Cold Rider

Darrin Drader's page

Contributor. 348 posts (380 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.


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Yeah Darren Drader, I think there should be a template to make some/most creatues aberrations.

Obviously there are some exceptions. I think that allowing the template to apply to undead wouldn't work. Adding it to dragons could be awesome. I'm on the fence with outsiders - on one hand there's the qlippoth and (WotC IP) Kaorti, which are essentially outsider aberrations, but the idea of adding such a template to devils, archons, or similar ones seems thematically wrong - but then aberrations are supposed to be off, twisted, and wrong....


Given all the support for the graveknight, I'll add a +1 (for very obvious and selfish reasons)
+1 for more spawn of Rovagug
+1 for more mastermind type creatures

More aberrations
An Aberration template that transforms creatures of most types into an incomprehensible tentacled horror
More Qlippoth
Any other untapped Lovecraftian horrors
(sensing a theme yet?)

More mid-tier undead

A couple variations on the serpentfolk (either caused by greater degeneration than what we see in Bestiary 2 or because of magical alteration that has resulted in them becoming more powerful)

More villainous races, like what WotC gave us with Fiend Folio

More intelligent/hivemind insectoids


1. I landed my job on the opposite side of the country after starting the final adventure in the Rise of the Runelords campaign. My players still get together and are currently running Kingmaker, but I want to finish up that campaign, even if it's over the internet.

2. Play more WoW and DDO.

3. Not be sick during the days we're supposed to be playing the Serpent's Skull.

4. Finish novel.

5. Get novel published.

6. Golarion video game built on the Neverwinter Nights 2 platform.

7. Contribute new material to official Pathfinder products.


DigitalMage wrote:

Having said that I think Pathfinder should be taken on its own merits and become its own game.

That's a good point, and I don't just mean the rules, which are themselves distinctly different than 3.5. When I think of Pathfinder, I really don't think about mechanics, or how I can work in beholders, displacer beasts, and mind flayers. Instead, I think of Denizens of Leng, goblin dogs, and Karzoug. I look at Golarion, which is its own unique and interesting world, which is different than Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, or Eberron. I think of the Red Mantis, Cheliax, Hellknights, and Runelords.I ponder the mystery of Aroden, how disgusted I was when I first read Sean's article on Zon-Kuthon, and the way one of my best friends/players would cries out "For the glory of Iomedae" before charging into battle. I also can't help but occasionally think about what sort of adventure to build around Graveknights.

In other words, yeah, Pathfinder is its own thing, with its own tone, and I love it for what it is. I also still dig Forgotten Realms, and Eberron, and would actually consider using the Pathfinder rules with them the next time I get the itch to run a game in those settings. But for the most part, I'm happy running Pathfinder without looking back and caring a lot about how it's different or the same as 3.5.


I don't think of it as 3.75; I think of it as an alternate new edition. It's compatible enough with 3.5 that you can get most things to work, just like you could get most 1st edition stuff to work with 2nd edition, but otherwise enough is different that it functions like the new and better game that it is.


Sometimes being told no is the best thing that can happen. If nothing else, it gives you the opportunity to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and figure out what you have to do in order to achieve your goals. Once you've addressed those weaknesses, you become a better candidate the next time you're presented with an opportunity. In my case, lining up freelance was easy and not dependent upon a college degree. The main thing that changed after I got my degree is that I started getting phone calls from prospective employers in the gaming industry after I had the degree. The biggest issue you'll likely run into is that if all candidates turn in equally good work, and look equally good on paper, the tie-breaker might very well be that they have the degree.

Sure, there are a few people I know of who have good jobs in the gaming industry who never finished highschool. Most of them, however, have the degree.


Gavgoyle wrote:
Dammit, there go the hopes for 'Tickle-Me-Troglodyte'!

I had an pre-order in for one of those, too.


James Jacobs wrote:

Moved from California to Washington to be close to a major game design company. Found out what temp agency serviced Wizards of the Coast. Started working for that agency and temping at WotC. Wrote a TON of articles for Dragon and Dungeon. Got to know the folks who worked in R&D. Applied to game designer positions MANY times, and when I didn't get the job, I took a deep breath and continued working on my skills and resume and credits. Applied AGAIN to game designer positions.

