Seasons of Pathfinder Society

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Late last year, in my new role as the creative lead for Pathfinder Society Organized Play, I sat down to plan the plots and themes for Year 4. One of my first experiences on the Organized Play team back in January 2021 was to sit in on the pitch meeting for Pathfinder Society Year 3: Year of Shattered Sanctuaries. It was thrilling to see what Thursty had planned for the year, and I couldn’t wait to see how it turned out.

A few months later, I learned that “how it turned out” was going to be my job! I knew that I wanted Year 3’s plot to lead naturally to Year 4, and that Year 4 should continue to solidify the role of the Pathfinder Society in Golarion. I also knew that I wanted Year 4 to “feel” different from the seasons that had come before. So, what to do?

At some point—I can’t quite remember when—I began to think of each “season” of Pathfinder Society as one of the four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. (Living in the Pacific Northwest, I might describe our seasons as “wet,” “more wet,” “spiders,” and “wildfires,” but I digress.) Perhaps it was the fact that I am often introspective as fall turns to winter (when I happened to be brainstorming the Year 4 themes), or perhaps it was the simple fact that we’ve often described a year’s worth of content as a “season” of Organized Play. Whatever the reason, it was easy to decide which seasons corresponded with the three current seasons of Pathfinder Society.

Year of the Open Road

artist Dion Harris

The Year of the Open Road was spring. It was a season of new beginnings, new relationships, allies, and adventures. Doors (and magical mazes) opening up to exciting places. A fresh start. A new edition! Brand new characters!

That meant Year of Corruption’s Reach was summer, a season of grand adventure, epic tales, and exploration of the distant land of Iobaria. There were several transitions on the Pathfinder Society development team during this time—quite appropriate for the transition to our current plot, the Year of Shattered Sanctuaries.

Year of Corruption's Reach

artist Sebastian Rodriguez

To me, this season represents autumn, a season of change, reflection on the past, and preparation for the future. Appropriately, during the Year of Shattered Sanctuaries, the Pathfinder Society’s past looms large. We saw the campaign’s focus shift to the Inner Sea lodges of years past. In a way, the Society has spent Year 3 hunkering down, cleaning house, reflecting on the past, and preparing to deal with whoever has been behind all of the problems arising at these Inner Sea lodges.

Year of Shattered Sanctuaries

artist Maurice Risulmi

So, I knew Year 4 needed to be winter. Often, winter represents sorrowful things. Loss. Isolation. Despair. Darkness. For a long time, I considered taking the campaign in a grim direction in Year 4. However, for many reasons, I decided that a year of darkness and despair is not what the campaign needs at this time.

Winter is dark, but it is also a season which many people endure with light, hope, comradery, and gifts. And so the Year of Boundless Wonder came to be.

Artist Nicholas Phillips: A silvery chalice decorated with filigree and blue gems. A purple liquid swirls inside forming the shape of the Pathfinder Society logo

artist Nicholas Phillips

Yes, there is a powerful evil enemy who has been lurking behind the scenes and causing problems throughout the Year of Shattered Sanctuaries. Yes, her identity will soon be revealed. Yes, she has a major part to play in the Year of Boundless Wonder. But, in the face of such wickedness, the Pathfinder Society won’t fall to despair. It won’t dwell on the darkness. It will continue to walk new roads, fight against corruption, bolster its sanctuaries, and see the world’s wonders.

The whole team has worked hard to ensure this next year of Pathfinder Society brings wonder and excitement to new players and veterans alike. I can’t wait for you to experience the adventures for yourself!

Explore! Report! Cooperate! Wonder abounds!

Mike Kimmel
Pathfinder Society Developer

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Tags: Organized Play Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Second Edition Pathfinder Society
Grand Lodge 3/5 5/55/55/55/5 ****

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Beautiful and poetic perspective, Mike. I'm so glad you're at the helm.

Grand Lodge 4/5 ***** Venture-Captain, Missouri—Columbia

I am excited for Season 4 after the cool story arcs that made up Season 3, which I consider to be the best season for Society yet. I like how you are integrating the overall plot beyond just one season. Our players here like the lore connections because it brings the campaign to the feeling that it is live and ever changing.

Scarab Sages 1/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Virginia—Richmond

I also like Season 3. The reduction in the number of scenario hurt, but I'm glad it didn't come at the expense of metaplot scenarios.

I would like to see more 5-8 and 7-10 scenarios in the future, to support mid-level PCs. I think low-level should be less of a priority than it is now, since most other product lines cater to level one play.

Speaking of other product lines, would it be possible for sanctioning to default to campaign mode? I know that currently is not the case for One-Shots or the Book of the Dead adventure.

Mike Kimmel wrote:
For a long time, I considered taking the campaign in a grim direction in Year 4. However, for many reasons, I decided that a year of darkness and despair is not what the campaign needs at this time.

Truer words were never spoken!

Silver Crusade 2/5 **** Venture-Lieutenant, Online—VTT

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Each season has been better than the previous and so I am very excited for season 4 and what is in store. I also appreciate the blog into why the season is about what it is about. The introspectives into the "why" of things I really enjoy. Thanks Mike.


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

I really dig this!

I actually find Winter can be dark but can also be very bright. When the snow is on the ground and the sky is crisp without any clouds it can become blindingly bright during the day. And at night, with the moon reflecting off the snow, you don't even need streetlights to see.

Looking forward to Season 4!

Sovereign Court 1/5 *** Venture-Lieutenant, Indiana—Indianapolis

Looking forward to Season 4!

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