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Ways to Improve PFS for GenCon 2013


Pathfinder Society® General Discussion

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Grand Lodge *****

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
hustonj wrote:


Mustering players first demonstrates focusing on the PAYING CUSTOMERS and indicates that the (hopefully) compensated judges are expected to provide the desired product . . ..

Sorry if this was already addressed up thread, but I felt the need to comment.

One might think this logic is sound, but if you seat your GMs first they have time to do the following while your players are sorting themselves into groups:

- clean up the table and arrainge the chairs
- pick a spot to GM from that works best
- set out maps, minis, dice, gear, books
- get some paperwork started
- take a moment to relax and get ready to welcome the players

If players are mustered before GMs the GMs are wasting time standing around and then have to scramble to set up while their players have already sat down, unpacked their gear all over the table, and are probably asking questions and competing for the GM's attention before the GM even sits down.

In the interest of giving the players a quality game it is much better to seat the GM's first to give them time to set up. Why make the GM's job any harder than it needs to be? Seating players first doesn't really help the players, in fact they get a frazzled, less ready, rushed GM that way.

Grand Lodge *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Rene Ayala wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:
For Next year have an Overflow room pre set up with GMs and Musterers (Is that a word?)
It's Musterers in Taldor, if you want to use the term incorrectly but be understood by the masses. It's Musterians in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings or Musterai in Azlanti. Take your pick.

Actually the term is Marshall. Marshalls muster tables.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh

Don Walker wrote:
Rene Ayala wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:
For Next year have an Overflow room pre set up with GMs and Musterers (Is that a word?)
It's Musterers in Taldor, if you want to use the term incorrectly but be understood by the masses. It's Musterians in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings or Musterai in Azlanti. Take your pick.
Actually the term is Marshall. Marshalls muster tables.

THANK YOU! You have no idea how much this was bothering me...

Qadira **** Venture-Captain, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Thorkull

Slamy Mcbiteo wrote:
7. Allow for overflow events when you run the special, does not need to be the special but make it easy for groups to find get a scenario to play. Give them space and a scenario so they can do something if then can get into the special. There were a lot of people that were turned away last year...most of them low levels. Maybe something easy for GMs and fun for players....can you say Dungeon crawl!

Just to be clear, we had to turn players away at the Special this year because we ran out of GMs. It wouldn't have mattered if we'd tried to run different scenarios for them, as each table still requires a GM. We had 91 tables running that slot, which was a peak for the con. There were 75 tables scheduled, so we came up with an extra 16 GMs. (For those curious, it translates to a ~21% increase.)

EDIT: 75 tables scheduled, not 91. Must get some coffee.

Grand Lodge *****

Andrew Hoskins wrote:
Don Walker wrote:
Rene Ayala wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:
For Next year have an Overflow room pre set up with GMs and Musterers (Is that a word?)
It's Musterers in Taldor, if you want to use the term incorrectly but be understood by the masses. It's Musterians in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings or Musterai in Azlanti. Take your pick.
Actually the term is Marshall. Marshalls muster tables.
THANK YOU! You have no idea how much this was bothering me...

pffft, Marshal. That's an upcoming Mystic PrC. It's Musterai, folks, Musterai. Teach your players, teach your children. #AzantiLanguageResurgence

**

I was unfortunately unable to attend this year. However...

I remember a very similar discussion on mustering tables taking place last year post-Gen Con, with some of the very same suggestions.

I have a fair amount of experience as marshall, coordinator, GM, player, etc., much like Jeff (whom I know and can vouch that he knows what he is talking about also) and suggested that the mustering take place in designated hallway spots prior to entering the game room. I know the GC staff is very stingy on space but for the 10 minutes prior to each slot I doubt it would create much of an issue.

IIRC my purpose for the suggestion was to avoid generics being seated in place of real tickets, which I noticed had happened in '11. It was corrected once I drew attention to the problem, though and everyone got a seat (which shows good planning on # of extra GMs).

Hallway mustering would have also prevented the seemingly obligatory logjams whilst trying to find your table in the game room, since only the judges would be seated at their tables and set up in advance. Having 2-3 tables enter the room at a time would alleviate much of the congestion.

I even offered on the spot to help with the mustering since during at least two slots there were only one or two people trying to tackle mustering for the entire room. I was told that I wasn't an official volunteer and if I didn't want to volunteer for at least 8 slots I should basically keep my mouth shut.

I found the refusal of help strange rather than offensive, but it weighs on my future decisions to volunteer.

