One Year of Infinite Sales

October 14, 2022
Today marks the 1-year anniversary of the launch of the Pathfinder Infinite and Starfinder Infinite platforms. Although I don't contribute to those any longer, I had some significant initial success with them. You much success? Let me break it down for you at the 1-year mark.

As a threshold matter, I have separate DriveThruRPG accounts for Run Amok Games (as a publisher) and as Ron Lundeen (as a content contributor). Everything for the Infinite program is under the latter, so that's what I'm talking about today.

A year ago, when I first learned the Pathfinder Infinite program was coming, I did...well, nothing. I was a Paizo employee at the time, and I knew the program was being concepted. I was an internal voice advocating for allowing Paizo employee participation in that program, which was not a certain thing at the time. But because I didn't want to have an appearance of impropriety or acting on advance knowledge, I didn't put any time into learning the evolving specifics of the program (apart from whether or not I'd be able to participate) or what products I might want to do for it. I waited until the group of people called the "Infinite Masters," the expected supercontributors to the site, received information about the program launch before I did anything. Paizo employees were among these Infinite Masters, but we were far outnumbered by outside-of-the-company people, so I thought it was fair of me to start when they did.

So the first *actual* thing I did for Pathfinder Infinite was to go look at DM's Guild.

I knew that Pathfinder Infinite was modeled after that program for Dungeons & Dragons, which had been running for years, and I wanted to see what types of things were big, successful sellers on DM's Guild. The same kinds of things might be a success on Pathfinder Infinite. I noticed the following things were among the biggest sellers.

1) New classes
2) DM guides to expand existing D&D adventures with side quests, extra monsters, and so on
3) Books about monsters--specifically, a collection of books that expanded upon monsters in the Monster Manual, presenting them in different types and at different levels

Making new classes in Pathfinder Second Edition is really, really tricky. I wasn't sure I wanted to commit the time to that endeavor. But the other two things were right up my alley--adventures and monsters! I resolved to make those my first two products for Pathfinder Infinite.

The Abomination Vaults GM's Guide
I was already quite deep into Abomination Vaults in my day job at Paizo, having developed the three-volume adventure path and its hardcover compilation (at the time, I was also working through its update to 5E D&D, but that hadn't been announced yet). It's the AP I knew best at that time. I knew it was really popular (and I loved reading forum activity about it), and I knew it would get a double bump in popularity with the initial 3-volume AP and again with the hardcover compilation. I was also independently working hard on my Kickstarter, The Skaldwood Blight--which isn't a tangent, bear with me here. My work on The Skaldwood Blight showed me something important: buyers of Pathfinder products really like having the stat blocks included right in the adventure. Paizo makes liberal use of reference to Bestiaries in their adventures (including throughout the Abomination Vaults Adventure Path), but that proved unpopular for The Skaldwood Blight. It's particularly unpopular when you make the GM do a bit of on-the-fly math, such as requriing GMs to build a weak froghemoth or an elite golem. There are lots of weak and elite critters in Abomination Vaults.

I thought putting together all the stats for the Abomination Vaults monsters and hazards would be a pretty useful thing. I'd arrange them by dungeon level and be completely comprehensive. Anyone could do that; it was mostly just looking up stats and copying them into a Word document, then applying some formatting (oh, so much formatting). Adventure supplement products on DM's Guild included more than stats, though; they included new factions, side quests, and lots of other things. So even though I was well past 100 page of stats alone, I wrote up some wandering factions and a couple of side adventures, too. I pulled from some maps I had in older products so the side adventures looked nice.

My final piece for that GM's guide--and the one that I've heard the most positive feedback about--was a checklist of all the official side quests presented in the AP. This was something I'd found really, really useful when running this campaign for my home group. Those side quests are all set apart in subheaders in the adventure text, so it was as easy as searching the adventures for the words "side quest" and then jotting everything down in a table.

I worked hard to make The Abomination Vaults GM's Guide available right at the start of the Pathfinder Infinite program. In the first few days, it was one of only a handful of products available, and it sold really, really well. In fact, it's continued to sell well. I'm a little surprised that no one else has taken this model and created a GM's Guide for one of the other APs, too. It's just a matter of compiling the stats, throwing in a few other tools that you think might be useful, and putting it up for sale. One thing I felt I couldn't do as a Paizo employee--but which others certainly could do--is criticize where the AP lagged or needed more work. Something along the lines of "Variant Mayor Encounter" where the author admits, "hey, the encounter with the mayor in Book 5 just doesn't work well as presented for reasons X and Y, here is a rewrite of that encounter that works better."

