September Update—Gen Con Recap, Spotlights and Conventions!!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Gen Con Recap

Per our post-con tradition, the team wrote paragraphs about the highlights of their Gen Con attendance. Some pesky goblins got in the wiring and disrupted our postings for a few weeks, which led to us not sharing our experiences. Even though we are a month past Gen Con, we wanted to take a moment and share what we thought of Gen Con 2018! For my part, one of my favorite things about Gen Con involves the building of the Sagamore. We start Monday morning with an empty room and by early Thursday morning turn it into one of the most happening locations at the convention. With over 1000 games running 24/7, the room never sleeps! Thank you to all the volunteers who make such an endeavor possible!!!! We couldn't do it without you and you enrich the Pathfinder Society/Starfinder Society with your contribution of energy and effort.

To keep the blog a manageable length, I considered editing down the posts. But choosing what to take out proved impossible (hats off to our developers and editors, as I don't know how they decide what stays in a manuscript. It's harder than it looks!) Instead, I tucked them behind spoiler tags. Here, for your reading pleasure:


Gen Con is always a whirlwind. I feel like I'm running constantly, trying to catch a few minutes to talk to as many of the wonderful people in our Organized Play community as I can. It's gotten to the point where I don't even have time to find everyone that I remember fondly from previous years.

My first year at Gen Con was 2009, which was also my first experience with Pathfinder Society. That year was followed by several more, in which I spent increasing amounts of time in the Sagamore Ballroom, eventually trying my hand at convention GMing and HQ. I met Tonya in the Sagamore in 2014, as one of the Tier 1 HQ volunteers. I remember getting so absorbed in the energy of the room that I forgot to eat, and the way Tonya reacted when I told her I'd skipped a meal. For the rest of the show, Tonya regularly checked in on me, and kept putting snacks between me and whatever I was working on. I joined Paizo the following year. It's worth noting that when Tonya came on board as well, she checked on me in the same way she had at Gen Con, this time with homemade goodies.

Gen Con as a Paizo employee is certainly different from Gen Con as a fan. First off, there's the Venture-Captain dinner on Wednesday night, a chance to share a meal and catch up with some of the most dedicated volunteers. This year, my flight to Indy was delayed, but I was glad to make it in time to merely be fashionably late to the event. After that, I got a chance to talk with Thursty in person, proving that he is not a figment of text and video calls on John's tablet. We wandered over to the Sagamore to help out with the final stages of setup before the first morning of the show. The energy on the first day of GenCon is incredible. Standing inside the Paizo booth waiting for the doors to open, I can feel the crowds massing on the other side of the door, and the exhibitors bracing themselves. Sometimes I play the music from the Battle of Helm's Deep in my head in this moment. And then the doors swing open, and the show begins.

While I enjoy working in the booth, I spend as much time in the Sagamore as I can. The highlight of this year for me was overseeing #10-00: The Hao Jin Cataclysm. I'd been working on that scenario for months, along with about a dozen other people that it took to pull all of this together: authors, artists, voice actors, Syrinscape folks, and members of the tech, art, editing, website, and marketing teams. Thank you to everyone who helped make the special a success, both those who helped create it and the volunteers who brought it to life.

In addition to time in the booth and the Sagamore, I also got the chance to participate in a few panels: one about secrets of Golarion, one about adventure design and one about what's coming next for the Adventure Card Game. If you're interested in hearing what we said, or listening to any of the other panels Paizo offered at Gen Con, head over to I'm looking forward to seeing many of you at Gen Con again next year!


This year's Gen Con was one for the history books! Getting to see the first Starfinder Society interactive scenario run in the Sagamore ballroom is certainly an item to check off my bucket list. The best memory from the convention is an amalgam of all the stories I got to her from Starfinder Society players. Starfinder Society launched the previous year at Gen Con, and getting the opportunity to hear from players from across the world about the impact of the game was something that deeply moved me. As with most conventions, Gen Con 2018 sure did recharge my batteries (as one would expect between scenarios!)


This year's Gen Con was among the smoothest I've been a part of. The growing organized play developer team handled the huge number of scenarios well, and the three different specials all proceeded smoothly. This last point was true in part because each multi-table interactive special was in a different developer's hands—a huge boon considering how much effort each of those takes to pull together. The Hao Jin Cataclysm, which debuted that weekend, was especially spectacular thanks to the pre-recorded voice talents of Jason Keeley (Aram Zey) and Samantha Phelan (narrator). Down at the Paizo booth, setup proceeded more cleanly than ever, and I had the pleasure of meeting many of you either as you stopped by to pick up your playtest materials or when I wandered around the Sagamore Ballroom to check out the action. For all of the good times, this Gen Con was my first in memory where I felt an impending illness by the end of the convention, so if I was a little scatterbrained when talking to you on the last two days, I was probably also a little fuzzy from managing my health. My biggest regret? Gen Con's such a big, busy production that I rarely get a chance to actually play the game I work on, so I appreciate getting to run the occasional demo that weekend and hearing about your experiences.


