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James Sutter

James Sutter's page

Executive Editor. 2,392 posts (2,423 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 2 aliases.


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Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
What is love?

Baby, don't hurt me.

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

Aww, thank you! I'm very much looking forward to doing another Salim book under Tor's aegis, I've just been stymied by the fact that it apparently takes me a *really long time* to write a novel. :P

Actually, for a while I was considering holding off releasing The Redemption Engine until things with Tor were finalized, but I figured I'd already made people wait two years for a sequel, and three would just be ridiculous...

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

Yeah, I love what Gary did with the Aspis Consortium in this one, and how the book's two adventuring parties contrast with each other. Even though one is definitely the "good guy" party, he does an excellent job of humanizing everyone. I particularly like Morvius (the fighter) and his arc... I think he and Valeros would probably be great drinking buddies. :)

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

Joseph's right—Lord of Runes is far and away the most ROTRL-esque novel, and will have lots of Easter eggs for players of the early APs!

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

The Numerator wrote:

As a subscriber, I'm fine with the switch. Getting both physical and digital copies has been FABULOUS in the past, but truthfully I'm surprised that deal has remained as long as it has (which to me shows Paizo's loyalty to their fans). Where else do you get both types for the price of one? Music, Bluray, B&N, Amazon... All of them make you buy both formats separately, or perhaps bundle both together for 30-60% more than the price of physical alone. But here, I have dozens of essentially free ePubs, for which I am thankful.

But people are correct: for the current subscriber, this isn't a better deal than what we've had. But this deal with Tor isn't about the current subscribers. It's about getting the Pathfinder brand to thousands of Fantasy fans worldwide, many of whom don't even know Golarion exists (err... sort of exists?). This can only strengthen Paizo's support base, which will ensure that we continue to get many more years' worth of awesome, high quality fiction in this world we've all come to love!

How many of us were introduced to TTRPGs through the old Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, or Ravenloft novels? That was my original inlet (here's to you Fizban!), and I see this deal as positioning Pathfinder Tales as potentially being bigger than the D&D brands of the 80s and 90s. That would be fabulous for our game and the future of our fiction line.

So in the short term, "what's in it for me" sense, the deal isn't great for us. But if having to choose only one format for my subscription means that I can have conversations with random strangers about Radovan & Jeggare, Salim, Rodrick & Hrym, and Torius Vin, simply because I'm wearing a Pathfinder tee shirt (which, oddly enough, happened to me today), then that is very good news for all of us!

Thank you, Numerator—that's been exactly our thought process throughout all of this. It's always a careful balance between what's best in the short term (for the customer, for the company, for the brand) and the long term, and the six different perspectives rarely line up. But I'm really excited about where this change is already letting me take the line. :)

@John: Font size was definitely a concern for us as well! Pretty much everyone in our editorial pit wears glasses, so readability is more than just a philosophical issue around here. ;)

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

The novels are great for helping players get the feel of the setting—it's one of the primary reasons we make them! And if you're looking to get a taste of Ustalav and Carrion Crown, there's no better place to start than Prince of Wolves.

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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Yeah, that thing's popped up before. I don't know how people think they'll get away with it, but I hope no readers were confused. :\

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

Itchy wrote:
Liane Merciel wrote:
Darkborn wrote:
the Joyful Ones were nothing short of horrifying. (I searched the Bestiary books and couldn’t find them – if anyone could tell me where I can find a stat block for them I would greatly appreciate it for when I get ready to GM the Midnight Mirror module in the fall.)

They are fun little dudes. :)

No Bestiary entry exists for them, as far as I'm aware. The Joyful Things originate on p. 68 of Skeletons of Scarwall (Book 5 of Curse of the Crimson Throne), in the write-up on Zon-Kuthon.

I don't know if they were originally supposed to be/do what I made of them, but it seems like if you've been reduced to a limbless torso, you've got to get your jollies somehow.

It looks like the Joyful Ones may be making an appearance in Pathfinder Origins #4: Merisiel. That story takes place in Nidal.

It's true! I talk about them a bit in the backmatter as well. :)

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

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While I love everyone's interpretations (especially Marco's), the name is generally pronounced "Ing," though creatures with different types of mouths place a different amount of emphasis on the initial vowel.

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

Thanks, Aoaan! :D

And I agree that Vint deserves a larger place in Golarion's histories. Fortunately, as I wrote in the back matter, Khurbresh seems to appreciate him properly...

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

deuxhero wrote:
How did the Army of Exploration reach Amanandar by ship if Amanandar is inland and the entire western coast, bar a few port cities, is blocked by the wall of heaven?

That's a question for Rob, I'm afraid! He's the biggest Taldor fan on staff, and maybe the biggest Tian Xia fan as well, so he gets to make that call. :)

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

Rysky wrote:
James Sutter wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:

Has there been any news on the subject of Pathfinder Tales Subscriber eBooks with the Tor licensing stuff?

