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**Official** Gen Con 50 Feedback Thread


Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild

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Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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We need your feedback to know what is working and what isn't in order to continue to approve. Please drop your comments here. I will try to answer any questions about the logistical operations, and will record all your feedback into a comprehensive report for Tonya to review. The decisions we make to improve your experience at furniture Gen Con comes from your reported experiences.

Since not everyone follows all three Organized Play forums! I will mirror this thread in all three.

NOTE: if your comments are directed at a specific scenario, feedback is better submitted in the form of a review of that scenario on its product page where the developers/authors can see your comments and use them the improve the products they produce.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Online aka Hmm

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I just wrote up something very long in another thread, that I am going to copy here under a spoiler. Why? Because I think that one of the best things that one can do for GMs is to make sure that they know what to expect.

Specifics added for the GenCon Planning Committee:

1) If something that we're all going to need is going to drop to GMs late, let us know! In Starfinder, we were told every time there was a delay, and this helped enormously. In PSA, we were left hanging without information on how late our scenarios would drop. A week and a half is insufficient for prep. It's so much better for our morale if we're kept in the loop.

2) Your HQ emails were great! I read them ALL. That said, the GM feedback session was not listed in them, so I only found out about that because Linda Z-P and other GMs told me. Yes, I missed the signage about the meeting. Put it in the email, please.

3) I loved the color coded and numbered tables. Man, that made it easy to find where I was going.

4) I had too many scenarios. I really did. I managed to prep them all, and I did what I considered to be a B+ to A- performance throughout. With fewer, I would have given an A+ performance. I'm a really great GM when I have the ability to prep sufficiently. I had to settle for offering a lesser experience to my players. I know that I'm an outlier, and that the majority of GMs got more sane schedules... I also know that this was a scheduling nightmare for HQ. I know that the later start for GenCon this year meant that all the GMs in education could not make it to the con this year, so you were short some good people. Still, some of the scheduling changes I got made me into a grumpy pants. Do you want to see grumpy pants Hmm? Of course you don't! Keep most of us down to 2-3 scenarios for prep, please!

5) Keeping me at the same table all day was great. Knowing that I could just go back to White 11 helped my sanity.

6) Nothing is worse than three slots in a row. Yes, I know that you have to do that to Tier One GMs. But maybe a tip sheet for surviving three slots in a row or something?

7) Manage expecations. I handled all my newcomers well, getting their numbers and pregens and Welcome Boons either ahead of time or by sending a player as a runner. But make sure that all GMs are aware that they are very likely at GenCon to get tables of complete newbies. If they know what to expect, they'll collect the stuff they need from HQ in advance.

I think that managing expectations could also work for the multi-table specials. Yes, you are not going to book through every combat with a table of newbies. So let GMs know that they can choose to skip encounters in those cases, and just pick one section of the adventure to have the newcomers shine in. Don't try to do it all. Just show your table a great time. If GMs know how to handle these upsets in advance, they're more likely to succeed!

8) Give tips on the store. Tell people not to try to pick up their subscriptions at GenCon. I only managed to get into the store once on Saturday, and only for ten minutes. For most of us, getting to the store is not an option.

9) You handled the releasing and reusing of GMs well. While I had 7 out of 8 slots fire, there were fellow GMs who had only 2-3 fire. Is there a way to make sure that those GMs can get some more tables?

10) Can we add House of Harmonious Wisdom and Phantom Phenomena to the evergreens that GMs could bring if slots fail? Both of those are great and very newb friendly.

______

Reprinted from another thread.

Hmm's thoughts on surviving GenCon as a Tier One GM:

1. Know what the heck you are getting into.

Ask other experienced GenCon GMs about what GMing at GenCon is like, and listen. Do your research.

2. Plan ahead.

The main key to surviving GenCon is to plan ahead. Overprep.

Flip Mats. If you are doing flip mats for your maps (recommended if you are doing lots of different adventures because they are fast to switch out and attractive), do map triage. There were cases where I had the exact map that a scenario called for, but I did not bring it because another map that I was already bringing would do just as well. Can you reuse and substitute so that you can bring fewer flip mats?

Plastic Sheeting. If Eric and A.J. Clingenpeel ask you if you want to purchase a plastic sheet from them for five bucks, say YES. It will hold down your flip mats and keep them nice and flat. It will keep the little annoying cards of the map packs from sliding around. If you print off your maps, it will protect them. I bought one, and then gave it away at the end of GenCon to someone who was driving.

Terrain. If you are going to bring terrain to GenCon, make sure that it can come together and apart easily. While I think it's unlikely that I'll ever bring terrain when traveling by plane, I really admired how clever and modular the terrain was that both Gino Melone and Quinn Shannon brought. They had light and awesome builds that came together and apart easily.

Minis. Go light if you can. I have paper folding ones that are very light and easy to carry, but starbursts or abstract minis also work well. You'll be happier if everything you carry can fit in a backpack. Still, there are GMs here who go whole hog. If you are bringing your own fancy minis from home, then have them organized and make sure that you have a rolling cart for all that you're hauling.

Create cheat sheets and handouts, or use PFS Prep. Have index cards for magic items for your players, and cheat sheets for rules like starship combat. Print out the box text of the mission briefing. Make it easy for your tired players to learn and remember. The bonus to all this work is that it will help you remember as well.

Read, read read! Come up with character voices, Understand the story. Look at the GM Forums to see how others handle this scenario. Look for special monster abilities!

3. Create your Social Support Network.

It takes a village to keep a GM afloat. Stay with other GMs who are friends if you can pick your roommates in advance. Plan to connect with friends. Fill your cell phone with contact information so that you can text back and forth. There is no reason to be lonely and lost at GenCon. Make friends, make contacts and reach out!

4. Self Care.

Have a food plan. Pack lunches / breakfasts / dinners. If all your slots make, there is almost no time between slots to get food from the food court, the Circle Mall, and the food trucks. (There is time to go back to your hotel room and eat, though. I could get to my room in under 7 minutes from the Sagamore.)

