When I think of my writing of ‘Ascendency: Numeria after the Iron God’, it comes from a place of compulsion more than anything else. The first chapter, which I merely called ‘Coda’ was my way of drawing to a proper close an uninspiring end to the Iron Gods Pathfinder Adventure Path.
I had had a falling out with the DM, who had been my best friend, about halfway through the Adventure Path, but after I offered to drop out of the campaign, he said I could stay. Nonetheless, despite his initial offering that the campaign would continue after the end of the Adventure Path, nothing came of it. And so I felt a Coda was necessary.
It stirred in my mind for a long time until I could finally put it properly to paper, and once I did, it was like a stream, continuing to trickle into my thoughts, so I’d write a little bit more about this idea, and then a little bit more about that idea. Then that stream seemed to widen, and I just started writing a lot. I couldn’t help myself … I couldn’t sleep as I was thinking about where the story would go next.
Overall I consider Ascendency to be a kind of fan fiction based on the works of others. It is not a telling of a continuing adventure, where Hex (originally played by Bryan Lee), Eryno (originally played by Aaron O’Reilly), and Bliks (played by myself, David Devine) go on new adventures, but instead my thoughts on what would happen after the end of the Iron Gods Adventure Path. This led me to Wrath of the Righteous.
I had read some of the other adventure paths, but they all seemed to also follow the narrative of ‘you do this great thing, save the world, but no one cares and nothing changes’. I understand where that’s coming from; Paizo has no interest, as I see it, in creating an overall narrative that would run counter to the serial adventures or even adventure paths they create. They are self contained events, important to the people involved, but otherwise have no larger impact. There doesn’t seem to be an effort to place the adventure paths in an order that Iron Gods MUST come after Wrath of the Righteous, although there is some indication that Rise of the Runelords is considered part of the canon timeline.
This is also an opportunity for Paizo, as they can, in the future, revisit their collected works, decide what outcomes make sense to them, and ‘reset’ the setting, updating it for 20, 50, 100 years after the events of these publications. I suspect that not all of the adventures will see happy endings as a result.
Further, in the vein of it being a fan fiction, I see my work as being a ‘shard’. In Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) there is a term for each server, called a ‘shard’, where the events on one ‘shard’ do no bleed over into another ‘shard’. So, to take World of Warcraft as an example, on one ‘shard’ (they call them realms I believe) the Horde might have defeated the Lich King first, while on another the Alliance might have.
This I see is in the vein of role playing games in general, as there is a singular core material, the adventure, the module, the campaign, that we go through, but have different characters and different outcomes. There are entire threads talking about how different adventuring parties handled the same scenarios available on all sorts of different message boards, and going back to my days of playing early editions of Dungeons and Dragons, we often ran Against the Giants over and over again, just to see how a different group makeup would handle the same situation. (The classic for me was playing a Cavalier who walked up to the Hill Giant fort and banged on the door, demanding they come out and ‘have a fair fight’ … they came out … and killed everyone … after the Cavalier got pinned against the fort wall by the door … and thus was the only survivor)
But as it is fanfiction, my work is derivative of other people’s work, both paid and not (so both published and online wikis). It would be remiss for me not to acknowledge these writers and artists. In this particular batch I’m recognizing the writers and artists associated with both the Iron Gods and Wrath of the Righteous adventure paths. This isn’t to say that I don’t rely on the work of other writers and artists and so is not meant to be exhaustive.
Writers: Adam Daigle, Amanda Hamon, Amber E. Scott, Benjamin Bruck, Crystal Frasier, David Schwartz, Greg A. Vaughan, James Jacbos, Jason Klimchok, Jason Nelson, Jerome Virnich, Jim Groves, Larry Wilhelm, Mark Garringer, Mike Shel, Mike Welham, Neil Spicer, Nicolas Logue, Paris Crenshaw, Patrick Renie, Richard Pett, Robin D. Laws, Ron Lundeen, Russ Taylor, Sean K. Reynolds, Thurston Hillman, Tim Hitchcock, Tyler Pomplon, Will McCardell, Wolfgang Baur.
Artists: Aaron J. Riley, Ben Wootten, Bryan Syme, Brynn Metheney, Christopher Bradley, Christopher Brudett, Dave Allsop, Diego de Almeida, Dmitry Burmak, Doug Stambaugh, Ekaterina Burmak, Eric Belisle, Eric Braddock, Eric Lofgren, Fabio Gorla, Filip Burburan, Helge C. Balzer, Igit Koroglu, Ilker Serdar Yildiz, J.P. Targete, Jaime Martinez, Jeff Carlisle, Johan Grenier, Jon Neimeister, Jose Vega, Kari Christensen, Kieran Yanner, Lucio Parrillo, Maichol Quinto, Matias Tapia, Michele Chang, Miguel Reogon Harkness, Milivoj Ceran, Patrick Reinemann, Ralph Horsley, Roberto Pitturru, Rodrigo Vega, Sam Burley, Tatiana Vetrova, Tomma Feizo Gas, Tyler Walpole, Vigit Koroglu, Wayne Reynolds, Yigit Koroglu.
Cartographer: Robert Lazzaretti
Even though I’m writing and not including artwork with my writing, I do use the images the artists have made as inspiration and reference material. Further I think there should be better communication between Robert Lazzaretti, the cartographer, and the writers, as oftentimes descriptions do not match maps (I’m not sure of the development path, but it is a bit weird at times).
Finally there are online resources that I routinely use:
While my hope is to eventually produce my own material, either in the world of Pathfinder or elsewhere, I see my current endeavors as both cathartic and skill building. I feel like this is a story I need to tell and hope to learn something along the way as well. I hope you also enjoy the journey.