I guess what I am saying is try to not dismiss suggestions from "unofficial" people so quickly as at least in this case the problem could have been prevented for GC this year.

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

Some Random Player wrote:


Hallway mustering would have also prevented the seemingly obligatory logjams whilst trying to find your table in the game room, since only the judges would be seated at their tables and set up in advance. Having 2-3 tables enter the room at a time would alleviate much of the congestion.

I even offered on the spot to help with the mustering since during at least two slots there were only one or two people trying to tackle mustering for the entire room. I was told that I wasn't an official volunteer and if I didn't want to volunteer for at least 8 slots I should basically keep my mouth shut.

I found the refusal of help strange rather than offensive, but it weighs on my future decisions to volunteer.

I guess what I am saying is try to not dismiss suggestions from "unofficial" people so quickly as at least in this case the problem could have been prevented for GC this year.

We did use hallway mustering for 6 of the 8 stations. It was the fire Marshall, not Gen Con, who refused to allow us to put the other two stations in the hallway.

Also, I wasn't organizing last year. I didnt refuse any help from anyone who offered this year. Please do not let last year, that I had no control over, influence decisions for the future.

Also, I don think I've dismissed any suggestions from anyone here. I'm taking it all in and making notes.

Qadira **** Venture-Captain, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Thorkull

@SRP: We did muster in the hallway this year, for all slots (although Gen Con's limitations meant we still had 2 muster stations inside the main room). While it made it easier for players to get to their tables in the main room once they were mustered, there was a lot of congestion *outside* the room. Trying to seat 600+ players and judges for a single event is just going to cause congestion, no matter where we do it.

Better communication with the players beforehand, and better marshal training will help to make the process better next year.

In 2011 we had marshals at every muster station around the room (8 in total) for every event that I'm aware of. For the Special, we had people pre-muster themselves into tables and split them into all-real and generic lines oustide the room. We then allowed the all-real tables into the room and sent them to muster points, got them seated, and checked tickets before allowing any generics into the room. Thanks to Mark Moreland's personal efforts we were able to get everyone seated, real and generic alike.

Frankly, mustering for the 2011 Special went a lot better than this year's did, and I'll take part of the blame for that. I was a bit overwhelmed with other problems and didn't plan ahead for it the way I should have. I'm starting planning for Gen Con 2013 now :)

EDIT: ninja'd by Mike, my bad about stating Gen Con limited muster stations in the hall.

Andoran

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
JohnF wrote:
Joko PO wrote:
Maybe as part of this discussion you could ask for suggestions on how to incite more GM's to volunteer at Gencon 2013? It may be a bit hypocritical of me to mention seeing as I did not volunteer to judge. So consider me your target audience.
So if you were walking around Gencon, was there any way (short of you going up to the PFS HQ area and asking) for you to know that Mike would be interested to hear from anyone who could step up and judge scenario X in slot Y? Even an hour or two of advance notice (and a copy of the scenario) could let you do a better job than someone pulled in cold.

Maybe set up a emergency GM sign up system where a GM can volunteer to

be "on call" and what modules he can run. That along with a phone number/text number to communicate might help get more last second volunteers.

Martin

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh

Martin Sheaffer wrote:


Maybe set up a emergency GM sign up system where a GM can volunteer to
be "on call" and what modules he can run. That along with a phone number/text number to communicate might help get more last second volunteers.

Martin

This is a great suggestion! I'd have been able to GM in slots where a GM was needed. As it is, I'm planning on GMing for 8-10 slots next year. Partly because I like it as much as, if not better than, playing scenarios; and party because I've taken a dare to GM every slot at GenCon.

Andoran *****

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Michael Brock wrote:

Please do not let last year, that I had no control over, influence decisions for the future.

Also, I don think I've dismissed any suggestions from anyone here. I'm taking it all in and making notes.

Sorry Mike, I already Blame you for anything Josh, Nick, Hyrum or Mark ever did in PFS for Paizo... ;)

Also Make sure you take note of this suggestion that I previously made... It is very Important...;)

Dragnmoon wrote:
1. Make Sure Jonathan Cary has nothing to do with HQ... ;)

All Jokes aside, From what I saw Jon did a great Job at HQ!

**

FAH! Back when there were 4 slots a day this would be an accomplishment. ;)

Martin Sheaffer wrote:

This is a great suggestion! I'd have been able to GM in slots where a GM was needed. As it is, I'm planning on GMing for 8-10 slots next year. Partly because I like it as much as, if not better than, playing scenarios; and party because I've taken a dare to GM every slot at GenCon.