It took me about 20 years to get my dream job as an editor/developer for a game company, in the end. Other folks have certainly gotten into the field more quickly, but if you want the job, you need to work for it. You need to prove to whoever's offering the job that you're the one to hire for the job. And if that means you're not ready today, then do your best to be ready tomorrow.

Sounds familiar, except substitute Eastern Washington for California, and the ton of articles were for the WotC website and for 3rd party publishers (there were a few Dragon articles early on) for Dragon and Dungeon. Other than that, the only major difference is that I just went back to school and finished my degree, and I wasted about five years after I left college the first time before making getting published a priority and actually started submitting material. Now I work as a Narrative Designer for a video game company.

I think the key thing to understand is that if this is something you want - something you really, really want - you have to work hard for it... for years. And you have to keep on working hard, even after you've found some measure success. It's one thing to be a well known freelancer, and something else entirely to be employed in gaming full time. Self-employing yourself full time as a freelancer is a great way to spend your time (I know from experience), but not the best way to make a living. I'd be willing to bet that the person who gets this position will be a name that people recognize. I don't see this as Paizo playing favorites or enforcing an arbitrary requirement, but rather that they want to make sure that they hire someone who has shown a measure of dedication to RPGs, and has the skills and motivation to back it up.

Ultimately they have to make the hiring decision that's best for the business, and best for their own sanity. You can't do this by hiring someone who's an unknown quantity. But if you've already made efforts to work with them on various projects, then you shouldn't let any requirement on a job posting keep you from applying. When I worked for WotC, before I finished my degree, there was a requirement in the job listing that the applicant would have a bachelor's degree. I didn't at the time, but because I'd been temping for them, they knew me, knew I could do the work, knew that I fit well with the team, and I got the job.


I bucked the degree for about a decade of my professional career, but ultimately found that the doors I wanted open weren't opening without one. I finally finished my degree about a year ago and now I have the best job ever. There are so many options for getting and financing a degree, and the experience is so enriching that I've been persuaded that an organization really should want people to have them.

That said, one of my best friends has no degree and has become the most successful person I know. It took him a lot more work and probably an extra decade to get there than people going into his line of work with degrees, but he's there now and isn't carrying around a bunch of school loan debt.


I'd just like to point out that the 4E condemnation comes primarily through the players, not the Paizo staff. Since the release of 4E, I can think of no instances where they have disparaged the system, regardless of their true feelings about it. I have no qualms sharing how I feel about the system, probably to my detriment, but the Paizo staffers have been models of professionalism (and for all we know, some of them might actually play in some 4E games...).


SRM wrote:

Oh, and sometimes I wake up in the morning disappointed that I’m not Jeff Grubb ;-)

So a tiny bit of Grubb envy? OK, I must admit that I have it too, but I try not to let on much when I run into him. There's nothing more awkward than running into your heroes and degenerating into a stuttering self-conscious buffoon because you happened to dig Spelljammer and his Alias novels!

But this is your thread. Congrats on the new gig at Paizo!


Happy Erik Mona day!


There is no best thing about Pathfinder. It's made completely of Win!!!

Seriously, and without hesitation - best game on the market, best value for the dollar, best artwork, best setting... Right now I'm just wishing I had more time to play.


Hey, awesome news! SRM is a great designer and a gentleman. I'm sure this will be a great thing for Paizo.


I picked the book up at Paizocon and finally finished reading it a few days ago. I definitely enjoyed it, despite the fact that it's definitely unconventional. The introduction by China Mieville definitely helped prepare me for the book's tone, which was a good thing, even if it did spoiler some of the major plot points.

My final rating is four and a half stars out of five. It might very well be one of the best fantasy novels I've read and I'm considering trying to track down the other ones in the series.


The only problem I had at Paizocon was my own physical shortcomings. Wasn't it just Gen Con 2003 when I was able to go out drinking for hours at night and still be able to get up and demo the Simpson's TCG for WotC in the morning? Instead, Friday night "out on the con" and my Saturday was shot. Stupid body! I was there for the full convention and I did feel that Paizo did an amazing job. It really was the most fun I've had at a con since the Gen Con I just mentioned. My second biggest regret was just not having enough time to meet my obligations and hang out with a bunch of people I usually only see once a year these days, if that.


