Jacob W. Michaels's page

416 posts. Alias of motteditor (RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16).

Full Name

Jacob W. Michaels


Newspaper editor, freelance game designer






Bethlehem, Pa.



About Jacob W. Michaels

I've been gaming since elementary school, though hopefully I've improved since then. My first recollection is "Expedition to Barrier Peaks," though mostly I think I was excited about having laser guns. Hey, it was third grade, or thereabouts.

Growing up, I mainly played D&D, though dabbled in Champions, Shadowrun, Gamma World (though that was mostly in my Monty Haul era and I shudder to think of it), Battletech, Top Secret, TMNT, Toon, Torg, Talislanta and even a home-brew game or two.

After getting out of the hobby for a few years in college, I got back into it with D&D 2.0, advanced to 3.0 and switched to Pathfinder in late 2010. I began designing for fun in 2012, when I got into Paizo's RPG Superstar talent search. I got in again in 2014, again finishing in the Top 16. Since then, I've been a regularly working freelance game designer, almost exclusively in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, though I've done some work in the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, and some system neutral work as well.

My full list of credits follows:
* Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of the High Court contributing author: Royal Defenders section, including three archetypes, two witch hexes and a witch patron (3.5 stars)
* Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Taverns contributing author: Formidably Maid
* Pathfinder Player Companion: Merchant's Manifest contributing author: Absalom and Caliphas sections
* Pathfinder Adventure Path #133: Secrets of Roderic's Cove (Return of the Runelords 1 of 6) contributing author: Warpglass ooze, in the bestiary
* Pathfinder Player Companion: Martial Arts Handbook contributing author: unarmed experts and improvised adepts sections
* TBA (2e)
* TBA (2e)
* TBA (2e)

Superstar Entries:
2012 Round 1: Haunting glass
2012 Round 2: The Unfettered
2012 Round 3: Sidhe noble

2014 Round 1: Poltergeist knot (published in Daughters of Fury)
2014 Round 2: Guttersnipe
2014 Round 3: Ketterak, the Burning Village

Swords for Hire Development
A partnership with Superstar Top 4 Mikko Kallio started in 2014 (and later joined by RPG Superstar Mike Welham), where we give other newer developers a chance to get work published.
* Judge and co-founder, Here Be Monsters (2014)
* Villain Codex I: Foes for Fledgling Heroes is our first PDF, from Outland Entertainment, featuring 12 exciting, memorable NPCs for players to face, complete with stat blocks across a range of challenge ratings (3-8).
* Judge, Here Be Monsters 2: Hell Breaks Loose (2016)
* Villain Codex II: Adversaries for Advanced Heroes (Five stars)
* Villain Codex III: Enemies for Epic Heroes (Five stars)
* Villain Codex IV: Monsters for Meddlesome Heroes (Five stars)
* Judge, Here Be Monsters III: From Beyond the Stars (2016)
* Judge, Here Be Monsters 4: Out of the Primal World (2017)
* Creator, judge, DesignFinder Pathfinder Roleplaying Game talent search competition, which led to the d20pfsrd module The Woe in Wealwood
* Judge, Here Be Monsters 5: Technology Gone Wrong (Starfinder) (2018)

