Paizo Update from Jeff Alvarez

Monday, September 20, 2021

My public statement on Wednesday was a fundamental expression of Paizo’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, values that I share both personally and professionally. It was an opening statement—not the final word on the topic by any means.

Words are important.

But I also know that actions are even more important.

As a result, I want to share with you a number of actions that address some of the concerns that have been brought to our attention over the last week.

The welfare and safety of our employees is paramount. No employee will ever be fired for whistleblowing or advocating for employee safety and wellbeing, and we have never fired an employee for doing so.

Following our return from Gen Con, the Executive Team will schedule individual meetings with our managers to give them a chance to share concerns directly. In the coming weeks, Paizo will issue an independently managed employee engagement survey to provide all employees with an anonymous means to provide candid feedback. The information provided through this process is aimed at addressing employee concerns and driving change to create a more positive workplace.

We take all claims of harassment seriously. Our CEO Lisa Stevens released a statement in 2019 that underscores Paizo’s stance on this matter, and it applies today as well. You can read that here: https://paizo.com/community/guidelines.

We held staff-wide in person anti-harassment training in 2018 and initiated annual mandatory online training earlier in 2021.

We are currently finalizing a job description to fill a vacant full-time HR position. You’ll see this posted in the next few business days, and we’ll be looking for a candidate with expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is important to all of us that this professional can help us to maintain Paizo’s shared commitment to our values in recruitment, hiring, and daily operations.

In the meantime, we are encouraging our employees to make use of the free independent human resources hotline Paizo initiated in 2018, where they can report grievances of any kind in complete confidentiality.

Paizo makes decisions about employee convention attendance based on the business and community needs of the show, irrespective of gender or gender identity. However, it is time that Paizo evolves from the longtime practice of employees sharing rooms during convention and business travel. As such, we have enacted a one-employee-per-room policy that will be our standard moving forward. Employees can request to share a room if they so choose.

We are extending Paizo’s existing work-from-home timeline through at least the end of the year. Employees that want to work from the office can continue to do so but will need to abide by the company’s existing vaccination and mask policies. We will continue to follow CDC guidelines and keep our employees as safe as possible during the pandemic by offering work-from-home and a safe office space for those who prefer that option.

Over the last several years, we have invested heavily in Project Management to help the company get a better sense of workload in the Creative Department, implementing company-wide project management software and increasing the size of the project management team. This work has already resulted in increased production schedule lead times, and Paizo will continue to leverage this valuable resource to provide better work/life balances for our employees.

In the same period, the creation of additional management positions within the Creative Department has also helped give staff better access to managers, and to empower those managers to better gauge deadlines and workloads. As with our Project Management initiatives, this is an ongoing process, but it is already bearing fruit and improving not just Paizo’s products, but the lives of the brilliant creatives who make them possible.

To clear up some confusion that has worked its way into the conversation, freelancer relations remains the purview of the Creative Department. Paizo freelancers who appreciate their strong relationship with our developers, editors, and art team can be assured that we have made no changes on this front.

Finally, based on feedback from the staff, we changed professional cleaning services in 2017, and the offices have been cleaned and vacuumed on a regular basis since then.

These aren’t the only things we are doing. We are building strategies to address the challenges facing the company and will strive to be more transparent about our plans as we build stronger lines of communication with everyone at Paizo. We are committed to listening. We are committed to continuing to improve based on the feedback of our teams. There will be more messages, and more concrete actions, to come.

--Jeff

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Yes, multiple factors outside of the control of the company have been suggested as a possible cause - it has also just been blanketly stated that they probably exist. No one can come up with legitimate specifics though.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Part of the reason it's viewed as side stepping is because the claims weren't exclusive to a hotel room.

The claims included giving her a distinct contract for either unclear or discriminatory reasons and letting her go when she had an injury, hiring a cis friend of hers instead.

A single room per person policy is the only response to those claims.

The claim is that a trans person may have been discriminated against in at least 3 ways. The response is removing an avenue that such discrimination could be visible (it doesn't prevent them from discriminating in the other two ways or just not selecting trans people in the future, for example).

