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James Sutter

James Sutter's page

Creative Director, Starfinder Team. 2,612 posts (2,643 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 2 aliases.


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Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder Team

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Kalindlara wrote:


That's pretty much an exact description of the Suicide Squad comic. Like... precisely. ^_^

Exactly. :D

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder Team

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Wzrd wrote:
Alaryth wrote:
...will be new details of Starfinder on GenCon?

At the 1:04:05 mark, James Sutter was asked if there will be a Starfinder panel at Gen Con? He replied that "I will be shocked if there wasn't, I'm not sure what is planned, but probably".

So here's hoping there will be a panel, and some more juicy information.

I can now confirm there's a Starfinder panel at Gen Con! I don't know what new info we'll reveal there—we're all pretty leery of saying too much when the game's still a year away—but I'm sure something new will leak. :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder Team

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Steve Geddes wrote:
Is there any timeline on when details of the playtesting will be announced?

Nothing I can commit to yet, but before the end of the summer.

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder Team

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Look, if Paizo splits in half, it's inevitably going to be Upstairs vs. Downstairs. You'd think that we down here in the pit would have the natural advantage, being on the ground floor and controlling the stairwells, but that's underestimating Customer Service's willingness to use Cosmo as a human shield as they rush the barricades...

Seriously, though: If we thought there was *any* reasonable chance that Starfinder would fail or split the company in some terrible way, we wouldn't be doing this. As somebody who's put 12 years into Paizo, and whose ability to not sleep outside in the rain directly depends on its profitability, I'm certainly not eager to throw caution to the wind. So while I know I'm a biased source, I hope that helps put some minds at ease. :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder Team

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*clears throat*

Ahem:

Spoiler:

quantum

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder Team

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Just to clarify: Learning things about the Gap is only *one* of the Starfinders' missions. There are other aspects to what they do, all based around the core idea of exploring new worlds and sharing that information for the good of all.

Beyond that, I should probably hold my tongue until we're finished with development on those sections. :P

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder Team

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Thanks for the interview, guys! And thanks as well to everyone who watched—making the game is taking up so much of my time that I don't get to the boards as much as I'd like to, but I really enjoy answering y'all's questions... at least as much as I can at this point. :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder Team

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DragoDorn wrote:
Is Gorum going to be like a Decepticon in Starfinder?

He transforms into an Amazon Fresh truck.

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder Team

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Belabras wrote:
Any Starfinder Tales in the works anyone can talk about?

I'd love to, but first we have to make the game. :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder Team

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Years later, I still think my original answer from that older thread is pretty good:

James Sutter wrote:

This actually comes up in The Redemption Engine as well. (Aliens and the planes in one of my novels? Shocking, I know.)

Another way to think about this is that Heaven and the other planes are sort of "instanced," to borrow an MMO term. Heaven isn't just a place--it's also a concept, and thus its physics are malleable and naturally accommodate the observer. In order for humanoid (or alien) brains to comprehend it, it has to sort of squish itself down into a shape we can perceive and understand. So is the mountain so huge you could never reach the top, or is it something you could walk up in a day? The answer is to both questions is yes. Similarly, the lawful good realm we call Heaven accommodates all creatures and societies that need it, but must therefore take shapes as varied as all the cultures of the universe. So Heaven is at once the Heaven of Golarion and ALSO all other Heavens put together.

As Jacobs said, so far, all of our setting material has detailed the "Golarion" interpretation of Heaven, but that's only because alternate versions aren't really as useful for our game. (And also because detailing and mapping alternate versions of a near-infinite realm is a sucker's game.) If you want to include a different version, such as from the real world or another game system--go for it! Our assumption is that all of those exist as user-specific aspects of the same intangible, unclassifiable concept-realm.

Confused yet? If so, don't worry. As has often been said, whether or not you believe in this interpretation of Heaven... it believes in you. :D

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder Team

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Alayern wrote:


James S's reactions to prodding about a new Salim novel included "I'd really like to." and "I'm too busy at the moment."

