PFS at Origins 2012 Feedback

Pathfinder Society

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Captain, Ohio—Central


I would like to thank everyone who stopped out and played some games at Origins. A special thanks to all the GMs who who Judged for us. We even had some who jumped in when they were scheduled to be off that slot to allow others to play a session. An extra special thanks goes out to Shivok. Without him, Origins would not have been as successful and was definitely the MVP of the convention.

As far as the event itself, I would like to start collecting Feedback. How did everyone like the event? Please keep your constructive feedback about the PFS at Origins and not Origins itself. Praise and critiques are both welcome. We have much higher expectations for next year and your feedback will go a long way to making it even better. Thanks again everyone!

The Exchange ***

Shivok rocks.

Congrats on the con.


Paizo Employee ** Franchise Manager

I've removed a post that was generally fine but contained some inappropriate references to rape. If you feel an adventure is too difficult, that's fine and we welcome the feedback, but we also take rape seriously and won't tolerate it thrown around nonchalantly.


My (not so) quick Origins thoughts

I thought I’d write down some of my thoughts and observations about my experience at Origins this weekend.

About Origins in general:

- Origins was a smaller convention than I thought. It had a lot of different events but people were really spread out over a variety of games (many games were not full and games were very easy to demo in the dealer hall). Good for the consumer, bad for businesses probably. By the end I recognized all of the PFS regulars (which would be impossible at Gencon).

- Most of the PFS players (I spoke to) are local and will NOT be going to Gencon, which surprised me.

- The local Columbus players are nice guys/gals.

- Staying at the Hyatt is amazing; it was literally a 30 second walk from my elevator to the PFS room.

- I would probably go to Origins again someday if I could find a roomie or two.

About Pathfinder Administration:

1) The prize awards were extremely generous and I’ve never seen anything like it. It was much appreciated. Also good boon support. Thanks Mike Brock and anyone else involved. It made travelling far for Origins worth it.

2) Shivok (June) is a nice guy, thanks for chatting.

3) Local VC Michael McNerney also rocks and thanks for helping me out. Like I said, the local Columbus people are nice folks.

4) Skip (CptTylorX from Detroit) is one of the best GMs and players I’ve had the chance to sit with (even if he didn’t get the rules for darkness completely right). He’s a super funny guy, amazing roleplayer, great rules mastery, and is living proof you can be a great roleplayer and optimizer. I would gladly play with this crazy dude again. Paizo should look at his LG work, I’m sure it’s unique and interesting and it would be worth having him write a PF scenario.

5) The mustering was a lot more adhoc and unstructured than Gencon mustering. If there were more players, it would have to be done in a more structured way.

6) Overall the organizers and admin guys did a great job, were friendly, and it was much appreciated. Thanks for bringing PF to Origins!

About Pathfinder Gaming:

1) The game space was perfect, there was so much room between tables and the ceiling was so high, I could actually hear my GM no problem and (gasp) roleplay!

2) The high level tables were very empty and the low level tables looked like they were overflowing. This is good for PFS but I was a little disappointed more players aren’t making their way into the upper tiers (high level play was my reason for attending). Having said that, all my tables were run (some with 1-2 pregens, which is actually a problem at high tier), so it wasn’t ideal but I can’t complain and administration did their best.

3) It’s much more apparent at high levels, but a player’s mastery of PF, tactics, and character building make PCs as contrasting as day and night. I would say someone with system mastery is roughly 50-100% more powerful than someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing at high level. And if you factor in people that play together and work off each other’s synergies (I met a group like that this weekend), there is nothing they can’t beat, even if they were level 8 and playing at subtier 10-11, any scenario is easy for them.

Having said that, I don’t feel Paizo should create scenarios and cater to these "super groups", unless you want to kill the other 90% of your player base at level 7+ (of people that are randomly grouped together and have limited system mastery). It's very elitist, which will make some people happy (many people on this board are elite), and others not happy (the guys who will never post here). Which brings me to my next point…

About Rats of Round Mountain 1 and upcoming scenarios:

I think PFS scenarios are getting too hard for part (the majority? minority?) of the player base. I’m a mid-level optimizer but Rats of Round Mountain 1 (played by an intelligent GM) sets the difficulty bar too high. Haunting of Hinojai was possibly a problem too, but it’s hard to tell because I was in an insanely optimal group. If I was truly roleplaying my PC, he would probably retire because I was way out of my league and the adventuring life is too dangerous. lol.

I’m sure some people will have fun with Rats 1, especially super optimized groups of players that have good PF system mastery (they’ll still destroy the scenario of course). Or people that read spoilers, which we didn’t do.

