Organized Play Review of 2020

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Pathfinder Extinction Curse Adventure Path: The Apocalypse Prophet book cover

As we close 2020, on this last night of the year, each of us took a moment to reflect back on what 2020 brought for us.

Linda Zayas-Palmer (Organized Play Managing Developer): Wow, 2020 has been quite the year. For all its challenges, it’s been heartening to see the community come together and to watch online play flourish, keeping people connected and bringing in so many new players who had never seen a convention before. Kudos to the numerous dedicated volunteers, both GMs and organizers, who made that possible!

And kudos as well to the members of the Organized Play team, past and current, who also faced unprecedented challenges and pressures. Mike Sayre, James Case, Thursty, Jenny, Tonya, and Alex: I couldn’t ask for better coworkers.

I’m proud of what everyone’s accomplished this year, and I’m excited about what 2021 has to offer. So I’d like to take this space to announce the first of 2021’s big pieces of news: the newest member of the Organized Play team. On January 4th, Mike Kimmel will be joining us. Mike is the founder of the Freelance Forge group and a prolific Organized Play freelancer, author of scenarios such as The Unseen Inclusion and the interactive Hao Jin Cataclysm for Pathfinder First Edition, Iolite Squad Alpha for Pathfinder Society in Second Edition, and The Protectorate Petition for Starfinder Society. You’ll hear more from Mike soon in an upcoming blog.

Jenny Jarzabski (Starfinder Society Developer): It’s hard to believe I’ve only been part of the Paizo team for a few months. Getting the chance to collaborate with the folks of Org Play full time has been awesome, and stepping up to take the helm of Starfinder Society is more than I could have hoped for so soon!

I began 2020 writing the Starfinder GenCon interactive special, The Last Bite, which got delayed before finally releasing online. We had some bugs, and it wasn’t the same as walking through the Sagamore and watching people play, but I hopped into different discord channels and listened to tables playing my adventure virtually. I later ran it at Emerald Con, also online!

As a freelancer—and even now after my hire—I’ve often felt isolated this year. But seeing the way our community continued to rally around playing games, raising money for charity, and supporting one another through it all has been truly inspiring. One of my favorite things about Organized Play is the connectivity to the community, and of being part of a living campaign. We don’t tell these stories in a vacuum. All of you reading this are part of them. Thanks for that—let’s do it again next year!

Alex Speidel (Organized Play Associate): Obviously, this year was a big year for me, because I joined Paizo in March! While that’s exciting, I wanted to look at some other really cool things about this year:
- We managed to move our major conventions online, including our largest event ever with PaizoCon Online and the largest-ever online interactive specials at Gen Con Online.
- In addition to releasing a year of scenarios, we got caught up with Venture Officer maintenance, the Reporting Errors inbox, and so much more behind the scenes.
- Some of my favorite scenarios this year included SFS 3-07: Strike at Zone 78, which I thought was a great installment in the storyline of the copaxi; SFS 3-10: Live Adventure Extreme!, the exact scenario I have wanted since I learned about Zo! and his media empire; and PFS 1-25, because evil pipe organs are cool.
- In personal news, I earned my second Nova for GMing Starfinder Society, ran a group through 2.5 books of Threefold Conspiracy, got a bunch of new dice, and met a ton of fantastic players and GMs through conventions, the VO corps and the local Emerald City Lodge.

It’s been a weird year, but I’m excited to see what comes next!

Thurston Hillman (Pathfinder Society Developer): With the transition from SFS to PFS, Thursty took on loads of new tasks just before the new year, leaving him deep in development and focused on bringing a quality program to your door.

For me, this year was all about being flexible. My job today doesn’t look like it did in 2019 or years prior. I got to attend two physical shows in 2020, and collectively the team went to four. I remember reading news about China’s issues with Covid in the airport on the way home from GenghisCon in Denver. Instead of seeing all our friends in-person, we pivoted to online events. PaizoCon 2020 set the benchmark - over 1500 tables of games during the event!

Our community showed its resilience and for that I’m eminently grateful. There is no way our gaming groups could have survived without the strong leadership demonstrated by the venture-officers. The online team provided assistance and education for the whole corps, but without the store organizers and the location coordinators embracing the change we would have been dead in the water. They thought it would be a few weeks, maybe a month, that we would need to maintain the shift. Seven months later, many of our locations remain closed. Despite online fatigue, they continue to make sure games are available to our players. I cannot express enough my gratitude and thanks to these stalwarts and I give thanks that we have such a wonderful group!

