This past year has been a wild ride. As a look back on the year, I wanted to use this space to let the Paizo editorial team (developers, designers, editors, and art team) share some of our favorite things that we made or did during 2018. When asking the team for contributions to the blog, I received so many that we're going to break this blog into two parts, with the second part dropping next Friday.
Thanks to Sonja and Emily on the art team for selecting the accompanying art, and thanks to all of you out there that have supported us in our endeavors. Happy Holidays!
James Jacobs (Pathfinder Creative Director)
It's been a strange year, with the Pathfinder Playtest causing all sorts of excitement and shenanigans both in and out of the office. And while there's a lot of amazing products coming soon (the ones I'm most excited about haven't even been announced yet, and I'm plenty excited about the ones we HAVE announced!), it's comforting to know that the more things change, the more things stay the same. The thing I'm the most proud about this year that I've done for Paizo is the Sandpoint, Light of the Lost Coast book. My original outline for this book was having trouble getting in everything I wanted to say in 320 pages, and in a weird way shrinking it down to 96 pages helped me focus on the heart of the content (while simultaneously keeping a big chunk of it on the proverbial back burner, hopefully, for something in the future!) and get it done in time to be one of the final 1st edition products. Of course, the bulk of the book's information is just as viable in 2nd edition or whatever version of whatever RPG you prefer to run your adventures in! It's actually kinda tough for me to pick my favorite part of my favorite book of the year. Between things like the Shroud and the Red Bishop and Kanker and new art of Ameiko and that rhyme about the Mutterer and so much more, though, my favorite is the amazing piece of art by Roberto Pitturru who opens up the book—a beautiful shot of the town of Sandpoint itself! Thankfully it wasn't a shot of the city on one of its many foggy days!
Ron Lundeen (Developer)
So much for my first year! It's gone by in a whirlwind of encounter design, art ordering, math balancing, and world building. My favorite work, by far, is adventure development for the Tyrant's Grasp Adventure Path. I love sending out the first edition with a bang! I wrote the first adventure for Tyrant's Grasp and turned it in to Crystal early in 2018, without realizing that developing it would be the last thing Crystal did before she departed and handed the rest of the AP over to me. She'd left me with her carefully structured outline and some absolutely stellar freelance authors, whose work I've been delighted to develop these past couple of months. And I get to share it with you all in the new year!
Jason Tondro (Editor)
This has been a big year for me. I only arrived at Paizo in March, when the whole editorial team was working overtime to get the playtest rules, bestiary, and adventure out to all of you in time for Gen Con. Holding those books in my hand was an incredible feeling. But since then, I've also written 60,000 words for Paizo in my night job as a freelancer! I started by writing Assault on the Crucible, the climax of the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path, and have also contributed articles and monsters to the back matter of Starfinder Adventure Paths, written an organized play adventure, and contributed to several other projects that haven't even been announced yet. And I've got even bigger stuff in the works! So as exciting as this year has been, I have to admit that 2019 is looking even better, as all the stuff I've been writing this year finally gets out into the world where all of you can play it. Happy holidays, everyone.
Owen K.C. Stephens (Starfinder Design Lead)
This was an amazing year for me professionally, with so many things I could pick as a favorite. Starfinder turned a year old, and we launched our first class playtest for it. My first Adventure Path adventure, Empire of Bones was released. I got kanabo into Alien Archive 2. In most years, any one of those things could easily rank as my favorite. But this year, they all fall short of my very favorite thing.
They're in Starfinder Armory, on page 127. I didn't write them, develop them, or edit them.
But I invented the idea.
At my Into the Emerald Star Spire events at PaizoCon in 2017, before the Starfinder Core Rulebook was released, I was converting Pathfinder rules to Starfinder on-the-fly as I ran the game. I needed to replace some scrolls with something, and I wanted it to be more interesting than just spell gems. I knew I wanted it to be something that screamed "science-fantasy," something you'd never run into in a standard fantasy game or pure science-fiction setting. But as the players got the cache, I still hadn't decided what to use. I opened my mouth, prepared to just give them one-shot spell gems.
