The Last Pathfinder's Journal

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The year was 2007. The Dungeon and Dragon magazine license had just ended, and all of us in the Editorial Pit were sweating bullets over this new baby called Pathfinder Adventure Path—a baby that was going to need to grow up and get a job quick so that we could all keep paying rent. The first volume had already been put to bed, and we were trying to figure out what to do going forward with this section we'd put in the back called the Pathfinder's Journal. The first volume had featured an overview of the Pathfinder Society, written by Erik Mona, but now we were thinking about Ed Greenwood's old Volo's Guides and wondering if maybe this section could be a chance for us to introduce some fun first-person, journal-style adventure fiction to help show off our new campaign setting. We had a half-empty map of Varisia, a handful of proper nouns, and a couple of characters name-dropped in the first article—Pathfinder Eando Kline and Venture-Captain Shevala. What more did we need?

Since we were short on time, Jason Bulmahn and I wrote the second and third entries simultaneously. I'd published a few short stories other places, but I was still nervous as I turned mine in—a story called "Hand of the Handless," set in a mostly unknown little city called Kaer Maga. A few days later, Wes Schneider and James Jacobs took me aside and told me that not only were they cool with my story, they were putting me in charge of the section. From that moment forward, I'd be the steward of the continuing adventures of Eando Kline, hiring the best authors I could find and helping them showcase the world of Golarion. I was twenty-three years old.


Illustration by Jason Engle

Over the next seven years, the Pathfinder's Journal and I grew together. Somewhere around the start of Curse of the Crimson Throne, we realized that Eando's adventures ought to have a point, and the grand arc we crafted took three whole adventure paths to complete. This odyssey was eventually compiled as The Compass Stone, and from there we gave Eando his well-deserved rest (or rebellion) and moved on to having authors write entire six-part novellas in each AP, including folks like Dave Gross, Elaine Cunningham, Wes Schneider, and more. A few years ago, as my job responsibilities started to include more and more management, I handed the journal off to Senior Editor Chris Carey and Developer Adam Daigle, who took the torch and ran with it.

I can't explain how important the journal has been to us, and especially to me. It was the constant process of developing—and often writing—chapters of those early journals that eventually convinced me I might have what it took to write a novel, and I know I wasn't the only one that learned from it. The Pathfinder Tales novel line grew directly out of the success of the journal, and it's no surprise that many authors—and even characters like Dave Gross's Varian and Radovan—leapt straight from journal to novels, with great aplomb.Yet probably the biggest impact the journal had was on the setting. In those early days, we were still building the Inner Sea region with every story, and tons of iconic characters and locations first saw the light of day there. It's where we learned about bloatmages and orc warbeasts, where we met Shoanti burn riders and Urglin gladiators and heard a serpentfolk's telepathic speech in our heads.

And now, almost a decade later, we're bringing it to a close. Starting with Pathfinder Adventure Path #115, the first of the Ironfang Invasion volumes, we'll be retiring the Pathfinder's Journal. (Fun fact: We were actually going to retire the section half a year earlier, then realized we'd be kicking ourselves forever if we didn't take the chance to let six different authors write six Lovecraftian stories!) The reasons for retirement are many, but in the end, it comes down to the fact that we just don't need it anymore. The journal was always about seeing Golarion through the eyes of its residents, rather than the omniscient overview of a GM. Today, we have the Pathfinder Tales novel line, with far more space in which to bring you the best stories, the most vibrant character, and the most detailed locations. It's the Pathfinder's Journal all grown up.

So what's going to be taking the Journal's place? In short: more! More and longer backmatter articles! Longer adventures! More monsters! More of all the material Pathfinder Adventure Path already provides to help you run your game. It's not my place to spoil what Crystal's got in store for you, but from what I've overheard the developers giggling about, it's going to be awesome. And for those readers who miss the fiction—come on over to the Pathfinder Tales section and let us hook you up.

Thanks to everyone who's read the journal all these years. We wouldn't be who we are without it—and without all of you.

James L. Sutter
Creative Director

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Tags: Jason Engle Pathfinder Adventure Path Pathfinder Tales
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Silver Crusade

10 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Finally! :))))

Shadow Lodge

10 people marked this as a favorite.

I would still like to see a compilation or two collecting all the Pathfinder journals from the APs and the Wednesday web series shorts.

Silver Crusade

8 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

;_;

The stories...

Scarab Sages

10 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm with Rysky. I understand the removal, but I really loved the fiction.

This, along with the death of the web fiction, makes me sad. I thought the short fiction was a great place to explore niche areas of the setting, not to mention give budding authors a chance to spread their wings.

