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Discussion and Analysis of Sex and Female Characters in Paizo's APs


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion

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Mikaze wrote:
James Sutter wrote:

And the Triaxan Battleflowers show up in the Reign of Winter AP, which are originally from Distant Worlds and are ritual warriors who choose to be seen as totally genderless by their society.

Oh wow. Would that bald half-elf-looking Triaxan happen to be one of those as an example? (I'm not near my copy at the moment)

I'm really excited considering this sounds like we'll be getting a good bit of cultural detail for Triaxus. :D

The bald Triaxan is a dragonrider of the Skyfire Mandate. The "battleflowers" or Ukara are from the Immortal Suzerainty of Ning.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Paizo just has to watch out for the trope of including gays, but primarily as villains trope. Which is tough because most of the npcs paizo writes up are villains. Would be nice to see in a future product a character in a similar role to Sheila Heidmarch, cleric lady in skull and shackles or cressidia croft as a homosexual (pref male since it seems all the PC allies are attractive women)


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Coridan wrote:
since it seems all the PC allies are attractive women

This. Thank you. So tired of it.


You do know most D&D / PF players are male, right?

Drop the women, drop the sales. Cold hard facts, unfortunately.

And no, I am not a chauvinist. I actually hate such notions with a passion.

Andoran

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thats bull. This isnt the 80s. The pen paper demo is not a bunch of horny teenagers anymore and horny teens can find better stuff on the internet. Its not like I am calling for an end to all women in the books, just some attractive men as well. A male angel of love to counter the succubus for example. A male ally in the vein of Shalelu every couple of APs. They dont all gotta be men.


Taking my words the wrong way, are we? I know there are lots of females playing too, but truth is there are more male players than females, unless you can provide me with new statistics that prove otherwise. That said, I'm pretty sure you will not find such statistics. Also, please do not try to make me look bad, I really didn't mean anything bad with what I said.


Coridan wrote:
Thats bull. This isnt the 80s. The pen paper demo is not a bunch of horny teenagers anymore and horny teens can find better stuff on the internet. Its not like I am calling for an end to all women in the books, just some attractive men as well. A male angel of love to counter the succubus for example. A male ally in the vein of Shalelu every couple of APs. They dont all gotta be men.

Not a good judge of attractiveness in men, but there's plenty of male allies (I'm picking only the APs I know again). If anything, it has to be a balancing factor because the more percentage of male allies, the lower percentage of strong heroic women.

If by "like Shalelu" you mean, explicitly statted out or else called out as a good choice of party companion or cohort, I will put an asterisk on those who I remember to be so.

Runelords had slightly more male than female, but the female characters were generally more famous.

Rise of the Runelords:

Sheriff Hemlock
Vale Temros*

Jakardros Sovark*
Brodert Quink
Father Zantus

I'll expect fewer in Curse, which our group jokes about in terms of just how many extremely attractive women must have lived in Korvosa (given the Grey Maidens recruitment demographic). Let's see--

Curse of the Crimson Throne:
Played rather than GMed and only on Part 5, so pardon the spellings

Vencarlo Orisini*
Krojun Eats What He Kills*

Council of Thieves had a ton of choices here.

Council of Thieves:

Arael*
Gorvio*
Larko*
Sclavo*
Ermolos*
Vitti*
Rizzardo*

Kingmaker has a good mix of genders as well, including many potential male allies

Kingmaker:

I'm playing this, and we're only in Part 3. I have no idea who was statted out for this one because our GM statted everyone out (obviously Akiros had stats, as he started as a bandit, as did Kundall who you fight as a werewolf).

Part 1 is, if anything, bereft of women other than Svetlana and the evil Kressel. For allied men though, you get--

Oleg
Keston Garess
Gael
Dhavik
Marcus
Harris
and potentially Akiros Ismort*

Later parts include

Kundall* (sp?) if you save him from lycanthropy
Meagar Varn and his sons (depending on the results of the Vanishing, I guess)

There's likely more, but we're only on Part 3.

Jade Regent has a solid number of these as well. Unlike the others, I have a file of these in alignment order because I'm revamping the JR relationship rules and adding a bunch of more choices for when I run Jade Regent, so this will be more complete.

