Pathfinder maker bans AI-generated art, text in its games

Art of a dragon from TRPG Pathfinder. It is sitting atop a pile of treasure chests.
(Image credit: Paizo)

In a decision which it says is intended to support skilled writers and artists, tabletop roleplaying game publisher Paizo has announced that AI art and text will not be allowed within its products. Paizo is the publisher of Pathfinder, among other TRPGS, which serves as the basis of popular videogame RPGs Pathfinder: Kingmaker and Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous.

"The ethical and legal issues surrounding 'AI art' and writing prompt programs—and the serious threat they pose to the livelihoods of partners who have helped us get to where we are today as a company—demand that we take a firm position against the use of this technology in Paizo products," said the company in a statement posted to Twitter.

Along with its own products, Paizo will extend the AI-generated content band to its  Pathfinder Infinite program, which allows other companies and fans to create and sell material officially compatible with the TRPG. That's perhaps a bigger statement from Paizo, as many consider third-party supplements to be the lifeblood of the TRPG community.

"Our customers expect a human touch to our releases, and so long as the ethical and legal circumstances surrounding these programs remains murky and undefined, we are unwilling to associate our brands with the technology in any way," said Paizo. 

Paizo doesn't rule out the possibility that it may modify its policy in the future, but emphasizes that, for now, "human artists and writers" are its lifeblood:

"Stated plainly—when you buy a Paizo product, you can be sure that it is the work of human professionals who have spent years honing their craft to produce the best work we can," the company said. "Paizo will not use AI-generated 'creative' work of any kind for the foreseeable future. We thank the human artists and writers who have been so integral to our success in the past, and we look forward to working with them for many years to come."

It's a message of support writers and visual artists will surely appreciate, although some have pointed out that it isn't representative of a glowing record of such support: Paizo has been criticized in the past by workers—who formed a union in 2021, which the company voluntarily recognized—and writers and artists in the TRPG space have complained about Paizo's rates. 

Frustration in writing and art industries over the consequences of AI generation has been growing over the past year. Leading sci-fi magazine Clarkesworld temporarily closed submissions due to a flood of atrocious AI-generated stories, and US Government regulators just this week warned companies to stop exaggerating the capabilities of their AI products.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.