Swords for Hire Development (Jacob W. Michaels and Mikko Kallio) is excited to announce its first project, The Villain Codex. This PDF, being done in conjunction with Outland Entertainment, will feature a series of antagonists for gamemasters to pit against their players. The NPCs will be fully fleshed out, with stat blocks, letting a GM simply drop one into an adventure when he needs a statted-up opponent or build an adventure or even campaign around.
The first Villain Codex will feature 12 opponents of CRs 3-8 for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Finished villains will be 600 words, including a stat block and a description of the villain, his/her motivations, plus potential plots, lairs and minions.
Right now, we’re looking for your best ideas. Send us a pitch that describes your villain and potential plots, as well as expected build. Please include at the top the villain’s name, race (please use core races only), gender, alignment and class. Also please include what CR you think the villain should be; a range of CRs is fine at this point, and we can assign what we would like you to build him/her at if we pick your submission. Finally, remember that the villains should be setting agnostic. If they use a bar as their headquarters, feel free to name it, but don’t put it in a city in an existing campaign world.
We expect to pick six villains, though obviously if we’re bowled over, we could select more. We’ll be approaching designers to produce the other six villains, so if your pitch is good enough, it could lead to more work immediately.
How do I submit?
Please send your pitches to email@example.com with your submission in the file (NOT as an attachment).
How many pitches can I submit?
You can submit up to 3 pitches. If you have more good ideas, save them. There will be follow-up Villain Codexes for higher CRs coming through 2016.
If I submit, will I get published?
Unfortunately, not necessarily. We’re including 12 villains in this first Codex, so only the best selections will get published. Any pitches that are accepted become property of Swords for Hire Development, which retains sole ownership.
What books will I be able to use?
Villains will be limited to rules from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, GameMastery Guide, Advanced Player’s Guide, Ultimate Magic, Ultimate Combat, Ultimate Equipment, Ultimate Campaign and Advanced Class Guide.
Will I get paid?
We’ll be paying a flat rate of $6 per entry that we publish, which will work out to about 1 cent per word.
Alright, I’m ready to get started! When you do you need this by?
Pitches are due by the end of the day (Eastern time) May 1. We’ll get back to you and let you know if your pitch has been accepted within a week and will need your finished villain by June 1. Payment will be received at this time.
Wait, I have more questions!
For more information stop by the Sword for Hire blog.
Fiery orange feathers cover the wings and tail of this ink-black, serpentine dragon. Its dark eyes dart about, and its claws fidget with nervous energy.
Aitvaras CR 2
CN Tiny dragon (shapechanger)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +8
AC 16, touch 15, flat-footed 13 (+3 Dex, +1 natural, +2 size)
hp 22 (3d12+3)
Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +5
Immune paralysis, sleep; SR 13
Speed 10 ft., fly 60 ft. (good)
Melee bite +4 (1d3–1)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks breath weapon (5-ft. cone, confused, Will DC 12 negates, usable every 1d4 rounds)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 3rd; concentration +6)
At will–hold portal
3/day–greater invisibility (self only), unseen servant (within domain of fortune only)
Spells Known (CL 3rd; concentration +6)
1st (6/day)–cause fear (DC 14), silent image (DC 14), ventriloquism (DC 14)
0th (at will)–flare (DC 13), ghost sound (DC 13), mage hand, open/close, spark
Str 9, Dex 17, Con 13, Int 16, Wis 14, Cha 16
Base Atk +3; CMB +4; CMD 13 (17 vs. trip)
Feats Deft Hands, Improved Initiative
Skills Appraise +9, Bluff +9, Climb +5, Disable Device +8, Fly +17, Perception +8, Sense Motive +8, Sleight of Hand +8, Stealth +17
Languages Common, Draconic, Halfling, Sylvan
SQ change shape (cat, beast shape II), domain of fortune
Environment any urban
Organization solitary or pair
Breath weapon (Su) 5-foot cone, confusion for 1d4 rounds, DC 12 negates. Creatures compelled to attack the nearest creature never target the aitvaras or creatures benefiting from its domain of fortune. An aitvaras can use this breath weapon once every 1d4 rounds. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Domain of Fortune (Su) An aitvaras can adopt a structure as its domain, blessing it with supernatural luck and hindering enemies within its walls. Creatures that live in the bonded structure receive a +2 luck bonus on all skill checks within its walls. Non-chaotic intruders suffer a –2 penalty on attack rolls, damage rolls, saves, and caster level checks to overcome spell resistance within the structure.
