PaizoCon 2011 Report
Post new topic Reply to topic Page 1 of 1
Author

User avatar

Grandstanding Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 6720
Joined: Jul 16, 2005
Last Visit: Feb 02, 2021

Post Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:00 am 
 

PaioCon 2011 Report

So, I went to my third game convention ever….PaizoCon 2011 (PaizoCon III).  The event was held June 10-12, 2011 at the Bellevue Coast Hotel, Bellevue, Washington.  Paizo said they were "limiting" the tickets to 500, and I would estimate that they sold 300-350 of them.  (Somebody please correct me if you know the actual number.)   It seemed to me to be a larger gathering than last year.

I screwed up this year and did not get into the event lottery.  Paizo holds a lottery to decide who gets into what organized play event.  I failed my knowledge check with a calendar and didn't get signed up in time.  I was bummed, but it turned out to be a good thing.  There was a lot of gaming going on.

The convention started at 9:00 and I showed up at 8:00 to check in.  Last year, I showed about 7:30 and walked directly up to the registration table.  This year I was about 200' down a long, narrow hallway, waiting in a crowd of gamers.  Jason Bulmahn, lead designer for Paizo, was walking up and down the line, having a good time interacting with gamers.  I got his autograph on my Pathfinder RPG book.  The narrow hallway sucked.  Some of those gamers apparently did not bathe before the con, and I wondered how an adult could be so careless. (Way to be a cliché, dude!)  Once the line got going, it went pretty fast, but convention organizers had to move people up in line so that lottery sign-up people could get to their  9:00 game start times.

One cool thing that Paizo did was allow people to trade and/or give away spots in games.  They had a box at the registration table where people dropped off game registration cards for anyone who wanted to take their place.  I had been aiming to get into Erik Mona's game but all five participants showed up. (Erik is Paizo's publisher, basically the number two or three guy at the company…a former editor of DRAGON and DUNGEON magazines.  Erik is an Acaeum member...and the most dangerous man in OGL publishing.)

I got into a Pathfinder Society game.  The Pathfinder Society is a group that has continuing characters that advance through participation in specific convention scenarios.  (There's probably more to it than that, if a real member wants to jump in and explain.)  Anyway, I jumped into a first level scenario built around a short adventure published in KOBOLD QUARTERLY.  It was called Ambush in Absalom…and turned out to be an off-the-rack sewer encounter with kobolds.  

So, it turns out that I game with power gamers.  I took about five minutes to re-write my character feats and equipment…a first level fighter with a greatsword...and then proceeded to plow through the scenario.  The other six characters in our party killed a couple of the kobolds, but my character (Tyrrandar Dragonhelm…named for my first D&D character ever) waded through the sewers and pretty much killed all our opponents.  The character I built would have been totally standard in my own Pathfinder game, but I noticed during the con that other Pathfinder gamers tended to come down more on the roleplaying side.  In the game I am most familiar with, roleplaying is what you do while you divide up and sell the treasure.

I tried to get into a 2nd Edition game being run by Ed Greenwood, who was the convention's guest of honor, but there was no space and the game was private.  Greenwood may insist on a sharp line between his real persona and Elminster, but I've never seen a dude who looked more like his own character.  The PaizoCon game rooms were crowded and it was a challenge for me a couple of times not to run Greenwood over when walking between the tables.

Next, I wandered into a game run by designer Robert Kendzie.  Robert was running a portion of the much larger adventure, The Tomb of Haggemoth, which he wrote for 3rd Edition modified for Pathfinder.  To his credit, Robert wasn't just there to hawk his self-published module.  

(I found it later on Lulu, available here, if you're interested :  http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?s ... tSearch.y= )  

Robert ran us through a portion of the module where the party has to explore in a vast cavern, walking on slippery, iron grate walkways between encounter areas, over raging waters on the cavern floor.  I played Tyrrandar Dragonhelm, again, advanced to 4th level.  Much slaying ensued.  I had fun roleplaying my character's limited wisdom and intelligence scores…imitating Jane Cobb, from Firefly.  