Gen Con 2018 was a really exciting convention for me on a few fronts. Growing up in Alaska, I never made it to conventions that weren't on the west coast, so this was actually my first Gen Con. While working the Paizo booth left me wishing I had more time to go check out all the other awesome booths and products in the show, it also gave me a lot of opportunities to interact with our customers one-on-one and get to hear what they thought of our various products, including the new Pathfinder Playtest. Getting to talk to people face-to-face about the things they liked and didn't like was a great learning experience, and it gave me an opportunity to share my own insights and experiences, both as Paizo's newest developer and as someone who came to Paizo after working as a designer in the 3pp market for classic Pathfinder.

I also got to check out the Sagamore Ballroom, where the organized play events were happening, and wow! I don't know think I've ever seen that many people playing Pathfinder in one place at one time. It was a particularly cool experience because I'd been the developer on many of the featured scenarios, and I had a few opportunities to meander through the room and watch people playing the adventures I'd worked on. I don't know that there's any experience quite like hearing people I had never met before tell me what a great time they had in an encounter I developed, or hearing a GM relay their experiences with an adventure I worked on. It was both humbling and gratifying, and I'm so grateful to Paizo and all of the organized play volunteers whose efforts allowed it to happen.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't thank Linda Zayas-Palmer and Ron Lundeen for the awesome Adventure Design panel we ran! From talking about pro tips and pitfalls of designing adventures to actually brainstorming an adventure with the audience, that was a serious highlight of the convention for me. I'm not sure if the audience was swept up in the moment or if they were testing our ability to roll with some wild ideas, but I'd actually love to sit down and write up our brainstormed adventure about high-level heroes recovering a castle made of soul-imprisoning ice from the depths of Hell (nicknamed "Castle H-ice-t" by me and pretty much nobody else.)

Campaign Coin

I actually stayed in the same place for three weeks, which meant no convention visits for me and no new campaign coin recipients!

If you know a deserving member of your community, please email me at with their name, location, and the reasons you feel they should be recognized for their service. If you are able, please include what events they may attend in 2018. This is especially helpful if they will be at an event with a member of the organized play team (see further down the blog for that list of events.)

Stars and Novas

We are three quarters through 2018 and are adding more GMs to the 5* roster. Huge congratulations to all those that achieved their fifth star over the past month!

To achieve this milestone, GMs facilitate 150 games, of which at least 50 must be unique scenarios and 10 are special scenarios, as well as run a game for a venture-captain. A conservative estimate of time needed to reach 5-stars is 650 hours! To the GM listed below, thank you very much for the time and energy you spend running Pathfinder Society games! Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

  • Gino Melone
  • TJ Brooks
  • Erik-Anders Nielsen
  • Alex Wreschnig
  • Everett Morrow
  • Dorothy Lindman

Volunteer Opportunities - PAX Unplugged

We confirmed our space at PAX Unplugged with the organizers and Venture-Captain Quinn Shannon confirmed as organizer. We will have a Paizo Booth on the floor running demos and tables in a dedicated Society room. Look for the "call to vol" in next week's organized play blog!

Convention Listing

Want to attend a convention this summer? Check out the list below! I've updated the list with all the event support requests I've received to date. If you see one missing, ping the organizer and have them submit a request for support or email me at to discuss their event. All of the conventions on the list maintain some type of web presence, be it website, social media page, or Warhorn listing, so if you are interested in attending in either capacity, check out their websites or contact the local venture-officer for more information!

