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Pathfinder 2 Playtest: Erik Mona on What Makes Paizo Paizo

The playtest for Pathfinder 2nd edition is now live. Not surprisingly, nerds have questions. Luckily, Erik Mona–Publisher at Paizo–ushered me and Davery into a secret chamber where we sat around a table and talked shop.

While the audio didn’t survive the experience, we transcribed the conversation and have posted it below, edited slightly for clarity.

Pathfinder 2 Playtest: What Makes Paizo Paizo

Clave: I do want to ask the same question that Davery asked, except ask it of Paizo, the company. Not what makes a Pathfinder product, but what makes a Paizo product. Obviously, I look at your product line and you have minis, and you have maps, and you have all these things, so support for Pathfinder products is one thing that makes Paizo Paizo. But talk about Paizo, the company. What makes Paizo Paizo?

Erik Mona, Publisher of the Pathfinder RPG.

Erik: Well, I think Paizo is a company that from the CEO to the latest hire, everyone is a gamer. So I think we all go into what products do we wanna make, what are the contents of those products, not just this kind of like, “How can we make a lot of money?” or, “How can we make good business decisions?” It’s, “What do we want in our own games? What would be helpful for us? What’s a fun thing from a gamer perspective?”

It is not just from a “I think there’s a business case to be made for this type of product.” I mean, sometimes that comes into play, because it is a business, but everything is absolutely leavened with, “How’s this gonna work at the table? How will this improve my game?” That’s a big part of Paizo.

Yes, Paizo’s stuff is full of service, you can get miniatures, you can get maps, you can get adventure, sometimes, you can get all three that are designed to work together, and that enhances the overall experience, but it’s really kind of comes from, “What would be cool at my table?” And not just mine, but everybody’s.

Sometimes, one of the values of having a large staff and a diverse staff is that people don’t always have the same answer to that question. My background was in playing in old RPG tournaments at cons. That’s how I really got ultimately professionally involved in the business, traveling to cons, getting to know people that love playing games.

One of the things you realize very quickly–especially if you travel to play–is that everybody isn’t exactly the same. Not everybody likes exactly the same thing in their games, so having a broad sense of different passions and the fact that people are attracted to fantasy gaming for more than one reason, is really, really helpful.

The Pathfinder Playtest rulebook.

One of the things I think is very dangerous in this game business is people who just been like, “Well, I’ve played with the same group, with the same five-six people for 20 years, that must universally be all gaming,” and that’s a very dangerous place to be in. So I think an understanding that there are multiple different paths into hobby gaming, and people are looking for different elements in the game, I think is critically important.

That comes through Golarion, I hope, but also in the sort of rules we play in. For example, it might be a book about combat, and it’s all techie sort of “+1 to hit” feats. Well, that’s very dry. Some people are going to want to do really fun narrative stuff in their combat, so maybe there could be combos or something we put in there that they can give more narrative depth to the game. That’s sort of what I’m talking about.

That plays into rule design, but it also plays into the art that we do in our books, the characters that we do. Which leads me to the next thing, which is I would say that at Paizo inclusivity is a huge value. I’m talking in terms of gender, in terms of ethnicity, that is a big part of Paizo.

We want as many people playing our games as possible. Gaming is a truly egalitarian thing. You’re all sitting around a table pretending to be elves and dwarves, it doesn’t matter where you came from. We want everyone to feel welcome, so that’s a big part of it, is what I’m saying. And then, we’re all nerds, and we love pulpy fantasy, dungeons, and monsters, and evil spells and all that, so mix some of that in.

Davery: Thank you.

Erik: No, thank you.

Download the FREE Pathfinder playtest materials.

There is more interview:

Click here for Part 2Erik Mona on What Makes Pathfinder Pathfinder and for

Part 1Erik Mona on Why You Should Give the Playtest a Try and

Will Golarion Suffer a Cataclysmic Event?

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