There are certain figures within fantasy tales that are immediately recognizable or familiar when they appear in a scene. Wizards... dragons... elves...
Ask most people to describe a dwarf and they'll likely touch on many similar points: short, gruff, warriors, lovers of gold, gems, and frothy mugs of ale. We see this time and again throughout books, movies, and video games. It's an iconic image, and it might be easy to leave it at that since it's such a familiar representation—as well as one many have come to love.
But just as with a true dwarven city, those surface level identifiers conceal many hidden depths. With Forge of Ashes, I wanted to be true to particular iconic elements while also delving beyond the "typical" and providing greater insight into unique parts of dwarven lore, culture, and passion. Yes, there are still aspects that make dwarves... well... dwarves! Their earthen origins. Their predilection for mining and turning the stones themselves into grand works of art that are equally fantastic and functional. The beards.
But what I love about the world of Golarion and Pathfinder itself is the emphasis on diversity. There's the recognition that even while certain races or species might share baseline characteristics there's going to be infinite opportunity for variety among them. Yes, dwarves can be warriors. But they can also be scholars and artists, commoners and royalty, priests and scoundrels. They can be courageous... brash... broken... greedy... selfless...
The central figure of Forge of Ashes, Akina, holds a questioning perspective about her kin and her place among them. After years fighting abroad, she's lost her way somewhat and is coming home to try and regain a sense of self and purpose (though that hardly goes as well as planned). So her interaction with dwarven culture and environs is both familiar and yet an exploration in itself. That was part of why I had immense fun writing Forge of Ashes! It was an opportunity to go deeper, both literally and figuratively.
Beyond the focus on dwarves, Forge of Ashes held many delights for me as an author. The chance to venture into the Darklands and bring its many strange denizens to life was a great creative challenge and adventure in itself. I loved getting to peek into the enigmatic nature of the dark stalker, Izthuri, and her people, as well as the maddening chaos found within a derro warren. There's a unique discourse with a roper that... well, let's just say it boggled my brain to write. And even the infamous rust monster has a small-yet-vital role in certain scenes!
So, join me in an adventure full of monsters, magic, and mayhem. Where some things are immediately recognizable but then quickly take a turn to devious and deadly ends. It's time to discover deeper levels of dwarven identity...
... and deeper levels of the Darklands, where someone or something is always waiting around the next tunnel corner—most likely to eat you!
Pathfinder Tales Author
Josh Vogt's debut Pathfinder Tales novel, Forge of Ashes, just released and is available from paizo.com now!