2021 in Review: Products
Last year I wrote a review on 2020, feeling like I’ve progressed my career by leaps and bounds; And yet this year I feel like I’ve outdone myself, which only makes 2022 feel all the more daunting. I’m going to separate my accomplishments into multiple posts (which will also help give time for certain products to be announced/released wink-wink), starting with Articles, and now Products!
My first published heritage! It was a blast researching all the different headless myths from around the world to write this, even if the standard “sleepy hollow”-style headless horseman is a bit more prominently featured than the others. I really loved all the different things you could do with your head, and Owen’s direction to have different abilities depending on what you were using as a head was genius.
Fun Fact There is a common thread with an underlying “revenge” motive in most of these myths that make it a surprisingly ideal undead ancestry for player characters; Or, at least, more suitable than an undead motivated by a hunger for the living.
Favorite Line “On a failure, your head falls off.”
Success I liked expanding on Favored Class Bonuses in PF1e instead of a class-specific archetype or prestige classes to help make this character more engaging to players who already have class/feat combination(s) in mind when they sit down to design their character.
My first published Ancestry! I love sphinxes so much! I use them quite often as my behind-the-scenes mentor character and enjoy associating them with the Caycian mythology of the Akashic Records. I didn’t like the extremely problematic depictions of sphinxes in Pathfinder 1e and Dungeons & Dragons; Fortunately, Pathfinder 2e did away with these problems in the Bestiary, not that I needed the excuse to make each heritage distinct and do away with the OSR ecology.
Fun Fact The sakalisphinx was an original creation. I wanted a sphinx ancestry that is less inclined to be cloistered from other humanoid ancestries, and it didn’t make sense that there wouldn’t be a breed of sphinxes who’d try to expand their knowledge among other ancestries. Of course, how each individual sphinx does this is up to them.
Favorite Line “Requirements: Four Feet in the Morning, Two Feet at Noon”
Success I love the idea of a “narrow-frame” large ancestry, and making sure it has plenty of access to transforming into a humanoid is especially important for an ancestry as “monstrous” as a sphinx. Turning back into your sphinx form as a reaction to rolling initiative means you can still play a sphinx who fights in their “true form”. The riddle-feats were very fun to write, and I’ve already found a use for them in my home game!
My first Paizo hardcover and Lost Omens line book! Working on this book was ridiculously fun, as the authors really clicked and formed kind of a niche community together, complete with memes and inside jokes. I’m so proud to be a part of this team, as the community seems to adore this book.
Fun Fact Writing a merchant has been on my bucket list for a while, so this was kind of a dream assignment. And apparently, people love Tattletail; I was so blown away watching NoNat1 gush about how much they loved that NPC on their livestream! One of my highlights of the year; After watching the video my mom was so happy she started to cry.
Favorite Line “Abilities that trigger when a creature deals bleed damage, determine if a creature is bleeding, or are otherwise based on bleed damage don’t trigger or apply for blood from a fake blood pack, which might mean creatures with such abilities automatically realize the ruse.”
Success Balancing mundane adventuring gear can be very challenging; Most players (and GMs) assume stuff like masks and battering rams are “always available”, so you must get them tuned just right. You also want to make sure they are available to low-level players, but still useful for high-level players. I’m proud to say I had almost no edits to what I submitted for my adventuring gear!
Extra I did not write the harrow-based TCG or the pipefox, but both are fantastic and I find it funny that they were both in the same book that was my first author credit!
My first Paizo “primary line” Rulebook! This also includes my first Archetypes, the Sterling Dynamo and Bullet Dancer. I also did some firearm gear, including the bandoliers and weapon mounts! Making rules for prosthetics in RPGs was a big bucket list success for me, in honor of my grandmother, a WW2 veteran I helped look after in her golden years. It was great that I’d be assigned to work on the Sterling Dynamo shortly after deciding that Tattletail would have a prosthetic tail.
Favorite Line “Sterling Dynamo” (This name took me so long to get just right.)
Fun Fact I binged a ton of Black Lagoon while brainstorming ideas for the Bullet Dancer. Oddly enough, I don’t think there was anything in the show that actually inspired the archetype; If anything, the series is way more focused on vehicles than firearms!
Success People seem to love the Bullet Dancer, but I’m rather proud of the Lucky Draw Bandolier. I didn’t realize when I was writing it that I’d be writing a harrow-based card game, but I find it a fun coincidence!
My first self-published book! The Spell Trickster from Grand Bazaar was so cool that I just had to expand upon it with bonus feats! The fact you can potentially take the feats without the archetype (as per the sidebar in Grand Bazaar) makes it a fun splash into any campaign even without the archetype. It’s super fun thinking of neat variations on spells, and I focused on utility spells that low-level casters are normally less likely to devote a spell slot to on a standard ‘dungeon delve’, like floating disk and air bubble.
Fun Fact Joshua’s Cantrippers came out as I was developing the product and I decided to include it as a nod to how much I enjoyed his product, and to help kind of preview my next product.
Favorite Line “The snowball is not destroyed when thrown.”
Success Getting Aly Chen into editing TTRPG books was a big win. They are a great editor and I’m glad we’ve been able to develop a professional relationship and I look forward to many, many more products together.