Jade Regent:

LG
Asachi Isao

NG
Sandru Vhiski*
Hirabashi Jiro*

LN
Prince Batsaikhar, though unlikely to end well
Sikutsu Itsuru

N
Naquun*
Three Monkeys [Ed Note: I put the Three Monkeys together as Neutral for my purposes, but Kondo Yuri is the only woman. There's two men--Ishibasho and Hosokaya Kazu]

CN
Ulf Gormundr*

Grand Lodge

James Sutter wrote:


Also, though nobody's asked about it yet, we've got a few trans characters scattered around the place as well, such as in the NPC Codex (p. 15), Miss Feathers in the PFS Scenarios (making a reappearance next month!)

Excellent. That's one of my favorite NPCs from scenarios. I'll be glad to see his/her return. I say his because I've typically depicted him as a "bear" rather than a transwoman when running that series.


How much of an issue would being a trani be for suitable leveled characters be anyway?

Osirion

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I amused myself with the observation that the four main Jade Regent NPCs (Ameiko, Shalelu, Sandru and Koya) included two hot babes, one hot-ish dude, and an old lady, and the old lady was the one that *didn't* get to serve as a potential romantic interest. What if my character was an older gent, like Ezren, or just a young man in need of some 'educatin' from an older woman?

Age-ism, not sexism, was the problem!


That's actually a valid and sort of overlooked point, Set.


Set wrote:

I amused myself with the observation that the four main Jade Regent NPCs (Ameiko, Shalelu, Sandru and Koya) included two hot babes, one hot-ish dude, and an old lady, and the old lady was the one that *didn't* get to serve as a potential romantic interest. What if my character was an older gent, like Ezren, or just a young man in need of some 'educatin' from an older woman?

Age-ism, not sexism, was the problem!

I saw the romance score (lowest of the lot) and figured she was romancable.

Osirion

The NPC wrote:
I saw the romance score (lowest of the lot) and figured she was romancable.

Ah, I'm just playing it, and she's the only NPC who isn't eligible for the Campaign Trait option for romance. If there's some other romance sub-system going on, I'm not privy that information.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Set wrote:
The NPC wrote:
I saw the romance score (lowest of the lot) and figured she was romancable.

Ah, I'm just playing it, and she's the only NPC who isn't eligible for the Campaign Trait option for romance. If there's some other romance sub-system going on, I'm not privy that information.

I'm playing too, but she's actually possibly got a form of romance going on with the dwarf in our party. Granted it's a bit slow, but I think it's more due to him being a dwarf than Koya being old.

Apparently in our "sister" group's Jade Regent game, she's been a bit more socially active, but the influence from her twin gnome adopted daughters might be coming into play there.

I'm now considering making The Amazing Zograthy romancable, but I'm afraid some books might get thrown at me. But yeah, middle-aged and over romancable characters don't seem too numerous at a glance.

Qadira

Or good natured folks less than smoking hot


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Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

While there's always room for improvement, I think Paizo does an incredible job handling these sorts of issues.

Even as a long-time DM who's made conscious effort to include more female characters, different sexualities, and varied roles for both, I find myself consistently outdone by Paizo's writers.

I would never have run an adventure on my own with the gender balance of Shards of Sin. While a lot of folks, myself included, were busy chasing gender balance, Paizo showed us that it can only be achieved with real counterweights.

And there's no way I would have created the love triangle in Asylum Stone, to say nothing of integrating it seamlessly into a dungeon. That's some crazy wizardry right there.

Even going back all the way to Burnt Offerings, we have characters that are sexual and romantic beings. That doesn't sound like much in the context of this argument, but the history of fantasy and RPGs isn't overburdened with heterosexual characters. It's overburdened with asexual characters.

So, the Adventure Paths aren't always sex positive and aren't always inclusive. But Paizo has done more than say "games should be sex positive and inclusive," they've provided examples of what that looks like.

Maybe nobody else needed those examples, but I'm not too proud to say that they've improved the inclusiveness, emotional involvement, and even drama in my own games. And there's always more to do, but I just wanted to take a moment to say that what they've already done is pretty damned incredible.

Cheers!
Landon

Paizo Employee Senior Editor/Fiction Editor

Thanks so much, Landon! Your post is really the sort of thing we're working toward. :)


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Landon Winkler wrote:
the history of fantasy and RPGs isn't overburdened with heterosexual characters. It's overburdened with asexual characters.

