Know Direction 285 In Writing

Know Direction 285: Introducing Esther and Navaar Transcript

Esther: Hi, and welcome to Know Direction, your number one source for Pathfinder news, reviews ,and interviews. I’m Esther Wallace, and I use she and zhe pronouns, and I’m here with my co-host, Navaar Jackson.

Navaar: Hi. Yeah, I’m Navaar. I use he, him pronouns and I am very excited to be here. As you can tell, listener, we are two new voices to you. Surprise! We’ll explain some of that, I guess.

Esther: Yeah, we’ll get into it.

Navaar: I guess we should start with who we are. Uh, if you wanna go first, who is Esther? And why are you here?

Esther: Thank you so much. I am the host of the Pathfinder 2E actual play podcast Chromythica; I am the GM of the show. And I have sort of been around the actual play space for a couple of years now. I am disabled and you can find a lot of my writing about the intersections of disability and the TTRPG space on Twitter.

Esther: And I’m also in my professional life, a Director of Religious Education at a Unitarian Universalist church. And I think a lot about the ways in which spaces of ritual and kind of sacred practice overlap with habits of gaming. So that’s kind of what I’m bringing to the show.

Navaar: And I am the host of the Secret Nerd Podcast, which is where I started in podcasting. Uh, Secret Nerd Podcast is an interview podcast where we have discussions with people about their individual experiences in the TTRPG space with a focus on diversity and inclusion. through the show, I have met incredible game designers, performers, writers, just fans of the genre.

Navaar: I have gone on journeys of, learning about autism through my show and, and so many other things, and it’s been a really incredible experience. So, that’s kind of how it got started and I am now also a cast member of a show that isn’t out yet, but will be out soon, called An Unwavering Force, which is a Star Wars podcast, but played in Pathfinder 2E ystem.

Navaar: I’ve also been just like a really big fan of Pathfinder 2E and I’ve talked about it almost every episode of my show, try to convince people to play it. So to be able to talk about it now dedicated for a show is, uh, something I’m really looking forward to.

Esther: Can attest. I have listened to almost every episode of your show, and Pathfinder 2E comes up a great deal, so —

Navaar: Thank you!

Esther: I’m really excited to get to talk about it with you in this forum.

Navaar: Yeah, absolutely. What we’re gonna kind of do with this episode is just introduce ourselves to y’all and kind of give you some background on who we are, a little bit more than what we already did, so you get an idea of what we’re bringing to the table. We’ll also outline some of the ways that the show will change and stay the same, and some of the things that we’re excited about. You kind of touched on it, but like, how did you get into, TTRPGs, for the people who have never listened to our episode together on the Secret Nerd Podcast?

Esther: Yeah, always happy to talk about this. So I was raised in a super evangelical conservative Christian home. The kind where the Satanic panic was absolutely a thing, and tabletop RPGs were really sold to me through that culture and through some, like, teachings of my parents as a tool of Satan. Like, the devil was gonna come get you!

Esther: So one summer I went to a nerd camp and I was hanging out, like taking these dorky, amazing classes with a bunch of other, I don’t know, ninth graders. And uh, we were taking a class called the Evolution of Fantasy Literature. As part of that class, our TA — a wonderful guy, shout out to David DeWeese! David decided to DM a session of D&D –it must have been 3.0 or 3.5 — for us. And I was able to design my own character. We then like, combined characters and co- played together, and we met a dragon, we fought a lich. It was really awesome! And I ended that session being like, oh my goodness, Dungeons and Dragons is the best thing ever. And a little bit worried like, okay, if this is actually the devil… it doesn’t seem like it is, but maybe the devil is fun? What’s happening?!

Esther: So I went home and kept playing. Like these were the days when people would play over AIM chat and we would like roll dice in that system and have little mini campaigns in 3.5. 

Esther: And then I took a little break when I got to college. A lot changed for me then. I came out, I kind of had this total revolution of thought and of who I was. And though I was very exposed to tabletop, like a bunch of my good friends played VTM, Vampire: The Masquerade and World of Darkness games, and I’d be invited to sit in on those sometimes, I didn’t actually start playing until several years after college when a friend of mine Justin invited me to co-GM a Pathfinder 1E game. At that point, I learned that system and started playing it and just completely fell in love with the game and started to get a little bit more involved in the space. So that’s my tabletop genesis story.

Navaar: For me, I didn’t get to play tabletop games until I was in college. I think I was 19 at the time. And I had a roommate who would just mysteriously leave on a weekend, every other weekend. And he’d be gone for hours. And one time we were just like, where, where are you going? What is going on?

Navaar: Uh, and we were all nerds. So we all, like, we all read the same fantasy novels together. And, and he had the books, I just never really looked at them. And he showed me these books for D&D 3.5. And so I was looking at it and seeing like the different characters I could play and was very excited. And, he explained to me the history of 3.0 and 3.5 and Fourth Edition and Pathfinder First Edition. But because it was like a, this was a group of people who played D&D 3.5, they were like, well, Pathfinder is like, you know, the other, the other guy. Anyway, I got to play! And I made a Shifter Ranger. As a Lord of the Rings fan as a kid, Ranger has always been my Supreme — the the best class, uh, that I can play. I, to this day, I still wanna play Ranger all the time. I am currently playing a Ranger! It’s just so good. 