If you are driving in, pick up groceries on the way to GenCon. I admired what my fellow Minnesotans did in Room 905. They brought crockpots and coffee makers so that they could have real food in their rooms in between slots. In my case, my roommates and I could not share a food plan because we all had diverse and differing dietary requirements. Still, I survived pretty well on a monotonous diet of carrots, peapods, apples, peanutbutter and bagels.

Treat yourself to a few good real meals in slots off. Budget for a little social time, and plan ahead so that you can eat them with good company. There is nothing more restorative than having the chance to have a hot meal with friends.

Exercise. I visited the Gym on a few mornings, and it really helped. I did about 15 minutes of either yoga or weights and felt better all day. I also did a sanity swim in one of my off slots. The other possibility is going for short walks. Stretch. Do something short that makes your body feels good. Stand up when you are GMing and move.

Get some sleep. You will never get enough sleep on a Tier One schedule at GenCon, but try to get as much as you can.

Save your voice. Pack cough drops. I saw GMs with microphones and bluetooth speakers. At least one GM printed off his box text and had his players read it aloud if they were theatrical types.

Keep up your morale, however you can. So... Maybe you won't do what I do and enter the Sagamore at 7:30 before your slots dancing and singing Show Tunes as you skip past the HQ staff. (I think that technique is one that mainly works for me.) But wave to your neighbors. Greet them and smile. Smile confidently at your players, and promise them that you'll all have a great time together. If you are having fun, they will too!

Manage your expectations. If you are running day slots, assume that you will have trouble getting into the store. I got into the store only once, and then had only about ten minutes to look around before I had to run to my next slot. So I looked on the bright side and decided that I would have less to haul back on the plane this way, and plenty of money in my account to cover my subscriptions. Don't ever plan on picking up subscriptions at GenCon. Pay for priority shipping and have it shipped ahead to you at home if it's something you need for your GenCon Games.

5. Be nice to HQ and thank them for all the work that they do! Seriously, they're awesome!

Dark Archive ***

The only wonky experience from my perspective as a player was mustering on the Thursday morning slot, after that the mustering process was much clearer and posted well in advance. The GMs I had for the specials also had a solid understanding of how the special format places a premium on keeping everything moving. I tried to make sure at my tables that anybody who hadn't done a special was aware of the value of being focused. I had at least 1 GM over the weekend who was doing their first society game, so making sure this advice is delivered up front to players by the GM I think improves the experience for all. I do think the formal 5-10 minute mid special break is unhelpful. I had no difficulty sneaking away from the table on my own without missing stuff. On the other hand when everyone leaves you get lines, and stragglers getting back to get restarted.

***

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GM Sign-ups: Information, information, information. This year we were lacking specifics and general information about almost everything when we signed up in January. Every piece of information we received seemed to be late. It made personal planning/scheduling for GenCon very difficult and frustrating – for example, choosing which tier to sign up for, playing or running specials. I understand that changes are in the works and I hope they are executed well next year.

Specials: Friday & Saturday Specials: Pre-planned player breaks. Yes! Thank You! You might want to advertise that ‘there will be a 5 minute break after act 1 and act 2.’ This way, if a table reaches a stopping point just a few minutes before the break, they can get a head start and mitigate 50 people assaulting one bathroom.

GMs for Specials" Apparently it is becoming more difficult to recruit GMs to run the specials. The Specials create a barrier for non-VOs and GMs with less than 4 stars who would be interested in running them. Running a special well requires a lot of prep work, but for these GMs, all that work is for just one game because they can’t run the special again after GenCon. My suggestion, anyone who legally receives a special can legally run it again (multi-table requirement still remain).

Paizo Booth: It would be very helpful and thoughtful on Paizo’s part if they had one register that Volunteers had priority at. If there were no Volunteers to check out, they the register could be used for other customers.

PSA: Drop the “PSA” and return to “Kids Track”. At the post GenCon GM meeting it was mentioned that adults had purchased tickets for PSA events. If the event name says “Kids Track”, adults are going to be much less likely to purchase a ticket for the event for themselves.

Kids Event Length: Return the Kids Track events to two hour events. First hour or so teach, second hour playing the scenario. Tables with kids with a lower attention span will have fewer problems in just a two hour slot. Tables with kids with a higher attention span can get through two BB adventures instead of just one.

Mustering: I liked the use of the stickers with the tickets and mustering. Please expand on them by having two stickers. One for the scenario tracking sheet, and one for the tickets.

Intro Scenarios: Watch ticket sales for intro scenarios, both PFS and SFS, and make sure there are 3 to 5 extra tables in the GenCon Event system to allow for people with generics to come up and get in a beginners game.

Prize Support: It appeared that not a lot of people were winning physical products. If you were to increase the ‘threat’ range of a critical to 18-20, you would change the probability of winning a physical product from 1 in 100 to 9 in 400 or about 2.25%. With the amount of prize product that I saw in the boxes under the tables Saturday afternoon, I don’t think this is an unreasonable option.

HQ: Reporting scenarios appears to be complete. What, you’re done? GenCon ended two days ago and all my tables have been entered! It hasn’t been two months, or even two weeks, but only two days. You are fantastic!

HQ: HQ seemed to run very smoothly. If I had a questions, it was quickly answered. HQ staff were friendly and very helpful. Thanks!

Just My Thoughts

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

Quote:
Drop the “PSA”

Actually the intention is to expand PSA to include both youth and adult gamers. Essentially an entry point for people not familiar with RPG. We have just started with the youth portion. If that expands, reverting to Kids Track would not accurately describe the program. OTOH, if we do not actively expand to the adult portion, reverting to Kids Track would probably be more appropriate.

One point that has been missed is that all the PSA events included language in the description:
"**Table reserved for players under 18 and/or families**"
Experience tells us that some players just will not read the event listings and focus on what they want it to say. Is there a change that can improve? Dunno. We tried using Kids Track words in the listings in the past and still had adult players showing up. This just might be something we have to deal with in the moment.

