The Fabled Appendix – Sean K Reynolds (Part 1)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sean K Reynolds: Developer, diehard miniatures painter, and resident "gods guy" of the Paizo offices. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with both Sean and Managing Editor F. Wesley Schneider about the sources of inspiration they would include in Paizo's own Appendix N. Switching things up a bit, this week we've got Part 1 of Sean's interview, with more from Wes next week. As would be expected from a game designer who worked at TSR during the era of 2nd edition, Sean's influences stretch back to the earliest roots of the hobby.

David: I understand that you are pretty well known as the go-to guy when it comes to writing about the deities of Greyhawk, the Forgotten Realms, and Golarion. What sparked this interest?

Sean: I got into D&D by playing the basic boxed set with my Dad and then later with my cousin. What really got me hooked was when, at the library, I picked up a book of Greek mythology, D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths, which talked about the gods, the births and deaths of heroes, and how the gods made the greatest heroes into constellations. Reading this, I realized that these characters—even the gods—had personalities and agendas, just like actual people. Later, I got a similar book about Norse mythology, D'Aulaire's Norse Gods & Giants (now retitled as D'Aulaire's Book of Norse Myths), which was even better than the Greeks' because they all wore heavy armor, the gods themselves fought the crazy monsters, and they even had a prophecy about the end of the world. This is probably how I became the "gods guy" of D&D, because these books laid the foundation for my interest in the apocalypse and the gods.

I remember playing in Monte Cook's Praemal campaign—the precursor to Ptolus—where the characters were the 3rd generation of humans to be on the planet, still dealing with the very real influence of the gods and the forces of creation. We even found gigantic handprints in the walls of a canyon from a battle between the gods. I found the combination of creation and destruction very appealing.

David: You started full-time in the RPG industry with Greyhawk, correct?

Sean:Right. My first Greyhawk sourcebook was about The Scarlet Brotherhood, who had always been very mysterious even from the days when Gary Gygax was doing all the writing for the published setting. My sourcebook was the first time anyone had really talked in depth about their society from their perspective. I worked with Erik on the project. One of the daunting but fun things about it was that there was an entire continent—Hepmonaland—that was entirely unexplored in game books; it was barely visible on the Oerth map and nobody really knew what was going on there. Erik and I were both familiar with really old adventures like The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, so we knew that there were Aztec-like people running around. We pieced together little bits of information and then had to make it our own. That was part of the product design philosophy at the time: we'd publish the basics for your campaign and give you a lot of room to create your own material, fill in the blanks, and make connections between various plot hooks. This was very different from my later work on the Forgotten Realms, because books for that line are more about giving people everything they need to run a campaign without having build up anything on their own.

This concludes Part 1 of my interview with Sean K Reynolds. Tune in next time for his comparison of Golarion's gods with the deities of Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms, and his list of some of the works that most influenced his game design.

David Eitelbach
Editorial Intern

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Appendix N Interviews Sean K Reynolds
Sign in to start a discussion.