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Jason Nelson wrote:
Sadness, yes, Mr. Spicer is a busy guy. But I believe we are at long last on final approach. But if you're hungry for nautical NPCs, you're in luck!
Took a bit longer than I wanted, but the manuscript for Nautical Heroes has been turned over for editing and layout. Hopefully, Jason and the crew can get it released here in November.
I take it you never saw our Mythic Mania Kickstarter earlier this year? We're not only doing a Mythic Monster Manual, but there's also a Mythic Hero's Handbook and a Mythic Spell Compendium. Now, that said, the Mythic Monster Manual won't be able to fit every mythic monster from this product line within its pages. So, there's still a good reason to collect them all by acquiring the PDFs, too.
If it helps, the original setup for the traps in chamber G12 were:
HARPOON TRAPS (3) CR 3
Type mechanical; Perception DC 20; Disable Device DC 20
Trigger location; Reset manual
Effect Atk two +10 melee touch attacks (1d8/x3 plus grapple) followed by +12 CMB pull maneuver (with additional +2 bonus if both harpoons hit)
The room's description included three trigger "zones" which fired dual harpoons from a demonic statue's outstretched arms at those on the ledge. If struck by these touch attacks, the victim would be considered grappled and then counterweights would drop from the statue, pulling on chains connected to the harpoons to literally drag people off the ledge and into the pit. So, it wasn't relying on a telekinesis bull rush.
Dreaming Psion wrote:
Regarding serpentfolk CR, why are spellcasting classes being considered key classes when the serpentfolk do not have any built in spellcasting of their own? I thought a spellcasting class was only considered key if they stack with the innate spellcasting potential of the creature in question. (Bestiary 1 p. 297)
Long Design Explanation:
Sean and I had a discussion about this choice. The serpentfolk are actually listed in Bestiary 2 as having "Any Role" which is defined as not using any special rules when advancing by class level because "they lack racial Hit Dice, and thus advance in level normally." Clearly, however, the serpentfolk do have racial Hit Dice, so that seemed like a bit of errata to me, and that's what led Sean and I to examine the original intent behind the serpentfolk.
To do that, I took at look at what the serpentfolk are meant to do. And, because they come in two flavors (i.e., degenerate and advanced), they could potentially have different roles depending on which kind of serpentfolk you're talking about. So, in the process of statting things up for these serpentfolk who happened to have class levels, I kept comparing their resulting stats (AC, hit points, saves, DCs for special abilities and spells, etc.) to the baseline ranges for creatures of different CRs. After several iterations, it became clear to me that the degenerate serpentfolk should have a "Combat Role" and the advanced serpentfolk should have more of the "Spell Role." The latter is what caught your eye, and the choice to give them the "Spell Role" panned out in pretty much every instance when assessing their final CR. The effect of their many spell-like ability DCs and escalating spell-like abilities based on class levels gained caused them to line up with more of a "Spell Role."
I know that runs contrary to the advice given for the "Spell Role" where it states that "...creatures that only possess spell-like abilities do not fall into this role, and are usually considered combat or special." The chart also states that the "Spell Role" is only key if "...its spellcasting levels stack with those possessed by the creature." But serpentfolk really get into that area of the game where it's more art than science when trying to determine a final CR in this regard. For instance, when you examine the spell-like abilities advanced serpentfolk receive as they go up in class levels (i.e., they gain more and more powerful spell-like abilities as they gain class levels), they're essentially getting a lot of extra spell slots. So, in essence, they kind of are spellcasters from the get-go. And, even more, they're becoming more powerful spellcasters the more class levels you layer on for whatever spellcasting class they're taking. So, for those first 5 racial Hit Dice, it's a tremendous boon to them if you give advanced serpentfolk a two-for-one dip on spellcasting class levels. The resulting creature winds up having a very skewed CR threat range if you do that. Whereas, a one-for-one on spellcasting class levels keeps them in line as an appropriate threat for their CR.
