We all know how amazing Crystal is—you need look neither far nor hard. She's tackled incredible challenges, many I never even dared myself (like running the AP line), and naturally excels where others wouldn't even risk struggling. Crystal's one of the only folks at Paizo that I'm truly jealous of. But, I'm a firm believer in surrounding oneself with more talented friends.
Some day—any day now—Crystal's going to do "THE THING." I don't have any idea what shape it'll take, whether it'll be a story, a game, a world, a martial art, a book, a program, or what, but it'll be amazing. A M A Z I N G. And when you do it, you first sale is right here.
Keep being amazing—as if you had any choice.
Whatever fiefdom I had, I began ceding to Judy years ago. If you've noticed improvements in Paizo's editorial quality in the past years, it's in largely due to her able tyranny. (If you've noticed anything less than wonders, it's probably because of me pushing something too hard, too fast.) Look forward to great things under the rule of her knit-work gauntlet.
Now I just need to figure out the easiest way to keep my direct line to her open, because she more than most knows how badly I need an editor. Without proximity, maybe pity will work. We'll see.
John's always been an efficient, brilliant creative machine. He's one of those folks who can do anything he bends his mind toward—not in a blindly encouraging platitude way, but for real. Thanks for always taking on the largest, most demanding tasks, John, but don't forget to take care of yourself, too.
And if anyone ever needs more fear in their lives, I'm always happy to help.
Mark has an incredible ability to arrange dots into a perfectly obvious picture no one else in the house had the perspective to see. It makes him a fantastic designer, world-builder, and critic. He also gives some of the most thorough movie reviews in the business. Now if he would only frickin' write his good ideas down more! We're all looking forward to reading more from you, Mark. Get on it! :)
Chris has always been a cool head and a voice of sanity in the middle of the endless, self-created storm of doubt and anxiety that is the world of periodicals publishing. Once Chris thinks something good, than we can all trust that something's ready for public consumption. He's that discerning, he's that reliable, he's that good. Thank you, Chris, for being the sort of navigator who knows the seas never stay stormy for long. I know I haven't relied on your wisdom and guidance for the last time.
I ALMOST told Sutter on Friday that this was all a very elaborate hoax. Like seriously, I came SO close.
So, aside from that last regret, working with Sutter has been at least 75% fantastic upwards of 90% of the time. Sutter's a font of awesome ideas and practicality with a fantastic ability to cut through quagmires of creative noodling and suggest "How about we actually get this done instead, huh?" I wouldn't have written my first novel without him flat out asking when I was going to write him a novel, and he encouraged and (even better) criticized me every step of the way. I'm a better creative, a more able hustler, and certainly a stronger writer because of him.
Thanks for everything, Sutter—all the stories, all the conspiracies, all the collaborations.
So what are we up to next?
I remember the big shift assignment Erik first game me: "The Hordelands." It was one of the tent post articles for Dragon #349 and his directions boiled down to "this is important, don't screw it up."
I was a big Realms goob at the time, but I was less than lukewarm on the Hordelands. Getting to establish a bunch of new lore for the lot behind the well-lived in Realms, seems pretty cool, though. And I was an ambitious brat, so I jumped right in.
Overall, the article went off great, in most part thanks to authors Ed Bonny, Brian Cortijo, and Lazlo Koller. I don't know if the article changed anyone else's opinion of me, but it definitely made me realize I could do this—big articles were just articles, canon wasn't holy writ, and no campaign setting was sacred. A lot of imaginary shackles fell away with that issue (and I immediately put that freedom to use, establishing some deep Ravenloft lore).
Erik's ambitious—he's endlessly got some new, bigger plot in the works—and he's brought us all along for the ride. The years have seen ever bigger and crazier things, higher hurtles, and seemingly more impossible tasks. And it's all been important, and screwing it up has never been an option.