On a break from Robert's game, I ran into the Frog God in the hallway….Tsathogga himself…Bill Webb of Frog God Games and Necromancer Games.   (I tried to shake Bill's hand as he passed but he was clutching a handful of miniatures and could only extend one finger…which I shook.)  Bill was running Swords and Wizardry open games all convention long.  With him was Skeeter Green, who does editing and johnny-on-the-spot work for Frog God Games...such as crossing Puget Sound at the last moment before the con to pick up and deliver Frog God publications to the PaizoCon dealer room.  (Skeeter and I have recently worked together, although we did not know each other until the con.)

I bought a copy of Swords and Wizardry (by Matt Finch…Mythmere here on the Acaeum) and jumped into as much of Bill's open gaming as I could get.  During the weekend, a circle of about a dozen players shifted in and out of Bill's ongoing adventures.

Swords and Wizardry is a retro-clone of OD&D, with some AD&D added in.  It retains many of the quirky,  inexplicable and fun rules of the original game.  For instance, rangers start with two hit dice and clerics don't get spells at first level.  (Why?)  There are also some twists on the old rules.  Fighters can add to their armor class by using their dexterity to "parry" against one opponent at a time.  There were new clerical turning rules that work fairly well and weight limits on equipment were a big part of the game.  High or low stats give bonuses or minuses, but not large adjustments either way.  The monster stats matched what one might have found in the Holmes Basic Set, with some additions.

Bill ran a house-ruled version of Swords and Wizardry where all weapons did 1d6 damage and characters died in large numbers.  Stats were rolled up in order, straight 3d6 and you played with what you got.   I'm not saying that Bill is a killer DM, but he will kill you.  Also, they don't call him the Frog God for nothing…many screaming souls were sucked our game master's hideous maw.  Some of the players were on their third characters by Saturday night.  

Part of the problem was the lemming-like suicidal behavior of some of the group.  People died by poison traps, falling out of trees, falling off of cliffs, standing in the stone jaws of demon-mouth traps, ripped apart taking on an old-school  type I demon (vrock) at first level, or charging owlbears with only seven hit points between them and eternity.  They died…a lot.  The Swords and Wizardry version of Tyrrandar Dragonhelm  started at first level and survived it all.

We had an epic battle with the type I demon.  Our wizard hit upon the good idea of repeatedly setting off the stone demon jaw trap on the demon himself…turning the tables.  Three characters died in that one room…as many as a whole campaign in one of my own games.  (I had advised that we not even search the place when we found it.  Everyone else thought we had won!)

Bill couldn't stop talking about NTRPGCon, which he went to the week before.  Apparently, it rocked, with a group of 28 players joining in at
various times for his Swords and Wizardry games. He said it was the best con he's ever attended.

I did not register for the big Paizo Banquet last year, so I was determined not to miss it in 2011.  Only 250 tickets to the banquet were sold, and they went fast.  I was one of the first people to register when Paizo announced the con.  As it turned out, I should have listened to Bill and Skeeter, who ditched the banquet to game.  It was pretty ballsy of Bill, who was a special guest of the con…but he squared it with Lisa Stevens (Paizo's CEO) before he ducked out.  The banquet featured a special guest at every table and announcements of upcoming Paizo publications.  Pretty standard, really.  Erik Mona and Jason Bulmahn are hilarious and charismatic speakers.

The guest of honor at my table was Dave Gross, former editor of DRAGON and a guy who's name pops up a lot in my game collection's Exel file.  Dave was interesting and diplomatic.  He was willing to tell tales about people at TSR, but always in a kind way.  He told me some of the nicer personal details about Lorraine Williams, who may not have known how to run a game company but was apparently a decent person a lot of the time.  Gygax himself wasn't perfect, but Gross had kind words to say about him as well.