I know TOR is going strong with the Tales line, I just hope a place for short stories in Golarion (and/or a Starfinder tales type venture) develops to fill the gap.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Very disapointing

Silver Crusade

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

... Starfinder's Journal?


I look forward to seeing what comes next.

As long as it isn't Downer.

Grand Lodge

Add me to the list bemoaning the death of this and the web fiction. Understand the stated reasoning, but think it is a large loss to the product.

Shadow Lodge

Belabras wrote:
This, along with the death of the web fiction, makes me sad. I thought the short fiction was a great place to explore niche areas of the setting, not to mention give budding authors a chance to spread their wings.

The short story collection books for Warhammer and the Forgotten Realms were some of my favorites. I just don't want to collect all the old AP's or a bunch of ebooks to get them all. A nice annual of short stories mixed into the Tales line would be awesome.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I agree a fond farewell, but acknowledgement that the need in the APs isn't there now that the novel lines are so well established.

I think my favourite are the ones in Giantslayer, but there a lot of good ones over the years. Good call on keeping it until the end of Strange Aeons, I figure if you didn't you probably wouldn't hear the end of it from your authors who you didn't let write a Mythos story.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I agree it was time...but what about ePubs of the previous Journals?


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Gorbacz wrote:
Finally! :))))

Indeed! I'm honestly quite surprised that they lasted as long as they did. I loved the journals in the early years, but I looked at them less and less as time has passed. Now, I don't even glance at them.

I think this is good news, and I can't wait to see what Paizo does with the extra pages.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

That is a great article so don't take this the wrong way, but I'm glad the fiction is out. I will always vote for more game material.

Liberty's Edge

Sad.

Note that you can find some fan-written short fiction at Pathfinder Chronicler. Their website has a TERRIBLE color scheme -- dark grey on black. I've pointed some people to stories there, and those people have immediately rejected the site because the color choices make it unreadable.

But, if you buy the compilations (strictly speaking, give a donation in exchange for the compilations), which in years past you could do at PaizoCon, or if you can (somehow) stomach the dark-grey-on-black website, or if you're savvy enough to replace the CSS into a reasonable color scheme, some of the stories there are pretty good.

(I've also told the folks running the desk at PaizoCon every year they've been there how troublesome their color scheme is, but alas nothing ever happened from my feedback.)

Paizo Employee Developer

7 people marked this as a favorite.

I too am sad to see the fiction go, both because it means 6 pages of extra work for me to do on a monthly basis, but also because it was one of the elements of Pathfinder that first hooked me as a fan. Back when I was just "superfan" Yoda8myhead, I even made my own lulu.com compilation of all of Eando Kline's adventures so I could more easily read them on my daily commute (see this blog post from 2009 for pictures)—my first foray into publishing.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
the Queen's Raven wrote:
I would still like to see a compilation or two collecting all the Pathfinder journals from the APs and the Wednesday web series shorts.

Same, I'm not gonna go and grab all of the adventure paths just for the stories, but a collection of the journals would be badass.

Grand Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

End of an era.

It is sad that I will never again experience an adventure and realize I read about the events being referenced in it back in AP #X.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Rysky wrote:

;_;

The stories...

*pats Rysky on the shoulder* I know. But we'll still have the memories...

Liberty's Edge

Lots of the earlier ones did get collected, and you can buy them as epubs. I think they stopped doing it after Shattered Star, however. (At least, last time I checked.)

See http://paizo.com/pathfinder/tales/shorts

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32

Eando Kline was what sold me on Pathfinder. I dug the adventures, but reading about Eando and his adventures really cemented the world as a real place in my imagination. I will miss this section, but I completely understand the need for the additional space.

Plus, I can now look forward to Starfinder's Eando Kline in SPAAAACE stories!


Sad to hear it go.

I remember being so bummed when Dungeon and Dragon were being cancelled, especially after the awesomeness of the Age of Worms and Savage Tide. When Paizo went on their own, I thought it would go the way of all the OGL spinoffs. Instead they made something great and it kept getting better.

I've never been so pleased to have been wrong.

Creative Director, Starfinder Team

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Moreland wrote:
I too am sad to see the fiction go, both because it means 6 pages of extra work for me to do on a monthly basis, but also because it was one of the elements of Pathfinder that first hooked me as a fan. Back when I was just "superfan" Yoda8myhead, I even made my own lulu.com compilation of all of Eando Kline's adventures so I could more easily read them on my daily commute (see this blog post from 2009 for pictures)—my first foray into publishing.

Oh man, blast from the past! Mark handing me that little book was one of my most memorable fan interactions, as it was the closest I'd ever been at the time to holding a novel I'd written.