Erik's taught me that laurel-resting makes you fat, boring, and probably someone else's target. So I can't thank him enough for years of challenges, for his advice and counsel, for hundreds of cool opportunities (or dumb but well-paying ones), and for being the beautifully audacious bastard that he is. I wouldn't have done half of what I'm proudest of without him. That makes me certain the world hasn't seen the end of our schemes.
Mark Moreland wrote:
Kate Baker wrote:
Kate. Oh my gosh, thank you for sharing this AMAZING story! I totally remember chatting outside that weird, back hall seminar room at GX3, too!
I don't really have anything to add, as your experience really slams home the "You Can Do the Thing! I'm Living Proof!" moral. I'm so, so glad it's been going so well! If there's ever anything the Paizo team can do, don't hesitate to reach out to any of our developers.
Thanks again for the amazing story and keep up all the amazing work! :D
Mark Moreland wrote:
Thank you so much for saying this, Sadnerd. I'm so glad you and your friends are playing and having a great time. And rest assured, that'd I'm well over my awkward baby writer, "is this too gay?" jitters. So, expect plenty more in the future!
Also, I wanted to thank and back up, Mark. I do believe that inclusivity is baked into the Paizo creative team's DNA. It's not even a question. And any work I've done has always been part of a team effort. So, I'm not at all concerned about the team continuing to make room for gamers (and potential gamers) of every stripe tomorrow and every day after that. It's a constant effort, but well worth it—always.
King of Vrock wrote:
Well remembered! That "By the Hands of Hags" article was my first Dragon acceptance, and that power components article was the first article I developed (and learned that a finite number of words could fit on a page—who knew?!).
And thank you, and everyone, for all the kind words! I appreciate it more than I can say.
Derek Vande Brake wrote:
I heard there were spell clarifications in Ultimate Intrigue, and now Ad Lib guides here... I can't help but feel there should have been a GMG2 or some such that had these instead, rather than using space for broader stuff in books with a narrower focus.
Pathfinder hardcovers regularly feature GM-focused content relevant to the book's topic. Discussing spells from an "intrigue friendly" point of view in Ultimate Intrigue is relevant to Pathfinder players running "intrigue" games. Exploring the importance of game pacing and improving your ad-libbing game to maintain a creepy atmosphere is relevant to Game Mastering a horror adventure (more so, I'd argue, than to other sorts of adventures).
We could squirrel such material away in a separate product, but to date we've preferred to keep like information together.
That said, if folks would like to see a GameMastery Guide 2, hit up the general discussion board and let us know!
Lord Twitchiopolis wrote:
Hellknights, even the most magically inclined orders, are still a martial organization. Commanders seen as weak or as unwilling to stand in the front ranks are less respected and, thus, have a more tenuous grip on their authority. As a result, even spellcasters who rise to significant rank among the Hellknights often go through the same trials as rank-and-file members, preventing any from claiming they're not "true" Hellknights.
Also, as you'll soon see, Lictor Torchia and Lictor Wrens are far too pretty to hide behind signifer masks.
Did you think of adding a useful bonus for the gate hellnight reckoning or is it really bad on purpose?
I think a lot of folks will be excited to have that bonus after they read the section on the Order of the Gate.
Thought police sure aren't immune to being accused of thought crime. ;)
Oooh! Though, on a serious note about the "batlike" description, that's deliberately chosen as Havenguard Asylum is a small Kirkbride Institution. Maps of Caliphas show the asylum's architectural similarity to famous institutions like Danvers, Weston State, Buffalo State, and, my personal favorite (and childhood backyard) Spring Grove. So that's where that came from!
Thanks for the chance to point it out and for reading! :D
Strong, well considered commentary. :D
Wow! Thanks a ton LoT! Glad you enjoyed it and I seriously appreciate the kind words.
I really tried to explore "small evils" in this—real hurts that have the potential to lead people to resentment and hard heartedness; like Cimri's background.
I also wanted to give the PCs insight into the NPCs' vulnerabilities—because that's how you become a bully. Once the PCs know how to hurt people, its up to them how to do it. If they were playing good guys, they might help or they might walk away. As evil characters, how they exploit their knowledge is entirely up to their depraved imagination.