The PaizoCon III dealer room was three to four times as large as the cramped little hobbit hole of PaizoCon II.  Paizo was hawking their line, of course, along with Open Design and some of the industry's other small press guys.  Reaper Miniatures ran a con-long free paint-and-take workshop.  (They basically babysat Bill's son, John, who painted miniatures the entire con…and was welcome to it.)  I went for it with KOBOLD QUARTERLY magazine, plunking down the cash for issues #1 and #2, signed by Wolfgang Baur.

At this stage in their company's life, Paizo Publishing is what TSR must have been like around the year 1979.  They are rich and powerful (for a game company) but still small enough that the employees all know each other's names.  They are in the market to make money, but they do not have noticeably swelled heads.  It is said that Paizo's leaders specifically want to avoid some of the mistakes that TSR and WOTC fell into.  (Although, to be clear, Paizo people have nothing bad to say about WOTC.)

The place to meet people at PaizoCon is to lurk the bar/restaurant, where all the company staff tend to congregate between events.  Everyone in the company is approachable and they like to talk gaming and publishing.  Also, I realized at one point that a tall, thin guy right next to me was Clark Peterson, the other half of Necromancer Games.  Clark is the man whose legal prowess made the D20 explosion go boom.  He was at the con for his new pdf publishing company, Legendary Games.  He and Bill Webb were college roommates.  They talked about how they used to call cans of Coors "potions of healing."  (No other brand…just Coors.)  

Anyone who wants to geek out on game celebrities (which, if you've been reading, was obviously one of my goals) could do a lot worse than attend PaizoCon.  My Pathfinder book now has signatures from Ed Greenwood, Wolfgang Baur, Bill Webb, Clark Peterson, Jason Bulmahn, Lisa Stevens and Erik Mona.  I could have gotten more, but I was shy about annoying people.  One of the guys at the Swords and Wizardry games turned out to be game designer Lou Agresta , who runs the Iron GM competitions at cons across the country.  The guy next to me turned out to be Ed Healy of the Atomic Array podcasts.  The guy across the table at the Pathfinder Society game turned out to be Tim Nightengale, editor of the WAYFINDER fanzine.

PaizoCon III cost me $35 for the three-day pass, plus $15 for the Paizo Banquet.   The gift bag that went with the con almost covered the cost of the convention.  When I went to GenCon in 2001, I got a bag that held a convention brochure, a lanyard and a few stickers and brochures.  At PaizoCon I got two Paizo modules, a map folio, two GameMastery map packs, WAYFINDER #5, a GameMastery deck of magic item cards, a convention-special Reaper miniature, a convention Paizo button, the convention brochure, a hardcover RPG book from  Malhavoc Press, a Planet Stories novel and a Pathfinder novel, along with the usual loose advertising swag.  I'd call that pretty good, even it if is Paizo clearing out items from their warehouse.

The con is still small enough that I saw a lot of the same faces from PaizoCon II.  People came from all over the continent to get to this small con…reflecting the deep loyalty Pathfinder players feel for Paizo.  A lot of the customer loyalty apparently has to do with the corporate attitude of Paizo, that welcomes other third party publishers and wants to grow the entire OGL publishing community. (WOTC cancelling the print version of DRAGON magazine, leaving Paizo with their core customers, will go down as one of the largest mistakes a game company ever made.)

It looked to me like PaizoCon III will be the last PaizoCon held at the Bellevue Coast Hotel.  The convention was bursting at the seams of this venue and looks likely to grow by a third next year.  I could do with a dealer room large enough to host about three times as many vendors, including guys selling dice and used game publications.  On Saturday night, all the open gaming tables were full and Bill held his Swords and Wizardry games in the restaurant, after getting permission to take over a section of tables.  (We made it worth their while by ordering stuff.)

Although the Pathfinder RPG is at the stage where Paizo has announced  their third monster manual (the Bestiary III, which Erik Mona insists on pronouncing "BEST-iary"), and they are publishing character class hardback splatbooks, they have been smart enough not to make the game unplayable without each new supplement.  Their company game world of Golarion is detailed and they are adding to it all the time.  So far, their core customers do not appear to be getting tired of buying books.  Their most recent addition to the Pathfinder Adventure Path line is #46, with Greg Vaughn as the lead writer.  It features old friends from the Cthulhu Mythos, on license from Chaosium…which ought to give any old-school gamer happy feet.  The OGL market could not be described as "booming" in the wake of 4th Edition D&D, but it is definitely alive and gaming.  (If nothing else, PaizoCon 2011 established that the ongoing OGL market is good for novelty T-shirt sales.)

