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Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras

Owen K. C. Stephens's page

Developer. Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Society Member. 4,555 posts (4,559 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.


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Ravingdork wrote:
Sadly, Shield Brace does not say "normally" anywhere in its text.

Okay, I'll take a step down into the pedantic death spiral these types of debates usually turn into.

You can use a two-handed weapon and a shield with Shield Brace.

However, according to all the shields descriptions in the Core Rulebook, when shield bashing "Used this way, a heavy shield is a martial bludgeoning weapon."

Does Shield Bash allow me to use a martial bludgeoning weapon with my two-handed weapon? No, only a shield. If a use a shield to bash, it becomes a martial bludgeoning weapon. I am now not using it as a shield, so the ability to use it with a two-handed weapon no longer applies, I am using it "as a weapon" (as written later in the shield bash description), not as a shield.

Does parsing the rules that thinly make sense? No, not really. But that's the direction this kind of argument goes.

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This is not an official answer, and not a faq.

You can use armor spikes and a two-handed sword at the same time, in that armor spikes just sit on your armor and a two-handed sword can be held in two hands. You can also have a spiked gauntlet on at the same time. But the armor spike rules tell us you can't attack with both armor spikes and the two-handed sword, because you are using both hands for the sword.

The armor spikes don't require a hand to use, but the game (though the faq) still limits you to making attacks with as many hands worth of weapons as you have hands. You can use armor spikes and a spiked gauntlet to attack and, though still holding your two-handed weapon, you can't make a two-handed attack that turn.

Unless a rule specifies it allows you to bypass that limitation, you should assume it doesn't. So you can use a shield with Shield Brace while using a two-handed weapon, but that doesn't mean you can attack with the shield while attacking with the two-handed weapon, for the same reason that the fact that armor spikes say you can make a regular attack or off-hand attack (a specific rule) doesn't allow you to do so while using a two-handed weapon (a general rule).

That faq is part of the rules we consider when writing new material, Shield Brace included.

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These things are often great in small doses, but can become old if you draw they out too long.

For example, in the Humble Bundle Twitch Livestream Gaming Marathon, Jason, Logan, Amanda and I played up the silly "Goblin Jug Band" angel for our whole game session. It was cute, and silly, and we were hamming it up for the camera as well.

But I don't think we'd have focused on that for a campaign that we played twice a month for two years. It've gotten old.

So if your gut says not to do it, either just don't do it or, if you really want to buck your gut instinct, do it in a way that can be easily fire walled if the players don't like it, or get tired of it.

Game story time.

In the 1990s I ran a heavily-houseruled 2e D&D game. It wasn't unusual for us to play haphazardly (coming up with a story for the character of whoever showed up, regardless of how much sense that made), and to play after a long day of people working, and to play until the sun came up.

In other words, we often played while punchy. Silliness could creep in.

In an example I remember well, I was running a game with just two players and three total characters - a wizard, a cleric, and a a paladin. They got stuck in an area with many small floating islands over a bottomless void, and needed to cross many, many chasms. After they used every spell, plan, and resource they could think of, they were still two chasms short. And we were all tired, And it was 7am, having played allllll night.

So the paladin's player suggested she tie a rope to the cleric, swing him around her head with her 18/00 Strength (for those of you who don't remember percentile Strength scores, that was really good - but not superhuman), throw him 120 feet over both remaining chasms, have him grab onto the far side, and then she and the wizard would jump into the void trailing the rope and climb up to him.

This was clearly a stupid plan. Throwing a fully armed and armored human 120 feet is not a reasonable feat of Strength, even for someone very strong. The world record for a 16 lb. hammer throw is only 284 feet, and that's less than 10% of the weight and a record set by someone trained in using a well-balanced throwing item. I didn't care. I wanted to go to sleep. So did the players. We all agreed this was reasonable, and it worked, and we ended the game session

And then we woke up, and thought about what allowing that bit of Looney Toons logic into the game meant.

When that group was next together, with additional friends, the story got told. A lot. And we all agreed it was sillier than we wanted that campaign to be.

