|James Sutter Senior Editor/Fiction Editor|
My inspiration for Triaxus was really the idea of a planet with an eccentric orbit--what would life there be like? How would things evolve? It wasn't until I was actually typing up the final manuscript that I wrote something like "...the wiser Triaxians know that winter is comin--OH G@@$!+NIT!" I seriously hadn't made the connection until that moment that A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones could clearly set on a world with an eccentric orbit, thus explaining its own long seasons. That said, after wrestling with the knowledge for a bit, I came to the conclusion that you can't copyright astronomical phenomena (or the resulting long seasons), so I went ahead and kept writing. Fortunately, I think Triaxus is pretty darn different the GRRM's world!
The Triaxians were equally inspired by their environment--a race that shifts and adapts on a very short cycle. Since Earth's humans have darker skin in warmer climates, I made the Summerborn dark and hairless. The winterborn would be white-furred to stay warm and blend with the snow. The design of their eyes is based on Inuit snow goggles: narrow slits that limit the amount and angle of light hitting your eyes and allow you to avoid snow blindness. The ears were just for fun. :)
The other major influence on the planet is obvious draconic. Golarion doesn't really do dragonriding much, so I wanted to make sure the setting had a place for that sort of McCaffrey-esque adventure. I also loved Richard Knaak's Dragonrealms books as a kid, so the "dragons ruling nations" angle seemed like a natural fit. I had already created the gender-bending battleflowers independently, and realized that they deserved to live in Golarion. And everything else just kind of sprang up as I wrote!
Lawful GM wrote:
We allude to there being differences, and suggest some easy ways for GMs to make things *feel* different, but there are no new alternative magic systems presented or anything like that. There simply isn't enough room in one AP installment to create a bunch of new local spells and things, and we wanted to make running a game there easy on both GM and players. Plus, remember that while the various traditions of magic might be different on Triaxus in terms of components used, precise effects, etc., the same general laws of magic are likely going to hold true for all worlds on the Material Plane. When you can hop between Heaven and Hell with a spell, the distance between Golarion and Triaxus is pretty insignificant, in the grand scheme of things!
(Although having said that, my brain immediately imagines how we could treat magic on the Material Plane like space/time... wouldn't it be cool if there were things--like deities--that could create magical "gravity wells"... hmm...)
Answering just a few...
2) Sure! Grays are probably one of the most terrifying creatures to me. I still get freaked out by the thought of them looking in my window at night. (A fear several of my prankster friends have capitalized on before...)
3) I feel like weapon familiarity is best used sparingly, as in my mind it makes cultures seem really homogenous. Look at all the variation in weaponry across human cultures--why would a planet-wide race like elves or dwarves or Lashunta be any different? While I can see why it's useful for GMs to have a go-to configuration, I hate pigeonholing intelligent races any more than I have to. Listing common weapons doesn't bother me, but hard-coding it into the rules seems weird. Just my opinion.
4) It isn't that looks aren't a factor to Lashunta women, just that their societal preferences are generally toward short, broad men that our current American society might consider "brutish." Standards of beauty are totally ephemeral in intelligent cultures, but in the same way that most humans can agree on a (very) general concept of what's "handsome," so can Lashunta, and they prioritize somewhat different features. But beyond that basic sociological statement, there's a whole range of Lashunta preferences, same as humanity. There are GLBT Lashunta, straight Lashunta women who like willowy elven dudes, Lashunta men who might really dig some dwarven women if they ever met one, etc. The big thing with Lashunta isn't their sexuality, but rather their sexual dimorphism (males looking very different from females).
Adam Daigle wrote:
The gazetteer is a zoomed in focus on the particular region where the adventure takes place, but it does mention the rest of the planet, just not in detail.
Yeah, we didn't want to give people a bunch of specific locations on continents they'll never reach during the AP, so instead there's a lot of general Triaxus information followed by a lot of information on specific places along the Skyfire Mandate/Drakelands border--we really wanted that area fleshed out. If you're curious about the density of locations, the gazetteer is comparable to the ones I originally did on Belkzen, Kyonin, and Varisia back in the early Pathfinder days (meaning tons of tags).
