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James Sutter

James Sutter's page

Managing Editor. 2,230 posts (2,261 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 2 aliases.


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Orthos wrote:
What do you recommend as a good novel to start with for someone new to the Pathfinder Tales books?

It really depends what you like! If you're into planar stuff, I'd recommend Death's Heretic or The Redemption Engine (by me!). If you like smart-ass tieflings and aristocratic detectives, I'd recommend Prince of Wolves. Liar's Blade is a fun "crook and his talking sword" story. Nightglass is creepy Harry Potter, Pirate's Honor is pirates (duh!), and Plague of Shadows is your classic adventuring party--the list goes on and on, and all are great places to start!

(Which probably means someone else should make the recommendation. :)

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ikarinokami wrote:
oh my goodness, just finished the redemention engine, great read, i think you surpassed your previous effort. Arathuziel, seriously needs his own novel, espically an origin story. great job, can't wait for the next one.

Thank you so much! And I'm glad you liked Arathuziel--his chapter was probably the fastest one in the whole book in terms of my writing time. As soon as he started talking, the whole story just poured out. Always a good sign. :)

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:

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

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

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

Good question!

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3 people marked this as a favorite.
Justin Sluder wrote:
Need more Eldest.

On it.

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

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Zaister wrote:

Hi James,

I have a question about the name of Kaer Maga, the "Asylum Stone". Is the asylum in this phrase meant more like political asylum/sanctuary, or more like an insane asylum?

The former! It's a refuge for all those folks who (for reasons bad or good) don't fit into the societies they came from. Which, to me, is its biggest charm, even if the place isn't warm and welcoming in the conventional sense. :)

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Not yet, but there's some web fiction set there here!

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captain yesterday wrote:

1) are there Androids on Aballon or Verces?

2) what about the robots from inner sea bestiary?

1) Currently unknown!

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

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

Pacing. I stand up a lot when I write.

...

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

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

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

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ubiquitous wrote:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Elba's a close second. ;)

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Shadar Aman wrote:
ubiquitous wrote:

First-off, The Redemption Engine kicks all kinds of ass. The combination of Kaer Maga and the Outer Planes (especially as a reflection/explanation of each-other) was just so smart, and I've never read better explanations as to alignments. All of this coupled with a fun story and some exceedingly memorable characters!

Anyways, I did have a question: I'm curious as to your opinion on the life-cycle of petitioners, especially in regards to the "have no memories of their previous life" aspect. For more info see JJ's post or the Bestiary 2 entry.

To me it seems odd that a petitioner has no memory of their previous life. Their entire existence in the Outer Planes is affected by this: which court in the Boneyard claims them, what Plane they end up on, and - in most circumstances - what their physical form will look like.

Doesn't this lack of memories undermine the specialness of the rewards or punishments that await the soul? All those horrible tortures in Hell based on the specific nature of the mortal's crimes seem far less horrible when the soul in question doesn't actually remember committing those acts. There's no way for the soul to feel guilt, remorse, or any of those other lovely feelings that require memories.

Also, if this information were to leak somehow into the mortal world, wouldn't it cheapen the rewards/lessen the fear of the afterlife? Depending on what you consider a person (how much of it is their memory), I'm sure Evil-aligned people could easily justify their actions with saying: "Well, I won't remember this when I'm dead, so it won't really be me suffering for it in Hell/Abaddon/The Abyss."

Thanks for asking this. I've wanted to ask similar questions for a while, but I haven't gotten around to typing them up yet.

Fortunately, Wes wrote up a big ol' article about precisely this sort of thing for a new volume of Mummy's Mask! I won't steal his thunder, but it's jam-packed with new details on/explanations of how the afterlife all fits together. :)

And thank you so much for the kind words about THE REDEMPTION ENGINE! :D

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Dragon78 wrote:

1)Have the Brethedans ever visited/explored Golarion, Castrovel, Akiton, Verces, or the Diaspora?

2)Given the Lashunta's culture and terrain what weapons(from the core book) do they favor? Is there a difference between genders in weapon choice and if so what are they?

3)Have the Aballonians ever visited Golarion or any other planet?

4)Would the Vercites be interested in the crashed ship in Numeria?

5)Would races from Akiton on Golarion use the rules for high gravity since they are from a low gravity world?

5) Yes!

(Sorry for skipping the other questions, but I'm super crunched for time, and I want to be sure to get to everyone.)

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Rysky wrote:

Curious about Classes you might have assigned to Bors and Roshad currently or at least fit them atm.