Boosted Bestiary
The other product I wanted to do wasn't ready to go right away. In fact, it almost didn't go off at all, and that's because of bad scoping on my part. I had a lot of experience creating higher or lower level versions of monsters for The Skaldwood Blight, and here on this blog. The monster design tools in the Gamemastery Guide work really well for this. I had initially thought about taking every monster in the Pathfinder Bestiary at levels 0 through 20. That was way too much and would probably have been dull no matter how useful it was. Then I thought to exclude monsters that sort of self-level themselves (like dragons and elementals), but that was still too much. Eventually I decided to skip levels, presenting monsters at 3-level intervals, since by applying the weak and elite adjustments, a GM could make any level of monster in between. It was also fun to throw on some thematic abilities to make the monsters feel like their new levels (an ultra powerful chimera with deific abilities, for example). Coming up with names was especially fun. 

Yet it was really slow going. A friend helped me automate a lot of the work, but it was a much bigger project than I realized even at the tighter scope. I kept at it, though, working on it around AP freelance and family vacations and such. There was no way it was going to be ready for the launch of the program in October of 2021, but I figured I'd get it out when I got it out, probably early in 2022.

I soon realized it would be way too big for a single product. So I broke it up. I wasn't going to break it up alphabetically (A through B monsters in one product, C through E monsters in another, and so on) or even by creature type (plants in one product, fey in another, and so on). I instead wanted to break it up by theme. One product would be "Tooth and Claw" that had a lot of animals but also humanoids like gnolls and catfolk. Another would be From Beyond with weird monsters like shoggoths and shining children, and so on. I could just keep coming out with these as I completed them, without feeling like I was tied to a specific number of them or product line (but there were, I believe, 7 products in my initial planning).

Then I ran out of time.

When I accepted the job at Wizards of the Coast, I agreed that I wouldn't produce any more content on platforms like Pathfinder Infinite. I'd been working through "Boosted Bestiary: Tooth and Claw" and "Boosted Bestiary: From Beyond" but I wasn't done with either of them. In the course of a very busy week, I mashed together everything I had ready, polished up a couple of other monsters to give some variety, and dropping in art available for Pathfinder Infinite users. I called that product simply the "Boosted Bestiary" and, as far as most people know, that's all there was ever going to be to it: just some Bestiary monsters presented at different levels. But there was going to be a lot more. And if you note that the product has a lot more monsters that start with As and Bs, and that a large percentage are "brute monsters" or "weird monsters," you can see where this plan stopped.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Adventures
I also had three full Adventure Paths for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. I'd originally published these under the Pathfinder Community Use Policy, but I disliked (and still dislike) some changes to that policy, so I shuttered that site and took them down. Pathfinder Infinite was a good place to put them, so I reworked the title pages for each (to include appropriate logos and disclaimers for the Infinite site) and put them up there. That took me all of about 15 minutes to update, so it wasn't a lot of time investment and if I got a single sale, that would be nice. With that game sunsetting, though, I didn't expect much. But even those dozen-plus sales are nice to see!

One-Year Results
In the past year, I've made $2,255.95 from Pathfinder Infinite. I've been very happy with this program and this opportunity. It's helped a lot to be part of sale bundles, like those Dustin Knight spearheads. Here are the specific product numbers:

Title, Units Sold, Net, Royalty Rate, Your Royalties
Abomination Vaults GMs Guide, 785, $3,254.05, 50%, $1,629.66
Boosted Bestiary, 403, $2,301.68, 25%*, $575.01
Bloodlust Corsairs, 17, $35.54, 50%, $17.77
God Callers of Sarkoris, 15, $36.00, 50%. $18.00
Shield of Rannick, 14, $31.01, 50%, $15.51
* I have a royalty sharing arrangement here with anonymous contributors.

It's worth noting that my royalties report also includes, for the same 1-year time period, over $500 from Adventurer's League products I wrote back in 2016. Those are still selling!

I encourage you to look into Pathfinder Infinite and Starfinder Infinite!

And now, D&D!