Unfortunately, I ran through it with 5 players, including 2 pregens, no cleric, no ranged, and players that don’t have that system mastery (and didn’t bring t-shirts for critical re-rolls). The PROBLEM is that scenarios like this are extremely upsetting to players with low system mastery. We had one player QQ for 15 minutes and almost leave the table; we had another player go completely silent (and he never showed up for Part 2 despite having a ticket). After being beaten up for 2 hours, I’m not sure if I was stressed because of the QQ player b!@&*ing, thinking for everyone else, or the scenario, but it wasn’t fun and I definitely wasn’t thinking about roleplaying anymore, I was thinking survival and tactics with this non-optimal party only. We did beat the encounter (2 personal PA later), but it was frustrating for the same reasons why people found a certain Mark Moreland scenario frustrating. Actually, more frustrating since the NPCs had a counter for everything we had. For a group with no healer or ranged attackers (and supported by limited spellbook pregen Ezren), it sucked.

The GM played the NPCs extremely proficiently and ruthlessly (and I would too if I GMed it), and he killed 1 PC (RIP pregen Ezren) but he could have killed 1-3 PCs easily (but started to play 'nice' because everyone wasn’t having fun). We didn’t even do the optional encounter, which is also supposed to be evil. If done wrong, the last encounter is also ridiculous (and my GM walked me step by step on what would happen, we’d have no chance) in the hands of an intelligent and proficient GM (btw, some GMs can run tactics much smarter than others, if that wasn’t obvious already, especially when you give them powerful sandbox at-will abilities).

Bottom Line: With scenarios like Rats, you’re going to turn a large portion of your players away from playing high level (or kill them which also turns them away). It sends a clear message, “optimize or die”. Actually, it’s not even that simple, because some players will NEVER have the system mastery needed to beat encounters like that. Believe me, they don’t know the correct spells, they don’t know the correct way to use them, they won’t have the correct consumables or even know which consumables to get. (I also think it’s ridiculous to say, carry consumable Z or you die.) And not all tables (especially tables of 4) will have the correct class mix, so they’ll be unable to use the “standard tactics” that other reviewers of this scenario espouse (especially when you give the bad guys counter measures). Unfortunately, I think the two players with low system mastery got “the message”, but is that the message you want to send? I think there’s a happy medium between being too easy and getting beaten to a pulp. I hope we don’t see more of this in season 4.

For me, I’d play a scenario by this author again, but I’d be “extremely” selective about who I sit at the table with, even if it meant missing a slot, which smacks of elitism (which I hate btw). It would also suck missing a slot, especially when paying hundreds of dollars to be at a convention, but it beats the alternative (and potentially losing 29 PA).

Anyway, I don’t want to end on a negative note. I had a wonderful time and I just wanted to thank all of the organizers and GMs who spent their time making it happen. And thanks also to the players at my tables who made it fun.

Scarab Sages

I had a great time. This was my third year playing PFS at Origins. I'm looking forward to a fourth year.

My view from the outside was that HQ and the GMs were really going the distance to make sure nobody got turned away. I really appreciated that because I did not always have a ticket for the right event, but despite that, I played a scenario in every event slot that I showed up for. I also got to play the character I wanted to play in almost every scenario because the level spread and party balance were usually a non-issue. The prize support was simply amazing. The boons were also very, very cool.

One of the moments that stands out most for me was a table I sat at on Friday night (for Icebound Outpost) in which our GM took several minutes prior to the start of the scenario to help a new player optimize her Witch character. He was very patient with the player of that character while he explained to her how to prioritize feats, spells, and hexes, and then during play gently reminded her of how to use all of her actions in the most efficient way. I couldn't be more impressed.

Then again, I think I can say that about the whole convention effort. Great job everyone!

The Exchange


Great post. One question: What is QQ?

***** Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka Pirate Rob

Leslie Foster wrote:


Great post. One question: What is QQ?



I agree, Shivok was amazing and HQ, in general, seem to hold together well. Then again, I was so busy GMing I didn't really notice much other than that HQ was usually staffed by two or three people and no players seemed upset. The entire tenor of the Pathfinder Hall was one of jovial tension, rather than stressed out bickering. Player and staff drama was overall very low and problems dealt with promptly. I didn't field any complaints about how the con or the hall or the games were being run. And I saw a lot of smiles.

I, personally, had one of the best Origins ever as a judge and was heartened by all the new & newbie players I ran. I greatly enjoy running because of the people I meet, the comraderie with strangers who quickly become fellows, and the chance to teach and to learn. I genuinely believe my duty, first and foremost, is to the players. The campaign, the con, the game system and the location are minor considerations by comparison. Glad to represent a campaign that supports that. Thanks for the opportunity and you're welcome to ask me back. Until next year!

>Crowning Moment of Awesome: During Blood Under Absolom, the party was scrambling to fight Judge Heng. They were in darkness and spread out. The sorcerer goes invisible and runs in front of the gong the same round Heng declares them successful. The party had to feel around to find the unconscious, bleeding, invisible mage.