I'll be going again next year, wherever PaizoCon IV is held, as long as it's in the Puget Sound region.  (I have also heard rumor, from Astenon, here on the Acaeum, of a PaizoCon UK.)   I thought it was an excellent game value and lots of fun for an old-school geek.

And, to repeat for the record, my character never died in Bill Webb's game.


"But I have watched the dragons come, fire-eyed, across the world."


Last edited by FormCritic on Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
  

User avatar

Long-Winded Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 3590
Joined: Dec 20, 2003
Last Visit: Mar 07, 2021
Location: Canada

Post Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:08 am 
 

Sounds like a blast  :)


Games can get you through times of no money but money can not get you through times of no games!!

 WWW  


Prolific Collector

Posts: 226
Joined: Mar 10, 2009
Last Visit: Jun 06, 2012

Post Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:05 am 
 

Great report, FormCritic! :) I appreciate that you must have taken some time to write the above, and am glad you had a good time!

Yep, the third Paizocon UK is on 16/17th July this year. The first one had about 45 people turn up, the second year about 70, and this year has a 100 people attending (long sold out). Hyrum Savage (Paizo's marketing manager) and Richard Pett will be attending as special guests.

  

User avatar

Grandstanding Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 6720
Joined: Jul 16, 2005
Last Visit: Feb 02, 2021

Post Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 1:49 pm 
 

You cannot invent a better name for a game company figure than Hyrum Savage.  Names like that are pure gold.


"But I have watched the dragons come, fire-eyed, across the world."

  

User avatar

Verbose Collector
JG Valuation Board
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 1607
Joined: Aug 19, 2008
Last Visit: Sep 22, 2020
Location: Chicago, IL

Post Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 5:21 pm 
 

Excellent Report!


RPG’s, D&D in particular has had a major influence in my life. It’s bonded me together with life long friends...it’s that bond in life not just as friends, but in our jokes, our mannerisms, and what we find funny. Invincible Overlord

 ICQ  

User avatar

Grandstanding Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 7947
Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Last Visit: Mar 07, 2021
Location: DFW TX

Post Posted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 11:09 am 
 

Bill couldn't stop talking about NTRPGCon, which he went to the week before.  Apparently, it rocked, with a group of 28 players joining in at
various times for his Swords and Wizardry games. He said it was the best con he's ever attended.


PDT_Armataz_01_34

Mike B.


"THE MORE YOU THINK ABOUT WHY i DONE WHAT i DONE THE MORE i LAUGH" Cougar
"The Acaeum hates fun" Sir Allen
"I had a collecting emergency" Nogrod
Co-founder of the North Texas RPG Con
http://www.ntrpgcon.com

 WWW  

User avatar

Grandstanding Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 6720
Joined: Jul 16, 2005
Last Visit: Feb 02, 2021

Post Posted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:55 pm 
 

Bill said the key was that you guys have never done a con before...and so you just started with the excellent parts.  (Paraphrasing)


"But I have watched the dragons come, fire-eyed, across the world."

  

User avatar

Prolific Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 529
Joined: Feb 25, 2005
Last Visit: Mar 03, 2021
Location: Lille, France.

Post Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 4:16 am 
 

Thank you for the report and your point of view.
They do a great job.
Did they expose the beginner box ?

  

User avatar

Prolific Collector

Posts: 326
Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Last Visit: Oct 17, 2020
Location: Belgium

Post Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 7:06 am 
 

Seems I have to get my ass over to the UK next time.

That report sounds very promising !