Navaar: But anyway, so yeah, but back then, like you had to have like, a longsword and you have to offset it with the shortsword because of the penalties and stuff. It was, it was a lot of fun.

Navaar: But I didn’t get to play too many sessions because I moved. And then it was probably 10 years before I got to play again. Every time I tried, my friends just weren’t into it. Or I like considered getting on Roll20, to just join random groups, but I don’t really do well with strangers, especially online strangers.

Navaar: So I — that didn’t pan out. It was, it was a lot of Weird posts that people would place in order to get people to wanna play their game. I was not a fan, so uh, I said no. 

Navaar: And then I just kept talking about it. I was starting to listen to Actual Play podcasts and my buddy was like, “Oh, well our other friend from high school plays D&D. maybe we can get him to play.” So then we start talking. I convinced him to come to the house and like, make characters cause we were gonna play for another person. And while he was at the house, I was like, “How about you just like, GM a quick little scenario? Just like, something. Just so I can like, get the idea of playing this?”

Navaar: And so he did. And then that week I created a campaign setting. And I called him and I was like, “Hey, so I created this campaign setting. What if you ran the game? And I just like– we, you and I– like, built the world together.” It started with that. And that was, that was still Fifth Edition of D&D at that point.

Navaar: And then we played for a while. I started to learn how to GM, and then I got the Pathfinder 2E edition books for Christmas and never looked back.

Esther: I was gonna ask you what your first experience playing Pathfinder 2E was like!

Navaar: It was really cool. So of course it was a learning experience because the rules for 2E, as the listeners know, are much different — different than 5e. I don’t think that they’re hard to learn. I just think it’s, it’s a different thing when you’re created a mindset of like, this is the rules I’m following.

Navaar: But that said, I had to not only learn the rules, but I had to learn the rules to run them for my friend. At the time, the friends that we were playing D&D with, we stopped playing D&D partially because I got the books for Pathfinder, partially because we were all just so busy.

Navaar: I said, “I’m gonna run the game just for you, and I will just figure out how to make it work so that you can still have like, a balanced fun.” 

Navaar: So I let ’em start at second level. I’ve always like, as a GM thought of like, you know, general like soldiers — like, I never wanted them to be the same, the same level or the same power as a player.

Navaar: Because to me it’s like, if you’re the hero of the story, ten soldiers might be a challenging fight, but it shouldn’t be something that’s like, deadly. So I created all these different things. And then our other friend, she wanted to start playing again. The second session, she came and joined.

Navaar: So then I had two players, which was a lot of fun. And yeah, it was really cool. I, I built a scenario in the Mwangi Expanse. This was before the Mwangi Expanse book actually came out. The resources on this were so limited. It was really bad. I really wanted to use the Song’o Halflings; there was almost no information about them. And so I used like stuff that was on the wiki, which was very limited, and I ended up just making a lot of decisions about like how things would be. Like, my buddy wanted to be a Druid and I was like, “okay, well this is how a Druid is gonna work in the Mwangi expanse, in the civilization of the Song’o Halflings.”

Navaar: My other friend, she wanted to be like an alchemist that was from a different country that came to like just find herbs. So that was kind of easy to fit in. They encountered people who were like trying to recolonize the area and they, they started taking them out and then they had to go fight some boggards ‘cuz they kidnapped somebody else.

Navaar: They used Stealth instead of fighting. So it was a lot of fun. A lot of like, I planned it to go this way and it didn’t go this way. And then it was only a short few months after that the Mwangi Expanse came out. I called my local friendly gaming store and I said, “please hold this book for me! I will pick this up as soon as I’m done at work.” And I went and got it and, uh, I realized that I was pretty close on a lot of things, which was cool. But yeah, it’s, it’s a lot of fun. I really, I really love GMing Pathfinder 2E. Like, it’s so much fun: the options, the ways that you can like, incorporate stuff from the players’ character sheets, the monsters. And the setting, of course. How about about you?

Esther: All of the above!

Navaar: Yeah. 

Esther: All of the above. I love how many similarities I hear in your style and mine as you’re telling this story. The willingness to be flexible with the lore and like, paint in the blank spaces and really make it your own. And then starting level two. I, I love doing that as a practice like, if you’ve been existing in this world for a while and you have some depth in your backstory, to me it’s a natural extension of that. Love it. 

Esther: So my first experience was after we sort of, we played a Pathfinder 1E campaign that I co-GMed. And I have to admit, 1E was a struggle for me to learn. I am not always the most mathematically inclined person and the one-page flowchart sheet for how to grapple someone really almost defeated me.

Navaar: It’s so ridiculous. First edition, yeah, I’m glad that they took that stuff out for combat. 

Esther: Yeah.

Navaar: What is it called? CMB and CMD.