Bors comes across as too disciplined to be a Barbarian, (Strictly RaW since Barbarians can't be lawful) and Fighter is very obvious but could he have levels of Paladin?

Roshad is pretty explicitly a Sorceror, but does he also have levels in Rogue and/or Arcane Trickster? Or actually for him given his personality what about Bloodrager?

Also what are the chances of getting some Iridian Fold themed Prestige Classes or Archetypes? I really liked the duo Organization-based Prestige Class's from 3.5.

In my mind, Bors is a fighter with a touch of ranger due to his origins (see the "Boar and Rabbit" web fiction story), and Roshad is a sorcerer with a touch of rogue. But while I always stay within the lines, I like to leave a touch of ambiguity. ;)

I had my marker on the Iridian Fold until the novel released, but now that I've been able to properly unveil it, I think we may well see some more about them in the future!

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xavier c wrote:

I was reading the artifacts and legends book wanted to ask

1)Is Saint Cuthbert a god on Golarion as Saint Cuthbert's Mace is in the game?

2)would a dragon willing serve a human without having to use a Orb of dragonkind?

3)Is there a way to release the good Elemental Lords from within the Moaning Diamond(Sairazul, the Crystalline Queen)and the Gasping
Pearl,the Garnet Brand, and the Untouchable Opal?

4)are there other Decks of Many Things besides the normal Deck of Many Things and the Harrow Deck of Many Things?

1) Not on Golarion, but there are more worlds than just Golarion on the Material Plane. ;)

2) Depends on the dragon!

3) [redacted]

4) Sure!

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Lloyd Jackson wrote:
The Strix are native to Arcadia?!

Yup! Check out the Inner Sea Bestiary. :D

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Erik Mona wrote:
Drejk wrote:


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

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

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

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

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

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You might also want to check out the fan fiction community over at Pathfinder Chronicler!

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Steve Geddes wrote:

And an admission of cantankerousness.

(Any neophyte writers should read this in my not terribly informed opinion. I found it a really good insight into the process and what an editor/publisher might be looking for from an author).

Thanks, Steve! And yeah, a little cantankerousness is useful in an editor.

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:

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

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

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

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

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:

I asked the other James this question, and I thought I'd gain your input.

Which chariot from Ultimate Combat would best represent the ancient British war chariot as described by Julius Caesar?

Here's a picture of one.

James Jacob's opinion is that, given it has two horses, it best resembles the Heavy Chariot statistics, as the medium and light chariot only have one horse. That confused me, given the heavy chariot stats also mention a ballista can be mounted on it, and I doubt a ballista could be mounted on the kind of chariot depicted in that picture.

I'd probably lean toward Jacobs's answer, but then, I'm an acknowledged hand-waver myself. :)

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Said beans include both writing advice AND a formative experience with the supernatural!

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Thanks, everybody! I'm really fond of these two, so I'm glad other folks are enjoying them as well. :)

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Since the terminology thing always comes up, the best term I've found recently is "alatrism": the recognition that gods are real paired with a deliberate lack of worship. (Of course, even *that* isn't perfect, because it often goes along with the belief that gods ignore prayers, which clearly isn't true in Pathfinder.)

We went with atheism because nobody knows what terms like alatrism mean, but if we were doing it all over again, we probably would try harder to clarify in the early books. :P

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Spoiler:

I was wondering who would notice that. Both my editors breezed right past it. ;)

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:

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

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

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

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

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Dragon78 wrote:
So is the planet Aucturn inspired more by H. P. Lovecraft, or H. R. Giger, or about the same for both?

Yes. :D

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Anorak wrote:
So Wes, James, the Boar-Rabbit novel comes out what Spring 2015, right?

It just came out! According to a number of folks, they kind of steal the show in The Redemption Engine, which is exactly what I had hoped. :D

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Itchy wrote:

Interesting story thus far.

** spoiler omitted **

Oof! That's a lot of typos, even for web fiction--thanks for the heads-up!

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Dragon78 wrote:

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

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

3)Do you have any favorite giant monster movie?

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

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

3) Jurassic Park. ;)

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brad2411 wrote:

So is Mengkare really a veiled master bringing back Azlanti?

Edit: I asked this right before I got to the veiled masters part of ** spoiler omitted **

Ha! One of the more interesting theories I've heard. :D

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

*head asplode*

Thanks for the votes of confidences, dudes. :D

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Rysky wrote:
Caused from reading the latest Boar and Rabbit, what is the closest earth ethnicity to Casmaron? Slavic/Asian?

