Here's my crazy thoughts
1. Paizo is a company that, ultimately, wants to offer their customers products and services their customers desire -- because they can profit from this.
But it's probably just my addled mind, because I also think we'll see the announcement of products for "Pathfinder Classic" at some point, which will be new modules, sourcebooks, whatever for PFv1. Because they've already spend X amount of dollars laying the foundation for the v1 system, and there's still "gold in them hills" that Paizo can mine by producing "Classic" content. I don't imagine anyone at Paizo rubbing their hands together like a goblin and cackling with glee over the prospect of raking in the cash, but realistically there are still consumers that would devour up more v1 content.
*shrugs* But who knows? Blizzard is doing it right now with World of Warcraft on it's 15 year anniversary -- WoW Classic drops literally today. Maybe we just gotta wait another 4 years to see v1 stuff start cropping up. But in the meantime, report those PFSv1 games still!
I'm the GM in question. And my take at the time was "I don't think it works the way you believe it does, so for now it'll just be +1 to damage on spells with attack rolls, etc." My ruling didn't cause the OP to be ineffective during the game (far from it, he was one of the MVPs of the slot), nor did it cause any enemies to survive with 1 HP left. It was just a ruling I made because it made sense to me and to keep the game moving so we could finish our slot on time.
The system is about two weeks old, it's our second time ever playing it, and it's ultimately 1 point of damage. We're all just trying to understand how the game works and have a good time.
In fact, after the game I then encouraged him to post here to hopefully attract an answer from a larger audience. The real questions I have are:
Does it work with persistent damage?
Anyway, I appreciate the discussion thus far. I don't think it breaks the game one way or the other, but I'm fairly sure it was designed to either not allow these things or to allow them -- and that's the answer I seek. At the end of the day, I told the OP to expect table variation and that ultimately, it is just one point of damage. Maybe we won't have a designer chime in here, but it would be nice for the OP and others seeking to understand the landscape of PFv2.
Just pinging this thread again -- window is closing fast on ordering flip mats, minis, and making props for this epic finale to Season 10 in time for GenCon. I'd love to do this scenario justice at GenCon and if it'd be possible to get a flip mat list and a mini list of what's needed to run 10-23, that'd be hugely appreciated!
robert Goode wrote:
I just volunteered to GM at GenCon for the first time. I have years of experience GMing, but have only done Organized play for he last couple years and haven't quite earned any Stars/Novas. If I volunteer for 8 slots, is that going to be a deal-breaker on GMing that many?
That's going to be a lot of GMing, which means more time spent running games than exploring GenCon. It is certainly doable--there are dozens of folks that run that many slots--but it does make your convention experience all about Organized Play.
Also keep in mind Con GMing is different from any other experience. Running one convention table =/= running a table anywhere else. Expect lots of yelling due to noise, repeating yourself due to noise/distractions, completely varied players (30 years RPG experience, this is my first time and I brought my two 10 year olds), and tons of different personality types to balance over the course of four short days. You might also find yourself pressured for time if your games tend to run long.
So again, 8 slots is a lot of time to spend GMing. It is doable, but it's work.
Ran this a couple weeks ago and it was a memorable enough event that warranted sharing some of my thoughts which might help future GMs.
Overall I really liked this scenario and we had a super cool situation unfold based off player decisions. Not every table can have the same experience, but I think most players will enjoy this scenario if it's run well.
Point 1. This scenario takes place in a fantastical location with fantastical creatures and a fantastical plot. Which is awesome. Provided you can present that to your players. Unfortunately, there's just so much cool stuff you could tell them about, that the scenario can't possibly fit it all. The author only has so much word count to work with, so you can help suppliment the scenario by boning up on your lore.
I've been running the War for the Crown AP and in Book 3 & 5, there's a great amount of supplemental information on psychopomps and axis. You can also thumb through some old season 3 scenarios, and those from current seasons that have "tapestry" in their name for info on Hao Jin, as well as the Ruby Phoenix Tournament module. By getting well versed on those super interesting (to me at least) topics, it makes this scenario a lot better.
Point 2. Stripped away from the setting, characters, and plot, the structure of this scenario is super simple: PCs go to NPC, instructed to get items ABC, ends with a social encounter.