Esther: Mm. My old friends! [laughs]

Navaar: Yes. So glad it’s gone.

Esther: Yeah, same. So 2E was coming out and this same friend Justin, who is now a cast member of Chromythica — Justin pitched to me and a couple other people, like a short-term, “let’s play in this system and see how it goes” campaign. And I was pretty resistant. I was like, I just learned this really hard for me system that you pitched to me and now you’re telling me I gotta learn the second edition?!

Esther: And basically the minute I started making a character in my character sheet, I was like, “oh, I really like this.” And I made a half-orc Champion. Uh, she was a Lawful Good Champion, and I had so much fun playing in that class. I was not expecting to, but Retributive Strike, ooh! It really spoke to me. So I had been talking with some friends for a while about doing a long-term campaign that I GMed and potentially streaming it, and Pathfinder 2E was such an easy decision for me.

Esther: It was just a beautiful, elegantly designed system and I I love — and I think we’ll get to this in our conversation– I love the ways in which Pathfinder 2E really takes experiences, player experiences, writer and designer experiences, that have more often been on the margins of game design and really begins to bring them to the center. And I’m all about that, as I know you are. So it really, really resonated with me.

Navaar: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Like I think having the Mwangi Expanse, when that book came out was like, that was such an incredible experience as a, as a player, as a gm, as a reader, to see like, yeah, we got all of these incredible Black authors to write this stuff and to like, take care. The way that they worked in, the use of like, not exotifying the setting and the people in it and how to like, be an explorer in a place like this. Which is like, it’s so important for people who don’t come from marginalized cultures to like, read that and understand this is a way that you can do this respectfully, which I think is incredible. I really love that. 

Navaar: When I was playing D&D I always made a homebrew world. The Forgotten Realms has never really spoken to me. Pathfinder 2E is different in that I almost always use Golarion and the Mwangi Expanse as like the primary source. So like I wrote a, a small, like one-shot adventure that’s available on Pathfinder Infinite, and that’s set in Kibwe. And I’ve done multiple, like one shots for the show and, and for home games, and those have all been set in the Mwangi Expanse as well. The other really cool thing is like the spaces that it still leaves like vague. So like, we explored Vidrian and it says like, there’s a council and there’s a couple, there’s like three council members that are on there.

Navaar: And I was like, okay, well I want more people on this council. So, part of like joining the TTRPG space, I became very aware of like how people who are disabled are left out of the conversation a lot in TTRPGs. So as my players went to the council building, they had to go up a ramp. One of the council members uses a wheelchair. And so like, I wanted to make it like all like very accessible. I think I actually had one counselor, was deaf and had a translator with them, signing, to hold the conversation for them. So yeah, it was, I mean, things like that, like, because it was vague in that there aren’t — there is this council, here’s just a few people.

Navaar: I then felt like, cool, now I can go in and put in these other people and you know, create space for other people to be represented in a game. Even if it’s a home game, I still think it’s super important. 

Esther: Absolutely. I love a good disability rep and a good accessibility rep. That ramp is amazing. It really brings home to me the point that I think is, is so critical about this system, that it’s a great foundation and you can add things to that foundation and paint in around the edges and, and increase the picture, or you can subtract things as necessary. And the underlying system itself lets you toy around with a setting like that.

Esther: And for me, as you know, I am very liberal about subtracting things when I don’t necessarily vibe with them and I don’t feel like 2E the system has ever punished me for changing something in Golarion, and I love that.

Navaar: It’s been a lot of fun to play with and I think like the ways in which we continue to get more setting material, right? Like, the Mwangi Expanse is probably my favorite, but there have been others that have come out. You know, we have the city of Absalom, Impossible Lands is something that you and I are very excited to talk about, which is a more recent one. I have made predictions on my show about things that I think are coming in the future. There’s a lot of Golarion to explore still in setting books, and I’m, I’m excited to see what else pops up in the near future.

Esther: Same, very much the same.

Navaar: I mean, what else are you excited for? So what’s really cool about this, about you and I being the new co-hosts of the show in this time, is that the TTRPG space is kind of in a big transition, and there are more and more people coming over to Pathfinder. We talked a little bit about like, the things that excite us, so far that we’ve done, but like, what are some things that are, that you’re excited about from Paizo, from Pathfinder, from, you know, the TTRPG space in, as a whole?

Esther: Oh, I love this question. I am firstly really excited that so many folks are trying Pathfinder 2E for the first time. If that is what is bringing you to this show, if you like, typed into your search engine, “Pathfinder + show +reviews” and you got here, welcome! We are so excited to have you. I think there’s such a wonderful opportunity to ensure that those who are often forgotten about in this space or made to feel that we don’t belong or that we’re on the margins are welcome here, are centered here, are really treated with respect and admiration, and you and I are really about that.

Esther: So I’m excited to continue the spirit of that with this show and really commit to that as a cohost. I am personally really excited about the new Harrow Deck coming out. I am a big lover of fortune and cards and playing with that a bit in real life. So the opportunities in a magical world, in fiction, where I can tinker with the Gods influencing things are just divine! Not to make a bad pun.