So, after talking it through with Sean, he ultimately agreed (I think), and indicated it would be cleaned up in development if the design team felt otherwise. I know somewhere in there, Stephen inherited the developer duties for my turnover, so I'm not sure if he had a chance to give it any additional thought. Advanced serpentfolk are just one of the more complex monsters out there. And, in my opinion, you have to be really judicious with how much you pump them up by layering on spellcasting classes. Anything other than a spellcasting class shouldn't really be key. But spellcasting class levels turn them into serious threats, because as soon as they get 4th level, they get a free spell slot for dominate person (normally a 5th level sorcerer/wizard spell) and major image (normally a 3rd level spell). Meanwhile, their baseline class levels only give them 2nd level sorcerer/wizard spells. Later, at 9th level, this gets ratcheted up again when they gain mass suggestion (a 6th level spell) and teleport (a 5th level spell). The utility of these extra abilities in tandem with an advanced serpentfolk's really high racial bonus on Charisma (to determine DCs) is what kicks things into a higher gear than a normal monster with simpler spell-like abilities.
Anyway, that's a really long explanation to say we took a look at everything as closely as we could, and we applied a lot more "art" than "science" to the crafting of the class levels of these serpentfolk. All part of the fun and games of RPG design. Did it come out well in the end? Based on the final CRs for each serpentfolk NPC, I think it did.
Hope that helps,
Even if Paeta reports back to Haetanga, there's no telling what else might be occupying the hag's attention which might prevent her from responding right away. I basically included Haetanga as a potential threat a GM could bring against the PCs at any point during the campaign, not just this chapter of the AP. For example, even if they clear out all the creatures currently occupying the fort and claim the island for their own, there's still the chance of an extraplanar visitor showing up to give them another bad day. And, whether or not a GM chooses to exercise that opportunity is really dependent on how their individual campaign plays out.
For instance, in your case, Paeta survived and has the ability to report back. In other campaigns, she might have been cut down very quickly, and the rest of the animate dreams may scatter rather than risk Haetanga's wrath. So, she's really more of an "option." But, if there'd been a way to include bonus material for the "Island of Empty Eyes," I definitely would have statted her up for everyone. By leaving her undefined, though, the cool thing about Haetanga is you can stat her up at whatever CR you need in order to put some fear into your PCs at whatever level they encounter her. So, the way she's presented in the actual text gives her an air of mystery and a mechanical openendedness which you can exploit however you see fit.
My two cents,
It does my heart good to see this concept receive such accolades. Originally, fey impulses were an idea I had for Realm of the Fellnight Queen as something PCs could experience throughout Rhoswen's thorn-filled castle...a place where the powerful fey-queen has languished for untold years. The module didn't really have enough space to do that idea justice, so it's something I held onto for possible re-use down the road. Seeing what Todd, Jason, and Al did with the underlying idea is really gratifying. I love how they brought it to life, and pretty much any fey-themed adventure I personally run will incorporate fey impulses as a way to make them stand out from other monster adversaries.
I've seen a few people ask questions about Val, Khonnir Baine's young ward and apprentice. So, I cooked up some quick stats using the rules for young characters from Ultimate Campaign for anyone who's interested:
Female young human expert 1
NG Medium humanoid (human)
Init +2; Senses Perception +3
AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 10 (+2 Dex)
Spd 30 ft.
During Combat Val concerns herself more with escaping physical altercations than engaging in them. If cornered, she uses flasks of acid or alchemist's fire to defend herself, or wields her dagger and sling as best she can.
Morale Val runs if she can avoid creating attacks of opportunity, tossing a tanglefoot bag or smokestick to impede and elude pursuers. Thereafter, she puts as much distance as possible between herself and her attackers, squeezing into a hard-to-reach location to use her Stealth skill to hide. If discovered or pinned down, she calls for help or uses her thunderstone to attract attention to her plight.
Str 6, Dex 14, Con 9, Int 15, Wis 8, Cha 9
Eric Clingenpeel wrote:
In a couple of blogs John's said that they're looking at sanctioning it.
I've seen the same thing. Plus, with this year's PFS theme being the Year of the Sky Key, it would make sense to sanction the AP for organized play. It's probably just a matter of lining up all that needs to happen beforehand.
A little over 3600 words to go (i.e., around 450 per PC), and then it'll move to layout. Certainly expect it at some point here in October, assuming that jives with Jason's production schedule. The good thing is we already have all the art on hand. So, we're ahead of the curve in that regard. The overtaxed author just needs to bring it home. ;-)
El Ronza wrote:
I'm planning on picking up a few of the Mythic Monsters books to spice up my Kingmaker campaign. Fey and Fairytale Creatures seem far too appropriate... >:D
You might also be interested in the entire line of AP plug-in's we did for that adventure path.
