The August release of the Skull & Shackles set of Pathfinder Battles prepainted fantasy miniatures is only a couple of months away. WizKids has delivered final production samples of all 55 figures in the set, and it's pretty amazing how they continue to raise the bar on sculpting and painting with each Pathfinder Battles release. It's always amazing to see creatures and characters we created in our minds finally taking form as three-dimensional full-color objects we can hold in our hands. I often consider it one of my greatest powers as a publisher, in fact, and this week's preview fittingly covers four figures that probably would never have existed if it wasn't for yours truly, even if I did not directly invent any of them.
Let me explain.
The devil-binding empire of Cheliax, a major nation in the Golarion campaign setting of the Pathfinder RPG, has a long and storied history that predates the founding of Paizo Publishing and the creation of Gen Con.
It all started more than 20 years ago, when my folks took me and my brother on a special vacation to see the Final Four NCAA tournament being hosted that year in Seattle. It was my first trip to the city, and as far as the basketball, the museums, and the monorails were concerned, it was a highly enjoyable trip for the whole family, and Seattle was a great city (little did I know then that I would end up living here a couple of decades later).
The problems started after the tournament, when my father had to stick around for some business meetings in the city while my mom took me, my brother, and my grandmother to a timeshare unit in a lakeside resort community called Lake Chelan to spend our final week in Washington state in a gorgeous, rustic stay in a tourist-oriented town filled with lake activities, waterslides, and other fun attractions. The only trouble was that we arrived in late March, whereas all of the town's fun activities were scheduled for the summer tourist season.
We arrived to find the lake mostly drained, the "resort" part of our accommodations flooded, all of the waterslides closed, and even the local bowling alley booked solid for the high school "bowling unit" (!!!). For a little kid of 13 years, that immediately qualified the trip for "WORST EVER" status, and it soon became a legend in our family, a source of laughs years later but something that actively and truly sucked for every hour during which it was actually taking place in what seemed like slow motion.
The word "Chelan" soon became synonymous with the depths of evil in my teenage mind, and as I moved on to college in the early 90s, I'd taken to using Chelan as the name of the evil kingdom in most of my fantasy fiction. By the time I moved to Seattle in 1999, I realized that everyone in my new home knew Chelan as a classy resort destination, and since they didn't share my teenage loathing for it, it just stuck out, like calling a kingdom Bellevue or Redmond or something. It didn't work.
But man, I still hated Chelan, and wanted to continue my literary revenge upon it. When it came time to design an evil kingdom for what would become the Pathfinder Campaign Setting, I decided to incorporate much of the creative work I'd done on Chelan, only I decided this time to mask it a little more with a slightly modified name: Cheliax.
So yes, I'm afraid Chelaix is all my fault, at least in concept. Others took the concepts I laid down and added significantly to them (especially Wes Schneider, the demented mind behind the Hellknights). One of the great things about being in on the creation of a huge part of the campaign setting is seeing where others have taken "my" original ideas. Cheliax has come a huge distance from my freshman year scribblings, and every time I see some new bit of development for it, I can't help but feel like a proud parent.
And the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path gave me plenty of reasons to play the proud papa, as Cheliax plays heavily in the background of the campaign and in its resolution.
Today I present three miniatures associated with the Chelish faction, intended to help you stage epic Skull & Shackles encounters but usable in any fantasy RPG. I didn't create any of these characters, but I was responsible for a big part of their background and I'm ultimately the one who decided to include them in the set. This close to Father's Day, I'll call that close enough and declare them my twisted progeny by proxy.
Up first we have the leader of the Skull & Shackles Chelaxians, the insidious Admiral Thrune! This diabolical naval "hero" and her crew play a huge role in the campaign's endgame, and her heavy mace, crossbow, and noble costume make her an ’interesting choice for a player character, as well. But in the campaign, I'm afraid you're going to have to fight her. And her companions, too! This medium figure is slated at the uncommon rarity.
Here we have one of Admiral Thrune's most trusted allies, the Scourge Hellknight Paralictor! This fully armored female polearm master Hellknight does everything in her power to protect the leadership of House Thrune, including pole-axing your player characters in twain. The medium figure is also uncommon, and while she is the first Hellknight we've produced in the Pathfinder Battles line and the only one in this set, it's fair to say she'll soon get a fair amount of company from others in her order…
A navy needs officers, of course, and the Skull & Shackles set is ready to deliver in the form of this figure, the Chelish Marine. His smart uniform matches that of his admiral, making them look great together. Because you'll probably want more than a single crewman, we've slated this medium figure at the common rarity.
And that's not all for this week! Last week I accidentally previewed only two figures, so I've decided to make up the difference by revealing what is probably my personal favorite figure in the entire set. Open your eyes, me hearties, and behold the SEAWEED SIREN!
The hideous creature is a CR 13 Large magical beast that inhabits islands and coastal regions, luring sailors with its three false heads. These bad boys (or girls, I suppose) have a host of cool powers, from a gaze attack to a curse power to bolts of sonic energy. Mostly, I just thought it looked amazingly cool. Even though the Seaweed Siren does not technically appear as a monster in the six adventures of the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path, its game statistics do appear in the Bestiary section of Pathfinder Adventure Path #60, technically making it qualify for inclusion in this set. And really, I just love the way it looks, so I used a rare bit of publisher fiat to include it in the set simply because I wanted it.
So blame me. Indirectly speaking, all four figures this week are my fault!
That's it for this week. Tune in to this space next week for a big announcement and an even larger preview of figures… from something other than the Skull & Shackles set. What? A NEW set of Pathfinder Battles minis? Whatever could it be?
Well, come back next week, and I'll tell you.
In the meantime, don't forget to set up an ongoing Pathfinder Battles subscription to make sure you don't miss a single figure!
Erik Mona Publisher