As folks have said, Starfinder shouldn't really affect Pathfinder. As for it affecting how soon we get another Salim novel... well, that's actually pretty fair, as my brain and writing time are both full to the brim with Starfinder at the moment, and likely to stay that way for quite some time. :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Alayern wrote:

This is a question that, despite my burning desire to have answered, you almost certainly can't answer yet. Besides the FTL bequeathing AI will there have been any major deific shakeup?

** spoiler omitted **

Yes. :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Gark the Goblin wrote:
And while you're at it, why did Aroden die?

Bad milkshake. Left it in the fridge for like a week, but didn't want to throw it out, so...

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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You will totally be able to use bows in Starfinder. That said, most people probably choose laser guns or assault rifles instead, for the same reasons most people would do so in real life. :P

It should be noted that all the weapon/armor/item math is getting tweaked for Starfinder, so things will likely look different than what you're used to, even in the tech guide.

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Nick O'Connell wrote:
Malwing wrote:
Nick O'Connell wrote:
I wanted to know if it's in the official future of the pathfinder universe:|

The answer is yes and no.

Or the answer is that it's as much as Golarion's official future as a universe with time travel will allow. Also this is a future with a huge non-linear gap in time lost that happened across the multiverse so the galaxy could be in the matrix, technically in the past, in another dimension or in the dream of a water-soccer player for all we know.

The question doesn't have a definite answer in context so you're never going to get one.

That's okay because this answer satisfies me enough:)

Malwing is spot-on. As befits a science fantasy setting, Starfinder is quantum superposition canon: it both is and is not the actual future of Pathfinder until observed by an outside party—you—at which point the wave function collapses and it becomes either canon or not for your game. :D

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Thanks for the well-wishes, folks! Things are super crazy right now as we get the massive beast that is the Starfinder project rolled out in earnest, but it's really exciting finally being able to talk about it!

Oh, and I haven't read Simon Green before, and Salim... well, he *probably* isn't around in the Starfinder era, but it's pretty tempting to imagine, isn't it? :)

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Should answer some questions folks are having!

EN World Interview

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Mikaze wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:

Prediction:

Iron Gods is a smash it.
A few years down the line, Distant Worlds AP is announced.
Mikaze faints, Drejk and I get drunk.

I would not faint.

...

I would stand out on the balcony of my open air bedroom, my hands resting upon the parapet as I gazed longingly at the infinite stars shining in the night sky and my hair flows in the cool breeze.

And behind me I hear the door open. Distant Worlds is there, its shirt unbuttoned. Its hair is flowing in the breeze too even though it's in the bedroom.

I run my hand through my hair. "I was worried you would never come." A tentative step forward.

Distant Worlds approaches with less hesitation. "You knew I couldn't stay away."

We are face to cover now. I shudder as it steps into the moonlight, the scent of packing styrofoam hanging thick about it. "I knew."

Distant Worlds places its hands on my shoulders and draws near, but then pauses. "But what about Wrath of the Righteous? And Mummy's Mask, and the others?"

"Shhhhh..." I place a finger upon its lips. "Allow us this one night. This one night under the stars."

Distant Worlds pulls me closer.

I whisper in its ear. "Take me to the stars. And tell me that you'll keep me safe from the terrible secret of space."

Distant Worlds begins to open its cover.

The stars shine in the night sky, but upon this earth upon that night, there was a supernova.

Hey, remember the above post, when Mikaze and Distant Worlds first got together? I'm so glad that now, with the announcement of Starfinder, they can finally make their love official. Cheers, buddy. :)

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Hey everybody!

Between my packed panel schedule here at Paizocon and only being able to access the internet on my phone, my posting ability is super limited until Tuesday, but I'm reading all of these comments! I'm really excited to see so many people enthusiastic about Starfinder. It's a crazy-awesome project, and I'm totally thrilled to be leading it, so I look forward to taking about it with you more once I've got access to a keyboard again. :)

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Alayern wrote:
Authors: Are there any technical books about writing (punctuation, style grammar, the business side) that you believe helped you significantly as a writer?

