Paizo’s Gen Con 2014 Costume Contest

Normally this would fall into the realm of a Paizo Blog update, but I didn’t want this to get lost in the shuffle.

Every year at Gen Con, Paizo holds their own Pathfinder Costume Contest. Entering is as easy as: 1) Attend Gen Con, 2)  Dress up as your favorite Pathfinder character/NPC/monster/iconic, 3) Stop by the Paizo booth and have your picture taken, and let them know you want to enter. Sure the first step can be non-trivial, but if you’re going anyway why not dress up and have some fun?

This year was an exceptional one for Pathfinder cosplay, and there are a bunch of excellent entries from which to choose. I hesitate to post any pictures here, since I don’t want you to think I’m backing one contestant over another. I mean, I am, but I’ve already voted. But if you follow the link you’ll see the gallery of this year’s contestants.

Voting closes on Monday, September 15 at 2pm Pacific. You can vote on any one person, so stop by and make your voice heard. These folks put a lot of work into their costumes, so show them a little love, Pathfinders!

And, okay, one picture couldn’t hurt. This guy’s Ryan cosplay is so spot on…


Paizo Blog Summary for September 8

Good morning, Pathfinders! As I write this, it’s all ready snowing where I live, making for a grey, cold morning. Let’s pull a chair up to the Paizo Blog and get warm, shall we?

As Monday was a holiday, Tuesday brought the first blog post of the week, a round-up of resources for the Iron Gods Adventure Path. Definitely worth a read if you plan to play or GM that AP (which I am; my steel breaker brawler will go down in legend). But it’s equally useful for Society play, as a handy guide to all the important books for the Year of the Sky Key. Don’t forget to check Additional Resources to see what’s legal, of course.

Wednesday saw the first installment in Stephanie Lorée’s Armored, the latest in Pathfinder Tales free web-fiction. Here’s the first paragraph as a little taste:

The tip of her longsword carved a channel along the beachhead of Lake Encarthan. She dragged the weapon, held it listlessly in her hand. Hers were dark, dirtied hands that knew the weight of good steel, the heft of a man’s heart. She remembered a time when she was clean, though she could not recall the feeling of pristine boot soles, nor of a soul unstained.

If this first installment is any indication, we’re in for another wonderfully layered adventure tale, something I’ve come to expect from the Pathfinder Tales short fiction. Give it a read, tell me what you think.

If you were one of the folks unsure about mixing technology and fantasy, Thursday featured a look at the blending of sci-fi and fantasy elements in literature. Turns out it isn’t a new thing; writers have been doing it since the 1700s to great effect. Besides serving as an overview of sci-fi/fantasy melds, the article is also a great reading list of some of our genre’s best writers. I know I’ve added a few of them to my Kobo already, as I get ready to wile away long winter nights.

Friday brought news that Erik Keith, long-time fixture in Customer Service, is moving over to his new roll as Paizo’s Software Test Engineer.  While he will no longer have a direct hand in helping customers, Erik’s influence will still be felt as he tests all the upcoming features designed to improve the customer’s experience with the website. Best of luck in your new position, Erik!

And finally, Friday also brought another ‘Limited Quantities‘ post from the Paizo Store. If you’ve been holding off, waiting for the perfect time to pick up some books, you might want to check the list and make sure they’ll be there when you want them. Once the items on the list are gone, Paizo has no plans to reprint them, so don’t miss out!

And that’s it for another week. The snow continues to pile up outside, so I’m going to go make sure no bears are sneaking in to start hibernation. Until next week, Pathfinders!

Know Your Nations: City at the Center of the World, Part Three

We continue our Know Your Nations lecture about Absalom Proper.

After 10 minutes pass like sand through an hourglass, a chime brings the room naturally back to their seats and Ophelia returns to her place at the podium.

 “Hello again Pathfinders. I am pleased to see all of you sharing your notes and hopefully adding a few additional notes of your own. However we are not quite done, so if you would turn to page 33, we will continue the lecture with a survey of the Wise Quarter.”

The Wise Quarter is the home of several prominent schools, libraries and different schools of study. Scholars and philosophers from all over the world over congregate in the Wise Quarter to teach, research, and debate all topics that are known to mortals on Golarion. The most prominent school of magic in all of Golarion resides here, the Arcanamirium. Gaining entrance is a rather daunting feat, and many students do not finish their education at this school due to the intensity and high standards placed on all students.

blakrosmuseum But for you the Pathfinder, the location of note you should remember is the Blakros Museum, which can be found in this district. The room begins to murmur at the mention of the Blakros Museum. For the last ten years, we have had an exclusive and comprehensive relationship with the Blakros family and the facilitators of the museum. Although the details of the relationship are enough to spark another lecture, it is important to know that when you act in relation to the Blakros family, you represent the Society at all times. If it were not for them, we as an organization would not be as far developed as we are concerning many archaeological findings and benefits.