An aitvaras can only have one bonded domain at a time, which can be no larger than 100 squares. If the aitvaras ends its connection to a structure, it must wait 24 hours before it can adopt a new domain.
Spells An aitvaras casts spells as a 3rd-level sorcerer.
Mischievous, honorless cousins of pseudodragons, aitvaras (singular and plural) thrive in the bustling chaos of the city, where their actions often go unnoticed. An aitvaras uses the form of a stray cat to find a residence or business which it can claim as its domain. Once it adopts a home, the aitvaras works tirelessly to bring prosperity to its inhabitants, using its magic to bless residents with luck while stealing from neighbors and sabotaging competitive businesses. The residents’ new fortune is short-lived, however, for if the aitvaras’ mischief is traced back to its home, the dragon abandons its former benefactors to face the consequences of its actions while it slinks away in search of a new domain.
An aitvaras typically follows some kind of pattern when choosing homes, though these predilections vary widely between individuals. Some favor certain races or professions, while others have more unusual preferences, such as a specific number of children or musicians who play a unique instrument. Their chaotic nature makes it difficult to attract an aitvaras to one residence or predict where it will go next. Even those who successfully win an aitvaras’ favor find its blessings fickle, for the dragon often has unspoken expectations when adopting a domain, and those who violate its “terms” risk drawing the beast’s ire. As a result, even the most amicable relationship with an aitvaras is typically brief and disastrous to the hosts.
Aitvaras are territorial and never share a domain. Mated pairs fight to decide which domain will hold their eggs, though the parents forget about their young once they move to a new domain, leaving the hatchlings to fend for themselves.
A chaotic neutral arcane spellcaster of at least 7th level who has the Improved Familiar feat may select an aitvaras as a familiar.
Branching, jagged antlers line this ink-black salamander’s back from head to tail. Acrid fumes pour from its mouth between rows of needle-like teeth.
Onyare CR 5
CE Large outsider (chaotic, demon, evil, extraplanar)
Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +6
AC 18, touch 11, flat-footed 16 (+2 Dex, +7 natural, –1 size)
hp 51 (6d10+18)
Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +6
DR 5/cold iron or good; Immune electricity, poison; Resist acid 10, cold 10, fire 10; SR 16
Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.
Melee bite +10 (1d8+5), gore +10 (1d8+5 plus horn seeds)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks breath weapon (every 1d4 rounds, 15 ft. cone, 6d6 acid damage, Reflex half DC 15)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th, concentration +7)
At will—greater teleport (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only), scare (DC 13)
1/day—haunting mists (Ultimate Magic, DC 13), summon (level 3, 1d3 dretches at 40%)
Str 20, Dex 15, Con 17, Int 6, Wis 9, Cha 12
Base Atk +6; CMB +12; CMD 24 (cannot be tripped)
Feats Improved Initiative, Lunge, Power Attack
Skills Perception +10, Sense Motive +10, Stealth +11, Survival +7, Swim +19; Racial Modifiers +4 Stealth, +8 Swim
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Draconic; telepathy 100 ft.
SQ aquatic adaptation
Organization solitary or pair
Aquatic Adaptation (Ex) An onyare can breathe underwater indefinitely and can freely use its breath weapon and other abilities while underwater.
Horn Seeds (Ex) When an onyare hits a creature with its gore attack, tips of its antlers break off and begin growing in the target’s body as bony, antler-like nodules. Damage caused by the horn seeds cannot be magically or naturally healed until the bony growths are removed, which requires a DC 15 Heal check and deals 3d8 points of damage to the target. For every 5 by which the Heal check exceeds the DC, reduce the damage by 1d8 (minimum 0). Outsiders with the chaotic subtype are immune to this effect. This is a disease effect. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Horn Seeds (Ex) Gore—injury; save Fort DC 15, onset 1 day, frequency 1 day, effect 1d4 Dex and 1 Con damage, cure 2 consecutive saves.
