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Trivia / Pathfinder

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  • Ascended Fanon: Depending on how you classify fanon and what counts as ascending it, but quite a few of the early First Edition books used and referenced monsters from Tome of Horrors Complete, a third party product by Necromancer Games; the initial book on the Darklands (and thus its companion Adventure Path, "Second Darkness") is perhaps the most prominent example of this.
  • Author's Saving Throw: Over the course of Second Edition, some of the Darker and Edgier story elements were downplayed or abolished, leading many players to fear that the setting will suffer from the same problem as its competitor where the setting isn't in need of heroes because it's been sanitized so much. Paizo seems to have anticipated this response, because the Player Core in its introduction to each microregion states the local threats and corruption in no unclear terms when previously players had to dig for them themselves. Absalom for instance is noted to have both the glory and squalor of a major city, and it's said that its opportunity is built on a pile of corpses. Both things were true before, but never mentioned so explicitly, which affirms that regardless of what changes Paizo makes, the setting is still not as "clean" as it initially seemed, allowing each table to explore them in whatever way they feel is fitting for their table.
  • Creator Backlash: Paizo of the 2020s is on-record as saying that the way many races were portrayed in First Edition don't reflect their current values. Since early Pathfinder leaned heavily into having a darker tone than its direct competitor had at the time, they embraced the Always Chaotic Evil trope hard, political correctness be damned, even when D&D itself was experimenting with leaning away from it. In an effort to be more socially conscious, Paizo has been walking back this decision for some time, with Second Edition having several lore tweaks and expansions to portray virtually all sapient ancestries more fairly; even the drow, who Paizo were previously adamant about being nigh-exclusively Chaotic Evil (likely as a bit of creator reaction to the pervasive popularity of a certain ranger back when working for the Wizardly Competition) can now decisively be non-evil as of the Abomination Vaults Adventure Path.
  • Dueling Products: Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons. Pathfinder effectively won against Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, beating it in total sales in 2011-2014, but D&D took back the top spot in February of 2015 courtesy of Fifth Edition, which then proceeded to completely dominate the rest of the decade. The duel went white-hot again in early 2023, though, when Wizards of the Coast's intended changes to the OGL license for One D&D led to a great many jumping ship to Pathfinder, leading to such a sudden explosion in sales that became unstable for much of January 13th, and for eight months of intended book supply to sell out in a few weeks.
  • Manual Misprint:
    • Pathfinder splatbooks have their own version of this problem, usually as a result of multiple design teams and lack of correspondence. It's not uncommon for an early chapter to mention a feat or spell that was later renamed or dropped entirely. 2E books tend to be a lot better about this, but it still happens on occasion.
    • The First Edition supplement Sargava, The Lost Colony is especially notorious for having several outright game breaking bugs in its list of feats due to poor editing: "Monkey Lunge" in particular is completely impossible to use in the basic action economy because it requires a standard action to activate, for an effect that lasts 1 round and can only be applied to the user's attack roll (also a standard action, which you only get one of per turn).
  • Recursive Adaptation: The remastered version of the Kingmaker Adventure Path expands on the original by adding three new chapters, two of which originated from the video game adaptation of the AP before being adapted to tabletop form. The Kingmaker Companion Guide additionally provides rules to incorporate NPC companions, who originated as the PC's companions in the video game, into your tabletop game.
  • Schedule Slip:
    • The Dead God's Hand and Absalom, City of Lost Omens were originally meant to release in February and May 2020 (respectively), but were bottlenecked by the busy schedule of their primary author (and Paizo's publisher) Erik Mona. The latter eventually came out in November 2021, while the former is on indefinite hold.
    • Due to problems with global shipping, the release of Shadows of the Ancients (the final volume of the Strength of Thousands Adventure Path) was delayed from December 2021 to March 2022 (concurrently with the release of the third and final volume of the next AP, Quest for the Frozen Flame).
    • When the crowdfunding campaign for the remastered version of the Kingmaker AP was launched on Game On Tabletop, the expected fulfilment date was listed as 2020, before the Paizo staff realised that they underestimated the true magnitude of the project. The digital products were eventually sent to backers in September 2022, and became available to the general public a month later.
    • After Wizards of the Coast attempted to revoke the Open Game License 1.0a (which Pathfinder had been using for its entire lifespan) in January 2023, Paizo decided to pool most of their resources into remastering Pathfinder Second Edition, leading to Howl of the Wild (which was originally scheduled to be late 2023's rulebook release) and Tian Xia World Guide and Tian Xia Character Guide (two books in the Lost Omens line that were originally intended to be released alongside the Season of Ghosts Adventure Path in October 2023) being pushed to 2024.
  • Screwed by the Lawyers: In 2023, following the Wizards of the Coast OGL controversy in January, Paizo went on a massive spree of Orwellian Retcons to clear the IP of material that originated from Dungeons & Dragons and cannot be used without the OGL, which they were going to drop and replace with the new Open RPG Creative License. This included changing many gameplay mechanics and names to avoid anything that could be seen as a target for WOTC to pursue legal action against them. The drow in particular got it in the shorts and were ejected from the setting entirely in favor of expanding the role of the serpentfolk.