Far and away the most useful to me was The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction, by an at-the-time-not-super-famous Cory Doctorow. I also remember finding a lot of great inspiration and important things to consider in Stephen King's On Writing and Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Chris A Jackson wrote:
DM Mathpro wrote:
Chris A Jackson wrote:
DM Mathpro wrote:
Another question for Mr. Jackson(slow day at work): Would you be surprised if you saw Pirates Honor/Promise/Prophecy fan fiction pop up on the internet?
Not really... I would also not be offended if someone chose to write some... Why, did you find some?
No but all through my listening to Pirates Prophecy my muse was striking to write some. Not sure what the rules are for fan fiction containing Paizo owned characters though.

Might ask Sutter that question...

I love that audio also.

Folks are allowed to write all the fiction with our characters that they want, they just can't make money off it. Fan-fiction is totally great, and in fact both Wayfinder and Pathfinder Chrnoicler are communities dedicated to it!

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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The forthcoming novel Liar's Bargain has a fair bit of Nirmathas/Molthune action: http://paizo.com/products/btpy9ip6?Pathfinder-Tales-Liars-Bargain

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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DM Mathpro wrote:
If you guys were to see your novels turned into a movie who would you like to see play your main characters? Really interested in seeing Chris's response to this but its for anyone/everyone.

Naveen Andrews as Salim!

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Luthorne wrote:

1) What are three of your favorite real world mythologies, and what do you like about them?

2) What are some of the first books you can remember reading as a kid?

3) Which do you like more, Triaxus in winter or Triaxus in summer?

I absolutely don't mind people throwing in their own thoughts. :)

1) Hmm... while I really like learning about new mythologies, I'd say that the ones I return most to are pretty classic, simply because they're what I could find information about when I was a kid.

Far and away, my favorite mythology is Judeo-Christian, especially the oldest-school versions... there's just something about angelic rebellion, the book of revelations, and the speech patterns we've all internalized from the scripture that really appeals to me. Everything about it just feels really creepy to me. (Ironically, the parts involving Jesus are the ones that interest me the least... I'm most intrigued by the old stories in which humans are basically just pawns for giant unforgiving forces.)

After that... I think Norse mythology is really cool, just because the gods are all kind of jerks who don't really care about humanity. And while Greek/Roman mythology is interesting and I've read a ton about it over the years, I'm going to have to give the third spot to Egyptian mythology, for simply having awesome aesthetics in their art :D

2) If you want to go waaaay back, probably IF I RAN THE CIRCUS by Dr. Seuss. But in terms of novels... I loved the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede, Jurassic Park, the Guardians of the Flame series by Joel Rosenberg... those were all around 2nd or 3rd grade, I believe.

3) Triaxus in summer, probably. If only because I've already written about Triaxus in winter, and thus it holds more unknowns. :) But also, summer allows a much larger variety of environments, rather than having everything snowed over constantly, and it's cool to have that palette to play with. (That said, I already set it in winter, so clearly I like that version as well!)

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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F. Wesley Schneider wrote:

They're not gray, they're distinguished...

You @#$%.

We're all identifiable by our little writing tics. Jacobs EMPHASIZES in ALL CAPS, Jason says "a host of," I mention Wes's gray hair... It's just part of our individual charm.

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Luthorne wrote:

Yeah, but Ringworld was artificially created...though artifically created worlds are also pretty awesome.

And obviously, death matches are always the kindest option.

So, how would you feel about a planet that was flung away from its original host star due to an unstable orbit, wound up finding a black hole and managing to enter a stable orbit around it, and tidal heating from the insane gravity of the black hole heated its interior enough to melt its oceans and result in life thanks to thermal vents from geothermic activity? I know, insanely unlikely, maybe even impossible, but! I-it's cool, right?

APPROVED!

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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DubiousYak wrote:

I had listened to another PF Tales Novel and was disappointed.

This was free though so I have it a try, and I am glad I did. I promptly bought Redemption Engine.