This was my issue with Wormwood Mutiny. You've got a group of people of diverse sexualities cooped up together in a small space with little privacy for long periods of time. People ought to be getting busy somewhere, and yet it's never mentioned. There ought to be an open-secret place behind a bulkhead, or Grok makes extra money and/or favors renting out space in the storeroom ten minutes at a time while she takes care of something on the other side of the ship, or something. Instead, sex is never once acknowledged in the course of the adventure, which made it utterly unbelievable and oversanitized to me. My issue isn't 'Female PCs should be raped because that's realism'; it's 'PCs of all races and genders have sex drives that should be acknowledged, particularly when there's no closed doors at an inn that sort of thing could conceivably be taking place behind off-screen.'


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I think the OP has a very valid point. Stolen Lands is very rape-y. You can be an evil person without have fuxxored sexuality or masochistic proclivities. It's not that sexual assault exists in Golarion that's the problem, because I agree a world without it would be unrealistic (sadly). It's the fact that every female NPC, major or minor, has a sexual abuse component to her story as either victim or perpetrator or both, which is not something done for the males. While that's actually mildly realistic too (1 in 4 is an awful lot of women), we do play RPGs to get away from reality, not have it smack us in the face. Rape is the ultimate expression of contempt for women, so in a gender-neutral universe there should actually be a lot less of it than there is in real life.

As for the artwork and allies- you do realize that men will still buy and play the games if the women wear real clothes in the artwork, right? Some of the most beautiful and sensual artwork I've ever seen in a gaming book comes from L5R, where the women wear full kimonos, real armor, and generally realistic clothing. Having a male ally along the lines of Shalelu might not play into a romance quite as well, depending on the gender and sexuality makeup of the group, but a 'band of brothers' vibe would play nicely with a lot of hetero men.


Joana wrote:
Landon Winkler wrote:
the history of fantasy and RPGs isn't overburdened with heterosexual characters. It's overburdened with asexual characters.
This was my issue with Wormwood Mutiny. You've got a group of people of diverse sexualities cooped up together in a small space with little privacy for long periods of time. People ought to be getting busy somewhere, and yet it's never mentioned. There ought to be an open-secret place behind a bulkhead, or Grok makes extra money and/or favors renting out space in the storeroom ten minutes at a time while she takes care of something on the other side of the ship, or something. Instead, sex is never once acknowledged in the course of the adventure, which made it utterly unbelievable and oversanitized to me. My issue isn't 'Female PCs should be raped because that's realism'; it's 'PCs of all races and genders have sex drives that should be acknowledged, particularly when there's no closed doors at an inn that sort of thing could conceivably be taking place behind off-screen.'

Yes, but you're quickly going to run into problems with keeping it PG13, and edging into dealing with unwanted pregnancies, diseases etc. It's a lot easier to gloss over it and leave it to the GM to add if wanted.

On the harassing female PCs, I'd point out that there are powerful female officers, and I think them ignoring such behaviour would seriously undermine their authority. Plus there are lots of goddesses, including Besmara, and their clerics. I think the idea of a goddess ill-wishing you would give you major second thoughts about harassing anyone.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Anyway. Just because of this thread, I'm putting more GLBT characters into "Wrath of the Righteous."

Well everyone knows us demons are equal opportunity and we never discriminant. :)

Cheliax

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Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Joana wrote:
Game design doesn't make GMs sexist jerks; sexist jerk GMs will make sexist jerk rulings whether the campaign setting backs them up or not.

Quoted for truth.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

To add to Dark Mistress's and Joana's point, a skilled mature GM can raise the level of maturity and thoughtfulness of his or her campaign.

If the GM treats something seriously, anything really, more often than not the players will follow suit. If the GM makes light of it, the players will as well.

This is generalization of course, there are always determined lunkheads, be they Player or GM.


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Set wrote:

I amused myself with the observation that the four main Jade Regent NPCs (Ameiko, Shalelu, Sandru and Koya) included two hot babes, one hot-ish dude, and an old lady, and the old lady was the one that *didn't* get to serve as a potential romantic interest. What if my character was an older gent, like Ezren, or just a young man in need of some 'educatin' from an older woman?

Or maybe your character was just a big fan of Ben Franklin.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Late to the party, and I know this won't be a particularly insightful couple of comments, but nonetheless I gotta say:

1) Pathfinder is a fantasy game for me, and scantily-clad women with generous endowments have figured prominently in pretty much every fantasy I've had since age 13.

2) The women I've had the good fortune of playing with viewed it as fantasy as well - as such they were often more sexual, more sexually adventurous and more sexually aggressive, in games than they tended to be in their real lives, and enjoyed being viewed as sexually desirable in that context.