I'm anxious about the future of my subscription.

My understanding is that the print subscriptions will no longer include a free ebook. Sorry. :\

:(

Hate to sound like an ass then but why should people keep their subscription? I got mine so that I could get both.

Please don't hate me Froggy!

No worries! To each their own—if you're subscribing to the print books solely to get the ebooks, then the new deal definitely doesn't make sense for you. That said, you'll still be able to buy the ebooks on their own, now in a much wider variety of formats (including Kindle!). It's currently unclear whether you'll be able to buy those direct from us or if you'll have to buy them from the channels most associated with their format (Amazon for Kindle, etc.).

The change in subscription format was not one that we came to lightly, but the new Tor relationship is already letting us take the novel line in places we never could before, so I hope that when all is said and done, you'll agree that the changes were worth it!

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

Itchy wrote:
Interesting. Does this story take place in Nidal?

It does! :D

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

Darkborn wrote:

The Redemption Engine had one of the best endings of any books I've read in the genre. Running three climactic scenes simultaneously is no small feat when it comes to balancing, pace, and intensity. This ending delivered all three. As for the theme, I absolutely appreciate the revelation that alignments aren't written in stone for not only the purest, but even the most corrupt denizens of heaven and hell respectively.

I'm very curious to see what Salim faces next as every element of his story has already increase greatly from each book. His accomplices went from the novice Neila to the professional Maedora, his suspects went from the humans Qali and Jbade to the immortals Cobaru and Malchior, then his resolution went from rescuing just a single soul to saving hundreds! Following that pattern, I wouldn't be surprised if in the next installment he had queen as an accomplice, a deity as a suspect, and having to save ALL the souls of Golarion as a resolution…

Thank you again, Mr. Sutter, you've taken us on an amazing adventure so far and we're looking forward to more.
(It was also really great having you involved in our discussions, since - as far as my limited experience with them goes - it is a rare and special treat for any book club, in person or online, to have the author present.)

Believe me when I say that the pleasure was all mine. :) Seeing people enjoy the book you spent two years on is a huge gift!

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

Ross Byers wrote:

Has there been any news on the subject of Pathfinder Tales Subscriber eBooks with the Tor licensing stuff?

I'm anxious about the future of my subscription.

My understanding is that the print subscriptions will no longer include a free ebook. Sorry. :\

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Haladir wrote:
James Sutter wrote:
DragoDorn wrote:
Are you currently playing in any Pathfinder games?
I'm in Erik Mona's Shadows Under Absalom game...
Aside from the title, is that anything like James Jacobs' "Shadows Under Sandpoint" game?

Just in that it contains a lot of the same people. :)

At least, as far as I know...

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

3 people marked this as a favorite.

*insert clever welcome here*

Paizo Employee Executive Editor

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Zhangar wrote:
What are the main differences between your job duties and Mr. Schneider's?

The beard.

Seriously, though, there's a fair amount of overlap. At a direct managerial level, I'm in charge of the editors, and Wes is in charge of the developers AND editors (including me). At the same time, I act as his second-in-command, so I pretty much step into his shoes when he's unavailable, which adds to that overlap. Beyond that, as two of the most senior folks in the pit, we're both part of the managerial team that helps guide the overall product strategy and world design, as well as internal scheduling. In terms of our development duties, Wes takes a more active role in outlining and backstopping the game books, while I captain the fiction line.

So in short, we do very similar things, but he's the boss. :)

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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This thread is yet more evidence that Wayne is awesome.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
DragoDorn wrote:
Are you currently playing in any Pathfinder games?

I'm in Erik Mona's Shadows Under Absalom game, but otherwise I'm a little bit between campaigns since the Asylum Stone game I was running wrapped up. Now that I'm digging myself out from under some big writing projects, though, I'm starting to think about what I want to run next...

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Kajehase wrote:

I want more Vint.

Not a question, but I thought you should know.

Vint: Hero of the people!

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

6 people marked this as a favorite.

Some more in-depth thoughts from several of us at Paizo: Remembering Mike

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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I'm in the middle of writing up something more substantial, but Mike was a great guy, and I owe him a lot.

For those who didn't know him: You probably know his work. Mike was instrumental in creating the Pathfinder setting, and from Korvosa to Darkmoon Vale to Shelyn to Tian Xia, Golarion wouldn't be the world it is without him.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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Berselius wrote:

What the heck did the Hezrou use to turn the tide in it's favor? Unholy Blight or Blasphemy? Either way, Jiri apparently has ALOT TO LEARN about battle. She should have focused on her spellcasting / shapeshifting instead of blasting the demon with ineffective flame attacks.

Also, this ancient evil released by the Aspis Consortium is a creature of elemental fire and Jiri's own powers and origin stem from fire? Is there some sort of connection here? Either way, she'd had better not count on giving into her rage and using fire on it because I doubt it will be very effective.

I promise that these questions are answered in the book. :D

(Well, except for the Unholy Blight/Blasphemy question... I know the answer, but I never know whether it's better to tell or let people guess...)

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

The White Lion wrote:


Just wondering, how does someone become an established writer or meet the requirements to submit a Pathfinder Tales book?

I'm afraid it's like that old joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall... practice, practice, practice.

At the moment, Paizo's only commissioning books/accepting inquiries from "pro" fiction writers. There's no one single path to becoming a professional novelist or short story writer (nor even necessarily consensus about what that means), but one basic idea is:

*Write a bunch of stories (set in your own worlds). Make them as good as you can.
*Send them out to magazines or publishers who accept unsolicited submissions (aka "slush").
*If you can't get in at the big places, try the slightly smaller places, all the way down until you start getting published, even if the pay is just token rates.
*Write more. Read more. Get feedback. Try to improve.
*Continue to try the "trickle-down submissions" approach—over time, you'll likely find that you're selling to better and better markets. Maybe you even start getting some people who contact you saying they're fans.
*Wake up one day and realize you're now selling to places you never dreamed of when you were first starting out. You're making actual money off your writing (6 cents a word is what SFWA calls "pro rates".) Congratulations—you're a professional writer!

I wish there was more of a secret to it than that. Certainly there are plenty of other avenues—you can hone your skills in journalism, or game writing, or editing, or self-publishing—but that's the one that I'm most familiar with.

Good luck!

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

xeose4 wrote:
I know I can sound abrasive

Not at all! People being passionate about one's book is pretty much the best thing ever. :D

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Darkborn wrote:

Last week I played the first module of the Giantslayer AP in an 80-hour marathon session

Whoa. That's hardcore. O_O

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

xeose4 wrote:
Mr. Sutter, you can answer this at your own leisure (i.e. when the club members have all chimed in and we've moved on if you want), but I swear to god I will never, ever write more effusive praise about anything you do if you don't at some point tell me whether or not this was intentional.

But I look so much *smarter* in your interpretations! :D

When you're talking about Salim's growth as a character in this book, and the additional challenges to/explorations of his lack of faith, that's absolutely intentional. To me, all adventure aside, the heart of Death's Heretic was learning who Salim is and why. In The Redemption Engine, then, I wanted to actively challenge those beliefs and force him to show a bit more of himself and grow as a person. At the start of Death's Heretic, he's been in a Batman-esque self-loathing loner situation for a long time, which shows itself in his caustic relationship with Ceyanan/Pharasma. But by the end, despite the fact that he leaves Neila behind, she's managed to break away enough of his armor that he's now vulnerable, and a little more self-aware. That set the stage for what I was honestly afraid was too subtle a character arc in Redemption Engine—from seeing himself as slave to seeing himself as a necessary part of a greater system. I'm glad folks found it as satisfying as I did!

As for the Pharasmin symbolism during his and Maedora's banishment, though—I'll answer flat-out for once and say that was totally a happy accident, and I didn't even notice it until you pointed it out. So thank you. :)

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Ross Byers wrote:
James Sutter wrote:
Heh! Nope, I'm not writing for that one, though I was part of the brainstorm. :)
Is Gav in there?

Oh man, that would be fun. Maybe I can sneak him in there. :)

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Heh! Nope, I'm not writing for that one, though I was part of the brainstorm. :)

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

For folks wondering about the new size: it's 5 1/2 wide by 8 1/4 tall.

We just got in advanced copies, and if I can speak as a reader rather than the editor for a second, the new size is gorgeous—the font is easier to read, and the maps look awesome!

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

rknop wrote:
Cool... what formats will they be available in?

I'm not aware of any major formats they *won't* be in—Tor distributes through Kindle, Nook, iTunes, etc...

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Lord Zeb wrote:

Will we have the option to decide if we want our subscription to switch to digital or hard copy?

Still figuring those parts out. :P

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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xeose4 wrote:


Speaking of Ceyanan, the subtle difference in the angel's interactions with Salim in Kaer Morga - versus his interactions with Salim in Death's Heretic - were another thing that made me fall in love with how much... for lack of a better term, "better" Sutter's writing is in Redemption Engine. It's another nitpicky thing that I'm sure isn't that big of a deal, but I feel it has an element of "mastery" about it and I just want to bring it up in discussion!

In Death's Heretic, Ceyanan is a needling presence in Salim's life. Throughout the book, one gets the impression that the angel goads him by pinpricks and drawing blood, in much the way one gets a stubborn mule to start walking. While the reader, if they choose, can read it as Ceyanan's interactions with Salim specifically that causes the angel to use that method (meaning that there is intelligent choice behind the angel's actions versus the angel just being a jerk), it's not in the text itself.