Also note that the "specific area" focused on is the size of most of the Yucatan Peninsula, if I'm remembering correctly. So it's a significant region.
I really enjoyed writing the gazetteer--it reminded me of the days when we were still filling in the Inner Sea region, not knowing what was across the next border, and I hope that enthusiasm comes across in the text!
Would female Lashunta find male dwarves to be extremely attractive? Similar to the way that human males tend to find female elves extremely attractive?
Ha! I hadn't thought about that angle, but it sounds like a reasonable assumption.
Good day to be Harsk...
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Hey! Do you remember what first lead you to claim that Patrick Renie was your spirit animal?
It was probably one of his amazing quotes. I'm not sure which one anymore, but some notable early contenders that I wrote down:
"I'm just saying that being inbred doesn't make you NECESSARILY backward... What? I'm not controversed!"
“Steampunk and Victorian sex? I’ll tell you how: Leave everything on. Feel shame.”
Me: “So you’re like a wasp.”
“Choke me, dawg! Don’t use your hands, use my hands! No—don’t touch my hands!”
“We’ve got drink tickets. They’re called ‘money.’”
“This book is like a cake you burned, and somehow the burned cake formed a picture of Jesus. But it’s still a ruined cake. The cake is my brain.”
Thanks, Dr. D! And a fine point... though I think you'll be quite pleased by the upcoming King of Chaos, in that regard. :)
Hey Luna! Thanks for the question--it's actually really cool to be asked about my non-Pathfinder work as well. :)
I was thrilled to be a part of Geek Love! 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. :)
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. :)
For folks interested, that Geek Love anthology is over at Drive-Thru these days, and will hopefully be available here as well at some point!
Hey Johnico! Glad you liked the novel! While I'm not really allowed to say when a thing might come out until it's been officially announced, I hope to be able to say something official in the next six months or so. :) Stay tuned!
And Kajehase is right--Liane Merciel's fiction and the sourcebook Cities of Golarion are the best places to go for information on Nidal. For my money, Liane's the best bet--she really captures the feel of that place better than we could have dreamed!
What did you thought of the community trying to explore the golarion solar system before any real info on it was out? for example
I thought--and still think--that it's awesome! It's immensely flattering that people would be so taken by something I (or we, as in most cases at Paizo) created as to invest a bunch of their own time in expanding upon it.
Personally, I'm of the opinion that imagination is the point of roleplaying. I know some people feel like they can't use a thing unless they know all the canon associated with it, but I'm not one of them--to me, sourcebooks are meant to be inspirational, not prescriptive. So while I of course love the people who say "we want to hear more about Sutter's ideas!", it's just as vindicating as a game designer to meet the folks who say "we loved your ideas--and they inspired us to make stuff of our own!"
In short: We're just the guys who built the house. How you choose to decorate once you move in is entirely up to you. :D
Alexander Augunas wrote:
Plans for a "summon space whale" spell? While I can't say that I expect that to ever make it into print, I personally would applaud such a Douglas-Adams-esque tactic. :D
1) Not that ugly, really, more just short, muscular, and brutish-looking... not full-on dwarves, but more like a cross between a modern man and a Neanderthal. If you're into gorilla-shaped men (and hey, my dad falls into that category--dude's knuckles are like walnuts), then maybe Lashunta's the place for you!
2) I can't choose between my children! But I still crack myself up every time I talk about the oma. SPAAAAAAACE WHAAAAAAAALES!
3) The southern chunk of Garund, because really we would have already gone there if not for page dimensions on the gazetteer, followed closely by Casmaron.
Jim Groves wrote:
You're correct--the first rule of Aucturn Club is that you don't talk about Aucturn Club. :)
That said, will we eventually do more with that world? Almost certainly. I may love mysteries, but I'm not going to try to hoard ALL of them, and I think an adventure set there would be really fun. Nothing's on the schedule at the moment, but that doesn't mean that it couldn't be, if the right people got excited about it...