Qadira ****

I had a great time at Gencon; here are my 6 muster experiences, as a player, and my thoughts as someone who has worked many large events (like magic grand prix's).

Just my mustering experiences here.

Spoiler:

1) My friend and I showed up, running a bit late with just generics (the reg line was brutal) Found a Marshal and got grouped up right away.

2) We both showed up about 30 minutes early, tried to muster up a group, we had 6 ready to go in the same level range, I have no idea what happened but all of us ended up getting split up including me and my friend. I think it had something to do with generics vs non-generics.

3) We got there early, this time 3 of us. We had generics but got matched-up reasonably quickly and ended up playing in the overflow room.

Note: I had no problem in the overflow room, In the special it was a little awkward on timing for seeing the things play out, but I think it was executed very well overall especially considering the time constraints.

4) we had Generics for the Special. It took some time to get that worked out, but eventually we made it work, ended up in overflow. This was the second time we had mustered our own group of 6 (5/6 had generics) but they some late arrival "real tickets". *shrug* I was a little sad cause the 6 of us were getting along well sitting in line, but I totally get the "real tickets get preference thing".

5-6 were pretty much show up, and get a table assigned. Less busy on saturday night and sunday morning.

4.2) we played the special in the overflow room, with a GM who hadn't been given any warning to run it, and I think he did an excellent job on the fly.

Suggestion:

Spoiler:
For an event like the special, have extra maps, map packs, chase cards, printouts, whatever is needed for a GM to run you have to expect overflow for events like that, and having the materials prepared for GMs would help immensely. Also a "cheat sheet" for GMs that need to step in and GM on the fly would be great.

Ex:) Names of major characters in part one, Skills associated, combat associated yes/no shortlist of skills bluff, sense motive. intimidate DC, diplomacy DC, starting attitude. primary motivation and page number. quick and dirty so the GM can have a basic idea of who is who if they don't have preparation time. Encouraging players to help pick up a GM screen if needed.

Muster Problems; Twice I played in 3-7 Scenarios with level 1's and 2's. This seems pretty easy to prevent.

I also think mustering by scenario instead of subtier just complicates things; Since you have to ask everyone what level they are and try to put together tables of the correct subtier. With that many people all trying to play at once that is a lot of extra information to juggle.

Mustering area suggestions:
1) separate the muster stations by subtier instead of scenario
IE:

Spoiler:

A-C) Subtier 1-2
D-E) subtier 3-4
F) subtier 6-7 and so on.

Why is the design to send 6 person tables? If the tables for each scenario are pre-determined, and have a GM at them already. You just send players to the table as they appear, going through a line.

Two lines. Real tickets. Generic tickets.
If you have a real ticket and want to play with a friend who has a generic, stand in the generic line.

Ex: Process.
Marshal goes to the head of the "real tickets" line. Asks "How many people", then "have you played X" until they find a table that the guys haven't played that has space for the whole group. "go to table X"
Repeat until you're down to generics, then send generics to tables.

GMs start when they are told to, or they get 6 people. If a 7th is added late, oh well it happens.

gets people in the room, out of the line, and the Marshal's have a sheet tracking people at tables so there should be no problems with that.

This also lets people that are wanting to play up make that decision ahead of time. If you happen to get a whole table of "play ups" and they can't it's easier for a GM to adjust down than up (having less stuff to do is easier than figuring out more stuff to do.)

Andoran

Kyle Baird wrote:
FWIW, getting scenarios out sooner doesn't guarantee better prepared GMs. There are GMs out there who just won't put the time in.

If that's the case, drop any DM who shows a pattern of unpreparedness. This merely shows the need to have a quantiative measure of DM performance as well as to have player input in this area.

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules Subscriber

Martin: That'd be a qualitative measure. We have quantitative already...

Benrislove: Definitely disagree about how to marshal tables. People who know what game they want (i.e. hardcores who are buying specific event tickets for all ten slots of gencon) should, y'know, get the game they bought the ticket for, unless there aren't enough players to make the table.

Subtier is very flexible through year 3 and still somewhat so in year 4. With the number of events and number of tables being mustered, getting a queue of people and asking questions that way sounds like it will lead to MORE split up partial tables, not fewer.

I was only tasked with marshaling for slot 9 point A "all but the special", so I didn't have a chance to do this (or really think about it at the time), but I'd use this technique for a muster point I was marshaling: All players who want game X here, iterated for number of specific games. All players who want ANY game, stand over here behind me (these will be of necessity generics).

