Aeon Stones are called that because the stones themselves are thought to be crystal tools left behind by the aeons who literally formed the Material Plane in the early days of the multiverse. They are the implements of prehistoric existence.
There's a bit more about this in the Azlanti ruins article I wrote for Ruins of Azlant, which is the first place I started working this change into the setting and game.
We started doing this with Starfinder at about the same time. Basically, it comes down to IOUN being a word from Jack Vance's Dying Earth books, which I adore. I remember from when I was editor of Dragon Magazine, I made a point to read every issue of the magazine, starting with the Strategic Review newsletter that came immediately before it. Somewhere in that first dozen issues or so was a letter from Vance granting Gary Gygax permission to use the word in D&D.
That's cool, and all, but even though I'm sure it's legally kosher I've always felt that Vance never intended to add his word into the Open Gaming License, so its use has alway seemed a bit unseemly to me. Similarly, I've never mourned the fact that WotC claims the displacer beast as product identity (meaning Pathfinder can't use it), because that monster is a ripoff of an A. E. van Vogt alien by way of a Marvel comics adaptation.
Anyway, I'm led to understand that D&D from 4e onward has attempted to make "Ioun" more of a thing within the mythology of their own game. I think it's a magic god, or something.
In any event, it doesn't really have anything to do with Pathfinder, so we decided to change it to something that better fits the Pathfinder world.
I wanted to drop by to share a conundrum, and to share a bit of my perspective on affairs of the last week.
The conundrum is this: Throughout this process with Ninja Division, but after we realized they were going to have significant difficulties pulling this project across the finish line, there have been numerous behind-the-scenes developments or potential fixes that we have heard about, but that have not come to fruition.
That sort of thing puts us in a difficult place regarding communications. Do we share our sense of hope, only to have it dashed again when something doesn't come through? That's certainly a dilemma that has played into us not being as frequent with updates in the past as we should have been.
I don't want to get people's hopes up, even if I see signs of incremental progress behind the scenes. I hope you all can understand that when we make an announcement regarding this project, we want to be EXTRA CERTAIN that we understand the details and have faith that they are going to occur before sharing them in public.
So I don't have details to convey, and I don't want to give the impression that a solution is in sight or that it looks like the project is back on the road or whatever.
But I DO want to share that, behind the scenes, we have seen a LOT of evidence--especially since the GAMA Trade Show--that Ninja Division is actively working to move the project forward and find solutions for their many difficulties.
I have proof that these guys ARE trying, and some of that is encouraging. I don't want to say more than that, but I do want you guys to know and understand that much at least.
Thanks for your continuing patience, or at least for your continuing attention.
Yeah, that's all fair. I've been meaning to come in here for a while. As I said, I'm sorry that I have not done so.
Let me clarify. For a long while, long after I posed that I had faith in them, they were doing the right things. Their prepainted minis came along slower than I wanted, but when they delivered they were overall pretty darn good, and I was pleased with the production and approvals process.
Their sculpts all came in good to great, as expected. ND was very professional at all steps of the early parts of the process. So even well into the relationship I felt like they had things on track.
Should I have been more cautious, less trusting? Yeah, probably.
Am I now? Yeah, certainly.
If it helps, I don't really trust anyone anymore, for pretty much any reason.
Before I say anything else I want to say that I’m sorry my absence here has contributed to furthering anyone’s frustration and ill will.
Many of you have expressed that it was my vouching for Ninja Division in the early days of this project that pushed you over the line to make a pledge. If that’s the case with your decision to back, I also apologize to you. I certainly had much higher expectations that have not been met. I was very impressed with Ninja Division’s sculpting abilities and design expertise, and at the time we partnered with them they gave me reason to believe that the various setbacks they had encountered up to that point were unique and in the process of being handled. That gave me faith in them that they have not backed up with action, and I understand your frustration—and share it.
I actually drafted a statement a few weeks ago, around the time that mention of such a thing began to appear in this space. The message was emotional and visceral and very critical of Ninja Division’s failures. Many of you would have identified with its sentiment, I am sure. I ultimately decided to hold off on posting it when I heard that I’d have a chance to meet with Ninja Division at the GAMA Trade show. Rather than excoriate them in public, I wanted to get a chance to look them in the face and share my feelings (and many of yours) in person, to get a better sense of exactly where they were at and how likely they were to get everyone what they paid for.