As I was prepping it, I worried that my players might lose interest if they saw those railroad tracks. So I did my best to obfuscate them. Sadly the name of the scenario gives it away, but there's no way for the PCs to know that the trial is going to happen in their lifetime, or that all three of the memory drives are intact. I think when GMing this you serve your players well if you keep momentum up and questions high. What's going to happen next? Is always better than "we got macguffin #2, heading to #3."
Point 3. The trial. Oh boy. This is a minisystem event the likes of which has killed enthusiasm at dozens of tables across my storied PFS career. I believe the best way to handle this is to be transparent with your players about it, be timely, and hand-wave it as needed. Here's examples of that in action from my table.
Transparency. "Alright, so there's a mini-system for this trial. Basically, each judge will bring up a discussion point for Hao-Jin's guilt. They'll hear from her, then ask to hear from one of you. The same person can talk again and again, but their impact will get progressively lower. Also, each judge has their own biases, so if you talk to the calculating orb of equations from your heart, he probably won't even understand it."
Timely. After reading the red text for a judge's question
Hand-Wave. For each tier and # of players, there are thresholds for getting a judge to vote on your behalf. My party met them after the 4th question, so I just described the 5th and 6th and we didn't do the minisystem for them--as there was no point.
Point 4. This scenario can be as exciting as you want to make it. There is an incredible amount of freedom GMing any scenario that takes place on another plane, with only partially described settings and only a handful of NPCs. Whenever the players want to go buy an item, or go explore, or spend the night before the trial, you have 100% free reign to do whatever you want to make the game awesome for your players. So I'd encourage people to think outside the box, lean on your research from point #1, and make the scenario a lot more memorable than it can be on paper.
Everything that was turned in to Louis and I has been reported as of July 25th. So if you have a session that is not showing up, it won't be unless it gets added.
Reasons why they would not show up:
1. Your reporting sheet was physically lost and was never entered. There are many people your sheet is touched by before it gets entered, things get lost.
As I'm sure many of you know, if you have the physical chronicle sheet, your game is 100% valid. You don't *need* it to be reported online unless you are missing specials/games for your GM stars, or you are fearful of not having an online back up.
That said, I can still add sessions people are missing.
I will add sessions for the people that post with the above information. And yes, I need your PFS # (I cannot look up your PFS # from your name).
I think you're confusing bad with good. Batman vs. Superman Dawn of Justice (BTMNVSPMNDOJ for short) is a phenomenal movie.
Another example from Lord of the Rings is in Return of the King, when we see Gollum plummet into lava. Lava is more solid than water, yet he splashes into it with ease. Obviously plot DR applied, just as it did earlier in the movie when he fell down the crevasse by Shelob's lair.
As a side note, his fire resistance is not enough to keep up with the 20d6 damage a round he remains submerged in lava, despite possessing a ring of invisibility.
I have yet to use a bad movie to justify the rules.
Bad movies have to rely on plot devices, like falling into water, to hand waive DR. For example, in Fellowship of the Ring, a very bad movie, Gandalf only survives because he fell into water. A better explanation would have been for him to cast Feather Fall, and for the Balrog to simply fly back up, or for either to simply have DR. Most demons do.
In Fast and Furious (the 7th F&F franchise title), the Rock is blown out of his office with an explosive charge. As we all know, all rocks possesses hardness but no DR. This explains why the Rock breaks his arm upon falling 10 stories into a car. Hardness does not apply to falling damage, but DR does.
DR is what Superman uses to deflect bullets. Superman get punched out of the sky and crashes through Wayne Enterprieses. In the rubble, he and his clothes are unharmed. Obviously his DR applies, and his clothes were in his possession so they were undamaged as well.
If it’s good enough for Batman V. Superman, the objectively best superhero movie of last decade, it’s good enough for me.
So what if my players don't want to board the Empire of Bones and instead stick to the plan from book 5? Or board the Stellar Degenerator and try and use it to shoot down the Empire of Bones?
I understand that an AP can't account for everything, but a sidebar about these options would have been nice.
All that aside, seems like an epic ending to the story!
