Writer’s Commentary: James Sutter Talks Pathfinder Worldscape: King of the Goblins

Dynamite has sent over a writer’s commentary for a special issue one-shot by James Sutter, Pathfinder Worldscape: King of the GoblinsCover by Roberto Castro with interiors by Andrea Mutti.

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This one-shot started out as a special reward for a Dynamite Comics Humble Bundle that included a bunch of Pathfinder: Worldscape goodies. When Paizo’s publisher Erik Mona first hit me up about writing it, he told me that there were only two details already set: the name, and that it would involve Seltyiel (Pathfinder’s iconic magus and fan-favorite snarky villain) and a bunch of goblins. Beyond that, the sky was the limit. And since this was the Worldscape — Erik’s crazy dimension that pulls heroes from several different worlds — I wasn’t restricted to just Pathfinder characters. Literally any characters from history or old-school public domain stories were at my fingertips, so I quickly settled on two I’d been dying to play with. As you read through the issue (and these commentary notes), see how quickly you can identify them!


Page 1:

Swearing and insults are always a tricky issue when you’re writing fantasy, but I’m pretty proud of “melon-headed afterbirths”…

Page 2:

Yeah, I know that leeches don’t actually look like this. But Lord Squiggle is a *magic* leech, so it totally makes sense.

Also, I’d like to call your attention to the phrase “what the donkey-loving hell.” Not to toot my own horn, but I feel like that’s some more top-tier fantasy cursing right there. This is why I love writing Seltyiel—the half-elf’s a pottymouth poet.

Page 3:

Setyiel’s actually theologically accurate here. Erastil’s the god of farming, and dirt gets everywhere when you’re out in the field all day, so it seems like a pretty natural thing to swear by.

Also, this castle is a reproduction of a real-world palace — a clue to who we’re about to meet. Anyone who guesses it right now gets a whopping +50 History Points.

Page 4:

Have you managed to guess who this is yet? Give yourself 10 points if the name gave it away, 30 if you got it at “Wallachia,” or 20 if you recognized him by the art alone. (And no, it’s not Billy Crudup from Almost Famous, though good guess.)

(If “Vlad” didn’t give it away for you, just wait a few pages …)

Page 5:

And here’s our other special guest star! Like Vlad, we’re working from a real-world portrait here. So you’ve got the image, the name Elizabeth, the fact that she’s a countess… Got your guess ready? Getting it from the info on this page is worth another 50 points.

Page 6:

…And here’s our last big clue! Did you figure out who these fine folks are?

Vlad is, of course, Vlad Dracula, also called Vlad Tepes or Vlad the Impaler — the famously brutal prince who inspired the legend of Dracula. Elizabeth is slightly less famous, but no less terrifying — she’s Elizabeth Bathory, the blood countess famous for killing hordes of young women and bathing in their blood.

History, folks! Who says comic books can’t be educational?

Page 7:

“Dracul” means “Dragon” in Vlad’s native language. And that silly looking dragon amulet is a faithful reproduction of the actual symbol of the historical Order of the Dragon, a knightly Christian order founded by the King of Hungary in 1408 to oppose the Ottoman Empire. A bunch of famous historical rulers belonged to it, including both Vlad Dracula and Elizabeth Bathory.

Page 8:

Geez, Vlad! I get that you’re one of the most notorious mass murderers in history, but when your second-in-command is one of the other most famous mass murderers, maybe try not to treat her like an intern, ya know? You’re not gonna like what she puts in her coffee.

Page 9:

Seltyiel’s had his share of wild nights, but I’m pretty sure even he’s not ready for the Blood Countess’s idea of a good time in the bedroom.

Page 10:

Squiggle, no! Bad leech!

Page 11:

Goblins are traditionally afraid of writing, because everyone knows that reading steals the words out of your head. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure Squirrel’s still collected every issue of the Squirrel Girl comics.

Page 12:

Yeah, those goblins are trying to set fire to a stone wall. Not the brightest bulbs, these four.

Page 13:

Adventuring Tip: When clinging to the back of an angry dragon, try not to kill it until after it lands.

Page 14:

As any experienced chef or blood-wizard can tell you, when altering the recipe for an evil magical ritual, one wyvern can be substituted for five normal human sacrifices.

Page 15:

Lubbik juice. Yum.

Page 16:

The scary thing is, this scene is probably way less gross than how the real Elizabeth Bathory would have redecorated…

And that’s it! Short, silly, and vicious — just like goblins themselves. Thanks for joining us for today’s episode of Nasty People From History, here in the Pathfinder Worldscape!

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.