Vic Wertz wrote:


My feeling is that you're going to need a bigger venue next time. Just please don't leave Western Washington.


Year of the Shadow Lodge was a very cool way to run a scenario. As a GM, I did feel a little off balance through much of it, mainly because I wasn't used to the format, but I thought it was really cool that what was happening at one table could influence others. I also had a great group of players - it was a real pleasure to game with them.


This thread is making the greedy little capitalist in me want to sell in order to buy that car I've been wanting.


The story I've been hearing from a number of sources is that Pathfinder and 3.5 is indeed doing well with experienced gamers, but that 4E is proving popular with the younger crowd. In fact, I've heard stories that this is leading to a whole new generation of kids getting into roleplaying. While Pathfinder is certainly my preferred system, I can only see the acquisition of younger gamers as a positive thing.


If Holiday Seoni is wrong, I don't want to be right.


Callous Jack wrote:
Darrin Drader wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:
James, what you really need to do is chain Darrin Drader & messieurs Pett and Logue into a desk (preferably in a forlorn attic, if you only can) and make those twisted geniuses write monsters for Bestiary II! :)

Let me just say that if Paizo wanted to chain me to a desk and force me to do something I love all day long every day, I'd be all over it.

And thanks for the compliment. :-)

Excuse my cluelessness but what are some of the monsters you designed?

WotC 3E Death Knight

Sarrukh (yes, I know this one's messed up)
3E Lizard King
Serpentflesh Golem
Tren (I think. It's been a while)
Owl Archon
Sanctified creature template
... and a bunch more for other third party publishers


Asgetrion wrote:
James, what you really need to do is chain Darrin Drader & messieurs Pett and Logue into a desk (preferably in a forlorn attic, if you only can) and make those twisted geniuses write monsters for Bestiary II! :)

Let me just say that if Paizo wanted to chain me to a desk and force me to do something I love all day long every day, I'd be all over it.

And thanks for the compliment. :-)


If they make them, I'll buy them.


It's all about Asmodeus.

Besides, the second rule about dead god club is that gods never truly die, they just wait for the right time to come back and throw the world into chaos. Hit the edition reset button, suddenly Asmodeus is on the ropes. Cue the Keystone cops.


James Jacobs wrote:
A big part of Paizo's philosophy with game books, incidentally, is that we want customers to buy books because they WANT them, not because they feel like they NEED them.

Well, there's been a lot of 'wanting your books' on my end, and my players are loving it. They've become very interested in the rules as well as the setting.


In my case, a temporary stint in the Seattle area could help my long-term plans considerably. I have a friend in the area who would probably let me live on his couch for a few months.


Hal Maclean wrote:
Darrin Drader wrote:
As luck would have it, I graduate from the university in a couple weeks and Paizo is an organization I'd be extremely interested in joining.

You already did Serpent Kingdoms and Exalted Deeds back when you were at WotC...

Maybe you could do something for hamsters this time?

"The Book of Deeds for Exalted Hamster Kingdoms"? :)

Well, I must say that if left completely unfettered, clowns would be the big winners. As in a kingdom ruled bloodthirsty despotic painted clowns!

Hal Maclean wrote:
Congrats on the pending graduation!

Thanks! I'm looking forward to finally going on to bigger and better things.


As luck would have it, I graduate from the university in a couple weeks and Paizo is an organization I'd be extremely interested in joining.


I have to agree with this, though I did like the 3.5 MM that had the basic versions of the monsters and then some of them had beefed up versions alongside them.


Ahh... OK, your summons worked... thanks to a nameless imp showing up and pointing this out to me. Really, summoning spells don't work like they used to.

So what to say about this book...

The material was evenly split between Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd and me.

I worked on chunks throughout the book, but the sarrukh were the main creatures I worked on.

As far as the sarrukh go, the monster modification rules were never intended to be balanced or fall into the hands of players. Perhaps that should have been specified in the book. although it should obviously be common sense for any DM who wants to maintain some sense of balance in their game. Pun-Pun may look nifty on paper, but such a creature wouldn't ever make it into a game if the DM has one clue about what they're doing.

Aside from that, I like how the sarrukh were implemented in the 4E Forgotten Realms setting book with one exception: they killed off Pil'it'ith for some reason that I cannot fathom.


Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. I'm happy for him.


Beercifer wrote:

Damn you Darrin, I just got over my Seoni fetish after having to laminate "the Skinsaw Murders" for its lovely depiction of Seoni checking out the falling bells and debris.

Oh, I didn't say that it would be Seoni again. Personally, I don't think Lem has had enough naked time in the Pathfinder APs.


Before you dismiss me completely from any of the upcoming lists, I'd just like to point out that the most revealing depiction of Seoni appeared in the adventure I wrote for the Legacy of Fire AP. I'm sure that if/when I end up doing another one of these, I'll be happy to rally for them to show an iconic in the buff again!


I'm pretty happy with most of the options I already have through other systems, so I'd say only the following:

Generic space opera
Agents... (X-Files, James Bond, Cthulhu)


Lord Fyre wrote:

Mr. Jacobs, question then: As DeathQuaker has already mentioned, Do you feel that Green Ronin (via their True20 line) has already done this? :)

I would argue that between True20 and Modern20, the bases are already covered. The only reason to invest in a Pathfinder version is if (1) Paizo brings something new to the table, (2) you'd rather support Paizo than those other companies, or (3) You like how Paizo does things and the Modern RPG product you envision is superior to the others.

Personally, the only area where I find those other two system lacking is with support. True20 has a decent amount of 3rd party support (and yes, I've done my bit to add to it) but I wouldn't call it a hoppin' brand. Modern20 is even smaller, though there are things about the rules system I really like. If I were to use it, I'd probably work out an arrangement with Charles Rice and simply include that rules set with whatever setting I was working on and make it a standalone game.


Kinkos can be real copyright nazis. I have found that I have better luck getting things printed through them by bypassing their "helpful" desk clerks and submitting the content through their website and then picking it up at the store. I guess doing it over the web absolves them of their copyright enforcement attack dog responsibilities or something.

There's also an online self publishing outfit that will print stuff up for you with a nice four-color cover, have it professionally bound, and ship it out to you within the week. I'll keep their ID to myself though since technically this is against their terms of service, even though I personally know of numerous people who use them in exactly this way. Unfortunately they don't do map-size material.


As someone who wrote a decent amount of D20 Modern material for WotC, I'll weigh in here with my opinion.

First of all, the class structure (fast, smart, etc.) made for well designed and interesting characters, but the system made it a real pain in the butt to do NPCs. In fact, after I was done writing my chunk of D20 Apocalypse, I couldn't bring myself to stat out another D20 Modern NPC. It was just too much work. Instead, I fudged them entirely in game and avoided any further design work in the Modern line. Honestly, I find designing NPCs for Modern20 to induce far fewer headaches than D20 Modern did. True20 is also headache free.

Another concern is that D20 Modern was designed to be a toolbox from which you could build any modern or futuristic game. That's a good place to start, in my opinion. There was an issue of what sort of game to support once you have the basic set of rules. In my case, what I want is the ability to run the following:

1. X-Files/Call of Cthulhu/Fringe/Darkmatter. In other words, games that are about agents in the modern world uncovering dark secrets.
2. Lost. Characters cut off from society who must find some way to survive while unraveling the secrets of their new surroundings.
3. Star Trek/Star Wars/Battlestar Galactica/Babylon 5. I loves me some good space opera.
4. Mad Max/Waterworld/Jericho. A game about surviving after the fall of modern society. Mutants for nukes!
5. James Bond/MacGyver. Something having to do with spies and international intrigue.

I suspect that a good number of people who want modern rules are looking for something along these lines, but WotC decided to put its emphasis behind Urban Arcana early on and it wasn't until the end of the product cycle that they got around to D20 Apocalypse, and d20 Darkmatter.

I feel that the best way to do Pathfinder Modern is to start with the core D20 rules and build from there rather than trying to simply finesse D20 Modern. For instance, I would not create 10 level base classes with the expectation that characters will multiclass. Instead, I'd go back to 20-level classes that focus on specific things, such as investigative agent, soldier, scientist, diplomat, etc. Not every class will work in every game without modification. For example, how exactly will an agent function in a post-apocalyptic setting? What good is a cultist in an espionage game? Another option is to follow the classless True20 model.