The player who had the wizard suggested that maybe the pocket dimension they'd been escaping had been affecting their minds, and that even the characters knew that wasn't ACTUALLY how the party had escaped. That was just the mass hallucination they had all shared.

This solved everything, and was adopted as campaign canon. The characters all remembered what we had played out, so we could reference it and talk about the rest of that game session before we got too goofy and should have stopped, but within the continuity of the world it was accepted as a hallucination. We decided not to play when that tired anymore, and the players didn't feel like the game had become too silly for their tastes.

I try to keep this in mind whenever I am running a playing a game. Some games ARE that silly, all the time, and that's fine if everyone is having fun. But adding something much sillier than the game's norm into a campaign can make people unhappy, and generally it's worth finding a ay to firewall that event from mainstream game continuity.

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It was never the intent that Ironclad Reactions would negate an attack. It's a reaction, and a reaction to an event (however fast) occurs after the event.
It's a great way to boost mobility, and it can save you from a lot of anguish if a foe or group of foes have you in a bad spot, but it doesn't negate the attack, which we note must be successful for you to use the ability.

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Arachnofiend wrote:
So the Yojimbo's designated squishy can benefit from Resolve? That's pretty neat. How does the Bodyguard class feature work? If it's similar to the feat we may finally have a tank class.

Yes, the yojimbo can use resolve on the person he is guarding - as well as greater resolve and true resolve when gained.

And yes, of course you have to be adjacent to someone to use abilities than can automatically remove up conditions, roll twice and take the best on s ave, remain conscious and stable when KO'd, and (at higher levels) automatically turn crits into normal hits and even prevent death.
Otherwise the ability would be amazingly unbalanced, instead of just extremely strong.

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Guardian armor is, and was always designed to be, a corner-case spell. It's primarily designed for divine preparation casters, who have access to it with no opportunity cost (unlike arcane casters or any spontaneous caster), and its inclusion on other class spell lists is for those few players who enjoy a tactical challenge.
It's a 1st level immediate action. For a cleric who could turn it into a cure light wounds, it's a very low cost to prepare one you assume you'll sacrifice to cure someone unless you absolutely need it. It's only useful if you have a reasonable expectation for an ally to need much more armor than you do. Occasionally (though not often) that happens. For example, a cleric or paladin might use it to armor a friend who is about to be executed, and expect to use instant armor to take care of their own AC need.
It's not designed to be general use, and it functions exactly as intended.

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Tacticslion wrote:
Are you one of the best?

The human in me just says: "Awwwwwww." and scuffs a foot.

The GAME DESIGNER in me wants to know, one of the best What? And how big a percentage of the total is considered "Best"? The best 20? The top 13.25%? Those who are so good they feel willing to pit their worth against anyone in the industry under any circumstances? Those who have won awards?

The Company Man in me says "Of course - I am a Paizonian, and we are ALL the best!"

And then there's the introvert with social anxiety side of me that loudly whispers "Ah... probably not."

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Dover Pro wrote:
I have a follow-up question. Awakened Wombats are based mechanically on Donkey Rats. I am thinking of replacing some Donkey Rat encounters with Awakened Wombats. Would this be fun or would it lead to bad craziness? ;)

Those two options are not mutually exclusive. :D

That said, you know your adventure and your players better than I ever could, so I'd trust your gut on that question.

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wingermage wrote:

Hi Mr.Stephens,

Dose the shadow subtype eidolon(form blood of shadows page 11) get access to natural attack evolution such as bite,claws,sting and gore?the book didn't mention this but their basic form has bite,tail and claws.

Each shadow eidolon automatically gets access to the attack forms listed with its base form.

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We will have some dragon-themed options for druids, and oracles, and shamans.
And lots of other classes and character builds.

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Sissyl wrote:
And also nothing wrong with Gruumsh. Blibdoolpoolp was pretty cleverly explained to be a result of that language in an article: Modifiers to the main word are added in the middle of that word, so: Bliboolp modified by doolp.

"By Any Other Name: Races of the Underdark" Dragon 281.

I DID have fun writing that. :) I'm glad you liked that bit.

