Pathfinder Online is Giving the Pen-and-Paper RPG its Own MMO

Let’s all say it together: another MMO? With the recent news of the LEGO Universe closure and DC Universe Online being forced into free-to-play desperation, as well as juggernauts such as Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic on the horizon, this may not seem like the best time to launch a new online world.

Don’t be so quick to dismiss the Pathfinder RPG, though. It took Paizo only a few years to make huge waves in the pen-and-paper roleplaying world, so if anyone can pull off the leap from analog to digital gaming, it’s the guys with momentum. Besides, Pathfinder has one ace up their sleeve, the support of the hardcore RPG fan, so expect it to bring the critical mass required to get a game off the ground.

Although the game’s design is still quite far from finished, it is clear that Paizo is aiming to leverage user-generated content—and extensive creation abilities—to separate Pathfinder Online from the already crowded pack of MMOs that are not World of Warcraft. Early descriptions of the game tell of user-created items, consumables, fortifications, and settlements, all of which can swap hands in a robust trading system. Even the characters themselves are highly customizeable, with advanced players being given the option to break the character class molds and roll their own specialized build.

The logo for Goblinworks, a new company formed to create Pathfinder Online

The team coming together to craft this game contains a reunion of sorts. After working together on the launch of Dungeons & Dragond 3rd Edition, Lisa Stevens went on to found Paizo Publishing, and brand manager Ryan Dancey went on to become Chief Marketing Officer for EVE Online. In a blog post on paizo.com, Stevens details how she has been looking for an opportunity to collaborate with Dancey since their parting. Add in Mark Kalmes (Microsoft, Cryptic Studios, CCP), and the stage was set to form Goblinworks, a new company that will work with Paizo to develop the game.

—Press Release—

November 21, 2011 (REDMOND, Wash.) – Paizo Publishing, LLC has licensed the MMORPG electronic gaming rights to its smash-hit Pathfinder Roleplaying Game intellectual property to Goblinworks, a Redmond, Washington game developer and publisher that will create Pathfinder Online, a next-generation fantasy sandbox massively multiplayer online game. Founded by Paizo co-owner Lisa Stevens (Pathfinder RPG, Vampire: The Masquerade, Magic: The Gathering), game industry veteran Ryan S. Dancey (Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition, EVE Online), and experienced MMO developer Mark Kalmes (Microsoft, Cryptic Studios, CCP), Goblinworks is an independent company that will work with Paizo Publishing to bring the award-winning world and adventures of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game to the online gaming market. The process has only just begun, and there is plenty of opportunity for gamers to get in on the ground floor of this exciting new project. Paizo and Goblinworks are committed to soliciting player feedback about the Pathfinder Online project, and more information can be found at goblinworks.com.

Pathfinder Online will cast players as heroes in a unique online fantasy world filled with sword & sorcery adventures and kingdoms inhabited and controlled by thousands of competing players. Players can explore, develop, adventure, and dominate by playing fighters, rogues, clerics, or any of Pathfinder’s many character classes, or they can go beyond the standard options to create nearly any type of character imaginable. Find lairs, ruins, and caverns filled with monstrous creatures and incredible treasure. Build glittering cities of castles and bustling markets. Take to the battlefield with vast armies to seize and hold territory. Players change the world and create new stories as they compete for resources, land, and military might. The possibilities are endless.

“I’ve been hoping for a chance to work with Lisa and the Paizo team on a Pathfinder project for years, and now that we’re joining forces to produce Pathfinder Online, I couldn’t be happier or more excited,” said Goblinworks CEO Ryan S. Dancey. “My goal is to bring the high-quality experience Paizo has delivered for Pathfinder to the MMO platform, and to give players another fantastic way to experience the world of Golarion.”