A Sound of Goblins

Thursday, March 27, 2014

When I was writing "Burnt Offerings," I was focused mostly on the daunting task of setting up an adventure that would not only present goblins as monsters you love to hate, but also to launch an entire new product line. I was focused on how to make the adventure simultaneously introduce the world to a new world while at the same time feeling old-school enough that it felt nostalgic and familiar and comfortable. I wanted readers of the first Adventure Path installment to enjoy the innovations, but to feel more than ever that this was the same game they've enjoyed playing for years.

I think it's fair to say that I never really stopped to think what the characters sounded like, or how a 50 page adventure could translate into an hour long audio drama.

When we sealed the deal with Big Finish to produce Rise of the Runelords as a full cast audio adventure, though, those were among the many questions we had to answer. We worked closely with Big Finish from the start on both determining what iconics should be featured in the story and what parts of the adventure needed to be represented in the hour-long running time for each installment.

Choosing the characters, in retrospect, was relatively easy. The important NPCs would be determined by what parts of the adventure we chose to adapt, so it came down to the PCs as the main choices we had to make early on—we knew we wanted four adventurers, since that's the basic assumption we make for the game... but which four? In the end, we knew that just as the visuals of all our iconics are so distinctive, we needed the voices to be distinctive as well. The first-time listener needed to be able to tell the four heroes apart just by listening to their voices. Furthermore, we wanted to choose the four iconic heroes from those who were actually featured on the covers of Rise of the Runelords. Harsk and Ezren made a lot of sense, because their voices—an old man's and a gruff dwarf's—were so distinctive. Valeros was an obvious choice since he was the first iconic we'd illustrated he's as close as we have to a "main character" among all the iconics. And that was it for the initial party—but we needed one more. I pushed hard for Merisiel, and not only because she's my favorite iconic—she's also an elf AND a female character, two elements that were missing from the current lineup.


Ezren

Download the sample! (147 KB MP3/zip)


Harsk

Download the sample! (143 KB MP3/zip)


Merisiel

Download the sample! (123 KB MP3/zip)


Valeros

Download the sample! (143 KB MP3/zip)

That DOES leave the heroes without a dedicated healer in the group... but fortunately, when you get to control all aspects of the story and don't have to worry about dice and chance throwing curve balls at you, you can write the story so that the lack of a healer isn't an issue.

And that brings us to the second part of the question—how do you condense an adventure that can provide for hours and hours of game play over the course of several days of gaming sessions into a single hour?

And it's here that Big Finish's writers stepped up big time. For each installment, the authors write out a brief outline of what elements they want to focus on, and then we at Paizo would go over the outlines and approve some elements and make suggestions for others. Deciding what parts of the adventure are important to cover and what parts are not made for some tough choices—the reduction of Nualia's henchmen in number or the entire catacombs of wrath would have been great to hear, but the storyline works without them as well. Once we approve the outline, then the next step is for us to approve the full script—we'd go through page by page, giving feedback from "Harsk is spitting too much" to "Ameiko wouldn't say that," and much more... and once that stage was done, the task of actually recording the dialogue came next.


Ameiko Kaijitsu

Download the sample! (86 KB MP3/zip)


Nualia

Download the sample! (135 KB MP3/zip)

The final step—approving the final recording—was the most fun though. It's pretty cool to sit in your office at work, listening to goblins run amok!


Goblin

Download the sample! (180 KB MP3/zip)

James Jacobs
Creative Director

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Adventure Path Pathfinder Legends Rise of the Runelords

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wow, definitely not what I was expecting for Merisiel. I like it though.


Would have preferred Kyra over Karsk for that classic quartet of party roles, but I don't blame anyone for wanting to fill the dwarf quota. Everyone sounds very true to their characters, especially Valeros.

EDIT: D'oh, I wrote Karsk instead of Harsk because that's the name of the dwarf PC in my own RotR campaign.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

The actor portraying Harsk does a fantastic job. My second favorite after Ezren!

Silver Crusade

Hm. I always thought the goblins sounded more like Beavis and Butthead. I guess I was wrong.

Everyone is fantastic, obviously.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I love how Val has an American accent - he is a good ol' Andoren boy, after all.

I always pegged him to sound more like Jack Burton though ;)


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Well, Merisial and the goblin have deeper voices than I expected.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I expected goblins to be a bit squeakier, and faster spoken. The iconics are really good!

Sovereign Court

There was a story around the Web about Ice T reading a part of a D&D audio book. Would this be the book and one of the parts not showcased here as a sample?

Liberty's Edge

Its only 10 bucks for an hour? That price seems a bit steep to me.

Grand Lodge

So its basically a book on "tape" for burnt offerings from what I'm hearing?

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
fine_young_misanthrope wrote:
Its only 10 bucks for an hour? That price seems a bit steep to me.

If it were only one reader, I'd be inclined to agree, but remember, there are at least 4 readers that need to get paid. and it's not just a reading; you have sound effects and background noise happening through most of it, so the sound mixer/production team had lots more to do

Paizo Employee CEO

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Dragon Prime wrote:
So its basically a book on "tape" for burnt offerings from what I'm hearing?