That isn't to say I know what would work to prevent discrimination, or what policies should be pursued, but it's fully reasonable to call it side stepping.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

For a company that includes so much inclusivity and diversity in their books, hearing that they haven't been so fair and kind to their real life trans employees or fair in their hiring practices are serious claims, and as an LGBT individual who loves pathfinder 2e and golarion, it hurts a lot. It would be so easy to simply say "well we don't know for sure if its true" but multiple people have corroborated these claims, it would be willful ignorance to refuse to admit that there's any issue. I *know* paizo can do better, the question is simply whether they *will* do better, or if they'll do what many other companies have, and sweep this controversy under the rug


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Yoshua wrote:
Still hoping to see a 'I'm here guys' post from Sara Marie and Diego. Saving money by cutting Sara Marie out of the chain is likely to cost at least as much in sales as it did to keep her employed. Just an armchair account here making statements.

I don't think there is any world in which this happens, for better or (mostly) worse.

Not only is it vanishingly unlikely that Paizo would offer Sara her job back, it is equally unlikely that Sara or especially Diego would take their job back.

I also can't imagine that the decision to let Sara go was primarily financial. If it was, Paizo is much, much dumber than basically anyone here's worst estimates.

Unfortunately, on the specific issue of Sara and Diego, by far the most likely outcome is that we never get an answer or resolution. That's how hiring and firing decisions almost always go.

Silver Crusade

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Simple really.

“There was a policy in place that was discriminatory and has since been removed from how we operate.”

Or

“No such discriminatory policy existed.”

Pick one.

“We have changed our policies so the likelihood of this hypothetical discriminatory policy in place coming into play has been severely reduced.”

Is not an answer.


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Lowkey, it worries me that they're simply trying to sidestep the whole issue--what if they use "oh, well, a separate room for each employee is more expensive" as an excuse to send fewer employees to conventions, and by coincidence, trans employees end up less likely to get sent?

No, it's far from guaranteed. But these are the kinds of worries I wouldn't have if they'd addressed the actual problem.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Representative

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Locked for moderation, probably going to keep it locked while we're outside of our normal business hours. We don't want to prevent people from discussing this, but these threads keep getting out of hand. Sorry, folks, I'll see if we can come up with a better solution than a cycle of locking and unlocking!

Also, for those who seem to think we're censoring you, that is absolutely not the case. Customer service is moderating these threads the best we can, in the most fair way we can, given everything currently going on. Please just give us some grace so we can keep the forums from turning into one big dumpster fire.

Customer Service Representative

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Good morning everyone! I will be unlocking this thread for now. As my lovely co-worker Raychael has asked, kindly give us some grace. We are doing our best so please make it a bit easier for us by not getting into heated discussions, and being respectful of each other. We really don't want to start locking threads simply because we don't have the time and energy to make sure everyone is being civil. We appreciate your support!

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Thank you both for all the work you've done this past week and a half, I know it's been a lot. <3

Silver Crusade

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Ye!

*offers hugs*

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thank you Raychael and Heather. You're both wonderful and I appreciate the work you've been doing!

Dark Archive

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Thank you for keeping the forums a pleasant place to be!

Grand Lodge

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Hotel Rooms:
I am putting this behind a spoiler simply because it is lengthy and I don't want it to clutter the thread.

With respect to the hotel room issue, something that I have not seen mentioned (though I may have just missed it in the mass of comments) is that whatever policy Paizo may adopt could affect the org play community, not just Paizo employees. This is because Paizo Publishing subsidizes the expenses of the Organized Play Foundation through direct charity contributions. As they are currently (AFAIK) the only entity that contributes to the org play budget and the Board of Directors of the Foundation are mostly(all?) Paizo staff (Lisa, Vic, Erik) and run by a combination of the Director of Community (Tonya) and Organized Play Coordinator (Alex) there is a clear straight-line between the two. So, IF there is a concerted effort by Paizo to have two sets of rules for trans/non-trans hotel room sharing, you would think it would likely extend to org play volunteers as well.

Now, that being said, I can say with confidence that between 2014 and 2020 (PaizoConUS, Gen Con, & Origins), neither trans, nor any other personal "status" was used as a way to discriminate or disrespect any org play volunteer for hotel rooms or any other assignments. I can say that with some authority because I was either the one making the assignments, working directly with Mike Brock (former org play coordinator) or Tonya Woldridge to make those assignments or examining/overseeing those assignments being made by other volunteer leaders.