Navaar: Yeah.

Esther: But I am, I’m so excited for that. And I am personally really excited to play around with a setting and maybe a campaign in the, from the Book of the Dead. I am often not a big horror or undeath person, but I read that book and I was like, oh, I am ready. I’m ready to take it on! So that’s on the horizon in my future.

Navaar: Yeah, definitely. I agree with the things that you said. Like I mentioned, the Impossible Lands is really cool. So the, the Mwangi Expanse — for people who don’t know that much about Golarion, like Mwangi Expanse is part of the continent that is like the Fantasy Africa, but it’s only part of it.

Navaar: And so there’s other parts of it, and the other parts of it are covered in Impossible Lands. And so I’m very excited to dig into that because it takes a lot of the rest of that area as well as, Egypt and South Asia and Southwest Asia. And so, yeah, I think it’s, it’s gonna be really exciting to dig into that.

Navaar: I love all the new classes that are coming out. I currently am — this isn’t too much of a spoiler — in a game, I’m currently playing a Psychic and my god, it’s so good. It makes you feel like, if you’re a big fan of like, telekinesis in any sort of media, they really did a great job with the design to make you feel, like that kind of a, of a hero, that kind of a character. So I really, really love that. 

Navaar: I love mysteries and horror. So Book of the Dead, The Dark Archives, I will be pulling a lot of material from that, for both home games and for things that I write, because it’s just a joy. But yeah, there’s still like, there are still classes, like classes from Pathfinder First Edition that haven’t come out yet that I hope to see or hope to see a version of, primarily the Slayer. That’s the big one that I’m waiting for, which is like a, like a Ranger/Rogue mix. Once that comes out, I will, I will be asking repeatedly for somebody to run a game for me so I can do this, I can play a Slayer.

Esther: That’s gonna be amazing. I am looking forward to the Kineticst dropping. Very excited about that. And there are still so many classes that I have not gotten to play as a player. My first long-term character was a Ranger. Shout-out to what you said about loving Rangers! The 2E version of a Ranger is amazing. Highly recommend. 

Esther: So I’m excited about maybe playing a Kineticist. I would love to play a caster one day, like a Bard or a Wizard maybe, ’cause I haven’t really played a traditional caster in some time and I’d have a lot of fun with that. I also really wanna play somebody of Leshy or Iruxi ancestry. Those are two that I’m, I’m waiting… I’m waiting patiently.

Navaar: Yeah. I am playing a Sorcerer who’s multiclassed as a Wizard. So I’m playing the Strength of Thousands, Adventure Path, written by many friends of the show of Know Direction. So this was an Adventure Path– for those who don’t know, Quinn Murphy wrote the second book. Quinn Murphy, friend of Know Direction.

Navaar: Quinn Murphy has become like a mentor to me. And so I really, really, really wanted to play the Adventure Path that he wrote as well as Michelle Jones. And so my best friend has never ran a game. And he’s like, “I don’t know if I could do it like homebrew. I, I really need something to run.” And I was like, “okay, well this is what you’re running, since you’ve decided that that’s gonna be the thing. So I want to play this game and I want you to run it.”

Navaar: And so I created a Gnoll Sorcerer. I have a little tiny hyena familiar named Shuri. She has wings sometimes. It’s really interesting to have like super high Charisma and super high Intelligence and be in a school, in a magic school. I love it. It’s, it’s a lot of fun. I’m excited to see like, higher levels, how that plays out. But so far it’s been, it’s been really wild.

Navaar: I tend to split the party. I like to convince people like, “we got these tasks and it’s timed, so like, let’s just, let’s split the party. I go with the Barbarian. You two go together, we’ll be fine. I’m sure it’ll work out.” It almost never works out. 

Esther: Always split the party. Always.

Navaar: Always split the party, though. It’s better for the narrative, I think. I do wanna say real quick, because we talked about [the] potential of so many people coming over to start Pathfinder 2E: if you are new to Pathfinder 2E and you’ve been a D&D 5e player for a long time and you’re listening to us talk about Rangers and you’re like, “well, the 5e Ranger isn’t great,” I’ve gotten news for you. The 2E Ranger really, really, really is fantastic. Because of the way that character creation works in Pathfinder 2E, like, you have so many different options. Uh, how you build your character. So you can really like, make an amazing character that way, whether you decide to do archery or animal companion or two swords. Or, there’s feats to help you do both! It’s great. Play play a Ranger. 

Esther: If you’re, if you’re just coming over from 5E or another system and have never played a 2E Ranger, I decided to get really funky with my ranger design. I built her as a crossbow build. I’d never used a crossbow before and I was like, “well, this is either really gonna work or I’m gonna have a conversation with my GM about changing this build.”

Esther: It really worked. It was so much fun. She was a tank in battle, and if your GM is cool with you using the free archetype system, I multiclassed her as a Witch. So she was doing really cool, funky things with spells in battle, but also able to support the party in really neat ways and occasionally be a face so you can just do so much with social interactions in this game as well as combat.