Mr. Sutter, is it just me or do you like the planar weird?

I felt it strong enough that these books made me want to go back and play Planescape: Torment.

Glad you liked it! And I *love* the planar weird—it's pretty much the whole reason for Salim's existence. "What would be a cool character that would let me show off the planes?" is the question that got the ball rolling on those books. :)

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Slithery D wrote:


The Redemption Engine falsely pretended that outsiders (no special exemptions for archon or angel subtypes) don't have to breathe. Can we please get a rewrite of that underwater scene in the library and a replacement copy?

Answer:

Spoiler:

You'll notice that in that scene Roshad/Bors/Salim *also* don't have to breathe. That's because anyone in the gondola is affected by the same water-breathing magic—or at least, anyone who doesn't detect as evil.

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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darth_borehd wrote:

I was intrigued by the Tane like the Jabberwock. I noticed that Bestiary 5 didn't feature any new Tane.

Are we going to get more in a future book or at least learn more about them?

Maaaaaybe. Stay tuned. :)

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Zhangar wrote:
Nah, Salim's right

I'ma tell him you said that.

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Just to clarify and add to what Jacobs was saying—the atheists/dystheists/god-rejectors have something of a choice when they die. Some of them, the true hard-liners, reject not only the gods but the idea of judgment entirely (what right does Pharasma have to stick them somewhere?) and instead hang out in that giant graveyard for eternity. Think of it like a political protest—a postmortem sit-in on the spire.

That said, most folks who were anti-gods in life would probably spend eternity someplace nice and in accordance with their values (i.e. their alignment), and so go ahead and accept judgment and move on to the appropriate plane. That doesn't mean they suddenly have to serve a god—there are plenty of folks on the planes who aren't sworn servants of a particular deity.

Note as well that the above is talking about folks who *reject* the gods. Agnostics and other folks with not-so-clearly-defined religious preferences just go to the plane that suits them—you don't always have to choose a specific god to go to a particular plane (though if they're rulers of that plane, you may still have to obey their rules in general terms).

Hope that helps!

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Harkevich wrote:

I don't know how Canon Death's Heretic is

ALL THE CANON. :D

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Alayern wrote:
James Sutter wrote:

B) Yes! It's probably easier that way, honestly. There are tons of awesome online publications where everyone works remotely. Just look up cool online magazines and follow their links to *other* cool online magazines, and you'll find somewhere interesting that responds favorably to your offer to read slush! (Some of my favorites are places like Lightspeed, Nightmare, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Escape Pod/Podcastle/Pseudopod, and so on.)

With Lightspeed closing its slush pool "indefinitely" recently I was wondering: do you have any other favorites/suggestions besides the ones above?

Hmm! Let's see: Shimmer, Clarkesworld, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and Apex Magazine.

Honestly, I've been out of the short fiction game for a little while, so I'm not 100% current, but those places have all done great work!

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Slithery D wrote:


Initial impressions: I'm amused that Dhucharg and Ular Kel, but no others, have nicely rounded population numbers. I guess they use census estimations rather than exact counts like everyone else.

Yeah, population statistics are weird. I prefer to round because (perhaps ironically) it feels more accurate and "real" to me. People are constantly being born and dying in a city, so the bigger a settlement gets, the harder it is for me to believe a number that's exact all the way down to the individual citizen. While you can say the book is a snapshot of a given moment, and thus have that level of specificity, it just feels weird to me to give a number that will begin changing the moment the game begins.

Other people have different approaches, and that's cool too. This is just an explanation of how my brain works!

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Will Huston wrote:
So your issue of Pathfinder: Origins was my favorite (I just got them this week). It was a very interesting take on a paladin. Any interesting stories about playing a paladin from you?

Thank you! I really wanted to show that a paladin (and especially Seelah) could be a champion of righteousness while also being an understanding, relatable person. So often people play paladins as jerks, or at least really stiff and awkward, and I wanted to show that LG can be (and perhaps *should* be) much more like somebody you'd want to get to know. :)

And as for playing a paladin—I actually can't remember any! I'm sure I did when I was younger (I used to make new characters practically every game when I was a kid), but it's not a class I've spent a ton of time with as an adult... which is one of the reasons it was so much fun to write Seelah!