Cunning and cruel, onyares are horned demons that lurk in the lakes and tarns of abyssal swamplands. Constantly adapting to the needs of their environment, Onyares grow and shed primitive, gaunt limbs in a matter of minutes – effective for overland travel between mires, but too weak for combat. Onyares instead rely on their needle-sharp teeth and corrosive breath, but their most infamous weapon is their antlers, which break off into victims and form horn-like growths that impede movement and drain vitality. Each antler is a fast-growing shard of primordial chaos that consumes normal flesh and sprouts new branches. An onyare constantly sheds damaged or dead antlers, using the broken points to decorate its lair and mark the edges of its territory.
An onyare is between 8 and 11 feet long, weigh roughly 400 pounds, and can possess up to 5 primitive limbs at any given time. They form from mortal souls who thrived in mass hysteria, exploiting panic and tragedy for entertainment or personal gain. They delight in using their spell-like abilities to frighten intruders, giving chase as they flee in terror. They are often summoned to the Material Plane to serve as guardians for hidden lairs and vaults within the marshes, though their restless, chaotic nature often leads them to abandon their posts and stalk the wilderness for mortals to torment.
Written by Nicholas Wasko
Artwork by Zul Fadhli Kamarrudin
Edited by William Ward
Before I purchased my first miniature, my concept of tabletop RPG “bling” was best evidenced by my collection of gaming accessories. With a total value of $4.62, this collection consisted of four items: an 80-page college bound spiral notebook, with several pages of unfinished homework in the front; a yellow #2 pencil, with a complete set of dental imprints; and a set of polyhedral dice, minus the d12. It was with this paltry arsenal that I marched– uphill both ways, to the best of my recollection – into my earliest gaming sessions.
Perhaps this is why the sudden acquisition of 162 unpainted miniatures came as such a shock.
Finding oneself buried in an avalanche of miniatures isn’t an overnight phenomenon. Having traded my collection of Magic the Gathering cards – their value today, I don’t care to think about – for a box full of tattered rule books and modules, the concept of using miniatures didn’t exist for me until 1991. That was the year I purchased the Dungeons & Dragons Black Box (my first store-bought RPG). Filled with a collection of stand up paper miniatures and a full-color map, it was somewhat of a short-lived revelation. While it provided some opportunities for tactical combat, it had limited use beyond a few short sessions.
While my first encounter with miniatures was lackluster, my second was awe-inspiring. Delivered into my subconscious through a full-page advertisement in Dragon magazine, this was the first time that I had heard of Dwarven Forge (Master Maze at the time). Fortunately for me at the time, painted resin terrain wasn’t something that I could purchase, even irresponsibly (despite a generous on-and-off allowance). The advertisement faded from my memory well before I had disposable income to waste (That’s a figure of speech. It isn’t a waste, it is awesome.).
Then Dwarven Forge had their first Kickstarter campaign.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to purchase two “Dream Toys” from my childhood. The first was a high-end Traxxis radio-controlled car. The second was Dwarven Forge terrain. Since I didn’t own any miniatures at the time, the second came with an (extremely) bourgeois, (embarrassingly) first-world problem… which brings me back to the sudden acquisition of 162 unpainted miniatures, and the fact that I’ll need to learn how to paint miniatures.
Since the Reaper Bones 2 Kickstarter is responsible for the sudden influx of of miniatures (that’s right, it is Reaper’s fault, not mine), I’ll be starting with advice from their website on supplies, and painting advice from someone who survived the first Bones Kickstarter. I’ll be compiling a collection of other resources, from tutorials to painting services, from the perspective of a complete beginner here as I attempt to paint, purchase, or otherwise procure a collection of miniatures for my Dwarven Forge terrain.
The cracks and fissures in the mottled brown hide of this bipedal, serpentine dragon weep seemingly endless streams of sand. The air around its spade-shaped head ripples with intense heat.
Linnorm, Dune CR 12
CE Gargantuan dragon
Init +4; Senses darkvision 120 ft., low-light vision, scent, true seeing; Perception +21
AC 27, touch 10, flat-footed 23 (+4 Dex, +17 natural, -4 size)
hp 161 (14d12+70); regeneration 10 (cold iron)
Fort +14, Ref +15, Will +13
Defensive Abilities freedom of movement; DR 15/cold iron; Immune curse effects, fire, mind-affecting effects, paralysis, poison, sleep; SR 23
Speed 40 ft., burrow 40 ft., fly 100 ft. (average)
Melee bite +21 (2d8+10/19-20 plus poison), 2 claws +20 (1d8+10), tail +15 (2d6+5 plus grab)
Space 20 ft.; Reach 20 ft.
Special Attacks breath weapon, constrict (tail, 2d6+15), death curse
Str 30, Dex 19, Con 20, Int 5, Wis 18, Cha 21
Base Atk +14; CMB +28 (+32 grapple); CMD 42 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Combat Reflexes, Flyby Attack, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Vital Strike, Lightning Reflexes, Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Fly +15, Perception +21, Survival +21
Languages Aklo, Draconic, Sylvan
Environment warm deserts
Breath Weapon (Su) Once every 1d4 rounds, a dune linnorm can breathe a 120-foot line of superheated wind, dealing 14d8 points of fire damage to all creatures in the area (Reflex DC 22 halves). If the ground is covered in sand, the heat turns the sand in the area into long shards of glass pointed away from the linnorm. This area is affected as per the spike stones spell (Reflex DC 22, Perception DC 30 to notice), except that creatures damaged by the glass also take 1d8 points of fire damage. The glass turns brittle and collapses back into sand after 1 hour. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Death Curse (Su) When a creature slays a dune linnorm, the slayer is affected by the curse of the wastes. Curse of the Wastes: save Will DC 22; effect creature functions as being in severe heat (see the “Heat Dangers” section in Chapter 13 of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook) at all times (unless the actual temperature is hotter), and cannot benefit from endure elements or other magical protection from heat. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Freedom of Movement (Ex) A dune linnorm is under the constant effect of freedom of movement, as per the spell of the same name. This effect cannot be dispelled.
Poison (Ex) Bite—injury; save Fort DC 22; frequency 1/round for 10 rounds; effect 2d6 fire damage and 1d3 Con drain; cure 2 consecutive saves. The save DC is Constitution-based.
True Seeing (Ex) A dune linnorm has constant true seeing, as per the spell of the same name.
While most linnorms inhabit the frigid mountains of the far north, the fearsome dune linnorms dwell in southern deserts, steppes, and other regions of intense heat. The massive dragons claim vast tracts of wasteland as their territories, devastating the already fragile ecosystems with their voracious appetites and aggressive dispositions. Their limited food supplies leave them smaller and weaker than their northern cousins, but many times more irritable thanks to their near-constant hunger.
While a dune linnorm’s presence frequently spells disaster for nearby tribes of humanoids, exceptionally resourceful or powerful individuals can salvage boons from the dragons’ lairs. Dune linnorms’ fey dispositions instinctively draw them to ley lines and other sites of potent natural magic hidden in the wastes, meaning their homes are often riddled with magical treasures and supernatural fonts of food and water, which allow the ravenous dragons to survive. Crafty desert-dwellers can capitalize on these resources, although they risk provoking the mighty liners, who swiftly and ruthlessly investigate any perceived violations of their privacy.
Written by Christoper Wasko
Artwork by Zul Fadhli Kamarrudin
Edited by William Ward
Press Release: Outland Entertainment Releases Arcane Focus: Secrets of Sensory Magic for The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SUMMARY: Outland Entertainment LLC releases Arcane Focus: Secrets of Sensory Magic, a supplement for The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
FEBRUARY 12, 2015, KANSAS, UNITED STATES — Outland Entertainment LLC is pleased to announce the release of Arcane Focus: Secrets of Sensory Magic, the first in a series of supplements for The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
Arcane Focus: Secrets of Sensory Magic is a collection of new options for the use of divination magic at the gaming table. Taking a different approach to the school of divination, it focuses on an all-new sensory school, a focused arcane school (See the “Focused Arcane School” section in Chapter 2 of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide) that views knowledge “as bits of information acquired through one’s perception of the world, inextricably linked to the senses that absorb the information and interpret its significance.” Arcane Focus: Secrets of Sensory Magic features design work from RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 finisher, Christopher Wasko; and, Here be Monsters design contest winner, Nicholas Wasko.
“I met Chris and Nick through Freelance Forge, a discussion forum for active and prospective RPG freelancers, where the pairs propensity for winning practice contests has become a running joke.” says William Ward, Director of Games at Outland Entertainment. “I feel fortunate that the Wasko brothers were able to collaborate on our first product for The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.”
The Arcane Focus: Secrets of Sensory Magic is available in PDF from Paizo.com and DriveThruRPG.com.
For more work from Christopher Wasko and Nicholas Wasko check out our Creatures of the Outlands Series. You can see Nicholas Wasko’s winning entry for the Here be Monsters contest at A Sword for Hire.
An iridescent carapace covers this tiny creature, with two bulbous, three-pupiled eyes in front and a spine-like tail protruding behind. Four pairs of pincer-tipped legs fidget incessantly beneath its shell. Its entire body shimmers, as if surrounded by unstable energy.
Illimulid CR 3
N Tiny magical beast
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +1
AC 18, touch 15, flat-footed 15 (+3 Dex, +3 natural, +2 size)
hp 22 (3d10+6)
Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +2
Speed 10 ft.
Melee touch +8 (attach)
Ranged force bolt +8 (1d3)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks dweomer leap, parasitic casting
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 3rd)
Str 3, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 1, Wis 12, Cha 16
Base Atk +3; CMB +4 (+12 grapple when attached); CMD 10 (26 vs. trip)
Feats Skill Focus (Use Magic Device), Weapon Finesse
Skills Stealth +15, Use Magic Device +8
Environment any urban or underground
Organization solitary, pair, or colony (3-12)
Dweomer Leap (Su) An illimulid that is targeted by a spell or within a spell’s area of effect can teleport into the caster’s square as an immediate action, effectively appearing mid-leap and aimed toward the caster. This ability takes effect whether or not the spell overcomes the illimulid’s spell resistance. The illimulid can immediately make a touch attack against the spell’s caster. This ability does not provoke an attack of opportunity.
Force Bolt (Sp) As a standard action an illimulid can fire a bolt of force at any foe within 30 ft. as a ranged attack. Each bolt deals 1d3 points of force damage. An illimulid’s force bolt can be blocked by a shield spell.
Parasitic Casting (Su) An illimulid that is attached to a spellcaster at the beginning of its turn can make a special Use Magic Device check against DC 11 + caster level. If successful, the illimulid activates one of the caster’s spells, as if she had cast the spell with the illimulid as the target or the center of the effect. The activated spell is chosen randomly from the caster’s prepared spells or spells known. Harmful spells activated by this effect always fail to overcome the illimulid’s spell resistance. Spells with a range of personal affect the illimulid instead of the caster. If the Use Magic Device check exceeds the caster’s Will save by 5 or more, an additional spell is activated.
The bane of all magic users, illimulids (colloquially called “magekiller crabs”) were named for their ability to hijack magical energies. Despite their meek appearance, these seemingly harmless creatures become dangerous when they latch onto a victim and start firing spells at point blank.
Terrestrial cousins of horseshoe crabs, illimulids eat mosses, fungi, and carrion, and shelter in cramped spaces to escape predators. Females lay hundreds of eggs at a time, but must siphon energy from magical discharges to prime them for fertilization. As a result, these typically docile creatures become active in the presence of spellcasters, scrolls, wands, and other magic items, triggering spell effects in order to quicken as many eggs as possible. Their preferred habitats and aggressive pursuit of spellcasters makes infestations a major problem in magical communities.
Armies opposed by mages sometimes outfit their platoons with caged illimulids, which can use their dweomer leap to ambush long-range spellcasters and wreak havoc behind enemy lines. Some soldiers tell tales of illimulids specially bred for war, immune to certain forms of magic and bearing pincers that can rip through armor.
Written by Nicholas Wasko
Artwork by Zul Fadhli Kamarrudin
Edited by William Ward
This sleek spider has a hide like a polished mirror, and eight pinpricks of light for eyes.
Solar Spider CR 4
N Medium magical beast
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +6
AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed14 (+3 Dex, +4 natural)
hp 42 (5d10+15)
Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +3
Defensive Abilities reflective hide; Immune mind-affecting effects; Resist fire 20
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.
Melee bite +7 (2d6+3 plus poison)
Special Attacks sun snare
Str 14, Dex 17, Con 16, Int –, Wis 15, Cha 14
Base Atk +5; CMB +7; CMD 20 (32 vs. trip)
Skills Climb +19, Perception +6; Racial Modifiers +16 Climb, +4 Perception
SQ light climbing
Environment warm desert or plains
Organization solitary, pair, or colony (3-8)
Light Climbing (Su) Solar spiders use their Dexterity modifiers for their Climb skill, rather than Strength. When in areas of bright light, solar spiders can climb on imperceptible strands of light, using their climb speed as a fly speed with perfect maneuverability. The solar spider uses its Climb skill rather than its Fly skill to determine its ability to execute flying maneuvers, with no additional bonuses for maneuverability.
Poison (Ex) Bite—injury; save Fort DC 15; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d2 Strength damage and 1 Constitution damage; cure 1 save.
Reflective Hide (Ex) A solar spider’s polished hide is highly reflective. When a solar spider is in normal light, all creatures within 30 feet of it are dazzled. When in bright light, a solar spider’s hide becomes so bright that creatures have difficulty looking directly at it, resulting in a 20% miss chance against all attacks by sight-dependent attackers. Solar spiders are immune to spells and effects that use sunlight as a weapon, such as searing light and sunburst, and they cannot be blinded or dazzled by bright light or patterns.
Sun Snare (Su) A solar spider can throw globs of burning sunlight the way normal spiders throw webs. This ability functions like the web ability (+8 ranged, DC 15, 5 hp), except that a creature struck by a sun snare must also make a DC 15 Fortitude save or be blinded for 1d4 rounds. A creature entangled in a sun snare sheds light like a sunrod, suffers a -40 penalty on Stealth checks, and takes 1d4 points of fire damage per round it is entangled. Solar spiders can only use this ability when they are in normal or bright light.
Found in deserts, wastelands, and other regions infamous for intense sunlight, solar spiders are fully adapted to survive in sun-seared environments. Their reflective hides not only protect them from ultraviolet rays, but also turn the blinding sunlight to their advantage when hunting prey or fending off predators. Their hypersensitive legs can also grasp strands of light unnoticeable to most creatures, allowing them to climb on sunbeams and spin light into adhesive projectiles that rapidly burn those they ensnare.
Despite the spiders’ dangerous abilities and territorial natures, many desert tribes harbor great respect for the radiant creatures. Tribe elders and soothsayers depict the arachnids as servants or manifestations of solar deities, graceful and beautiful from a distance but terrible if encountered up close. Chieftans and shamans commonly wear ceremonial armor or headdresses made from solar spider hide as a status symbol.
Written by Christoper Wasko
Artwork by Zul Fadhli Kamarrudin
Edited by William Ward
Press Release: Outland Entertainment Introduces Creatures of the Outlands Blog Series
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SUMMARY: Outland Entertainment LLC introduces bi-monthly blog posts of creature-centric material for The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
TOPEKA, KS, NOVEMBER 15, 2015 — Outland Entertainment LLC, a digital publisher, producer and purveyor of fine artwork and fiction, is pleased to announce Creatures of the Outlands, a bimonthly website series of creature-centric material for The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
This bimonthly series, available through the Outland Entertainment’s blog, opens featuring design work from RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16 finisher, Christopher Wasko; and, Here be Monsters design contest winner, Nicholas Wasko.
Each entry in the Creatures of the Outlands series features a complete creature, with artwork, for use at your gaming table. For more information visit outlandentertainment.com/blog.
William Ward has a passion for storytelling, be it short story or comic strips. He is also an award-winning photographer and RGP developer. Let’s find out a little bit more!
William, it’s no secret you started out as an avid (and talented!) Dungeon Master. Would you say that D&D played a big part in your passion for storytelling?
The similarities between modern tabletop role-playing games and traditional oral narratives are, in my view, an exceedingly fascinating topic. Before the rise of the novel telling stories was a community driven process. It was interactive. The reason that a single folktale has dozens of variations is because of storytellers that altered their tales based in there audience. I think that tabletop role-playing games fall into this tradition of interactive storytelling. Seeing my audience at the game table was certainly rewarding – an experience that made me want to tell more stories.
What do you enjoy most in roleplaying games?
I’ve always enjoyed the creativity involved in the planning and running of the game sessions. As a player you have the opportunity to creatively solve problems within the game. As a game master you have the challenge of creating scenarios that will be well received.
How often do you GM nowadays?
I’m not able to play as often as I would like. I typically run Pathfinder once every other month. Our schedules make it difficult to get together more often, but in addition to those sessions in person they also roleplay on message boards between games.
How about working in RPG? What is the most rewarding part?
The things that I find most enjoyable about creation process overlap a lot with what I enjoy about playing. The process of creating a RPG is interactive. While you can create a role-playing game solo, it’s most often a group process. Game designers, writers, artists, designers – it’s a process that can create a lot of back-and-forth. I think it’s the same reason that I enjoy the collaborative process of comic books.
Speaking of writing comic scripts. When did comics enter your life?
When I was in elementary school and junior high school I’ve read a lot of superhero comics. I enjoy them, but at a certain point they no longer held my interest and stopped reading. I was fortunate enough to have my interest rekindled during my freshman year at college. A professor included Maus in one of my classes and it made me give comics a second look.
With a little research I discovered that the reason I lost interest in comics was that I was not reading the right comics. I began to read through all of the comics my childhood grosser didn’t carry: Sandman, Hellraiser, The Dark Knight Returns, The Killing Joke, The Incal, and dozens of others.
Photography is another one of your passions. Is this something you consider a hobby, or more of a parallel professional activity?
Photography has somewhat come full circle for me – hobby, parallel profession, and back to hobby. While I’ve always enjoyed photography it became a serious hobby for me after taking a class in college. Taking what I learned from the class I entered the Main State Fair photography contest. Since (like most artist) I am critical of my own work, it was a surprise when I won best in show (B&W) and ribbons in half the categories where I submitted photos.
That gave me the confidence to pursue photography as a parallel career. Since then I’ve worked on-an-off as a portrait photographer for outside companies and independently. My real passion is for landscape photography though, and that is where I concentrate my time currently (as a hobby).
Who do you consider to be the most influential writers?
Ursula K. Le Guin as a writer that has had the most influence on me. A Wizard of Earthsea was my first favorite novel. I still keep a extra “giveaway” copy at all times that I gift to others who show interest in the fantasy genre.
Any novel or comic book recommendations?
There are so many lists out there that I always find it difficult to make recommendations. I’ll try to keep my suggestions somewhat obscure rather than repeating the same books that are on every other list. I’d recommend In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente and Little, Big by John Crowley for novels. For graphic novels I would recommend Three Shadows by Cyril Pedrosa.
How about the future? What projects can we expect?
Currently I’m working on a graphic novel retelling of a Shakespeare play based on an academic exercise that I was introduced to in college. I’m also working on several tabletop roleplaying supplements that use the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game rules.
Thanks William for telling us a little bit of your own story.