Entrevista com Erik Mona

O blog gringo com o nome estranho de RPG Blog II está fazendo uma rodada de entrevistas com os caras da Paizo, e depois de ter suas perguntas respondidas pelo editor do Pathfinder James Jacobs, e pelo principal designer do sistema, Jason Bulmahn, desta vez é hora do chefe – Erik Mona, que não só é o cabeça por trás da iniciativa do Pathfinder, mas também foi o grande responsável pelo trabalho genial feito pela editora com as revistas DragonDungeon. Vou reproduzir algumas das respostas   aqui com comentários, e a entrevista na integra pode ser encontrada aqui:

What does your job as Publisher at Paizo entail?

I manage the art and editorial staff, set the production schedule (decide what products to do), coordinate publication budgets, run numerous staff meetings, handle most of the company’s marketing, and crack skulls that need to be cracked (occasionally including my own).

With all the magazine issues of Dungeon and Dragon that Paizo published, is there an article or series of articles that stands out as a favorite?

Over the course of my career I wrote almost exactly 100 editorials about Dungeons & Dragons, from childhood memories to issue overviews to articles about readers in prison or the vast vocabulary shared by those who play the game. After the first two dozen gaming anecdotes it becomes a challenge to say something worthwhile about the same subject. At one time I was writing monthly editorials for both Dragon and Dungeon magazine, which meant I had to come up with 600-word essays every other week. I think I managed a few really good ones along the way (especially one about “explosion dogs” that inspired a Tony Moseley cartoon). As a series I think the editorials are my favorites.

As far as individual accomplishments go, I’d have to say Dungeon #112, the mega-opus of “Maure Castle” that allowed me to put together what amounts to a dream team to do an adventure in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons. James Jacobs and I reimagined the original levels of the 1984 AD&D module “Mordenkainen’s Fantastic Adventure” for third edition, with editorial contributions from Gary Gygax and a completely new level of the dungeon by the adventure’s original author, Robert J. Kuntz. Wayne Reynolds provided the cover, and James Ryman did many of the interior illustrations. My great friend and frequent collaborator Sean Glenn did the art direction, which heavily informed the Dungeon redesign that came two issues later. To top it off, the magazine featured the very first design work by Sarah Robinson, the art director who makes the Pathfinder product line look as good as it does today.

Maure Castle is the greatest single Dungeons & Dragons design project I’ve been involved with. As an editorial feat I almost can’t believe we were able to pull it off.

Then there’s the Age of Worms campaign in general, the Dungeon re-launch, my adventure “The Whispering Cairn,” Gary Holian’s death knights and Fred Weining’s Vault of the Drow in Dragon, putting a modron on the cover, Jonathan Tweet’s Omega World, Dungeon’s 30 Greatest Adventures of All Time…

I have many, many favorites.

Nem precisei dar uma olhada na coleção virtual para lembrar da Dungeon #112, realmente uma das edições mais fodas da revista. Tanto o visual como o conteúdo são surreais de bons!

Let’s turn to the Pathfinder RPG now. You wrote for the 3e/3.5 rules. As a continuation of the OGL, do you see Pathfinder being easier, more difficult, or about the same for writers to work with, and why?

I’d say about the same in the short term, but easier in the long term. The changes are easy to memorize, the way the skills have been consolidated makes the toughest part of stat block grind easier. Because there are new options available to character classes it’s got the feel of a brand new game, which infuses some extra energy into your creativity. At the same time, the engine is based on 3.5, so the rules remain flexible to handle any kind of play.

Was there ever any thought of turning Pathfinder into an online magazine as we’ve seen happen with Dungeon and Dragon?

No. While Paizo offers PDF versions of all our Pathfinder products, we are primarily a print publisher.

Ok, eu sei que não era esta a pergunta, mas será que vão lançar os suplementos em livros em versão eletrônica também? Espero que sim, eles fizeram isso com alguns lançamentos dos últimos anos, como o Classic Monsters Revisited, que apesar de ser meio fino é o livros de monstros mais legal do final da 3ª edição.

How important is retail-chain saturation to the success of Pathfinder? Will we be able to find it readily at Borders, Books-A-Million, or Barnes & Noble?

All of those chains have picked up Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes at one time or another since the product’s launch, but the swift turn-around of monthly releases makes it somewhat difficult for chain stores to keep an entire series in stock. The bigger stores tend to focus on larger releases like core rulebooks. The Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting and broadly focused Pathfinder Chronicles books like Classic Monsters Revisited are very popular at chain stores. But chain stores carry the risk of returns, which is not the case with direct sales or sales to the game and comic book shops, which buy your product outright.

We need all three: Direct sales, hobby retail sales, and mass market sales in order to continue to produce products with the high production values Paizo’s customers have come to expect.

Interest in the upcoming Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is phenomenal in all tiers of the distribution system, so I imagine you will be able to find the main book and Bestiary at least in numerous locations.

Ótimo insight sobre o mercado norte-americano… É meio óbvio depois que você lê, mas não me lembro de ter visto alguém de uma editora falar assim diretamente dos três tipos de vendas  e como isso afeta a distribuição dos livros de RPG.

Now that the Open Playtest Alpha and Beta are both officially closed, can you look back and see anything you’d have done differently? I know Paizo ended up with far more downloads of the playtest versions of Pathfinder than many thought there’d be–what was the reaction like at Paizo as it became clear there was a pretty high level of interest running out there?