You could certainly keep him around for a bit, kind of like the last templar knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. But, maybe make it so that if he crosses the threshold of the tomb, that's when he'll crumble to dust. And he probably knows that...or senses it. And he probably would welcome that death now that his task is done. However, he could certainly stick around a bit and entertain talking with the PCs about himself and Armag before doing so. In this manner, you can keep him as a somewhat sympathetic NPC who stoically accepts his fate and recognizes that it was wrong for Armag to avoid passage to Pharasma's Boneyard. And, in that fashion, you can serve up some inner narrative commentary for your players on the philosophy of life and death in Golarion.
My original thought was that Zorek would pass away almost immediately after his purpose was fulfilled. And he'd accept it willingly, because he never really wanted to live forever. It's just not something he himself personally sought. Also, remember the whole backstory of Pharasma targeting the original Armag for death and Gorum basically spiting her by transitioning Armag's soul into Ovinrbaane? Imagine how she'd feel if Zorek also gained additional time on Golarion. In the struggle between the two gods, I could easily see Pharasma calling Zorek's soul to the Boneyard as yet another blow against Gorum. In addition, agents of Pharasma may very well start targeting whoever carries Ovinrbaane in an attempt to destroy the sword and release Armag's soul. So, that could be an interesting outcome as well.
Food for thought,
If the Advanced Class Guide had been available while writing for Iron Gods, I'm sure a lot of the new hybrid classes would have been used. Selecting the brawler for the Ropefist thugs is a useful way to go. However, you might want to go 50/50 with brawlers and rogues so the latter can still get in some sucker-punch sneak attacks while their brawling buddies hold people up.
As for Meyanda, if you switch her from cleric/ranger, I'd certainly advise going warpriest and probably slayer. That way, she's got a violent aspect to her both from a religious fervor and an implacable killer standpoint, dedicating most of her attacks against biological humanoids.
Other potential changes you could consider would be to make Khonnir Baine an investigator (for the alchemist/rogue mash-up qualities). Hetuath could acquire a level in the shaman class or even a hunter if you wanted to give him some kind of undead animal companion to team with. You could do the same with Sef, though she might come off better as a slayer. Or the vegepygmy chieftain, Vrilledt, could work as a shaman easier than probably anyone.
But that's just my two cents,
We basically have a series of Mythic plug-ins for monsters, mythic path abilities, spell collections, and so on. A lot of that material is standalone...i.e., won't appear in the Mythic Mania books. Whereas some of that material actually will make it into the books. We're continuing to develop new mythic content with every new PDF and print product. However, the final Mythic Mania books (which include a bestiary, spell compendium, and heroes' handbook) only have a certain page-count to them. So, they can't contain everything we've produced. They will, however, have some special content you can only get in the hardcovers which came out of the backer pledges.
As for an ETA on a straight purchase, I let Jason speak to the progress the team has made. And, if you really want in on the Kickstarter, I think he was willing to add people to the mix if he could take your payment via PayPal or something similar. Just ask him about it. Or, he'll find his way here and indicate if that option is still available.
No, but seriously, an Investigator? Iron Gods doesn't really seem like the type of AP that would really benefit from one, at least as far as I understand both it and the Investigator class. What am I missing here?
The investigator is a mash-up of the rogue and alchemist class with some handy abilities for studying his opponents so he can find innovative ways of overcoming them in combat. For someone who's going to be tasked with facing strange, new traps, creatures, constructs, and alchemical hazards while plumbing the depths of a starship that crashed over 5,000 years ago, he's an ideal character to bring along. On top of that, there are numerous mysteries to unravel all throughout thisAP, from the reasons behind why things work they way they do, to the secretive (and manipulative) wizards controlling things from the capital. Trust me, this investigator will be a good match. And, after you get an understanding of his particular background, you'll have even more reasons why.
I like to see in metal heroes a kind of warforged race character who can a first level have a permanent armor like the adamantine body feats of eberron. And attachement stuff too.
These pregen products aren't the right venue to introduce new races. That's not what they're meant to do. Instead, they just use existing material from the PRD. So...with that in mind...would it help if I said there's an android? And an oread? Not exactly "warforged" but they can certainly play around with similar themes, if you choose to take such a character in that direction.