"They're grenades of wonder," I said, much to my own surprise.
One-shot rod of wonder effects, I explained. Totally random. Illegal on many worlds. Pull the pin, throw, and no telling what'll happen.
The players loved them.
When I told the story to then-Creative Director James Sutter, he loved them. When I later told the new Creative Director, Robert G. McCreary, he loved them.
So they were added to the Armory outline. And I managed to avoid having anything to do with them, so when the wonder grenades came out in the print book, they got to be new to me all over again.
And that's my favorite thing of the year.
Mark Seifter (Designer)
This year was all about Pathfinder 2nd Edition for me. It was exhilarating, terrifying, gratifying, an entire whirlwind of emotions to create this new game, working not only with the design team and the rest of the creative staff at Paizo but also with thousands of fans through the open playtest. The game has improved by leaps and bounds thanks to the dedication and keen insight of our playtesters and our many sleepless nights and weekends of hard work.
Logan Bonner (Designer)
Oh, man. What a year! Early in the year, we were sending the first step toward a new edition to the printer, and that was somehow the easy part! Once the Pathfinder Playtest came out, we got to see all sorts of opinions and data, positive and negative. And getting to watch so many people play the same adventure was so rewarding! This year has been all about collecting fan impressions and surveys, putting together streams so you could watch us play the Playtest, and doing demos at conventions. It's a lot of playtesting in a relatively short time—including actual, difficult stress testing—and we appreciate every one of you for taking the ride along with us. Everything we learned goes into a set of changes that's going to make the final game incredible. We're implementing changes as big as altering the whole proficiency system to making minor tweaks to the prestidigitation spell, all due to what you out there (and those of us in the office) found as you played and read the book.
My first personal highlight for the year was seeing data from surveys. We rarely get a chance to see how people are actually playing at home. Being able to see what people thought separated out from the noise of a messageboard conversation is something we haven't really had for previous playtests. Putting the surveys together took a lot of work, but has paid off.
My second personal highlight was going to PaizoCon UK in Birmingham. What a delightful, welcoming group of people and a fun convention! I had so many great conversations and played and ran delightful games.
Things haven't slowed down around the office, and we're hard at work polishing the final version of the game. We, and Pathfinder 2nd edition, will see you next year!
Lyz Lydell (Editor)
In 2018, I wrote my first Pathfinder Society Scenario, and it was a pretty big undertaking: resolving the metaplot for a longstanding and complicated faction leader in a Tier 7-11 scenario! Pathfinder Society Scenario 9-20: Fury of the Final Blade released right before PaizoCon. One night at the con, I happened across a table of GMs playing it and stopped by to watch for a while—without telling them I had written it. It let me see folks who have tons of experience with Pathfinder Society interact with the challenges and opponents I had built, and I was able to see them respond in a totally genuine way. Seeing their reactions when a certain monster showed up was absolutely priceless! I paraphrase: "Whaaaaaaaat!?" But even better was the next morning, when several of them came to find me—having learned that the quiet observer was actually the author—and let me know how much they had enjoyed the whole thing. I never thought I'd see people engaging with things I created like this, and knowing I've made a few lasting marks on Golarion.
Stephen Radney-MacFarland (Senior Designer)
It's been a whirlwind of a year. Not only did the Pathfinder Playtest see the light of day and created a ton of feedback (and even more work), this year saw the launch of the Flip-Tiles products. This is a project I had wanted to do for a few years now, and in short order, we saw three base sets and a couple of expansion, which much, much more to come. Then there was and my contribution to the Starfinder Dead Suns Adventure Path, The Thirteenth Gate, which I'm happy to hear folks are enjoying. In between, I worked seven conventions, ran more games of Pathfinder Playtest than I can remember, did a whole bunch of podcasts, and ran a session of the Pathfinder Playtest over at Penny Arcade for their Club PA members. That one was particularly enjoyable, as I reskinned the Beginner Box adventure (swapping goblins with kobolds and the black dragon with a red one) and ran the entire adventure in a little over four hours. Not bad considering one player had never played an RPG before and none of the other players had much Pathfinder experience. On a more personal note, my lovely girlfriend, Beth, bought me a special birthday present this year: Wayne Reynold's original art for the background cover of my Hell's Vengeance Adventure Path volume, For Queen & Empire. All in all, a pretty good year. Yep. Pretty, pretty good.
