Owen to Gencon

Know Direction 112 – Owen to Gen Con

This episode is packed! Paizo developer Owen KC Stephens joins us at long last to talk about the Feats Reference Document from Rogue Genius Games. In the banter segment, we prepare you for the upcoming biggest days in gaming. And Ryan brings half of the battle to a discussion for any PFS players interested in GI Joe themed characters for the Year of the Serpent!

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Interview Highlights

Welcome to the show, Owen K.C. Stephens!


—    What does Owen do at Paizo?

o   In-office developer in April.

o   Pathfinder Modules line.

  • Bit of an “odd man out.”
  • First involved with Peril and Plunder. Fairly complex.
  • Experimental line.
  • Don’t want to use the Pathfinder Modules line to revisit every old Adventure Path. Don’t need to do that.
  • Upcoming: RPG Superstar Monica Marlow’s Down the Blighted Path.
  • Modules are easy to skip in terms of Paizo’s schedule. Doesn’t impact the module line or the rest of the other lines.
  • No one person on the module line anymore; all of the developers have a hand in it.

o   Took over Player Companion line when Patrick Renie moved on.

  • Assistant developers help develop them as needed.
  • First one worked on: Melee Tactics Toolbox.
  • First one assigned: Dirty Tactics Toolbox.
  • First one pitched: Heroes of the Street.

o   Host of RPG Superstar 2015. REALLY enjoys it!

o   Dirty Tactics Toolbox

  • Talk about how dirty tactics evolve and operate on Golarion.
  • Worry less about upstanding citizens; more like Daggermark.
  • Practically named for the dirty trick combat maneuver. “What can we do to make dirty trick even dirtier?”
  • Dirty Trick spells and magic.
  • Poisons.
  • Dirty Trick Races. Ryan wants gnomes.

o   Occult Origins

  • Can’t talk a whole lot about it.
  • Look at other Origins player companions for comparisions.
  • Talks a lot about where one finds psychic magic and occult classes on Golarion.
  • Answers the question, “How have I not noticed that there are psychics around?”
  • Contextualize the occult classes over Golarion as a whole.

o   Feat Design

  • How much have we given to a “type” of character lately? More barbarians in book A means less in book B.
  • Who can take the feat?
    • It’s a question of, “What makes sense for the ability?”
    • Who is likely to take the feat?
    • Most feats aren’t class specific.
    • Some are concept specific.
    • Usually require class features rather than class. Fighter is a rare example.
  • We outline it and give it to the freelancers.
  • Developers are trained in doing stuff that makes sense to Paizo to keep things balanced for a range of builds and classes.

—    Owen is going to be a fan at GenCon!

o   Early GenCon impacts the schedule going all the way back to May.

o   Freelancers hunt the halls for work.

  • Be polite; don’t stop editors / developers in the hallway or while eating.
  • Have prior contact with them.
  • Have a business card.
    • Looks professional.
    • Inspire them to give you their business card.
    • Occasionally helps get work.
    • Best way to get work is to put your name in front of people that you want to hire you and make them remember you for positive reasons.
    • Have someone proofread your business cards.
  • Don’t typecast yourself TOO much.

o   Only convention Owen’s definitely going to for the rest of the year.

—    Feat Reference Document

o   Rogue Genius Games

o   Takes every Paizo feat not on the PRD and presents it in an “Open Game Format.”

  • Many of them have Intellectual Property tied into them, and therefore unavailable to the OGL.
  • Feat Reference Document compiles Paizo feats from across all their product lines in one place and scrubs them of IP.
  • Updated with Errata when applicable.
  • Reskins Golarion content to be generic. (Reskins “Osirion” to “An’Karah,” a made-up generic desert setting.
    • Section 15 is designed to have a massive 5-page reference as well as smaller Section 15s for each “imaginary” product.
  • Red-penned to show how (and what) has been scrubed of IP.
  • Designed to be very helpful to 3PP as well as players and GMs.

o   “Why do feats have so much IP?”

  • They are great at showing traditions, societies, customs, and so on. You can tell a story around a good, flavorful feat.

o   Roughly every quarter the PDF will be updated.

o   Print book will also get updates.

o   Archives are useful because they reduce the amount of hunting for products a new player has to do.

o   A trait compendium is an interesting idea, but is tricky.

  • Traits frequently need some sort of context.
  • Dull mechanically, but exciting from a world setting. Without the world setting, traits are boring.
  • Would have to do even MORE alterations.
  • Books of traits don’t sell well. People don’t want a book of 500 traits if they’re only going to take two.
  • No plans for a Spell Reference Document. It would be STUPIDLY huge. Way more spells than feats by page count.

o   Solid seller, but not great.

  • PDFs sell more than print products.
  • RGG is a success for Owen because it has a HUGE backlog from years of work.

—    Horrifically Overpowered Feats Line

o   Rogue Genius Games.

o   “These are horrifically overpowered and badly balanced. Do not use these under any circumstances.”

o   Was a runaway hit.

o   Nothing in the pipeline, but sketches for, “More Horrifically Overpowered, More Feats.”

o   Horrifically Overpowered Spells.

o   “Oh, this isn’t THAT overpowered.” “This is surprisingly NOT as overpowered as I thought.”

o   Something is overpowered if it invalidates existing options.

—    Owen is a fan of Diesel Mech, Alternate History, and Alternatives to Military Vehicles.

o   RGG would TOTALLY do a Dieselpunk Player Companion.

  • Dieselpunk could be compatible with the Anachronistic Adventures classes.

—    Building Your Own RPG Under the OGL

o   OGL prohibits you from using Intellectual Property, including titles of products and products lines as well as specific names for certain game mechanics.

o   You’re now competing with better-established games.

  • Pathfinder
  • D&D 5e
  • 13th Age
  • Mutants and Masterminds
  • Everyone will assume that you will be a clone of one of these other games.

o   If you have a truly unique game, you are your own barrier.

o   Diversity of games is proof that the OGL was good for the industry.

—    Green Ronin

o   Owen is the Pathfinder Developer.

  • Pathfinder Freeport Companion.
  • Pathfinder Advanced Bestiary.
  • Looking at releasing shorter PDFs targeted at supporting Freeport to get back into regular releases.

o   Freeport Companion

  • Tons of information; 540-pages.
  • New classes for Freeport.
  • Insanity rules.
  • Spells for a nasty, urban, nautical, eldritch horror setting.
  • You can run a campaign for a long time quite happily.
  • Perram wants to play a Cult Tyrant.
    • Occult Adventures will tie in REALLY well in ways Owen can’t talk about.

—    Vaeranthea Codex

o   Crazy-fantasy campaign setting book.

o   Biggest book RGG has ever done.

—    Owen’s Head Meme

o   Ryan Started. Perram made one for the show.

o   People started slapping Owen’s head on art after he wasn’t able to make the last episode of Know Direction.

o   HashTag Owen’s Head.

  • Doctor Doom
  • Vito
  • Infant
  • Napoleonic General
  • Magic Mike

o   Sign of love.

o   Good promotion.


Jefferson Thacker

Before Perram joined Know Direction as the show’s first full time co-host, the podcast could have best been describe as a bunch of Pathfinder RPG stuff. Perram brings a knowledge of and love for Golarion to Know Direction, something any Pathfinder podcast is lacking without. On top of being a man on the pulse of the Pathfinder campaign setting, Perram is the founder of the superlative site for Pathfinder spellcasters, Perram’s Spellbook, a free web application that creates customized spell cards.

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