Let us move onto what I call “The Gated Districts” which are the Eastgate and Westgate districts. They can be found on pages 38-42 in your books. Eastgate and Westgate serve as residential quarters for the majority of Absalom’s citizens. Most of the residents work in other districts and come home from their adventures to their townhouses and homes in either of these districts.

Like its namesake, Westgate lies on the western expanse of Absalom’s city districts. To the southeast is the Foreign Quarter and to the northeast is the Ivy District. This district is mostly a residential area, yet there are also a number of shops interspersed throughout. The Kortos Cavalry patrols the streets of Westgate as the Sally Guard, and man the Sally Gate on the western walls of Absalom. Eastgate is structured in the same way. It is south of the Precipice Quarter and to the north is the Petals District. Its signifier is the Blue Tower. It is made of pieces of light blue coral, forming a spiraling horn topped with a stone lighthouse. The tower is home to the Winged Sandals, an order of dedicated messengers who worship Iomedae. They say the order was commanded by Aroden himself to be ready to deliver messages to anywhere in Golarion. When magical means of communication don’t work or are not trusted, the Winged Sandals are capable of delivering a message to any place in the world.

Pages 43-58 in your books showcase the more “well-to-do” in Absalom, focusing on the Petal and Ivy Districts.

Ivy_District_mapWhile the Ivy District is one of the smallest districts in Absalom, it is one of the most ascetically pleasing. It derives its name from its tree-lined streets, which attract a wealthier and more aristocratic demographic than the seedier parts of town located down the bluff toward the harbor. Filled with theaters, galleries, and discrete parlor houses, the district draws an eclectic array of artists, minor nobles and famous actors. But with money come extravagance; thus crimes such as prostitution and narcotics thrive among the hedonistic residents.

The Petal District rests atop the Watercleft cliff face upon a rise of land known as Aroden’s Hill. Known as the wealthiest district of the City at the Center of the World, it is also home to the most powerful noble families. The district’s name comes from the well-maintained rows of flowers which run down the center of almost every paved street in brick-framed medians. In the opulent palaces, decadent balconies, and elaborate gardens of the rich and powerful lies the dark truth of the life of the upper classes, who vie for power through poison and murder as often as armistice and negotiation. Two locations Pathfinders should take notice of are The Restful Pathfinder’s Lodge, which some of your teachers may call the “Seeker’s Club”, as many Seekers usually go and rest from recent expeditions. Also, the Tian-Xia embassy remains here despite their former head ambassador and former faction leader Amara Li returning to Tian-Xia.

PZO9211-SkyreachThe Foreign Quarter is known by its title. Foreign merchants with businesses find the area particularly attractive due to an equivalent extension of “citizenry protection” offered to any resident of the Foreign Quarter who has lived there for greater than 3 months. This area of the city has a distinct, culturally exotic feel, even compared to the city as a whole. Makes sense the Society would set-up its headquarters in this district! The Grand Lodge has been here for over four-hundred years! Etched in white stone and standing in the Foreign Quarter, its location grants us a view to not only all of Absalom, but pretty much the entire world.

Which brings us back full circle to this room. It is my hope this lecture has shown you the many wonders of Absalom. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask any one of your teachers and thank you for your time!

Three Vlogs for the Busy Pathfinder

We all have things going on which cut into our game time; work, school, more work. It can be hard finding time to play/GM PFS, never mind the time to prepare for that play. I’ve felt the crunch myself, and I’ve found that vlogs, or video blogs, can be a great way to find information and instruction without adding to my reading load. I’ll usually pop them in as I’m working on other things, and I can absorb the information while I prep.

To help you out, Pathfinders, here are three vlogs I follow on YouTube. Each fills a particular information niche for me, from news and reviews to GM prep. I watch them every week, and I think they’re a good starting point if you’re looking to start your own vlog viewing schedule.