June 13, 2022
As a follow-up to my "I'm leaving Paizo" blog, I'm excited to say that, starting today, I've joined the Dungeons & Dragons team at Wizards of the Coast. I'll be a designer there, and I'm already super excited about the things I'll be working on. This blog is going to be quiet for a while, though, as I get my feet underneath me there. But rest assured that I'll be fulfilling the last Kickstarter bits and working behind the scenes to make great things for D&D!
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End of the Paizo Era

June 1, 2022
It has been an absolutely phenomenal four-and-a-half years, but my time with Paizo has come to an end. Today was my last day with Paizo, and also the day I turned in my last (truly massive and very exciting) freelance project to them. In fact, it's my last freelance project for anyone, and it'll be a while before I pick up another one. There is no way I can say enough good things about all the fantastic Paizo people who have molded my career, taught me their wisdom, and--best of all--been my ...
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Pages from the Boosted Bestiary

May 19, 2022
You might be curious what the Boosted Bestiary looks like before you go buy it right here. Let me show you, with four examples!

First, here's the first monster section of the book, the axiomite aeon. The axiomites in the Pathfinder Bestiary are level 8. Since I'm statting up monsters that are (usually) separated by 3 levels, so you can just "weak template/elite template" to all levels in between, I included lower-level axiomites at levels 2 and 5. (There are also level 11, 14, and 17 axiomites...
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Boosted Bestiary Cover!

May 16, 2022
Here's a quick art post: the cover of the Boosted Bestiary! This has some atmospheric stock art I pulled from a stock art site I use quite a bit. I'm not sure who that horned fellow is, but there are indeed wolves of various levels in the Boosted Bestiary...which you can get right here!

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Building the Boosted Bestiary!

May 14, 2022
My newest Pathfinder Infinite product, the Boosted Bestiary, is out now! This is a sort of quirky product, born from some tight math in Pathfinder Second Edition and a really, really bold idea.

First, monsters are really only good in Pathfinder Second Edition for about five levels. If the monster is level 9, you can't really put it up against characters of 6th level or lower, because it's too tough. You can't put it against characters of 12th level or higher, because then it's too weak. (Sure,...
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What I'm Playing

March 30, 2022
I tell RPG writers that it's important to play the games you write for. Apart from playtests of your material, it's good to be active in the game so you can see actual games in action. So what am I playing these days? Glad you asked!

1. I'm running a Pathfinder Second Edition game of the Abomination Vaults Adventure Path. The characters are 4th level, so we're about a third of the way through the campaign.

2. I'm running a Starfinder game that's a continuation of our Intrepid Heroes podcast (wh...
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Proof Printing

March 24, 2022
I've now made all the edits that my editor caught for the Skaldwood Blight project. A lot of these revolve around the fact that I wrote this more than 2 years ago, but I'm only getting it into final form to give to people now. A lot has happened in the past 2 years! At Paizo, we've made two decisions that impacted this product:

1. First, we decided to rename the thingamajig in which a lich places their soul to be  "soul cage" and not a "phylactery." There's a lich that features across a few c...
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What's Next for the Kickstarter

March 9, 2022
Now it's probably pretty clear that my time away from this blog was related to the Skaldwood Blight Kickstarter that ran in February. I'm really pleased that reached the success that it did. We made our funding goal in only a week, and reached almost the second stretch goal (which I'll be providing anyway, and I'll describe that in another blog post).

For now, though, I wanted to do two things: first, I want to recognize the excellent work and mentoring that my friend Owen K.C. Stephens provid...
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Infinite Opportunity!

September 21, 2021
A quick note about the newly-announced Pathfinder Infinite and Starfinder Infinite programs, which allow everyone to participate in Paizo's worlds. I'll have more to say about this soon, but information is available here.
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Winding Down to Down Time

April 13, 2021
It's been about a month since my last blog update, which is a long time for me to be going silent these days. I've picked up a time-intensive opportunity outside of the RPG space that I knew was coming yet still arrived sooner than I'd expected. So I've been working hard on wrapping up my outstanding freelance projects so I can focus on that.

Which means I have some thoughts about wrapping up outstanding freelance projects.

First, it's useful to take an occasional break to avoid burnout; I took...

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When a Sorcerer Isn't a Sorcerer

March 11, 2021

I'm excited to see so many people saying such good things about the first Abomination Vaults Adventure Path volume, Ruins of Gauntlight by James Jacobs. A point came up with one of the key NPCs, and I thought it was worth bringing up. First, so you can see a little bit of how awesome this is and go buy it, here is that NPC: the heroes' patron, Wrin Sivinxi.