It is so much more than that. Saying that Pathfinder Legends is like a book on tape for Burnt Offerings would be like saying that the TV show "Walking Dead" is a book on TV reading of the comic book. Or that HBO's Game of Thrones is a reading of the George RR Martin books.

What Big Finish is doing is creating a dramatization of Burnt Offerings, with a totally unique script with dialogue and sound effects. In many ways, it would be the exact same process that a studio would use to adapt Burnt Offerings to television or film. A script is written. Actors are cast. There is a director and editor. The only thing that is missing would be the visual elements. Everything else from a TV show or movie is there. In spades.

-Lisa

Webstore Gninja Minion

King of Leon's Taldor wrote:
There was a story around the Web about Ice T reading a part of a D&D audio book. Would this be the book and one of the parts not showcased here as a sample?

This is not that.

Grand Lodge

I listened to the samples and am quite impressed. How long can I resist?


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Huh, Ameiko sounds nothing like I thought she might. Also, is it actually pronounced "Ah-mee-ko?" I've always pronounced it "A-may-ee-ko" because in Japanese "e" is pronounced closer to an "ae" sound.

I'm also curious, are these from the final cut of the radio play, or are they test recordings or the like?


I ... think I am not going to listen to those samples. The NPCs in RotRL have personalities, histories, and voices unique to my group. I don't think I really want to hear somebody else's idea of what they sound like.


The Lost Coast goblins sounding like that makes the little buggers a lot creepier. I find that sort of voice coming out something only three feet tall to be jarring. Which is fine, because experiencing goblins should be jarring.

Paizo Employee CEO

Kaushal Avan Spellfire wrote:
I'm also curious, are these from the final cut of the radio play, or are they test recordings or the like?

I'm pretty sure that these were the samples sent to us for approval. Not sure if they are used in the final product, but they give a good idea of what things sound like.

-Lisa

Paizo Employee Developer

I don't think they're the final recordings because the pronunciation of "Cayden Cailean" changed from this sample to the one on the CD. There also aren't background effects in these samples, where they are present in the final release.


They all sound like they live in the US to me, plus a couple vaguely british. (except the goblin of course.) Ah, well, I guess hiring people that actually live in different countries would be hard to do.


Guang wrote:
They all sound like they live in the US to me, plus a couple vaguely british. (except the goblin of course.) Ah, well, I guess hiring people that actually live in different countries would be hard to do.

All the actors live in the UK. As do the production company.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Cpt_kirstov wrote:
fine_young_misanthrope wrote:
Its only 10 bucks for an hour? That price seems a bit steep to me.
If it were only one reader, I'd be inclined to agree, but remember, there are at least 4 readers that need to get paid. and it's not just a reading; you have sound effects and background noise happening through most of it, so the sound mixer/production team had lots more to do

There are close to a dozen voice actors in each installment.


Bob790 wrote:
Guang wrote:
They all sound like they live in the US to me, plus a couple vaguely british. (except the goblin of course.) Ah, well, I guess hiring people that actually live in different countries would be hard to do.
All the actors live in the UK. As do the production company.

My bad. Haven't lived in the western hemisphere for a very long time. My point was, they don't sound like people I meet all the time from all over the world, they sound like people whose ancestors might have come from other places, but who are now acculturated.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Guang wrote:
...they sound like people whose ancestors might have come from other places, but who are now acculturated.

That's what we were shooting for! We provided Big Finish with descriptions of the accents we wanted for each of the characters, based on where they're from and how well they are likely to have assimilated accents from living in other places. Take the three members of the Kaijitsu family: Ameiko, her brother Tsuto, and their father Lonjiku. Each has an accent appropriate for their Tian heritage, with Ameiko having adapted more readily to her current surroundings than her more traditional father.


Vic Wertz wrote:
Guang wrote:
...they sound like people whose ancestors might have come from other places, but who are now acculturated.
That's what we were shooting for! We provided Big Finish with descriptions of the accents we wanted for each of the characters, based on where they're from and how well they are likely to have assimilated accents from living in other places. Take the three members of the Kaijitsu family: Ameiko, her brother Tsuto, and their father Lonjiku. Each has an accent appropriate for their Tian heritage, with Ameiko having adapted more readily to her current surroundings than her more traditional father.

That's......pretty impressive. Any chance of being able to see some of those descriptions?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Though we had a lot of discussion, in the end we boiled things down to pretty simple terms for Big Finish. For example, we instructed them that "east Asia" would be appropriate for Tian accents, and Ameiko should have less of a Tian accent than her father.

Sometimes we would give them specific examples:
Hemlock (Shoanti): Deep-voiced, deliberate. Think Tony Todd, Michael Dorn

My favorite line from our notes:
Harsk (Dwarf): Gruff, terse, drop G’s at end of “ing” words, NOT SCOTTISH

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