This afternoon we're taking a break from our regularly scheduled Web Fiction, "The Gem" to have author Gary Kloster talk about the elements that were brought to life in our latest Pathfinder Tales release, Firesoul. "The Gem" will return with it's third installment next Wednesday!
I always have trouble answering questions like that. The problem is that I'm pretty chaotic neutral when putting together a new project. I start out with a mess of random ideas, plot, and characters, churning around in my head until it all clots into something that vaguely resembles a story. Then I get to spend a lot of quality time with a word processor prettying things up. So I'm going to pretend that I'm really a lawful good book planner, and slap a false veneer of organization over my chaos with the classic five question approach: who, what, where, why, and how.
What class should my protagonist be? I wanted this story to be rooted in a place, with a main character that had a strong connection to that place. A druid fit that well. And druid happens to be the class of the first character that I ever role played, which means I have a huge soft spot for them.
Where, in all of Golarion, should this story take place? The Mwangi Expanse. I wanted someplace rich in history, cultures, and nature. And I wanted a place that I haven't seen a lot of yet in Pathfinder fiction, especially from the viewpoint of the people who live there. Also, just to be honest, there are dinosaurs in the Expanse. And dinosaurs are awesome.
Who should the story be about? Like I said, I wanted someone with a strong connection to the place she is from. But I didn't want that connection to be easy. Jiri Maju, the young woman who is the heart of Firesoul, comes from a part of the Mwangi that bears a curse. Fire burns hotter and more eagerly there than it should. That curse runs through Jiri, and is a part of her gift for bargaining with the nature spirits that share their magic with her. Some of those spirits, the ones that burn hot and bright and dangerous, have always been too eager to serve her. Especially when she loses her grip on her emotions.
Why does the story begin? What happens when a group of adventurers find the Pyre, the hidden ruin that lies beyond Jiri's village of Thirty Trees? What happens when they ignore the warnings and break into that ruin and release something terrible that had been imprisoned there long ago? For the adventurers, the answer is simple—they grab the loot they came for and run. This place isn't anywhere they care about.
But it's Jiri's home.
How does it all end? Well that's the plot, and I don't want to give too much of that away. So instead, I'm going to talk about how I tried to prepare for writing this story, which, as usual involved a lot of reading. There was the background information, of course. Besides the Inner Sea World Guide, I drew from the Heart of the Jungle source book and the Serpent's Skull Adventure Path. For setting details, there was a lot of googling about jungles, along with questioning friends of mine who had lived or grown up in Africa and southeast Asia. Finally, I read books like Ocatavia Butler's Wild Seed, and Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death, hoping that a little of their talent would rub off on me.
Despite the chaos of its beginnings, I really like how Jiri and her story finally came together. There's discovery, meaning, and growth—and monsters, magic, blood-drinking spears, and snark.
Oh, and of course there are dinosaurs too.
Pathfinder Tales Author