My first time being a lead in a project, and my first base class! I wanted to write the Shaman Class for PF2e for a while. The core architecture of the class is such that the different paths interact with spirits you bond with as you adventure; Shamans get more spirits as they level up, and bonding with your spirit replaces the spells you can cast and grants you archetype feats, in addition to being able to use “trance” feats.
Fun Fact I was accumulating research and brainstorming ideas when, a couple of months later, Jason Nelson of Legendary Games made the call for Boricubos, and I was fortunate enough to be there to answer! This class is a refined version of the class from Boricubos: The Lost Isles, with some of the Boricubos specific lore stripped away and some adjusted Spirit Spells.
Favorite Line “The sharks are not creatures.”
Additional Fact Each of the 1st level focus spells has a “curse” or a “blessing”, so you can choose when you cast it whether its going to be a buff or a debuff. This is especially potent with the conduit shaman, who can turn the single-target spells into AoE effects!
Success I do love this base class. There are so many directions you could take it, and being able to apply an archetype to your spirit really adds a flavorful layer of customization.
My first published card game! I’ve wanted to make my own card game since I was in 5th grade; I kind of wish I’d kept my spiral notebooks so I could read the countless lists of non-existent cards for games with barely-existent rules I’d scrawl on the back of all my notes! When I read that there was a Pathfinder canon TCG in Lost Omens: The Grand Bazaar, I jumped on the chance to release a copy of the game you could play yourself! Writing the lore for it was super fun, and if it ever goes “metal”/”copper”, I’m totally releasing another set of cards for it!
Fun Fact Alex Augunas named the card game spontaneously during a game set in Absalom. It fit really well, as the basic idea of cards “occupying a center square” was already a key mechanical element. He also named the Illusodisk!
Favorite Line “If there are no other minions, locations, or face-down cards on the field the snake takes the Starstone”
Additional Fact This is also my first time getting artist credits in a TTRPG product. I’ve done Graphic Design before, but never artwork. I guess it’s cheating when you’re choosing what art goes into the product!
Success Being this project was done by me and for me, hearing about people wanting to use it in their games is straight up a massive success right off the bat. I also consider it a design success that I made a game you can play with 2-players or 4-players with minimal instruction and resolve in roughly 3-5 minutes, without the need for looking up cards or even rules until after the game’s decisions are (mostly) made. I’ve seen tabletop games incorporated into TTRPGs before, and usually one or two players are left out or get super bored only a few minutes into it, so I understood my challenges.
My first bestiary-compiled monster entries! I worked on over a dozen monsters, including the Amaru, Ccoa, Eintykara, Giant Mantis Shrimp, Jarjacha, Lakuma, Pinahuitzli, Quetzal, and Siehnam! The team worked with some incredibly skilled experts working on this project who helped us discover these fantastic creatures and the myths behind them!
Fun Facts In addition to all the amazing facts you can learn about the mantis shrimp on the internet, they are also one of the fastest swimmers in the ocean relative to their body size!
Favorite Line “Neither head can Delay.”
Success The Jarjacha was a fun challenge and making a two-headed monster was a fun challenge, but I think the Eintykara was my favorite.
My first Kickstarter project and setting book! I worked on magic items, the Shaman base class, and eight different archetypes for this book’s PF2e iteration.
Fun Facts Honestly, this setting is just so good. It treads this perfect line between fun and dangerous, while paying a respectful homage to the cultural heritages that inspired it. In addition to being an awesome place for a campaign, it would make a great addition to an ongoing campaign world that has yet to flesh itself out completely!
Favorite Line “You Lie about surrendering.”
Success Many of the archetypes for the PF2e version of the book were conceptualized as PF1e class archetypes for classes that don’t yet exist in PF2, but I think I was able to successfully carry many of them over, especially once we got the format and rules for base class archetypes from Secrets of Magic!
I’ve always been a huge fan of Alex Augunas’ work, all the way back to the original Kitsune Compendium. So when he approached me asking if I’d write the Avistani kitsune heritages, I couldn’t say “Yes!” fast enough! This was beyond a “bucket-list” product for me — it was the kind of project I never thought I’d have the chance to do. This collaboration was absolutely epic, and you can feel the love pouring out of every page of this product for the best ancestry in Pathfinder!
Fun Fox While the Angen and Rengo were both first mentioned in Lost Omens: Ancestry Guide, I drew quite a bit of inspiration from my own heritage and history as an Irish-American when writing all three of my entries, but especially the Angen kitsune. Br. Michael, my English teacher in High School, was a huge influence on my writing and someone I tried to channel when submitting this work.
Favorite Line “Conflict between Silvertails is typically settled in a fighting pit, with individuals brawling in fox form.”
Success I think the Silvertail are my strongest entry, which surprised me when it was all said and done given it was the entry I had the most creative freedom over. I love the Angen and the Rengo, but rating all three and prefer the one I made out of whole-cloth is rare for me and I think shows my growth as a creative. This hit especially hard as the Silvertail clan is so unlike me; I have so many more PCs and stories that would fit the Angen or Rengo mold and tend to sway toward Taldor and Varisia much more than Numeria. The key to my success here was simply asking myself: “What can the kitsune do that no other ancestry in Numeria can do? What niche can they fill?” The answer? Using fox form to squeeze into technological ruins!