Interviews

Paizo discusses the future of their products and fan licenses — Gencon 2023

Paizo has a lot to look forward to soon, and it isn’t all coming from Paizo. Let me explain.

First of all, Paizo has some big things on the horizon. Starfinder’s second edition was just announced, using the same three action economy as Pathfinder’s second edition. This means that the two will remain completely compatible, allowing for fans to mix the two settings for adventures both outlandish and fantastical. Pathfinder’s Second Edition is also about to see its remaster, which rebalances the edition and releases it in separate cores for players and GMs to make for easier use and navigation. The new editions will feature necessary rules updates as well as scrub the edition clean of any OGL material,circumventing potential legal snags. New settings with new cultural influences have also just been released, with more on the way. Goblin Firework Fight just came out, a bombastic board game with a title that sells the game all on its own. The second edition rereleases will support local studios with retail exclusive concept art covers (see above) that genuinely fill me with the desire for more of their concept art, whatever form it takes.

I’m sure to follow all of these developments, but what interested me most when talking with Paizo staff was how open and responsible they are about letting fan creators in on the process. You see, rather than the vacuous greed that infects Wizards of the Coast, Paizo’s attitude is both more practically minded towards product quality and more open to letting fans succeed.

You, see, Paizo understands that a healthy fan community lets everyone win. Ongoing support is crucial to keeping customers invested in your product, but one studio cannot do everything. Fans have created their own conversion guides between editions, allowing for new settings,adventures, and options in directions that Paizo simply doesn’t have the bandwidth for. While expanding the material for free, the experience they gain creates a field of proven, dedicated professionals that Paizo can look to when trying to hire designers. Someone who can make good content for you for free on their off time can definitely do it when paid, after all. Too small to keep everything in house, Paizo holds a consistent relationship with freelancers and allows for open submissions to Pathfinder Society; its staff know well how much talent is lurking in the wings ready to be found, and knows better than to throw away such a resource.

The upcoming ORC license is a testament to this philosophy, ensuring a future for independent creators who don’t want to live under the shadow of outright corporate malfeasance. It shows a commitment to the right side of gaming, with genuinely thoughtful features written into the license, such as the fact that it takes up significantly less page space than the OGL.

I am one of the last big fans of Starfinder First Edition, and I will be looking out for Starfinder Enhanced in October. As the siren song of the first edition, it will be crammed with all the optional rules, developer commentary, and weird settings ideas that never got their due. I was most excited to hear about the race of miniature suns that will be featured, along with those rules updates. The playtest for the second edition is coming in the summer of 2024, with the full edition coming in 2025. We fans of Starfinder have a good few years before the page turns and things reset, and I for one intend to get all that I can out of it.

To Paizo, I am grateful that someone out there in the gaming space respects the basement cribnote design that we all came from. RPGs are personal things, and a business that understands that is one that deserves your support and attention. Despite being one of the biggest names in (the small, extremely niche) town of roleplay design, it’s emboldening to know that Paizo is still out there, flying that flag.

Senior Tabletop Editor | [email protected]

John Farrell is a legal aid administrator, living in West Chester Pennsylvania. You can listen to him travel the weird west as Carrie A. Nation in the Joker's Wild podcast at: https://jokerswildpodcast.weebly.com/

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