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Thanks folks! Glad you seem to be enjoying Urgraz in all his hateful, anarchic, murderous glory. :)

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Hey Crystal!

Now that The Template Tome is the #1 M&M product on DriveThru, and has TWO 5-star reviews, what the next step in your plan of total game industry dominance?

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Sara Marie wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Owen needs some serious catching up.
Owen makes top 13 on both lists.

I... I am really okay with that. :)

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Gorbacz wrote:
Owen needs some serious catching up.

Okay, but if you were to add in 4am Facebook posts...

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Mike Shel wrote:
Who doesn't want to be killed by Owen K.C. Stephens?

You might be surprised!

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If I had that kind of power, I'd *actually* probably command minions to create a PC race appropriate form of lizardfolk to make a core race.

But that was outside the scope of the question. :)

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Petty Alchemy wrote:
If you had the executive decision of giving a core race slot to a featured/uncommon race, who would get it? Likewise for moving a currently core race to featured/uncommon.

Who I'd pick for a racial rank downgrades are easy. I'd downgrade half-elves. Don't get me wrong I *like* half elves, but I feel their niche is the least unique of the existing core races (unlike the half-orc, which has an important role no one else gets particularly close to), and they represent the smallest population of people so I'm fine with them being a featured race.

What race I'd upgrade to core is muuuuuch trickier. There are races I feel have strong niches not cuttingly filled (and of the --folk, for example), those that make sense if I want to expand representation on other continents (ifrits, kitsune, oreads, samsaran, wayangs, et al), and those I feel have strong fan bases who would love to see more regular representation (aasimar, drow, and tieflings primarily) - especially since I pressure we'd still make all core races always available in PFS.

I'd actually want to gather opinions and do some more research before making such a call, because I think it has far-reaching implications on what our game is, and what stories it's most likely to support.

But in the end I suspect I'd go with changelings. The niche of "born with a seed of potentially powerful magic... which may also corrupt you" is cool. Changlings can be reasonably placed in they community of nearly any humanoid settlement, which allows them to be easily sprinkled throughout a campaign setting. And they give a "touch of darkness" option that's distinctly different from half-orcs.

And since i only get one if I'd picked tiefling, the aasimar fans would pillory me, and vice versa. :)

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I was specifically speaking of the Wayfarer fan 'zine. It's a great way to make a first entry into RPG writing, and to have something you can show as professional-level work if you are (for example) contracting third-party publishers about possible freelance.

I think it helps fill the void left by Dragon ending its print run, and no longer really feeling like a viable gate into the industry anymore,

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It's also worth noting that is specifically talking about (scrying) spells, as in the sub school of divination magic, and (teleportation), as in the sub school of conjuration, as being, in general, things that can work well together. It is not discussing the individual scrying and teleport spells.
Further, it talks about scrying-subschool magic giving useful information about a target's defenses prior to making a subschool-teleportation-augmented attack, not about whether scrying qualifies you to use teleport spell.
It doesn't really address this specific question t all.

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*I* found it usefull!

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Honestly the spell is already so flexible, I don't know that we'd be likely to expand it yet further with another bestiary worth of spells. Even if we force players to swap out existing options, they'd obviously pick those that gave them the most flexibility.

We may well write new spells that can summon monsters from B5, obviously.

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This sort of thing is never at the feet of freelancers. Even if they don't have access to such material (and in this case they didn't), as the developer going back over spells and making sure they are given to the classes I think makes sense for them is literally part of my job as developer.

I keep a list of all the spell lists, what classes get them, if they are arcane, divine, or psychic, and what spell levels they cover. It helps me make sure I don't forget that bloodragers and shamans have their own spell lists, for example, or that clerics, oracles, and warpriests all share the cleric spell list, but antipaladins, inquisitors, and paladins have their own.

In this case I had to make a decision well after the freelancers were done, but well before Occult Adventures was in print, about whether to try to add occult classes to the spell level description. Some book has to be the first book to do so, and while ideally it'd be this one, given the material and circumstance I had to work with, I decided to push it back one more book rather than risk giving classes spells they shouldn't have.