Patrick Renie (Developer)
One of my favorite parts of being a Pathfinder developer is writing requests for new art assets. Devising the physical details of an NPC or new monster, working with our talented art staff, and seeing what our amazing artists come up with never gets old. The art that comes in is inevitably even better than I could envision, and these illustrations really add another dimension to the stories we write for the Pathfinder world. Sometimes the art we receive is so vividly and imaginatively rendered that we rewrite whole chunks of the subject in question to better suit the art (rather than asking the artist to adjust the art to match the text). It's a uniquely synergistic craft that's as much a challenge as a joy to take part in.
Eleanor Ferron (Developer)
Ever since I started working at Paizo in January of this year, Luis and I have had the bittersweet honor of developing the final Pathfinder 1e Campaign Settings and Player Companions, doing our best to give the edition the best sendoff we could. It was a fun, if challenging, exercise to ensure every book would have fresh and exciting material for both players and GMs, and I'm hoping they will inspire fun new characters and campaigns going forward. But the things I am proudest of have to go to Starfinder, where I not only got to write the showstopper Starfinder Scenario #1-14: Star Sugar Heartlove!!! but also my very first adventure path volume, Starfinder Adventure Path #8: Escape from the Prison Moon.
John Compton (Organized Play Lead Developer)
Although I've had an active hand in developing slightly fewer scenarios as the organized play team expands, I've had a blast working on a bunch of these. One that really captured my imagination was Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-08: The Cost of Prestige by Matt Duval, which is a deep dive into Hell's politics and the city of Dis. Showing that the outer planes—including the evil-aligned ones—are functional albeit dangerous societies is really fun for me, and Matt did a great job with this one. Just be warned that it runs pretty long.
From a personal perspective, I got to write a lot of really fun material this year. Although I really enjoyed my Faiths of Golarion contribution and will cover a favorite scenario in a blog later this month, I want to highlight Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Distant Realms, a book I pitched in early 2017 to highlight extraplanar "landing cities" from which to launch adventures. Although Thurston Hillman and I each wrote our own entries (Shadow Absalom and Yulgamot respectively), it's the Maelstrom archipelago of Basrakal that really highlights the fun we have when collaborating directly. And if you like what we create together, get excited for 2019's Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Druma, Profit and Prophecy!
Joe Pasini (Developer)
2018 has been a heck* of a year! (*That's all I'm allowed to call it.)
First, it saw the release of the first major projects I worked on as a Starfinder developer:
- Starfinder Armory! I especially enjoyed ordering art for the keytar (check out the band sticker).
- Alien Archive 2: I got to write a bunch of fun stuff for this (pahtra and vlaka and [uplifted bears], oh my!) and develop even more.
Second, the majority of my attention and effort this year went into work that won't be out in the world until next year.
- The Starfinder Beginner Box was a massive effort that nearly consumed me whole. The result is a box full of goodies that I hope will be a great way for folks new to Starfinder—and those new to tabletop roleplaying games—to see what all the fuss is about.
- I had the privilege to work with a number of talented people on [unannounced product], and even got to make my own contribution. I'm excited for this to be known to the wider world—mostly so I can brag on the aforementioned talented people.
- I wrote my first character class, the vanguard (available for playtest through January 16th [my birthday week]!). Lucky for all of us, the inimitable Owen K.C. Stephens developed it into something, you know, playable.
- I wrote my first Starfinder Adventure Path volume, Starfinder Adventure Path #15: Sun Divers. I work with prolific, creative people who seem to author several of these a year, but for an average Joe like me, this was no mean feat! Eternal gratitude to Chris Sims for developing the adventure, which must've been at least as harrowing as writing it.