So again, thanks for the feedback! And, as always, thoughtful reviews are always greatly appreciated—and help us know down the line what we should do more of!
Awesome cover! Didn't expect crunch in this product, though I do like cavalier orders and more disciplines . Can't wait.
Wooboy, are you in for something then. There's quite a bit in here.
As a bit of a teaser, here's something I realized halfway through: You know what class works great for Hellknights? Vigilante.
So, if you haven't snagged Ultimate Intrigue yet...
Neither Sarah nor I know anything about them TV vidja games.
Largely what Philo and Samy said.
"Be evil" is not the plot of the Hell's Vengeance Adventure Path any more than "be heroic" is the plot of any past AP.
Those who want to create an evil empire (of any form) might be better suited playing Kingmaker with an evil tinge.
If I had the compare this AP to any previous one in play-style expectations, I'd liken it to Skull & Shackles. In that one you play pirates. In this one you play rising stars in an evil empire.
If you'd like a different evil campaign—evil Kingmaker, perhaps—my biggest suggestion would be to check this one out and help us prove that the occasional evil campaign is just as viable an AP as any other.
I hope you like omelets.
From the tiny female minority, god bless you for the male dryads. ;)
Ha, nice. If you're interested in a bit of my thinking on this, I talked about it a bit on my personal blog last year. And Mark Moreland coined a word.
Kadasbrass Loreweaver wrote:
Ah yes, of course there must be male dryads. Where else would nuts come from?
Linda Zayas-Palmer wrote:
Knives! Is it knives?
Why do I get the distinct, perhaps precognitive, impression it's knives?
Adam Daigle wrote:
I mean... Dance, puppets! Dance!
Rob McCreary wrote:
Some clarifications about swearing the Hellfire Compact here. I think the GM Reference thread is a better place for such discussions.
Summarizing what Rob says over there:
"Kill them all."
Thanks, Rob. You're hardcore.
Should I emphasize the pain and anguish they are creating. Is that part of the point of an evil AP?
That entirely comes down to the game you and your group want to play.
With any game—but especially with ones that don't conform to common fantasy RPG expectations—before you start playing you and your players should discuss what you all want to get out of the game. That discussion should form the foundation of the experience you, as GM, seek to provide.
In the case of an evil Adventure Path, you should pose exactly the question you just asked to your group.
Maybe your players want the experience of being juggernauts of evil, fighting and crushing monsters they don't usually get to and indulging '50s comic book villain expressions of evil. If so, great! Go for it. Cackle along as the PCs burn every orphanage of wicker lesheys they encounter.
Maybe your players want an exploration into what it means to be evil, with all the ramifications and hurt laid bare, pitting their characters' angst and dark pasts against a world that scarred them. If so, great! Let them lash out, let them feel bad, let them push the boundaries of what they can bring themselves to do and see if their characters weep when finally their humanity breaks.
Maybe your players want something in between, 'cause there's quite a gulf there.
In any case, it's for you and your group to figure out what's right for all of you.
Along with that, you should CERTAINLY set some ground rules for what is and isn't too far. Evil games do NOT mean that everyone's filter gets switched off and every imaginable expression of id is suddenly okay. Talk with your group about what they do want to see in the game and what they certainly don't. Having these guidelines will help you run a game everyone enjoys and will serve you in defining what is too far.
There's a lengthy discussion about exactly this in our upcoming Pathfinder RPG Horror Adventures book, and it makes sense that this comes up here—an evil game and a horror game have many similarities.
But ultimately, if you're going to try and make the players feel something negative—fear, discomfort, sorrow, etc—you should have that conversation upfront, let them know what they're in for, and let them make the fully informed call on whether or not they want to play.
Evil can be fun, but evil can also be unsettling, and that's entirely in your and your groups' hands. Make sure you're all on the same page about the story you're going to tell/play so everyone can have the best possible time.