...from that spoiler, I really have to wonder about the third ACG class you mention for the second in the works Heroes product. Really? For that AP? The first one, maybe, the second one, of course, it's almost demanded, but the third? Why not just a pure Alchemist instead?
Who's to say there's not also a pure alchemist in the mix? ;)
...Are there any plans for some more "?..Heroes" products? With the advent of the Advanced Class Guide, I was thinking it would be great to see some arcanists, slayers and hunters make an appearance. :)
There are two more "Heroes" pregen products in the works right now. Each is about half-finished and I'll get them wrapped up as soon as I can. They're one of the last, lingering assignments I have on my plate at the moment. But they're also coming at a time when I've significantly scaled back my writing to focus a bit more on family stuff. Of course, if more people did reviews for these products, maybe that might give me further motivation to get them out sooner. ;)
In the meantime, if you want to know which APs they'll cover, here you go...
The first one will be "Nautical Heroes"...and it's meant to go with a certain Pirate-themed Adventure Path. We announced this product at PaizoCon. We even included a bit of early art for it at GenCon. There'll only be one hybrid class in this one, though. I had already settled on waiting until the ACG was out before completing it, because I specifically wanted to include a swashbuckler once Paizo had the final version set in stone.
The second one will be "Metal Heroes"...and it's meant to go with a certain Super-science Adventure Path. We announced this product at PaizoCon, too, I believe. Though, technically, we indicated it earlier during our Mythic Mania Kickstarter, since one of the backer goals was that anyone who pledged at a particular level could work with me on one of the character concepts during the design process, thereby ensuring their take on a chosen pregen PC would make it into the product. I'm happy to say that someone did pledge at that level and I've been working with them to craft something cool and interesting. As for hybrid classes making an appearance in this one, I've got an arcanist, bloodrager, and investigator on tap.
For both of these products, my preference would be to wait to release them until the ACG officially makes it into the PRD. But, in the meantime, I'm working on them wherever and whenever I can.
Hope that helps,
Hobgoblin Shogun wrote:
This is sort of big picture for Meyanda's arc. But what about the short term? Are the PCs suppose to suddenly decide that murdering bad guys is wrong and try to take the high road by nonlethaling her into unconsciousness, then take her to prison? I suppose I could really drive home this theme to make the PCs doubt their actions.
That's ultimately up to you and how your players choose to handle it. Meyanda is clearly the BBEG in control of all those lower-level minions, and she's the source of the troubles plaguing Torch...from the extinguished forge-flame to the headaches her transmitter is causing the population. Even greater than that, her actions will ultimately lead to full-blown meltdown of the buried reactor and an explosion which will absolutely devastate Torch, blow up a large portion of its population, and draw immediate attention from the Technic League. So, given all of that, the PCs should have lots of obvious reasons to take her out.
However, characters more concerned with the long-term may get it into their heads that Meyanda herself must be serving a larger cause of some kind. Something lead her to Torch and the buried reactor. She obviously knows more about that kind of technology than anyone in Torch...and most people in Numeria. Consequently, she has a wealth of information stored in her brain. Getting her to part with some of it is the challenge. And, the first step in that would be subduing her rather than killing her. That certainly makes for a more difficult proposition, but most PCs are resourceful enough to stabilize an enemy at the end of a battle so they can capture and interrogate them. Many go on to execute their captives once they're done, but it's up to your players (and the PCs) to decide that course. On the wasteland frontier of Numeria, the law is strongest at the centers of civilization, but becomes far more murky the further out you go. The PCs can clearly choose to turn Meyanda over to the authorities of Torch. And, given the town's councilors already set them on the path of investigating the mystery in the Black Hill's caves, they'll likely be coming back to them for their assistance in understanding Meyanda's motives and connections.
So, if the players subdue Meyanda, they've got two choices: 1) interrogate her themselves before killing her or letting her go, or 2) take her back to Torch to be jailed, interrogated, and ultimately judged by the town council. Either way, they can get vital information out of her for Chapter 2 of the Iron Gods AP. But, if you really want to encourage the PCs to redeem her, they'd need to follow more of the latter course than the initial one, because it'll take far more time and social interaction among the flesh-and-blood people of Torch for Meyanda to come around than what a simple, on-the-spot interrogation laced with threats from the PCs could ever foster. Making her cooperative through interrogation is one thing. Making her into an active ally through redemption is another.