  

User avatar

Long-Winded Collector

Posts: 4746
Joined: Oct 31, 2004
Last Visit: Feb 05, 2021
Location: Garland, TX

Post Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:41 am 
 

FormCritic wrote:and so you just started with the excellent parts.  (Paraphrasing)


BBQ, strippers, booze, and D&D.  Excellent combination for sure.  :D


You don't like your job, you don't strike. You go in every day and do it really half-assed. That's the American way. - Homer Simpson

  

User avatar

Grandstanding Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 7947
Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Last Visit: Mar 07, 2021
Location: DFW TX

Post Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 10:25 am 
 

Kingofpain89 wrote:
BBQ, strippers, booze, and D&D.  Excellent combination for sure.  :D


We had strippers???  8O

Mike B.


"THE MORE YOU THINK ABOUT WHY i DONE WHAT i DONE THE MORE i LAUGH" Cougar
"The Acaeum hates fun" Sir Allen
"I had a collecting emergency" Nogrod
Co-founder of the North Texas RPG Con
http://www.ntrpgcon.com

 WWW  

User avatar

Long-Winded Collector

Posts: 4746
Joined: Oct 31, 2004
Last Visit: Feb 05, 2021
Location: Garland, TX

Post Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 10:31 am 
 

Badmike wrote:
We had strippers???  8O

Mike B.


Oh sorry....that must have been just my room.  8)


You don't like your job, you don't strike. You go in every day and do it really half-assed. That's the American way. - Homer Simpson

  


Prolific Collector

Posts: 147
Joined: Jan 29, 2010
Last Visit: May 31, 2012
Location: Canada

Post Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 10:47 am 
 

Well done FC.  
The PaizoCon was well worth attending--the collector, writer, gamer, and fan in me were all gratified by the event.
Funny, I also brought back those issues of KQ.
Ed Greenwood signed an Undermountain campaign book for me, and helpful in recommending some world-building sources. Ed and the other TSR greats were authentic and approachable.
PaizoCon was my first RPG convention, and it was definitely a good time!


Gildor speaks to Frodo: 'Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.'--Tolkien 

  

User avatar

Grandstanding Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 6720
Joined: Jul 16, 2005
Last Visit: Feb 02, 2021

Post Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:23 am 
 

le Rahib wrote:Did they expose the beginner box ?


Yes, they showed the contents of the Pathfinder beginnner boxed set at the PaizoCon banquet.

The "pawns" are about what you'd expect...they are cardboard pieces that can be mounted on plastic bases to give you a starting set of miniatures.

Pretty standard, really.  The real issue for me with the boxed set is price.  I don't recall what the Pathfinder set is going to cost, but just under $20 seems to me to be the highest effective price for such a product.


"But I have watched the dragons come, fire-eyed, across the world."

  

User avatar

Prolific Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 529
Joined: Feb 25, 2005
Last Visit: Mar 03, 2021
Location: Lille, France.

Post Posted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:11 am 
 

FormCritic wrote:Pretty standard, really.  The real issue for me with the boxed set is price.  I don't recall what the Pathfinder set is going to cost, but just under $20 seems to me to be the highest effective price for such a product.


$34.99.   :?  

The french company that translates PAIZO stuff (BTW, thanks to them) produced 2 years ago a begginer box for the OGL 3.5 for 40 €uros.
No pawns (but a screen).

Link

  

User avatar

Verbose Collector
JG Valuation Board
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 1607
Joined: Aug 19, 2008
Last Visit: Sep 22, 2020
Location: Chicago, IL

Post Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:03 am 
 

FormCritic wrote:PaioCon 2011 Report


I got into a Pathfinder Society game.  The Pathfinder Society is a group that has continuing characters that advance through participation in specific convention scenarios.  (There's probably more to it than that, if a real member wants to jump in and explain.)  Anyway, I jumped into a first level scenario built around a short adventure published in KOBOLD QUARTERLY.  It was called Ambush in Absalom…and turned out to be an off-the-rack sewer encounter with kobolds.  