It is also important to note that a significant portion of the community does not know or understand the separation between Paizo and its org play contingent, especially after the creation of the OP Foundation. Volunteers often thought they were "working" directly for Paizo and I can certainly understand why that confusion existed. Regardless, it means that if bad things happened at Paizo, it was assumed (by them) to directly impact org play, and vice versa. So you would think that if there was unfair/prejudicial practices being done by Paizo, it would have been present in org play as well.

I am certainly not suggesting that diminishes the allegations made by ex Paizo employees. Given some of the things I know about Paizo first-hand, I believe that there is likely at least some truth behind most of their claims. All I am saying is that if Paizo staff has a predilection towards discrimination, it would have likely been apparent to those of us who worked directly alongside those staffers. From that perspective, I can say, I never witnessed or overheard any prejudicial activities, by Jeff or any other Paizo staffer.

EDIT--it is certainly possible any perceived prejudice could have been a misunderstanding as Paizo leadership learned what TO do and what NOT to do when accommodating trans personnel. If someone had little to no personal experience with the specific problems that trans people have to endure, even an advocate could make the wrong decision when they were just intending to provide a safe environment. I know I had to ask before I made any assumptions.

That is not to say that Paizo has not made other, what I consider bad, decisions with regards to handling complaints and allegations. It is for those reasons, and their persistent history of lack of action, I have withdrawn any financial support until they demonstrate improvement.


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Seconding the appreciation for Heather and Raychael.


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Thanks Mods!

At least some of the folks wanting your heads last week are thanking you this week. I'm completely smurfed!


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Can we not?

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Nobody was calling for the CS team's heads.

Grand Lodge

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If you consider the Director of Community (Tonya) who is the manager over CS, as part of the CS team, then yes they were.


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TwilightKnight wrote:
If you consider the Director of Community (Tonya) who is the manager over CS, as part of the CS team, then yes they were.

What he said.


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Phew, that was a close one, we were almost just being nice and positive. I'm glad we found a way to turn it into another argument. I would honestly really love it, though, if we could instead not.


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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Phew, that was a close one, we were almost just being nice and positive. I'm glad we found a way to turn it into another argument. I would honestly really love it, though, if we could instead not.

Sorry, I just found it amusing..... and truth be told, my wife tells everyone I have no filter. I'll book a therapy session next week, I'm a work in progress!


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I am disappointed at having to even talk about this--because it feels like such a weird meanspirited jab in such an otherwise sincere moment, and honestly, it really does seem like people just want to score points at this point--but everybody here was specifically saying thanks to two specific people, Raychael and Heather. This is not a commentary on whether the rest of the team deserve thank-yous. I am sure many people here would happily extend their thank-yous across the whole team. It's just that they're the two mods who posted, so the thank-yous happened to be addressed specifically to them.

I hate even having to say that, because it feels so petty. I don't personally want to exclude anyone from the kind words. But it seems like you're trying to accuse people of being two-faced, or hypocrites, or whatever your implication is. And you're simply not reading people's words in good faith.

God, this post (the one I am editing now) left a genuinely unpleasant taste in my mouth. I read the original thank-yous as gently vague--obviously some people have concerns with Tonya that have been raised, obviously some people have criticized moderation over the past week, but everybody wanted to be clear that they do ultimately appreciate the efforts of the moderation team. A part of me wishes I kept my mouth shut, but it's just such a mean way to take advantage of an attempt at positivity, and I don't want that energy to be a part of this community at all.


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I have removed that implication. Thank you for pointing it out to me. It was not fair of me to assume you agreed with the comment you were helping to clarify. I have also edited my post to soften the language, because I really don't want to just create an argument about the original comment. If Sunderstone has any complaints with what I said, I'll let them have the last word.


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@kobold

Apologies once again. I'm going on what has been posted and you have every right to disagree. This forum needs a mute feature for specific posters. I wouldn't get offended if you muted me, but until then I'll likely be apologizing to you fairly frequently. You disagree in a civil way compared to others.

@twilight
Apologies to you, but I think you were tossed into my cell this time.