John Kretzer wrote:
We've definitely got more books that aren't adventures in the traditional "form a party and go on a quest" sense coming down the line--books that focus a bit more on politics and intrigue, etc. That said, since Pathfinder is fundamentally an adventure game, the novels are also going to always need a strong sense of excitement and adventure. That doesn't just mean dungeons, or searching for artifacts, or open warfare, but you're much less likely to see, say, a straight-up romance or political book without any "action." (Though I personally think Pirate's Honor is a great adventure that's ALSO a classic pirate romance!)
With that in mind, there are certainly characters in both the novels and the web fiction that can give you that "what's it like to be an everyday person in Golarion" perspective, and if somebody pitched me a story that was amazing but lacked any fighting, I'd totally publish it!
Memento Mortis wrote:
Well that would be telling, wouldn't it? ;)
Maybe he was indeed just sent packing when he didn't measure up. Maybe he's secretly a talent scout. Maybe he figured he we was going to be exiled and so left preemptively. Maybe he ran off while on a mission. It all depends on how you and your GM want to play things! (And if you're in the Society, all of those answers still work!)
The agents of Hermea applaud your efforts to end the vicious smear campaign against their great nation. :)
Yes and no! Certainly I can't edit and answer messageboard questions at the same time. But the messageboard community is also really important to us at Paizo, so connecting with folks online is still in the company's best interest. It's a careful balance--that's why you generally only see me answer a couple of questions a day. But in my opinion, the point at which everyone at a game company is too busy to talk to the people who *buy* said games is the point at which something very important has been lost, and the games probably start to suffer...
Sutter, what is your favorite cartoon? Do you still watch cartoons currently?
Favorite cartoon of all time? Probably Voltron. That thing had such a huge impact on my childhood brain that I have steadfastly avoided encountering it as an adult, because I don't want to have my youthful illusions shattered. Seriously--that thing and Sesame Street probably had an equal impact on Preschool James.
Currently? I don't watch a lot of cartoons anymore--or really television at all--but I've been really amused by Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors. If you watch them with the wrong group, they can admittedly seem juvenile, but if you're in a room with, say, Paizo's own Wes Schneider and Patrick Renie, you can laugh till you almost pass out. Plus, I just love the schizophrenic creativity those shows produce--there's so many different ideas that get shoved into each one. I imagine that those shows are what proteans watch when things get dull in the Maelstrom. And come on, who can't love Catbug?
Hi Morain! Glad you're liking the books. In answer to your questions:
1) At the moment, the only story connected to Winter Witch is "The Illusionist" by Elaine Cunningham, though I know both Dave and Elaine would like to revisit those characters down the road!
2) There actually IS a list connecting the web fiction and Pathfinder's Journals to the novels--and I didn't even make it! Itchy maintains a Pathfinder Tales Chronology thread that is remarkably thorough, so scroll down to the bottom and take a look at the most recent one. Hope that helps!
Memento Mortis wrote:
Unfortunately, there really *isn't* much more information on Hermea at the moment. Part of this is intentional--I think the country works best when it's shrouded in mystery--but mostly it's just that we haven't gotten around to detailing it yet. :) I know that Artifacts & Legends talks a little bit about it in the section on orbs of dragonkind.
As for inspiration... I'll be honest and admit that I was intentionally throwing fuel on the alignment-debate fire with this one, in several ways.
See, I've always been fascinated--in an academic sense--with the idea of eugenics. Obviously, a lot of horrible things have been done in the real world in the name of eugenics--forced sterilization, genocide, and other atrocities that will shame humanity for ages. Yet I think the question of how and when to guide our own evolution is an important one, especially given that we're already stepping over the cusp of being able to modify our own genes and take a direct hand in our children's and grandchildren's development. In fact, we've already been practicing eugenics (in non-horrific forms) for decades with things like amniocentesis. So while it's an extremely loaded term and idea, and a potentially dangerous one, I think it's an interesting scientific and philosophical debate to have.
Given how much I love messing with players' senses of morality and forcing their characters to face complicated ethical situations, a nation built around eugenics seemed like a perfect fit for the Inner Sea region. But how to make sure it was actually a debate, and not easily written off as a land of horrible prejudice and injustice? Why, make the leader a gold dragon, of course--a creature who, by one interpretation of the rules, is lawful good by definition. If there's a gold dragon running the experiment, then you have to ask yourself: Is he somehow fallen from grace, or is there actually a way that the Glorious Endeavor could be a "good" thing? Do ends justify means, and is it "okay" to let someone sign away all their rights--even their reproductive rights--in order to live in a utopia? Is the island a paradise, a prison, or both?