Grab all tables of 6 with prereg tickets, assign them to a table and send them off.

Fill prereg ticket tables of less than 6 with tier-matching from the "any"s, then see what you have left for judges and seats to start overflow tables.

It's a little chaotic but with some additional communication between the players (and some advice ahead of time to do that communication), it should work out fairly well.

This is adapted from similar marshaling techniques used at smaller cons in a variety of OP campaigns....

Qadira ****

Martin Kauffman 530 wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:
FWIW, getting scenarios out sooner doesn't guarantee better prepared GMs. There are GMs out there who just won't put the time in.
If that's the case, drop any DM who shows a pattern of unpreparedness. This merely shows the need to have a quantiative measure of DM performance as well as to have player input in this area.

it's easy to say "drop GMs that fail at whatever" the problem is. Dropping a GM means potentially turning away 6 players.

at the end of the day, most GMs aren't bad enough that you would rather have not played.

I don't think I have ever played in a game with a GM that was perfect, I also almost never encounter GMs where I'm like "man I wish I had not played that game."

If they are so unprepared that you have a crappy experience and actually wish you had spent your $6 and 4 hours doing something else. Well, then you need to tell someone, currently Mike, about that.

Shadow Lodge *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Silicon Valley aka JohnF

Martin Sheaffer wrote:
Maybe set up a emergency GM sign up system where a GM can volunteer to be "on call" and what modules he can run. That along with a phone number/text number to communicate might help get more last second volunteers.

I'm thinking more about the GM who doesn't even know whether he's going to be available until he finds out whether he got a seat at a (non-PFS) game he was hoping to play during a given slot. If he does find out that he's free it would be fairly easy to stop by the PFS HQ area to see if there was something he could do. That's fairly low overhead for the PFS folks; just an easily-visible list showing the scenarios looking for judges. The big thing is to make sure it's easy for the potential GM to check, and that they even know that their contribution might be appreciated.

Taldor ***** Venture-Captain, Florida—Clearwater aka Magical_Beast

I will add a note from my own personal Gencon experiences, as a player in Ruby Phoenix last year and a GM for Runecarved this year.

Some excellent suggestions have already been made upthread and I would like to state, that despite some hiccups, I think that PFS was amazing at GenCon this year. Not trying to make anyone's concerns less legitimate - it sounds like some people had a rough go with their GMs, but in the big picture, I think there were lots of successes.

Players can and should be obligated to attempt to pre-muster themselves and should have direction to do so. Playing Ruby Phoenix last year my husband and I found two other couples who were looking for a group in our tier while waiting for the special to begin. Our party was well-balanced and we had a fine time and all we did was talk to people and then elect a representative to go to the marshall and let them know that we had a table ready to go.

I can distinctly recall people walking around with fingers held up indicating the tier they were available for and, eventually, some almost-formed groups 'advertising' for healers or arcane casters or whatnot.

As a GM this year I missed out on some of the mustering difficulty and can only offer solidarity and thanks to the folks from HQ who were dealing with it while I was frantically checking my notes for the thousandth time.

I did have a party of five seated at my table who had traveled to GenCon together, 4 with event tickets, one with generics. They were all seated, then the friend with the generic was booted when the room was cleared, and eventually I got a pair couple with event tickets to round out the table and the friend was seated, but at another table.

Whatever the policy is going to be on seating generics - let's make that as clear as possible (and post it at the muster areas?) as early as possible to set expectations and avoid disappointment.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Martin Kauffman 530 wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:
FWIW, getting scenarios out sooner doesn't guarantee better prepared GMs. There are GMs out there who just won't put the time in.
If that's the case, drop any DM who shows a pattern of unpreparedness. This merely shows the need to have a quantiative measure of DM performance as well as to have player input in this area.

I trust Mike is looking to do just that.

Andoran **** Venture-Captain, Missouri—Cape Girardeau aka Arnim Thayer

Altus Lucrim wrote:
I have been considering doing some GMing and volunteering at Gencon Next year, if only for the chance to rub some elbows, Am I to understand that I can basically run every slot I want?

Welcome, friend... you have just joined the ranks!

