Chris Avellone Talks Pathfinder: Kingmaker

A new interview with Chris Avellone has popped up, focusing on his involvement in the Owlcat Games' upcoming Pathfinder: Kingmaker RPG. The interview is quite informative in that it assumes that the readers have no familiarity with Pathfinder, and with Chris' help it tries to remedy this oversight. We get to read about the origins of Paizo Inc, the Pathfinder ruleset and setting, and more. Check it out:

Pathfinder... I'd never heard of it before the Kickstarter project popped up on my feed. How does Pathfinder differ from, say, Dungeons and Dragons, and what is the relationship there?

Chris: Pathfinder is a pen-and-paper fantasy role-playing ruleset from Paizo, Inc (Paizo is derived from the Greek, which means “I play” or “to play”). Paizo used to publish Dragon and Dungeon magazines for Wizards of the Coast (who make Dungeons and Dragons). When Paizo stopped publishing Dragon and Dungeon in 2007, they decided to try their hand at their own game world and have had a tremendous amount of success. I’ve played Pathfinder (not nearly as much as the Owlcat team), and I’ve always liked the system. So when Owlcat asked if I’d be interested, I came on board – first to assist with the game narrative, and I’ve also been helping them with the Kickstarter as much as possible as well.

So how is 'Pathfinder' distinct from the 'Kingmaker' part of the game's title? Is Kingmaker a campaign setting, like Forgotten Realms, or is it a game module - perhaps this question is better asked as "What's the difference between Pathfinder, Kingmaker and the Stolen Lands"?

Chris: Pathfinder is the name of the game system. Kingmaker is the specific name of one of Pathfinder’s “Adventure Paths.” For those not familiar with Adventure Paths, they are a series of six interconnected modules that take players from Level 1 to… well… a frighteningly high level. The Kingmaker Adventure Path is like playing six seasons of Game of Thrones, it’s that epic. And intricate. An Adventure Path is incredibly large in scope and it’s something intended to play with your friends over many, many campaign sessions. Kingmaker is one of the most loved of the Pathfinder adventure paths. “The Stolen Lands” is where Kingmaker takes place – it’s a contested territory in the world of Golarion, and many, many hundreds of empires have risen and fallen there. The Stolen Lands are where you carve out your new Kingdom and set about exploring the wilderness, dungeons, and other mysterious locales.

How can total newcomers get up to speed with the background and setting before playing the game when it launches, or will that not be needed at all?

Chris: Oh, not needed at all. We’ve set up the game introduction to give you a good sense of self, your place in the world, and your goal – in addition, the area you’re heading to in Golarion (the Stolen Lands) will be new to both you as a player and you as a player character. You’ll be exploring it together, so there’s no danger of needing lots of background exposition (although journals and companions can help, if you choose) before embarking on the adventure.

What is the relationship between Owlcat and Paizo in terms of free reign over the iconic characters - are you guys able to go wild with their interactions with the player's party, or are they keeping a close and watchful eye on how they are used?

Chris: Owlcat and Paizo speak often, and they’ve been very accommodating and helpful when it comes to the arcs of their iconics (and the adventure itself). So Paizo’s been keeping an eye on it, but I think because Owlcat is so familiar with the Pathfinder franchise, the game mechanics, and the Adventure Path, they are often able to put their reasoning for various decisions in the right context with Paizo, which makes things easier. Also the Owlcat developers – their Pathfinder knowledge borders on terrifying. Terrifying. And some of the team members have played the pen-and-paper version of Kingmaker many times, they love it that much.