Golly. It’s almost as if you don’t really want a discussion to take place here but are looking for an echo chamber. But it looks like I don’t share your opinions. And I’ve invested just as much into this campaign as you have, so I’m going to share those opinions. That’s the purpose of a discussion.
I’m interested in participating in OP with the same community that I’ve spent the last six years organizing for. I’m just not sure I want to do that with a system that’s been abandoned by it’s creators for something that they claim is better. I of course will assess said system before deciding which I prefer, and regardless, Pathfinder v1 and PFS v1 will always have a special place in my heart. But things change. And if PFv2 and PFSv2 are more promising, which I really hope they are, then I think PFSv1 as it is does need to stop being supported by the VO corp.
Why? Because, given all the information we have, there is going to be no new updates to the system, no new content—nothing. When nothing changes, things stagnate. That is the antithesis of a living campaign. If we want to keep PFSv1 alive when PFSv2 comes out, some dedicated folks are going to need to pick up the slack and generate new content for it. And it is not what the VOs are tasked with doing—they are tasked with organizing official tables of PFS and ensuring it’s rules are followed. Whatever these dedicated folks come up with will not be Paizo published and thus not be under the purview of VOs.
So, like I’ve been saying since the start, eventually PFSv1 will officially die. There is honestly no way around that. Sorry to be the bearer of reality here, but it is what it is. It’s not about being selfish, it’s about being realistic. Living games that are no longer supported by their creators cease to live. That doesn’t mean it still can’t be played, enjoyed, and taught to new people, but if we want that to happen it will take a dedicated PFSv1 people to make it happen.
Just reading this thread, I see dozens of such people. I am certain that they will help keep PFSv1 (in whatever form it takes) vibrant for many years after Paizo support. Just don’t expect VOs to organize for it.
When it comes to replay, I honestly think it’s a band-aid solution to the problem that PFSv1 is going to end. And that's a problem with no solution that's gonna please everyone. I think people are nervous about PFSv2 and are trying to find a way to keep PFSv1 play going. I don’t think replay is it, but at this point I don’t care anymore. There are people here that are getting really upset and taking this very seriously, and my attitude just doesn’t mesh with that. My train of thought is: it’s a game, it’s been fun, and whatever comes next will also be fun cause it’s with the same people. Whatever is implemented I'll be fine with, given enough time. Just another day in paradise.
You guys make some good counter points. What system has been going for 20+ years?
I like the idea of rereleasing scenarios. It would require no real extra work from an OPF perspective and would allow people to still play PFSv1 -- which is the main goal of this thread.
I guess for clarity my main goal here is to have whatever system is put in place (or not) be easy enough to explain and maintain without requiring too much extra work on behalf of VOs. They'll already be busy with a new OPF system and adding more to their plate for something that's no longer Paizo support (no new content) is something I'm really hesitant to do.
Bringing the conversation back to where it started...
I'm currently in favor of Option 1.
Reasons: I think that most people are going to tap out of PFSv1 eventually and then start moving on to PFSv2 and SFS. The people that are staunch supporters of PFSv1 and for one reason or another don't want to participate in the other OP options are going to be out of luck... officially. Unofficially there are a ton of options. Replays, conversions, campaign mode AP, whatever.
But Walter, why should we stop having rules for PFSv1? I'm not saying we stop having rules here, just saying we leave things as is and let it organically dwindle out. Once it's finished it's official run, people are free to jam it as much as possible however they enjoy.
The beauty here is that there's no oversight from VOs, which makes our lives much easier. The downside is that there's no oversight from VOs, which makes it the wild west. And it will still have Paizo's name on it--even if it's unofficial. So not a perfect solution, but one that is the easiest to implement (as we do nothing new).
So Nosig, I see that you're getting frustrated here. Sorry if I caused that, definitely not my intention. I really do try and be reasonable poster most of the time.
I'm not advocating pregens as the best solution, just relating that it would solve the problem--as it does now when people don't have a character that can play in a scenario that's out of tier. They can still play. And yes it's not ideal, and yes it's crummy, and yes, I hate asking players to play pregens.