I wish that we had not let our trust that 4th edition would have a reasonable Open Game License in a reasonable amount of time delay our decision of what to do with our core line for as long as it did. I am 100% confident that sticking with 3.5 was the right decision for our company and our customers, but the months of what turned out to be pointless waiting could have gone into the playtest. That said, I’m pleased with what turned out to be the largest open playtest in the history of tabletop roleplaying games. We are thrilled with the level of interest in the Pathfinder RPG, so it’s difficult to look at what we’ve done with an overly critical eye.

I know you’ve asked for feedback for fans on what sort of supplements they’d like to see, but what add-on supplements do you think would be fun to do with Pathfinder?

I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but I think it would be fun to see the Pathfinder RPG rules applied in a science fictional context. This could range from something relatively simple, such as an exploration of the Red and Green Planets of Golarion’s star with rules to place a “sword & planet” lens over a standard Pathfinder campaign to something full-on ambitious like a complete science fiction rules engine with tons of laser guns and stuff.

There are a few “boilerplate” books that people will want us to do and that we should probably do, such as an Asian fantasy book or some sort of psionics book or an epic level book. None of those ideas make me supernova with excitement both because they’ve been done numerous times before and because I haven’t had much use for them in my own games. I’m not saying those are bad ideas for books, but the stuff that gets my blood pumping is more in line with the core rules themselves than built alongside them and stuck on awkwardly with sovereign glue.

For example, I’d be far less interested in an epic level book than I would be in a book that tightly focused on a level band (say 10-15), with lots of rules appropriate for campaigns at that level. Lots of info about hirelings and achieving fame and influence and nobility and hideouts and stuff. I also think such a book might include easy quick-start rules that explain how to build a high-level character in as simple terms as possible. Material that expands my use of the core rules garners my favor much more easily than quirky sub-systems, new forms of magic, and turning into gods and stuff.

Toque de gênio aqui. Além do lance sobre os livros de sempre – sobre a porção asiática que existe em todo cenário, sobre psiônicos, sobre personagens épicos, no qual eu concordo com todos (até com psiônicos que acho legais!), a sacada de criar livros focados em níveis mais baixos e comuns de jogo me parece muito mais sensata e interessante, e me surpreende que não tenha sido feita mais vezes. Esse definitivamente é o tipo de material que eu adoraria ver lançado pela Paizo.

Will we ever see a “Pathfinder Basic” or Boxed Set as an introductory or special product?

If the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook sells very well, something like this might be in the offing. I would love a “basic” version of the game I wouldn’t be embarrassed to ask my girlfriend or other not-so-heavily-invested-nerdfriend to read and roll up a character. As awesome as I think the Pathfinder RPG is, there’s no question it’s a daunting prospect for someone who has never before played an RPG.

What do you see as the pros and cons in keeping Vancian magic a part of the game?

It anchors the game to the pulp fantasy traditions that inspired it in the first place. After three decades of presenting magic in this way, it seems ludicrous to all of a sudden say that it no longer exists. You can build other systems of arcane jiggery-pokery without sacrificing this core fantastic element of the game, so why bother?

The more you cut the ties the game has to the pulp fantasy traditions that inspired it, the less it begins to resemble itself. It’s part of the lingua franca of the game, and it has been since the very beginning. It is a feature, not a flaw.

Getting rid of Vancian spellcasting for the Pathfinder RPG was never on the table. It would be as preposterous as scrapping the alignment system. It was Not Going to Happen.

Eu tinha que discordar de alguma coisa. Esse sistema de magias bobo, embora tenha suas raízes true na literatura pulp de fantasia é simplesmente ruim e estranho. Eu até me acostumei com ele, mas acostumar é diferente de gostar… Por mim se limassem esta parada, de preferência junto com o sistema de alinhamento, independente deles existirem a mil anos ou serem parte das origens pulp do gênero, teríamos um sistema bem mais elegante e simples. Mas ok, também faz parte da estratégia deles atingir o público que não curtiu as mudanças da 4ª edição, e o fim do sistema Vanciano foi uma delas.

You’ve written or contributed to a solid stack of gaming books over the years. Which one is your personal favorite and why?

I’d say it’s probably a tie between the Pathfinder Chronicles Gazetteer which first set the blueprint for Golarion into stone and the Mutants & Masterminds hardcover CROOKS!, which was designed and written from the ground up by myself and my best friends Sean Glenn and Kyle Hunter. Both books won ENnies, which is a nice confirmation of my impeccable taste.

Nem me ligava que o CROOKS era do Mona também, fiquei bem feliz com o lançamento da versão atualizada para a 2ª edição do Mutants & Masterminds ano passado em PDF, pois o livro tem uns vilões bem legais, com aquele design impecável da 1ª edição que infelizmente foi perdido de certa forma na edição mais recente do M&M. Definitivamente o cara não é ruim de serviço!

Eu já ia comprar o básico do Pathfinder, mas agora empolguei ainda mais e já fiz meu pre-order na Amazon. Alguém mais de BH anima de pedir também e meiar o frete?

UPDATE:Shingo do blog Quarenta e Dois fez uma excelente tradução da entrevista completa do Erik Mona. Obrigatório para quem ainda não leu!

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