Esther: And I think sometimes people can be a little skeptical of that. Like, isn’t it a game built primarily for combat? Maybe so, but is somebody who really uses the system to focus on social scenarios as well, it’s great for that, too.

Navaar: Yeah, because you, yeah, you get your Skill Feats and you get General Feats, and those, they don’t have to be something you use in combat. I mean, the ones that are for combat aren’t generally like massive things, it’s like something else that can add to it. But you get like certain stuff that helps you in a social situation and then find that it now has become important for your story. And that always feels really good, when you’re actually working with the mechanics that are, are there or there’s mechanics there for you to work with in the first place. So yeah, I, uh, I love it. 

Navaar: I didn’t talk about this, but I do, I really want to play an Anadi, which is the spider people. I have an Anadi Magus built that I haven’t got to play yet that I’m super excited for. That’s a really fun class.

Esther: Mmm. I would also love to play a person of Anadi ancestry. Yes. That sounds amazing.

Navaar: Yeah. If there is one problem with Pathfinder 2E, it, it might be [that] there’s so many options. But if you just, jump on a builder and start building characters, then you just, it’s like, cool. you’ll continue to do it until you have so many. [laughs]. Uh, and you’re like, “I, I don’t know what to do this. I need people to, to start running these games now.”

Esther: Got ’em all lined up.

Navaar: Yeah, we got ’em all lined up. So yeah, I’m super excited. There’s a lot of things, and I mean, and basic stuff too. I really wanna play like an Orc Cleric. I have this really dream backstory that I wanna play out one day that I’ve been thinking about for like, over a year.

Navaar: But there’s so many options and they just keep coming out with stuff. I like to build NPCs for– I do monsters in my fights as GM, but because you don’t, as a GM you don’t generally get to have like, your PC character, I’m like, “okay, well, I’m gonna make this NPC really, really cool.” so yeah, I’ve got some, I got some fun NPC characters. I like to scare people with monks. And monks are also really badass in Pathfinder 2E.

Esther: Yes they are. I love, as you were saying, the diversity of options in this system. I think sometimes new folks can come in and be a little overwhelmed. And I’m always like, wait, wait, just try making a character and I’ll help walk you through it. And then so often they’re like, oh, this really clicks, these mechanics really make sense to me.

Esther: And I found that to be the case when I first built my characters. And yes, I love giving NPCs juice. I’m like, if I don’t get to play, I’m gonna make this person so memorable. And if they become an ally or an antagonist, it’s gonna be all the more flavorful and all the more rewarding for y’all.

Navaar: Remind me, when An Unwavering Force premieres, to talk about the character that I built there. Because he is… it’s outrageous. It’s kind of min-max-y. It’s just super cool. But I don’t wanna talk about it because the show’s not out yet, and I would like people to learn about him, through the story. As soon as that comes out, just know that I will be spilling on some stuff, 

Esther: I am looking very forward to.

Navaar: Thank you. 

Navaar: Yeah, so, in terms of the show itself, if you’re a longtime listener slash viewer of Know Direction, there will be some changes just to fit mostly into what works best for the two of us as well as for the show’s direction. Do you wanna go over some of those changes?

Esther: Yeah, for the first little while — and maybe a long time, we are still adjusting as both of our lives are shifting around some in the next several months– we are gonna be producing just a podcast version of the show. And you know, maybe live shows will come back at some point as specials or as more regular specials for our Patreon subscribers. We’re gonna play around with that. But for now, we’re coming to you just in podcast form.

Navaar: Yeah, it’ll be every other week in podcast form. If you wanna catch our faces, I guess follow us on Twitter or other social media? Yeah, for the time being, this is what’s gonna work best for us. I think it’s something that you and I have talked about, a lot is like, how do you… hOw do you like hold accessibility for yourself as well? And because of just our lives and the busy schedules that we have, and like you mentioned, upcoming changes over the next few months, this is a way that we can provide you with a great show, but also take care of ourselves and not burn ourselves out [laughs] in the process.

Esther: Yeah, we wanna bring you the best show that we can, and to do that, I think it’s really important we take care of ourselves and give ourselves the time we need to rest and make a great product that we’re really proud of and that we hope you really enjoy.

Navaar: Yeah, absolutely. In that same vein, we will still be doing interviews with people from Paizo, both employees and freelance writers. We will still be doing reviews of books and whatever other news comes up, of course, as well, as those things come. But, uh, very excited to dig into– we do,we have plans for some of the next couple of episodes that we are really looking forward to getting into. It’s gonna be a good time.

Esther: It’s gonna be a great time. I would also add to that, we both have, as you may have surmised by this point, deep connections with the Actual Pay community. So I’m also really excited to have folks from the AP groups on the show and really get to know some of the stories that are being told out in the world using this system.

