the gruntwork can get you in the door, or at least into the presence of the door.

Good luck!

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LazarX wrote:
scifan888 wrote:

What are the chances on getting the stats for characters from the various novels?

There are several I would like to see.

If I recall correctly did not one of your authors hold a contest for statting the characters in his Jeggare series of novels and posted the results on the Paizo blog? Do you expect that your authors be able to "stat" their cast?

Dave did indeed run a contest to let fans stat up characters, which I think is a great way to do it. While I statted up Radovan in Kobold Quarterly years ago, and you can get short stat blocks in books like Inner Sea Combat and Inner Sea Magic, but while I absolutely expect my authors to know the basic stats of their characters, I'm generally against publishing official stats.

I've written up my reasons before, but they are:

1) Novel characters are always evolving, and stat blocks are static, a snapshot in time. Do you stat up the character at the beginning of the novel? The end? Two books in? Official stats make a character feel frozen to me, and I don't want my authors to feel restricted that way.

2) Publishing an official stat block is just asking people to nitpick. In my mind, there's zero value to publishing a stat block and then having someone say "Actually, in book two you have him climb up that wall, but you never gave him ranks in Climb, so he shouldn't have been able to do that." Too much technical information knocks certain types of readers out of the story.

3) I want to leave a certain amount of flexibility for future stories. If a sorcerer character knows five spells but only uses three of them in Book A, then I want to leave those empty slots well and truly open so that they can be whatever they need to be for Book B. It would be a shame to publish a stat block that fills in those spells known at random, then have the character be unable to cast a certain spell that we need for the plot of Book B.

In short, the answer is that I always lean toward creative freedom and intriguing mysteries. :)

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