V. Michael Lazar
NYC Pathfinders

(P.S. If I hadn't been released those two slots, I'd have hit my 4th star. Looks like I'll celebrate it back home at Dexcon when I'll be doing an entire 12 slots of PFS modules.)


Jason S wrote:
** spoiler omitted **...

Hey Jason, thanks for the feedback! I had some questions though. Can you shoot me an email at kyle dot baird at gmail dot com?

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Captain, Ohio—Central


Thanks for making the trip and hope to see you next year. If you make it out this way at anytime, let me know and I will get a game going for you. We did have an large majority of the players at the lower levels which is great as that means PFS is growing. The 7-11 scenarios did have some trouble filling up but at least for next year, there should be more higher levels players if they survive Rats of Round Mountain. I have not had a chance to look or play those yet but I hear they are definitely challenging and look forward to it. I agree that some folks who do make it to a higher level are not as educated on survival tactics and the like. We as GMs should do a better job of making sure our player base is well educated so they can make it to the higher levels and survive. My group for The Ruby Phoenix Tournament were very educated and worked well together pretty much crushing anything that they encountered. I had to use all the stats blocks to the fullest just to provide them a challenge and make the battle last a few rounds.


It was good to meet you and I am glad to add you to the local player base. Thanks for being patient as we found a spot for you and the others with Generics. See you at one of the local games.


Thanks for making the trip from the East Coast. You pretty much GM'd a scenario in every slot which helped out a lot. Too bad we couldn't get you that 4th star.

***** Venture-Agent, Ohio—Cincinnati

It was a lot of fun except for that whole special. };{>

Mustering the tables could have been done better but that is a skill that comes from much pain and angst. No one does it right the first time and it gets better each time you do it.

Put Art in more costumes would be another improvement.


Agree with Russell that mustering could be improved a bit. Signage helps - that and someone with a loud voice who doesn't mind telling people where to go. I'm sure we have more than a few of those around. ;)

dave k


2 people marked this as a favorite.
bigwave wrote:

Agree with Russell that mustering could be improved a bit. Signage helps - that and someone with a loud voice who doesn't mind telling people where to go. I'm sure we have more than a few of those around. ;)

dave k

Hrmm... get someone with bewbs to to the mustering ... guarantee they'll listen ;)

Sovereign Court ***** Venture-Captain, Ohio—South

Things we could control:

More modules for the lower levels. I think having a couple dedicated tables for First Steps running on Friday through Sunday would be nice. Get the new players with the pregens on a module that is easier to complete with experienced players, but focused on introducing newer players. It can also help break up the tables so we don't see min maxers dominating the scenario and potentially scaring off new players, or helping to get the right mix of players to a group and GM more suited to them.

We Be Goblins should run the Sunday late spot so people can have a quick scenario and get their brand new level one characters made so they can apply their new boons and get some buffer on the character. ;)

More modules that utilize the paizo products and flip mats. Dual purpose of not only promoting the game and game materials, but also easier for GMs who get pulled off their 7-11 games they may have prepped for and now have to run a 1-5 cold. A big thank you to all the GMs who helped support me as I struggled to run some games I was not prepared for.

Dedicated administrative staff. This would help with mustering, and being able to represent the society with getting newer players into the game, hooking up existing players with other society gatherings in their area. I personally felt like there was a lot of missed opportunity to bring the community closer together and bring new players into the community. (And it's an amazing community of people... nothing like the cut throat competitive community of card floppers I am used to)

More GMs, but that's not really a con specific problem. That seems to be a problem in many areas. I personally think every PFS player would be a better player if they read a module or tried to run one. I do think, though, that GMs get the short end of the stick sometimes. Some of this is from Society rules. Probably a topic for another thread, but something to motivate people to want to run more might be nice.

Things we can't control:

More Paizo product at the dealer booths. Would have liked to have bought the Gazetteer so I could have the stats for the race boon I picked up. Also, having minis nearby for purchase can entice new players into the game more.

Promotional staff, people outside the room encouraging people to check out the game and entice them into trying a scenario. Perhaps some "play testing" of modules in the open gaming area?

Highlights for me:

Shivok being awesome at everything.

Mike McNerney doing the best he could at making Origins as successful as possible.

The twins.

Meeting some of the great Columbus players. The guy with the blue haired monk was one of my favorite people to run for.

Jeff Turner making some 1-2 tables very happy during the event with his 18 point channel bursts and Blessing of Fervor.

Did I mention Shivok being awesome?

Oh... and the twins.


VincentHoliday wrote:
More modules that utilize the paizo products and flip mats. Dual purpose of not only promoting the game and game materials, but also easier for GMs who get pulled off their 7-11 games they may have prepped for and now have to run a 1-5 cold. A big thank you to all the GMs who helped support me as I struggled to run some games I was not prepared for.