Even in the office, there are really mixed opinions on the matter--for instance, Jacobs' and my good-naturing conflict over the issue is well known at this point, and is one of the reasons I hope we never officially stat up Mengkare and end the debate. :) But in my mind, presenting players with in-game problems that make them ask deeply personal questions about what they and their characters believe is part of the fun and significance of roleplaying!
1) Maybe the mockingfey from Inner Sea Bestiary--those guys have been hanging around my head for a while. When it comes to First World creatures that *aren't* fey, though, it's grodairs all the way! I love me some absentminded land-fish.
2) Probably better than elves and humans on Golarion. Lashunta don't live as long as elves, so there's still that fundamental gap in their understanding of each other, but given that the borders between elven and Lashunta nations have been set a lot longer than elven borders on Golarion (at least the recently established ones), I imagine there's much less turmoil there.
3) Someday! Likely whenever we publish an adventure there. :)
1) I've played a lot of different kinds of music! Most recently, I played bass and sang in a progressive hardcore metal band called Shadow at Morning for several years. Back in high school and college, I played guitar and sang lead in a punk band called slamDaddy (yeah, I know it's a terrible name--we were 16 and it was the early 2000s). I've also co-written and performed a musical called The Science of Science, made the aforementioned rap video, made some techno (like the Paizo Fight Song that we've used at the ENnies the last few years), performed and recorded a bunch of indie/folk/singer-songwriter stuff with my solo project By Land or By Sea, etc. So basically, I'm incredibly inspired by good musicians of any genre, and tend to be a bit of a dilettante!
If anybody wants to check out my music, it's all up for free on my website.
2) As mentioned above, I've got pretty broad tastes! I love everything from really emotional and melodic hardcore and metal to ambient techno (for when I'm writing) to rad folksy stuff like Mumford & Sons. I've also really been enjoying hip-hop and other lyrically-driven music recently, particularly folks like Macklemore, Flobots, and The Hold Steady.
3) It's so hard to choose! It really depends on what point in my life you ask me--I've always got a new favorite--and what mood I'm in, so I'll break it down by some genres that have particularly influenced me:
Metalcore: Killswitch Engage and Oh, Sleeper
Wow! Lots of questions. I'll answer as quickly as I can...
1) Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings Movie(s), one of the better Harry Potter films, the two best Indiana Jones films (as if I need to name them), The Prestige, Ink.
2) Original Star Wars trilogy, Minority Report, The 5th Element.. the list goes on and on...
3) Probably! With magic, all things are possible.
4) Probably, but rocky worlds don't have a lot to offer them.
5) Nope, just didn't get mentioned... yet. :)
6) I think that Lashunta society is actually very respectful with regard to gender. The men and women are evolutionarily specialized, and thus gravitate toward particular positions, but it's specialization rather than marginalization. After all, it's hard for prejudice to get a solid foothold when a bunch of your people are telepathic and can *literally* see the other person's point of view or feel their pain.
7) Wes Schneider showed me the first 10 minutes of The Ring, and then I made him turn it off. That was enough for me. Forever.
8) I have a bunch of artists I love--Michael Whelan, Stephan Martiniere, Wayne Barlowe--but a few are also personal friends, so I'd have to go with Wayne Reynolds and Raven Mimura. Both incredibly talented dudes, and endlessly sweet in their gothy artist ways. Seriously, if you ever see them at a con, go talk to them--they're super friendly!
9) Gah! Too many, so I'll just name a few: Dan Simmons, China Mieville, Joel Rosenberg, Nick Harkaway, Patricia C. Wrede...
10) The weirdest thing about my eating is that I'm extremely picky, so most of the things normal people consider delicious I consider bizarre. So I really have no idea how to answer!