I can tell you that at GAMA Trade Show I looked these guys in the eyes and confronted them in person about their ability to live up to their commitments to us and to their backers. They have suffered a tremendous number of setbacks and blows over the last couple of years (many of them self-inflicted, to be sure). I left the conversation confident that they have plans in place to get the funding necessary to live up to their commitments to us and to their backers, but I cannot say with confidence whether those plans will be successful.
I can say that both John and Deke struck me as deeply committed to finding a way to make this work. They want desperately to fulfill this project, and I am convinced that they are working hard to make that happen. Is desire and gumption enough to get them over the finish line? That I confess I do not know. All I know is that the will is there.
Ninja Division has made a commitment to fulfill this Kickstarter. We want to continue to give them the opportunity to live up to that commitment. I can certainly understand (and to some degree share) any skepticism regarding their ability to deliver after so many setbacks. They are trying, and there is enough reason for optimism that we don’t feel the right choice is to cancel the project outright.
We want you to get your miniatures. Heck, I want my miniatures, too. I left GAMA without a clear road map or timetable as to when Ninja will be able to arrange the necessary financing to move forward with the line (beyond “as soon as possible”), but I absolutely believe these guys are working actively to solve this problem, even if a potential solution is likely to occur much, much, much later than any of us would have preferred.
We will keep you updated on future developments as they become available to us. Again, I’m sorry for not taking a more active role in this thread. I will do my best to check in more frequently in the future, and hope to have better news to convey as we move forward.
Please know that we are actively monitoring the situation with Ninja Division’s business developments as well as the posts on this thread. We may not always respond in a timely manner (and I have done an especially bad job of this on this topic), but we DO hear you are we continue to work toward a better solution for everybody.
The elimination of the Player Companion line and the apparent dedication of more adult supervision to the campaign setting replacement line should reduce the frequency of "are you kidding me with this" nonsense published as well as making everything eligible for whatever error correction process they deign to engage in at infrequent intervals.
A less mean version of this.
Steve Geddes wrote:
The game absolutely needs adventures, both in the campaign style (APs) and the stand-alone variety. It's a big challenge as an RPG publisher, because their potential audience is about a fifth the size of a book that appeals to players and GMs alike, but if you don't do them you're dead.
I want adventures to be a big part of Pathfinder Second Edition. Paizo cut its teeth and established its early reputation on the strength of our adventures, and I'd like to reclaim that ground a bit with adventures that are meaningful to both your character and to the world itself. That doesn't mean that every adventure kills a world leader or blows up a country, but we want these things to be impactful. "Why are we doing this adventure instead of another one" is a guiding question. If the answer is ever "because the product schedule says there is supposed to be an adventure this month," we need to dig deeper.
I'm very excited about the adventure ideas we have in the hopper, and I'm really excited by the prospect of figuring out what's next beyond the handful that are already in design and development.
Steve Geddes wrote:
One thing to keep in mind, at least on a "per book" basis, is that World Guides are about twice the size of a given Campaign Setting book (128-ish vs. 64). So while one 128-page book might contain more rules overall than a 64 pager, they've got a ton of lore, as well.
And some of them will likely be bigger than 128, and have even more lore. This is definitely the "lore-hound" product line, though there will be fun game tools and character options along the way. One big difference, at least in our current thinking, is that the rules will serve the theme of the book, and that theme will always be something rooted in the world. We probably won't do World Guides that explicitly support rulebook releases (I'm thinking of stuff like Mythic Origins or Occult Origins), but we might include that sort of material alongside lore and flavor when appropriate to the theme of the book in question.
The first couple of these are going to be pretty general and widely focused, to properly re-introduce the setting to everyone, but eventually we're going to get into stuff we've wanted to do (and that people have been asking for) for a long time.
Steve Geddes wrote:
I realise it's not strictly on-topic, but in the spirit of 'give me an inch, I'll take a mile...Any word on the Pathfinder Legends and Pathfinder Comics subscription ines? Are they still active?
Legends is still on hold pending more interest from Big Finish to produce more audios, but we've got a friendly, open relationship with them so anything is possible.
Our relationship with Dynamite is also great. We've just been in a bit of a pinch lately where we need to focus our fire on Pathfinder Second Edition. I've been having some interesting chats around the office regarding where we go from here, and I expect the dial to move on comics again very swiftly. There's certainly no hold-up on the Dynamite side. We're just a little pre-occupied at the moment...