But that's just my two cents,
One technological "item" missing from the PRD would be robots and android. Currently, the rules for playing an android as a PC race...and even a bestiary write-up for them (including robots)...appear in non-PRD sources like People of the Stars, the Inner Sea Bestiary, etc. Is there any kind of timeline for getting it included in the actual PRD? Will they be part of a Bestiary 5 down the road?
GM 8574 wrote:
What's giving me hope for the possibility is the phrase, "In time" in her description. The challenge is knowing how much time will pass over the course of the AP. Thoughts on this?
Ideally, you'd want it to happen between Chapters 1 and 2 so she could share information about Hellion and Scrapwall with them. There should be enough downtime between the two adventures to reasonably pull that off. The "time" variable will depend greatly on how much effort the PCs put towards interrogating her and how they interrogate her. It'll also depend on how much kindness they show her, despite what she knows were wholly careless, murderous acts on her part. She cared nothing for the people of Torch...or even the biological cultists under her command. So, if the PCs show her kindness and patience...and she observes some of the better interactions between them and those they care about in Torch (like Khonnir during his recovery and Val's devotion to him)...that should shorten things considerably in completing her redemption.
Hobgoblin Shogun wrote:
That said, I still want a good line of thinking for redeeming Meyanda. The Book says its possible. And I think killing her would be wasting a HUGE opportunity. But the Book also says she's a fanatic. Soooooo, I'm stuck.
Even fanaticism can be overcome with patience and care. Just remember that Meyanda was born into a world of fire and ruin. Hellion represented the first sense of stability and purpose and similarity to herself that she encountered. And the reinforcement of wielding the AI's divine power never allowed her to pause and question his doctrine or her role within it.
But, over time, and given the opportunity to witness the reasons behind why biological creatures behave the way they do (including emotions, relationships, etc.), it may wean Meyanda away from her fixation on mechanical "life" and help her identify more strongly with biological lifeforms (as her android physiology equally supports). It wouldn't happen overnight. Instead, redeeming her would have to be something that takes place between Chapters 1 and 2 of the AP.
If you want a more concrete idea, you could specifically create some interactions between the PCs, Khonnir, Val, and even Joram in front of Meyanda. Their interactions may lead her to ask questions about them. And, depending on how the PCs answer the android's questions, it could plant the seeds of redemption. In the end, it would still have the be the PCs' choice to trust her. And that, is probably the biggest step that would lead her to question her fanaticism and rethink her life.
You could make it so that Nurah initially plans on completely duping the party, especially after spinning such a believable lie. Yet, their continued concern for her well-being and genuine moves to try and keep her from harm might finally touch that one last point of light somewhere in her heart. Even as she slips away from her supposed house arrest, you could have her shadow them into Drezen anyway (primarily the citadel itself moreso than the city). At first, she'd plan on the ultimate betrayal. But, their care for her would continue to gnaw at her and she'd become less inclined to carry through with her plan. At some point, inside Citadel Drezen, the PCs should come across Nurah and one of her fiendish masters (Staunton, Chorussina, or Eustoyriax would be the logical choices). At that point, depending on how the PCs play out that encounter...either by attacking her outright or trying one last attempt to redeem her...should decide how she finally acts.
But that's just my two cents,
Keep Calm and Carrion wrote:
Perhaps Ustalavic wise women advised them that hiding the bones would leave the hag powerless, but if the bones were destroyed, Oothi could come back from the grave as a witchfire.
I approve of this explanation! ^_^
Especially since there were already some witchfires that wanted revenge on Oothi and her coven hanging out at the abbey in the latter half of the adventure.
The Mythic Minis will certainly be some of the content which goes into the Mythic Mania hardcovers. However, that'll only be a subset of the Mythic Mini content. They'll each still have mythic monsters that don't make it into the Mythic Monster Manual, for instance. So, while there's some overlap, each product will have its own unique content, as well.
Darius Silverbolt wrote:
Is Paizo allowed to sell material in the Area where PFS is played?
