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    JAMES SUTTER talks PATHFINDER RUNESCARS #4, on sale in AUGUST from Dynamite!

    BYRON BREWER: James, as co-creator of Pathfinder and author of several comic book tales of the franchise, give us if you will a little bit of overview on the Runescars series and what it’s about. (Never too late for those new reader jump-ons!)

    JAMES SUTTER: Runescars is really me and my coauthor (and fellow Pathfinder co-creator) F. Wesley Schneider going back to basics and playing with a lot of the toys that originally made Pathfinder so popular. We’re heading into the grim fantasy city of Korvosa, where a serial killer has been killing the native Varisian sorcerers and burning off their magical tattoos. Seoni (herself a Varisian sorcerer) and her friends are called in to help solve the crime, but it quickly becomes clear that this is bigger than just one crazed killer. In this series, we’ll be touching on the Runelords of ancient Thassilon, the elite queen’s guard called the Gray Maidens, and especially the Hellknights—hardcore amoral lawkeepers who bind devils to help them enforce their ruthless law and order. Wes came up with the Hellknights a decade ago, and they’re still one of fans’ (and my!) favorite parts of the setting. Think Judge Dredd as a medieval knight. What’s not to love?

    BB: So how do you enjoy seeing the world of Pathfinder translated into Dynamite comic books and what do you enjoy most about the franchise in this medium?

    JS: It’s amazing! In a game book, you get maybe one illustration per every page or two, if you’re lucky. In a novel, you get the cover. In comics, you get to see literally everything you write brought to life! I’m a huge fanboy of fantasy illustration, especially landscapes and cool character designs, so writing a comic script is almost like commissioning a hundred tiny paintings using someone else’s money. (And yes, I’ve printed out panels from past Pathfinder issues and hung them on my wall.)

    BB: We’ve asked Wes this, but what would you say to a reader of Pathfinder Runescars who isn’t necessarily a gamer, or to an avid fan of Pathfinder who is not usually a comics buyer, to get them enjoying this franchise to its fullest?

    JS: If you’re already a Pathfinder fan, you’re going to get to see a bunch of elements you already love from the game explored in more detail. Who doesn’t want to take a tour through a Hellknight citadel? Plus, I think it’s really fun to see these characters living out the same types of experiences you’ve played. I’ve had a number of gamers who’ve read the comics say “The characters sound just like my group!”, and I consider that a success. RPGs are at their best when there’s a lot of funny character banter mixed with the action, and that’s the feel I’m trying to capture whenever I write a scene.

    If this is your first introduction to Pathfinder, or to an RPG comic in general, don’t worry! Pathfinder is just a way to tell fun fantasy stories, and so are the comics. If you enjoy fantasy in any medium, you’re going to feel right at home in Runescars. But the nice thing is that if there’s something in the comics that really interests you, there’s probably more information about it out there that you can look up, and you can always grab a copy of the game and start telling your own stories!

    BB: What can you tell us about the fabled Runescars Stylus and the ancient Runelords, who rear their heads in #4 publishing in August?

    JS: The Runelords were evil, ultra-powerful wizards that were destroyed thousands of years ago when their enemies called down a meteorite strike. Today, they’re long gone, but the people of Varisia (where this comic is set) still live among eroded relics of that lost age. The Runescar Stylus (and here we get into MAJOR spoilers) was an artifact the Runelords used to inscribe magical tattoos on their sorcerer servants, to make sure that those servants could never use their magic to disobey. Now thousands of years later, the Runelords are gone, but the tattoos have been passed down and become a tradition among the local Varisians. Which means the Stylus still has power…

    BB: What characters will be in the spotlight as #4 hits stores this summer?

    JS: Issue #4 is really about the whole team as they venture into a lost Thassilonian stronghold, but for me the emotional heart is Valeros the warrior. He’s still torn up about another party member’s death, and questioning this whole adventuring thing, wondering if anyone will truly miss him if he bites it on some skeleton’s rusty spear. It’s a nice counterpoint to all the monsters and magic which have center stage this issue!

    BB: Can you tell us a little about how Wes and you as co-writers of Runescars are approaching the plotting/scripting? Is such a collaboration liberating or limiting as far as the writing goes?

    JS: It’s both liberating AND limiting! Wes and I hammered out the plot for the whole series before we started work, then alternated issues for the actual scripting. It’s always a little risky to alternate like that—you never know when the other author will say “Hey, I had this great idea which you’ll now need to go back and incorporate into your issue…”—but having a really solid plot outline avoids most of that. As soon as one of us finishes a script, the other one goes through and marks it up as thoroughly as possible—notes like “This spell doesn’t work this way” or “This joke isn’t funny—try harder.” It’s not always easy, but it’s about watching the other person’s back and pointing out any problems so editors and readers don’t have to. It also doesn’t hurt that the two of us have been working as a team for most of our adult lives, and have a pretty keen sense of what the other will find cool. There’s nobody in the world I’d trust more with characters I love, and I fully expect him to say the same when you ask him this question next issue. (You will, right? Don’t let him leave me hanging.)

    BB: What’s your opinion of the art by Ediano Silva? Looks like from this seat it’s being batted out of the park!

    JS: Ediano is really rocking it! For me, the biggest thing is the physical comedy. While I love his characters and backgrounds and dynamic panel flow, it’s the character expressions that really sell the jokes and make this more than just a series of fights. So much of humor is in the delivery, and that can be hard to convey in a script or on paper. But Ediano just gets these characters.

    BB: James, Pathfinder books always offer something EXTRA! What merch is in August’s issue #4 for readers and fans?

    JS: All of the Pathfinder Runescars books have 4 pages of gaming extras in the back that you can incorporate into your Pathfinder game—new magic items, new encounters, histories of key setting elements, new NPCs to fight, etc.—as well as a two-sided poster map ready for you to drop down on your game table and start using immediately, letting you play out the encounter in the comic. For Issue 4, we’re headed into that Thassilonian dungeon I mentioned earlier, so the new encounter and setting information focuses on that!