Know Direction 299 In Writing

Welcome and Introductions

[00:00:00] Esther: Hello and welcome to Know Direction, your number one source for Pathfinder news, reviews, and interviews. I’m Esther.

[00:00:29] Navaar: And I’m Navaar.

[00:00:31] Esther: And today, we are wrapping up the year by bringing you some of our thoughts on Pathfinder in general. We thought it would be fun to talk about how the game is perceived in the wider tabletop space, some of what’s gone down the past year, which has been a really big and busy year for Pathfinder, and some of our hopes for the future. 

[00:00:55] Navaar: Yeah. 

Howl of the Wild News

[00:00:56] Esther: Before that, I wanted to start by briefly talking about a little bit of Howl of the Wild news that got released. There was an article on Polygon, an interview with James Case, friend of the show. Hi James! And we find out just a few more things about what’s going to be happening in Howl of the Wild.

We learn — I don’t remember if it’s for the first time — but we learn again maybe that Howl of the Wild is going to be told from the perspective of Baranthet, who is this aging, naturalist academic, who’s never really been on an adventure before. He’s been a little timid. And this is him kind of getting out of the academy and going into the world on an adventure, and that sounds really great.

It’s apparently inspired by like David Attenborough and maybe nature documentaries, which I think is very, very cool. There are some new creatures we learned about, like the Apothecary Bee, which, when on the offensive, can drain potions carried by players. And when allied, it can inject what it has gathered to help buff players, which sounds very cool.

There is going to be a Thrunosaurus rex, which is like a fantasy dinosaur with cool powers. And there’s also going to be new playable ancestries, which we’ve heard about, but we also heard about three new archetypes for the first time here. So the Wild Mimic, which is kind of like– they say in the article, it’s a take on the classic Tarzan or Street Fighter’s Blanca.

They have access to like, these physical skills that involve like a sort of a physicality that’s drawn from nature, it sounds like. There is the Swarm Keeper, who keeps a swarm of symbiotic insects on their person, which sounds dope. And then Werecreatures. 

And I got really really excited when it came to the Werecreatures, because there’s abilities like echolocation for werebats and pack attacks for werewolves. And a friend of mine once played a werebat-kin in Pathfinder 1e, and I have a fondness for werebats and werebat-kin now.

And the echolocation was something that I asked about like, the first time I heard of this in 1e and they were like, “No, we don’t really have that.” And so I was like, over the moon reading about this and just wanted to say all of that sounds really cool. I’m extremely excited for this book.

[00:03:20] Navaar: Yeah. Yeah, me too. I don’t know if it fully makes up for taking dual classing away, but, uh, yeah, that’s, that’s going to be great. Instead of dual class, now I’ll just be a werewolf. Yeah, no. I, I love that. It sounds like a really, really fun book and I’m excited, too, for us to be able to like, get into it, and break that open and see all the details of that stuff. Because yeah, I think that’s going to be a lot of fun. There’s so many options. There’s just too many. It’s so many, so many things you can do, and I just need more Pathfinder games, basically.

[00:03:50] Esther: Same. I think it was James who actually said to me on Twitter, ” You should make a character who’s a centaur werebatkin.” And that spoke directly to my heart. And course, now I have to do that. 

[00:04:04] Navaar: Yeah, yeah.

[00:04:06] Esther: So many good options!

Pathfinder Year In Review

[00:04:07] Navaar: That’s so good. Yeah. Amazing. Well, very cool, yeah. So I — where should we start? I guess what sort of — over the past year, really, ’cause I think that really kind of brings us into like, where we are now — what is some of your perceptions about Pathfinder 2e in the space?

[00:04:23] Esther: Yeah. I think this idea sort of came to me to maybe talk about this because I was remembering the contrast between something that — I don’t remember if it happened like within this year, but it was I think in the last 18 months or so — where a really well-known creator in the D&D community made a statement on social media that she would never play Pathfinder, because Pathfinder fans were really obnoxious.

And it caused a little bit of a stir. There was — it didn’t feel like a great discussion in many ways. 

[00:04:59] Navaar: No. 

[00:04:59] Esther: And you know, if you don’t know who this is, please don’t go looking for this creator to harass them. Like, I don’t think our listeners would do that, but I just feel the need to say like– please don’t. 

[00:05:09] Navaar: Yeah. 

[00:05:09] Esther: But I remembered just how divided a lot of folks on my timeline were about like, the perception of Pathfinder and Pathfinder fans and players. And then contrasted with what happened after the OGL news earlier this year, and how all of a sudden everybody wanted to play Pathfinder for a little while there, and were really enthusiastic about it. Like, Paizo employees got a ton of love and then inevitably the internet kind of turned on some of them and they got some very unfair backlash. 

[00:05:45] Navaar: Yeah. 

[00:05:46] Esther: And I just, I thought it was really interesting to consider kind of the journey that the game has been through in the last year in the wider community and its perceptions. So I started from that place of like contrast. 

[00:06:00] Navaar: I do remember what you’re talking about, because I remember having a conversation with a friend about that. Because I don’t think it was like a… I don’t think that person had malice in her heart about — but I think she was frustrated, for good reason, and made a generalization that a lot of people took as the end-all-be-all. I’m giving a lot of grace, maybe, but I — I just don’t think it was like, in that way. But I do, but I do remember the backlash it caused.

And it, and it’s true, like, I think– as a person who recommends Pathfinder to a lot of people, there is a certain amount of — either some people are like, “Oh, I’m interested, but I don’t know if I want to learn all that.” Or it’s like, “I’m not going to learn that. Don’t talk to me about Pathfinder.” 