In Redemption Engine, that missing piece - a very, very subtle thing - is actually made explicit, and this is another one of those savory, meaty little pieces that made me enjoy this book so much. Because we the reader are shown a slightly more objective view of the angel - one where we see him poke holes in Salim's self-righteousness, alongside the occasional moment of...

I think Ceyanan would deeply approve of your description, especially the getting-the-mule-to-move part. :)

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The new ebooks from Tor will indeed be DRM-free!

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Joana wrote:
James Sutter wrote:
While the price is going up, we'll be giving folks a 30% discount to bring it down to roughly the amount you're used to paying. We probably will *not* be able to continue doing a free ePub with print copies—you'll have to choose whether you want print or ebooks—but at long last we'll be on the Kindle!
Will there be anything "extra" added to the subscription? With everyone getting the same discount and no free digital copy, there doesn't seem to be any incentive left to subscribe vs. just order what you want when it releases.

I'm currently not sure if that 30% will be for subscribers only, or everyone—there are still a lot of balls in the air!

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just my two cents.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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Qstor wrote:

@James any chance of another Elaine Cunningham novel?

That depends entirely on a variety of factors, not the least of which is Elaine's schedule. But I'm certainly not opposed to the idea!

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Aventhar wrote:


Hi James,

I think this partnership is great news! A couple of questions...

1. Any chance the existing titles will be reprinted in the new format?

2. Will this affect the digital copies currently included with the physical piazo.com subscription?

1) We're currently not planning to reprint the older books—those will remain in mass market, at least until they sell though. We *are*, however, working to get those into wider digital distribution (Kindle, etc.), and the new deal will help with that!

2) At the moment, we're not sure whether we'll continue to be able to give out free electronic copies with physical copy subscriptions—it's possible that people may have to buy one or the other. On the plus side, we *will* be offering a big 30% discount to make sure that the books remain roughly the same price folks are used to.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Sam's also got a new book just out called THE CITY STAINED RED that's getting really good reviews. It's very much an adventuring party sort of story, and part of what convinced me he'd be a good match for the line. :)

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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Dave Gross wrote:

While you don't need to have read any of the previous stories or novels before Lord of Runes, it might be fun to have the others fresh in mind. Wouldn't it be great if there were a Pathfinder Tales Book Club where a lot of readers could do that at the same time and compare notes?

Ah, but there is! :) They just started The Redemption Engine, and there's still time to get in on it:

Pathfinder Tales Book Club

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

JoelF847 wrote:
James, thanks for answering the mass market question, even if I don't like the answer. This might finally get me to switch to digital, but it also is likely to have me buy fewer new books in favor of older used books (obviously not an option for books that never have mass market versions).

I understand. And hey, there'll still be *26* mass market-sized Pathfinder Tales novels you can buy new at the old price—the ones we've already printed aren't changing! :)

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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

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

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

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

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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

Nothing official yet, but chances look good. :)

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Steve Geddes wrote:
Presuming things go well, does this change make it more likely we might eventually see monthly releases of novels? Does it have any impact on the other golarion fiction you produce?

At the moment, we're committed to sticking with our current every-other-month model. I never want to produce so many novels that the quality starts to suffer, or readers start getting overloaded and losing interest.

The Tor deal only applies to the novels, and won't really affect stuff like web fiction or the Pathfinder's Journal.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Yup! This is the real cover. Looking at this was the first time I really appreciated how beautiful the new trade paperback format is going to be. :)

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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Lord Snow wrote:

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

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

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

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Ross Byers wrote:

What does the Tor announcement mean for Pathfinder Tales subscribers?

I assume I'll still be getting the books, but will I still be getting an ePub?

For that matter, when might we get more of the ePubbed Short Fiction?

As I noted above, most of what the Tor changeover means for subscribers is that your books will be bigger and prettier at close to the same cost. :) While the price is going up, we'll be giving folks a 30% discount to bring it down to roughly the amount you're used to paying. We probably will *not* be able to continue doing a free ePub with print copies—you'll have to choose whether you want print or ebooks—but at long last we'll be on the Kindle!

As for more short fiction ePubs: Those are sadly on the back burner as we run around getting all the other products squared away, but I'm hoping to have another massive batch in another few months.

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

Kajehase wrote:
So listening to a recent episode of Tor.com podcast Rocket Talk, I heard Justin Landon mention that Sam Sykes is writing a Pathfinder novel. Anything you can add to this?

Sam is indeed writing for us! He's just started in on the novel, and having read the first chapter, all I can say is that if you like Sam's other books, this one will be just as snarky and irreverent. :D

Paizo Employee Managing Editor

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

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

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