1) Dawnforged Cast – This is actually a YouTube Channel, encompassing a number of gaming vlogs. But there is a lot of good Pathfinder information here, along with a series specifically on Pathfinder Society play. As well, there are series on Pathfinder Basics, GMing Basics, an advice series on playing the various classes, and a weekly ‘Ask the GM’ event for viewers to get their specific questions addressed. A great channel to hit up, especially if you are new to Pathfinder and PFS, but useful to the veteran player/GM as a refresher.

2) The DM’s Craft – If you’ve ever looked at a GM’s amazing home-made terrain and wondered how you’d go about making some of you’re own, this is the vlog for you. Episodes cover everything from making textured dungeon tiles, to doors and dungeon dressing, to simple advice on tools to buy and how to work on a budget. My personal favorite is the vlog about creating gelatinous cubes. There are years of content here, so you’ll never lack for things to build. And each episode is easy to follow, important if you’re just starting your terrain building endeavors. If you’re looking for a way to elevate your table dressing as a GM, I can’t recommend this enough.

3) Know Direction – We’ve mentioned them before, but I really can’t stress enough how useful I find Know Direction. Not only do they provide up-to-date news on the state of Paizo and the Pathfinder game, but they post a great series of interviews with folks like John Compton and Mike Brock. As well, their Con Team does a great job of recording panels at both PaizoCon and Gen Con, making those available to anyone who couldn’t get to the cons (or like me, who was GMing for most of Gen Con). If I’m working on prep or designing a character for my next game, Know Direction is most often what I have on in the background.

So there’s three to get you started. Check them out and let me know what you think in the comments. Do you have gaming vlogs you can’t live without? Drop your suggestions in the comments as well.

Paizo Blog Summary for September 1

September already, Pathfinders. You know what that means, we start the slow slide into winter. Luckily you’ll have these Paizo blog summaries to keep you warm. Let’s begin:

Monday started with a little PFS catch-up from John Compton, regarding the sanctioning of the Emerald Spire and The Mummy’s Mask. As well, he presented an important piece of art which was missed from a scenario; very important to the current season.

Touted as a perfect companion to your Iron Gods campaign, Wednesday saw the release of Tim Pratt’s Reign of Stars novel for the Pathfinder Tales line. Having had a chance to read it, I agree. If you are playing or GMing a game or campaign in Numeria, this novel will give you a great grasp of the look and feel of Numeria and the Technic League. Plus it’s just a really good story, and that’s always worth my time.

On Thursday we were given a preview of Pathfinder Player Companion: Champions of Corruption, rounding out the trilogy along with Champions of Purity and Champions of Balance. If your characters tend to the darker end of the spectrum, this is the book you’ve been anticipating. I’m intrigued by the Nidalese shadow piercings, myself. Looking forward to creating many a creepy NPC with those.

Before jetting off to Dragon*Con, Erik Mona gave us another miniatures preview from upcoming The Lost Coast set on Friday. A mixed bag this time around, as we got two very utilitarian minis and…Pazuzu?! Can’t wait to unleash it on an unsuspecting party of heroes!

And with most of the Paizo staff busy at either Dragon*Con or PAX this past week and weekend, that brings the summary to a close.

Back in July I ran a survey, asking folks about various aspects of the blog. Many of you responded (thank-you for that!), and I now have some really good feedback moving forward. I promised there would be prizes, and so there shall. Congratulations to Paul Rees for winning the signed set of Pathfinder Tales novels from Dave Gross; congratulations to Benoit Gros and Robynn Harris for winning the Pathfinder Tales novel of their choice. I’ll be contacting you soon by email to work out the details. And thanks again to everyone who completed the survey, you input was very valuable.


For the GM: Brent’s GM Carry

(Editor’s Note: Since I have recently returned from the Gamer’s Mecca that is Gen Con, and again, got in discussions with fellow GMs and players about what I carry when I’m ‘working’, I thought I’d reprise this article I posted to my own site about a year ago. A few things in here, like the Critical Hit and Fumble decks, are not useful for PFS. But overall I think it’s a helpful look at a decent GM kit. Hope you enjoy!)

I’ve had a few folks ask me, here and at Gen Con, what I carry with me to GM. So I thought I’d give you a virtual tour of my GM kit. First thing to note, I don’t always carry this full kit with me to every session. What I take depends on the game I’m running, and to a lesser extent who I’m running it for. For instance, most of what you’ll see in the kit is focused towards Pathfinder RPG and other d20 style games, because right now that takes up the majority of my GMing time. But if I were running a Gumshoe system game, I’d take almost none of this kit. So depending on what you run, your mileage may vary.

