A Call to Vol II—Gen Con 2018!

Wednesday, January 17, 2017

I just finished attending MarsCon in Williamsburg, Virginia, and am making my way back to Seattle. An unexpected snowstorm kept me in Atlanta a bit longer than I planned, but piloting skill and no ice meant the plane flew today and I made it safely to Seattle this afternoon.

This weekend, badges for Gen Con went on sale. We sent the message out that our volunteer call would go live on Wednesday. So here it is! As the program continues to grow and evolve, we make changes from year to year to streamline processes and help the convention run smoothly. With over 300 volunteers and around 1700 tables of organized play games running, Gen Con is easily our largest event. This means even more attention on processes and efficiency. The changes below are the same adjustments we made to PaizoCon and are aimed at bringing all the large conventions into the same logistical umbrella.

First, we changed the nomenclature from session or slot to block. Each block is 5 hours. This unifies the terminology from the event support form used by our event organizers and keeps things consistent across the board.

Second, we ditched using the Tier system to describe how many volunteers. It is a RPGA holdover that caused confusion, as the lower number the tier, the more slots a person volunteered. Also, we have tiers for our scenarios, so having tiers for volunteers caused some confusion in our data. This year, you register for the number of 5-hour blocks you wish to volunteer.

Third, we are setting an 9-block maximum for volunteering, with the goal that no volunteer will do more than 8 blocks and that no one will be scheduled for more than 3 in a row. A full day is hard (been there, done that) and we want people to take breaks to sleep, eat, bathe, and see what the convention has to offer. This is really, really important, no matter how much of a GM/HQ machine you want to be!

Fourth, it is my understanding that the hotel lottery and badge refunds changed this year. I submitted our badge request and should be able to drop them into volunteer accounts as soon as we send out the acceptance letter and have an acknowledging email in reply. This should allow volunteers signing up for less than 8-blocks to submit their names for the hotel lottery, which occurs in February.

Fifth, we are looking at ways to streamline our processes and reduce the number of HQ personnel. In the interest of efficiency, we also are looking for volunteers willing to commit to 7 and 8 blocks. Anyone may volunteer for a HQ position, but I want to be forthright about the limitations of the position from the beginning.

Finally, we are looking to schedule tables bottom up, instead of top down. By starting off with a few tables of each scenario, then increasing based on ticket sales; we should be better poised to respond to player demand. Hopefully, this means that we will have fewer tables fail to make and fewer GMs released. Volunteers will have their block schedules before event registration opens, but may not have scenario list until late June/early July. We are still committed to getting scenarios into GMs hands at least 2 weeks before Gen Con starts. While this split schedule means more emails and paperwork, it should mean fewer changes at the last minute. Hopefully, a more streamlined system all around and more efficient use of our GM pool.

Block times:

BlockRPG/ACG GMsHQ
Thursday Morning7:30 AM to 1:00 PM7:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Thursday Afternoon1:30 PM to 7:00 PM1:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Thursday Evening7:30 PM to 1:00 AM7:00 PM to 1:00 AM
Friday Overnight1:00 AM to 7:00 AM1:00 AM to 7:00 AM
Friday Morning7:30 AM to 1:00 PM7:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Friday Afternoon1:30 PM to 7:00 PM1:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Friday Evening7:30 PM to 1:00 AM7:00 PM to 1:00 AM
Saturday Overnight1:30 AM to 7:00 AM1:00 AM to 7:00 AM
Saturday Morning7:30 AM to 1:00 PM7:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Saturday Afternoon1:30 PM to 7:00 PM1:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Saturday Evening7:30 PM to 1:00 AM7:00 PM to 1:00 AM
Sunday Overnight1:30 AM to 7:00 AM1:00 AM to 7:00 AM
Sunday Morning8:30 AM to 2:00 PM8:00 AM to 2:00 PM

We base benefits on how many blocks a volunteer commits to working. The chart below illustrates the breakdown:

Block CommitmentHotelPrint ProductBadgeT-ShirtsBoon/RewardStore Credit
8 BlocksChoice of 3
7 BlocksChoice of 3
6 BlocksChoice of 2
5 BlocksChoice of 1
4 BlocksChoice of 1
3 BlocksChoice of 1
2 Blocks
1 Block

The details of each benefit are as follows:

  • Room—One-quarter of a double room. Volunteers may indicate their roommates preferences when completing the questionnaire.
  • Badge—A free 4-Day Gen Con 2018 badge
  • Print Product—A FREE copy of one Paizo print product. Offerings are TBD, but will include at least one Starfinder and one Pathfinder title.
  • T-Shirts—Limited release t-shirts (purple for GMs and orange for support staff) given every other year.
  • Store Credit—Paizo.com store credit at $10 per slot
  • Boon/Reward—A Gen Con exclusive boon/reward for Starfinder (RPG), Pathfinder (RPG), or Pathfinder (ACG).