So, it turns out that I game with power gamers.  I took about five minutes to re-write my character feats and equipment…a first level fighter with a greatsword...and then proceeded to plow through the scenario.  The other six characters in our party killed a couple of the kobolds, but my character (Tyrrandar Dragonhelm…named for my first D&D character ever) waded through the sewers and pretty much killed all our opponents.  The character I built would have been totally standard in my own Pathfinder game, but I noticed during the con that other Pathfinder gamers tended to come down more on the roleplaying side.  In the game I am most familiar with, roleplaying is what you do while you divide up and sell the treasure.



I've played Pathfinder Society adventures since they started with their 3.5 Beta version of it. You play the same character through any Society module, weather or not you play him at Origins, Gencon, or PaizoCon.

You start out at first level and use the point-buy system to get your stats. Skills and feats are acquired just as they were for 3.5 (with a slight difference in skills... but I believe it's been discussed on a different thread). For every three modules played (and survives...), your character levels. When your character hits level 12, you "retire" and play specific modules for your level 12/13/14 character (The first L14 module is being played at Origins this year. Your character also earns gold/favors/items that he can use in later adventures.

I've found most of the adventures not as challenging as I thought they would be... maybe only about five of them truly challenging... I think this is the key to Paizo's success: Not only is the game system easier to play (3.5 did have a lot of rules...), but the game seems easier to win.


RPG’s, D&D in particular has had a major influence in my life. It’s bonded me together with life long friends...it’s that bond in life not just as friends, but in our jokes, our mannerisms, and what we find funny. Invincible Overlord

 ICQ  

User avatar

Grandstanding Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 6720
Joined: Jul 16, 2005
Last Visit: Feb 02, 2021

Post Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:41 am 
 

No question, the player characters have many tricks to pull out of their sleeves in Pathfinder.  The system is not as lethal to characters.

I imagine it has a lot to do with the game master.


"But I have watched the dragons come, fire-eyed, across the world."

  


Prolific Collector

Posts: 226
Joined: Mar 10, 2009
Last Visit: Jun 06, 2012

Post Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:43 am 
 

xRalphx wrote:Seems I have to get my ass over to the UK next time.

That report sounds very promising !


Ralph, one Dutchman has been to the previous two and will be at the third one, so it's not just Brits! :)

  

User avatar

Verbose Collector
JG Valuation Board
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 1607
Joined: Aug 19, 2008
Last Visit: Sep 22, 2020
Location: Chicago, IL

Post Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 12:19 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:No question, the player characters have many tricks to pull out of their sleeves in Pathfinder.  The system is not as lethal to characters.

I imagine it has a lot to do with the game master.


Very True!

A lethal GM can be a lethal GM in any game system.

But Pathfinder Society modules are written in a strict format (i.e. So many CR @ level encounters, so many CR+1 @ level encounters, and maybe a CR+2 @ level encounter that cannot be right after a CR+1). And it's because of that strict format that people aren't challenged as they could be...

I really don't have a suggestion on how to deal with that though... that's the rub... Unless maybe someone like Erik wrote a grinder-type module where the risk-reward was sufficient, but then again it would have to be run by Erik. Because if you get a softball-judge to run it, I don't think it would have the same feel (or lethality...).

Sorry for the ramble...

[CR - Challenge Rating (All monsters/traps/etc. have a challenge rating)]


RPG’s, D&D in particular has had a major influence in my life. It’s bonded me together with life long friends...it’s that bond in life not just as friends, but in our jokes, our mannerisms, and what we find funny. Invincible Overlord

 ICQ  

User avatar

Grandstanding Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 6720
Joined: Jul 16, 2005
Last Visit: Feb 02, 2021

Post Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:06 pm 
 

I just bought 48 goblin figures at St. Vincent DePaul for $9.  I couldn't resist.

I haven't been a miniatures maniac for about a decade...but I'm starting to catch the bug again.

I'm thinking of putting together a scenario for lottery play at PaizoCon 2012.

Maybe a burning town with goblins and ogres loose in the streets?  Rescue the townsfolk as humanoids rampage about?


"But I have watched the dragons come, fire-eyed, across the world."

  
Post new topic Reply to topic Page 1 of 1