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Hey, if people stopped talking to me the second I took a wrong turn somewhere, I'd be pretty lonely on these boards by now. No hard feelings on my part. Honestly, my natural instinct in these arguments is to be really toxic, and I have to reign that instinct in like a feral horse in the Northwest, so what you see most of the time are my posts after the third or fourth passes. I still probably go too hard most of the time. For what it's worth, I see being prepared to apologize frequently as a strength. I'm still really bad at that part.

I did say you'd get the last word, though, so I'm gonna have to ask you to say something else or else I'm just a liar.


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Kobold Cleaver wrote:


I did say you'd get the last word, though, so I'm gonna have to ask you to say something else or else I'm just a liar.

I'm protecting your honor! Sunderstone flexes

Horizon Hunters

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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I do want to apologize to Erik - the other day, I posted something which turned out to be untrue. The error was mine, having read two different things and conflating them to be the same.

Since I made the error publicly, I need to make the apology publicly as well.

I am sorry for posting something which was untrue, and was entirely my misunderstanding.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
TwilightKnight wrote:
If you consider the Director of Community (Tonya) who is the manager over CS, as part of the CS team, then yes they were.

A small handful of people (I think I have seen two or three) have demanded that the manager resign. You came on to my thread about how the community is hurting to specifically say you are not hurting therefore all of the community is not hurting therefore my thread title was a lie, but you're willing to conflate a single person in a managerial role with the entire team she manages? Which is it, does one person represent everyone, or only when that one person fits your argument?


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There's a line at your door for people who love role playing and aren't drenched in angsty griefer victim politics. Fire whoever you want, you're a private business. Most of the white knights in this thread would happily shutter their gofundme or quit Panera to work for you. Don't bend to the mob or they'll bend you.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Morning check in, Friday morning actually, to see if any meaningful communication has occurred outside of peoples personal posts on social media.

Not yet?

Ok.

Taking responsibility when I have done wrong is something that is ingrained in me. It may be that isn't so for the bulk of the population, but just because it's not doesn't mean it shouldn't be.

People can and will vote based on their personal preferences. Lambasting fellow community members for it is non productive at best. Will people continue to support ideas and people who are toxic? Sure. Do I have to engage with each and every one of them? No.

People will have different opinions as to what is and isn't toxic. Do I need to educate each and every one of them on why I disagree with their stance? Again, no.

People will vote with their dollars as they are told to do by so many people . Almost put in our society but then I snickered and then I thought I would put it in there anyways then I didn't and decided to put the commentary. But when people do actually vote with their dollars and it is against something that they wish to keep status quo you get called a member of the woke cancel culture.

Which is it, people should vote with their dollars, or people shouldn't partake in the cancel culture.

I get it, people should only vote the way we personally feel they should because only our view is right.

Suggestion, and take it with a grain of salt. If you are calling for action, it is being seen by the powers that be. For example when someone in error called Mona out for iconography in his office he quickly came in and corrected it. I am staying out of the threads that are proclaiming undying love and support of a company vs a product.

I have confidence that our posts are being seen. All of them. It would make the moderators lives that much more difficult if I inserted myself into every one of these threads. I am watching all of them. I am posting infrequently now because I have said my piece. But I am still hopeful for meaningful interactions from the upper management of Paizo and hopeful that maybe this turmoil will cause some form of positive change and the community can come together stronger after.

Right now all I am seeing are rifts, and I personally don't get it. I mean if you have gotten this far in the post, kudos. I don't get why there wouldn't be universal outrage and heartbreak over someone in our community being discriminated against. I don't even care the reason. For a company and a product that screams inclusivity I am surprised how it doesn't show more in the current situation that is, in my opinion, being poorly handled.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Why are they in line at the door, the “building” as it were is infinitely big and if they wanted to be playing PF2 they already could be.

Unless you’re saying that going “anti-woke” will bring in a new group with their own opposing politics . Wouldn’t that just be bending the knee to you and yours?

Also it’s time to put the phrase “bend the knee” to bed Jon Snow


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
nedleeds wrote:
There's a line at your door for people who love role playing and aren't drenched in angsty griefer victim politics. Fire whoever you want, you're a private business. Most of the white knights in this thread would happily shutter their gofundme or quit Panera to work for you. Don't bend to the mob or they'll bend you.

Just for reference.... There are quite a few current employees at paizo that also have patreons. So if people quit their Panera Bread job and by some miracle get a job at Paizo that possibly pays less I doubt they will be able to cancel their patreon or gofundme accounts....