I'm not sure they could pull that off. Part of the reason everything is sold in the dealer's room is so GenCon can lock all that merchandise up every evening for all of the exhibitors. And, with gaming going on almost around the clock in the PFS area, they wouldn't be able to keep to the same schedule for the upstairs ballroom...which means, Paizo would have to lug all the merchandise they intended to sell upstairs and across the entire convention center each and every day, once in the morning and again in the evening, to ensure it was secured at all times. And that's not even taking into consideration whether or not GenCon and the convention center can provide the same system access for payment processing up there.
Interesting perspective Neil. I had just kind of assumed the line was at least two hours or more. Perhaps some signs indicating that it moves faster than you might think, like the art show had, would be useful.
I know whenever I was there, I did my absolute best to keep folks informed of the wait times. A lot of them asked when they were directed my way by the guys manning the ropes at the booth. So, everytime I counted more people through, I'd ask the person I stopped (i.e., at the front of the line) how long they had waited so far. I'd then use that time to set the expectations of anyone else who asked. I even got help from others who were deeper in the line. All of them would give advice on how long they had waited so far...or that the line was moving at a pretty good clip. It was only that first day that the crush caused the line to pile up. And, even then, the wait times didn't get too far above one hour. Certainly never in the two-hour range...or, at least, not that I ever heard from anyone.
They added an extra station Saturday morning. I'm not sure what hoops they had to go through to set it up (if they had to purchase one, power & internet setup, etc).
They pulled that off with a laptop computer and an internet connection to the webstore, but they could only process credit transactions at that station. Still, every little bit helped them keep that checkout line moving. Of course, it moved faster at some times than others, but that was mainly because of the volume of each purchase. If someone showed up with a massive collection of products (either as a new purchase or as part of their subscription pickup), it slowed things down. But, when you had folks going through with just an item or two, the checkout line moved at a really fast clip with those four stations going.
One interesting element Jason Bulmahn added was his "Crit the Line!" schtick. He basically walked down the line with a purple Paizo D20. The first person to roll a natural-20 would be allowed to quit the line and he'd personally escort them into the booth. It made for a lot of smiles and, on two different occasions, he literally had people who were last in line roll a crit. And no one begrudged them their success, either, because all the people in line were actually quite cool and understanding. Again, the level of community support and camaraderie among the Paizo fanbase is light-years ahead of most companies.
As someone who helped organize and shepherd that line for the better part of several hours, here's my two cents on the subject...
First and foremost, as Lisa indicated, lining up outside the dealer's hall was something GenCon dictated, not something Paizo arbitrarily decided to do on its own. The past two years, the line on Day 1 (and Day 2) was just as long. The main problem was that everyone jammed the entire booth, grabbed a bunch of product, and then lined up for the checkout line...which, ultimately, took them completely outside the booth area and into the red carpeted area which attendees are supposed to use to navigate between other booths. With that kind of overflow, Paizo was basically restricting the flow of foot traffic around a big portion of the hall, while also creating a potential fire hazard. Thus, that's why GenCon dictated something different had to be done. And, the best way for removing that mass of bodies from the immediate area surrounding the Paizo booth was to simply line them up outside the hall and count them in as room became available to let them through.
That brings me to a different point. In the past, the booth was always so jam-packed that you were shouldering your way through people just to browse the wares, select the products you wanted to purchase, and, in some cases, to have a conversation with the Paizo staffers. This year, by lining people up in the hall outside, it immediately brought the traffic flow and overcrowdedness under control. You actually had room to freely check out every product line, select your purchases, and talk with any of the Paizo staffers. I had a number of people tell me later (while I was inside the booth), that they really appreciated the elbow room for moving about. It was quieter, cooler, less crowded, and a better overall shopping experience for them. I also had many of the GenCon volunteers...not just the ones who watch the doors to check badges, but the actual GenCon organizers who wrangle those massive crowds outside the doors at 10AM every morning...tell me they really appreciated how capably, responsibly, and professionally Paizo was handling traffic management to their booth. As much as some people complained about the line, it was universally praised by those who understood the logistical challenge presented by the crush of people trying to get into the booth.