Wrin Sivinxi   Creature 5

Unique, CG, Medium, Elf, Humanoid, Tiefling

Female tiefling elf oddities merchant

Perception +12; low-light vision,...

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Skills Don't Do Things

February 28, 2021
Here's a short reminder for your RPG writing: skills aren't actors. They don't take actions. Saying, "A successful DC 15 Engineering check brings the machine back to operation," or "A successful DC 15 Sense Motive check exposes the lie," are both wrong, because a skill can't "bring" or "expose" things.

The thing that slips in the most often is when the skill use "shows" or "reveals" something, as in: "A successful DC 15 Survival check reveals red mud in the footprints." You'll sometimes see ph...

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Structuring an Investigation, Part 4

February 23, 2021
I've talked a lot recently about how to structure an extended investigation. An example of one is in my PF1 adventure, A Lucky Morning (which you can get right here).

To be more than a little bit spoilery, that adventure is about an evil necromancer getting revenge on a former adventuring group that shunned him. He's killing off the group's former members, and he doesn't care who he kills along the way. The adventure begins with the heroes waking up in the private rooms of a big inn, coming do...

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Structuring an Investigation, Part 3

February 18, 2021
We’re building an extended investigation scene! In Part 1, I talked about how to break down the investigation items into things the heroes must learn, and things the heroes might learn. In Part 2, I talked about the work to support the GM: ensuring your investigation meets your XP and treasure budget, and the best order to present things to make it easier on the GM. Now, we’re getting to how to present things for the players.

This is the step that takes the longest, because it involves th...

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Structuring an Investigation, Part 2

February 12, 2021
When I last posted, I described how to structure an extended investigation. In short, you need to start with your core adventure design. Decide what things your heroes must learn in the investigation; your adventure simply can't proceed unless they learn these two or three (or however many) things. Then decide what things they might learn in the investigation that would be helpful but not mandatory; maybe there's two to four of these. You made your list of "musts" and a list of "mights."


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Structuring an Investigation, Part 1

February 2, 2021
It's often fun--and sometimes necessary--to put an investigation scene into an adventure. You're going through three layers to create one:

* Your adventure design, which requires the heroes find out one or several things.
* Your presentation to the GM, who must understand how to get the players to what they need to understand.
* The players, who must find the investigation engaging and useful.

This is not easy! 

It helps to work on these from top to bottom, and I'm going to talk about writing each...

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A Helpful Bard

January 28, 2021
I've been making up some NPC stat blocks for Pathfinder Second Edition, and I kind of kept running with it and made up an extra one. Here's a bard you can use as an ally for your low-level heroes, or as a foe to bolster the enemies they face.

Note that in Pathfinder Second Edition, as in Starfinder, NPCs aren't built the same way that player characters are. They look and act more like monsters, and have some impossible-for-normal characters-to-replicate statistics. Frankly, we try to avoid cal...

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Building Fun Scavenger Hunts

January 22, 2021
A very common type of quest in RPGs is a scavenger hunt: go get these three (or four, or five, or ten) things. For example, the heroes might have to go get four kinds of herbs for a poultice, or bring back the heads of five different monsters. I'm developing an adventure right now that has the heroes collecting bugs; in an adventure I recently developed, they need to get parts of a magical key. There are lots of things to go look for, but the general trend is "go get these things then come ba...
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Okay to Screw It Up a Little

January 11, 2021
I was talking to my friend John Godek yesterday for our biweekly chat about Starfinder and our lives, Digital Divination (which you can listen to here). There, we sometimes talk about our Starfinder actual-play podcast, Intrepid Heroes (which you can listen to here). One of the key elements of our podcast that we wanted to include was mistakes. Not that we wanted to screw things up on purpose, but we wanted to keep in the mistakes in math or rules that we make, instead of editing them out to ...
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I Want to Help!

January 8, 2021
Aiding other characters in what they do is an important part of any roleplaying game--it's a team game, after all. The basic rule in Starfinder and Pathfinder First Edition is this: if you want to help someone do X, roll X as though you were doing it yourself, and if you succeed at a DC 10 (no matter what the actual difficulty is; 10 is the DC for the helper check), you give them a +2 to what they're doing. There's no risk to aiding. That lets the GM limit the potential bonus by limiting the ...
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Why Easy Encounters Matter

January 5, 2021
I'm deep in the development of Paizo's sixth Adventure Path for Pathfinder Second Edition, but in some ways we're still learning what works and what doesn't. We've carried over a lot of lessons from First Edition, but we're learning that some of them aren't as true in this edition. An example is encounter difficulty: people are finding Moderate encounters in PF2 to be a little more challenging than Average encounters in PF1. We used to put a lot of Average encounters in our PF1 Adventure Path...
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Lost in the!