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

My advice to Altus, or to anybody else thinking of taking on Tier 1 GM responsibilities: don't run every slot. In fact, try to give yourself a slot free every day. A couple of years ago, I started GenCon feeling ill. I had booked 9 out of the 10 slots, so I had no time during Thursday or Friday to just hang out in the hotel room and sleep. That made matters worse. By the close of Friday, I was in bad shape, and spent the night in the local hospital. I had to cancel all my slots on Satuday, leaving Josh in the lurch.

If I'd been able to rest up for four hours on Thursday and Friday, I would have been able to attend my responsibilities.

There are always disasters that strike. Give yourself some opportunity to adjust to them.


I also recommend taking at least one slot to look around the dealer's room, and at least one slot where the primary plan is to EAT WELL.

Playing (and GMing is playing if you are doing it right) can be a BLAST. Too much of anything is not good for you, however.

****

I was an overflow GM for 2 slots and have a few thoughts on how that worked. Overall the overflow system seemed very chaotic and neither myself nor the other overflow GMs had a good understanding of what was expected (beyond prepping our scenario and standing around). I think first off that the overflow GMs ought to report to the marshals for the scenario they were assigned. This would allow the marshals to very easily know if there's a ready backup when they have a GM that hasn't shown up by some cutoff time or if they just need another table.

With that, those marshaling ought to have at least a few runners going between them, so that if they need an overflow GM for one scenario they don't have to interrupt marshaling for the other scenarios they are responsible for to run up to the overflow GM area. This could even be one of their overflow GMs. Then we'd be doing something useful instead of just standing around. Heck, we could've been reporting sessions or doing something else useful while waiting too. I know I ended up handing out pregens to folks while waiting because there wasn't anyone else there to do it for one slot.

It also would have been good to know up front how long we were expected to wait around. If that's 30 minutes or even 45, at least the expectation is set. This seems to be part of a more general issue though of not having a set, and very visibly posted, cutoff where no more tables will be seated. I had one slot where I don't think I got players until nearly 30 minutes after the slot start time. The marshal told me to go to a full overflow room, had to go back, found out where we should really go, walk there, and then unpack and get started. This definitely did not set a good tone for the session. If I hadn't already run the scenario a couple times I think it would have gone fairly poorly since I was starting nearly an hour late. To the players' credit they were very understanding and I think (I hope!) we all had a good time regardless.

****

hustonj wrote:

I also recommend taking at least one slot to look around the dealer's room, and at least one slot where the primary plan is to EAT WELL.

Playing (and GMing is playing if you are doing it right) can be a BLAST. Too much of anything is not good for you, however.

That is number one on my list of "things I learned at Gen Con." Next year, assuming I'm crazy enough to be a tier 1 GM again (likely), I'll be asking for Saturday night off to go have a nice dinner.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh

Mike Lindner wrote:
That is number one on my list of "things I learned at Gen Con." Next year, assuming I'm crazy enough to be a tier 1 GM again (likely), I'll be asking for Saturday night off to go have a nice dinner.

May I recommend the Colt's Grill? It's not too far from the convention center, and they have a GenCon themed menu (and really great food). Also, many of the wait staff dress up. Tons of fun!

EDIT: I know it's off-topic, but the food/menu/waitresses were so great I couldn't resist.

Cheliax ***** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

Here are my suggestions from what I saw:

1. If GMs are required to show up 30 minutes before the slot, then have musterers be at their stations 40 minutes before the slot begins.
2. Have 2 musterers for each station. One to check in GMs, one to organize players.
3. If a GM is more than 5 minutes late to their musterer, an overflow GM is promptly used.
4. If we are unable to use the hallway in the future, use a separate room for the mustering.
5. Players are required to show their ticket to the musterer before being allowed into the room.
6. Generics get seated right at the slot time to any table with extra room.
7. 5 minutes past the slot start time, don't expect to be seated whether you have an actual ticket or not.

Taldor

Andrew Hoskins wrote:
Mike Lindner wrote:
That is number one on my list of "things I learned at Gen Con." Next year, assuming I'm crazy enough to be a tier 1 GM again (likely), I'll be asking for Saturday night off to go have a nice dinner.

May I recommend the Colt's Grill? It's not too far from the convention center, and they have a GenCon themed menu (and really great food). Also, many of the wait staff dress up. Tons of fun!

EDIT: I know it's off-topic, but the food/menu/waitresses were so great I couldn't resist.

For more fun, wear your Packers jersey there like I did and get yelled at by the manager. I considered that a victory!

Andoran *****

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Benrislove wrote:
Muster Problems; Twice I played in 3-7 Scenarios with level 1's and 2's. This seems pretty easy to prevent.

This disturbs me...

