To the Society’s Success in 2018!
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
When we thought of the topic of today's blog, we intended it to cover a variety of topics. But as we started writing, there were so many fantastic scenarios to highlight that the words just kept coming. So instead of splitting focus, I'll save my words for next week and turn the keyboard to Organized Play Lead Developer John Compton, as he summarizes the highlights from our 2018 Society products. To all our players worldwide, thank you for making our communities vibrant places of play. Cheers and Happy Holidays!
2018 brought a lot of change, and with change comes a lot of work. Thankfully we expanded the organized play team further this year, bringing on board Michael Sayre to develop Pathfinder Society scenarios and power us into Season 10's exciting stories. This has allowed the team as a whole to meet the demand for more Starfinder Society content (increasing our publication rate to two per month), create four Pathfinder Playtest scenarios, develop playtest surveys, and shape the future of Pathfinder Society as a campaign. Starfinder Society wouldn't be what it is without Thurston Hillman's creativity and long hours. All the while, Linda Zayas-Palmer has handled so many scenarios while simultaneously taking the lead on Pathfinder Adventure Card Guild adventures.
It's probably because of all of this new activity and new content that 2018's seemed so long! Let's see some of the highlights!
First off, we had Pathfinder Society's the Season of Faction's Favor to wrap up, and that meant delivering scenarios that addressed ongoing faction storylines in big ways. The Liberty's Edge faction launched a daring raid into Galt as the Exchange flexed its economic muscles at long last to crush an unjust operation in the Mwangi Expanse. The Dark Archive dug into the foundational lore of the Blakros Museum, one of the campaign's oldest touchstones, as the Silver Crusade returned from Heaven (no biggie) in time to crush a fiendish invasion. The newly incorporated Concordance faction's hit the ground running by shutting down extraplanar rifts and cosmic anomalies, and the Scarab Sages have settled on their laurels for the time being after 2017's powerful capstone scenario.
The Sovereign Court had a big payoff in major crossover event with the War for the Crown Adventure Path, culminating in an opportunity to play out one of our most dramatic scenes of the year from multiple perspectives. But perhaps most notably of all, the Society at last tracked down several of its oldest foes, defeating them decisively in the name of the Grand Lodge and Pathfinder Society. There's so much going on that it's hard to really focus any one Season 9 scenario, so follow the links and dig in for a wonderful experience.
Season 10 kicked off in style, and the team's been relishing the opportunity to revisit some of the favorite storylines and characters. Far and away, one of the most dramatic must be Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-09: The Rasping Rebirth by Cole Kronewitter, which not only addresses what the state of the Worldwound is since Season 5, but it also allows the PCs to confront one of the campaign's greatest villains as players have been requesting since, oh, the third scenario I ever developed. We've worked to make choices matter in scenarios, and Cole delivered a scenario that includes one of my absolute favorite and powerful choices in the whole campaign.
This has also been a year for exploring hitherto untouched realms, made all the more possible by Mike Sayre's personal expertise. This really came through in Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-03: Death on the Ice by Scott Young, taking us far north into the Crown of the World to resolve a dangerous issue resulting from bad translations—remember to put a few ranks in Linguistics!
But it's hard to overshadow the season's interactive special debut. Veteran author Mike Kimmel stepped up to deliver one of the sharpest specials yet with Pathfinder Society Special #10-00: The Hao Jin Cataclysm. It kicked off the latest troubles in the Hao Jin Tapestry demiplane with style, allowing us to revisit so many old plot threads in compelling vignettes that collectively told a much bigger story. It benefited all the more from Linda taking the role of development lead and bringing a fresh perspective to interactive specials that made this adventure's energy all the greater.
Ah, did someone say multi-table interactive specials? Starfinder Society—driven largely by the development talents of Thurston Hillman—marked another milestone in the young-yet-acclaimed campaign by launching its first large-scale event, Starfinder Society Special #1-99: The Scoured Stars Invasion by Mikko Kallio. The Scoured Stars even has claimed the center stage in the ongoing Starfinder Society narrative, and Mikko not only gave us one heck of a space opera confrontation but also did so in a way that kept transitions smooth by introducing new opportunities as the House did well, creating an experience in which the players (not the scenario) really controlled the pacing.
When I think of influential scenarios, though, there are some absolute rock stars—literally. Since she wrote the very first Starfinder Society scenario, Eleanor Ferron's had the players demanding more of the in-world pop band Strawberry Machine Cake, and she delivered a spiritual sequel with Starfinder Society Scenario #1-14: Star Sugar Heartlove. I think it's really illustrative of the wonderful real-world tropes we get to play with in Starfinder, and Thursty and I often throw scenario ideas at each that seem like satirical jokes, only to realize that they're perfect for the setting and a few stat blocks away from becoming fan-favorite adventures. The ever-handsome Vossi is truly the mascot of this potential as he stars in Starfinder Society Scenario #1-15: Save the Renkrodas by Vanessa Hoskins, who brought this delightful "Save the Whales" concept to life. Likewise, it seems everyone's trying to be a celebrity after the reality tv show antics of Starfinder Society Scenario #1-09: Live Exploration Extreme!
But you know what might just win for the most influential scenario of 2018? Which one inspired the cries of "where can I find a mini for this" followed by a hundred epiphanies of "I'll make my own and bring it to PaizoCon"? It's the same scenario that brought us the blubbery majesty of morlamaws, often remembered as "those psychedelic walruses." That's right, it's Starfinder Society Scenario #1-08: Sanctuary of Drowned Delights by Kate Baker.
We focus a lot on the authors and stories when we tell these stories, yet we'd be remiss if we overlooked the artists who illustrate our favorite villains, heroes, beasts, and scallywags—and the graphic designers who make our scenarios so beautiful. Senior graphic designer Emily Crowell has led the charge in evolving Pathfinder Society's look and layout, creating so many pregenerated character and Chronicle sheet variants as we've continually tinkered with their design. Her work makes me excited about the Second Edition and the ways in which we can streamline our tracking sheets and make our pregenerated characters more intuitive.
As for illustrators, I've included some of our favorite pieces from the year. I also want to call attention to Graey Erb for his extraordinary work in breathing life into many of our most iconic creatures and characters. Most noteworthy among these is the jinsul, the arch-nemesis of the Starfinder Society during Season 1. Thursty and I came up with a basic visual concept for the jinsuls, all the while praying that our art brief would translate well into the final image, and we were blown away by result. I'm also appreciative of how senior graphic designer Adam Vick has strengthened our campaign's visual continuity by having the same illustrator depict multiple facets of a planet, species, or society. In this way Graey's really made jinsuls his own unrighteous terrors.
Learn about him and our other talented illustrators in our preview blogs (we make a point to credit them), follow them on social media, support their work, and let them know you appreciate their illustrations in the latest scenarios!
It's been a great year, and we're looking ahead to a wonderful 2019!
Organized Play Lead Developer
Join us next week for the first Society blog of 2019, which brings our next round of kudos.
Until next time -Explore, Report, Cooperate!
Organized Play Manager