Convention NameLocationStart Date
Charlotte Crit-Con 2 - Double Damage (2018)Concord, NC9/7/2018
Evergreens & Beer (2018)Sylva, NC9/7/2018
HoH Comic Con 2018Elkhart, Indiana9/7/2018
Lone Star Game Expo 2018Grapevine, TX9/7/2018
SIBCON 2018Butler, PA9/7/2018
PFS/SFS @ Granite State Comic Con 2018 Manchester, NH USA9/8/2018
TotalCon End of Summer Sizzler (2018)Marlborough, MA9/9/2018
BattleCon The Third (2018)Richmond, VA9/14/2018
Betacon 7 (2018)Wilkes Barre, PA9/14/2018
Grand Con 2018Grand Rapids, MI9/14/2018
SkålCon 2018Roseville, MN9/14/2018
AB-Con Winter 2018Germany/Bavaria/Aschaffenburg9/21/2018
CogCon 28 (2018)Rolla, MO9/21/2018
TPKon (2018)Online9/21/2018
HMGS-South Hurricon 2018Kissimmee, Fl 9/27/2018
Fields of Honor 2018Johnson, Iowa9/28/2018
Retail Support Con I (2018)Raleigh, NC9/28/2018
RinCon 2018Tucson, Arizona, USA9/28/2018
Saluki Comic Con (2018)Carbondale, IL9/28/2018
Snake River Fandom Con 2018Pocatello, Idaho9/28/2018
Rollplay 2018Singapore9/29/2018
SPSX 2018Glasgow, Scotland, UK9/29/2018
SydCon18 (2018)Sydney NSW9/29/2018
NukeCon 2018Omaha Nebraska10/5/2018
Conapalooza 2018Kingsport, TN10/12/2018
Crucible 7Kissimmee, FL10/12/2018
Games +1 2018 Extravaganza (2018)Davenport, IA10/12/2018
Save Against FearHarrisburg, PA10/12/2018
Charity Event for CASA (2018)Colorado Springs, CO10/13/2018
Pathcon 5.0 (2018)Salt Lake City Ut10/19/2018
QuestCon Leon18Leon (Spain)10/26/2018
Midwest GameFestIndependence, Missouri11/1/2018
Carnage 2018Killington, VT11/2/2018
PFS & SFS at Con on the Cob 2018Richfield, Ohio11/8/2018
WinterWolfCon'18Chicago, Illinois11/23/2018

2018 Organized Play Staff Travel

I'm pulling the 2019 travel schedule together, so if you are an event organizer and want to invite us out at your event in 2019, drop an email to before next summer. We review our schedule in the fall and try to get all decisions wrapped by the end of the year.

If your attending any of the following events, please stop by the booth or organized play room and say hi!

Convention NameLocationStart DateOP Staff
SkalConMinnaepolis-St. Paul, MN9/14Tonya
HurriconTampa, FL9/27Tonya
PaizoCon Asia-PacificBrisbane, Australia10/19Tonya
U-ConAnn Arbor, MI11/9Tonya
PAX UnpluggedPhiadelphia, PA11/30Tonya (+Paizo staffers)

Until next time—Explore, Report, Cooperate!

Tonya Woldridge

Organized Play Manager

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Conventions Gen Con Organized Play Pathfinder Society Starfinder Society
Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

1 person marked this as a favorite.


Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

Yay for SkalCon! It will be so awesome this year!

Also, yay for the new Five Stars!

★ --- ★ --- ★ --- ★

  • Gino Melone -- Who's the VC now, Gino? Congratulations on your fifth star!
  • TJ Brooks -- Huzzah!
  • Erik-Anders Nielsen -- EA, you made it! Woot!
  • Alex Wreschnig -- Go, go Terminamancer!
  • Everett Morrow -- Yay!
  • Dorothy Lindman -- Oh wow. I am so hyped about this. Go, Dorothy!

Congratulations all of you!


Scarab Sages 5/5 Venture-Captain, Netherlands aka Woran

Congratulations to our newest batch of five stars!

Silver Crusade 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh aka Terminalmancer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Whee, five stars! Thank you all! It feels like I should still have four. Now to try this sleep thing before the next convention begins...

I appreciate that you guys are trying to get people to go over to your twitch to view previous videos, but when you say something like "If you wanted to see what we said about *subject*, check out our twitch - *twitch link*" and all I see are like 1-4 hour videos, and you didn't say specifically which one to check out, it's difficult to want to try to parse through all of those.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Linda didn't specify any *subject*, she just said the panels had been recorded if anybody wanted to watch them. Panels at cons tend to be 1 hour long at the minimum.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This year was my first GenCon, and it was awesome, mostly for the reasons already outlined above! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Shadow Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Indiana—Southern aka CanisDirus

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Congratulations to all the new 5-star GMs! Way to go, Gino! :)

Dark Archive 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, United Kingdom—England—Coventry aka terry_t_uk

Congrats to all the new 5 star GMs :-)

Liberty's Edge 3/5 Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

Congrats all!

And come to Omaha for Nuke-Con.

Grand Lodge 3/5 Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Diego aka Michael_Hopkins

Congrats to everyone!

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