In addition, I think a lot of folks who took exception to the line kept forgetting one very important thing. They were going to wait in a long line regardless. That's because the cashier stations (except for the last day) were at capacity the entire time. They literally couldn't take people's money fast enough. Thus, even if everyone had been allowed to overren the booth and grab what they wanted to buy, they were still going to have to line up for the checkout line. The only difference was they were going to be standing in a much more crowded area, a much hotter, louder environment, and all while holding a bunch of stuff in their hands for pretty much the same total amount of time. They'd just be spending it inside the booth area rather than outside in the much cooler hall. In fact, if people had longer memories they'd realize that was the exact same scenario over the past couple of years. I used to wrangle the long line that wrapped around the wall inside the dealer's hall, and people waited just as long to buy product regardless of where they lined up. The only difference was they felt better about it, because they had the product in their hands, and could therefore feel relieved that they hadn't "missed out" because a product sold out faster than they could grab it.
Now, none of that is to say there can't be improvements in the line management situation. For instance, having a quicker way for picking up subscriptions would be nice, and it would also give the additional benefit of reducing the number of people in the regular line if that could be handled elsewhere. Even if just a single cashier line was designated to process subscriptions, that might move things faster for some people. But, that said, the problem with that comes when those same people also want to buy other stuff that's not in their subscription (i.e., an impulse buy). At that point, you've got a regular customer who just happens to be picking up a subscription in addition to whatever else they've decided to buy. And, it's unfair to let that person go ahead of someone else who's just making a purchase without a subscription. The only way to keep that equitable would be to designate an area where you only pick up subscriptions. And, if you wanted to buy something else, you'd have to get back in line with everyone else. If that happens, I expect there'll be an additional outcry as folks complain about having to spend time in two lines just to get all the stuff they want. And so on...
So, there's no silver bullet here. Paizo and Pathfinder's popularity is at an all-time high. That's a good problem to have. Yet, everyone rushing the booth on the very first day creates this huge backlog regardless of where they line up (i.e., outside the hall before being allowed in the booth or inside the hall in a massive checkout line that impedes traffic). Timing is basically everything. For instance, the worst day was Thursday. While wrangling the line in the early morning, the wait times climbed as high as an hour just to get into the booth. However, around lunch-time, the wait time dropped to 10 minutes or less. Savvy shoppers took advantage of that. On Friday, the line was instituted again. Wait times were reasonably low in the early going, but started climbing to 30 minutes fairly quickly and stayed there for awhile. It got better at lunch-time again as well as the late afternoon before the dealer's hall closed. I thought Saturday was going to be worse (because more people show up at the convention when the work week is done), but it was actually very manageable. By lunch-time there was no line to manage. The ropes came down. And folks were allowed free run of the booth again. Unfortunately, a few of the products people were most interested in buying had already sold out. That created a whole other wave of disappointment. Those who refused to stand in line the first couple of days lost out to those who did.
So, what more can be done to aid this situation next year? I still think there's way more value in having the line outside than creating traffic jams inside. Thus, I expect the line management next year to take the same approach. To help alleviate fears of missing out on product if you don't stand in the massive line, the warehouse guys will need to figure out a way to ship/re-stock the more popular products after the first couple of days. Secondly, I think the Paizo line needs to be advertised very early in advance of the show. Hopefully, most folks will know what to expect next year, but more communication might help things. Hopefully, this rundown here will help that, too...at least with the forum regulars. Thirdly, although the Paizo booth grew in size this year (to accommodate more attendees), it might require even further room to help the line move faster. That'll only work if more cashier stations can be included to keep up with the increased traffic, though. In the past, Paizo had also instituted a "get out of line by paying cash" operation where Lisa and others would go down the line to more quickly move things along. That could be done during the busiest times again and that might get more people out of the booth so the lines (both inside and outside) can move more quickly. Lastly, I already recommended one other enhancement to the Paizo line operation. If the same checkerboard tiles can be used outside the dealer's hall to create a surface on which the Paizo customers can line up, it would more clearly designate what the line was for (i.e., I had a LOT of confused people come up and ask me about the long line)...and, it would also create a more cushioned surface for folks standing in line for a long time (including those of us watching over it).
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject. I thought the line outside the dealer's hall was the best way Paizo had available to manage the situation. There'll be lots of lessons learned from it, but it'll likely be back next year. Hopefully, everyone can continue the same good spirit the Paizo community is famous for in supporting their efforts.
But that's just my two cents,