Quote:
stickers

I think this is something we can implement. Thx

Quote:
Prize Support

IMO, the problem with prize is not the crit range, but players hording tokens. We have an extremely low return rate on Thursday. Prize distribution at Gen Con and other large events depends on volume of redemptions in order to make the data follow the predicted distribution models. The smaller the data pool, the more impactful the outliers become. Thus it looks like people are not "winning" enough when its really more a function of low volume.

Some of that is our fault in that we expand the value of the tokens or increase the range late in the con every year encouraging players to hold them for more value later on. We will be working on this issue in the "off season." One of the things we have already implemented is that future major events like Gen Con will not accept older season tokens for prize rolls. The tokens are meant to reward players and volunteer attending the current event and not to allow those who use tokens at their own local events to horde them up and then return them at Gen Con. This practice sort of "steals" prizes from those who are not able to horde tokens and depend on an equal chance to win while attending the current event. I am quite certain we will have more conversations about this topic leading into next year and hope to make the entire process better and "fair" to the players without putting the available product and Paizo's donations at risk

**

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On the note of using past year tokens, when a roll for prize requires more tokens than acquired in an event, people playing a number of events not in multiples of the needed amount have nothing to do with their tokens. Perhaps a roll on a prize table that isn't guaranteed a prize, or lesser prizes, or some such could be purchased with whatever the minimum number of tokens granted by an event is? That way there'd be no temptation to hoard until the following year, and players still get some potential benefit from the tokens they were awarded.

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Nebraska—Omaha aka UndeadMitch

Is reporting scenarios done? Both 8-99 and 9-00 are missing from my GM history, but everything else is reported.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Online aka Hmm

Mitch Mutrux wrote:
Is reporting scenarios done? Both 8-99 and 9-00 are missing from my GM history, but everything else is reported.

I think reporting is still in progess. Half my tables have been reported.

Hmm

Dark Archive ****

Need more prepared GMs. Having to explain what energy drain is to two different GMs, and explain how abilities of monsters work is sort of frustrating.
Otherwise, retool the special wording, because not being allowed to have one og the people I came with use a 7 pregen in the special when three of us had 11's really was a bummer.


I could be mistaken, but if I remember correctly part of the reason the tiers are broken down is to prevent folks from 'up-farming' the chronicles from Specials, and denying space to folks that are *at* a given Tier, while leaving the lower Tiers pretty empty and unfilled?

Dark Archive

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Hey Bob,

A few suggestions:

1.) GM Reviews: I would think getting feedback from the players on how their GM did would be useful. Preferably a system that could be quantifiable and scaleable, like Net Promoter Score (i.e. "How likely would you recommend your GM to your friends from 1-10"). Perhaps including the sheets in the Chronicle packets and giving players who return theirs a token as compensation. I think with this data we can do a good job of identifying potentially problem GMs that need further review.

2.) How-to Videos: Since it seems pretty apparent at this point that some of our GMs do not like receiving information via text, no matter how small of a bite you make it, it might be better to include relevant information is a short video/podcast message. In all fairness, this is my preferred method of receiving information.

3.) Quiet Room: This is a bit pie-in-the-sky, but I noticed there were some Green Rooms behind the Sagamore. It might be nice to have a GM "quiet room" where we can crash between slots and get away from the noise/visibility to recuperate. I know a lot of people thrive on the "always on" nature of GMing back-to-back-to-back slots but I could use 20 minutes to just center myself without a ton of noise and people around and I don't think I am alone.

Dark Archive

GM Wageslave wrote:


I could be mistaken, but if I remember correctly part of the reason the tiers are broken down is to prevent folks from 'up-farming' the chronicles from Specials, and denying space to folks that are *at* a given Tier, while leaving the lower Tiers pretty empty and unfilled?

That is not my understanding. As I understand it, the reason specials are ticketed by tier is to make marshaling them more manageable.


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BlackOuroboros wrote:


3.) Quiet Room: This is a bit pie-in-the-sky, but I noticed there were some Green Rooms behind the Sagamore. It might be nice to have a GM "quiet room" where we can crash between slots and get away from the noise/visibility to recuperate. I know a lot of people thrive on the "always on" nature of GMing back-to-back-to-back slots but I could use 20 minutes to just center myself without a ton of noise and people around and I don't think I am alone.

3: Even a designated hotel room or something close where *Volunteers* AND GMs could go would be exceptionally handy.

Problem I kept running into was I'd try to go to break/lunch and then realize "Oh, crap, there's a thing that needs doing and I don't think anyone else knows about it gotta head back before I forget!"

Having a dedicated spot somewhere close where no phones/text/whatnot were allowed, a purely quiet area to regain focus and recharge (not sleep the entire convention away) would be ginormous.

Scarab Sages *****

Sin of Asmodeus wrote:

Need more prepared GMs. Having to explain what energy drain is to two different GMs, and explain how abilities of monsters work is sort of frustrating.

Otherwise, retool the special wording, because not being allowed to have one og the people I came with use a 7 pregen in the special when three of us had 11's really was a bummer.

I had someone try to play a level 7 pregen at my 9-11 table of Cosmic Captive last year (2016). I refused them, because the table was already a fairly weak 9-11 (with 3 9's, a 10, and an 11) with a poor party composition. I didn't want to TPK the table because the 7 was there.

So this is a request I would not support. However, making sure people know that would be a great idea.

Dark Archive

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Sin of Asmodeus wrote:

Need more prepared GMs. Having to explain what energy drain is to two different GMs, and explain how abilities of monsters work is sort of frustrating.

Otherwise, retool the special wording, because not being allowed to have one og the people I came with use a 7 pregen in the special when three of us had 11's really was a bummer.

In fairness, even the best GMs have knowledge gaps and players having access to energy drain is somewhat uncommon (off hand, enervation and summoning a succubus are what immediately come to mind). That said, as long as they were teachable, I think that is the best we can hope for.