I heard a few stories about this happening.

A few things should have happened to prevent this.

  • The Marshal should have know better, but if he had no choice but to sit these players at a 3-7 table...

  • The GM should have done a couple of things. He should have first tried to find another table to fit these players at to see if they can get into a game they could play with their PC or told them they had to play a level 4 Pregen if it was a 3-4 game or a Level 7 Pregen in a 6-7 game.

Under no circumstances should the players have played a 3-7 game with level 1-2 PCs.

It is a bad order of an inexperience Marshal Followed by an Inexperienced GM.

I heard one case where the player said HQ told the GM to sit the 1-2 level players at a 3-7 table with their 1-2 level PCs. As a GM I would have said No and offered up the other 2 solutions.

Andoran *****

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

One thing I did when I played in 2 games, while waiting I marshaled the groups together to help with mustering, so by the time they went up to the Marshal for a table they were already in groups.

Silver Crusade ***

The past two years that I have played the noise in the room has been very loud. If there was some way to reduce the noise level to help the players and GM's hear each other that would be great. The room has wall sections that could be moved to make the rooms smaller and reduce the noise level. This could also help by making the door to each of the room a muster station. This would help reducing the noise and players can gather at the door in which their adventure will be ran. Also stop using the speaker system you used this year. No one in our games could understand what anyone said using it.


Something about the sound quality at the special made all the announcements unintelligible from my seat. Can this be fixed?

If acoustical engineering isn't possible, then please give judges handouts of all speeches. Good idea anyway, there are always gamers with hearing issues.

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

GMs already have all the boxed text that is read aloud.

Andoran *****

I suggest for the special a statement to please do not talk during while the OverGM is speaking and if you have to talk on your cellphone for any reason during that time to take it into the hallway, not to sit at the table and talk on it. Despite how important a call might be to the people talking, it isnt important to just about anyone else in the room and only distracts from their experience with the game. Very inconsiderate, imo.

Taldor

Michael Brock wrote:
GMs already have all the boxed text that is read aloud.

The GM we had on sunday actually handed out small photo copies of the boxed text for the people who sitting across from him at the gaming table. It helped a great deal since the main room was very noisy.

Taldor *** Venture-Captain, Canada—Ottawa aka The ShadowShackleton

Cylyria wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
GMs already have all the boxed text that is read aloud.
The GM we had on sunday actually handed out small photo copies of the boxed text for the people who sitting across from him at the gaming table. It helped a great deal since the main room was very noisy.

I highly recommend GMs do this for the special. I did this for part one and it really helped for those players who had trouble hearing. Even so I only did some of them as it was a lot of work to do this with boxed text that extended over two pages. One thing that would improve this would be to repeat the overseer boxed text as handouts at the end of the adventure.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
The ShadowShackleton wrote:
Cylyria wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
GMs already have all the boxed text that is read aloud.
The GM we had on sunday actually handed out small photo copies of the boxed text for the people who sitting across from him at the gaming table. It helped a great deal since the main room was very noisy.
I highly recommend GMs do this for the special. I did this for part one and it really helped for those players who had trouble hearing. Even so I only did some of them as it was a lot of work to do this with boxed text that extended over two pages. One thing that would improve this would be to repeat the overseer boxed text as handouts at the end of the adventure.

Stop telling everyone my secrets to GMing!

Cheliax **

So, from an outside perspective as one of the few Senior Marshalls for another company, for Paizo what I would recommend is.

A singular head Marshall, we call this Babykiller Babcock elsewhere. Two Senior Marshalls who put out fires, by checking in with the Banner Marshalls, who have clipboards with preassigned table numbers, along with what judges they have for their muster area.

On your muster sheets, you can ask the judges that are assigned to you, preference, of 6 or 7 player seating. This is important for large walk ups, which Gen Con is famous for. Notate whether or not your judges are willing to go to seven next to their name.

Assign judges to the tables based upon marshall area, this is easier than other campaigns as the modules presort levels for the most part. Have your banner marshall tell people to form in groups of six, away from the marshall area, and when they have six (or seven!) to send one person forward with real tickets, to get that group seated with a judge who is already prepping their area.

This should ease up on the muster area, while making sure that generics arent being sent out, while real tickets wait, and while its a bummer to wait, as a generic ticket holder this year, I was appreciative to waiting.