But I don't even care about that, really, as the main thing I stated was that this situation rarely comes up now, and I imagine it would rarely come up with the "favored character" (FC) thing as well. Even less frequently, really, because the people that would only use FCs are such a small percentage of the PFS population anyway.
TLDR: Pregens are a poor band-aid for the problem of not being able to play multiple tiers with your Favored Character. Fortunately, I don't think the problem will come up too much.
Old "Scuttlebutt" Salt wrote:
This the same hypothetical problem that could occur in the current atmosphere of PFS, especially with new players that might only have one level 5.
Pregens are the easiest solution, although obviously not the best. However, if there was a favored character option pregens are a solution that could work.
I also think that with a favored character thing implemented, we'd see smaller groups of PFS regulars making use of it more than anyone else. In that case, they'd be playing with each other from level 1 all the way up until level 5. Meaning they would probably make more diverse characters. So they would avoid the "all paladin table" problem from the start.
The "all paladin table" is still a potential issue when those players mingle at cons or other game days, but IMO a fairly minor one.
Wicked Brew wrote:
Any chance of Paizo doing a limited license to one or a select few 3PP to continue producing PF1 PFS scenarios? I would point to the DM's Guild as a model for how that could be implemented. I have not played the latest addition of the other system but have looked into it recently and it appears that those coastal spellcasters allow 3PPs to actually sell scenarios that are officially part of their organized play campaign. I see no reason why Paizo could not do something similar. This would allow PF1 to continue to flourish and allow the great staff at Paizo to concentrate on the new stuff. Sounds like a classic Michael Scott win-win-win scenario. Win for Paizo, win for PF1 PFS fans and win for 3PPs.
If that's something you're interested in you could certainly reach out to the current developer of PFS, John Compton, and see what his thoughts are. He does stalk these forums, but you might be better off emailing him.
That said, I imagine Paizo (and by extension John) will be focusing on releasing PF2, new SFS content, and new PF2 PFS content in the near future and likely won't have time to look into other options like this for PF1. It's also, again, not really needed until we reach a point where a majority of campaign participants have drained the well. In my mind this is a 'problem' for next year; and I don't even consider it a problem.
I'm guessing that you still have a lot of games available before this even becomes a problem. I say this because there's still an entire Season of PFSv1 yet to release.
Add Wait wrote:
Simply because there's going to be no new content being produced for it by Paizo. Why? Because they're going to be putting work into producing stuff for PF2, SFS, and ACG. Our OPF designers are already spread a little thin as is, and I think adding PF1 to their list would result in lower quality products across the board--not to mention they just finished producing their very own RPG system and probably want to produce content for that.
As far as converting goes--I imagine this will occur. I'm of the opinion that after enough time has passed (lets say N years), PF1 PFS will effectively be no longer supported by Paizo. Much like Diablo 2 is (if you read the other thread about replays, I use this analogy further). People still play it, but there are no patches, updates, or any company provisions for that game.
The same thing will happen with PF1 PFS, as that's what happens to systems and games when they get updated. Heck, there are still people that play (and prefer) ADND. So after N years, once you and other PF1 PFS participants have drained the well, and are looking to play new scenarios, conversions, homebrewed scenarios, etc will start getting released by the fans. It's what has happened with D2, SSBB, and a slew of other communities when their chosen game has been "updated." What we'll have is three communities--die hard PF1 players, PF2 only players, and people that play PF2 and a little PF1 (this is the largest community).
It's sounding to me like you're in the first group, which is 100% fine. I love PF1 too, and will still play some of it come PF2. But part of a games life cycle is that it will inevitably stop being supported. PF1 had a great run. A really great run. But the designers have tapped the well, and are itching to move on to something else.
TLDR: If you want to play 2nd edition scenarios converted to 1st edition, just wait until someone does that. Or you can do it yourself. Play PFSv1 with your friends in a "home game" mode and have a great time.
*As a side note, I've seen this question a couple times now, "What about PFv1 when PF2 comes out?" And I think the the best answer is: "Play it as long as you'd like, then, if you want, come play PF2. There's nothing stopping you from playing PFS just like you always have. You just have to realize that at some point there will be no new content. But that's a problem for future you. So just keep playing what you like."