Which is… I don’t know. It’s silly, right? We bunch of games. I don’t see why we should be restricted to any one. But in so many ways, D&D has still a very large stronghold, despite all of the controversy over the past year, a very strong grip on a lot of the TTRPG space. And when you try to recommend a game that is, like, the most direct competitor, depending on, one, how you do it, and depending on the other person’s ability to accept that information, it just sometimes doesn’t go across well. 

But I do think, despite that… I feel like, if we’re talking about the general, like, the general meter, right, of interest and excitement and enjoyment about Pathfindere 2e, I do think the positive sort of outweighs the negative. I’ve seen more people who are never engaging with Pathfinder stuff get excited about it.

I’ve had a lot of conversations over the past year with like, people who were just mutuals who were just like, “Ah, I want to learn!” And I’m like, “DM me literally whenever, and I will help you.” And those were all positive interactions. But it is interesting, because it is– there is still this other factor, this negative side of some people that just don’t agree.

And, to be fair, there are some shitty Pathfinder 2e fans, too. Let’s be clear, we’re not — everybody’s not perfect. But I think it’s like, about how we get that message across and, and how you approach somebody when you’re talking to them and, and where you’re coming from in like, your relationship. If everything’s parasocial, it’s gonna be weird when you just act like you, you know, when you come in here and you just like, try to convince somebody to do a thing when their whole platform is based on another thing. 

[00:08:14] Esther: Yeah. I always say that people get to like the games they like and not play the games they don’t want to play. And we can’t force anyone to like anything. And usually when we try it, has the exact opposite effect. When I think about that example of this particular post on social media, I remember thinking like, “You got a point. Definitely. I hear ya. There are some obnoxious Pathfinder fans out there who cross boundaries and are frankly, yeah, say shitty things.” And, that felt like a very generalized statement. And I think it was reflected in some of the micro-conversations I had, like, in DMs about this with folks who were more 5e fans at the time, and were like, “Well, this is — I also think that.”

And I was like, I guess I’m so tuned into a different part of the Pathfinder sphere that like — I definitely have had brushes with this other part ,and I’m not a huge fan myself. But most of the people I know are really affirming. A lot of them are marginalized people who are finding like kindred and connection playing this game.

And I think a lot of times, certainly in the, the ways that Pathfinder is criticized, that gets lost. I know there’s like this consistent thread of criticism when Pathfinder’s like, nominated for queer awards in the space. Or like, for outstanding like, LGBT representation or something like that.

And people will often be like, “Why are they nominated for this?” And I’ve seen staff multiple times, say, “Hey, we’re here. We’re queer. We’re making this game.” Yeah, moments like that —

[00:10:01] Navaar: This game is queer! Like, yeah.

[00:10:03] Esther: Yeah, like this game is queer. So moments like that are really interesting for me to like, notice, I do think there’s been a broad trend towards curiosity about Pathfinder and a lot more positivity.

Like a lot of people discovering the customizability of characters in the system for the first time, the huge range of ancestries, and getting so excited about what’s possible. And to me, that’s a really like positive and happy thing. I’m really glad people are finding that out and hopefully inspired by it.

[00:10:36] Navaar: Yeah. I mean, I think — I think it is important, we’ve talked about it on the show before — but like, there was a time in this year that Paizo sold out of all of the Core Rulebooks that they had that weren’t the, the pocket size. And how many of those people actually went on to play and to change their game to that or whatever, like, I think that’s, you know, a discussion. But I do think it’s important to like… it’s one of those things when you start to engage with it, you can see the options. You can see sort of where this can go and what this can do and fix a lot of the things that you had to fix for yourself. And so there is very clearly an appeal there. 

I think a big part of it is always going to come down to, like, especially — I saw something this morning about how people often will confuse the Twitter TTRPG space that is like, the most loud, as being the entirety of TTRPGs and the people who enjoy them and the hobby. And it’s just, it’s so not the truth. It’s just the people that are vocal.

And if you’re looking at the people that are vocal about TTRPGs, and you look at the amount of people who get free stuff to like, talk about D&D, I think it helps understand of like… 

On one end, there’s a very much a sort of like influencer market. There’s people who are getting stuff to talk about it. And to be clear, Esther and I also get to read these books, and get these books to talk about them for the show. But genuinely, we also really love them. And I think, you know, there’s probably a lot of those people that genuinely love D&D as well. But I think when you’re talking about the amount of people and the reach that some of those people have in terms of audience and things like that, that they built — it’s something that, it’s going to skew the argument. It’s going to skew the numbers and, and the visibility. When you look at like, okay, well, what else are we doing? I think this is a good place to go. Like, what else are we seeing? And we’re seeing Tian Xia come out — or getting ready to come out as soon, hopefully, with tons of incredible Asian writers. 

[00:12:39] Esther: The author list is amazing. 

[00:12:41] Navaar: Yeah. The, uh, Impossible Lands, again, incredible author list. And multiple books like this, that are diverse content written by diverse people telling positive stories and giving us representation in characters and ancestries that we didn’t think we were going to get in a fantasy world, in a large scale TTRPG. I mean, we talked about that a lot too, but like, even the comparison of like, “Here’s two games that have two ancestries that are based on monkeys. And one of them does not feel good, and one of them feels awesome.” 

And that comparison alone, I think, is very important when we talk about representation and wanting to engage with something. And so it’s an interesting place because it’s like, we’re at a spot where there’s still so much room for Pathfinder to grow into a larger audience. And having sort of the… that background of stuff there to be able to build off of as, as a fan, to go approach somebody else and be like, “Hey, if you like TTRPGs and you’re interested in hearing about another one, let me tell you about this and this and these reasons why.” I think it’s– I mean, that’s amazing to, to be able to go like, “Yeah, this is really cool. This will make you feel good. Build 200 characters on this thing and you’ll have so much fun, I promise.” 