I've always been completely comfortable with double-standards between men and women because they are, at their core, intrinsically different. Equal in value in every way, certainly and without question, but no less inherently different in perspective and approach. The irony is, when we actually get out of the way of political-correctness nannying, the two distinct natures of men and women tend to compliment one another quite well.

I don't consider looking at a woman as a woman rather than as a gender-neutral thing in any way disrespectful or sexist - in fact, I find NOT doing so to be where the real disrespect comes in.

Qadira

We have a female player with an over sexualized male character that the party has titled "man whore" and made him a theme song.

Andoran

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I just noticed the transgendered char in the grey maidens article. Kudos. You really want to break new ground? PF novel with him/her as the main character.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Isn't the leader of the Qadiran faction also homosexual? Just saw a lot of canon lesbian relationships being mentioned and wanted to point out some of the male ones. Anyone else know of any?

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Coridan wrote:
I just noticed the transgendered char in the grey maidens article. Kudos. You really want to break new ground? PF novel with him/her as the main character.

With you there, love to see him/her get some screen time. I was actually thinking of using him somehow in my own game, the grey maidens were just too interesting to not explore more.


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doc the grey wrote:
With you there, love to see him/her get some screen time. I was actually thinking of using him somehow in my own game, the grey maidens were just too interesting to not explore more.

Pronoun Pro-Tip: Just use the current gender.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The description of the character used he throughout, despite him having already put on the girdle of opposite gender.


Evil Lincoln wrote:
doc the grey wrote:
With you there, love to see him/her get some screen time. I was actually thinking of using him somehow in my own game, the grey maidens were just too interesting to not explore more.
Pronoun Pro-Tip: Just use the current gender.

I have two transgender friends myself, and they've asked me to use the gender they are, not the one they were born with.

Sometimes I wish English was a gender neutral language like Finnish is. There's no distinct he or she, just one word for both.


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I've been following this thread from the start, and fascinatingly (or unfortunately) enough, I am now suffering the sort of abuse described in so many previous posts. But I'm a male playing a male character!

We started a campaign and the group needed a fighter, so I figured it would be fun to play a buffoonish character a la Othar Tryggvassen from the Girl Genius comic strips. So I boosted his CHA (all the way to 14) and made him a Cayden Cailean worshipper.

And apparently that was all the GM needed.

Every time I try to speak with a female NPC, the GM just says, "OK, you can sleep with her." Another player constantly drops denigrating comments about how many venereal diseases I must have, and how I know all about perversion. Another PC asks me why I'm such a 'man slut'.

Essentially, any and all roleplaying of my character is dead. As soon as I open my mouth, the GM simply throws multiple women at me and says, "They all want you. Take your pick," and the other players frown at me and cluck their tongues and make comments about what a horrible person I am.

Needless to say, I haven't slept with *anyone* in the entire campaign, but it doesn't help.

I'm sick to death of it already (only 5 or 6 sessions in), and I'm going to have a chat with the GM about how if that's how it's going to be, I'm going to have to change characters or drop out because the sessions have become nothing but irritating frustration for me.

But I have to say, I have new appreciation for the women who have posted here having to tolerate this far more often than I. (It's the first time I've suffered it in 36 years of gaming.) I'm ready to quit that campaign after only 2 months because it's so pervasive I feel I can't RP at all any more. Imagining it happening in almost every campaign you try to play in makes me sad.

Andoran

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Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Coridan wrote:
The description of the character used he throughout, despite him having already put on the girdle of opposite gender.

Yeah, as cool as that character is, I'm not sure he quite qualifies for the term "transgender" as it is usually meant, because there's no evidence he was suffering from gender dysphoria before he put the girdle on. This is another spot where fantasy games open up gender spaces that the real world has no need for - we have no means by which one could easily change sexes, nor any means by which the transition could be readily reversed, so we don't have a way to really discuss a gender space where "I'm totally cool with the sex I was born with but I find I enjoy life more as the other one" applies. It's certainly cool that he gives us some means to put TG issues out there, but we should be aware of the distinctions as well as the similarities.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Shisumo wrote:
Coridan wrote:
The description of the character used he throughout, despite him having already put on the girdle of opposite gender.
Yeah, as cool as that character is, I'm not sure he quite qualifies for the term "transgender" as it is usually meant, because there's no evidence he was suffering from gender dysphoria before he put the girdle on. This is another spot where fantasy games open up gender spaces that the real world has no need for - we have no means by which one could easily change sexes, nor any means by which the transition could be readily reversed, so we don't have a way to really discuss a gender space where "I'm totally cool with the sex I was born with but I find I enjoy life more as the other one" applies. It's certainly cool that he gives us some means to put TG issues out there, but we should be aware of the distinctions as well as the similarities.

It was a paragraph long description. In a world without advanced psychology and likely no concept of gender dysphoria for her to connect herself with doesnt mean she doesnt have it. I would question whether someone without gender dysphoria would really be comfortable with putting the girdle on to begin with, nevermind consider not going back.

That is arguing degree though, like sexual orientation, gender identity is a gradient not a toggle.

Edit: Adding this kind of depth to a character is something sorely needed from what I saw in the PF novels before I canceled.

Andoran

It is always a challenge to write for characters of a gender identification that you do not share or fully understand (I, for one, am forever mystified by the feminine mind). I think that Paizo does a good job portraying people of many different different gender roles very well and with considerable sensitivity. Sometimes, sex is a motivation or tool for characters, sometimes it is just part of their background. As long as they accomplish the purpose they were placed there for, I say it is all good.

Osirion

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Xuttah wrote:
It is always a challenge to write for characters of a gender identification that you do not share or fully understand (I, for one, am forever mystified by the feminine mind).

Nine times out of ten, if you just write a *person,* and leave any thought of gender out of the character's choices or behaviors, you'll do fine.

Men are not from Mars, and women are not from Venus. Differently shaped genitalia doesn't mean 'incomprehensibly alien mindset.' Too often, IMO, people use the ridiculously minor cultural differences between genders (or ethnicities, or politics, etc.) as an out to not even bother trying to understand each other.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Set wrote:
Men are not from Mars, and women are not from Venus.

Indeed; in actuality, men are from Akiton, and women are from Castrovel.


An anthropology teacher once told me that some cultures have 13 or more genders (with the two-ish "sexes" being only physical). I thought that was interesting.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It is important to note though that hormones, especially testosterone and estrogen, can have huge effects on ones attitudes and personality.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Coridan wrote:
It is important to note though that hormones, especially testosterone and estrogen, can have huge effects on ones attitudes and personality.

yes but we've all met tomboys and momma's boys which means that like many things these factors modulate so much from person to person that they cannot be used to separate any one group along those lines. Far better option is to just listen to the person and see how they want to be separated and go with that and design your character and fiddle with race, sex, and orientation last and use them as ways to nuance them rather then be all that their is about them.


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Or, borrowing from the rather brilliant RedLetterMedia review of the Star Wars prequels: "Describe the character without referring to their appearance or occupation!" Only here, substitute gender.

The worst examples of puerile, fun-undermining sexism generally result from characters who cannot be described as anything more than a manifestation of the author's perception of their gender. It offends me not because I have any empathy, but because it is just terrible writing!

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Evil Lincoln wrote:

Or, borrowing from the rather brilliant RedLetterMedia review of the Star Wars prequels: "Describe the character without referring to their appearance or occupation!" Only here, substitute gender.

The worst examples of puerile, fun-undermining sexism generally result from characters who cannot be described as anything more than a manifestation of the author's perception of their gender. It offends me not because I have any empathy, but because it is just terrible writing!

Exactly. It's why so many people get annoyed in comic books and television when they create token characters who exist soling to represent that group and are quite often written as side characters so that when people don't like them they can be removed which is treated as proof that they aren't compelling which is anything but the truth.

Part of the reason why I've loved how much diversity we get across the board with paizo, with things like mwangi and jatembe being large and important parts of the world and characters like the leader of qadira being openly homosexual adding far more to the richness of setting and allowing the people that share their roots with the cultures and people they emulate to feel represented.


But — and Paizo can accept this as a writing challenge if they like — can you describe that leader of Qadira without referring to his appearance, occupation, or sexuality? :)

I haven't read that one, so I'm honestly curious if they pass the test!

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Evil Lincoln wrote:

But — and Paizo can accept this as a writing challenge if they like — can you describe that leader of Qadira without referring to his appearance, occupation, or sexuality? :)

I haven't read that one, so I'm honestly curious if they pass the test!

Calculating, suave, confident. Every time I see stuff written about him he comes off as a man who is always 3 steps ahead of the rest of the group and knows it.

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