Dark Archive ****

Tallow wrote:
Sin of Asmodeus wrote:

Need more prepared GMs. Having to explain what energy drain is to two different GMs, and explain how abilities of monsters work is sort of frustrating.

Otherwise, retool the special wording, because not being allowed to have one og the people I came with use a 7 pregen in the special when three of us had 11's really was a bummer.

I had someone try to play a level 7 pregen at my 9-11 table of Cosmic Captive last year (2016). I refused them, because the table was already a fairly weak 9-11 (with 3 9's, a 10, and an 11) with a poor party composition. I didn't want to TPK the table because the 7 was there.

So this is a request I would not support. However, making sure people know that would be a great idea.

The only issue with that is, we had three other 11's that are not weak.

The previous year special allowed a 7 pregen to play with us at 10-11 tier. The sudden change with no notification is what was the issue.
We were seated and told by the Gm that our pregen couldn't play, so we had to go and re-muster and play as if generics. This is unacceptable.

In the future I'm sure there can be a better way to communicate, or even label tickets for this to not be an issue.

Onto the teachable GM's. I understand that teachable moments occur, but they shouldn't be in an interactive, or at a pinnacle event.
At the end of the day however, everyone was able to balance issues out, and have a good time. That's what really matters here. I would recommend a GM training seminar at Gen Con.

I'd really enjoy being able to sit in with other qualified four or five star GM's and be able to get pointers, or things to help improve my own GM skillz.

Shadow Lodge ****

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Props:
1. Changing the rules to allow GMs who have been released to play without spending tickets was greatly appreciated!
2. The colored cards for the specials was much more manageable than the complicated hand gestures from the previous years. Specials are difficult enough, without trying to remember semaphore codes.

Slops:
1. From my experience, less than half the 7-11 tables made in any given slot, which is a huge waste of volunteer-power. These people are many of your top-notch best of the best GMs, so having them go underutilized is a shame. The simplest solution is to schedule fewer 7-11s.

Silver Crusade

As a very experienced Game Master of other games and Player of other games, who just started PFS at Gencon, I can say it seemed like you did an outstanding job.

So, how do I get to Game Master next year?

Dark Archive

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Disk Elemental wrote:

Slops:

1. From my experience, less than half the 7-11 tables made in any given slot, which is a huge waste of volunteer-power. These people are many of your top-notch best of the best GMs, so having them go underutilized is a shame. The simplest solution is to schedule fewer 7-11s.

I think Tonya and Bob mentioned that they had a plan to release tickets in batches to avoid that situation in the future.

Scarab Sages *****

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Sin of Asmodeus wrote:
Tallow wrote:
Sin of Asmodeus wrote:

Need more prepared GMs. Having to explain what energy drain is to two different GMs, and explain how abilities of monsters work is sort of frustrating.

Otherwise, retool the special wording, because not being allowed to have one og the people I came with use a 7 pregen in the special when three of us had 11's really was a bummer.

I had someone try to play a level 7 pregen at my 9-11 table of Cosmic Captive last year (2016). I refused them, because the table was already a fairly weak 9-11 (with 3 9's, a 10, and an 11) with a poor party composition. I didn't want to TPK the table because the 7 was there.

So this is a request I would not support. However, making sure people know that would be a great idea.

The only issue with that is, we had three other 11's that are not weak.

The previous year special allowed a 7 pregen to play with us at 10-11 tier. The sudden change with no notification is what was the issue.
We were seated and told by the Gm that our pregen couldn't play, so we had to go and re-muster and play as if generics. This is unacceptable.

In the future I'm sure there can be a better way to communicate, or even label tickets for this to not be an issue.

Onto the teachable GM's. I understand that teachable moments occur, but they shouldn't be in an interactive, or at a pinnacle event.
At the end of the day however, everyone was able to balance issues out, and have a good time. That's what really matters here. I would recommend a GM training seminar at Gen Con.

I'd really enjoy being able to sit in with other qualified four or five star GM's and be able to get pointers, or things to help improve my own GM skillz.

If your Marshall and GM allowed a 7 to play in a 9-11 sub-tier in Cosmic Captive (which was the previous year's special-2016), they were wrong. Tonya herself clarified when I had the 7 try to sit down, that 7's were not allowed to play the 9-11 Sub-tier.

Not sure what more you want labeled on the ticket. The Sub-tier was labeled, and that should be clear enough that a level 7 (pre-gen or not) should not be allowed.

Scarab Sages *****

Disk Elemental wrote:

Props:

2. The colored cards for the specials was much more manageable than the complicated hand gestures from the previous years. Specials are difficult enough, without trying to remember semaphore codes.

I agree. But wanna bust your chops. Cards or hand singles of any sort are technically semaphores.

Dark Archive

Sin of Asmodeus wrote:
Onto the teachable GM's. I understand that teachable moments occur, but they shouldn't be in an interactive, or at a pinnacle event.

Unfortunately, as I understand it, specials are actually the hardest to staff because most of the GM's either want to play it or want to go out and celebrate.

Sin of Asmodeus wrote:
At the end of the day however, everyone was able to balance issues out, and have a good time. That's what really matters here. I would recommend a GM training seminar at Gen Con.

In a perfect world, that could be pretty awesome. Unfortunately, things are so time crunched as is that I have no idea when that could happen.

Sin of Asmodeus wrote:
I'd really enjoy being able to sit in with other qualified four or five star GM's and be able to get pointers, or things to help improve my own GM skillz.

I recommend making friends with them then; most of the GMs are really approachable. Once they like you, get a group of fiends and see if they will pre-muster you.

The Exchange ***** Venture-Captain, Tennessee—East Tenessee

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Sin of Asmodeus wrote:

Need more prepared GMs. Having to explain what energy drain is to two different GMs, and explain how abilities of monsters work is sort of frustrating.

Otherwise, retool the special wording, because not being allowed to have one og the people I came with use a 7 pregen in the special when three of us had 11's really was a bummer.