December 31, 2020
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my blog pace here has slowed a bit because I'm blogging for the "big leagues" by making weekly blog entries on Paizo's front page! This has been a lot of fun for me, because I have very focused assignments but a lot of flexibility in how I approach them. I've done mini-encounters, new alchemical items, NPC write-ups, new downtime activities, and more! There are a total of 12 of these blogs, and about 8 (maybe?) have already been released. Near the end of Januar...
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Bombs Away!

December 9, 2020
Based on my analysis from last week, here are seven new bombs for Pathfinder Second Edition!

Acrid Vapor Bomb — Item 1+

Uncommon, Acid, Alchemical, Bomb, Consumable, Poison, Splash
Usage held in 1 hand; Bulk L
Activate [[one-action]] Strike

The substance in this bomb is a weak, sticky acid that sublimates into a debilitating toxic gas when exposed to the air. An acrid vapor bomb deals the listed acid damage, persistent poison damage, and splash damage. On a hit, the target is sickened 1 (sickene...

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Examining Some Bombs

December 1, 2020
I've been taking a close look at the alchemical bombs in Pathfinder Second Edition. It's nice to have so many neat tools for alchemists, and that they cover so many types of damage, but I've seen some commonalities that allow you to play with the numbers and create more fun toys that go boom.

First, let's lay out what the rules already give, broken down into four categories: damage the bomb does, persistent (that is, ongoing) damage the bomb does, splash damage the bomb does, and other effects...
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Where's the Blog?

November 24, 2020
So, I've been light on blogging here for the last few weeks, but that doesn't mean I'm not blogging! I've started a blog series on, about a dozen posts in all. They're all connected to the town of Otari, which is the setting for the Pathfinder Beginner Box (which I helped write), the Troubles in Otari adventure (which I helped write), and the Abomination Vaults Adventure Path (which I developed). Paizo is doing a lot of fiction set in and around Otari as well, called the Shroud of F...
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Not Very Good...Yet

November 10, 2020
I have a friend who's interested in getting into the RPG business; he's quite young, and wants some advice about how best to get started. In talking things out with him, I realized something about myself. Here's my realization:

My Six Griffons Haunt adventure for Pathfinder (which is retooled as Ghosts of Sparwell Lodge in Pathfinder Second Edition) isn't very good. I mean, it's totally playable and has interesting characters and such, but it's still not very good.

Why? Because nothing you writ...
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The Force is With You

October 28, 2020
I want to talk about the force in Starfinder, and I'm not talking about solarians, who are TOTALLY NOT JEDI despite being lightly-armored mystics who fight with laser swords.

Instead, I want to talk about force damage. It's sort of in a weird place in Starfinder. In similar games (here, I'm thinking of Pathfinder First Edition, Pathfinder Second Edition, and Dungeons & Dragons 5E), "force" is just another damage type. It's a damage type that usually affects ghosts and other such creatures more...
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So Many Little Monsters, Part 2 of 2

October 20, 2020

Last week, I talked about the basic rules that swarms of smaller creatures have in many systems. Today, I wanted to give you a neat reskinning trick! You can turn lots of monsters into swarms by overlaying the swarm rules on top of an existing stat block.  

Let’s start with a new D&D 5E monster, a swarm of acid wasps! These nasty, intelligent critters lurk in acid pools, deadly swamps, and caustic areas throughout the lower planes. They’re malicious and durable individually, and together t...

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So Many Little Monsters, Part 1 of 2

October 16, 2020
It's interesting to me how games handle swarms of things: bugs, piranhas, spiders, birds, and so on. They're a classic threat, but the rules to support them vary widely between systems. Here's what's generally the same:

* They fill an area like a bigger creature. Even though individual swarm members are really small, the swarm itself is the size of a large creature (sometimes, its squares can bend around a lot, so long as they're contiguous).

* They can fit through small spaces, and other creat...
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About Me

I'm Ron Lundeen, development manager for Paizo, Inc., active gamer, and RPG freelancer. I've recently had products in print for Paizo, Wizards of the Coast, Petersen Games, and Ulisses Spiele. I'm still taking freelance writing assignments, but also focusing on products for Run Amok Games.


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