Have your two senior marshalls, swinging out to find out how judges are, where the fires are, and whether or not real tickets need a spot. (I saw this a lot during the special, kudo's. ) However during a special, when seating is paramount, judges should be willing to understand that they may be forced to go to seven, and be acceptable to this fact. (I was pulled from three different tables that I had been sent too, because judges were uncomfortable running seven. No worries, I do understand as a person, but not as a player ^^ ).

If this is sort of the system in play, bravo, it didnt seem like it very much viewing it, but this is just some feedback, as I definitely do like the PFS OP offering, and if help is needed in mustering, which is where it seems to be, I'd be more than willing to help with the years of marshall / mustering expierence I have somehow drunk myself through. ^_^
-Skip

*

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

First of all, we should all recognize what a -great- job the PFS did in general. At each of the seven PFS games I played at GenCon, I was seated with a GM and a full table within minutes of the start-time. In the one instance a GM was not available, a fully-prepared staffer volunteered and ran a great game for us.

I also want to call out the very helpful and friendly folks at the HQ tables. At worst they were commonly distracted, but once I had their attention, they were helpful and pleasant each and every time. That made a HUGE difference.

My friends and I also were impressed by Mike Brock's swift response to an email we sent about a problem we encountered. It fulfilled my high expectations for PFS.

That said, here are a few thoughts on improvement (everyone can improve, right?):

I would make the tables easier to locate. What sort of weird non-Euclidean geometry was used to assign table numbers, I can't guess.

Also, there is no doubt in my mind that GM's -must- be seated first. An rushed player isn't a terrible thing; a rushed GM spells no fun for a whole group of people.

To the extent that I saw any but the most minor problems with mustering, they could all have been solved by having two volunteers at each muster point: one to muster and one to serve as a runner.

I also saw a GM use photocopied handouts of the scenario introduction. I approve, especially for the Special. But I'd still like the GM to read it out. Hearing it is part of the fun.

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

Tarondor wrote:


I would make the tables easier to locate. What sort of weird non-Euclidean geometry was used to assign table numbers, I can't guess.

The first row was four tables of red. Those were numbers 1-4. The second row was three tables of white. Those were 5-7. The third row was four tables of black. Those were 8-11. The fourth row was three tables of red. They were 12-14. So forth and so on.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

As the weekend progressed, tables shifted numbers. A elegant system Thursday morning was somewhat more baroque by Saturday afternoon.

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules Subscriber
Tarondor wrote:


I would make the tables easier to locate. What sort of weird non-Euclidean geometry was used to assign table numbers, I can't guess.

Volunteer has box of numbers in order, starts in the corner nearest the 239(?) door, drops a number per table in the first row, turns around comes back, snakes through hall.

During the weekend, if there were tables that were ready to rock while a game that ran to its time limit is still packing up, table numbers occasionally got swapped between adjacent tables by "helpful" players. It was generally more help than harm.

Tarondor wrote:


Also, there is no doubt in my mind that GM's -must- be seated first. An rushed player isn't a terrible thing; a rushed GM spells no fun for a whole group of people.

To the extent that I saw any but the most minor problems with mustering, they could all have been solved by having two volunteers at each muster point: one to muster and one to serve as a runner.

FRS radios could be good too, as my wife pointed out.

Tarondor wrote:
I also saw a GM use photocopied handouts of the scenario introduction. I approve, especially for the Special. But I'd still like the GM to read it out. Hearing it is part of the fun.

Yeah, it can be a lot better when you have someone who can give inflections at con-slot-box-text-bellow-volumes. I hope my tables were able to enjoy such as I could manage.

Qadira **** Venture-Captain, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Thorkull

The table numbers turned into a problem for marshals and HQ staff collecting tickets, too. It wasn't really a major problem, but it was a problem.

Unfortunately, we have problems with keeping the numbers visible no matter what we do. Last year, we had them taped to the tables, but they weren't easily visible across the room and would get covered up by battle mats, dice, etc. This year, they were on stands that were visible across the room but would get moved off the tables to make room for battle mats, dice, miniatures, etc...

If anyone has a solution for numbering tables that will:

1) Be visible across the room for players, GMs and marshals
2) Not be subject to alteration or being moved during the weekend
3) Not get in the way of the players or GMs during the slot
4) Not require hanging anything from the walls or ceilings (as we're not allowed to do that)
5) Can be re-used in later years and at other events

and

6) Doesn't cost Paizo an arm and a leg

... I'd love to hear it.

Silver Crusade **

Jonathan Cary wrote:

The table numbers turned into a problem for marshals and HQ staff collecting tickets, too. It wasn't really a major problem, but it was a problem.