Raging Swan Press products
* "The Ants Go Marching In" encounter in Random Encounters: Wilderness (Five stars)
* "The Sting of Sun and Sand" in Random Encounters: Wilderness II (Five stars)
* A section on dungeon lighting in GM's Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing (five stars) that Endzeitgeist called "one of the most useful DM-cheat-sheets of the whole series ... providing everything you need to know in that regard rules-wise at one glance. ... Detailed, versatile and downright brilliant, this chapter is glorious in its evocative details, even before the 2 new light-based traps." (Five stars)
* Village Backdrop: Aubade, which Endzeitgeist says is "one of the most impressive Village Backdrops in the series – and in a series with SO MANY excellent installments, that indeed is a feat." (Five stars+)
* Gibbous Moon - Collector's Edition, for which I added a village backdrop to the original adventure that brought it from 4.5 stars to five stars and a seal of approval by Endzeitgeist. (Five stars+)
* Village Backdrop: Hopespyre, "Jacob W. Michaels is a damn talented author and this pdf pretty much showcases some of his talents," says Endzeitgeist, who gives it five stars and his seal of approval. (Five stars+)
* Village Backdrop: Denhearth, which Endzeitgeist calls "a thoroughly compelling settlement - with a unique angle, capable NPCs and a surprising emphasis on kind characters as a beacon of light, the place not only will be useful for the PCs, it'll be a place they WANT to keep safe - which ties in perfectly with the numerous options and narrative directions a GM can take the village." He gives it five stars and his seal of approval. (Five stars+)
* Village Backdrop: Cahill Abbey, about which Endzeitgeist notes, "addition of a smart example for the trope of the self-fulfilling prophecy adds yet another facet to a versatile, well-written settlement." (Five stars+)
* Places of Power: Penitent's Rest "is a nice place of sanctuary you can easily drop in just about any wilderness environment," Endzeitgeist says. (three and a half stars)
* Places of Power: Visionary's Perch "is AMAZING. ... this place has a lot to offer and breathes a surprising depth of themes; whether high fantasy or sword & sorcery, pseudo-Greek or Tolkienesque," according to Endzeitgeist. (Five stars)
* Places of Power: Fraywrack, which Endzeitgeist calls "creative, cool and unique - the idea is simple, but the execution is frankly inspired and chock-full with roleplaying potential." (Five stars)
* Places of Power: Dead Man's Run, which Endzeitgeist says "is a great, unpretentious supplement that allows you to develop the angles and local population in a variety of different, intriguing ways, ranging from the fantastic to the down-to-earth" (Five stars)
* Village Backdrop: Gulls' Roost, which Endzeitgeist says is "one of the best, most unique villages in the entire series. ... This is a grand little masterpiece, in that it has plenty of adventuring potential without throwing obvious threat xyz at the PCs … and because it manages to hit the subtle notes in between so well. I adore this place, and it resonated with me in a truly remarkable manner." (Five stars +, candidate for my Top Ten of 2019)
* Village Backdrop: Blackhill Gaol
* Village Backdrop: Aubade 2.0, an expanded version of Aubade, updated to the more recent format for the line. "Jacob W. Michaels delivers one of the most impressive Village Backdrops in the whole series, and 2.0 actually enhances Aubade’s appeal even further - and in a series with SO MANY excellent installments, that indeed is a feat!" -- Endzeitgeist (5 stars+)
* Village Backdrop: Carillon

Rusted Iron Games
* The gloom bough and a selection of haunts for Rusted Iron Games' Spooky Gardens: Autumn Special (Five stars)
* Deadly Gardens Player Companion: Verids (Five stars)
* Deadly Gardens: Green Man (Four stars)
* Deadly Gardens: Faerie Circle Stalker (Five stars)
* Deadly Gardens: Dream Weed (five stars)

Flying Pincushion Games
* The scorned heart archetype for Into the Breach: The Witch (Four stars), about which Endzeitgest says, "The Scorned Heart rocks. ... Great archetype! Seriously flavorful and cool! Two thumbs up!"
* The circuit judge archetype for Into the Breach: The Inquisitor (Four stars), which one reviews calls "a perfect example of a themed archetype."
* The charioteer archetype for Into the Breach: The Cavalier (4.5 stars), which Endzeitgeist says "add a massive, cool dimension" to vehicle combat and play tests here.
* The poacher archetype for Into the Breach: The Rogue (3.5 stars)

* Wayfinder 10: Three types of magical ammunition in Heroes' Hoard: Desert Magic: sirocco bolt, arrow of aphasia and sunflower slingstone
* Wayfinder 11: Everbloom Leshy
* Wayfinder 12: Weal or Woe: The Fallen Pharaoh
* Wayfinder 15: Weal or Woe: River Kingdoms Gods; and Chosen Sovereign, a paladin archetype
* Wayfinder 16: Chargemoth Swarm
* Wayfinder 17: Strength Through Sin: Weaponry of Thassilon (with Isabelle Lee, who really deserves most of the credit for this after she did the bulk of the work based on my concept)
* Wayfinder 18: Golarion Gazetteer: The Palakar Provinces
* Wayfinder 19: Editor

Other work
* Ironwall Gap Must Hold, a module for 7th-level PCs that features the new mass combat rules (Five stars)
* A pair of magic items in Jon Brazer Enterprises' Treasury of the Sands
* Two spells in From the Forge: 13 Evil Spells (Four stars)
* Obsidian Apocalypse: Player's Guide from Louis Porter Jr. Design (Five stars)
* Call to Arms: Ceremonial Masks from Fat Goblin Games (Four stars)
* Call to Arms: Societal Masks from Fat Goblin Games; a follow-up to the Ceremonial Masks book that features a special mini-adventure using new rules from from Ultimate Intrigue. (Four and a half stars)
* Monster Menagerie: Troops from Rogue Genius games (Five stars+); Endzeitgeist says, "This delivers. BIG TIME. I am not kidding when I’m saying that this is, hands down, my favorite book in the whole series AND my favorite book from Jacob’s pen. This is one amazing, no filler, all killer monster book."
* A two-page write-up of the Shattered Skies god Coirithradail as supporting material in Charlie Brooks' adventure, Despicable Deeds. (Three and a half stars)
* Swashbuckler archetypes in Blood and Steel, Book 5: The Swashbuckler.
* Monstrous Codex: Troops, a follow-up to the five-star+ "Monster Menagerie: Troops" from d20pfsrd.com.