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Simeon wrote:
I'm running an Iron Gods game for a group of 11/12 year olds. Any advice on how to keep them engaged?

Fight things! Shoot things with lasers! My memory of roleplaying at 12 was that it was pretty much all about the combat and the excitement of seeing what monster's just around the corner. Overall, my best advice is just to observe them as you play—if they start getting distracted, skip past whatever you're doing and bring on the next thing you think they'll like. (This is how I run for adults as well!)

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Paris Crenshaw wrote:
I'm currently listening to James Sutter's The Redemption Engine, and Ray Porter's voice has taken some getting used to. I'm finally getting to the point where I enjoy it, but I never would have figured that there were so many people in Kaer Maga with an Irish-sounding accent. Salim's accent is often hard to place and seems to have a strange mix of Irish and Arabic or Hindu. Generally, I don't mind the odd mixtures, though, because it helps break Golarions nations away from their real-world analogues a little bit.

Yeah, accents are hard, and not everyone's going to be able to do all the different accents a given book might need. (Salim's definitely *not* Irish!) But Ray has a great narrating voice, which is the most important thing to me, so I'm happy!

(If you want to hear what Salim actually sounds like, just go watch Naveen Andrews as Sayyid on LOST. :))

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doctor_wu wrote:

Would you want to write a Neila avanory novel?

Am I the first person to ask you this?

You're the first person to ask for a solo book! Though lots of people have asked to see her come back.

As it turns out, I really want to bring her and Salim back together in a third book, because she's been up to a lot of interesting things since Death's Heretic, which will result in a very different dynamic than Salim would expect... :D

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Alleran wrote:
"Lawful ShutUpMark" .

It should be noted that this is the alignment of many of us here at Paizo as well. If you cast detect shutupmark in the Paizo offices, you'd be overwhelmed by the auras everywhere.

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Just dropped in to cackle and twiddle my fingers.

Hermea: Teach the controversy.

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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James Sutter wrote:
Alayern wrote:
To All the authors: What was the biggest/coolest thing you bought with the money from your first novel?

Honestly, I probably just invested it. I'm boring like that. :P

(Then again, our honeymoon wasn't that long afterward, so... let's say the wedding and going to New Zealand. :D)

EDIT: The money went *toward* wedding and honeymoon, rather than paying for them outright. I'd have to be doing significantly better than I am if I could make that much money off one novel. :P

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Dragon78 wrote:

Seen any movies lately? If so what did you think?

I'm woefully behind on my movie-watching! The last one I saw was The Force Awakens. My potentially contentious thoughts here:

Spoiler:

I enjoyed it, but I found myself resenting that it was basically a reboot instead of a sequel—so many story beats and scenes were stolen outright from the original trilogy that it just felt like a rehash (albeit a totally fine one). I think I understand why they were doing it—so that new fans who saw only this movie would still share most of the key nostalgia points with old-time fans without having to watch movies released decades before they were born. And I'll totally forgive that if it means that, having laid that necessary groundwork, they can now go make a ton of new Star Wars movies that do interesting new things. But it means that I won't really feel like I've seen a *new* Star Wars movie until the next one comes out. I hope. :P

Also, the bad guy speech before the firing of the planet-killer was a little painful. I don't have a lot of tolerance for unexplained evil anymore, and I felt like 5 minutes from a Game of Thrones writer could have easily given the new bad guys a compelling reason for doing what they're doing. (There are PLENTY of logical reasons to want a new empire, and even to justify what they're doing to achieve it, but the film went instead for unexplained mustache-twirling evil, which just feels sloppy and uninteresting to me.)

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captain yesterday wrote:

What's your favorite f+#*ing t.v. show right now?