Hey everyone! Sorry I've slowed down on the question-answering--lots of crunch time around Paizo--but I hope to pick up the pace soon. For now, I wanted to let any of you in the Seattle area know that there'll be a LIVE version of Ask Sutter Anything tonight from 6:00-10:00pm at the Games & Gizmos in Redmond! If you're wondering what to do tonight, come stop by and hang out with me and Shadowrun authors Jenn Brozek and Jak Koke! It'll be super chill and intimate (in the sense of friendly, not, you know, intimate).
1) Yay! Thanks, MeanDM! That book is definitely my favorite thing I've ever written, and it's no secret that the novel line is my baby. Watching it grow is immensely satisfying.
2) In terms of cannon-checking, most of the back-and-forth between me and the authors happens early on, as I help them learn about Golarion and focus in on the books and sections they'll need to read to make a given story work. Once a pitch is accepted, I have authors outline their novels, and then I go through them and point out any continuity problems. Once those are fixed, I put the outlines in front of Erik, Wes, and Jacobs, and we go through them together, pointing out any more problems. After that, the authors write the books... and then the first pass I take through them is a development pass, where I'm double-checking all the rules/continuity bits (as well as doing a normal editor's work of pointing out story holes, areas for improvement, etc.). And that's about it! The process is mainly just me sitting at a desk reading manuscripts and focusing REALLY HARD on making sure the continuity is correct. :D
3) Nope! And really, while I may get overruled, I'm in the camp that prefers not to see gods and god-like beings statted up. I'd much rather never know how many hit points someone like the Eldest has, as a GM can always fudge those for his or her own game, and it ruins the mystery for me to see them quantified like that. That said, I know that other staffers here think statting up gods is the coolest thing ever, so it'll probably happen eventually! But before we do, I have some plans of my own for the Eldest....
Which Runelord is your favourite?
None of the above! They all turned out to be jerks in the end. Xin, though--that guy seems like he did the best he could, trying to save humanity and lead them virtuously, only to be failed by those he trusted most. I've got a soft spot for that guy.
Which iconic would make the best pope?
Kyra, of course. Though I'd love to see some of the others give it a shot, just for laughs.
Actually, come to think of it, I'd probably like the papacy more if Sajan were running it... can you imagine if every time people asked the Pope for God's opinion on a thing, his answer was "meditate and come to your own decision"? It'd be glorious!
Quick--somebody tell the College of Cardinals to pick the Dalai Lama...
James which was your country for Golarion again?
Since I've been at Paizo for so long, I've had the chance to do work on a ton of different parts of the setting. If you're talking about the thing where once upon a time each Paizo Editorial Pit member created a country out of whole cloth, mine was Hermea (or, as my more scornful coworkers sometimes referred to it, "Operation Dragon Hitler"). I tend to enjoy questions of alignment, and that island is prime alignment-debate fodder. :)
Aside from that, though, I built Kaer Maga from the ground up; wrote the original gazetteers for Kyonin, Belkzen, and Varisia (the last with help from Jacobs and Wes); and designed the solar system and the First World. So there are many parts of the world that I feel particularly attached to and responsible for!
Will the fate of the noble Grippli race be decided in any future APs?
I'm not sure any individuals can decide the fate of an entire race like the grippli... but if anyone could, it's probably Chitl the Amazing!, Editor Judy Bauer's character in my Shattered Star campaign. (You pronounce the ! by throwing your tiny frog arms victoriously in the air.)
Thanks, Samnell! And yeah, there's definitely more Salim in the works... the sequel is already more than halfway finished, and takes Salim to Kaer Maga. I can't really say much more about it yet, though. :)
Fortunately, this time your questions have short answers! :D
1) Ain't tellin'!
4) Most definitely.
5) That's a whole debate-thread of its own, yet you might see some information that casts official light on the answer in the not-so-distant future...
6) There is no part of the universe where dubstep cannot reach. ("Houston, this is Eagle 1... there appears to be some sort of 'WUB WUB WUB' noise coming from outside the module...")
Gonna have to be pretty quick on these--this Greenwood novel isn't going to edit itself!