Despite the obstacles put in our way by 2020, the OP team stepped up and delivered! We kept the program going with only slight hiccups along the way, which is a HUGE testament to the professionalism of the OP team members. Alex joined the team in February and made such a huge difference so quickly, I’m amazed we ever had a program without him. I took several weeks of vacation this year and was able to relax, knowing the program operations would continue under his competent eye. We also had to say goodbye to two of our team, but in losing James and Mike to other teams, we gained Jenny and Mike Kimmel. I’m excited to see how they add to the team dynamic!

If you missed it last week, we sanctioned Troubles in Otari for Pathfinder (second edition). Be sure to check back on January 5th for Pathfinder Playtest news, and then on Thursday for the first of our 2021 Monthly Updates (including a bit of Starfinder sanctioning news!)

Until then - Explore, Report, Cooperate!

Tonya Woldridge
Organized Play Manager

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Tags: Organized Play Pathfinder Society Starfinder Society

4 people marked this as a favorite.

What a wonderful list of new appointments, for previous and now current members.

The team being able to continue producing content, and being around to support events, from smaller cons to the big ones has allowed us to gain some great community members. I think this community has both literally and figuratively saved many of our table mates this year, and has left it marked with some great times. Looking forward to seeing what you all have in store for 2021! Thanks again for continuing to do what you do, and enable our community to make memories.

Dark Archive 4/5 Venture-Captain, Online—VTT

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Much as the reason for it has been awful, it's been amazing to see so many new faces learning about gaming online and to have been able to help people who thought they were stuck without anything find not only a ton of games they can play in whatever time zone or country they're in but also a community they might never have known about otherwise and all the support and helping hands that entails.

Well deserved thanks to all the Org Play team and Paizo crew for the huge amount of effort they've put out this year, above and beyond their normal workload, to help everyone cope and make sure that all the cons and events online have been an amazing success!

Here's hoping that sooner rather than later people can get back to their irl lodges and see one another in person, but everyone will always be welcome online and hopefully all the lodges will eventually be stronger for the connections and new friends made this year :)

Paizo Employee 2/5 Contributor, RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank you for the warm welcome. I'm excited to see what the new year brings and I can't wait to begin my work with the team!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder PF Special Edition, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Fantastic work this year all. Thanks for everything that you do bringing us engaging stories and adventures to make new friends with even when we're all stuck behind our keyboards and screens.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Congrats, Mike! That's awesome!

Congrate for all of you and happy new years.

Paizo Employee 4/5 **

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Woah, Mike, that's Awesome! I'm so excited seeing such an awesome addition to the team!

4/5 ****

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Yarr. Super exciting to hear Mike Kimmel is joining.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Paizo and the PF2 community really rose up to the challenge during what was the most difficult year many of us have ever had. It provided a way for us to escape, even just for a bit, and just enjoy playing PF2 with others who love it as much as us.

I'm so excited to see what 2021 brings for us and continuing to see the community grow. Keep up the amazing work!

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

Thank you for all that the Organized Play team has done for us in 2020.

2021 looks very bright! Can't wait to see what it will bring us.

Sovereign Court 4/5 ** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Southwest

Thanks to the team for being so awesome and flexible. I know we had a number of last minute changes this year in our events and the Paizo team has been amazing in supporting us.

Onward and upward!

Second Seekers (Jadnura) 5/55/55/55/5

Congrats to everyone and thanks for making 2020 so much better than it would have been without all of your hard work!

3/5 5/55/55/55/5 *** Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Congratulations, Mike! I can't wait to see what you do as an official part of the team!

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, Minnesota

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Mike, how amazing! Congratulations to you! I know you will be wonderful.

Marketing & Media Manager

3 people marked this as a favorite.

A personal "thank you" to the Paizo Org Play Team in all its incarnations and the volunteers—you are the core of our community. Thanks for helping Paizo adapt and grow through 2020. 2021 will be a better year because of you!

Dataphiles 5/55/55/5 Venture-Agent, Netherlands

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Woot woot!

On a personal note, it was awesome to have Jenny (renamed Datch on Discord) drop into my Discord channel while GMing #3-00 and be all sneaky as my players didn't notice at all!

Can't wait to see what 2021 brings! (Hopefully 5 Novas for me!)

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, Minnesota

1 person marked this as a favorite.
CptJames wrote:

Woot woot!

On a personal note, it was awesome to have Jenny (renamed Datch on Discord) drop into my Discord channel while GMing #3-00 and be all sneaky as my players didn't notice at all!

Can't wait to see what 2021 brings! (Hopefully 5 Novas for me!)

Me too! Me too!

Having Jenny as Datch join us in the special was awesome. I am also hoping to cross the 5 Nova mark in 2021. It's going to be a slow and wonderful climb!



1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm just 23 games away from 5 novas. Aiming for that by May

Scarab Sages 5/5 5/5 *** Venture-Captain, Netherlands

Thank you all so much for your hard work <3

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