Those interested in volunteering, please complete the Gen Con 2018 volunteer questionnaire. The leads and I will consider everyone who completes the form, but reserve the right to select volunteers who have worked at Gen Con in prior years. When you complete the form, please read all the question descriptions, as they give details for what information we need to place volunteers where they are best suited.

If you have questions, please put them in the comments section of the questionnaire or email them to GenConLeads@gmail.com. Also, if you are willing to help with cleanup Sunday afternoon after the GM meeting (usually 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM), please indicate your availability in the comments section of the questionnaire. Volunteers assisting with cleanup will receive pizza for dinner, one additional block of store credit, and potentially other goodies.

Huge thanks to everyone who gives of their time and resources to help make us the largest organized play program in the world. We couldn’t do it without you!!! You are simply the best volunteer team out there and it is my greatest pleasure to work with all of you!

Until our next blog—Explore, Report, Cooperate!

Tonya Woldridge

Organized Play Manager

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Tags: Adventure Card Guild Conventions Gen Con 2018 Organized Play Pathfinder Society Starfinder Society
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Shadow Lodge *****

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Mark Stratton wrote:
And then maybe we can all get back to preparing for Gen Con, and not this side show.

I have stacks of laminated maps here for GenCon and I'm not even going.

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

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TOZ wrote:
...and I'm not even going.

There’s still time. Fill out the questionnaire and you’ll have a schedule by breakfast. ;-P

***

Bob Jonquet wrote:
TOZ wrote:
...and I'm not even going.
There’s still time. Fill out the questionnaire and you’ll have a schedule by breakfast. ;-P

Open schedule GM blocks, looks like yes. Open hotel spots?

Grand Lodge ***** ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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The last I heard, there were still open hotel spots. Obviously, you would want to confirmation from the Grand Schedule Master, Bob Jonquet, himself, but you could send in an application with a comment in the notes field explaining that you can only volunteer if you have a room in which to stay...

Swiftbrook, come! Join us, the few, the proud, the utterly insane GenCon GMs!

Hmm

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

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Swiftbrook wrote:
Open schedule GM blocks, looks like yes. Open hotel spots?

Yes, there are open hotel spots at this time, but they are running short. Also, due to the time it takes to process a volunteer, get a badge, hotel reservations, drop scenarios, etc. we will be closing down the opportunity to register as a volunteer sometime on Friday afternoon. After that it would be too late for us to coordinate the necessary protocols. If you or someone you know has been waiting until the very last minute to volunteer, we encourage you to get your questionnaire submitted ASAP.

Gen Con has announced that four-day badges and Saturday (single-day) badges will sell out some time this week and they will not be available on site. They will have a small amount of single-day passes for Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. So, if you plan to attend and have not yet done so, better buy your badge ASAP.

***

Query: if someone found out they were going to GenCon an hour ago, and isn't sure how much of a volunteer commitment they are up for, is it better to submit a form now and then seek to add more later if they feel confident in availability/prep, or wait until Friday to submit?

(Not sure what is best from your side of the planning/ticketing process. Can do 1-99 and will start prepping after sleep; might be able to do another 2 scenarios but can't commit yet.)

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

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Doing it all at once is preferred. The more times we have to change the details of a volunteer’s schedule the more opportunity to introduce errors. I’m not sure what you mean by later, but understand that Gen Con is just over a week away and we’ll be shutting down the questionnaire app sometime Friday afternoon. If you plan to volunteer, you need to finalize your parameters and get the questionnaire completed ASAP.

***

Thanks, and noted. I think it's best if I stay on the sidelines this year: don't want to rush in unprepared.

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

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All missing scenario notifications have been processed. At this time, as far as we know, all volunteers have all the materials needed to run their events, except the full version of the Playtest Rulebook PDF, which should be distributed some time today to those tasked with GMing Playtest scenarios.

If you are missing anything, be sure to notify the organizing committee email ASAP. After close of business tomorrow it is likely you would have to purchase any missing scenarios for yourself as Paizo customer service and the organizing committee will be in the process of relocating to Indianapolis.

Paizo Employee Customer Service & Community Manager

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I removed a string of off-topic arguing. The a blog post's discussion thread isn't the place for the question that was asked and it certainly isn't the place to start arguing with and insulting each other.