Sin,

If I remember correctly, a few years ago at a special table of mine you played a character with a animal companion with a shadow drain ability, I eventually handed you a copy of the stat block and had you make the changes each round. A GM in the middle of a session can have a hard time managing stat block changes (all the little minutiae that comes with changing stats every round) and managing the actions of 5 other players and the NPCs that they are personally running while in the middle of a timed event.

Even a 5 star GM is going to have issues managing something like that when they are fatigued and probably hungry and more than a little stressed.

So in that instance, my suggestions would be to have a card to hand to the GM with a brief (1 to 2 or so line) description of the ability and what the stat changes are so that they can reference that. Alternatively, if you don't want to have to explain something like that to the GM perhaps (and no I'm not telling not to play what you want to play) a consideration to a different character while playing in a timed event might be a possibility.

A level 7 should never be allowed in a tier 10-11 special event. I would have suggested that you and your friends join him in the level 7 tier so that he would be able to play.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Concerns have been raised about 'token hoarding'. I raised a concern about community building and campaign relations at the meeting, but just had a sudden burst of insight on the matter and bringing it forward here as a possible suggestion for resolving the concern.

Would it be easier to simply have a log of PFS numbers of people coming up, and then once they hit a given limit, they are 'cut off', as it is logically impossible to gain coins beyond a given point?

If someone DID try to 'game' the system, it'd be really easy to tell.

Example: GenCon had 10 slots.

At initial costs, based on that number one could theoretically have played enough to get five rolls at the boon table. After five rolls on the boon table, that's it for that PFS number for that person in a given year?

Drawback: Doesn't completely eliminate hoards in place, and folks could cash in from previous years/local conventions.

Benefit: With such a limiter in place, there would be less motivation to bring piles of tokens, as the maximum would shut that down.

Scarab Sages *****

BlackOuroboros wrote:


Sin of Asmodeus wrote:
At the end of the day however, everyone was able to balance issues out, and have a good time. That's what really matters here. I would recommend a GM training seminar at Gen Con.

In a perfect world, that could be pretty awesome. Unfortunately, things are so time crunched as is that I have no idea when that could happen.

The GM 101 seminars run by John Compton or Nani Pratt back in 2012 and 2013 were really phenomenal. I sat in as one of the table instructors and judges of the interactive portion, and loved it. While I think GM 101 document is incredibly outdated with some of the things it teaches and assumes, that seminar was really awesome.

Scarab Sages *****

Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Concerns have been raised about 'token hoarding'. I raised a concern about community building and campaign relations at the meeting, but just had a sudden burst of insight on the matter and bringing it forward here as a possible suggestion for resolving the concern.

Would it be easier to simply have a log of PFS numbers of people coming up, and then once they hit a given limit, they are 'cut off', as it is logically impossible to gain coins beyond a given point?

If someone DID try to 'game' the system, it'd be really easy to tell.

Example: GenCon had 10 slots.

At initial costs, based on that number one could theoretically have played enough to get five rolls at the boon table. After five rolls on the boon table, that's it for that PFS number for that person in a given year?

Drawback: Doesn't completely eliminate hoards in place, and folks could cash in from previous years/local conventions.

Benefit: With such a limiter in place, there would be less motivation to bring piles of tokens, as the maximum would shut that down.

But then this stops GMs who don't care about (or are willing to give newbies) boons from giving their tokens to other people. I know that at Gen Con, I have often given my tokens out fairly often. Especially when I'd GM 7 or 9 slots, and that odd token was useless to me.

Sovereign Court **

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Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Be Mindful of the Iconics: The posters of the iconic down on the ground should be put under the relevant in the air. It is only ever a problem the first time you muster at Gencon and only if you can actually see the cut-outs, but it is still kind of annoying.

Update the AR to for the GM boons: This is a minor quibble and given it only affects the volunteers and not our players, this should not be a priority...but it would have been fun to have been able to use my Catfolk during Gencon. That being said, I love the boon choices this year (awoo).

I wasn't aware "token hoarding" was frowned upon. I honestly thought the ability to horde campaign coins all year and dump them at Gencon was a (small) way to incentivize us to make the drive. I was proud of my self-control, and then disappointed and embarrassed when I learned it was "wrong".

Shadow Lodge *****

How people that were supposed to work on the card game without knowing the card game was less than clear. The dead tree scheduel listed me as off for that slot.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

Mitch Mutrux wrote:
Is reporting scenarios done? Both 8-99 and 9-00 are missing from my GM history, but everything else is reported.

9-00 and Season Four of ACG were not available for us in the system while on site. Those sessions are still pending to be reported

The Exchange ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

Wei Ji the Learner wrote:

Concerns have been raised about 'token hoarding'. I raised a concern about community building and campaign relations at the meeting, but just had a sudden burst of insight on the matter and bringing it forward here as a possible suggestion for resolving the concern.

Would it be easier to simply have a log of PFS numbers of people coming up, and then once they hit a given limit, they are 'cut off', as it is logically impossible to gain coins beyond a given point?

If someone DID try to 'game' the system, it'd be really easy to tell.

Example: GenCon had 10 slots.

At initial costs, based on that number one could theoretically have played enough to get five rolls at the boon table. After five rolls on the boon table, that's it for that PFS number for that person in a given year?

Drawback: Doesn't completely eliminate hoards in place, and folks could cash in from previous years/local conventions.

Benefit: With such a limiter in place, there would be less motivation to bring piles of tokens, as the maximum would shut that down.

You are missing a major drawback: the added administrative burden this places on the prize table staff. That line gets long at times.

And I can still see ways to game the system. I'll just give you someone else's PFS number. You need my card? I didn't bring it. What kind of $*%# is this?! I just played the game over there!

I just don't see what problem this is solving. The only people who are (legitimately) affected by the change are those who ended up with an odd number of tokens at one year's GenCon.

The Exchange ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

Generic ticket lines:

I know GenCon doesn't allow us to do this in the hallway but could we put some of those retractable queue rope things near the muster stations inside the Sagamore? It would only take a couple to keep the front of the line obvious and orderly, after which it becomes somewhat self-policing as people say "the line starts back there."