Great points and suggestions.

Regarding the (pre-made) flip-maps, it seems that GMs don't want to use them, they'd rather free hand maps using a sharpee marker (at least 3 flip maps could have been used but weren't in my sessions). So it's really up to the GMs in the end, not so much the scenarios themselves. I think it would help if there was one of each flip map at HQ for the GMs to potentially use.


Jason S wrote:

Regarding the (pre-made) flip-maps, it seems that GMs don't want to use them, they'd rather free hand maps using a sharpee marker (at least 3 flip maps could have been used but weren't in my sessions). So it's really up to the GMs in the end, not so much the scenarios themselves. I think it would help if there was one of each flip map at HQ for the GMs to potentially use.

Flip-mats are great when you have them, annoying when you don't. I brought a dozen with me and still didn't have every flip-mat necessary. Heck, some scenarios mention flip-mats before they go to market (and modules don't use them at all). For example, Red Harvest utilizes 3 flip-mats and 2 map packs, none of which I owned. I ended up borrowing one, punted with three other maps and hand-drew the fifth. Remember, they're never required, they just save a lot of drawing time.

Silver Crusade *****

Jason S wrote:

Regarding the (pre-made) flip-maps, it seems that GMs don't want to use them, they'd rather free hand maps using a sharpee marker

I would use a paizo flip map or map pack any day of the week if it was readily available for purchase. This perhaps leads back to more paizo product in the dealer room. But please, bring on the flip map scenarios for me. The next time I draw that We Be Goblins! ship will be too soon (despite my eternal love for WBG).

Shadow Lodge *****

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'd love to use flip maps, but I can't afford them. Instead I hand-draw them.


I saw lots of hand drawn maps at Origins, but I think that is simply part of the scenarios that were run. Only 1/4 regular scenarios I ran and 0/3 I played benefited from flip mats.

I love flip mats when running PFS scenarios. It would be nice if they were reused a little bit more to get more value out of them, but it is a delicate line of not seeing the same map over and over and over again. My only gripe is that some flip mats are out of print. I actually bought both the marketplace and the warehouse before needing them because I never want to have to draw those.

I do wish there was a subscription for the flip mats that did not include the map packs though, as I don't care for them as much (less perceived value since I won't use them as much).

Sovereign Court ***** Venture-Captain, Ohio—South

I don't necessarily think it's GMs don't want to use them, but as mentioned, sometimes it's a money thing. Getting back to the point of how it pertains to the Con, utilizing more flip mat based scenarios can help GMs who are asked to run cold or who were originally players asked to step up and run a table.

I didn't mean to derail the thread into some deep flip mat philosophy. ;)

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Captain, Ohio—Central

Before I started GMing PFS scenarios, I always used my battlemat. Now that I GM all the time, Flip Mats are used whenever possible. For next year, we should have more variety of scenarios and will look at how many of those use flip mats vs. map packs vs. hand drawn maps. We did have some extra flip mats available for GMs to use but as previously stated, not every scenario used them.

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

Mike Lindner wrote:
My only gripe is that some flip mats are out of print

Just a reminder that all of the FlipMats & MapPacks are available in pdf format. Sure you have to piece them together, but I've found the printed ones more useful for me. I can cut out objects from maps to use with other maps. Plus I can draw on the MapPacks without damaging the originals. If you have multiple page maps, print them on plain paper and then glue them to foam core board. Bottom line, lots of options for the pdf's.

While I like the printed maps and love to see them used, they tend to restrict the creativity of the author who has to shoe-horn their encounter into a pre-determined environment.

bigwave wrote:

Agree with Russell that mustering could be improved a bit. Signage helps - that and someone with a loud voice who doesn't mind telling people where to go. I'm sure we have more than a few of those around. ;)

dave k

Hmm, Art in a costume. That would be worth seeing :)

Liberty's Edge *

This was my first time playing Pathfinder at a convention and I enjoyed both of the sessions I played through. I would have liked to see more sessions available for starting players but the staff was able to accommodate us.

When will the sessions I played in show up on my character's page?

Sovereign Court ***

I would have liked to see more games scheduled. When looking through the event guide I recall only seeing a few games a day.

I know a lot of pick up games happened but that to me asks me to stand around to wait and see if something happens and possibly miss out on other con activity.

Grand Lodge ****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It was fun to get in and talk to a few people from the boards though I didn't get to play any PFS myself.

I did get roped in when they needed another judge ;) (I blame Art)

I look forward to seeing even more of you at GenCon

Scarab Sages

The gms were great again. All prize support was great except Beginner Box set would have replaced with status cards. Interactive first time needs player prep on how tables effect each other. Other than that Ihonor Brent's patience.

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