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

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Well, that’s another Gen Con for the history books. I’ll have some more information once I get home and crunch the numbers but we sat A LOT of tables. More than I was expecting given the limited GMs. The volunteer staff did an outstanding job dispite some difficult circumstances. I hope everyone had a great time. Now to get a little rest before we start working on preliminary plans for Gen Con 2019.

Grand Lodge *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Diego aka Michael_Hopkins

I can say that the demo for the Playtest sat about 108 tables during the convention, so I deem that a success! Thanks to all the table GMs for helping keep it all running smoothly!

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

Reminder to all who attended Gen Con. Please tell us about your experience. If there was something that worked really well or failed miserably, please send us an email describing your experience. If a GM did a great job, please let us know. If they were not prepared, please let us know.

For the first time, we had feedback cards available at the Info Desk and a number of attendees took advantage of it to give us feedback on their experience. I look forward to reading through those over the next few weeks and perhaps providing some "attaboys" to some volunteers.

genconleads@gmail.com

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

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The Charity Auction generated over $5800 dollars for the two sponsored charities! We believe this to be our most successful Gen Con auction. Thank you all for your generous donations!

For those interested in more details...

Spoiler:

The charity auction included some really exciting rewards this year:
    Starfinder Armory, signed by the Paizo staff. The winning bid $150 by Andrew Zambrzycki
    Pathfinder Playtest Collector's Edition signed by Paizo staff. Winning bid was $250 by Del Collins
    Custom Dice Bag with Embroidered Sigil of the Open road. Winning bid was $90 by Troy Stevens
    (PFS) Boon #1 “Arboreal Trickster” (monkey goblin race boon). Winning bid was $200 by Chris Nieporte
    (PFS) Boon #2 “Born of Sekamina” (drow elf race boon). Winning bid was $611 by Jennifer Scott
    (PFS) Boon #3 “Devil’s Perch Survivor” (strix race boon). Winning bid was $225 by Chris Nieporte and Cody Kloth (Tie)
    (PFS) Boon #4 “Temporal Anomaly” (resurrect a previously dead PC). Winning bid was $118 by Joe Bouchard
    (PFS) Boon #5 “Wild Magic Wielder” (primalist wizard, progenitor druid, or spellscar oracle archytpe). Winning bid was $250 by Daniel Knipfer
    (SFS) Boon #6 “Endiffian Heritage” (endiffian race boon). Winning bid was $400 by David Li
    (SFS) Boon #7 “Selamid Heritage” (selamid race boon). Winning bid was $525 by Sean Goldman
    (SFS) Boon #8 “Lost Starship: The Roheas” (unique starship slot boon). Winning bid was $501 by Chris Peterson

One thing we did differently this year was a second chance auction for the boons. Anyone who participated in the auction for an item, but failed to be the highest bidder could also win the boon by matching the high bidders offer. This resulted in five second chance offers that generated over $2000 in additional donations for the charity.

The Exchange * ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent aka Shaudius

Thanks for a great charity auction, I really appreciated the second chance opportunity. Here's to even more money going to worthy charities next year.

**

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Second Chance/Matching Bid:
I thought that was a great addition! While I didn't make use of it this year--I was tempted--I would certainly do so if I had lost a bid on an intriguing boon in future auctions.

P.S. Thank you for your work in fund raising for these charities.

*

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think the second chance (this year) was the *best* compromise one could come up with for fairness and inclusion -- I did not feel 'cut out' by the high bids knowing that if I still wanted to contribute, I *could*.

I'll have a far more cohesive feedback/analysis once I've had some time to sleep and recharge... 9/8 slots GM'd really took it out of me.

Mad props to the other folks who stood up on Saturday afternoon when things were looking grim and offered to GM Starfinder tables.

***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northeast aka Shivok

Great Job on the Second Chance/Matching Bid addition.

I know there are at least 3 Drow and 3 Strix out there getting their Wayfinders.

What were the other 2 extra bids from the 5?

The Exchange * ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent aka Shaudius

June Soler wrote:


What were the other 2 extra bids from the 5?

My match of the Endiffian is one of them.

**** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Southcoast aka JDDyslexia

I expected matches on the resurrect boon.

And ho boy I *really* considered matching for a drow.

*

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Joe Bouchard wrote:

I expected matches on the resurrect boon.

And ho boy I *really* considered matching for a drow.

I was torn between that one and the Strix.

Wings won out.

Sovereign Court **** ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Georgia—Atlanta aka The Masked Ferret

1 person marked this as a favorite.

lol... really? ;)

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