What's your favorite f$+%ing instance of f%#+ing swearing in a g~!!#&n movie?
:-)

My favorite TV show right now is a toss-up between Sherlock and Game of Thrones. Both are among the best shows I've ever seen, in terms of writing and acting, though these days I'm a touch afraid that GoT might pull a Rome and just go down the rabbit hole of despair, forgetting that what makes the grim elements of shows work is the dynamic range, the contrast. Once you lose hope, grimdark just becomes painful and unsatisfying.

Favorite swearing: There's a scene in an early season of The Wire where two detectives do an entire crime scene investigation and share their conclusions using only the word "f#!#" and body language. It's a stunt, but one that the actors totally nail, making for one of the most brilliant pieces of screenwriting I've seen. :)

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baron arem heshvaun wrote:

Hi James, I think I found a picture of your extended family, which one is you? Or were you the one taking the pic?

Who is the camera whore of the family?

I can never tell which is me in those pictures, but that's definitely my brother in the back—he's *way* taller than me, and much handsomer.

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mathpro18 wrote:
Do you know when the audible copy of Pirate's Prophesy will be available.

Very soon! The audio versions usually trail the print release by a little bit, and the *actual* on-sale date is tomorrow... subscribers often get the print books early just because they're special. :)

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I would LOVE to do a Distant Worlds adventure path, and it's really nice to hear this kind of enthusiasm for it. Please keep banging the drum, as we all look to the boards when making these sorts of decisions. :D

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The Audible stuff TOTALLY counts for the boons! Just show the books in your audiobook library via your phone, laptop, printed out screenshot—whatever works for you. We want to make it as easy for folks as possible.

You can consider this a totally official ruling, on the grounds that I yelled across the hall to the PFS office saying "I'm saying this is official, cool?" and they agreed. :D

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H2Osw wrote:


So is Salim a character that has seen tabletop time or just a work of fiction for pathfinder tales?

I've never played Salim in an actual game, but I *did* play an atheist character for several years in James Jacobs' Shadows under Sandpoint campaign. Kirin the Heretic was a very different type of atheist from Salim—he actively rejected the gods' existence, claiming that all divine casters were "just sorcerers without the guts to take responsibility for their powers"—a stance that is frankly pretty crazy given the body of evidence, but that's what made him fun to play. :) So while I didn't realize it until years later, Kirin was clearly an influence on what Salim would become. Him and Deckard from Blade Runner. :)

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Glad to see people are excited. I was also thrilled to bring Knaak on board, given his books' extreme influence on me as an impressionable child. :D

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Alayern wrote:

As far as I can gauge, PF (if it were rated by an inappropriate rating system such as the following) would have a PG-13 rating.

Under that assumption (and feel free to correct me if you feel that's an erroneous one) would you allow one of your authors to use the F-word in a novel?

Would you be willing to suggest (perhaps spoilered) any alternatives if you don't allow the F-word?

I grew up in a very Irish household, so the F-word is common parlance here.

In general, you're right that PG-13 is roughly the mark we strive to hit with the Pathfinder Tales novels. While I'm personally a big fan of letting kids read pretty much whatever they want—I sure learned some interesting things from Tom Robbins and Stephen King as a child—I can appreciate that a lot of parents feel differently, and so we try to walk a line that's edgy enough to keep everyone interested but not so far that the average parent (or teacher, or librarian) is going to have to worry about graphic sex scenes or explicit language. (There IS a lot of violence, though, and some books like Nightglass get pretty darn dark. Somehow that doesn't raise as many eyebrows, though. I have no idea why the USA is still so permissive of severed limbs but freaked out by nipples, but so it goes.)

For that reason, I don't allow authors to drop F-bombs in the books. Instead, I often encourage them to introduce profanity that feels more rooted in the world and its religions—for instance, in the comic scripts I write for Dynamite, I have Valeros say things like "Cayden's balls!" It still gets the point across, and feels in keeping with the setting, but isn't going to trigger some folks' profanity filters in the same way.

Outside of the books, of course, I, too, use the F-word more than I probably should. :P

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