The Exchange ***** Venture-Captain, Tennessee—East Tenessee

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Kevin Willis wrote:

Generic ticket lines:

I know GenCon doesn't allow us to do this in the hallway but could we put some of those retractable queue rope things near the muster stations? It would only take a couple to keep the front of the line obvious and orderly, after which it becomes somewhat self-policing as people say "the line starts back there."

I think the problem is, juggling the space we want inside for gaming tables vs. the hall space gencon will let us use before they say something ... with the current configuration; putting anything more in the marshal area would (in my opinion) create more of a hazard as then you have something solid to have to navigate around vs soft gamers to bump into

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kevin Willis wrote:


I just don't see what problem this is solving. The only people who are (legitimately) affected by the change are those who ended up with an odd number of tokens at one year's GenCon.

I've been playing PFS (apparently correctly) for four years, starting at GenCon 2014. Two of those years, I ended up with an odd token that I just kept for the following year. One of those years, I ended up giving the extra tokens I earned over the weekend to someone else because there was no good way for me to make it to the prize booth due to my scheduling.

I didn't focus on the tokens, and I know there was a *goodly* chunk of people that were not able to make it out to GenCon this year (the badges were completely sold out) that did.

There needs to be a positive community-building way to reward folks who spent time and effort to either volunteer or play in PFS/SFS/ACG/PSA events that were not able to make the trip this year.

Announcing halfway through the convention that tokens from previous years would no longer be allowed is not community building.

Reducing the 'price' of prizes after a good chunk of folks expedited their token turn-in is a slap to the face of those folks who were conscientious and respectful in their timing.

Does the system need examination? No doubt.

However, at the same time, it probably shouldn't be punitive, but progressive.

Speaking of progressive:

HUGE MAJOR KUDOS to the Auction Process this year.

***

Sin of Asmodeus wrote:
Tallow wrote:
Sin of Asmodeus wrote:

Need more prepared GMs. Having to explain what energy drain is to two different GMs, and explain how abilities of monsters work is sort of frustrating.

Otherwise, retool the special wording, because not being allowed to have one og the people I came with use a 7 pregen in the special when three of us had 11's really was a bummer.

I had someone try to play a level 7 pregen at my 9-11 table of Cosmic Captive last year (2016). I refused them, because the table was already a fairly weak 9-11 (with 3 9's, a 10, and an 11) with a poor party composition. I didn't want to TPK the table because the 7 was there.

So this is a request I would not support. However, making sure people know that would be a great idea.

The only issue with that is, we had three other 11's that are not weak.

The previous year special allowed a 7 pregen to play with us at 10-11 tier. The sudden change with no notification is what was the issue. We were seated and told by the Gm that our pregen couldn't play, so we had to go and re-muster and play as if generics. This is unacceptable.

In the future I'm sure there can be a better way to communicate, or even label tickets for this to not be an issue.

Onto the teachable GM's. I understand that teachable moments occur, but they shouldn't be in an interactive, or at a pinnacle event.
At the end of the day however, everyone was able to balance issues out, and have a good time. That's what really matters here. I would recommend a GM training seminar at Gen Con.

I'd really enjoy being able to sit in with other qualified four or five star GM's and be able to get pointers, or things to help improve my own GM skillz.

Here is the text the long description on both 9-00 and 8-99 Tier 9-11 tickets from the GenCon Event list:

Tier 10-11 Special Description wrote:
**No pregenerated characters available. You must have a level 9, 10, or 11 character to play in this event.**

Scarab Sages *****

Swiftbrook wrote:
Sin of Asmodeus wrote:
Tallow wrote:
Sin of Asmodeus wrote:

Need more prepared GMs. Having to explain what energy drain is to two different GMs, and explain how abilities of monsters work is sort of frustrating.

Otherwise, retool the special wording, because not being allowed to have one og the people I came with use a 7 pregen in the special when three of us had 11's really was a bummer.

I had someone try to play a level 7 pregen at my 9-11 table of Cosmic Captive last year (2016). I refused them, because the table was already a fairly weak 9-11 (with 3 9's, a 10, and an 11) with a poor party composition. I didn't want to TPK the table because the 7 was there.

So this is a request I would not support. However, making sure people know that would be a great idea.

The only issue with that is, we had three other 11's that are not weak.

The previous year special allowed a 7 pregen to play with us at 10-11 tier. The sudden change with no notification is what was the issue. We were seated and told by the Gm that our pregen couldn't play, so we had to go and re-muster and play as if generics. This is unacceptable.

In the future I'm sure there can be a better way to communicate, or even label tickets for this to not be an issue.

Onto the teachable GM's. I understand that teachable moments occur, but they shouldn't be in an interactive, or at a pinnacle event.
At the end of the day however, everyone was able to balance issues out, and have a good time. That's what really matters here. I would recommend a GM training seminar at Gen Con.

I'd really enjoy being able to sit in with other qualified four or five star GM's and be able to get pointers, or things to help improve my own GM skillz.

Here is the text the long description on both 9-00 and 8-99 Tier 9-11 tickets from the GenCon Event list:

Tier 10-11 Special Description wrote:
**No pregenerated characters available. You must have a level 9, 10, or 11 character to play in this...

Huh! Well look at that. What more can they do then? Put it in the title of the event?

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Tallow wrote:
level 7 pregen at my 9-11 table

With the language in the Guide and the inclusiveness of our community, it is quite possible that a level 7 pregen could appear at a table of 10-11 or 5-6 for a special event at Gen Con. The marshals do not have the ability to value the strength/weaknesses of the party make up whether that be class choices or level disparity, nor do they have the time to re-seat multiple players to accommodate those issues. In an event such as the Friday night special, some players will be seated to the "best available" seat and not always to the "best" seat.

Shadow Lodge *****

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No overnight and then 8 am slots.

When you have 3 regular slots in a row, and one of the slots end, you can use that hour to go get food, lie down and read another scenario , go back to your room etc.