Navaar: Yeah, I think that’s a, a really, really fantastic. I think one of the things that’s always been important for me with the Secret Nerd podcast, as I mentioned, is like providing, marginalized voices with the platform to talk about their stuff. And I think, Pathfinder especially because it’s been the newer system that people are moving towards, like, there aren’t that many people, who fit that description doing Pathfinder 2E stuff as of yet. I know that that’s changing and so I’m really excited to like, give more people the chance to talk about those things that they’re doing and the shows that they’re creating and, and all of these different stuff. ‘Cause there’s a lot of really, really good media out there, especially for Pathfinder 2E already, and I’m hoping that more people continue to, to make stuff. As inundated as the AP space is, like, I still think having more stories out there is such an important thing.

Esther: I think one thing that you can expect from this show is that we continue to amplify Black creators in the space, trans creators, disabled folks, queer folks — like we’ve said, really folks that are historically marginalized, and maybe haven’t gotten as much of a chance to talk about their creativity. We’re all about that and giving folks a platform. As this show has done in the past.

Navaar: Yes, absolutely. Yeah. This was actually one of the first shows to have me on to talk about stuff. So shout out to Michelle and Perram for bringing me on back last year around this time, actually. 

Navaar: Kind of to go back to some of the Pathfinder stuff that we enjoy, do you have as of yet a favorite product that Pathfinder has put out?

Esther: I’m gonna have to say that it’s either the Lost Omens Ancestry Guide or the Book of the Dead. Both of those just surprised me in really fun ways. I read through the the Ancestry Guide and I was like, “well, now I’ve got eight more characters lined up to go. Here we are, yet again! It’s just so much good material, and now I’m like, inspired for juicy backstories.” 

Esther: And then the Book of the Dead just really sold me on the idea of an undead character, playing a Skeleton who’s been raised by a necromancer and the, the drama of that! Of maybe not remembering your past life and walking around as a, a person of bones, like just bones.

Esther: There’s something so appealing to me about that, and the ways that you can expand upon what death means in this world, or what life and undeath mean.

Navaar: Yeah. Does the Book of the Dead, did that introduce the Poppets?

Esther: Oh, it was either that or maybe the Grand Bazaar? Maybe Absalom?

Esther: abil. 

Navaar: Poppets are real, real freaky. 

Esther: I’m gonna gonna look this up.

Navaar: Anyway, yeah. Fantastic. I think… I mean, the Mwangi Expanse has been clearly the most impactful for me. There’s so much good in it. And as much as I enjoy creating my own lore, like reading up on that stuff and having, having canonical representation? It’s hard to beat.

Navaar: So that’s been, that’s a huge, huge, huge factor for me. Outside of that, there’s so many– like the, the GM’s Guide genuinely has a lot of really cool subsystems and alternative ways of doing things that I’ve been able to pull from. So I’ve really enjoyed that. And as a person who really loves cool items, I’m really looking forward to Treasure Vault.

Navaar: It’s hard to call it like a favorite now when I haven’t like dug into it, but like my buddy bought me the Pathfinder First Edition equipment… what was it? I forget what it’s called, but anyway, it has like, hundreds and hundreds of items of different equipment, of weapons, armor, jewelry, magic items, all kinds of stuff. The possibilities of stuffing that stuff into, a closed chest is, yeah, it’s so much fun to do that.

Esther: I am such a fan of giving PCs and players cool items. There’s no reason to hold back. They exist! They should be played with! I got to thumb through Treasure Vaults and I have not done a deep dive yet, but I am very, very excited about what I’m seeing in there.

Navaar: Yeah. I am definitely a GM who’s like… I want you to feel heroic. Like, I want you to do like the cool anime thing and come away from that battle being like, “yes, that was incredible.” Finding that good balance of like, this is a challenge and also you’re gonna have moments to shine is really cool. And a lot of ways that that happens is cool items can really tip the scale.

Esther: Circling back around, Poppets were introduced in the Grand Bazaar.

Esther: I also just wanted to say, something you said got me thinking about the — how Mwangi Expanse is a really, really special book for a number of reasons. And I remember when the cover art dropped and Twitter was so jazzed for it and excited, and it really felt like something was shifting in a necessary and beautiful way. And I feel that throughout this product line, thus far, there’s been a really, really profound shift in the ways that things are designed and thought of and who’s included in that process, and it really shows in the final product.

Navaar: Yeah, yeah. I mean as a overall thing, the Lost Omens books themselves, like what they bring, has been incredible. Shout-out to Luis and his whole team ’cause, yeah, just knowing that that lore’s there, that there’s more of it coming. That there’s an effort that’s being put forward to like, not only just be inclusive, like yes — like obviously, as a Black man, having that book was incredible for me.

Navaar: But also inside the book it’s like, here’s an NPC. They are genderfluid. These are the pronouns that they use, and it’s like, all of this like, incredible stuff of — not only are we gonna be inclusive in one way, but we’re gonna try to be inclusive in as many ways as we can. I think having that effort there for those things is, is super important when it comes to people coming into the game and not just seeing “Here’s your base characters. Everybody uses either he or she. And we never address anybody’s like, canonical, sexuality or whatever.”