  • Shrug of God:
    • Aroden's death is a mystery that will never get revealed in any official material. As his creator Erik Mona said:
      Erik Mona: Because I don't have a personal theory. I do not know how Aroden died, or why, or who did it, or in which room it happened. I don't find those things to be the interesting parts about him. In fact, it's kind of the one aspect of the character that I don't find particularly interesting. The interesting thing to me is more in the "what now" aspect of what happens to the campaign world when "God" dies. What happens to institutions, to culture, etc. Add to that the idea that this also casts prophecy in doubt, and you've got a bunch of inherent questions that are more interesting to me than "who did it." I never really considered "who did it" when I created Aroden. I left that to be determined later, to be woven into other stories by other authors, very likely stories that hadn't been considered yet, left for future development if we decided to develop it at all. The "working theory" is more something James and others have pieced together in the time since Aroden's creation, tying in the few clues that I left with other cool stuff that they're planning to have a "maybe this is how it went down," but as I mentioned earlier, even that's flexible until we actually decide to address the issue. If we do. I could outline an entire Aroden-focused Adventure Path with all kinds of insight into his life, his cult, and the ruins of his influence, but to be perfectly honest I'm not certain even that would answer the question of how he died. I like that the people of Golarion don't know. So long as there's no "official" answer, the answer is free to be whatever you want it to be.
    • In a downplayed example the books say there may be a way to permanently kill a Spawn of Rovagug or Great Old One, but if so, no one has ever discovered it. This is usually taken to be code for "Unless the DM makes up a way for you to permanently kill them it can't be done." (Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition specified the Tarrasque, rewritten as one of the Greater Spawn in Pathfinder, could be permanently killed with a wish or miracle spell; the Pathfinder statblock omits this.)
  • Streisand Effect: A significant part of the re-ignition of the "duel" with D&D in 2023 involved this; in the first (and utterly disastrous) leaks of the intended changes to the Open Gaming License, the document specifically claimed that "[the] OGL wasn’t intended to fund major competitors", with others noting that the changes felt targeted pointedly at Paizo and other larger third parties that used the OGL. This, of course, made people who had otherwise stayed purely in the D&D ecosystem, particularly the newer generation of players who had come in with 5e and all the media attention from Stranger Things and Critical Role, wonder what in the dickens was going on with these competitors to make Wizards of the Coast take such action. Sales of Pathfinder Second Edition products absolutely exploded as a result.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • According to Wes Schneider, Paizo's former editor-in-chief, there was a "lengthy discussion" about retconning Damiel, the iconic alchemist, to be transgender. It was decided that due to Damiel's mental instability making him the first trans Iconic would send the wrong message, and so they instead decided to come up with a whole new iconic to give more positive representation; hence Shardra. As Crystal Frasier clarified, it was due to the possibility of some people misconstruing Damiel as "all female-to-male transgenders are psychopaths". And that's... not something you want.
      Crystal Frasier: Wes and I had a very long discussion about which Iconic to go with (and I really appreciate being a part of that discussion), and touched on Damiel for a while. It would have been nice to have a trans man character after the excellent representation trans women got with Annevia, but we were worried about Damiel's past making it look like we were painting all trans men as sociopaths. In the end, we settled on the shaman because of the religious role of gender-variant people in many different historical cultures.
    • The Big Bad of the Mummy's Mask Adventure Path was originally intended to be the Incorruptible Pharaoh An-Hepsu XI. The PCs were going to get ahold of An-Hepsu's mummified hand, which he wanted back so he could rebuild his body and reclaim his kingdom. However, the developers had overlooked a note that mentions An-Hepsu XI's epithet (the Lich Pharaoh); since the Big Bad of the AP had to be a mummy instead of a lich, he was replaced by Hakotep I, an otherwise unknown pharaoh whose only mention was as the namesake for the Slave Trenches of Hakotep.
    • The third volume of the Strange Aeons Adventure Path was originally going to feature a double-sized gazetteer of the Dreamlands written by James Jacobs. However, the plan fell through when he was assigned to work on the Updated Re-release of Curse of the Crimson Throne and decided that a hardcover and several adventures written for Call of Cthulhu were sufficient material; the slot was repurposed for a gazetteer of the Sellen River.
    • One of the changes in the playtest version of the 2nd Edition Bestiary (in comparison to 1st Edition) was that the jabberwock turned from a species into a singular, unique being, which was reverted some time before 2nd Edition came out.
  • Word of God:
    • The "Ask James Jacobs ALL your Questions Here!" thread on Paizo's messageboard exists solely to ask creative designer James Jacobs his behind-the-scenes thoughts.
    • The "Questions about Iconic Character Art?" thread on Paizo's messageboard exists solely to ask Wayne Reynolds, the artist for the Iconics, his behind-the-scenes thoughts and information on what went into making the character's designs.