Second, I'd change the core assumptions of magic. In a Modern toolbox type book, what I want are options. I want different rules for standard D&D magic than for the Cthulhu style magic that requires mind bending rituals and slowly drives you insane. I also want the option for mental powers. I feel that these should all be weighted equally and not use the same spellcasting system. Maybe this would be a good supplemental book, or books, or maybe they could all fit into the core book. In either case, the designers shouldn't assume that the players will want to include magic in their games. The game should be mechanically interesting without magic. It should be purely optional for people who want to run a Buffy game, or Shadowrun with the serial numbers filed of.

Third, art. Please do not follow WotC's lead. I like the muddy realistic art from the original Dark Matter. I like the nice shiny realistic look of the Alternity core books. I really don't care for the simplistic comic book inspired art from the D20 Modern book. I feel that WotC probably lost D20 Modern sales simply due to presentation.

Finally, if you're going to pull the trigger on this, give us a minimum level of commitment to the brand and stick to it, even if its only one or two books a year.


I'm not necessarily opposed to an eventual Pathfinder 2E, though I feel that there is an alternative to planned obsolescence. Two reasons why RPG edition change happens at all is because so many new systems are introduced that the core framework of the rules has a hard time supporting all these additions, and because new alternate systems have come along that work better. Eventually people want the good alternate systems collected into one place and made official so that there's no confusion about what the rules are when you get together to play, particularly at conventions, where not everyone is playing from the same house rules.

I think that Pathfinder did a great job of handling both points for now, but there will inevitably be more development, more paradigm shifts, and more systems tacked on over time. It's the natural evolution of any non-static RPG system.

So I think the best course of action Paizo could follow is to keep the door open to a possible PFRGP 2nd edition, but not try to plan for it or force it. Let it happen when (and if) the fans are crying out for it. In the mean time, don't just throw any old rule system out there because it seems like a neat idea at the time. Make sure that every new rulebook hangs well on the existing game's framework. In my opinion, books like the Book of Nine Swords were an unnecessary departure from the core 3.5 system and were used to help justify edition change. Meanwhile, books like Unearthed Arcana - books full of useful optional systems that replace core systems - are cool and should be encouraged.


deathsausage wrote:

Aren't you lucky! A pathfinderized version of the Death Knight can be found in the newest Pathfinder volume (The Sixfold Trial). Good and nasty too. Called the Graveknight.

As the guy who created the 3rd edition Death Knight template, Paizo was cool enough to offer me the opportunity to revisit the concept for Pathfinder, in the form of the Graveknight. One of the things I always regretted about the death knight was that, while it was a cool monster that I tend to use just as often as liches in my own games, the 3E version was not open source, so the only time I could actually do anything with it was on one of the few occasions that WotC had a need for such things. When the issue of death knights in Golarion came up, I made sure that Wes, James, and Jason knew that I was interested in revisiting the concept and doing the work for them.

In fact, after hearing about the strengths and weaknesses of the death knight for past six or seven years, the one thing I wanted to do was make a new version that was a good deal nastier than what I had previously designed. In the end, I think that I managed to achieve that objective, do the original concept justice, and not entirely rip-off the earlier work. We now have an OGC version of an undead knight template that I'm quite pleased with and I'm glad that most feedback I've seen so far has been positive.


When I talked to my local game store about stocking Pathfinder, they expressed concern over the fact that customers can get it online at a discount, but they also stocked what they thought would be enough to last until the end of the year. A week later, they were sold out and have a bunch more on order.

I guess the trick for the retailer is to make intelligent decisions about which products are worth carrying and which ones do better as direct-sells. This same retailer tried doing the APs early on, but found that they too slowly, so they no longer stock them. I suspect that the majority of the people who buy the APs are set up with the monthly subscription.


pres man wrote:

95% of the typical fantasy setting are losers. They are called NPCs, and have levels in things like commoner, expert, adept, warrior, or if they are lucky aristocrat. Sure it can be fun to try to play a commoner with 10's and 11's in all the stats all the way to 20th level. But really most people want to play a better character than that.

I'm not referring to NPCs. I'm referring to the 95% of players who do not run heroic characters that are perfectly optimized.


