Of the many pleasant surprises we at Paizo have run into since Pathfinder's inception, one of the biggest remains the popularity of our iconic characters. Perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised—after all, when Wayne Reynolds is doing the art, it's hard to not fall in love with whoever's getting painted. But when you get right down to it, the iconics were created to be tools. (And one might argue that some of them still are—we're looking at you, Alain!) The whole reason for their existence was to keep us from having to explain to each new artist what made a ranger a ranger and a rogue a rogue—we could just hold up Merisiel and say "draw her." But people started asking questions about the backstories, and before long we were writing Meet the Iconics blogs and seeding little bits of iconic fiction in the hardcover chapter introductions. Yet we held off on doing more, always feeling like the time wasn't yet right.
Then came Pathfinder comics. Before the contract with Dynamite even hit the table, we knew that we'd found our chance to bring the iconics to life. With Jim Zub as our writer, we knew the iconics were in good hands, and it was a thrill to sit back for a change and watch them go.
But we still had far more iconics than just that core team, and after several story arcs, we really wanted to tell more tales from the main series characters' early lives. So Erik Mona came up with the idea of Pathfinder Origins, a place for us to explore how our heroes got to be who and where they are, as well as introduce some of our other favorite iconics. With Jim busy on other projects, it was up to three of us Paizo staffers—Publisher Erik Mona, Editor-in-Chief F. Wesley Schneider, and Executive Editor James L. Sutter—to chart the course.
Since Erik's already spoken at length about the first issue, we brought in Wes and James to talk about issues two and three, both available now!
Pathfinder Origins #2
I think it's no secret that getting to write for comics is something of a dream come true for all three of us. While we'd all written our share of art orders, to be able to see an entire story come to life in the hands of a talented artist is a special kind of thrill, and it still hasn't worn off. (As everyone who sits near me in the office can attest, I still can't help but crack up every time I look at Vint the ratfolk from issue #2.)
For me, there was never any question of which characters I most wanted to write—a Kyra and Seelah team-up was simply too good to pass up, for a number of reasons. It's well established that I like writing about religion in Pathfinder, and here was an opportunity to show interactions between two characters of different good-aligned faiths. I wanted to show that paladins don't have to be gruff hard-liners or sticks-in-the-mud, and to explore that interplay between righteousness and redemption. And most of all, I wanted a cover that was two badass women-of-color warriors in sensible armor—which Stjepan Sejic (of Rat Queens, Witchblade, and more) delivered and then some.
Many thanks to everyone who's already picked up the issue (and double thanks to anyone who's reviewed it!). I can't wait to come back and show you all issue #4, in which the torturers of Nidal learn why locking up Merisiel causes more problems than it solves...
Pathfinder Origins #3
Seoni got short shrift. Being the second character to get a Meet the Iconics blog in Pathfinder's earliest days, her write-up lacks much of the in-world detail of those that came later. While we got a bit more on Seoni's background in scattered pre-generated character write-ups and in the NPC Codex, details on her remained pretty thin for a long time. That changed a bit with issue 5 of Pathfinder Dark Waters Rising. In there, Jim Zub presented a grim flashback to Seoni's youth—the manifestation of her magic, getting her tattoos, and interactions with other Varisians. It was more than we'd seen before, but also raised several even more tantalizing questions.
Hazy details weren't the only complexity we had with Seoni, though. Over the years, we heavily detailed the Varisian people and their culture—Seoni's culture. Gradually, a bit of a gulf formed between Seoni's appearance and what we'd defined as the Varisians' traditional look. So what's the deal?
Then, atop that heap of quandaries, there was the ever-popular question: Why's Seoni dress like that?
Mysterious history, atypical appearance, distinctive dress—oh, and did I mention she's lawful neutral too? Despite being one of our most popular iconics, Seoni sure seemed to present more questions than answers. So, when the chance to work on the Pathfinder Origins series came up, I knew I wanted a crack at figuring some of those mysteries out!
As a result, Pathfinder Origins #3 reveals more about Seoni than we've ever seen before. Want to know about her life exploring Varisia? There's a good bit of that. Want to know about her family? Turns out Seoni looks a lot like her mom and has a little brother. How'd she wind up with her robes? Well, they didn't look like that to begin with. What's the real story with her tattoos? That's exactly what she's trying to find out.
For all the details about Seoni's past, though, the real story's about her early days learning what it means to be an adventurer and a leader. She's not taking the easy road either, navigating the rigid city of Korvosa, dealing with Hellknights, and reawaking ancient Thassilonian magic. Fortunately, in the course of things, she learns something her magic's really good for and that her strength comes from more than just slinging spells. The comic presents the perfect medium not just to show off more of Varisia, but also to highlight Seoni's personal brand of explosive problem solving. Overall, I think folks are really going to dig learning about one of Pathfinder's most dynamic characters, while still wanting to know more about the leader of the iconic team.
Oh, and my personal favorite iconic, Seltyiel, shows up. I figured that if we're showing some skin, we'd better make sure there's something for everyone.
F. Wesley Scheider
There's still time to get in on the action! Be sure to pick up the first three issues of Pathfinder Origins, available right here on paizo.com or in comic shops everywhere. Also, check out the awesome Paizo Exclusive covers for issues Origins #1: Valeros, Origins #2: Kyra, and Origins #3: Seoni, only available here on paizo.com!