With year-end fast approaching, I enjoy taking a moment to reflect on everything that happened the prior year and put some broad strokes in place for the future. It doesn’t feel like twelve months since we did the last review, but you know the saying – “Time flies when you’re having fun!” This time around, I asked the other Organized Play team members to give their thoughts as well. You can find their musings a bit further down the page. Thurston Hillman, Starfinder Society Developer, didn’t send me one, so the next time you see him, be sure to ask about his 2019!
For me, this was the third year of major program releases. In 2017, we spun up Starfinder Society. Besides ramping up Starfinder Society to full production in 2018, we launched the Pathfinder Playtest, which had some significant Society components, and gathered information about the status of Organized Play and opinions of our community. The launch of Pathfinder (second edition) in 2019 involved a complete reboot of the Pathfinder Society, including some new programs, as well as a major shake-up in our team membership. As far as 2020, I look forward to a year of settling in and polishing our processes.
We still have wrinkles to work out with several of the program changes, but I’m confident we can get to where we need to be. Every day brings new challenges and experiences, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Four and one-third years in, I’m happy to be working with one of the best team in Paizo and can’t wait to see what 2020 brings!
Next week, we will have our first “Spotlights, Stars, and Cons” blog of 2020! Tune in to see what our community’s been up to in December and our plans for 2020!
Organized Play Manager
From Linda —
2019 was a big year for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Society (formerly known as the Pathfinder Adventure Card Guild). After plenty of play experience and fan feedback, the designers of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game came out with a revised Core Set, as well as an expansion for the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path. These new boxes come with detailed stories and plenty of customization, from ways to alter the difficulty of scenarios to a full-on custom adventure builder. And as the organized play team looked what the new set had to offer, we looked for ways that we could expand our offerings. We realized—Pathfinder Society and Starfinder Society have a tradition of creating ways for players to receive organized play credit for Paizo’s other adventures, so why not the Pathfinder Adventure Card Society as well? So we opened these rules up to organized play, including the custom adventure builder. We’ve also started looking at releasing more short adventures, like the Season of the Kobolds that came out at PaizoCon, and the multi-tiered standalone adventure A Night at Blackthorne Manor that will be coming out next month. In terms of the main storyline, we closed out the Year of Tapestry’s Tides at PaizoCon and then launched the Year of Rotting Ruin at Gen Con. Tapestry’s Tides started with the PCs as vanguards in the RPG/card game crossover special The Hao Jin Cataclysm; that is, until the PCs got pulled into a dangerous pocket dimension.
One of the best parts about working on stories for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Society is that it’s so much easier to take the adventure into perilous or wacky locations. If you (hypothetically) want to offer your players a chance to set aside their better judgement and provoke the wrath of a kaiju, you can. And that’s not even the most over-the-top part of the season. Tapestry’s Tides was also a great chance to delve into more Tian Xia lore, traveling to multiple locations that haven’t appeared in a previous Paizo adventure. And when Tapestry’s Tides came to a close, we decided to run with a massive story hook left in Tyrant’s Grasp, where that Adventure Path’s PCs travel elsewhere and Pathfinder agents are among the heroes to battle the terrors left behind in the undead-blighted Gravelands.
On the Pathfinder Society side, my favorite projects that I’ve worked on are the twin finales to the Pathfinder Society campaign in Pathfinder First Edition: The Passing the Torch series for Tier 12-18 (Part 1: Who Wears the Mask and Part 2: Who Speaks for the Ten) and the Tier 5–16 interactive special #10-98: Siege of Gallowspire. I’ve been invested in the First Edition Pathfinder Society campaign since Season 2, and it was a privilege to shape these capstone stories. We got the chance to pay off plots years in the making. These scenarios are stories of destruction and renewal, of meaningful choices. They gave us a chance to try out new ideas that really only work in a campaign with the weight of years behind it, from super-high level adventuring to mechanics that allow multiple PCs per player to work together against overwhelming odds.
