Gen Con “keyword” hints


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion


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The adventures and AP panel ended with three keywords as hints to Pathfinder’s unannounced future: rust, worms, and spiders. Let the pointless speculation begin!

My first instinct? A sequel to Iron Gods. The Lords of Rust lent their title to one of the original campaign’s volumes, a worm-that-walks featured briefly in The Choking Tower, and both the Dominion-touched Scar of the Spider and the spider-shaped annihilator robots. Tinfoil hate? Maybe, but I Want To Believe.


Rust could link to the recently announced Plane of Metal.

When I hear Paizo talking about Worms, I think Kyuss, or whatever their off-brand, discount version of Kyuss would look like. I would be down for a spiritual successor to Age of Worms with the serial numbers filed off.

Spiders could be drow and/or Lolth, but book 1 of the Gatewalkers AP mentions "an enigmatic bogeyman who pulls the strings from a coterminous plane of spindly shadows", which also has spidery connotations.

Alternatively, Kingmaker meets Out of the Abyss, managing a drow 'house' and navigating underdark politics.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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I dropped this in to the chat at the last minute, but just to manage expectations...

...none of these key words are previewing anything in Numeria. Nor are they all applying to one adventure or Adventure Path.

I very much do want to do more with Numeria, to the extent that I've taken my own stab at creating some rules to update stuff that I did in the Technology Guide in 1st edition, but as of right now that stuff's not aimed anywhere and is lurking patiently on my hard drive for the chance to go forward. I've even got a plot for both an adventure in mind and a potential sequel to Iron Gods in mind, but again... that's far future stuff.

That said, it's certainly interesting that rust and worms and spiders all feature in Iron Gods. Coincidence, I guess. Rust and worms and spiders DO make for good adventure themes, after all...

Anyway, that said, I'll let the rumor mills and conspiracy theories simmer here for a few months. Looking forward to seeing how close folks come to the truth! :)


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mikeawmids wrote:
Spiders could be drow and/or Lolth, but book 1 of the Gatewalkers AP mentions "an enigmatic bogeyman who pulls the strings from a coterminous plane of spindly shadows", which also has spidery connotations.

Lolth isn’t OGL and is never going to show up in Pathfinder. They inherited Driders from The Other Game out of nerd inertia, but only one of the major drow Houses has anything to do with bugs and spiders, with the rest following other demon lords and some other drow following other divinities entirely.

I wouldn’t interpret spiders as a drow hint for Golarion.

EDIT: Darn, my Numerian hopes dashed! I dearly want to revisit the area and those plots, so fingers crossed for Paizo to return there and to the wider Broken Lands someday. Thanks for the clarification, James!


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Maybe. Second Darkness is not exactly beloved of the community and I recall reading somewhere that the creative team would like another bite of the elf apple. You can't have drow as the bad guys anymore cos' of Racism, but an AP where you all play as dark elves and adjacent ancestries, focused on GoT style political maneuvering/backstabbery could be interesting, but is maybe too similar to the underlying themes of Blood Lords to happen anytime soon.

There were some dark elves in book 3 of Abomination Vaults, right? What were they up to? Might need to revisit that section for possible hints to future drow action. :D

Alternatively, reference to spiders and worms could point to a Rovagug resurgence.


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mikeawmids wrote:
You can't have drow as the bad guys anymore cos' of Racism,

This is pretty reductive and inflammatory. It’s also wrong; there’s Evil drow in Extinction Curse and the Bestiary, and the lore about the Great Houses being demon-worshipers didn’t go anywhere. There’s still cruel fleshwarpers lurking beneath our feet, if that’s a story you want to tell.

The issue has always been presenting *all* drow as irredeemable villains, something Abomination Vaults has touched on, and several other sources have worked to scaffold (the reformed Twilight Lanterns, Nocticula’s redemption) for the future. If an AP gave us drow victims and allies alongside the baddies, I can’t imagine anyone being much too mad.

Liberty's Edge

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Rust monsters : bane of adventurers' magic weapons = Treasure Vault ?

Worms : worm that walks, but maybe also the weird, likely CE, cult that haunts Cheliax' shadows and had some crawling worms around. Or the legacy of Galt's BBEG.

Spiders : Grandmother Spider = LO Firebrands ?


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I'm really hoping that worms has something to do with worms that walk, neothelids, or both. Perhaps something causes the neothelids to unite for the first time in millennia and there's an Advent of the Worm-type situation planned for an adventure module.

It could also involve a bhol as well. I'd suggest it could be a

Spoiler:
conqueror worm
but that's already been used as a big bad.


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mikeawmids wrote:
Maybe. Second Darkness is not exactly beloved of the community and I recall reading somewhere that the creative team would like another bite of the elf apple. You can't have drow as the bad guys anymore cos' of Racism, but an AP where you all play as dark elves and adjacent ancestries, focused on GoT style political maneuvering/backstabbery could be interesting, but is maybe too similar to the underlying themes of Blood Lords to happen anytime soon.

I've had a similar idea for a while, which I'd love to see. Darklands adventure, where all the PCs take darklands ancestries instead of the standard core ones, Caligni instead of Human, Drow instead of Elf, Duergar instead of Dwarves, Snirfivlin for Gnomes and maybe Derro(?) for halflings (only one without a direct counterpart in the darklands). Could go multiple ways, like exiles and rejects trying to escape the worst aspects of their home civilizations, or like you mentioned focus on political skullduggery, or even maybe raiding the topside as an inversion of being surface dwellers delving into the Darklands. Lots of potential in that, and considering Paizo is doing more and more "themed" parties, it could fit with that.


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keftiu wrote:
mikeawmids wrote:
You can't have drow as the bad guys anymore cos' of Racism,

This is pretty reductive and inflammatory. It’s also wrong; there’s Evil drow in Extinction Curse and the Bestiary, and the lore about the Great Houses being demon-worshipers didn’t go anywhere. There’s still cruel fleshwarpers lurking beneath our feet, if that’s a story you want to tell.

The issue has always been presenting *all* drow as irredeemable villains, something Abomination Vaults has touched on, and several other sources have worked to scaffold (the reformed Twilight Lanterns, Nocticula’s redemption) for the future. If an AP gave us drow victims and allies alongside the baddies, I can’t imagine anyone being much too mad.

While Paizo has been certainly trying to get away from the whole "Always evil" thing for ancestries, there might be some resistance to applying it to drow, at least in significant numbers. There's been a lot of backlash against the "Drizzt Syndrome" where so many Drow were the good rebels against the evil drow society, and people got tired of it. I think this is part of why Second Darkness really emphasized the evil. Of course that's not a non-negotiable reason to oppose non-evil drow, and certainly can be reevaluated. The way ancestries are done in PF2 also removes the problem of PF1 and D&D where Drow were straight up unbalanced compared to most PC races, which might have been another reason.


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I don’t know that Drizzt clones are a meaningful part of the drow discourse these days. I think there’s a very good chance the majority of modern d20 gamers these days have never heard of the character.

The ship has sailed on rebel and outright-heroic drow. People have been playing them for literal decades at this point. The biggest D&D actual play on the planet has an entire drow nation on the surface. Tumblr and Twitter are full of fanart of beloved drow PCs.

I truly think the question at this point for Paizo is what book they fit in, not whether or not they’ll happen.


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Even aside from the many evil drow we've already had in adventures, one 2e AP also features an entire community of non-evil drow.

Agreed that I don't think "Drizzt clones" are a real problem that exists now that it isn't 2006.


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The Crystal Shard is 34 years old at this point. Anyone still mad about Drizzt and imitators has a seriously warped perspective- at this point, he’s been part of D&D longer than he wasn’t, by a pretty significant margin!


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I just had another brainwave viz rust and worms. Perhaps we will be seeing a product--Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure, etc--that will be dealing with one of my favorite demon lords Yhidothrus, the Ravager Worm.

As a demonic lord of time he could fit the rust theme easily, and ... well he's a biggo worm. His realm, the Spiral Path, is said to move through other planes, so it's possible Yhidothrus is attempting an incursion onto the Plane of Metal, striking while it's relatively new to the cosmic stage and likely without many allies. We've also gotten books about all his areas of concern, too; temporal mysteries in Dark Archive and secrets of undeath and how to become a lich, which many of his worshipers are, in Book of the Dead.

Likely? If I'm honest probably not. I can dream, though.


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New guess: "spiders" alludes to the Jorugumo masters of Shenmen, a haunted land in Tian Xia, as part of a 2023 Tian Xia blitz. With both of the known 2023 APs traveling all over the place (including beyond Avistan), no clear Meta-Region from the Inner Sea seems especially hinted at, and so I'm betting we leave it behind for a Tian romp of some sort. It fits with the Iconic Kineticist being Tian and Rage of Elements adding the two missing wuxing elements to the planes, and the keeper of the Treasure Vault being an Imperial Dragon.

If I'm going full tinfoil hat, then there's the chance "worms" could allude the the neothelid under Dtang Ma from 1e, but that's only really the one singular worm.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Given how we got an answer of "stay tuned" twice when Tian Xia was asked about during PaizoCon, I'm also all aboard the Tian Xia theory train.


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keftiu wrote:
New guess: "spiders" alludes to the Jorugumo masters of Shenmen, a haunted land in Tian Xia, as part of a 2023 Tian Xia blitz.

It could also refer to the Jorugumo who are active in Vyre (notably the Queen of Whispers, Simandu). Vyre's a fun place that I'd be happy to see an adventure revisit.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
keftiu wrote:
New guess: "spiders" alludes to the Jorugumo masters of Shenmen, a haunted land in Tian Xia, as part of a 2023 Tian Xia blitz.
It could also refer to the Jorugumo who are active in Vyre (notably the Queen of Whispers, Simandu). Vyre's a fun place that I'd be happy to see an adventure revisit.

Vyre is very cool, but I feel like we'd be looking at a Hellknights book, rather than a Firebrands one, if we were spending time in Old Cheliax this coming year.


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keftiu wrote:
Vyre is very cool, but I feel like we'd be looking at a Hellknights book, rather than a Firebrands one, if we were spending time in Old Cheliax this coming year.

Vyre is nominally part of Ravounel I thought, which is right in the Firebrands backyard since the Silver Ravens probably have significantly more input on the government of Ravounel than they will admit publicly.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
keftiu wrote:
Vyre is very cool, but I feel like we'd be looking at a Hellknights book, rather than a Firebrands one, if we were spending time in Old Cheliax this coming year.
Vyre is nominally part of Ravounel I thought, which is right in the Firebrands backyard since the Silver Ravens probably have significantly more input on the government of Ravounel than they will admit publicly.

You're definitely not wrong! But given the pattern of giving each of the five organizations in the Lost Omens Character Guide the spotlight, cashing in Old Cheliax leaves a hypothetical Hellknights book somewhat orphaned.

What I'm trying to say is that there's both Firebrands and Hellknights in the region, but it's much harder to find Hellknights outside of it.


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I feel like we're going to get the Hellknight focus when they get around to telling "Cheliax and Andoran are nominally allies against the Whispering Tyrant" story. Due south of the Isle of Terror is the Andoran/Cheliax border and these two countries have been spoiling for war against each other for some years. So there's a very fun story here.

The thing about Vyre is that Vyre is a place you visit towards the end of a campaign, it's super deadly for low level adventurers, but it's one of the best spots for high level intrigue.

Shadow Lodge

keftiu wrote:

You're definitely not wrong! But given the pattern of giving each of the five organizations in the Lost Omens Character Guide the spotlight, cashing in Old Cheliax leaves a hypothetical Hellknights book somewhat orphaned.

What I'm trying to say is that there's both Firebrands and Hellknights in the region, but it's much harder to find Hellknights outside of it.

To say nothing of how the Firebrands in Ravounel are very much on the right (worse) wing of the organization.

Scarab Sages

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Rust makes me think rust monsters and the Plane of Metal, worms make me think of the worm-related Tales of Lost Omens, and spiders could be any number of things.

This could be another Tian-Xia adventure (spiders -> jorogumo -> Shenmen), but I think it might be the Jalmeray/Vudra AP, especially given the article on Vudra and LO: Impossible Lands.

We still don't know anything about the Adventure Path following Stolen Fate, do we?


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Worms is clearly a reference to using worms as fishing bait. They're teasing the new Bassfinder AP. PCs will have to brave treacherous rivers, with hoards of stirges while trying to reel in "The Big One." Special rules for other hazards including sunburn and the dreaded Running out of Beer.

More seriously, I really don't have much clue. Worm the Walks villain?

Rust I likewise don't have much clue, could be early encounters have rust monsters, but that's not really much of a theme, just something that exists. Rust does bring to mind Numeria, but apparently that's been ruled out. It kind of brings to mind Alkenstar too, but we've just had something there.

Spiders makes me think of Grandmother Spider and the Anadi, maybe something set in their homeland of Nurvatcha? I think they've shown up in a few things lately, but they're cool so deserve some more love. And going to southern Garund, off the standard Inner Sea map would be fun. I'm sure they'd weave some great nets for the Bassfinders at least.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Are we sure it was spiders and not Spy Doors?

Dark Archive

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If we go with Tian Xia themes, couldn't rust relate to haunted clockworks? Maybe we getting darklands adventure but this time its in tian xia? xD


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CorvusMask wrote:
If we go with Tian Xia themes, couldn't rust relate to haunted clockworks? Maybe we getting darklands adventure but this time its in tian xia? xD

Pan Majang and the Clicking Caverns make for incredibly cool baddies. I’ve made the case before that the associated surface region (Dtang Ma, Nagajor, Xa Hoi) make a good palette for doing “classic” fantasy adventure with a uniquely Tian spin, and delving into the Darklands to beat up on some haunted clockwork is a perfect angle on that.

I can just imagine the party now: a proud Human Sorcerer out of draconic Dtang Ma, a fearless Nagaji Thaumaturge out to find forgotten lore for her Naga master, a Ysoki Inventor who wants to harness clockwork power, and a Wayang Bard fascinated by all things spooky.


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keftiu wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
If we go with Tian Xia themes, couldn't rust relate to haunted clockworks? Maybe we getting darklands adventure but this time its in tian xia? xD

Pan Majang and the Clicking Caverns make for incredibly cool baddies. I’ve made the case before that the associated surface region (Dtang Ma, Nagajor, Xa Hoi) make a good palette for doing “classic” fantasy adventure with a uniquely Tian spin, and delving into the Darklands to beat up on some haunted clockwork is a perfect angle on that.

I can just imagine the party now: a proud Human Sorcerer out of draconic Dtang Ma, a fearless Nagaji Thaumaturge out to find forgotten lore for her Naga master, a Ysoki Inventor who wants to harness clockwork power, and a Wayang Bard fascinated by all things spooky.

True Torment: Do I snek or do I rat? Both so good.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Saedar wrote:
keftiu wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
If we go with Tian Xia themes, couldn't rust relate to haunted clockworks? Maybe we getting darklands adventure but this time its in tian xia? xD

Pan Majang and the Clicking Caverns make for incredibly cool baddies. I’ve made the case before that the associated surface region (Dtang Ma, Nagajor, Xa Hoi) make a good palette for doing “classic” fantasy adventure with a uniquely Tian spin, and delving into the Darklands to beat up on some haunted clockwork is a perfect angle on that.

I can just imagine the party now: a proud Human Sorcerer out of draconic Dtang Ma, a fearless Nagaji Thaumaturge out to find forgotten lore for her Naga master, a Ysoki Inventor who wants to harness clockwork power, and a Wayang Bard fascinated by all things spooky.

True Torment: Do I snek or do I rat? Both so good.

Beastkin makes it possible to do both!


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I was confident in "rust" referring to a six-book elemental plane AP (there's six of them now, it's perfect!) but now I REALLY want the Clicking Caverns...

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