When your slot ends at 5 am, nothing is open. Your roomates are asleep (i don't know WHAT i made my "coffee" out of in the dark but if i could re create the recipe walter white might be interested) and lying down for "just a minute" means you wake up noonish.

Definitely need a coffee maker set up for the overnight dms. I regret not shelling out for a thermos, bringing it in the pot to share didn't work.

Names on the bottoms of the banners. I'm a big fan of wayne reynolds work but not so into feet that i can identify which iconic i'm looking at from the shin down.

Shadow Lodge *****

Bob Jonquet wrote:
Tallow wrote:
level 7 pregen at my 9-11 table
With the language in the Guide and the inclusiveness of our community, it is quite possible that a level 7 pregen could appear at a table of 10-11 or 5-6 for a special event at Gen Con. The marshals do not have the ability to value the strength/weaknesses of the party make up whether that be class choices or level disparity, nor do they have the time to re-seat multiple players to accommodate those issues. In an event such as the Friday night special, some players will be seated to the "best available" seat and not always to the "best" seat.

had that happen last year. We rechristened Valeros "Snack"

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

Sin of Asmodeus wrote:
I would recommend a GM training seminar at Gen Con

When would we do that? Wednesday? During the con? It would require even more volunteers than we have now which was not enough going into the event this year. IMO, GM training is better handled on the local level over time. You just do not learn a lot crammed into a 4-5 hour session. It is an evolutionary process. The best way to make better GMs is to provide feedback and GM...A LOT.

Scarab Sages *****

Bob Jonquet wrote:
Tallow wrote:
level 7 pregen at my 9-11 table
With the language in the Guide and the inclusiveness of our community, it is quite possible that a level 7 pregen could appear at a table of 10-11 or 5-6 for a special event at Gen Con. The marshals do not have the ability to value the strength/weaknesses of the party make up whether that be class choices or level disparity, nor do they have the time to re-seat multiple players to accommodate those issues. In an event such as the Friday night special, some players will be seated to the "best available" seat and not always to the "best" seat.

Gen Con ticket info says otherwise. And Tonya said otherwise on site.

The Exchange ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

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Bob Jonquet wrote:
Sin of Asmodeus wrote:
I would recommend a GM training seminar at Gen Con
When would we do that? Wednesday? During the con? It would require even more volunteers than we have now which was not enough going into the event this year. IMO, GM training is better handled on the local level over time. You just do not learn a lot crammed into a 4-5 hour session. It is an evolutionary process. The best way to make better GMs is to provide feedback and GM...A LOT.

I think the idea of an updated GM101 (as an optional seminar; not required training) is a good one.

Having said that: I sat down to play 9-00 completely cold (Tier 3-4). Didn't know the GM, didn't know any of the other players. None of them were near as experienced as me and a couple of players weren't sure how certain class features worked (handle animal in particular comes to mind). So we fell into a certain rhythm where I would answer player mechanics questions so the GM could focus on running an exciting game. The GM leaned over a couple of times to ask me questions as well. "What happens if you get trampled?" But mostly I just sat back and experienced the cool story and challenges.

I enjoyed that table very much even though my GM wasn't (yet) a Superstar. As long as you don't try to take over the table most GMs will appreciate having a 4- or 5- star there to lean on and learn from.

Liberty's Edge *****

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Honestly, I have to admit to being a little boggled by how long the discussion at the post-mortem meeting, and how many posts in this thread, has been given to figuring out what to do with previous years' tokens. Just say, "old tokens are no longer good", and leave it at that. Make the change, and make the change clean. It's the easiest and simplest thing to do. Some people will be upset, but they'll get over it in a half-hour. Honestly, if people have a couple of odd tokens left over from the previous year, and now they don't get a boon, it's really just not that big of a deal.

My feedback on GenCon follows. This was my first time at GenCon, and I was a Tier-1 GM. I've been at the last 5 PaizoCons.

Mustering worked really well from a GM perspective. It seemed to be more efficient and cleaner than it has been at PaizoCon, although PaizoCon has gotten better each year. I liked being able to sit at the same table if I was running all day. (I was lucky: the one day that I had three-in-a-row scheduled, the middle table didn't make. It was the only one of my eight that didn't make.)

The Post-Mortem Meeting didn't work very well. Too many people had too many long monologues. We could have gotten to a lot more topics if topics had been cut off earlier, and if everybody (somehow) realized that rapidfire feedback was what was needed here, not long discussions.

Players were all great. I had fun with all of my tables. I've heard convention horror stories, but honestly in many PaizoCons, and now one GenCon, I've only ever had a few mildly annoying, and one extremely annoying, player. (Ironically, the extremely annoying player was a VC.) The vast majority are fun to play with and great players, regardless of their experience level.

Tonya should get a pay raise.

Acoustics were a problem. Monday morning, I did not understand a single announcement from HQ. I don't know if it was where I was sitting, the smaller number of people in the room, or what, but every announcement sounded like garbled "wah wah" noises from Peanuts adults, rather than words that I could make out. I hope none of them applied to me.... Nobody at my table could understand them, so this wasn't just me. Things were better on the first three days, but clarity, enunciation, and making sure the AV system doesn't blur things out is pretty important.

Syrinscape should be less used. It's great to have the fanfare before a full-room announcement during a special, because it gives people time to focus. Otherwise, Syrinscape only added background noise to an already-noisy room. The room was too noisy with voices to actually hear any of it, and the result was equivalent of the background-noise increasing annoyance of somebody listening to overload music muffled through a closed door.

Voices Also, it was nice to have different voices for different characters but... well, I sort of hate to say this, because it's kind of snarky, but some of the voices were a little cheesy. I don't know if that was people hamming it up, or if it was voice filters applied via software. But, the result was that a lot of them (e.g. Ambrus Valsin's voice) came out sounding like overacting in bad video game cutscenes. There are a number of us who have been amateur actors and the like. Perhaps audition some people and have them record dialog ahead of time to use? That way you can get different voices, but they don't have to be so extreme and cheesy. (I know this is a lot of work. I would hesitantly volunteer to take charge of it....)