James Jacobs wrote:

What I don't approve of are those who view optimization as the end-all solution to the problem of building a character. PARTICULARLY when it's a personality trait that a game designer adheres to. If a game designer honestly believes that there's only one legitimate option for a character build but still designs other options and then implies that folks who take those choices are being sub-optimal... he's doing the game a disservice by being a game designer.

I think there are obviously different schools of thought on this issue, but I've always been on your side of this debate.

If roleplaying is a means of fantasy simulation then the truths that govern our real-life existence would also hold sway in a fantasy world. In other words, not everyone is in the top 5% of their given profession. A system that caters only to the top 5% renders the other 95% losers and declares pointless those who play the game because they enjoy their unique character concept. Game mechanics and adventure difficulty should be built around a median character.

The "game" of a roleplaying game should take place as characters have adventures, face dangers, and overcome them, not the building phase before the character ever sees any action. I think that some of the optimization mentality comes from CCGs, where most games are won and lost based on the their ability to create a killer deck. That's not to say that players should be rewarded for building characters stupidly (the Joxer fighter with a Strength of 8 for example), but that reasonable choices should be part of the game.

If the game designer is leaving open one path for an optimized character then s/he is intentionally violating game balance in order to reward players who subscribe to the same philosophy of RPGs as they do. In that way, I agree that they are definitely doing the game a disservice by sacrificing the enjoyment of the players who subscribe to a more traditional notion of roleplaying than they do.


Regarding paradigm shifts and the number attached to the edition, I made the following observation on Facebook and it seems equally applicable here:

Honestly I don't consider Pathfinder to be 3.75 any more than 2nd edition was 1.5. When you look at the total number of changes, it's actually substantial enough to constitute an edition change, in my opinion. Sure, the old 3.x material is compatible, but so too was 1st edition compatible with 2nd edition rules. Things like rage powers, abilities, and ... sorcerer bloodlines kind of push it past the edge of a partial-edition change. Add to that the new 'beyond level 20' rules, the splitting up of polymorph, and the addition of CMB, and the other changes throughout the rules and it's a new edition of the game. It builds on the previous edition rather than tossing it out and inventing a new game, and this is a good thing in my book. I consider it an alternate new edition of D&D.


With Pathfinder, the rules serve the game.

In other words, it's all about the setting for me, but I'm glad they made improvements on an already excellent set of rules.


TriOmegaZero wrote:

Ooo, thread necromancy!

Anyway, I claim this as proof that religion was created by man, not God. :P

Perhaps religion was created by mankind's unconscious mind. It seems instinctual, and there has always been the belief in gods, even nine thousand years ago when Mesopotamia came together as the first (known) human civilization.


Vaellen wrote:

The second world war was bloodier by about a factor of 4.

Hmm, Wikipedia seems to agree with you. It says that WWI total deaths were about 37 million. The total dead in WWII was somewhere between 50 and 70 million. I guess I should check these things first before I assume that I know something. Stupid facts!


If this is going to be like a World War, one idea you might toy with is having a specific cause for he war. World War I was started because Europe and the Middle East had formed alliances and when Franz Ferdinand was assassinated the allies went to war with each other, resulting in the bloodiest war in all of history (I think. I think there were fewer deaths in WWII, I'll have to double check).

So suppose that the war starts as the result of some stupid incident like this between two second-rate countries and everyone gets pulled into the conflict whether they like it or not. Now suppose that the characters are involved in the action that causes the war... maybe they act as assassins, maybe they try to protect the person whose assassination causes the war, or maybe they're doing something completely unrelated and they witness some arbitrary act that sets it off.

Just food for thought, but it seems like the players would be more invested if they're involved at the earliest stages.


I hope Erik is paying attention to this thread. When they get around to novels, big setting-changing epics are probably not the way to go.

But then I don't see why they'd change the formula from what they're doing with the APs. At the end of each AP, ask yourself what major setting elements have changed. The answer is none. OK, maybe the Curse of the Crimson Throne might be noteworthy, but it's not huge and it wouldn't require a complete rewrite to take the AP into account.

If they follow this with the novels, I think they'll be good. Personally, I'm rarely happy when they blow up a setting (though I do like what they did to 4E FR. Call me weird).


Great job Paizo. Best. Book. Ever.

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