[00:13:55] Esther: I agree. I think there’s been so much positivity in people discovering all the good things about the system. Like how carefully worldbuilding has happened, especially in 2E. how conscious the authors are and, you know, the developers are of centering the perspectives of marginalized folks and really consciously bringing us into the fold of writers and people who are thinking about the future of the game. I think that really shows, and I think people are connecting with it in a very powerful way.

the other thing I was thinking about as you were talking about like, free swag and motivation to talk about different products is like, the size of Paizo relative to a lot of other companies in the TTRPG space. In that it is one of the larger companies out there, but next to the company that makes the Dragon Game, it’s a pretty small company. Like, my understanding of the revenue of both is that there’s a huge gap there. And I think oftentimes, I’ve watched people continually like, lump Paizo in like with “Paizo and Wizards.” And there’s part of me that always wants to draw a little bit of a distinction there. Like I think it can be useful to talk about larger companies as groups, but also to note that like, Paizo doesn’t have all the resources of Wizards, which is owned by like, a huge multinational corporation.

They’re doing all this, with what they have and that’s amazing. When I think about Pathfinder’s reach, I like factor that into the calculations. I think they’re doing amazing with what they have. I think the fact that Pathfinder is — especially 2E — is as well known and is permeating the space as it is, is really a testament to both Paizo and the the company employees and also like, the fans who are passionate about it, and who do encourage people to check it out and come alongside and help them figure out how to build characters, and all that good stuff.

[00:15:58] Navaar: Yeah. I think another interesting event that happened recently — and by recently I mean, like, within the past year and a half or so — was Abomination Vaults getting converted over to 5e for publishing, and some people thinking that that was, like, the end of Paizo. Which is so silly.

But like, I think what’s great about that specific example is like, here’s this thing that is beloved by its fans, and there was clearly enough interest in that specific thing for Paizo, to go, “Well, we’ll make it available. “It’s still something that they published and created, but we’re going to make it available for people who aren’t ready to change systems yet.

And I think that’s a lot of fun, and I think it’s a good thing, like, in the space. I don’t think — as much as, like, capitalism is based on competition, I think more often when spaces are engaged as community over competition, I think that benefits everybody a lot more. And so, yeah. I mean, if you look at like, the indie game design scene, for instance, there — ’cause I had this discussion a lot, too, when I was going into it. And I’m like, “Should we talk to other people about the things we’re making and the rules?”

And a lot of people are like, “Well, nobody’s going to write your story, for one. And two, like, it’s, it’s not going to hurt to have other minds looking at this and other people having interest in it and sharing that sort of like, brain space and bouncing ideas off each other.” And I think when you look at like, the macro scale of “let’s share a module that, you know, we’ll print for you with your rules,” yeah, I think it’s a lot of fun. And I think most nerds are interested in like, where did this come from? Who wrote this? How did we get here? 

ORC License

[00:17:37] Esther: Yeah. Speaking of writing and publishing, this year saw the launch of the ORC license in response to the whole OGL debacle, and I believe that the Remaster books are the first ones published under the ORC license? Yeah, like, what are your thoughts on like the development of the ORC and the fact that it exists now? And like, yeah, just it being a thing that’s out there in the world?

[00:18:05] Navaar: So I’m gonna say, as a person who doesn’t fully understand like, how a lot of this works, just outside looking in, layman, right — I think that, for me, it made sense for them to make the break. I don’t fully understand, like, the need for a license, based on the small bit of game design copyright that I do understand. But from what I understand like, it’s supposed to help make things easier for, for people to use and to make like, third party content on. Which when it comes to like, bigger companies, like, third party content seems to be a way that a lot of people have financial independence, while still making things for a game that they enjoy.

And so yeah, so I was like, “Okay, you know, we’ll see, whatever.” I don’t think it really hit me until we got to see the Remaster stuff and got to see the new rules and the new language. And I think now, having that there, I think it’s starting to feel like — it still feels like Pathfinder 2e to me, to be clear. But I think it feels even more distinct. In a way that like, trying to make a distinction between 2e and 5e to a person who only plays 5e is like, “Well, I don’t want to play that game, that game’s crunchy, etc.”

Which is like, this is an untrue thing that people say about Pathfinder 2e. It is as crunchy or less. But it’s one of those things of like, what is the distinction here? Because it really did pull from a lot of the same stuff. And I think that that distinction has grown further apart, which I do think is good for Pathfinder 2e.

I do think it’s good to say, “We’re letting go of things that no longer fit our identity and moving towards stuff that does.” And we’ve seen that, right? Like, I think, god, when I first started getting into TTRPGs like as a podcaster — I think that’s probably the best way to explain this — there really wasn’t like, a large amount of like accessibility items and things like that.

Like ,there was the combat wheelchair and I think there was a D and Disability, which I don’t know if they do anything anymore. I hope they’re doing well. But yeah, as far as I saw, like there wasn’t a ton of stuff. And now we have items books with like, pages of content that are just built around, real-life accessibility tools that people can use in their world.

And I think like, when you talk about that, when you talk about the artwork, you know, that has characters with top surgery, and the text that includes people of all sorts of different identities and genders, and you have these disability tools, and you have people of color… like, all of this stuff, I think, is important to clearly say as Pathfinder 2e, like, “This is the identity of our game. And we are now changing a lot of this language and rules to fit that identity as well.” And I, I love that.

[00:21:00] Esther: I completely agree. I really felt like reading the Remaster I got a sense of this expanded – – I don’t want to say brand identity, but yeah, like brand identity — that felt like it was even more separated from Pathfinder’s roots in D&D and felt like a distinct product. Which just feels really, really good to watch Pathfinder move in that direction.

I don’t know a ton about publishing. I know some people have been like, “Why do we need a special ORC license? Why can’t they just release in Creative Commons?” And I know that Paizo has said, like, “There’s some particularities that we really need to, like, create our own license for, and other folks are welcome to use it.” 

I’m really curious to watch how people do publish under this license going forward, and to see if, you know, it’s picked up by other publishers, if that’s a thing. Just to watch how it develops.

Like, I don’t… I don’t feel like I know enough about copyright law or copyright in general to comment much further beyond saying, like, it felt like a really good direction for Pathfinder as a brand to move in to publish under this.

[00:22:11] Navaar: Yeah. I mean, I think it shows, right? And I think, I don’t know, I know that there are multiple other companies that initially agreed to sign on to do the ORC license as well, um, and I have no idea where any of that has gone. ‘Cause I just, it just doesn’t interest me to pay attention to that thing, specifically.

But I will say I think it is good. I think that as we start to see this shift, which I do still agree like, is a positive shift towards looking at other games and Pathfinder 2e specifically, having this Remaster come out and give these new ways of looking at the rules of looking at a d20 fantasy system, I think is is gonna be big. And to see like, these other supplemental materials come out as well that like, are attached to this and how that all builds off of each other — and yeah, it’s gonna be good.

I think it’ll be interesting to see the people who all bought new Pathfinder Core books at the beginning of the year, uh, how they feel about buying another new Pathfinder Core book. But if you’re buying physical books, you probably enjoy having physical books. So, what do I know?

Evolution of Pathfinder Worldbuilding and Ancestries

[00:23:18] Esther: Yeah, and I really feel like you can learn the game basically just as well by having the first edition of the Second Edition Core Rulebook and then updating your knowledge based on Archives of Nethys or something. Like, the differences are not so vast that you’re learning a completely different game, which is also really nice.

I have a question that will take a little bit of setup, but I think it relates to what you were just saying about new and evolving ways of playing a d20 game, like a fantasy game. 

So my spouse and I are listening to the Andy Serkis audiobook of Lord of the Rings right now. And I was a huge Tolkien fan growing up. I basically read multiple of his books constantly in a cycle, like, over and over again. Those works have influenced my life in really, really huge ways. I took a class on Tolkien in graduate school. Like, I guess you could say I’m a fan, and at one time was like pretty deep in the fandom and the lore.

And It’s really interesting to me to chart the ways that so much of modern d20 games really do go back to inspirations from Tolkien. Not only Tolkien, but a lot from him. And what my spouse and I are both really noticing –and like we’ve noticed before, but it’s like, it’s really obvious hearing it read by somebody else — are some of Tolkien’s, frankly really racist writings about orcs are written, about the way, you know, folks from different regions of his world are written.

And, I don’t — a lot of people will feel the need to like try to defend his honor. He doesn’t need that. Like we can love a thing and criticize a thing. And so I’ve noticed just the ways in which specifically, tropes around orcs will come up again and again in discussion in the TTRPG space. And there will be all of these debates about, you know, race and racism and ancestry and other, other, uh, forms of oppression in our real world and how those things seep into our games. And I guess I’m curious about the ways in which we notice Pathfinder troubling some of those roots, moving away from them, and like, what we notice still being in the system.

As I’m thinking about, like, hopes for the future, and like, where we are now and where we’ve been, I notice, like, some changes really coming through in the Remaster. Like, half-orcs and half-elves getting their own names for their ancestries, uh, instead of sort of being reduced to this, like, blood quantum idea of ancestry and race.

I notice orcs being a core ancestry, which is really new. And there’s still some stuff in the way that, like, culture is described that I’m like, “Oh, we — it goes back to Tolkien!”

[00:26:18] Navaar: Yeah, yeah. For sure. Yeah. I mean, I think when we were talking to Luis about dwarves, right, about Highhelm, I think there’s that same thing. Like, I think that there are specific elements that go back to those like ,same roots that I think like, up to a certain point are left in for the familiarity, right? For the ease of like, “That short stout person with a large red beard drinking beer… [laughs]”

[00:26:56] Esther: Is a dwarf!

[00:26:57] Navaar: Is a dwarf, you know! And so, I think there are specific elements of that.

I think what is good is that we’re seeing more ways in which they can step away from a lot of those same tropes and have these characters have their own culture and their own identities. And a lot of that being based around not necessarily even their ancestry, but where they’re from in the region. Which is like, I talk about all the time, but to go back to the Mwangi Expanse, to like, have all these different like, regions and like, “these elves from this region are like this, and these ones are like this, and the reason they are is because of these cultural things.” Like, “these dwarfs live in a mountain with these dragons, and they don’t have beards as often. And these ones are different.”

You know, and having those like really fleshed out, culturally specific things about these different ancestries, I think, is huge. Having options for the things that are specific to ancestry for you to take as traits, as opposed to prescriptions, I think is huge, right? I think as a game mechanic, Orc Ferocity is always one of those things like, this is badass. But not everybody wants to play that specific kind of Orc. And so having these options to be like, “Well, that doesn’t fit into who I am.” In the same way that, like, humans are built different, right?

Some people, based on where you’re born, have longer limbs and a capacity to run a lot further and faster than other people who aren’t, because of the way they’re born. But, like, that’s part of the makeup. But who that person is isn’t based on those things, those very, like, very specific, innate things to the genetic coding that they were born with.

So, I think, yeah, as we, as we see more books come out and we see more options presented, I think every time one of these books comes out, it’s going to just continue to add to that level of moving away from it, right? One of the things we talked about was like, the art styles. And shout-out to Slovenly Trulls again, who does a great show about feminism in D&D, but they talk a lot about, like, here’s this art of like, this woman character, and it versus the art of the man’s character. And they are completely different things. One of them is hypersexualized, the other one is a monster. And I bet you can guess which ones are which. 

And so to look at the art and see like, okay, like there are still moments where it’s like, “Oh, like this. I can see how this character could be sexualized.” But also, in the next page, here’s a character of the same gender who is not, who looks in a different way, built a different way. And so, yeah. I mean, I think like, we all want beautiful artwork, and we want variety in that stuff. And it’s not like, it’s not the way it was drawn in the ’90s and the ’80s, to be clear. I enjoy that there are these progressions toward something that moves away from a lot of those roots that you’re talking about.

[00:30:04] Esther: Yeah, I especially love your point about culture and regional culture versus like, one overarching culture that comes specifically from your ancestry. The fact that different elves living in different parts of the world have different cultures that are maybe linked by some commonalities, but that are distinct from one another. And I feel like the sourcebooks have been moving increasingly in that direction, and that’s mirrored in a lot of the conversations we’ve had on the show. And that, to me, is a really, really great direction to move in. And I’m excited, as you are, to continue reading these sourcebooks as they come out, and watching where Paizo takes us.

[00:30:46] Navaar: Yeah. I mean, I think like a really fun, like easy example is I’m — my mom is white. My dad is Black. I live in New Mexico, and in New Mexico, we put red chili on our mashed potatoes, and a lot of foods. And there are very specific things to the region that I grew up in that are distinctly New Mexican, where I am not Mexican or of Latine heritage, versus somebody else who is, has a white mom and a black dad, and lives in Chicago. They’re going to have a completely different experience when it comes to their culture and their upbringing. So I think that those things are so important. And having character creation be built the way that it is to allow these different options — I mean, yeah, I think if you’re being a contrarian, you can go, “Well, there’s not that many for each thing.” And it’s like, true, but I could also ask you, and you’d be like, “Well, there’s too many options now, I can’t choose.” So… it’s a game. We have to have… there’s a limited amount of page space, there’s a limited amount of things we can do. But I think like, having those options there, versus not having options at all, and the option is you choose a race. And then that race has to have these specific things at, at these prescribed levels… to me, there’s clearly a better option that’s being done. And I think that is more inclusive and more supportive of people expressing identity through character without having to doctor it in.

[00:32:17] Esther: Yeah, completely agree. Completely agree. It feels like it’s just built into the system, as opposed to you have to add on a lot to get to this place that feels better.

[00:32:27] Navaar: And it’s not locked to like… so, you know, preaching to the choir, but like, just because the feat is a first level feat, you can always go back and take it if you want two of those different things at, you know, other times. So that ability alone, the character creation alone, I think, does so much for me as a player to be like, “this is what I’m interested in.”

I think it goes like character creation, mechanics, and then world. Because I still really enjoy playing in Golarion. 

Hopes For The Future

[00:32:57] Esther: Me too. So yeah, I’m curious: do we want to talk about hopes for the future? Or anything else before we get to hopes for the future? 

[00:33:06] Navaar: Yeah, I think that would actually be good. Why don’t you go first?

[00:33:09] Esther: Oh, wow. Okay. What are some of my hopes for the future of Pathfinder? I definitely hope that the company continues to hire a bunch of really awesome people from the space, especially marginalized writers, to continue worldbuilding and contributing to their source material. I can’t imagine that they’re gonna stop, but hope that trend continues.

[00:33:34] Navaar: I hope they never get bought out by somebody who does not care about that.

[00:33:37] Esther: Yeah. As far as, like, what I really hope for… I’m so excited for Tian Xia to come out, and I guess I am really excited for the potential of future sourcebooks in the model that we’ve seen from the Mwangi Expanse, from the Impossible Lands, from now Tian Xia, just drawing from this amazing list of authors who are thinking so critically and carefully about game design and worldbuilding. And I want that for Arcadia!

I really want the Arcadia sourcebook. I know I am not alone in that this show, but I am extremely excited for that to happen one day for other regions that we haven’t really gotten to know as much. 

Yeah, I’m really excited for, like, new continents, new spaces to open up. I am a huge fan of the First World, and so I really want the First World sourcebook, and a bunch of new material, new creatures, perhaps new ancestries from the First World. I would love that. Anybody who’s listening, that would be amazing.

[00:34:54] Navaar: Yeah, just from like a business perspective, I think a First World supplement book would… 

[00:35:00] Esther: Fly like hotcakes!

[00:35:01] Navaar: Absolutely just, it would be… yeah, it would be wild. Because it’s true, like, there’s a lot of people who enjoy the fey, and that whole world of just like, really weird stuff that is also quirky and magical and whimsical and dangerous. Yeah, more First World stuff. Yeah, I agree.

[00:35:18] Esther: Yeah, absolutely. There’s the Eldest, there’s… I was talking on Bluesky the other day about how I woke up thinking about Count Ranalc, and how he’s so weird and in exile and he was in love, but maybe something got between them. Like, there’s, so much in the First World that is just really delightful and weird and juicy and I think it would sell really well to lot people.

A lot of people love the fey and want to play fey characters and have adventures in the fey realm. So, just saying. I’m so excited we got Highhelm. And as an elf stan since I was a teenager, I also really want a book about Kyonin. Like, that’s a hope I have for the future, is elf worldbuilding. And more dragons. 

[00:36:07] Navaar: Yeah, Golarion elves are weird. And they’re aliens. So, like, just, we, we need more of that, for sure. Yes, and dragons. Yeah, to be sure. 

Yeah, I agree. I think there’s a lot of stuff like– somebody made a, like an interactive map of Golarion, which works like as a… I mean, it’s cool that somebody made this, but to be clear, it’s, it’s a little bit slow. But it’s like, it kind of operates in the same way of like a Google Maps where you can like zoom in and out of things and move around. 

[00:36:36] Esther: I use that all the time, measuring distances. 

[00:36:39] Navaar: But there’s a lot of spaces on that map that are just… they might have a name. Or it’s just blank. It’s just blank space. And so yeah, getting to figure out like, what fills those spaces up.

And I mean like, they still haven’t even finished the continent of Garund yet, because there’s still Osirion, right? Is that the name of it? 

[00:36:57] Esther: Yeah. 

[00:36:57] Navaar: To the north? Yeah. Which is, like, a whole giant-ass region. So they’re, yeah, there’s a lot of stuff that I’m excited for of how that gets integrated. But yeah, it’s going to be really fun.

Things that I’m excited for… I think is just more people who are engaged in the space that help do a lot of the work of drawing interest, right? Like, more APs. I would love to see more APs, especially more APs that are filled with marginalized people. I would love to see more people who are making content like, on YouTube. 

For me, like a way that I learned a lot of TTRPGs is like, to go on and watch a video. There’s a couple of things that are now like my special interest in life, that don’t get enough… they have like one or two, literally one or two YouTube channels, like of how to do it specifically for the thing I wanted to do.

And I just think it’s an atrocity. But Pathfinder is a thing that I feel like there should be more content on, because I think a lot of the content creators that are doing it now are fantastic, but I also think that again, adding diversity to that in terms of not only people of color and other marginalized identities, but also just like… more opinions.

[00:38:07] Esther: Yeah.

[00:38:08] Navaar: Having more opinions about how to look at the games and how to, how to teach it to somebody else.

I think that makes a huge, huge difference. Because I personally have been guilty of going to look for something that — not Pathfinder –but like, going to look up something, seeing the options for videos that I have and checking them out, and being a couple minutes into it and being like “This is not for me.” And then I just never learn it that way, I never engage with the videos. I think that I’m not the only person that does that. And so, I think having that sort of like, content creator infrastructure really, is I guess what I’m talking about. I think that would be huge to, to develop that and to see more people go into that. And I think that there is a space for it. Again, going back to like, capitalism, I don’t think that there’s enough competition that anybody who wants to make videos should be scared off of making videos.

Literally go look up D&D and you will find hundreds of people who are making content about it. And I think it’s just like anything else: if your concern is audience, obviously you’re gonna have to do something to draw people in. That’s the name of the game. But I do think that there’s space for more people to get into it, to have their discussions, to do more reviews, to just talk about the game. We are a show that talks about the game Pathfinder, and we still recommend other shows that talk about the same thing. And so I think having more of that, I think, would be really big.A and then specifically to the AP space, I think I would personally love to find… to have the ability to listen to more shows that explore, more stories about Pathfinder 2E, and especially from the perspective of people of color. I would love, too, more of like, how we interpret these worlds, how we take on these characters, especially with all these new characters and ancestries coming out. And so, yeah. I, I would just love to see that.

I think that would be… I think that would be huge for game audience and for people who are just, like, getting into the TTRPG space in general.

[00:40:15] Esther: Absolutely. I was thinking, as you were talking, about the last time I kind of dipped a toe into the world of Pathfinder reviews and videos on YouTube. And, you know, it’s dangerous to assume background, but I am comfortable in saying that the vast majority of that space was very white presenting, and —

[00:40:41] Navaar: And very cis male presenting. 

[00:40:43] Esther: Very cis male presenting.

And I’ve actually dabbled in my own mind with the idea of starting something myself, and then have raised this question of like, do I really want to do that? Like, as a person marginalized gender, do I want to get into that? And, there, that’s a real question. But also, like, do I want to be another white person making this content when I’d actually really love to just see the space open up and really welcome and reward and, like, monetize creators of color?

I’m thinking about the AP space and how there’s like five shows that I can think of off the top of my head out of at least like fifty or more Pathfinder 2e actual plays, that have folks of color in the cast.

[00:41:32] Navaar: Yeah. And I think two of them share the same cast, for a large part of it. 

[00:41:36] Esther: Yeah, exactly. Exactly, exactly, and I mean, I think I know of two shows that were majority POC. One is An Unwavering Force, and… oh god, I’m blanking on the name of the other one right now.

But, you know, I… I think there’s, room that we must make and we need to make to support the folks who want to create in this space, who have these ideas. Because they do. And I think that is a hope I also hold for the future: is that this blossoms, and we just have more, more folks, especially more folks of color in the AP space in Pathfinder 2E making shows, creating in Golarion, interpreting Golarion. That’s needed and is gonna be beautiful. 

[00:42:22] Navaar: Yeah, and I think too, I mean, along those same lines, like, if it follows that trend of like, content creation building up, then I think we’ll see a lot of like, more independent and third-party creations of supplements and adventures and things like that that are being pushed through, and just more people creating and talking about it.

And yeah, I don’t know what it’s gonna take. If I had marketing skills and/or an interest in YouTube, I’d be a dangerous person. But I just don’t, it’s just not my thing right now. Or I don’t have time. You decide. I don’t think too much, says the father of three children who does too much writing.

But I think that there is a space, I think that there’s a, you know, to use like economic terms, like an underserved market of these things. And I think that there’s interest. I have plenty of friends who…. we want content that’s made by marginalized people more, and we’re searching that out. And I think that there’s a lot of people who are making that, but making it in more independent games. Which is great, too, to be clear. As an independent game designer, I love that. Please continue doing that. As a Pathfinder 2e fan, it would be great if some of you would also make Pathfinder 2e content, for me specifically. [laughs] Uh, me and Esther. But yeah, no. I, I think it’s good.

But it’s, it’s gonna be interesting to see, like…

I, I think the TTRPG space is in a, is in a place now where things are sort of… what’s the word? In my opinion, I feel like TTRPGs are starting to get to a place where it’s like, we’ve had this large boom that started with Covid and a little bit before that, but really from 2020. And it’s starting to level out now in a place of, more people are finding their space. More people have spent the past two, three years figuring out what they want to do exactly and how they fit in, and are maximizing on that niche that they have. And that in itself is gonna bring more people in, but it’s gonna bring more people in in a way that like, I think, raises the bar a little bit.

And I can’t imagine that as that’s happening Pathfinder 2E gets excluded from this. I think it’s just gonna be a part of the, of the same thing. I don’t really believe in that whole like, a tide, rising tides, raise all– 

[00:44:46] Esther: Lift all boats… 

[00:44:47] Navaar: Just seems… yeah, I’m not really fully on that. But I do think there is a specific aspect of that that is true, in that having more eyes out there, having more people interested in games in general, means that your chances of being picked up as that game are higher. And Pathfinder has… I don’t want to rank it because I don’t know the truth, but I think in the top five, right? They’re in those top five of eyes looking at games, because of the volume and the amount of work that they’ve done over decades to like, get to this point building up their market.

So, yeah, it’ll be interesting to see like, where it all goes from here.

[00:45:26] Esther: I’m curious, because there’s a question I turn over in my mind sometimes, which is: especially around the time of the OGL, there were people who very vocally called for big APs like Critical Role and Dimension 20 to ditch D&D as a system and switch to Pathfinder 2e. And when I think about, like, bigger name APs in the space, I know there’s, there’s a couple that use Pathfinder. But I would say there’s nobody on the level of, like, a Dimension 20 or a Critical Role has used Pathfinder as a system when they’ve been in the AP space.

I know Critical Role started out as a 1e game, but they’ve never played it on stream that I’m aware of. And I’ve wondered, like, what would having the exposure of an actual play like that do for Pathfinder as a product, do for other Pathfinder APs in the space, and Pathfinder creators? And yeah, I’m curious, like, is that something you hope for? That like a big, a big name production uses 2e in an actual play one day?

[00:46:35] Navaar: I mean… I think it’s a yes-kind-of.

[00:46:40] Esther: Same.

[00:46:41] Navaar: I don’t… outside of Dimension 20, I don’t really watch big APs anymore. Because I just, how can I put this? I’m more interested in the intimate storytelling — and supporting people who don’t have that sort of mega-support — that comes from a smaller AP, personally.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with listening to any of those big shows, to be clear. I’m not, like, disparaging people. But it’s just not for me, it’s not my cup of tea. However, that said, I do think that there is a very obvious benefit to having like if Pathfinder… if Critical Role played Pathfinder 2E, that would be huge.

I don’t think it’s going to convert every Critter, but I do think there’s a number of people who are like, “Oh, I’ll check it out because I like the character that Marisha made.” And I think the same goes with Dimension 20. I don’t think every… I don’t think every large AP has that ability to like move a meter that much, but I do think that there are some that could. This would be really good to talk to Dr. Emily Friedman about.

I don’t have a lot of faith that a new show could come in and make a large enough impact, unless it was people with the same level of personal audience as what happened with Worlds Beyond Number. Because you’re talking about Brennan Lee Mulligan, Aabria Iyengar, Erika Ishii, and Lou Wilson. They can go and make a show together and that become an instant hit regardless of having no content. That’s something that’s plausible, but I don’t know if there’s enough… I don’t know if there’s a, if there’s a big enough group of other close friends like that who have their own audience who can just go and turn out a show that’s gonna be huge.

And I could be wrong. Lightning could strike again and somebody could have that next big AP. I just find it difficult to see how anybody’s gonna attain that again. So it really, unless it comes down from like one of those like big top five, then, yeah. 

But then again, those shows — with the exception of Dimension 20, which is like a sort of rotating cast that brings in new people — are mostly white people. And I don’t really care to see another large AP that is just mostly or all white people. So, yeah. It’s an odd place.

The AP space is weird, and there’s a lot more going on than even I’m aware of or even know how to, like, fully analyze. But it just doesn’t seem like there’s… I don’t know. It would take a lot to get there. And I don’t know who’s got it.

[00:49:18] Esther: I think one of the things that folks I really respect have pointed out before is that oftentimes the big APs get talked about in terms of like, “it was lightning in a bottle” or you know, “all these friends got together and made a show,” and kind of gloss over the fact that many of these people have years of experience in the entertainment industry.

They had some level of backing to produce and make a show and… and have that, that place to start out that a lot of people in the more small-scale actual play scene don’t have. And that kind of differentiates where they started from and therefore what they’ve been able to achieve. 

And things can change really, really fast in this space, so I can’t say what will happen. There could be another huge smash success AP. And I’m not, like, holding out hope for that, that it’ll be Pathfinder 2E centric. I think if it happened it would be great. I’d be curious to see if there was like, a new wave of interest in Pathfinder driven by fans of one of these shows if they played the system on the show. And I really hope that we can find ways to like put money, time, energy towards the folks who are making Pathfinder content in a smaller-scale way. And as we’ve been saying find new voices who want to be creating, especially creators of color, and support them in this creative journey, in their creative endeavors.

[00:50:50] Navaar: For sure. I mean, it’s one of those things like… Twitter, like having the amount of Twitter followers you have, to a certain extent, doesn’t really matter. But it does matter when it’s like, I can tweet about my new AP and 14,000 people see it, as opposed to 1,000 people see it, right?

Or 100,000 people see it versus 1,000 people. So there are a lot of factors that go into it. I think the way that the AP space and TTRPG space — especially like, as seen on Twitter– is shaking out is like, it just seems like there’s a lot of things that are working in benefit of some people and working against almost everyone else. And even some of those people that you think it would benefit, it’s also not benefiting them. 

People only have so many eyes and ears and time to watch and consume media. Fitting into somebody’s like, you know, three to five podcast schedule… 

I think at the height, I was listening to way too many. Like I think I had… 12 was like, my max podcasts I was maintaining.

But even then it’s like, if you’re number 13, you’re on the list and you’re waiting until I have time to do it. Anybody who’s made a AP podcast, who has tried to convince their friends to listen to or watch it, knows how hard it is just to gain audience. So yeah, I, I don’t know. It’s a very interesting thing.

I think like a good example of this is like, there is money being put into new shows that I haven’t seen anybody talking about. And again, I’m not talking shit about these shows. I just like– the truth is, at least in the people that I’ve seen, these new shows that are paid for with a true production budget are not being watched and talked about by the people that are in at least my circle.

So it’s, yeah. It’s one of those things. I don’t… unless you are that Worlds Beyond Number people, like, I don’t… it’s hard to say, “Yeah, everybody’s gonna go watch your show.” Like, I think people from Critical Role could break apart and go make a new podcast and a ton of people would go watch those and they’d still be financially successful.

But this is a small, very small pool of people that can go do that, and I think any, anybody else, I don’t know what that magic bullet’s gonna be that like, gets you through the threshold into having that financial success and breadth of audience to be able to say like, “I play Pathfinder 2E and you should, too.” And people go, “Yeah, that’s a good idea. I’m gonna go buy a book now.” 

[00:53:12] Esther: Yeah. Agreed. 

[00:53:13] Navaar: Anyway, um, I, uh, used to do a lot of business stuff, folks, so I have too much knowledge in that realm, and I apologize for everything I’ve said today. [Esther Navaar laugh]

Wrapping Up 

[00:53:23] Esther: Yeah. Is there anything else we want to touch on before we wrap up? 

[00:53:27] Navaar: I think that’s it. But I, yeah, I mean, again, I, I’m still very excited about it. Um, I still love playing Pathfinder 2e. I love it more, I love the changes, and I love the things that are coming up. So I think regardless of what that peak is, or what that growth curve looks like, I think that there’s still a ton of to offer for people who are interested in playing a really fun, well-rounded game that makes you create — or that helps you create — super badass characters that feel good.

[00:53:56] Esther: I can’t say that any better, or differently than you did, so I’m just gonna affirm it and say, I hope that this coming year and beyond, we have more folks getting into Pathfinder, enjoying Pathfinder, talking about Pathfinder to their friends, making content for Pathfinder. Just a proliferation and a blossoming of Pathfinder content in the space is what I hope for. 

[00:54:27] Navaar: For sure. Play the game. You’re already the game if you’re listening to us, most likely, but tell your friends to play the game.

[00:54:33] Esther: If you don’t play the game and you’re listening to us, please come into the Discord and tell us who you are. I really want to know.

[00:54:42] Navaar: Yeah, yeah, I love that. I love people who only engage with the podcast media of something and nothing else. I think that’s, you’re truly incredible people, and never change. Tell your friends to play the game, and you just don’t do it. I think that… just stay the same. It’ll be amazing. Yeah, and that’s it for us today, folks.

Where To Find Us On The Internet

[00:54:59] Esther: Real quick, where can people find you on the internet?

[00:55:02] Navaar: Oh, yeah. NavaarSNP, that’s N A V A A R S N P on Twitter and Bluesky. You can follow me there to figure out all the things that I’m doing. I have some really fun stuff coming up on the Secret Nerd Podcast, so stay tuned for that. If you like things that are horrific, and also cute and sad, and also scary, and also undead creature-scary-horror-survivor stuff… just hang out. Be around. It’s coming up soon. Follow Secret Nerd Podcast on Secretnrdsocial, and you can find it wherever you pod. If you have caught up to everything, I’m sorry. Please wait. It’ll be on soon. We’ve been on hiatus for a long time. 

An Ununwavering Force: to be clear, I love this show. I get to play a wonderful, broken, young Jedi surviving the horrors of Order 66. So check out Ununwavering Force. We have an amazing cast. And, uh, we are in the midst of a very exciting and also very scary part of our story where Navaar gets a gift and has to pay for it.

[00:56:08] Esther: Oh, amazing. I’ve got to catch up. You can find me on all social media sites, wherever I am at dungeonminister. I’m mostly on Twitter and Bluesky. You can find my Pathfinder 2E AP, that GM at or at Chromythica, also on Twitter and Bluesky and Instagram. 

And very importantly, you can follow Know Direction, actually not on Twitter anymore! We still have an account, but we’re not posting there as a network. But you can find us on Bluesky and at knowdirectionpodcast. com. And thank you so much for listening. We are so delighted to have you with us, as always. And until next time, this has been Know Direction!

[00:56:56] Navaar: Bye.

[00:56:56] Esther: Bye! 

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: