The second issue of Pathfinder Hollow Mountain just debuted, bringing along with it an unsettling revelation. As it turns out, Seoni, Valeros, Kyra, Merisiel, and Ezren aren't the only adventurers exploring Thassilon's ruins. Demons and undead, deadly traps and lethal magic fill the ancient halls of Hollow Mountain, but those threats pale in comparison to four of Pathfinder's most unscrupulous iconics: Meligaster, Damiel, Oloch, and—of course, my personal favorite—Seltyiel.
In outlining the Hollow Mountain comic series, Erik Mona, James Sutter, and I all had preferences on which issues we wanted to write. Dividing things evenly, we knew we each had two parts to play with. Erik had great ideas for the densest, most dungeony meat of the story, while Sutter wanted the bookends. As for me, I wanted the issues with the bad guys.
As you can see from the cover, Hollow Mountain #2 reveals that the iconic heroes aren't alone in the dungeon. Fresh from their faceoff in Pathfinder Origins #3, Seoni and Seltyiel butt heads again, now as leaders as their respective adventuring parties. To his side, Seltyiel's recruited several of Pathfinder's most morally flexible iconic characters, leading them in a quest for gold and glory—but mostly gold.
Talking brass stats, though: we've known for a long time that Seltyiel's not a nice dude—past character sheets clearly note his lawful evil alignment. Clearly greed, charm, and great fashion sense go a long way when it comes to being an able member of any adventuring group. Seltyiel's the organizing force behind these rival adventurers, but he doesn't have any illusions about his team's loyalty: they don't work for him, but rather for a promised payday. It's not secret that Seltyiel's my favorite of the iconics, so I'm absolutely loving getting another opportunity to give him a voice—especially the smirking, sarcastic one I always imagine him having.
By the same sinister token, Meligaster is chaotic evil. As a manipulator, he's climbing his way to the top on the backs and shoulders of enemies and allies alike. And what his ambition won't win him, his mesmerist powers will. At his heart, I think Meligaster's a coward, but unfortunately for everyone around him he's trained his entire life (and his considerable occult powers) to assure that no one ever finds that out.
Damiel's an interesting case, as he's chaotic neutral. He's brilliant, but also arrogant, utterly self-serving, and not interested in making friends. Damiel brings his mastery of alchemy into Hollow Mountain, curious about what ancient insights and strange reagents it might hold. Despite not being evil, though, he might be the most calculating and inhuman (in-elven?) of the explorers. This makes him a fascinating character to write, as what he's feeling never enters into his motivations.
Lastly, there's Oloch, another chaotic neutral character. With his battle fervor and devotion to Gorum, though, actual Pathfinder players might find him the most relatable member of Seltyiel's team. He's along for the treasure, sure, but there's also glory and adventure to be had, placing him staunchly on the line between brutal foe and potential ally. We've all had a lot of fun with Oloch, and the Star Trek fans among us have had to be careful not to write him too "Klingon."
As the shadows of Seoni and her team, Seltyiel and his troupe are every bit as clever and driven. Hollow Mountain #2 kicks off the two groups' clash, a rivalry running the rest of the series and that promises to leave our heroes wondering what's worse: an ancient wizard's deathtrap dungeon or other adventurers.
If you're like me and always find yourself rooting for the bad guys, you're going to dig the newest, nefarious issue of Hollow Mountain. Pick it up right here at paizo.com or at your favorite place to buy comics!
F. Wesley Schneider
P.S. Have you SEEN issue #2's special edition, movie poster cover? Seltyiel Bowie is pretty much the best thing ever! :D