The Foundry Virtual Tabletop team recently released a new project in partnership with Paizo: a comprehensive artwork and token pack that covers every creature in the Pathfinder Bestiary, Bestiary 2, and Bestiary 3 for Pathfinder Second Edition.
In the last few days we’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response to this release, and we couldn’t be more pleased to see people enjoying our hard work. We’ve also been flooded with questions about our process, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to pull back the curtain a little bit and share something about how this product was made and the team that brought it to life.
For those who don't know me, I'm Anathema or Nath—or Shane if we want to use real names—the Project Coordinator for Foundry VTT and one of the people responsible for helping to bring premium content for Pathfinder to the Foundry VTT community. I'm often joined in matters like this by Viviane, who works in content production, most notably on our Pathfinder releases. A little later in this article we’ll also hear from Ian, who subcontracted with us to actually do the work of converting more than a thousand pieces of artwork into the tokens so many of you have purchased and are enjoying.
I'd like to begin by expressing my gratitude to the Pathfinder community for all the support for the Foundry VTT premium content projects. Without the awesome community surrounding Pathfinder Second Edition for Foundry VTT, I’m not sure we would be nearly as successful as we have been at bringing this content to you!
It probably won't be a surprise for you to read that the "token pack project" came about as a result of feedback from the community. For months—perhaps even years—people had been asking for a token pack for use in their Pathfinder games. When we were deciding early on which Paizo projects to offer first, it came up then, but for several reasons we didn't want it to be the very first product we brought to the community. Tackling the Pathfinder Beginner Box and Abomination Vaults Adventure Path made a much bigger splash and, I feel strongly, got exactly the right kind of attention. Once we had those successes under our belt, producing a token pack was an obvious next step, but with such a rich setting as Golarion there are a lot of questions about where to start:
- What does the community most want to see in a token pack?
- Where are the logical boundaries for the creatures and characters the token packs should contain?
- What would provide the best experience for users without an unnecessary maintenance burden?
- Is there a way we can provide some benefit to Pathfinder First Edition players and GMs?
- Is there any way to offer token packs that better support Pathfinder Society?
- Should make a token pack per book?
- Should we try to group them based on theme instead?
- Is there a way we can make this beneficial for a wider audience outside of the mainstream Pathfinder Second Edition players?
…and so many more.
When it came down to it, the bestiaries were the obvious choice. The community has been very vocal about wanting tokens for all the creatures in the bestiaries, and it solved a lot of questions about whether we should group by book or not. It also provided the best opportunity to provide some support to players and GMs who still lean on Pathfinder First Edition, or those participating in Organized Play events, as both groups have a lot of overlapping demand for bestiary creatures.
However, those of you who have been following the content Foundry VTT produces will know by now: we don't do things small. As we see it, if we're going to tackle creating tokens for the bestiaries, we aren't going to only do one book at a time. The project is already going to require a lot of time for organization, and if we're going to organize art for 400 creatures, why not make it 1,200? Besides, there aren't many cases out there where you can buy more than a thousand tokens and portraits to use in your game at a single price point.
One thing we all agreed on very early was the importance of including a blank copy of the token ring, so that players and GMs would be able to have their own tokens match the style of the token pack. While Ian will give some tips and tricks on getting your tokens to look consistent, for those who really want to understand the exact techniques we used: The Pathfinder Second Edition Volunteer Development Team has been raising money for Extra Life. If they raise $10,000 or more (at the time of writing, they have already raised a staggering $9,683), I have previously offered to record and release a detailed instructional video that will cover every aspect of our token production process.
Once we knew what the scope of the project was going to be (approximately 1,200 creatures’ worth of art, twice) and it was approved by Paizo, Cora began to tackle the monumental effort of organizing all the different parts of the project into a sensible and usable state.
I’m Viviane, and I’m a content developer at Foundry VTT as well as a project manager for the Pathfinder Token Pack: Bestiaries. I worked extensively on our Abomination Vaults and Beginner Box releases, and you might also know me as the community manager of the all-volunteer team that develops the Pathfinder Second Edition system on Foundry VTT. I’m currently running the Strength of Thousands Adventure Path for my own group, who’re just into book 3 of the adventure.
One of the main things that we committed to very early on was that, in one form or another, every single creature should have artwork. At times, that can be trickier than it sounds; only a fraction of Paizo’s excellent creature artwork is inside the bestiaries themselves. So, when we decided to tackle this project, my first job was to create a definitive list of what we had, what we needed, and how we were going to fill the gaps.
I started by creating a list of every single creature that appears in these three publications—not just names, but also their ID in the system database, their size, and any other relevant data about them that might be needed later down the line.