Navaar: It may be a small thing on paper, but it, it’s such a huge thing for people when we’re looking at books and we can go, “okay, this is really cool. Like, I feel represented here. Or I can, I can see how my friends can be represented here and now I can talk to them about this and we can both feel good about playing this game together.”

Navaar: So we kind of flew through a lot of that stuff. Go ahead, yeah.

Esther: We did. I was gonna say, what else do we have to talk about this episode?

Navaar: I guess would just say like, in terms of the show itself, I’m super excited to get to meet a lot of people. I’ve been very fortunate with my show to have met a number of designers and writers that have worked with Paizo. But I’m very excited to meet even more people, because the list of freelance writers is super long. And there are a ton of amazing internal employees as well who also get to do this stuff, so.

Navaar: I really enjoy interviewing people — obviously, I made a whole show about it. So I really — like, I’m excited for that because, you know, to have sort of the connection that Know Direction has had and to be able to continue on with the legacy of bringing in those folks and, and talk to them about their work and digging into their work and celebrating their work, I think is gonna be a lot of fun for me personally. So, really looking forward to that.

Esther: Yeah, I am looking forward to meeting so many people who work at Paizo and with Paizo, and also hopefully fans of the show. Like, I’m really ,excited to find out more about what our fans are hoping for, what topics they are excited to hear us talk about and like, please feel welcome to let us know. You can find us both on Twitter, and we’ll drop that info at the end of the show. But like, feel welcome to interact. You know, go easy on us, but feel welcome to interact!

Navaar: Yeah. I think that to that end, like because of the way that the show is scheduled and, and being biweekly, if there’s stuff that comes up that you are curious about our thoughts on or level of excitement or whatever it is, I would love to, to hear from you. You know, because I think, to the extent that I am a planner, I enjoy having stuff planned out for a show just so I know what’s coming up next. And, and it creates a good structure and a routine. But also, as we’ve seen over just the past two months– two very long months, February’s not even over yet– a lot of things can happen really quickly. And so if you’re curious about our thoughts on stuff like that, then I think that that would be, great.

Navaar: Like we skimmed over it, but you know, the whole OGL business happened and ORC and everything else. It’s all kind of said and done now. I think I just wanna reinforce, like, I’m still very excited that people are– at least it created a situation where people go, “okay, well maybe it’s time to look at Pathfinder 2E.” And now we get to talk about that.

Esther: I also wanna emphasize that folks can join the No Direction Discord to interact with us there and other folks who love Pathfinder, who know the system, who are new to the system and looking for games. Lots of good stuff happening over there and I think you can find that link on the website and probably the Know Direction social media accounts.

Esther: And yeah, I think this is such a rich and exciting time for the future of Pathfinder 2E. I mean, Paizo selling out of like, eight months of product in a month is just an incredible show of interest in the product, in the world, in the company. And I am really, really looking forward to finding out what the next chapter holds.

Esther: I would also say that you can expect us to try to be as balanced and impartial as we can about this system in a lot of ways. 

Navaar: Yeah. 

Esther: I am certainly not someone who shys away from critiquing things that I feel could improve in the system and in the worldbuilding and the lore. And I think that if and when we come across something that doesn’t sit well, or that we have questions about, or that we’re like, “you know, I’m just, I’m not sure about that one,” we will tell you. And you can expect to find that here as well. We both love the system, love the world, and are very respectful and, you know, excited to meet the people who make it. And we also have thoughts that contradict that sometimes.

Navaar: Yes. Yeah, absolutely. I’m sure that there are people who are listening to this that are going “but Paizo!” which is a different conversation, right? 

Navaar: But I –like it is a part of the conversation and I think it’s important to understand that, yeah, we love Pathfinder 2E, and it is a great system, but it’s still not perfect.

Navaar: So digging into those ways that it can be better and, and things like that , like, I think is gonna be great. And having the opportunity to talk to people who can actually affect that change I think will be really good, too. 

Navaar: We also probably won’t see everything. So again, just to reinforce like, if there’s something that you think we should know about or talk about, like, I think that’s, another great reason to reach out via social media or Discord and get our attention about it so we can look into it and, and come to our own opinions about the same thing, so.

Navaar: I’m very excited. I think Pathfinder 2E really ignited the writer in me, the game designer in me. Both in like, these are things that I really love that I will now borrow for the games that I create, and also like, this is a thing that I still wish I could do differently and now I’m gonna do this differently in the game that I design. 

Navaar: Generally I’m just excited. Like it’s, I think it’s a lot of fun to get to do this. I’m, I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to be here with you, my friend, talking about this stuff. So, yeah.

Esther: Yeah, I mean, I gotta shout you out. One of the things that I am most excited for about this show is that we get to work together. And I was like, I am so, so thrilled that Navar said yes to this and. And that we get to work together in a closer capacity because I’ve, like I said, I’ve listened to almost every episode of the Secret Nerd Podcast, and I think you’ve been doing really, really wonderful and important things in the space.