Nok Gaan wrote:
It is humorous to see people say unlimited replay killed 4E while ignoring the fact 5E is going bonkers and it also has unlimited replay. You could easily say unlimited replay is a boon to the system using the 5E rational and would make just as much sense.
Assuming it's true that unlimited replay is the reason 5e OP is succeeding. I have to wonder if it's because unlimited replay is simply good for a campaign or because 5e OP has so few scenarios that unlimited replay allows more games to go off. PFS has such a vast library of scenarios, APs, and modules at this point that unlimited replay isn't needed for most players.
Building off the work Richard did, I made some detailed face cards. The idea is that you can print these off on a printer, fold them in half the long way and have a two sided sheet to show the players your NPC, with the needed info for running them right on the back.
Lau Bannenberg wrote:
In a way, the idea of a "finished" ruleset for PFS1, with all the clarifications and FAQs fully complete, appeals to me. It's unlikely to happen but still.
I think that would be a great place to have the campaign be, so we can solidify all that stuff, apply any replay program, and call it a day.
Sure. If that’s the case, then any system that gates replays sounds good to me, as it’s similar to what is working now.
@ Shadius. Maybe I was wrong to link those prior threads? I'll admit I didn't re-read them this year as, you can see, I posted in all the others. And, since you read them, you can see my opinion also changed from a strong Pro-Replay stance to a more Meh-Replay stance. So my goal in linking those was to provide all the information from a historical PFS perspective that I'm going off of. I think most people are happy with the gated replaying, linked to stars, infrequent boons, and annual refreshes. The system, as it is now, works.
But what of the future? Should we change the replay rules?
If we keep replay as they are, eventually people cap out on games and can no longer play PFS. There are just not enough scenarios to sustain them, as content has ceased to be created.
And it's here where I referred to earlier similar popular games that have stopped being maintained. As an example, I'd like to use Diablo 2. In that game the original community is divided. Players have either moved on to other games entirely (D3), play on custom servers (Path of Diablo), or kind of mill about in the original game -- but that playgroup is by far the smallest. And you can see the same pattern repeat itself with dozens of other video games that have stopped being officially supported.
And that is not a bad thing.
It may be a difficult pill to swallow now, but games have shelf lives. There's reason why I don't play Diablo 2 every day anymore. Newer, more attractive game exist. And that's what is happening with Pathfinder and in turn, PFSv1. There will be a time shortly when it is no longer being "patched." And when that happens, what is the point in allowing unlimited replay?
If people can still get credit, let them get credit. Report those games for bragging rights even. If people can't get credit, they can still play -- they don't need to use replays, they should just play a home game (akin to a custom server in the above example). So unlimited replay is a silly thing to have in my mind. And if anything, it makes my life, and those of other VOs more difficult. Now we have two PFS campaigns to organize for (in addition to SFS and the ACG).
I'm sure those home games will be fun, heck, I'm sure I'll be playing in them myself, but I, and the other VOs, don't need to manage them. I'm trying to organize space, GMs, and players on behalf of the Organized Play foundation that will be maintaining PFSv2 at that time. I don't need to support content that not even the content creators are supporting anymore. I'll do it for as long as people can get credit but once that day comes that all the games have been played, I think it's time to retire the game.
All unlimited replays do is keeps this game around longer than it needs to be. If you want to play, play, but we don't need to change to rules to make those games un-necessarily official.
Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Oh I know.
But after 400 posts we're approaching that place that I'm all to familiar with, with people advocating for replay with reasons A, B, and C. People advocating against replay with reasons X, Y, and Z. The same, eternal, circular discussion that seems to have a life of its own.
I think a more poignant discussion might be "do you want PFSv1 to be managed by the OPF, so that we ensure all the old rules are being followed, or, after a year or two, should PFSv1 be opened for local groups to enjoy and manage how they see fit, with no OPF oversight." And I'm firmly in the latter camp.