I make adjustments to what classes freelancers give spells to all the time. Some freelancers are great about that, while others design awesome spells, but tend to just assign them to a single class. Having a unifying vision that's in tune with what the other developers are also doing about what a class spell list should look like is exactly the kind of thing a developer needs to be good at, and one of the reasons Paizo uses developers rather than just passing all freelance turnovers directly to the editors. They already have enough to do. :)

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Note that this is RAI and my view of RAW, not an official errata or faq.

Drow Noble requires not "spell-like abilities" or even a specific list of spell-like abilities, but "Able to use drow spell-like abilities."

Neither Drow Magic nor Lesser Spell-Like Abilities gives you the ability to use "drow spell-like abilities." The are, at best, drow-like.

So no they fail to meet the prerequisite, regardless of whether Drow Heritage would qualify them as drow for the prerequisite.

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CorvusMask wrote:
So just to check this stupid question: Shadow Smite still works only on evil targets right?

Yep. Dusk knights are still paladins, smite evil is still about fighting evil.

Just, you know, duskily.

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Marc Radle wrote:
When I was working a lot with Owen, I'd sometimes get an e-mail from him and just marvel at the time he sent it! I'd check my e-mail in the morning and find an e-mail from Owen written at, like, 4:00 in the morning or something!

Or 5:15 am...

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Yeah, I wince anytime I see the things I post in casual settings. I wince twice if I posted while exhausted.

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My concern would be that without watermarking, the pdfs are not valid for use in pathfinder Society, which is huge and many new players get into. I don't know that it's an official concern, but as a bystander I certainly wouldn't want to sell more than 60k sets of pdfs people would then they couldn't be used in the popular and active organized play group the company runs.

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DubiousYak wrote:
Blood of Shadows notes that most Disk Knights are followers of Abadar. Why is that so? There are a number of Lawful Good Ephemeral lords that have the darkness domain and would make way more sense lore wise, that is unless I a, missing a link that will help me understand?

"Most" certainly doesn't mean "all." For Abadar, dusk knights fall into his plans for being patient, calculating, and far-seeing. It also ties into his role as Master of the First Vault, as well as the Earth domain, which means dusk knight paladins of Abadar are often spending time underground in vaults and similar strongholds. And, of course, cities often have shadowy alleys where law is tough to enforce.

Of course not all non-LG deities have any paladins, but Abadar specifically has them trained in the Tempering Hall in Absalom.

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Faelyn wrote:

I've got a question regarding the Dusk Knight's "Shadow Smite", specifically this line here.

Shadow Smite wrote:
The dusk knight doesn’t deal additional damage with her smite evil ability.
I'm assuming that's referring to the ability to deal additional damage on the first strike against evil outsiders & dragons, and undead. I would just like to clarify that isn't not removing ALL extra damage from the Smile Evil ability, because that would suck. Hard.

It does indeed mean you removing ALL extra damage from the smite evil ability, just like it says. It's much more a defensive option than an offensive one.

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While Weapon Master's Handbook had no material designed specifically for classes with access to 9th level spells, it did offer the Molthuni Arsenal Chaplain, an archetype for the war priest (a 6th level caster), and things of specific use to sneakier weapon-wielders. So it's not truly 'all martial options," just s;anted to heavily that way that no one really focuses on the tiny amount of other stuff.

I think you'll find that Armor Master's Handbook is similarly focused and there isn't any more "caster material" than in WMH.

Similarly, Arcane Anthology added prayer book and meditation book rituals, arcane spells available to clerics and warpriests of Iomedae and Milani, seven new cleric spells, and anointings as options for clerics with the artificer domain.
Again,. not a lot, because the focus is elsewhere - but there is SOME divine support in the book.

I try to both make sure a booth has primarily What's On The Tin, and carry ideas out to support other types of character where thematically appropriate.

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Rysky wrote:

Altered states of mind are certainly interesting.

I noticed a very big departure from my usual thoughts and a surge of new ideas after I had gone 48 hours without sleeping.