Steve Geddes wrote:
I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see us get back into fiction, and I really really really want to find a way to release the half-dozen "orphaned" novels we've got from when the regular releases wound down a couple years ago.
Consider the fiction an idea that is waiting for its time to strike again. We're definitely not closing the door on the idea of doing more fiction.
Captain Morgan wrote:
Well this looks pretty dang cool, though I question the need to sell a printed version, especially if they are black and white. Feels like something that could be just given out as a PDF. Lord knows the community will have their own versions going pretty quick.
We will definitely have a PDF version of this product, and I expect it to be popular.
We're probably in the final decade in which printing a product like this makes sense, but we're going to give it a shot and see what happens.
There will not be monster creation rules in the Bestiary.
There will be monster creation rules available fairly shortly thereafter.
I can't reveal more than that without spoiling other stuff we haven't announced yet.
Suffice it to say that we know these rules are very important to people and to their campaigns, and will will get them to you swiftly.
Just not in the Bestiary (mostly because we don't want to have to repeat that information every time we do a monster book, and we don't want the first monster book to be substantially more expensive than the others (because we added extra pages) or contain substantially fewer monsters (because we kept the page count the same).
Just chiming in to protect my own sanity and say that "in the coming weeks" and "in a couple of weeks" are not necessarily the same thing. :)
the Haunted Jester wrote:
I noticed that Book 6 of Tyrants Grasp and Book 1 of Age of Ashes are both slated for July on their product pages. Will both of these APs come out in July? Will there be a time to cancel an AP subscription after Tyrants Grasp but before Age of Ashes?
They are both slated to come out in July (technically August 1, but practically they will be part of the July sub shipments).
That's a good question re: cancelling between the two volumes. We'll get back to you on that once we've had a few more conversations in-house.
We are still finalizing details on subscription benefits for all these lines, so for the time being we don't have an answer to this questions. Please stay tuned. We'll definitely make sure the benefits are clear well before August.
It's probably more like 60+ than 100. I know that the two sections I wrote had about 6-8 backgrounds. Also, the book is still in layout, so the exact number will have to wait until we've completely locked everything down.
The World Guide line will contain player character options. This first one includes 10 archetypes and just shy of 100 new world-appropriate backgrounds, as well as some other stuff here and there.
The book after (which we haven't announced) will have even more player content in it.
So, yes, it's in some ways better to view the World Guide line as a hybrid between the old Campaign Setting and Player Companion lines, and it's aimed at both players and GMs.
We're currently working on a revision to ancestries that should address a lot of the issues posted in this thread. It will probably take until the final version to add a ton of new feats for each ancestry, but in addition to refining what you get at first level, all ancestries will have more feat options in the final version of the game.
As for the _whys_, I'd expect to see some of that stuff in blog posts, but I think the best space for some of that is the Paizo Friday twitch shows we'll be doing weekly. A big portion of each show (as with the first one from last Friday) is a live Q&A. I think Jason took every question on Friday, so if you've got something like "please explain why you add level to everything," it might be easier and more instructive to ask it on Friday and let Jason (or whichever designer is on) go off on a tear about it.
Your point about cunning is an interesting one. It's a fun exercise to determine a key word for each class, and then evaluate the design in light of that.
Well, to be clear I haven't tried to convert over a ninth-level character yet, and have been focusing most of my free-time character creation on first-level guys for now. It'll be interesting to see if my general satisfaction level with the conversions holds true at higher levels. I'm excited to find out.
As for the ranger, one of the fairly obvious changes to me after looking it over is that it's missing a lot of stuff for archery builds. So I'd expect archery to play a much more significant role in the final version than it does in the current version. I wonder if that will help with the discrepancy between, say, the damage output of your ranger vs. that goblin fighter.
As for your specific ranger criticisms, I think you raise some fair questions. My general sense is that ranger is one of the classes that could use more attention and improvement. I think that's probably the observation of the design team as well.
What's the "core foundation that breaks the narrative from the mechanics" for you?
I spent a fair amount of time converting old characters this weekend, and although I struggled with some of the information flow in the character creation section, I was pretty pleased with the results.
Heck, I think I like level 1 Ostog the Unslain better in second edition than I did in first.
Jason - small note. The character creation process can be confusing.
I think it's fair to count on a completely revised character creation process based on external and internal playtesting. Not that the RULES will change a ton (though some of them probably will), but the PRESENTATION leaves lots of room for improvement and will be a significant part of the revision process that takes place over the next several months.