Once I had my shopping list in hand, I dug through the bestiaries, the pawn boxes, and the battlecards before looking a little further afield. For instance, we found a portrait for the kapoacinth (a swimming variant of the gargoyle) in the Blood Lords Adventure Path, and our eagle is from the Strange Aeons Adventure Path in Pathfinder First Edition. I was very lucky to have Ian’s help here—he has a truly uncanny ability to spout off the source book and page number for just about any artwork you can think of, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
In a couple of places, we filled our gaps by making minor edits to existing artwork, like carefully recoloring the chimera and dracolisk so there would be options for individuals of every draconic exemplar. When that wasn’t enough, I ceded the stage to Anathema, whose compositing work is what gave us a complete set of petitioners, the living graffiti, and plenty of other incredible pieces.
The help we got from Paizo in this process was, of course, invaluable, and we couldn’t have done it without support from them, especially Andrew White and Luis Loza, who helped to ensure we had every piece of artwork we needed, and offered advice and input when needed to make sure our composites fit with the lore of the Pathfinder universe.
Once we had all of the artwork formatted, renamed, and entered into the spreadsheet (and we’d ensured nothing was left out), I passed over my collection to Ian for the token creation process and started packaging the module for release. That included deciding on a folder structure for our assets, so that it’d be easy for people to find the artwork they were looking for. It also meant setting up the image mapping functionality, so that all of the artwork would seamlessly be inserted into your Foundry compendiums as soon as you enabled the module. As we got closer to release, I also took some demo screenshots for the store page, created banner images, joined my colleagues on a livestream to talk about the impending release, and just generally continued to try to make everything go as smoothly as possible.
Hello everyone! I’m Ian, better known among the Foundry VTT community as SpartanCPA. I am one of the two lead data coordinators for the volunteer development team for the Pathfinder Second Edition game system, and generally speaking, I’m the one “in charge” of the NPC stat blocks. I joined the team on a whim a few years ago and decided that a good use of my free time was auditing the NPC stat blocks for Bestiary 2, and around a month later, the format I had worked out became our go-to format for all of the monsters. As far as games I’m currently a part of, I run a homebrew story centered around Alkenstar, a conversion of Rise of the Runelords, and I’m playing in a Fists of the Ruby Phoenix campaign. It’s hard to find any free time I don’t devote to Pathfinder these days.
I'm very particular when it comes to the art that I show my players during a game, which is one of the reasons I gravitated to Paizo games in the first place. The first time I opened the system on Foundry VTT, I was initially amazed that every single stat block is just there to be used—just drag and drop and you are good to go. (Provided you had your own art…) My second thought, after seeing the “Mystery Man” picture on all of the compendiums was, "I'm going to have to fix this."
I meticulously sorted artwork from all Paizo sourcebooks I own, for both editions of Pathfinder, and tagged each piece with my own naming scheme to easily find and create my own tokens to get as much coverage in the compendium as I possibly could. Viviane said above that I have an uncanny track of the Paizo art—I can definitely say I've put in the time to get there.
When I started on this project, I was given the raw art files from Nath and Cora, as well as a template token ring file chosen by Foundry VTT, and was essentially set free to complete the tokens as I saw fit. I was asked to take special advantage of some of the features available on Foundry, such as the extended pop-outs where possible, and I think they came out extremely well. Some of the tokens I’m especially proud of are the elder wyrmwraith, the mist stalker, and the storm giant. These tokens show a number of little enhancements we were able to make, such as the transparent wing membranes on the wyrmwraith, and the glowing eye in the center of the fog of the mist stalker. These little effects aren’t available anywhere else besides this token pack, and I believe they really make it stand out. That said, while I think I was able to make the tokens pop, I would also like to say that the underlying artwork itself was stellar, and I give first kudos to the artists who made the originals.
The token-making process itself was purposely made to be flexible, so that the ring chosen could work with any orientation of art or creature body type. (Which is more important than you’d expect—we did have 1,200+ tokens to make, after all.) We included the token rings in the module as well, so you can make tokens for your player characters, or other monsters, in the same style! Quick tip: If there is smoke approaching the edges of the token frame, such as with the adamantine golem, or especially the mist stalker from before, be very careful to not have a hard line at the token edge. It’s generally a good idea to make that token a bit bigger to allow the smoke to billow out naturally. There are more tips I could give to really make your tokens pop, but if you want all the secrets, you’ll have to take Nath up on his offer and push the Extra Life donations past $10,000 raised. It’s a good cause, and we are almost there!
I’m immensely happy to have had a part in this project with Foundry and Paizo. Each company was extremely flexible with any requests I had, and I was able to put some of my own touches on some of the iconic monsters that many people get to use in their own games going forward.
With the release of Pathfinder Token Pack: Bestiaries, we can turn our thoughts to planning the next release in this product line. We've been happy to see such a positive outpouring of support from the community, and we feel confident we can continue this trend for quite some time. Thankfully, we’re at no risk of running out of material to work with! Paizo has several decades’ worth of top-quality artwork in their vaults, and we’ve already got some ideas about what to tackle next, as well as plenty of great suggestions from the community. Working with Paizo has helped us create a product that we’re immensely proud of, and I hope everyone continues to enjoy it the way we do.
– The team at Foundry VTT
Pathfinder Bestiary Token Pack for Foundry VTT
Friday, December 16, 2022