A number of years ago (after many more years of a hiatus from running roleplaying games), I started hearing about how the 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons lived on in the form of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. I also learned of the Pathfinder Tales line of novels that takes place in the Pathfinder campaign world of Golarion. I was told that many of the Tales novels were quite good, and they were. I bought a number of the novels. I bought the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, the Bestiaries, the Inner Sea World Guide, and, (because of my Norwegian immigrant heritage and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings) since I’m a Northern-phile, the campaign setting The Lands of the Linnorm Kings. I tried to get a game going, but it didn’t work out.
Then, here in the Isle City of Winona, Minnesota, River Quest Games opened up. Suddenly there was a place in which to play (the store’s owner has set up a corner to resemble the family living room in which he rpg’d in his youth) and a number of interested people. At this time, though, not even this was enough to get me running a game, until one of my sons expressed a desire to experience the form. (It’s my view that for many of our youngest people traditional table-top rpgs remain inscrutable: they require a formidable amount of passion, time, imagination, reading comprehension, math calculation, and all around work that is seductively shorthanded in the related genre of video rpg games.)
Finally, a longtime friend El Gibbs (the gnome poisoner Gish Gallup in my resulting Tower of the Valkyrie campaign) agreed to provide doodles, drawings, and “sh**ty comics” for this site. This is appreciated indeed, for a website isn’t much fun without a little something more to draw the eye. In my youth, I quite foolishly waved goodbye to my intermediate penciling talent in order to focus exclusively on writing.
Which brings me to a few words about myself: I recently turned forty. I was born in 1975. Ever since discovering The Lord of the Rings in fifth grade, it has been my ambition to 1. Escape into Middle-Earth and 2. Failing that, to write a fantasy epic after the model of Tolkien’s primary achievement. Pursuant of the first goal, in my youth I began my experience with rpgs with I.C.E.’s Middle-Earth Roleplaying. Pursuant of the second, I have written numerous stories and novel manuscripts, most of them fantasy themed, some published in my own short-lived 2000-2001 magazine that I produced with my close friend Nick Ozment. Eventually I earned a Master’s degree in English Language and Literature. I currently sporadically teach the subject at Winona State University.
All roleplaying games are idea machines. I love Golarion, the Pathfinder campaign setting. Character creation is my favorite gaming process: even when I design a simple NPC, I feel the need to spin out long origin narratives, to catalyze them with other character backstories. I love how roleplaying games provide opportunities for inspiration and spontaneity.
This blog will contain two features:
I feel like I am at the height of my powers, both as a gamer and as a storyteller. I have surprised myself during this current campaign: never in my life, do I feel, have I spent so much time, nor worked so hard, playing in someone else’s universe (West End’s Star Wars: The Role-playing Game might come close). Yes, I am making full use of the campaign materials I have purchased from Paizo (and River Quest Games). Using them feels collaborative, a cycle of inspiration. Matthew Goodall’s, et al. Lands of the Linnorm Kings provides a structure in which I might construct my own stories, locations, and wonders. I intend to post all of my self-generated campaign materials here on this site. These may serve as inspiration to other GMs. They also might be interesting reading in their own right, appearing as suggestions for more detailed stories and as a campaign journal for my players.
The other component will be Pathfinder fiction. Player characters can be a disparate lot. It’s easy enough to come up with backstories, motivations, and reasons for their coming together in a party, but some of these rationale can stretch pretty thin. Moreover, these characters don’t belong exclusively to the GM. They have minds of their own (which, now that I think of it, isn’t all that different from traditional writing — many writers share anecdotes about how their solely-created characters make unexpected actions). A good GM will begin shaping her narrative to accommodate these actions, and, as such, the genre of roleplaying game is collaborative and improvisational, often humorous, even a fit spectator activity (as evidenced by Matthew Mercer and Company’s Critical Role). But, for the production of consistent fiction, I believe there still is much to be said for the activity of a single, dominating mind. I have found the exercise of GMing not only to be satisfying in its own right but to provide a “rough draft” for more immersive written narrative. I am sure many of the authors of the Pathfinder Tales series of novels would agree.
Finally, obviously this website makes use of intellectual property owned by Paizo. I believe, however, that I am working within the bounds as determined by Paizo’s “Community Use Policy.” I would like not only to thank Paizo for being so generous with its rules and campaign setting but also to thank it for creating such an interesting, diverse and complex world as Golarion. Playing and working with Paizo’s materials has cemented for me what began as a suspicion that what Gary Gygax and others back in the 1970s began to do with Dungeons & Dragons was not only to create a new, post-Tolkienian genre, activity and art form but to create a format in which the coolest elements of all worlds and genres might intermingle, a feat comparable only, perhaps, to the superhero universes of Marvel and DC Comics. Paizo’s “Community Use Policy” is given below. It also appears on my “About” page.
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