Breaks during specials were great, but too short. Lines at bathrooms were long. I'd figured out where another one that wouldn't have lines was, but literally I would run to it, take a leak, and run back, and return breathless just as the next overseer GM speech was beginning. 10-minute rather than 5-minute breaks would be nice. Also, there should be a 1-minute warning before the end of the break, rather than having it just end, so that people milling about realize that they need to get back to their table.

Orange Shirts were by and large great. They would patiently tell me what I'd done wrong each time I turned in a reporting sheet, even though I'm a 5-star GM and really ought to know how to do that by now.... They stood on chairs and relayed signals all throughout the special (I had to think how their legs felt at the end of that), they mustered tables for us, and by and large they were patient and helpful. They brought us much-needed water. Thank you, guys! At the post-mortem meeting, one of the GMs said that marshals were mean to GMs; I didn't see any of this myself, and was surprised to hear somebody say that. HQ etc. staff by and large were reasonable and patient with all of us clueless GMs. There were one or two exceptions, but they were outliers, and I don't think it appropriate to talk about them in a public forum.

Specials: I have thoughts about how specials are structured that I will write elsewhere. Suffice to say that in both specials, my tables suffered encounteris interruptis; my second table were all feeling frustrated (myself included) as it happend to 70% of the encounters we started. I heard a few other GMs griping about the same thing in the elevator up to hotel rooms, some of them saying that they would never run a special again because it was too frustrating.

Feedback about GMs is important, but. I'm very nervous of any kind of 1-10 rating system. Part of this is being a professor and having to live on student evaluations... even though student evaluations have been shown not to correlate with how good the teaching was, and that they have various other problems. College rankings such as what US News & World Report may seem to provide information, but have done more damage than good. The feedback you're supposed to give to phone vendors and car salesmen and such is also a crock and a social problem, and I would hate to see that dysfunction imported into PFS. Before any kind of system like this is implemented, let's make sure to do it thoughtfully. People are in love with metrics because it seems like they're measuring how good things are going, but metrics often do more harm than good, as they measure things easy to measure rather than what you want to measure, and drive people to meeting metrics rather than to doing the right thing.

Figuring out all the scheduling before the Con sounds like an interesting optimization problem. How do you guys do it? Given that you described a spreadsheet, I'm guessing this was all done by hand.... It would be interesting to come up with a system where you could specify constraints (e.g. level range and specific scenario requests, number of different scenarios (few or willing to do many), special vs. non special, non-sequential), and then do an algorithmic optimization to maximize happiness. You could even try to mix in hotel room assignment with this. When there is the inevitable GM dropout and last-minute GM replacement, you can add constraints that make it very non-optimal to change the scenario assignment of previous GMs, and rerun the optimization.

Shadow Lodge *****

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Were the stickers new? I don't recall them

Assuming they even get to the table, handing me something the size of my thumbnail at the start of a game is a good way to see it vanish into the void of left socks, marker caps, and that 10th d6 in the set. If it's supposed to be recording something I have no idea what because i couldn't read the things after one sweaty thumbprint.

Shadow Lodge *****

Second (third?) the background noise. Everyone starts trying to yell over it which means you have to yell over everyone which means someone cranks up the background noise which you have to yell over which...

The Exchange ***** Venture-Captain, Tennessee—East Tenessee

BigNorseWolf wrote:

Were the stickers new? I don't recall them

Assuming they even get to the table, handing me something the size of my thumbnail at the start of a game is a good way to see it vanish into the void of left socks, marker caps, and that 10th d6 in the set. If it's supposed to be recording something I have no idea what because i couldn't read the things after one sweaty thumbprint.

They were new this year ... it makes it so that if we as marshals didn't do our job when collecting tickets at the table (i.e. make sure there were enough of them) then it's easy to go back to the table and see if we can figure out where the ticket snafu happened.

I started telling the players to remind the GM not to lose the sticker (since it's small) so that the GM would be reminded that the sticker was there and might have a better shot of keeping it instead of losing it under the multitude of papers.

Shadow Lodge *****

Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


HUGE MAJOR KUDOS to the Auction Process this year.

How did that work this year that was different than just paying lots of money? I just saw "auction" and a few laminated? Boons. Was it that there were more boons available so some of them might go for lower prices?

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

Tallow wrote:
Gen Con ticket info says otherwise. And Tonya said otherwise on site.

Regardless, it happened at Gen Con this year, so unless there is a change in the policy of inclusiveness between now and next Gen Con, expect it to continue.

Scarab Sages *****

Bob Jonquet wrote:
Tallow wrote:
Gen Con ticket info says otherwise. And Tonya said otherwise on site.
Regardless, it happened at Gen Con this year, so unless there is a change in the policy of inclusiveness between now and next Gen Con, expect it to continue.

What? Expect people to not read event information and then complain there wasn't any info? Or expect the policy for Gen Con to change and allow level 7 pregens in a 9 to 11?

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

Tallow wrote:
What? Expect people to not read event information and then complain there wasn't any info? Or expect the policy for Gen Con to change and allow level 7 pregens in a 9 to 11?

Well, considering we took pregen 7s both last year and this year that were seated at 10-11 tables, regardless of what was printed in the catalog, it wouldn't be considered a change. The breakdown is in the communication. Until we are prepared to turn away players from vacant seats because they will be playing a level 7 at 10-11, the practice will continue. I'm not saying this practice is necessarily the best for everyone involved, but denying a player a seat at a table that is legal for them to play at may not be the best answer either.

Dark Archive

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BigNorseWolf wrote:


How did that work this year that was different than just paying lots of money? I just saw "auction" and a few laminated? Boons. Was it that there were more boons available so some of them might go for lower prices?

1. The auction bids were 'closed envelope'. This removed any personal factors or animosity from the bidding, it became a contest against the 'hard number' posted after each slot.

2. There was also a 'supplemental auction drawing' from those who put bids in but were not the top bid. This neatly and simply addressed the other concern of accessibility for lower bids.

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