Esther: You’ve been having really necessary conversations and fun conversations. I always learn something when listening to you interview people, and so I am, I’m really excited to keep learning things and hopefully make some good stuff.

Navaar: Yeah. Thank you. Yes, yes. I– hosting a show is great. Co-hosting a show, I’m finding it’s been a lot of fun. So [laughs] Yes, I am super excited as well. Like, we immediately vibed and I had such a great time when we had our conversation. And yeah, I really just love that we’re on the same page about a lot of stuff when it comes to the way that we look at the world and the way that we want our platforms to contribute to the world. And so, yeah. I love this. This is gonna be a lot of fun.

Esther: This is gonna be so much.

Navaar: So I think for next episode– and hopefully this is a promise we keep and nothing changes– but what our plan is, is to do a review slash interview about The Impossible Lands, which we mentioned like we’re very excited about.

Navaar: Like, it’s, it’s such a gorgeous book. The lore that I’ve learned about it so far has been so fascinating, so I was very, very excited to dig into that and to get some more perspective on the process of that book. 

Esther: And after that, maybe taking a look at Treasure Vaults? We are gonna see about that, but we’re definitely excited to review it soon.

Navaar: Yeah. How much can we read in a short amount of time? We will find out, as will you. But it is something that definitely will be on the timeline for a future episode because we love equipment and exciting items. So we gotta mention it.

Esther: And the book features a dragon, and you know how I feel about about dragons. If there’s one, I show up.

Navaar: Yes, absolutely. that’s, that’s the key right there. Bring a dragon.

Esther: So in conclusion, if people wanna get to know us a little better, where can we be found on the internet?

Navaar: Oof. So pretty much everywhere you can find me @NavaarSNP. That’s N A V A A R S N P, like Secret Nerd Podcast. that’s on Twitter,Hive, all that stuff. I’m not in too many places, but the places I am is there. If you’re interested in The Secret Nerd podcast, you can find it wherever you pod. @SecretNrdSocial on Twitter.

Navaar: Like I mentioned, I’m a part of An Unwavering Force, which is coming out soon. You can find that @UnwaveringForce on Twitter. 

Navaar: And I also, as it’s going on still, I am a co-host of a Last Of Us discussion podcast. So we are talking about all of the episodes of The Last Of Us HBO show, my friend Indrani and I. So yeah, come listen to that.

Navaar: We get into it. We talk about all of our tears, and I watch every episode two to three times before we have a discussion. It’s a lot of fun. 

Navaar: I guess I’ll just will say too, as this is a new introduction thing, if you’re curious about the games that I made, I am a massive, massive fan of The Last Of Us.

Navaar: So I made a game that, to me, felt like replicated the feeling of playing that game, called The Corrupted. you can find it on And yes, it is gonna be printed soon. I don’t know exactly when this episode’s coming out, but it’ll be physically printed. But you can still catch the PDF as well.

Navaar: The cover art is beautiful. It was done by my friend Zakia. And yeah, that’s it for me. Where, can people find you?

Esther: People can find me all over the internet on social media @dungeonminister. Dungeon and then minister, like preacher. I am there on Twitter, Hive, Mastodon, Cohost. Basically, whatever new platforms pop up, I’m camping on the handle so you can find me there. I will likely be tweeting until the bitter end, as you know, a violinist on the deck of that ship.

Navaar: Yeah.

Esther: So I’m, I’m primarily there for now. If you are interested in listening to Chromythica, you can find us all over the internet at @chromythica and at And that’s our handle, Chromythica, on all the podcast apps. And yeah, that’s us. 

Esther: And you can also find my games at I, right now, just have one out and it’s called Front Porch: A Worldbuilding Game About Gossip. And it’s about the ways that gossip can build up a world and inform how we talk about each other and relate to each other and the like, complex process of social bonds and building social worlds. and there are more to come hopefully this year. So camp out there and see what else I, I churn out eventually. And yeah, I think that’s it for me.

Navaar: Yeah, that’s it. Successful introduction. Thank you all for listening and yeah, I’m excited to hear from folks as we continue this on.

Esther: Same. you can also follow Know Direction @KnowDirection on Twitter and Mastodon. We’re also on YouTube and as I mentioned earlier, the Discord channel that you can hop on and we look really, really forward to interacting with all of you in those places as well.

Navaar: Yeah. Incredible. Well, that’s it!

Esther: That’s it! Thanks, Navaar. 

Navaar: Yeah, thank you!

Esther: I’m so excited do this. Thanks listeners! 

Navaar: Yeah. Thank you.

Ryan Costello

What started as one gamer wanting to talk about his love of a game grew into a podcast network. Ryan founded what would become the Know Direction Podcast network with Jason "Jay" Dubsky, his friend and fellow 3.5 enthusiast. They and their game group moved on to Pathfinder, and the Know Direction podcast network was born. Now married and a father, Ryan continues to serve the network as the director of logistics and co-host of Upshift podcast, dedicated to the Essence20 RPG system he writes for and helped design. You can find out more about Ryan and the history of the network in this episode of Presenting: