Pathfinder Comic Thoughts

Now that the news about me writing the upcoming Pathfinder comic series for Dynamite and Paizo has gone far and wide, I figured it was a good time to update my blog with some thoughts about the series and my overall plans.

For anyone who’s not aware, Pathfinder is an award-winning tabletop role-playing game and fiction setting that grew from the roots of the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition Open Gaming License. The Pathfinder fanbase is huge, dedicated and loves classic fantasy. Needless to say, with my lifelong love of RPGs and sword & sorcery storytelling, I’m a big fan of it as well.

The iconic characters at the heart of Pathfinder’s setting, a cast of diverse and well designed heroes, have never been fleshed out beyond their appearance and a few sentences about their personality. Paizo and Dynamite have given me the distinct honour of expanding upon that base, building stories of these amazing characters adventuring together and growing as a group.

When I was approached about pitching for the gig, I did some brainstorming and outlined important aspects I’d emphasize if they wanted me at the helm:

• The series had to be non-gamer friendly and work as a self-contained unit. Comic readers and people who have never heard of Pathfinder before should be able to pick up this story and get everything they need to enjoy it on its own merits. This doesn’t mean I intend to ignore the fanbase, not in the slightest, but I wanted to make sure the comic functioned well as an entry point to the world and characters, not just an offshoot of other products.

• Characters come before world-changing plot. As incredibly detailed and impressive Golarian (the world of Pathfinder) is, outside readers won’t give a lick if they don’t get attached to the characters. Making them come alive with personality, entertaining interactions, relationships and engaging goals is paramount to bringing in casual readers and keeping long time fans attached to the series after the initial excitement of new Pathfinder stuff has worn off. Stories grab people, but engaging characters keep fans dedicated to ensemble casts in this vein like the Lord of the Rings, the Dragonlance Chronicles, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Avatar the Last Air Bender.

• It should feel like the best fantasy tabletop role-playing session played out before your eyes on the page – adventure, big action, fun banter and unexpected little turns that keep readers entertained. A mix of swashbuckling-tinged joy and serious stakes as the story moves along.

There was more, but those three points were at the heart of my pitch. If Paizo and Dynamite liked the sound of that, then I was their man. If not, then I wouldn’t be able to put myself into it and it wouldn’t work for me. Thankfully, they loved the sound of everything I proposed and were really in sync with those ideas.

Pathfinder gives me a chance to dig in on a story that balances fun and character-driven storytelling together. It’s classic fantasy with an awareness of modern storytelling sensibilities and strengths. As I write this I have the first story arc all mapped out and I’m scripting issue #3. The character voices are getting stronger as I work away and I’m enjoying writing interplay between the different personalities in the group.

In August you’ll be able to read the first issue and can let me know if I’ve hit the spot with it. Until then, I hope you’re excited and looking forward to the release.

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