We start with the case that holds the kit. I used to just pile everything into a book bag, but20130901_112836 that led to a lot of digging during play and a cluttered table when I GMed, and I hated it. There are gaming specific toolboxes you can buy, ranging from $30-$100. Or you can grab a regular toolkit from a hardware store in the $20-$50 range. The kit I use today was a lucky Ikea find; I picked up two of these simple tool boxes for $5 a piece in the “as is” section. It has plenty of space for everything and makes finding items on the fly a breeze. I highly recommend something similar if you are putting together a kit of your own. And if you don’t like a hard case for your kit, get a bag with as many little pockets as you can find, to help keep things organized inside.

20130901_111716Next up, dice and counters. My dice travel in my stylish Dragon Chow bag, and the bag is spacious enough to carry 4-5+ sets comfortably. I used to carry a separate bag of dice to lend new players and such, but these days I have no problem just lending out “my” dice. The counters I use are glass beads from a now defunct gaming accessories company, but you can get coloured beads on the cheap from dollar stores or gardening centres. I use them for everything from Hero Points in Pathfinder, to representing minions on a map when I don’t want to dig out twenty goblin minis. If you have them , you’ll find a use for them.

I always have a variety of writing implements, both for my use and to share. It is especially20130901_111924 important to carry extra pencils, because at least one player will forget. But I also have pens, markers, and dry erase markers in two sizes; the large dry erase are used to draw maps, the smaller to write on my combat pad or make notes on the map. It is important to note: DO NOT mix up your markers and your dry-erase markers (but if you do, rubbing alcohol will remove the ink with a bit of scrubbing). Include a pencil sharpener if you use regular old pencils like me, and a dry cloth (not shown) to erase your map/combat pad.

Speaking of maps and combat pads…okay we weren’t but we are now. I always try to pre-20130901_111948draw my maps on the 1″ square map pads you can get at the stationary store, or through Gaming Paper. But I also bring my dry-erase Flip Mat so I can draw a map on the fly in case the players go somewhere I wasn’t expecting. I also pack along my initiative tracking pad. The pad pictured is the new Pathfinder release of their original tracking pad, and having used it through a busy Gen Con I have to give it an enthusiastic thumbs up. It is wet/dry-erase safe and magnetic, and comes with magnetic tabs. You can also grab a 8″x10″ whiteboard from a stationary store if you’re on a budget. Besides initiative tracking, I sometimes jot down quick notes or reminders during play. And while many GMs push to get away from using screens, I find mine too useful to get rid of. I hang notes to myself on the inside, and items for the players (condition cards, pictures and so on) on the outside.

Next, I include a variety of useful stationary items: sticky pads, index cards, clips (both bulldog and paper), rubber bands…the list goes on. Basically, if you might find it useful20130901_111938 during a day of working at a desk, I likely have at least one or two of it in my kit. Need to remind the party they are still suffering the effects of that curse? Write the effects on a sticky or index card and clip it to your GM screen. Use the index cards to write notes to the players. Or write “Invisible” on a sticky and attach it to a player to remind you his character is invisible (I’ve only done that last one once, but it helped). You won’t always need every item every session, but when you don’t bring it that’s when the need pops up.

And I always pack along the minis I need for each session in a plastic baggy so they don’t 20130901_111907spill into the rest of the kit. Larger minis will just nestle in the bottom of the kit as needed. I try not to pack more than I need if I’m travelling to GM somewhere else, though I will bring extras. And as I said before, the glass counters make great impromptu minions if required.

Now we get into items that are Pathfinder related, so if you aren’t running Pathfinder they won’t be of much use. I have my special card decks from PaizoCritical Hit, Critical20130901_112057 Fumble, Condition Cards, and Buff Deck. The first two I use to spruce up critical hits and fumbles during combat. While I usually save them for important “boss” fights, players in my Pathfinder campaigns love the twists and turns they add to combat. Fumbles become especially feared and memorable, now that they aren’t just an auto miss. The condition cards cover all the negative conditions from the Pathfinder Core Rulebook that can afflict players; I’ll either hand the card to the player, or if it affects more than one, clip it to my GM screen so they can all see. Same with the Buff Deck, which covers all the most common spell and class ability buffs. I find these last two decks super useful, because they cut down on time spent flipping through books during the game. Which in turn means more chances for me to torment my players mercilessly challenge my players.

20130901_112118Next are gewgaws and trinkets that definitely fall in the “your mileage may vary” category. I use some regularly, some not so much. But I pack them in the kit because when I need them, I usually really need them. At the top of the pic are my Dungeon Map and Hit Location randomisers. I try to be descriptive during combats, and the hit location die helps me come up with different body areas on the fly. The Dungeon Map die doesn’t get used as often, but I have had occasion to need a quickie five room dungeon, and it has saved my bacon. The metal squares are from Steel Sqwire and each has the necessary info for the effect stamped on it: Mounted Combat, Righteous Might, and Enlarge Person. Again, not always needed, but can be easily slipped under the affected mini and saves flipping through books for the needed effect. And I also have two sand timers, courtesy of Chessex. They arguably see the least use, but I have used them to great effect to move combat along or add tension during sessions (“You have until the sand runs out to disarm that trap…”). Worth it. I also bring my line-of-sight indicator (right), also from Steel Sqwire, to help avoid any arguments about who can see how much of whom. Basically, any gaming gewgaw that has a chance of keeping my game session running smooth will find its way into my kit.


And here we have the whole kit, loaded and ready to for a night of gaming awesome-sauce. With this kit plus my laptop with all my session notes and rule books, I’m ready for just about anything my players throw at me. Oh, players throwing things, another good reason I use a GM screen…

Do you have a GM kit? Or a must-pack item for either playing or GMing? Drop it in the comments below.

Paizo Blog Summary for August 25

Welcome, Pathfinders! Another week, another summary. As you might expect the week after Gen Con, pickings were light on the blog. Let’s dive in!

Wednesday brought a preview chapter from the upcoming Pathfinder Tales novel Reign of Stars, by Tim Pratt. The novel sees the return of Pratt’s characters Alaeron and Skiver as they take on an investigation for the Technic League. This novel should tie in nicely with the Year of the Sky Key for PFS, and provide a good deal of scenario flavour for GMs. Plus these characters are just fun.

Paizo unveiled their new Community Guidelines on Thursday. Citing a desire for transparency and clarity, the new guidelines can best be summed up by Wheaton’s Law: Don’t Be a Dick. If you’re a regular poster on the Paizo message boards, you should probably give them (and the FAQ) a read.

Erik Mona brought us back to previews of The Lost Coast miniature set on Friday with a look at some scaly foes. I love that Paizo is working to get us all the dragons in all the size categories; as a GM I find that very useful. Dragons aside, I’m almost as excited for the Goblin Snake figure. I love those little psychos, so anything with goblin in the name is cool with me.

And that was our week at the Paizo blog. Hey, I said it was a short week. But on the bright side, it means you have more time to check out our pals over at Know Direction. They recorded a whole series of Paizo panels from Gen Con, just for you. If you didn’t make it out to Gen Con, or just missed the Paizo panels, I recommend you watch and get the scoop on what’s coming next over at Big Purple.

What news out of Gen Con has you the most excited? Let us know in the comments!

Paizo Blog Summary for August 18

As I put this post together, it is 5:30am on the Monday after Gen Con. Whew! What a great weekend, so much gaming goodness. I’ll post my own recap later in the week, but for now let’s dive in to the Paizo blog summary. Not surprisingly, most of it involves Gen Con…

But first we start with Monday‘s announcement of the Season 6.0 Guide to Organized Play. Some pretty important changes to note, so if you don’t read the Guide (but read the Guide) at least read the post and see what’s different.

More Organized Play news on Tuesday, this time of the card variety. That’s right, Tuesday saw the official launch of the Adventure Card Guild with the download of its Guide to Organized play becoming available. If you plan to get involved in the Guild I highly recommend giving it a read. I will admit, I have never played the card game, but what I see of the Organized Play has me interested in trying it out.

From Wednesday onward, as you might guess, the blog was pretty heavy with posts and photos from Gen Con. If you want the full experience I suggest hitting the blog and reading through all the posts; there were many! I’ll hit a few highlights:

  • Paizo updated its PRD to include content from Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Technology Guide and Bestiary 4.
  • A very cool panorama shot of the Sagamore Ballroom, home for PFS at Gen Con.
  • Paizo and its products were nominated for ten different ENnies this year…and won all ten categories including Fans’ Choice for Best Publisher! Woo, and also, hoo!
  • The 10 PFS boons donated to the Gen Con charity auction raised $3,830! Well done, Pathfinders!
  • The final numbers for PFS at Gen Con this year were impressive. Especially when you consider we surpassed last year’s numbers of tables seated by Saturday at noon.

That’s the summary for this week. I have to go meet my ride and start the journey home. Bright the day, Pathfinders!