Yeah, I suffer from insomnia, and have on occasion gone 50+ hours without notable sleep (due to the existence of micro sleep and the fact I wasn't hooked up to monitors I actually can't say I didn't get *any* sleep during that time).

Friends and colleagues can apparently tell when I have going 30+ hours without sleep, due to how the tone of my Facebook and Twitter posts change.

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Gamerskum wrote:
So any chance that Celestial healing's 1 round/ 2 levels was a typo?

None.

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mamaursula wrote:
Now that you've survived Horrendous Wound, which of the many horribly debilitating things do you think has given you the most off the way, crazy cakes, creative insights? HW, sleep deprivation, the flu, ConCrud, or something else that we haven't seen in recent history but you have experienced?

I think the Hateful Wound's combination of painkillers. multiple antibiotics, AND sleep deprivation clearly gave me the biggest bizarre-out-of-the-box-idea boost.

It remains to be seen how many of those I can capitalize on in a useful way...

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Rysky wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Tothric wrote:
Who would you pick to be your GM?
Rob Schwalb.
You sir are one brave m&~%##~*##$$.

I've done it before!

For a Thieves World game, with Chris Pramas and Lynn Abbey.

There was only one curb stomping, and of the three, Rob isn't the one who scared me...

Someone scarier than Rob? I disbelieve.

Every played a game with a PC prophet, played by the woman who writes the licensed world you're playing in? :D

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Rysky wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Tothric wrote:
Who would you pick to be your GM?
Rob Schwalb.
You sir are one brave m&~%##~*##$$.

I've done it before!

For a Thieves World game, with Chris Pramas and Lynn Abbey.

There was only one curb stomping, and of the three, Rob isn't the one who scared me...

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Yidhra, Goddess of Paradoxes wrote:
Opposed natural alignments probably isn't something that's meant to happen.

It ABSOLUTELY isn't!

...

I did add the augmented subtype...

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Tothric wrote:
Who would you pick to be at an "All-star" table for a game run for you?

Myself, Stan!, Rob Schwalb, Crystal Frasier, Shanna Germain, Monte Cook, Chris Pramas, Nicole Lindroos.

Tothric wrote:
Who would you pick to be your GM?

Rob Schwalb.

Tothric wrote:
Lastly: Would you play a "crowd-sourced" character at a convention for charity with a live internet audience?

Absolutely!

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GM Rednal wrote:
What's the most horrific combination of monster type and subtype(s) you can think of?

Magical Beast (asura*, augmented, chaotic**, elemental*, evil**, godspawn, good**, great old one, kaiju, lawful**, mythic, rakshasa, shape changer)

*Unlike most outsider subtypes, the azure and elemental subtypes doesn't specify they're just for outsiders.
**No rule I know of forbids being opposed sliognments as subtypes. Yes, it means all alignment effects impact it at their worst, but the SR likely handles that,

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Chess Pwn wrote:
Pancakes or Waffles?

Yes!

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I prefer the hibiscus notes in absinthe rouge (or rose), over either blanche or verte, but I'll swill any of the above happily with the right company and nothing important to do for a few hours. :)

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Drejk wrote:

The first book suffers from Early Installment Weirdness. Later books tend to be much better... Mostly.

Also, the second reading makes much more sense when you read the other books and lots of things fit (while others not so, because there were some cosmological redesigns in mean time).

Yeah, I've had other fans of the series tell me that. I DO plan to get through it...

... when i have more free time.

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Drejk wrote:
Have you read Malazan Book Of The Fallen series?

I'm familiar with it, and I've tried to make it through Gardens of the Moon a couple of times. I always get bogged down (it's dense, and apparently as a style choice is intentionally not introduction-friendly), and then my schedule takes me away from it for weeks or months. Then when I want to pick it up again, I need to flip back several chapters.

It seems like it's right up my ally - if I can find the time to get past the learning curve of the world to know what's going on.

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Congratulations, Monica!

...

So, what's next from you?

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Fury is barbarian/monk
Renegade is gunslinger/rogue

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Petty Alchemy wrote:
If we're talking books, have you read any Brandon Sanderson? If so, favorite work?