If we stop getting sourcebook errata, PFSv1 guide updates, scenarios, and the like -- at some point people will distill the "best ways" to play PFv1 and the game will enter the broken place that 3.5 still dwells in. And at that point, I don't think we should officially organize PFSv1 events anymore. Individually, if people want to handle it--sure, but I don't want to have to police games of busted characters cakewalking through their fifteenth replay of that one scenario that gives you a bonus feat. That's so out of wack with what PFS should be that I wouldn't even recognize it.
So... this thread, again? Golly, has it been that long?
For anyone catching up (or keeping score), here's my (and everyone elses) thoughts on replay for the last 6 years.
Where do I sit on replay now, with PFSv2 coming out with PF2?
One word: Meh.
More words: If the diehard PFS players out there (myself included) want to keep playing PFS v1 stuff for themselves in their own organized play system, why not. The only way you'd be really doing this anyway would be if you had a core group of dedicated locals. Sounds like a "home game PFS reboot" to me. Print of chronicles, change the scenarios, do whatever you want. Make PFS Core+ campaign, where player can use the Core RPG book AND other hardbacks. Make "Occult PFS" where people can only use complicated nonsense classes like the occultist. Do whatever you want for the old campaign that is no longer getting patched or having new content come out for it.
Think of it like any of those old video games people play competitively. Like Super Smash Bros. People play that game hardcore even today, a decade later, with all sorts of match restrictions, modified game modes, and all other nonsense. AND THAT'S GREAT. They're enjoying it, they're doing their own thing. And Nintendo is producing new Smash stuff on the regular. Just like PFSv2 is coming out. Let the diehards have fun with their own infinite replay custom campaigns. Whatever.
But if you do that, don't make us manage it. Offer "vintage PFS" at conventions, replays be damned, but don't make organizers report it. Don't make games count for table credit once Season 10 completes. Retire the old game with the old system. We had eleven years anyway. This is well past the shelf life of a good TV show. We're readily approaching Simpsons decline. Lets let it die with dignity and watch Futurama.
And for the people that haven't played all of PFSv1 stuff yet--keep running it and playing it as long as there is interest. No need for official replay here. Also, most of these people game with less frequency than the diehards, so transitioning to PFSv2 shouldn't be that difficult. However, if it's the people that are being difficult ("I only wanna play PFSv1!") then give them the information so they know why the game is changing. "Sorry, interest for that game is dying out, a new system came out that is being supported by the OPF and it's what we'll be running more and more of," etc. Communicate it up, and they'll decide what they want.
Anyway, see you all next year when this topic comes up again.
Of the sheets not reported when Paizocon finished, I took 1/2 the unfinished sheets and Louis took the rest. My unfinished sheets are finished (and have been for a week now).
If you have an error with your Sunday night special, I probably have your sheet. Aside from that, I'll direct Louis to this thread.
A couple months ago one of my local GMs qualified for his 5th star and ran Bonekeep level 3 for me (an RVC), a VL, and some other folks. I told him the following (more or less) when he was awarded his 5th star.
"So what does a 5th star mean? Back in the day, when there was so much less play options going around, it was a pretty large milestone. It meant you had run just about everything out there and were a huge campaign participant. What does it mean now? With infinite Thornkeep level 1 replays and people farming First Steps to make Aasimars? Honestly, not so much.
Of my two worst experiences playing PFS, out of hundreds of games, one was under a 5 star GM. He was obstinate, the game was riddled with rules errors, and refused to have a dialogue with his players about anything remotely table variation. He was determined to have the game be us against him. The scenario he ran was the exact same one you ran tonight, and it was a wretched, wretched experience. Your table of the same scenario was so much better than his, yet in the context of PFS you are both 5 star GMs. That this is the only metric I have in PFS to signify your level of GMing expertise is profoundly tragic. And for that, I am sorry.
I think of GMing as an art form, akin to music or painting. Great musicians borrow chords and bridges from other musicians, just like artists are influenced by other artists. As a GM over these last years, I have seen you grow and develop your own unique style. The best possible style you could muster, really, as you have been exposed to so many great (and terrible) GMs. You have cherry picked exactly what works best for you in order to give every table you run an outstanding experience. That, to me, is what a 5 star GM should be. Someone that is constantly innovating, learning, and performing above just reading what's on the page. But it isn't. It just means you ran 150 games, 10 of which were harder to organize.