1) I think Verces technology straddles a lot of boundaries. It's certainly not up to modern standards--no internet or personal computers--and is probably a bit steampunk, but I think that once you add magic in, a lot of conventional ideas about technology go right out the window. After all, when stymied inventors can simply twist the laws of reality to make their creations work, things are likely to be a lot less standardized. So you've got cyborgs and space ships and shining cities of glass and steel, but farmers still work the fields by hand, and swords still serve most folks just fine, etc. It's a weird place!
2) Not any time soon, though it's certainly something we'd love to play with in the future!
3) Somewhere in between. Aethership voyages certainly take a lot longer than more magical means--weeks or months trapped in a magical tin can--yet they aren't full-on generation ships. That would make adventuring a lot less fun. I encourage all GMs to make the choices that make their games the most fun, even if it means bending the rules (or physics)!
4) Maybe. :)
John Kretzer wrote:
1) What do you do exactly? Just so I know what question you can answear...I know I could probably fine it on the website someplace...but I am lazy.
Good questions! What I do has really changed a lot over the 8+ years I've been here--everything from developing to editing to customer service to management. (I actually got my start finding images for the newborn web store at a nickel a jpg... nothing wrong with starting at the bottom!)
These days, I wear two hats: Fiction Editor and Senior Editor.
As Fiction Editor, I'm the departmental head in charge of everything related to Pathfinder Tales--commissioning novels/journals/webfiction, approving outlines, developing and editing manuscripts, finding and training authors, negotiating contracts with agents, etc. That also includes working with Dynamite on the Pathfinder comics.
As Senior Editor, I'm in charge of managing our team of fabulous editors--Chris, Judy, and Ryan--and generally acting as Editor-in-Chief Wes Schneider's second to help run the show down in the editing and development pit. I also work a lot with the executive team and other departmental heads--Jacobs, Bulmahn, Wes, Sarah, etc.--to help figure out what products we should put out, what they should include, how we can fit them into the schedule, and so on. We spend a lot of time focused on steering the company, as well as just keeping the wheels turning. At the same time, however, that team also includes the most senior creative folks on staff--a lot of the people who helped create Pathfinder and Golarion in the first place--so we also tackle some of the biggest world-design and developments questions as they come up, making sure that the company maintains a consistent vision on that front.
(And of course, those are just the hats I wear at the office. I also still do a bunch of writing and game design--both campaign setting books like City of Strangers and Distant Worlds, or novels like Death's Heretic--but that's all freelance, so I do it on my off hours like everyone else. :)
As for a typical day: As with most of our creative team, I usually work an 11-7 schedule. I show up, check in with everybody to see where projects are at, then start checking email. Given the number of authors I deal with, as well as the number of internal emails we generate, email can take a LONG time... there are days when I can hardly do anything else. I also make it a point to check the messageboards every morning, just to see what's going on (the reason you'll often see me pop up once a day and then disappear). I also try hard to make time to get through a writing sample or two--even though Pathfinder Tales only considers professional published authors when commissioning work, I still end up with WAY more applicants than I can easily go through, so that's a constant battle.
After that, there are usually a few meetings with the management team or with my editors, the former to help steer the ship, and the latter to help set tasks and priorities and fix problems as they arise. The company's grown a lot in the last few years, so even just facilitating communication and scheduling between departments can be a big deal--my goal is to do as much of that sort of thing as possible so that my team is free to just worry about the words and make the books as cool and polished as possible.
In the spaces between meetings and emails, I take care of my Fiction Editor duties--working with authors to help them pitch and outline stories, developing manuscripts to make sure they're the best stories they can be while also working within our rules and world, and so on.
So, yeah: emails, editing, development, meetings, and stomping out fires as they arise. In many ways, my day probably looks like middle managers everywhere, except that the people and things I'm managing are UNBELIEVABLY COOL. :) I'm really not sure how to communicate that last part. Yeah, I'm sitting in a cube with my team or in a conference room for meetings... but we're debating things like what accents our imaginary nations have, how to handle sensitive topics in a game, where the next superdungeon should be, how our game world interfaces with Pathfinder Online, and so on! Plus, I don't think I'm overstating when I say that my coworkers are some of the funniest people I've ever met (both intentionally and otherwise). Even during the worst crunch times, there's always someone laughing in our office. It's a pretty great environment.