I have not! Although Mistborn is on my "get to it soon" list.

...
And has been for a few years...

Petty Alchemy wrote:
Have you ever been teased for still using an AOL email address (I have been!)?

Ever? Sure. But not recently. And I use my gmail accounts (one personal, one for Green Ronin, one for Rogue Genius Games) and Paizo.com account more often anyway.

But the aol account is 19 years old, so a LOT of people have it, and I used it for a LOT of sign-ups. It's hard to get rid of.

Petty Alchemy wrote:
How do you think pen and paper gaming will look 10 years from now?

Very similar, but with more tablet aps, preprinted miniatures, a few 3d print-at-home miniatures, and more virtual tabletops.

Also, more people saying tabletop RPGS are dead and doomed, and will be gone in 10 years.

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Rysky wrote:

Okies, thanks! I might actually give them a look finally.

What else would you recommend?

Wow - that could be a BIG list.

I'll restrict myself to pre-modern-setting fantasy (because otherwise I get drowned in Dresden Files, and Honor Harrington, and Lensman, and... and... )

And this list is very, very non-complete. Just a sample of a few dozen of my favorite fantasy books.

Fantasy you may have been told to avoid -
Wishstones of Shannarah (Terry Brooks). Ignore the Sword of Shannarah, it's rightfully mocked for being a Tolkien pastiche. Also feel free to ignore the television series, since it's 60% stuff they made up for the series. This one, singular book is among my favorite fantasy stories as a stand-alone novel.

Vlad Taltos (Stephen Brust) -- Yes, it's about a witch-assassin named Vlad who has a dragon like familiar. It SOUNDS like a 13-year-olds Pathfinder game... but it's much cooler than that. Ancient empires, humans not at the top of the food chain, Ancient Weapons, soul-killing swords, psychic power, witchcraft, and sorcery as separate forms of magic, creatures that can kill gods -- and yet most of the stories are about heists and political maneuvering. Very personable, very relatable.

Fantasy You May Not Have Heard Of -
The Garret Files (Glen Cook). Hard-bitten pulp fantasy detective stories set (mostly) in a Giant Fantasy City that reminds me of Grayhawk and Absalom. The tenor is very much modern fantasy, but the setting is pre-firearm fantasy, and often takes a fun turn blending pulp tropes with pure fantasy rules.

The Sword of Knowledge (Cherryh, et al) Smart fantasy that begins a series that spans generations (or longer), where magic is crucial, but very, very limited. A fantasy series about the advance of technology and why the ability to preserve and expand knowledge can be crucial to the success of old empires... or rise of new ones.

Things I Read For a High fantasy Fix

The Belgariad, The Malloreon, The Elenium, The Tamuli (David and Leigh Eddings) As a teen and young adult, these four series were my jam. Pretty much a more modern light reading version of Tolkien-style high fantasy, and some of the alter books tread very much the same territory as earlier books. I don't care, this is like a distilled version of every fantasy campaign I ran for 20 years.

Riftwar Saga (Raymond E. Feist) A world with connections to an RPG campaign Feist was involved in, these have some of the clearest examples of what it looks like when 1st level characters hit 20th... and 30th level. Also pretty good high fantasy beyond the RPG connections.
And one of the few fantasy series with a book that made me cry...
and cry... and cry...

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Rysky wrote:
Fist off, Thankies for responding to the questions being posted in your thread Owen ^w^

My pleasure. :)

Rysky wrote:
I've heard Black Company mentioned a lot over the years but I've yet to actually read any of the books. What is that you like about them, and/or what would you say about them in order to get someone else into reading them?

The Black Company is a wonderful mix of gritty, realistic fantasy (where infection is a major threat, armies are never nice guys, and even ancient prophecies have more to do with politics than a chosen one) and spectacular high fantasy (with ancient evils digging out of the Barrowlands, spells that can level cities, and the powerful Ten Who Were Taken, deathless sorcerers with evocative names like Soulcatcher and the Hanged Man... who are still spectacularly human in how they go about things).