So congratulations on your 5th star, and however important a milestone you wish that to be. More importantly, in my opinion, are the countless players and other GMs that you have educated, influenced, and shaped through all the games that you have run. Those people are the ones that benefit the most from the table experiences you deliver, and long before you earned this arbitrary metric, you earned their respect. I hope that you don't see this 5th star as the final thing you can achieve GMing, and know that, really, you've only just started honing your chops. Make every game better than this one.
So on behalf of all those people, thank you for being my GM today. It was another great game I'll remember for years to come."
Steve Geddes wrote:
I directed numerous late attendes to other events, like the playtest delves, to fill their time before later slots began. We were able to accommodate almost everyone that came to play Pathfinder or Starfinder Society and arrrived by the start time. The only slot we weren’t was one where tickets had been oversold. I believe five individuals were turned away, and each was give a boon for their patience waiting in line.
For anyone attending in the future - if you don’t have a ticket, seating occurs first come first serve. We will accommodate as much as possible, but when tables are seated they are seated. Arrive before the start time for the best chance of being seated if you do not have a ticket.
Telling the organizers that you were going be arriving tomorrow with people that wanted to play Pathfinder doesn’t change the fact that when you arrived the next day, you arrived late enough that the specific games you wanted to sit at were already full. Other people that also wanted to play arrived before you and got seated first. Perhaps you were misinformed the night before or you arrived later than you thought. When I became involved in the situation at the PSA / low level door it was 8:10.
Additionally, the seating policies have not changed in the last five years, and I understand this is not your first time attending. Did you run into similar problems previously, or was this the first year you attempted PFS play?
Lastly, there are tons of opportunities to have fun at PaizoCon. Pathfinder play test delves, open gaming, and even free paint-and-take. We also had numerous open Starfinder tables. In the future you can explore those options if you are unable to be seated. Next year I highly recommend signing up for events online and arriving by the start time.
PaizoCon is seated the same way every year. Players with tickets for an event in the ballroom are seated from 15 minutes before the start of the event until the events start time. So if you have an 8 AM ticket, ticketed seating will take place from 7:45 to 8:00 AM to get seated. At that point, the musterers will open the seating to anyone who is interested on a first come, first serve basis. So, as said by others, arriving a while after the start time is a good way to be unable to seat 3-4 people in a group.
Regarding scenario variety. This year, there was 1 table of PSA scheduled, 1 table of a low level repeatable scheduled (confirmation, wounded wisp, etc), and 2 tables of PFS quests each slot. These were the games that the OP was trying to get seated at. Given that that PSA was full each time, as was the 1 table of a random repeatable, he was only able to find seating at one of the two quest tables, which was House of Harmonious Wisdom.
Something else to know is that there were MANY seats available at each slot, but for Starfinder. There was between 1 and up to 7 GMs released each major slot that was running Starfinder. So if the OP was keen on playing a game with his kids, there were definitely available, just not of those limited Pathfinder ones. And, for anyone wondering, HQ volunteers do check with free SFS GMs and ask if they can run a game of Pathfinder. Some of those GMs aren't capable or comfortable doing that, which is fine--they are expecting to run what they signed up for, not having to accommodate late entries.
Why so much SFS you might wonder? It was the first year and the waters were being tested to see how popular SFS was. It did sell out every slot at GenCon. So this years PaizoCon schedule was 50-50 PFS to SFS ratio. Obviously those numbers were a bit off the mark. I'd say that next year you could expect to see more PFS tables each slot, but with PFv2 coming out who knows.
Lastly, I'd like to remind everyone here that every single volunteer and GM that helps put on and make PaizoCon function is a player just like you. The volunteer signups are open to the public and are filled by people passionate about making PFS and SFS games happen. They work exceptionally hard to accommodate everyone that comes to play, and feel terrible when instances like this occur. I know of the OPs specific incident because I was present, and the volunteers that attempted to get the OPs group seated did everything in their power to find a solution. These people aren't employees, they are citizens of our community and deserve the benefit of the doubt when situations like this occur.