Grand Lodge

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Cori Marie wrote:
A small handful of people (I think I have seen two or three) have demanded that the manager resign. You came on to my thread about how the community is hurting to specifically say you are not hurting therefore all of the community is not hurting therefore my thread title was a lie, but you're willing to conflate a single person in a managerial role with the entire team she manages? Which is it, does one person represent everyone, or only when that one person fits your argument?

Firstly, you have me confused with someone else. I am not the one who ever said anything about being / not being hurt.

Second, I took no value position with my comment. I merely corrected the claim that no one has asked for the "head" of anyone from CS. It is true that Tonya is the head of CS by way of being the Director of Community. It is fact that some people have called for her to resign/be fired. It is not true that my comment indicated my opinion/position on that issue.

Please be careful at whom you point your comments. Thanks

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

What?


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I'm noticing a lot of the more staunch defenders of management seem to use a lot of "aesthetic" complaints rather than really complaining about the points we make. I appreciate those who try to focus their criticisms on the meat of the issues, such as explaining why management's behavior doesn't concern them or suggesting how they think we could improve our discourse. It's when they start complaining about how my aura is polluted that I feel like I'm back in Portland.

People don't seem to like our tone, but I can't tell why, because they accuse me of demanding someone's head, which I haven't been a part of. I don't know what I would do with someone's head. Mount it on the wall? My landlady wouldn't like that. I'm not supposed to use heavy-duty nails or store human remains here.

Accusing us of being a Cringe Woke SJW Cancel Culture Witch Hunt Mob is just a bunch of Facebook buzzwords and honestly just doesn't mean anything to me. I literally don't know how to engage with it, because it's appealing purely to emotions--it's about the "vibe" we give you, the "feel" you get when you read our posts. Talking about your emotions is fine; it's literally the most honest form of argument, since it's talking about the one thing you know for sure to be true. But talking about what you think mine are? That's just really awkward for me, because all I can say is, "... no, that isn't what I'm feeling, but good guess." It brings all conversation to a halt and encourages me to retaliate in kind, which turns it into a series of personal attacks rather than a real argument or conversation.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

No company will ever have my undying fealty. Even as someone who is enough of a Superman fan to be writing an actual book on him, I've stepped away from DC Comics for years at a time because of management issues.

Grand Lodge

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As has been mentioned, this is a complex issue. Many people have conflated the progressive advancement of inclusivity that is present in the Paizo publications, largely due to the concerted efforts by the creative staff who largely are not the managers/leaders with the actions of those same leaders/managers who have repeatedly demonstrate bad behavior and poor decision making over the years. For anyone paying attention to the company, not just its product should be well-aware of laundry list of allegations that have been levied over the years.

I have been critical of management for quite some time (and will continue to be so) and I routinely get blasted by those very people who accuse me of not appreciating the efforts and hard work of the creative component of the company which could not be further from the truth. They seem to think that just because the latest book demonstrates aspects of equal representation that it means the entity known as Paizo is beyond reproach.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

How many "non-creatives" are in management? Are we talking about a "group" that is really just the president?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I really hope paizo or someone at paizo says something soon. We haven't heard from them in a bit which is very concerning. I understand right now they're probably busy getting orders shipped out but it still leaves me feeling anxious that they're planning to sweep this under the rug and not fully address it


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Yeah, I'm very much not satisfied leaving things here. If there's not another statement that moves towards real changes, I don't know if I'll ever feel comfortable with Paizo again--which gnaws, because this week has reminded me a lot of what I liked about them.

This initial announcement is a good step, but parts of it are either missing outright or fundamentally insulting.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Yeah, I know Jeff said more actions and more statements are coming but...what we've had so far hasn't exactly left me feeling confident. I'd like to hope that the silence is because they're busy working things out so that next time they make a statement it reflects that but thats just wishful thinking


3 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm still waiting, since they said they needed a few more business days. This stuff does take time. Even if everyone at Paizo was perfectly on the same page, writing up new policies or the like can be extremely cumbersome and take longer than people think, since bureaucracy is just another form of labor. For now, I'm suspending any final judgment on their handling of this.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

While I'm also very keen to hear more from Paizo, I also recognize that it's been less than five days since Jeff posted this.

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