Fun fact: For several years after, my author photo was that picture with Death's Heretic photoshopped in over the cover. :D

Paizo Employee Community & Digital Content Director

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Ross Byers wrote:
I agree it was time...but what about ePubs of the previous Journals?

In the backlog, and hopefully moving up list of priorities soon :)

Creative Director, Starfinder Team

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Also, thank you to everyone posting their fond memories of the journal! This sort of thing is always bittersweet, but I promise that it's helping make way for brand new awesomeness.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Chris Lambertz wrote:
Ross Byers wrote:
I agree it was time...but what about ePubs of the previous Journals?
In the backlog, and hopefully moving up list of priorities soon :)

Yay!

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm glad the fiction is gone. Without a metaplot I didn't care about it at all. I feelbthe same way about Golarion in general tbh


Belabras wrote:

I'm with Rysky. I understand the removal, but I really loved the fiction.

This, along with the death of the web fiction, makes me sad. I thought the short fiction was a great place to explore niche areas of the setting, not to mention give budding authors a chance to spread their wings.

I know TOR is going strong with the Tales line, I just hope a place for short stories in Golarion (and/or a Starfinder tales type venture) develops to fill the gap.

This. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of more/longer/better backmatter articles! But the Journals and other works of short fiction really brought the APs to life.

Even the few paragraphs of in-world fiction at the beginning of the chapters in the hardcovers really get me stoked up for what's inside. For example, the interaction between Sajan and Seelah in Chapter 1 of Horror Adventures made me really keen to know What Happens Next?!?!?. The importance of even the shortest bits of fiction should never be undervalued.

Dark Archive

I don't like it.
There is nothing to replace this, no place for new writers to get into Pathfinder.
The web fiction stories were great and i wish these stories and the Journals would be collected into physical books.

But i guess this is not possible with TOR Books having the exclusive rights now.

I hope this doesn't signal the end for the Pathfinder Tales.

Creative Director, Starfinder Team

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Amanda Plageman wrote:


Even the few paragraphs of in-world fiction at the beginning of the chapters in the hardcovers really get me stoked up for what's inside. For example, the interaction between Sajan and Seelah in Chapter 1 of Horror Adventures made me really keen to know What Happens Next?!?!?. The importance of even the shortest bits of fiction should never be undervalued.

Thank you! I've written those little chapter opener bits for almost all the hardcovers, and I've really enjoyed developing the iconics' personalities through them. So much good-natured snark. :D


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ayronis wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Finally! :))))

Indeed! I'm honestly quite surprised that they lasted as long as they did. I loved the journals in the early years, but I looked at them less and less as time has passed. Now, I don't even glance at them.

I think this is good news, and I can't wait to see what Paizo does with the extra pages.

Agreed on all counts.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
James Sutter wrote:


Thank you! I've written those little chapter opener bits for almost all the hardcovers, and I've really enjoyed developing the iconics' personalities through them. So much good-natured snark. :D

Ah! Then it's your fault that I spewed tea out of my nose!

Chap 3 Intro:
When Amiri told Alain that she would track him down and eat him herself. I regularly threaten to eat my players when they get rowdy.

Great(ly twisted) minds think alike!


I think I read one, the one in the first part of Iron Gods, and a bit of one that had bloatmages. I read the odd story on the blog, maybe one had an eidolon in it? They were each ok, standard fantasy fare, at times quite good. But even when I bought Dragon back in the day, though some were quite interesting or diverting or intriguing, they weren't what I bought the magazine for.

The removal of short fiction to make way for more game-related content is a plus as far as I'm concerned. Much like Coridan, I'm not invested in Golarian in the slightest, so there is less of a wrench there.

Bring on the new format!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I am very sad. The journal from rise of the runelords was what inspired me to start Game Mastering, in 3.5, then shortly switched to pathfinder. of the aps I have, the journal was what invested me in the APs. it's hard to explain, but I saw the short fiction as a statement. I saw it as an example. "There might be game rules, but in the end, you can throw them out as long as they seem as cool as the stories." they also felt like a treat for the game master. "hey, you just spent the better part of your day reading headache inducing stat blocks and numbers and encounter areas. Here is a nice, rules-free fiction to allow your mind to rest."

not saying that pathfinder's rule system is bad, I just describe myself as chaotic in real life. so reading stat block after stat block leaves my mind tired.

the fiction gave me time to decompress all the numbers in my head.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Cards, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber

For me this is sad news. I remember thumbing through Burnt offerings and the Skinsaw murders in my local game store and purchasing them. I didn't want to read the adventures because a friend was going to be running them. But I did read the installments of Eando Kline's journal and it made the setting come alive for me.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I honestly will not miss it in the least. A long overdue change, IMO. I think it was easily the least beloved section of PF AP. It was very rare that I bothered to read it at all.