And it's well-written, and full of ideas I don't see elsewhere.

And it's military fantasy fiction.

Told (mostly) from the point of view of a doctor and historian.

If that sounds awesome to you, I recommend you pick it up. If it *doesn't* (and I know LOTS of smart, fun, wise people who aren't fans of this series), I have LOTS of other books I can recommend.

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Christopher Dudley wrote:
I have an idea for a Pathfinder-compatible product.

Awesome!

I'm going to tackle the rest of your questions out-of-order, to help organize my replies.

Christopher Dudley wrote:
Without reading every single 3PP gaming product ever written, how do I make sure someone else hasn't already done it?

Keyword searches, in several places.

Let's say you have an awesome idea for halfling war bakers. But if Rite Publishing has already done "In the Company of War Bakers," you want to know before you pen your 40,000 word magnum baked opus.

So, you do some combined keyword searches. At the very least "war + baker" and "halfling + baker," adding "Pathfinder" when not doing the search on a gaming site. Do them on Paizo (a lot of 3pp sell product on Paizo, and there are often discussion threads), OBS (RPGNow and DriveThruRPG are both part of OBS - OneBookShelf), d20pfsrd.com, archiveofnethys.com (in case Paizo has done in in a product you missed), and Google.

If the halfling way baker has some key mechanic you like (eldritch muffins, perhaps), you can try searching for those terms, or related game terms, as well.

Take an hour. Search for anything that feels relevant.

Christopher Dudley wrote:
How much of it should I write before I submit it to 3PPs to see if they want to work with me?

Almost none.

What you need initially is an elevator pitch - a 2-3 sentence short, exciting description of the idea you'd give Lisa Stevens if you found yourself in a elevator with her at PaizoCon. Just the highlights.

"I want to do a 40,000 word book on halfling war bakers. It would be like a bigger Player Companion in scope and style, but focus specially on who to make a halfling war baker, how to run one as a GM, and how to add them to your campaign, with a focus on combining the fun of cooking with making an effective Pathfinder character."

Even that might be too long.

THAT you can send to publishers, and it gives them just enough information to know if they want to know more. And you want them to ask questions - to begin a dialog with you that may prove useful to you even if you don't end up using that publisher for that project. Publishers may give you all kinds of useful information that will help you have a better idea what kinds of projects they are looking for. "We are more interested in smaller books - we'd do 15,000 words on war backers, but not 40,000." "We're moving away from rules crunch, and only do adventures now, but would be interest in a bakery-based adventure if you want to write one." "We don;t accept outside submissions unless you have been published by a game company that sells print books, like GreenR onion or Paizo or Wizards of the Coast."

Keep track of those replies, and build a "rolodex" of who wants what, and be polite in your replies. That's how you build contacts.

Christopher Dudley wrote:
How do I submit it to a variety of established 3PPs without worrying that they're going to use my idea before I can write enough of it to get paid for it?

So, here's a hard truth.

Ideas are easy, and 99.99% have no value by themselves. A publisher is never going to look at your elevator pitch and think it's so brilliant they must write it, and cut you out of the process.

No one will ever steal just an idea, or pay for just an idea.

Also, ideas are common. I've watched multiple people have the same idea, and call it the same thing, with no cross-pollination. We've all absorbing at least some of the same media, it's no surprise we often have overlapping, independent, identical idea creation.

EXECUTION is valuable. A completed manuscript has value. Even then, a publisher is very unlikely to take one you submit on spec ("on speculation" - submitting something with no promise it'll be published) and publish it without having a deal in place with you. It's illegal, it's bad business, and if the game is worth taking those risks over, it's worth paying the author (a flat fee or a royalty or both, depending on the contract agreed upon) to make sure a lawsuit doesn't follow.

If you have any other questions like this, don't be shy to unleash them. In my experience, for every person that asks about the industry, there are 100 more who want to know but aren't sure what to ask or where to ask it.

Paizo Employee Developer

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Wile E. Coyote wrote:
Besides, Acme is overrated.

Well, all the quality control lawsuits can't have helped...

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