Dynamite and Paizo are prepping to release the long-anticipated next installment in their Pathfinder comic series this May. Writer Fred Van Lente is at the helm, with an all-new party and campaign for Pathfinder: Wake the Dead, which will feature new lands of Golarion as the adventure unfolds. 

Van Lente is no stranger to either world. As a fan-favorite writer and an experienced tabletop gamer, the scribe brings his knowledge of both to the table (pun intended). Van Lente is joined by artist Eman Casallos for interiors as well as Steve Ellis and Biago d’Alessandro on covers.

We chatted with Van Lente about the upcoming series. 

Deanna Destito: What was so appealing about writing a Dynamite/Paizo Pathfinder comic?

Fred Van Lente: I’m thrilled to take on a bigger section of Golarion, the fully realized world that is in my humble opinion the best part of the Pathfinder RPG, after dipping my toes in with the Fumbus one-shot we Kickstarted last year. And it’s always great to take on a new group of characters and have them learn about each other as they go on their first adventure together. Being a rabid RPG fanatic, that’s always my favorite part of any new campaign, where the players’ characters all meet each other and learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses, form friendships, and generally get on each others’ nerves. So there’s a lot of fun with that. 

Wake the Dead

Destito: Do you approach this genre any differently than you do other comics you have written?

Van Lente: Not really. I’ve dabbled in pretty much every genre at this point…mystery, horror, superhero, romance, comedy, true-to-life, science fiction… All stories are about characters who want things, and what they overcome to get those things. This story is almost an espionage/fantasy hybrid because each Iconic hero has arrived in the wizard-fascist state of Nex to contact a defector from the undead nation of Geb. She has important intelligence that organizations that each one of the Iconics work for want, so the question of which one of them winds up with the defector is a major source of drama and conflict within the party… But let’s just say the rendezvous does not go as any of them expect, I don’t think that’s too much of a spoiler… 

Wake the Dead

Destito: As a fan of tabletop gaming, why are these comics particularly fun/special?

Van Lente: Yeah, I’ve been an RPGer since I was 12 and got my first D&D Basic red box. I graduated from there to Top Secret, Call of Cthulhu, Traveller, Champions, GURPS… I got out of the hobby for a long time. At first, when I became a professional writer, running RPGs just felt too much like work. That all changed when a comics retailer pal of mine brought me into his Pathfinder group, and I was hooked all over again. That was around 2012, and now I am in two groups, a weekly one and a monthly one I run. So it’s great to give back to the community that’s given me so much.  

Wake the Dead

Destito: How has it been working with this creative team?

Van Lente: Well, Paizo is a joy to work with, and my liaison there, Mark Moreland, has gone above and beyond making sure we have all the reference materials we need, from visuals to yet-to-be-published manuscripts of supplements directly relevant to our story. And maps! Lots of maps. You can’t have an RPG adventure without maps, right? And Eman is a great joy to work with, an up-and-coming artist who has grown leaps and bounds during the process. His acting is terrific, his action is well above par, and some of the designs of new monsters and enemies our heroes encounter make me realize and hope the success of this series will free him to seek the therapy he so clearly needs. 

Destito: Favorite party character and why?

Van Lente: Great question. I’m gonna say Quinn, partly ’cause he’s got some grey in his hair like yours truly. I also like his character class, Investigator, which is not the kind of thing you often see in a high fantasy series and it’s just such a Pathfinder thing to include. He’s a bit of a know-it-all, which I may have been accused of being in the past….! 

Stay tuned for more info on Pathfinder: Wake the Dead this spring.