I could ramble on for a while about how excited I am about Pathfinder Society in Second Edition, and about the Plans™ we’ve got cooking for Starfinder Society, but I should leave that to other folks to keep this blog to a somewhat reasonable length. Before I go though, I’d like to acknowledge the person who has been a bedrock member of the Organized Play team for years, and who moved over to the Starfinder team after Gen Con: John Compton. John has played a pivotal role in many of the improvements that you’ve seen in our organized play campaigns in recent years. He taught me how to be a developer and prepared me to take over as Organized Play Lead Developer when he left. Though he has flown away to the stars, I’m confident that our team will continue to flourish, and I’m excited to show you what we have in store for 2020!
Organized Play Lead Developer
Michael’s musings —
Is 2019 really over? I feel like it’s mostly just a blur of text and art orders with the occasional packed convention breaking things up! With rolling out a new edition and overhauling just about every aspect of the Pathfinder Society campaign this year we’ve been up to our elbows in development and meetings. Despite (because?) of all that, it was a really good year and I’m happy about a lot of what we’ve accomplished. If you’ve been following our Pathfinder Society quests and scenarios, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve been constantly responding to the input from all of our GMs and volunteer coordinators out there to introduce new convenience tools and refine the tools we’ve been using. We’ve got a detailed list of where the treasures are hidden for the GM to make sure players are getting everything they’ve earned, new appendices to speed up encounter running, checkpoints sprinkled throughout the adventures to remind GMs of when they should be giving out Hero Points, and at least half a dozen other things that aren’t leaping to my mind right now in these final minutes before I head out for a very long weekend.
It’s been my privilege to see the PF2 adventures that authors new and old have brought to life based on the outlines put together by this amazing organized play team, including some personal favorites like our new org play developer James Case’s Port Peril Pub Crawl and editor Leo Glass’s Unforgiving Fire, both of which are part of our new monthly quest line. I got to see an NPC I helped shepherd into existence when I first started at Paizo take center stage when Dolok Darkfur (who first debuted in Scourge of the Farheavens by Jason Owen Black) appeared in our web fiction story Far From Heaven. I got to introduce the whole world to my good friend Fumbus. I’m realizing as I go through this list that I’m not even halfway through, so leave it that my second year working for Paizo was filled with even more stories and opportunities than my first.
This has been an awesome ride and I really can’t tell you all how excited I am for what the next year is going to bring. Tonya, Linda, James, Thursty and I have deep into not just getting the rest of this season rolling towards the finish line, but also laying the groundwork for some really cool stuff over the next two seasons of the Pathfinder Society organized play program and beyond. Fair warning, I’m going to be responsible for the deaths of some NPCs some of you are fond of. With any luck I’ll also be responsible for introducing a few new ones you’ll like as well! The one thing I can guarantee is that we’re going to keep trying new types of adventures and stories as we explore the new opportunities created by the rules framework of Pathfinder second edition. We’re going to build castles and defend them from undead hordes. We’re going to slay dragons, travel to places no one in Paizo or the Pathfinder Society has ever been, and we’re going to meet old friends and maybe a few old enemies who’ve been dodging justice for awhile now. We’re going to have a lot of adventures, and I’m close my piece by reiterating how awesome it is to share those adventures with the amazing community of volunteers and fans who help us keep creating them. You’re all awesome.
Pathfinder Society Developer
From James —
Hi everyone, the year (and decade) is over! Since I joined the department only about a month ago, I don’t have quiiiiite as much to report on in OP news for the year. The Dragon Who Stole Evoking Day, by Paizo’s own Luis Loza, which was a fun first project to work on, with festive fireworks and holiday cheer. Looking to the future, I can’t wait for [[REDACTED]] next year, which features one of my favorite creatures, or [[REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED]], which will introduce a new NPC who’s sure to be a thorn in the PCs’ side. More than anything, I’m excited to get to know everyone who’s helped us bring stories to life and continue to expand the worlds we all share.
Organized Play Developer
Wrapping up Organized Play in 2019
Thursday, December 26, 2019