The particular area they're in right now has been very much inspired by historical Kazakhstan and Mongolia. :)

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Wayne Ligon wrote:
James Sutter wrote:


2) It is indeed in Casmaron! And in addition to this story, I hope to explore it more in a campaign setting book down the road. This is potentially just the first taste....
That would be fantastic. Also looking forward to a novel about these two :) I'm figuring they might be on the run for some time to come....

Did you know they're both main characters in The Redemption Engine, which just came out? :D

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

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Tinkergoth wrote:


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

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

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

My AMA!

Spoiler:

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

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Buri wrote:
James Sutter wrote:
Disagreement--sometimes passionate disagreement--is how we push each other to get better. :)
Please, tell me that passion includes nerf gun wars.

It used to, actually! But it's been a while since we had one of those. :)

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Amaranthine Witch wrote:
I really liked the book, more than Death's Heretic, specially because it shows us truly new places. My only issue is the ending for Roshad and Bors. ** spoiler omitted **

Thanks, AW! And a fine point about Bors and Roshad...

Spoiler:

While it's definitely not the goal of the Iridian Fold, I like to think their... condition... is close enough that they'll be happy. And if not, maybe they really *will* call in a favor from Salim and company...

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Tinkergoth wrote:

Reviewed!

Originally posted on The Grassy Gnoll. Edited down for length when reposted here, with some spoiler tags added just in case.

For the even longer, and even more rambling full review, follow the link: Review - Pathfinder Tales: The Redemption Engine

My only complaint is that now I want more Salim. And it's less of a complaint and more of a request. As in "Please James, may we have some more Salim stories?"

Wow! I think that's the most thorough book review I've ever received. :) Thanks, Tinkergoth!

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Rysky wrote:
Hmm, curious. Were the Stakes in Kaer Maga inspired by the homes if the crime bosses in Lucky Number Slevin?

I actually didn't invent the Stakes--where does it show up?

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

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

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Rysky wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:
Salim has been an exile for a couple human lifetimes now. The Rahadoum he remembers might not be the same as the one that exists now.

*le gasp*

The brain could be right... I hate when the brain is right, why can't the heart ever be right?

True! Certainly most of the folks he interacted with during life are dead and gone. But that's a subject I'm very much interested in exploring in a third book. ;)

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Rysky wrote:
James Sutter wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Curious, while Rahadoum has outlawed Clerics and Oracles gain their powers from entities beyond their understanding could their exist a patriotic Rahadoumi Paladin or Inquisitor since they gain their powers from codes of conduct and allegiance to organizations and causes, not necessarily from a god?

People both inside and outside the offices have different perspectives on this, which is fine with me because I think that people *in world* would have differing perspectives. I imagine some Rahadoumi would be fine with it. Others would be flat-out suspicious of anyone who can use divine magic in any way (after all, how do you *prove* you're not secretly worshiping a god, or being influenced by one without your knowing)? In my mind, Rahadoum's internal war on religion is kind of like the United States' war on terror--everyone has a different take on what's going too far.

But as you all know by now, the messier a situation is, the more I like it. :D

Inter-House conflict! Muahahahaha :3

Mainly I think of this due to the Pure Legionnaire Salim interacted with in his childhood. Dood evoked a very much "Paladin" image to me.

Yeah, I think it's really important to humanize the Pure Legion and show how they think of themselves, since we so often see the outsiders' view.

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

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

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Mikaze wrote:

Digging. :)

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

Maaaaaybe. :)

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I'm working on this right now, and I have to say, Liane's better than ever. This book is both very different from many in the line, and yet perhaps one of the *most* Pathfinder-feeling adventures we've published. Can't wait for people to see it!

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Rysky wrote:
Curious, while Rahadoum has outlawed Clerics and Oracles gain their powers from entities beyond their understanding could their exist a patriotic Rahadoumi Paladin or Inquisitor since they gain their powers from codes of conduct and allegiance to organizations and causes, not necessarily from a god?

People both inside and outside the offices have different perspectives on this, which is fine with me because I think that people *in world* would have differing perspectives. I imagine some Rahadoumi would be fine with it. Others would be flat-out suspicious of anyone who can use divine magic in any way (after all, how do you *prove* you're not secretly worshiping a god, or being influenced by one without your knowing)? In my mind, Rahadoum's internal war on religion is kind of like the United States' war on terror--everyone has a different take on what's going too far.

But as you all know by now, the messier a situation is, the more I like it. :D

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