Unfortunately, we have problems with keeping the numbers visible no matter what we do. Last year, we had them taped to the tables, but they weren't easily visible across the room and would get covered up by battle mats, dice, etc. This year, they were on stands that were visible across the room but would get moved off the tables to make room for battle mats, dice, miniatures, etc...

If anyone has a solution for numbering tables that will:

1) Be visible across the room for players, GMs and marshals
2) Not be subject to alteration or being moved during the weekend
3) Not get in the way of the players or GMs during the slot
4) Not require hanging anything from the walls or ceilings (as we're not allowed to do that)
5) Can be re-used in later years and at other events

and

6) Doesn't cost Paizo an arm and a leg

... I'd love to hear it.

Cloth or Plastic banners that hang off of something like a hat rack? If that doesn't work, get some signs, laminate them, and put them on stands next to the tables.

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules Subscriber
Alexander_Damocles wrote:
Jonathan Cary wrote:


6) Doesn't cost Paizo an arm and a leg

... I'd love to hear it.

Cloth or Plastic banners that hang off of something like a hat rack? If that doesn't work, get some signs, laminate them, and put them on stands next to the tables.

Banners are spendy, if somewhat durable. They'd need to be relatively secured to the stands... Which are also spendy. And not great to position in tight spaces like... around round tables.

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

Alexander_Damocles wrote:


Cloth or Plastic banners that hang off of something like a hat rack? If that doesn't work, get some signs, laminate them, and put them on stands next to the tables.

Do you have any photos you can link so I know what you at describing? Also, I'm hoping for 120-150 tables per slot next year. Depending on what you are referring to, it could get very expensive very quickly to not only purchase, but to also ship from Seattle to Indianapolis.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Then buy them in Indianapolis.

Better yet, convince Tracy W. that she wants to use them for table decorations for her wedding, so she can just donate them to you after the nuptials.


Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kristie Schweyer wrote:
Players can and should be obligated to attempt to pre-muster themselves and should have direction to do so.

If you hadn't added that last bit about direction, I should have to be very cross with you.

I made the decision to play my first PFS Friday evening, stopped by the HQ for some info on character generation and then stood in line for a real ticket. My event (First Steps 1) was to start Saturday at 1:00 pm. I had been advised to arrive a half-hour early, wich I did. It took me a bit to discover that my mustering location wasn't with the other six.

With no previous PFS experience, I didn't realize immediately that although I *was* in the correct muster area (having eventually found that they were INSIDE the room rather than outside like the others), there were multiple other events mustering at the same place. I was half-expecting to be sent to a table based solely on the event I was there for since I was a singleton. What little self organization we'd achieved was instantly destroyed by being seperated into real-tickets vs generics vs experienced vs beginners and people switching events at the last minute to keep some group they HAD managed to form together.

If you're going to consider me obligated to pre-muster, then you'd better make it crystal clear exactly how that's expected to happen. Grant's Captain clear. Idiot-proof, because the longer the con goes, the bigger idiot I become.

Taldor *** Venture-Captain, Canada—Ottawa aka The ShadowShackleton

Jonathan Cary wrote:


... I'd love to hear it.

Honestly it was much better this year. The key to success is to have all the runners consistently remind the GMs to leave them in a visible place (whether it is their table or not). Many of the runners were doing this by the end of the con but we could do that as part of the "checklist" from the get go next year.

What I did at my table was put the number next to me on the table but off to the side as soon as I sat down. Otherwise the players would grab it and put it on the floor.

Taldor *** Venture-Captain, Canada—Ottawa aka The ShadowShackleton

Kyle Baird wrote:
The ShadowShackleton wrote:


I highly recommend GMs do this for the special. I did this for part one and it really helped for those players who had trouble hearing. Even so I only did some of them as it was a lot of work to do this with boxed text that extended over two pages. One thing that would improve this would be to repeat the overseer boxed text as handouts at the end of the adventure.

Stop telling everyone my secrets to GMing!

Actually I'm pretty sure I picked that up from (name drop) Doug "Massacre" Miles.

And yes you still have to read it. Especially the Venture Captain speeches. That is the best moment to insult all the characters that were obviously assigned to the wrong mission (like the 6 heavily armed dwarves I took through Murder on the Throaty Mermaid). ;)

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

Chris Mortika wrote:
Then buy them in Indianapolis.

That's all well and good but they still have to ship back to Seattle, and then shipped both ways each year. It isn't just about shipping one way one time.

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