The Pathfinder tabletop role-playing system, now in its second edition, is finally bringing the legendary Runelords to life. A new set of seven miniatures by WizKids will be available this summer featuring the cabal of arch wizards that have been plaguing the world of Golarian since 2007.
The origin story of the seven Runelords is wrapped up in the birth of Pathfinder itself, which spawned out of the 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons in 2007. That’s when lead designer Jason Bulmahn helped lead the creation of the first edition of Paizo’s marquee tabletop RPG — and the rich, intertwined narratives for which Pathfinder would become famous.
Unlike D&D’s modern incarnation, which can feel a bit scattershot as it moves from one setting and one villain to the next, those who have played Pathfinder know the Runelords very well. They were the focal point of the first six Adventure Paths (the Pathfinder term for a narrative campaign) ever published for the TTRPG. Titled Burnt Offerings, The Skinsaw Murders, The Hook Mountain Massacre, Fortress of the Stone Giants, Sins of the Saviors, and Spires of Xin-Shalast, they were later collected together in Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition in 2012.
“They have been core to three of our Adventure Paths over first edition,” said Mark Moreland, director of brand strategy, in an interview with Polygon. “They really were the connective tissue that linked our very first Pathfinder AP, Rise of the Runelords, to one of the last to wrap up the arc of our first edition in 2018 with Return of the Runelords.”
The Runelords themselves are each paired with one of the classic seven deadly sins, including Alaznist (wrath), Belimarius (envy), Karzoug (greed), Krune (sloth), Sorshen (lust), Xanderghul (pride), and Zutha (gluttony). Each of the new 28 mm miniatures will be sold individually, either online or at local hobby stores. They will also be paired with their own runewell.
“It’s a magical artifact that each Runelord has that allows them to tap into sin magic,” Moreland said. “Wrath is linked to Evocation, because it’s all about blasting things. Lust is Enchantment, because it’s all about manipulating others for your own desire. Greed is about Transmutation — the old alchemist who could turn lead into gold, and so forth. So they use these runewells to conduct magical rituals and spells.”
Both the miniature lords and their wells will feature prominently in Pathfinder’s signature tactical battles. They’ll also be fully compatible with WizKids’ line of WarLock tabletop terrain. Even though the adventures that feature the Runelords themselves have not been updated to Pathfinder’s second edition, Paizo hopes that finally turning them into physical miniatures will help inspire players to make them the centerpiece of their own homebrew campaigns.
“These would be useful in three different adventure paths from first edition,” Moreland said, including The Shattered Star alongside Rise and Return of the Runelords. “Two of these Runelords have actually survived — within the canon of the world — and now share rulership [...] And those two figures are still around, so even if you’re not running a Runelords campaign, your player characters can still meet them.”
So is this a tease for Pathfinder diehards? A sign of things to come and, perhaps, a re-return of the Runelords for second edition? Aaron Shanks, Paizo’s marketing and media manager, said there’s nothing planned at the moment. But for malevolent magic users with 10,000 years of in-fiction history behind them, anything could happen.
No pricing or release date has been set for Return of the Runelords, but WizKids says more information should be available soon.
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