I know this will make some readers unhappy, but c'est la vie.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I haven't ever been a particularly avid reader of that section, and I think that the novel line offers better scope for fiction.

One suggestion, though- perhaps a Pathfinder Tales collection of short stories might be in order?

Whenever I DID read the fiction,I was gratified that I could keep pace without sinking my life into a full-length novel.

Community Manager

9 people marked this as a favorite.
Cole Deschain wrote:

One suggestion, though- perhaps a Pathfinder Tales collection of short stories might be in order?

Whenever I DID read the fiction,I was gratified that I could keep pace without sinking my life into a full-length novel.

An anthology, perhaps?

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Gorbacz wrote:
Finally! :))))

I with Gorbacz here, I have been wanting this to happen for a long time. There is a place for the Short Stories but it was never the APs.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'd buy an anthology of Pathfinder short stories in a heartbeat. You could title it, say, "Glaives Against Gloom" ;-)


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

My issue with the fiction was...each chapter of the multi-volume stories was so short that I seldom could ever remember and keep track of the characters in the wait for the next volume (especially if volumes were delayed as sometimes happened.

So I am actually kind of glad that we are losing the fiction for more backmatter, since it's more material I am likely to read. As long as designing those extra pages are not too much extra work for the folks developing stuff!

Grand Lodge

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Honestly, the fiction was the first thing I read in each volume. I skipped right past the AP to avoid spoiling it for whenever I got to play it. Finding out what happened next in the fiction was a huge draw for the first couple years.

Liberty's Edge

MMCJawa wrote:
My issue with the fiction was...each chapter of the multi-volume stories was so short that I seldom could ever remember and keep track of the characters in the wait for the next volume (especially if volumes were delayed as sometimes happened.

For this reason, I would mostly wait until I had the whole AP before reading the whole thing in one go.

Of course, I'm a latecomer... I only started getting the APs with Shattered Star. (I now have picked up some of the earlier ones.) As such, I ended up reading the earlier AP stories from the $4.99 (or whatever) epubs that Paizo sells.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm not going to miss this at all; I haven't read the vast majority of the fiction, nor do I particularly care to. Having 6 extra pages of game-relevant material is a plus in my book, especially if it also helps expand the setting (like another gazetteer, or allowing existing support articles to be more in-depth).


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm glad that the fiction is moving out of the AP product line, but that's solely because I think it's been a little too broad. It will be good to see more gaming material and that you'll have a little more flexibility in regard to adventure length.

Hopefully, the new-format PF Tales do really well and we can start to see them come out monthly so that we don't actually lose out on any fiction. :)

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

When RotRL first came out, I really liked the Eando Kline story. For the first 18 issues, it was the first thing I read whenever I got my copy. I was bummed when Eando's story arc came to a close. I think I only read the AP fiction in a couple issues after that. I just didn't care for the stories or characters.

At this point, it's time for the fiction to go. As others have said, I do kinda dislike the fact that the web fiction has also been discontinued. It's hard for me to dig into a novel these days (work, kids, adulting, etc.; I'm too tired to read much).

I'm looking forward to seeing what you guys do with a few extra pages!

-Skeld

Paizo Employee Developer

6 people marked this as a favorite.

While the end to the Pathfinder's Journal is somewhat bittersweet, I'm kinda happy that I get to close it out with the final fiction piece in the last volume of Strange Aeons (which I'm finishing up this very evening... which is already late. *Bad freelancer, bad!*).


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Tales Subscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Honestly, the fiction was the first thing I read in each volume. I skipped right past the AP to avoid spoiling it for whenever I got to play it. Finding out what happened next in the fiction was a huge draw for the first couple years.

This is pretty much my experience. I would wait until all 6 issues were out and then read them all at once.

I will miss these.

One thing no one's mentioned is that I found it appealing that the fiction, short as it may have been, helped flesh out a small piece of Golarion (obviously loosely tied to the AP's locales). It acted as a backdrop to get you interested in the corner of the world the AP played out in.

Sovereign Court

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I always enjoyed the fiction.

I much prefer having the short fiction (web fiction and AP fiction) to Pathfinder Tales because it was a different scale of fiction that was fun to read in an evening.

The Tales line occupies a different headspace.

I would totally subscribe to a PF monthly/weekly short fiction line, even if it was online or pdf only (the kind of thing I see on some Patreon things).


GeraintElberion wrote:
I would totally subscribe to a PF monthly/weekly short fiction line, even if it was online or pdf only (the kind of thing I see on some Patreon things).

I also would subscribe to that.

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