Their commitment to the community is honestly staggering. On Thursday before the con began, they unpacked three pallets of material and sorted through it all. They made up the table tents, the prize table, the HQ station, and all of the muster sheets. They bundled your chronicles, got your reporting sheets, passed out prize tokens, and handed out pregens. Most spent over 10 hours a day at this convention setting up the hall at 7 AM and being there until midnight. They organized over 300 people each major slot into roughly 50 tables, and had 95% of tables filled 10 minutes after the start time. They all sacrificed the ability to play at this convention to allow everyone else to enjoy it. And when the con was over, they were in the ballroom till 2 PM repacking those pallets and breaking things down. They do this because they are driven to make PaizoCon the best convention they can.
I am very sorry that you arrived late to a game with a table of four people and were unable to get seated together. I sincerely hope that in the future you arrive on time, so that you can experience the amazing community of volunteers that we have, and enjoy this game that has brought us all together.
Side note about theater of the mind: please consider carefully before doing this for combats. One of my worst experiences ever in PFS was made even worse because the GM refused to draw a map for the final BBEG fight.
#6-07 Valley of Veiled Flame:
The final map here is critical because there are traps, secret doors, and a BBEG that uses flight and reach to attack foes. The combat was confusing to say the least, and reached a boiling point when the GM had the creature five foot step to cast a spell, after players had specifically positioned their characters to try and prevent such an action. Voices were raised, and the entire table had a terrible time--GM included.
That's not to say TOTM isn't always a bad idea, as others have noted (I have done it a few times myself), but it does bring new challenges to your table that typically aren't there. Like how to resolve AOOs, flanking, reach, cover, spell lines and AOEs, etc. All the things that are readily available when there is a map. Also remember that some players latch onto the specificity of Pathfinder grid-combat as a touchstone for their games (they feel more in control when they can move their own mini, etc), and as a result removing the grid can make them feel very uncomfortable.
So please take all that into account before removing your map.
Bad GMs: I consider GMs & Players as being the same folks--participants in PFS. So, to me, the question in this thread is "how to avoid bad PFS participants?"
My answer to that is to consider "good - bad" or "skilled - unskilled" as a spectrum. We all start somewhere on it and move one way or the other the more we play PFS. Personally, I started my PFS career as what I would now refer to as "a bad GM." It takes time, patience, and a healthy community to develop "good" participants.
So how to avoid bad participants? My advice is to not. Adjust your attitude to appreciate that they're at a different place along the road of understanding and see what you can do to help them move along. I'm not saying you need to be a zen master or anything, but I often like to extend some words of wisdom or suggestions before refusing to play with people any more. And these are those individuals who, for whatever reason, seem set in their ways and are unwilling to broaden their perspective. That's willful ignorance, and sadly, there is no known cure. To those people, just avoid them once you've extended the olive branch.
Avoiding GMs that have tons of deaths? Again, my advice is to not. Adventuring has risks, and deaths happen. Typically due to PC error, dice rolls, or GM mistakes. And GMs should be willing to overturn their mistakes (misread tactics, abilities, etc). As a GM with 300+ tables I have a lot of PC deaths*. Some were my mistakes, but a majority are from foolish player decisions or crits. Also, more deaths occur when players are new, and grow fewer once people are more familiar with the system.
So I'd say the best approach is to see why deaths are happening. Is it really the GM? Are they fudging dice and changing tactics? Or did someone put their PC in a bad spot? Did a greataxe crit that guy? If its the GM, have a conversation. Why are they kill-happy? Do they understand the game is about telling a cooperative story? If they are cheating, speak to the local VO. They are participating as a PFS GM and are expected to follow the rules--cheating is not permitted for sanctioned play. If it's the players, also have a conversation. Work with them on tactics and character building decisions. It’s important to remember that we're all in this together, and even death can be fun if everyone is having a good time with it.
The way we made it fun is to have a “Wall of Names” at our LGS, where all our PFS and homebrew characters get tacked up once they inevitably bite the bullet. It makes character death a lot less serious and even new players are laughing if they get eaten by a monster. There are 20+ sheets up there from 5ish years of gaming at this shop, and each one has a good story behind it.
*As a player, my PCs have also died a fair bit; I have a few level 5+ PFS characters that are true dead