3D Artist and teacher by trade. Obsessive nerd, gamer, foodie, Whovian. I want to be Agent Carter when I grow up.
Geek and Sundry is known for highlighting some of the best TTRPGs around, and on July 30th, their newest limited series will make its debut; the Pathfinder 2 adventure, Knights of Everflame! The show will feature Paizo’s own Director of Game Design, Jason Bulmahn in the GM seat as he leads a group of five strangers (Gina DeVivo, Jeremy Steven Walker, Aki, Erika Fermina, and Rachel Seeley) aboard a caravan, heading to Lastwall, an ancient kingdom watching over the grave of a long-dead menace. Conscripted into the army, they face years of training and service, but as smoke begins to rise from the horizon, they must come together as friends if they are to have any chance at survival. We had a chance to ask Jason, and Geek and Sundry director, Chris Fishel, some questions about the upcoming series, the challenges of creating an entire campaign in 8 episodes, and what to expect from Pathfinder Second Edition.
Fresh Mana: Anyone who has played a Pathfinder campaign can attest to the fact that between the RP, the narrative, and the rolling of dice, a solid campaign can potentially take a long time to play. What were the biggest challenges of fitting an entire Pathfinder campaign into 8 hours and how were you able to adapt?
Chris Fishel: Thankfully we actually had 24 hours to tell this story as each episode of the 8 part series is about 3 hours long. With that being said, Pathfinder is such a rich atmosphere that it was a challenge to tell the story in 24 hours. A lot of thought went into the prep for the series with that in mind, and Jason Bulmahn deserves the majority of the credit. GM’ing an adventure is an art form to begin with, but GM’ing an adventure packaged into a show with a specific running length is a different art entirely. I was fortunate with this series because Jason is a master at this rare skill set and a wealth of material to include or omit depending on the pace of the session.
Pathfinder is known for its rich world and narrative as well as its room for an incredible RP experience at the table, so planning an epic adventure into eight awesome 3 hour sessions was a tall order and something we put a lot of care and time into in pre-production. We wanted the most epic and expansive adventure possible but also wanted our stellar cast of performers to be free to flex their RP muscles and share their brilliance with the audience as well. Jason came to bat with a wealth of material to either include or omit with each session depending on the pace of that session. And he knocked it out of the park every single time.
FM: You have a beautifully talented and diverse cast, what went in to choosing the players? Had they played Pathfinder before?
CF: Thank you, and yes our cast rocks! In regards to how the cast came to be assembled, it was a very quick and easy process actually. Our family here at G&S is overflowing with amazing performers from all different backgrounds. When we initially discussed who we wanted to reach out to for the cast we were looking for people that had the ability and willingness to thrust their heart and soul into their character and also reflect the rich diversity of our community.
FM: Did you find you needed to adjust your GMing style to fit the format of a show? If so, how did it impact your story’s narrative?
Jason Bulmahn: Not too much to be honest. My GM style is already pretty flexible, but creating a narrative like this really pushed me to come up with innovative ways to make sure that the story came together in the right way. Every single part of this adventure included branching paths, extra encounters, and various subplots depending on how the players interacted with the story, and in many cases, how the pacing of the episode dictated what I had room to include. As the series goes on, I was able to anticipate where the players might go and what they might do, which gave me a lot of room to tie in elements of their backstories, and weave together some plot elements that I never saw coming when the show began. It was truly an incredibly creative environment. The cast honestly made this job easy!
FM: Pathfinder Second Edition releases August 1st, without being too spoilery, what fun new features can we expect to preview in Knights of Everflame?
JB: Knights of Everflame is special for a number of reasons. On the game side, we get a chance to deeply explore these characters and the rules that make them special. I think just about every spell, feat, and magic item gets to see play at some point, making for some of the most amazing moments of the entire campaign. But I have to say that for me, behind the screen, this is one of the first times I have gotten to play with some of the more powerful monsters in the game. It was ridiculously fun for me to get a chance to use some of their more terrifying abilities (even if it did cause the players to hide under the table from time to time).
In addition, Knights of Everflame also has a deep and meaningful tie to our setting and the story of Pathfinder. The very first stand-alone adventure for Pathfinder was called Crypt of the Everflame. Set in our world, 10 years ago, the events of that adventure play a part in this story. Finally, Knights of Everflame also takes place in some truly scary times in our world and this adventure gives the viewers a window into our world, unlike any other.
FM: What are you most looking forward to showing off about Pathfinder Second Edition?
JB: I am looking forward to folks getting this game and realizing that the story we tell during Knights of Everflame is not so different than what they game allows them to do at home with their friends. All of the tools I use to create the story, all of the rules used to build the characters are there in the Core Rulebook for you to use too. It is a massive toolkit, filled with endless ideas for adventure.
FM: One of the great things about streaming TTRPG shows is that it gives viewers, who have potentially never played the game, an opportunity to learn the rules and dive in with their own new adventures. Would you recommend Knights of Everflame to players who have never played a Pathfinder campaign?
JB: Absolutely. The game focuses on the narrative and the character development above all else, but the cast did a great job showing off the rules of the game, making Pathfinder come to life. You can learn all about the basics of play just by watching the first session. It’s one of the things that has us most excited about Pathfinder Second Edition; the way that the rules and the narrative play together to help everyone at the table take part in the story. The choices the cast made during character creation shape and mold the story and the events of the adventure as they unfold. Different choices might have led to an entirely different outcome, but that is what makes Pathfinder special. Your choices matter. Your story can make all the difference.
FM: So, Critical Role’s fans are called “Critters,” LA By Night has the “Vamily,” what do you think a good nickname would be for fans of Knights of Everflame?
CF: The fans pick the names, we’re just along for the ride! And I’m really looking forward to what they come up with!
FM: Now that we have Knights of Everflame, can we possibly look forward to a Starfinder campaign somewhere down the line for the sci-fi nerds out there?
JB: I think that we are incredibly excited to see where the future takes us. If the fans love the show, I think there is no end to the type of content we could create for Pathfinder and Starfinder!
FM: What is the one piece of advice you would give to new players to Pathfinder, and to new GMs?
JB: Pathfinder is your game. Use it to tell the fantastical stories that you want to tell. Use it to share moments of heroism and moments of sorrow, use it to loot ancient tombs and use it to explore what it means to be friends. Remember that the game is only there to help you tell your tales and that if the rules are getting in the way, change them to fit the needs of your group and your story. This is the first rule of Pathfinder and as long as you follow it, you are bound to have an amazing time.
Thank you so much to Jason and Chris for answering our questions! Knights of Everflame debuts Tuesday, July 30th on Geek & Sundry’s Twitch channel at 4PM Pacific. Join us on the adventure as we live tweet using the hashtag, #KnightsOfEverflame!