Winter Fantasy 2014 Fort Wayne

Pathfinder Society

Liberty's Edge

I'm wondering if anyone knows what happened with Pathfinder Society play at Winter Fantasy this year.

My friends and I went last year and had a blast, there was a lot of support from Paizo, Jason Buhlman was there running a couple of tables, we all had a great time.

This year, when we arrived on Friday evening, we found out that there were only two Pathfinder Society judges for the entire convention. We were very surprised, to say the least. For a fairly big convention, only two PFS judges is almost unbelievable! We found out that that was the situation for the entire weekend, and to say that we were disappointed is understating it. We have since talked to other attendees, and everyone who came for Pathfinder is more than a little let down.

The staff at the con were very nice, and offered to print modules for us and enter them as well after we had played them, we just had to find a judge of our own from amongst the attendees, quickly prep the module, then run it.

I think the con staff was doing their best to bring some good to a bad situation. They've been very nice about the printing and such, but not having judges to run them seems like an incredible blunder. None of my friends are interested in coming back to Winter Fantasy ever again, and I have to admit, it does make me pretty reluctant to spend the time, effort, and money to go through this again.

Could anyone tell me what happened? What was the breakdown from plan to execution? There are plenty of rumors, but no one seems to know the real story. I'd appreciate it if anyone could clue me in, I'm planning to go to Origins this summer, but not if this is the sort of thing that would likely happen again.

Liberty's Edge

I am there as well... Very much a disappointment. The original PFS module list looked really decent, only to see that more than half of them are not being offered. I was fortunate enough to meet up with some old friends and organize our own. The convention was nice enough to charge us full ticket price to use our own judge to run the games... At least they printed stuff for us. I would really like to hear about what happened and how this event ended up with so little organization and support.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I can tell you with absolute certainty that Origins will be nothing like this.

VC Mike McNerney and his VOs have increased Origins tables to over 200 last year. So expect a large pfs crown at Origins.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

I was at Winter War last year during the same weekend, but I heard from some of the PFS GMs that there were issues with the way the convention staff treated them. If you look at the convention thread on these forums, there wasn't much of a response.

Sometimes conventions over promise the number of slots they can offer w/o having a good base for support from GMs or a champion to attract that support. On the plus side, Mortika's there this year, and that's a guaranteed fun time.

The Exchange 5/5

Also, Marmalade Dog is this same weekend in Kalamazoo, MI. That's where most of your Michigan PFS GMs are. It's less costly as well.

Scarab Sages 5/5

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Basically WF2013 was a bit of a cluster for various reasons. We told the management all the concerns we had (both before and after the con) and were summarily dismissed as being wrong. So basically nobody was interested in going again this year. I'm speaking for many of the folks in Indiana, not Paizo.

The Exchange 4/5 5/5

I did not attend, so I might not be correct in saying this, but from what I read prior to the convention it appeared that the PFS gaming was being organized by convention staff. At most conventions the scheduling, GM wrangling, and marshaling is turned over to a Venture-Officer (who then interfaces with the convention staff).

In turn this means that PFS is the sole focus of the VO, rather than one of the multitude of things a convention organizer must deal with.


Greg Hurst wrote:
Basically WF2013 was a bit of a cluster for various reasons. We told the management all the concerns we had (both before and after the con) and were summarily dismissed as being wrong. So basically nobody was interested in going again this year. I'm speaking for many of the folks in Indiana, not Paizo.

I think this basically sums it up ... For me last year it was a communication issue ... This year was because I just couldn't make it, instead chose another con that had more of a PFS focus and not a DnD focus.

2/5 5/5

I have missed the last couple years, but this is disappointing to hear.

The Exchange 5/5

$30 badges + $8 a slot?? I think they priced themselves out of attendance. Dave's a great guy, but this year with the slim pickings and pricey events makes it a hard sell for out-of-towners.

neighboring convention plug:
Contrast that with BASHCon in Toledo next weekend (plug-plug) which you get in for $15 and only pay $3 a slot with a lot more variety. Marmalade Dog was $25 and the PFS events are free. I bet you they have the same Paizo con support as Winter Fantasy too.

Dark Archive 4/5

Hey folks - I'm one of the two PFS guys here at WF this year (the other being the wonderfully talented Chris Mortika!), and I realize that it's a stressful situation for people that just want to get in and throw dice.

It's not my place to talk about previous events, but I wanted to take a quick moment to thank everyone that has come out this year, is still here, or plans on checking out things on Sunday morning - weather permitting, of course.

We've seen a bunch of new players with just the two of us, and I've had a couple of volunteer GMs for their own tables - each and every one of you folks are rockstars.

If anyone has feedback about what we were able to offer here at the show I'm all ears. Please feel free to PM me, or if you like, to email me directly. I'll be filing my end-of-show report Monday or Tuesday with Mike Brock directly, and I'd love to be able to include specific feedback for him regarding the event.

(if you're lurking around the show and want to talk to me directly, I'm the guy that a) isn't Chris, and b) is wearing the MSU hat).


Liberty's Edge 4/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I was thinking of going and would have judged PFS but I couldn't do the airfare from the East Coast.

Its a shame cause as Doug said Dave's a great guy and I was thrilled last year when he opened up Winter Fantasy to systems other than D&D. Winter Fantasy used to be a go to show for me when I lived in the Midwest.


RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

I had a great time at WF2013, splitting my time between Living Forgotten Realms and Pathfinder Society. I was unable to attend this year. I really wanted to finish out the Living Forgotten Realms campaign, but my wife strongly suggested that I stay home with her instead. Had there been more of a PFS presence to fill up the rest of my time at the con, I would have probably fought her harder on the issue.

I will be addressing this but there are few other things I need to do first before doing so. There are proper ways of doing things. Just didn't want people to think I was ignoring it.

Liberty's Edge 2/5

Sorry, I dont mean to point something out but from the OP Im not sure Im following this correctly.

How is PFS advertised at Cons? On the con page is there a subpage listing what PFS scenarios are going to be run, when, how to signup etc? Or do people just think PFS will be run there, pay their money and turnup.

IF I was going to a Convention, Id want to know what was running, where it was running and who else was playing in advance. Not when I got there. I know things can change but there are some basic levels of foreknowledge needed.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Generally Matthew, you can look at the event listing for a convention and find out what's being run, when it is supposed to be run, and such.

Depending on the convention, you may also know how many seats are available per slot for each scenario. You may also know who the GM is going to be if you are also a GM or somehow otherwise privy to GM info.

But the one thing you are almost never going to be aware of (unless you partake in a public message board thread or some other social media outlet regarding that convention with other players) going to know who's going to play in each slot.

Unless the PFS coordinators for the convention are using warhorn for more than GM signups.

The Exchange 5/5 RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I was there. It was a great convention, friendly, sort of on the smallish side. (The entire con, including the dealers and the board game library area, fit in half the space of the ballroom PFS used at Gen-Con, with plenty of additional space to grow.) I ran a lot of low-tier adventures, and everybody came to the table ready to have a good time.

Andrew, the Winter Fantasy site was still advertising a plethora of PFS events, up until the convention. Any serious PFS player who didn't pre-register (and therefore, didn't see the reduced offerings) would have been disappointed.

Liberty's Edge 2/5

THanks for the update. Im also asking this because Ive just booked a 'badge' (new to me) for Paizocon this year (Im doing a midyear trip to the US from Aus: first time!) and am looking to attend both Origins and Paizocon. I get a little worried with websites that are not 'current' as I generally am the type of guy who does a few things spur of the moment.. but generally plans out what he is going to do in advance.

We also use Warhorn locally (for players and gms) so Im very used to using that exclusively now.

Dark Archive 5/5 * Regional Venture-Coordinator, Gulf

I post all Florida events, even if I am not running them on I also made a fyer listing even fl game.

Promoting is a tough job. You don't want to push player that have seen it over and over, but you want to reach new eyes every day.

See you at Megacon.

2/5 5/5

On a side note, thank you for posting that link Dominick. I will be moving to Florida in a few months (the Ft Walton area), and I will be looking for some PFS down there.

Usually, having your event tickets in advance is the best way to go. At least, that has been my experience.

Here's a non-Pathfinder specific view of Winter Fantasy 2014. I wrote this for an OSR forum so you'll see that tone and tenor in the commentary. There's probably spoilers in here for 4e, 5e, LFR, Pathfinder, and the season finale of every show you've ever watched so, yeah ... you were warned. I review OSR material on my blog and am a very harsh critic with very high standards. No softballs from me.

Winter Fantasy 2014

Fair Warning: I don't follow this **** so I don't know the background here, or even if this is all common knowledge.

I played in the actual "Sundering" event at Winter Fantasy. It turns out Mystra wasn't TOTALLY dead. The second half of the BI had the players attacking Cyric's prison and "Sundering" his throne, which, along with killing Cyric (the spellplague was caused by it leaking from his head) and some intervention by Lathander, has brought Mystra back. She did a new weave and "the worlds are moving apart again" whatever that means. And thus Living Forgotten Realms ends and the whole Spellplague and 4e madness (god of madness, get it?) is over.

The whole "sundering and connected events/players impact the world" thing appears to be taking the Living Forgotten Realms model. People play adventures, send in their results, and the plot/further adventures are connected to those results.

WYC Playback:
I was at the con Friday-Sunday. The con seemed smaller. The convention center LCD's said "DDXP/Winter Fantasy", but I thought DDXP moved to GenCon for this year? There were 3 vendors, 2 guys selling game stuff and 1 selling T-shirts. There was an Artimis set up (didn't play here but have before, lots of fun!) and the GenCon boardgame library.

The boardgame library generally had 7-10 tables going, and during 'off' times had as many games going as there were RPG tables. Pathfinder had a couple of tables, but I believe they suffered from a lack of Judges. There's didn't seem to ever be more than 2 tables of Next running. The Saturday Battle Interactive had 17-20 tables, which again seemed a bit smaller. I don't recall there being any lectures/seminars/etc as there had in years pat, which I suspect is a by-product of it not being DDXP anymore.

The only game we could get Friday night was Pathfinder. I've only played once before. A mostly linear adventure to rescue some Dwarven diplomats from the religious fundie neighboring kingdom. The DM was one of the better ones (main Pathfinder organizer at the con, I think) during the weekend. The final scene was more open-ended than the rest of the adventure, taking place in a mostly empty, and largish, roadside inn. The battle, once engaged, took place throughout the inn as we escaped. That portion felt more open and "free flowing" than the rest of the adventure scenes. The adventure was full of b*+@$@#~ names that did NOT roll off the tongue. It was comical how bad that part was. Nice & realistic though, of you're in to that sort of thing.

Saturday morning we played Living Forgotten Realms 4e Core 6-1 "Behind Obould's Lines." War was coming and our 1st level dudes went behind the Orc lines. We convinced one tribe of to abandon the high king of the orcs because they had too many trade ties to the humans. We convinced the second set hat the high king wasn't blood thirsty enough. We then destroyed some siege gear and killed a Netherese diplomatic convoy, before engaging in a lame skill contest to escape. This adventure suffered a lot from solo-itis. Many parts were focused on 1 or 2 people, leaving everyone else sitting out and waiting. And waiting. The first two sections were diplomacy, which of course meant the guy with the highest diplomacy did all the talking. And he didn't want to roll play but just roll the dice. But still took forever. Then there was a "prove yourself" section which involved a 2 on 2 combat. This being 4e that took an hour. The rest of us would be punished if we interfered, so we were all sitting around doing nothing. Bad bad adventure design. The "destroy the siege engines" was a skill challenge. The "kill the diplomatic convoy" was an ambush turkey shoot, which was fun to be on the "shooting" side for once. It was also, essentially, the only group party thing we did. We then did THREE skill challenge sections to escape the orcs ... which was all very thrown together at the end and felt really out of place. The DM was one of the core con staff, I think, and he wasn't deviating much from the script. The allowed actions were the allowed actions. I did not approve of his style. At the end of the adventure we were bumped to Level 11 to allow us to play in the Battle Interactive, as a part of the adventure.

The BI is the BI, all 11 hours of it. If you don't think of it as D&D then it will be one of the most fun things you will do at a con. Basically, you are an army of adventurers engaged in some kind of joint activity. So all of the tables, 20 or so at this con, were all doing about the same thing and our results impacted each other and the future encounters during the game. In this one the Netherese were attacking the last free city (Cormyr? Suthil? SOmething like that) and we were all the special forces. I guess the whole year of Living ZForgotten Realms has been leading up to this moment. It starts with forming up a group, and a group of guys from Columbus needed wizards (my son and I were playing the pregen 11th level wizards from the LFR website) so they asked us to join them. I always feel bad, and grateful, when this happens, since we NOT hardcore 4e at all and the Winter Fantasy crowd generally are. So we're going to suck the group down AND you get to ply with a kid. How fun! But I'm also obviously grateful that they invited us to play with them and didn't seem upset that we sucked.

Anyway, main DM gets up on a table and describes what's going on. There's evil dragons overhead, swooping down on the city! But then flights of gold, silver, and metallic dragons swoop out over the east and crash in to them in combat, and the battle rages overhead while we're doing things on the ground. A giant floating sky city comes in to attack and then out of nowhere another small city appears and crashes in to it in the air and then after a bit they both crash to the ground! Then the united orc tribes rise up over a hill, all "Rider of Rohan" style, and the Orc king gives a mighty battle cry and yells who's with me?! as he turns to face his nations and they charge down the hill! all 50 orcs behind him cheer and follow him in to the valley of death ... his remaining tribal nations having deserted him! During this completely cheesy stuff various people are cheering, the ones who went on those adventures. And when he got to the orcs my son and I cheered. That was us; we did that and it had an effect on the battle! It sound stupid, and anyone who has read my reviews knows I can be a cynical asshat, but even now, writing this up two days later, I get a little choked up over the pre-battle action descriptions of dragon armies in battle and sky cities fighting each other and the orc armies.

On to the main BI action. They have a map of the city up on a wall via a projector with six adventure sites. Over the next four hours our table will try to complete as many of the missions as possible, just as the other tables will, and each time we do a green dot appears on the site. Enough green dots and that mission is 'won' and the battle changes a bit from there on. We started by attacking cult hideouts, then moved on to one of the corrupted treant groves, and then moved on to a strategic ruined tower, and so on. As you are doing yours others are doing the same or different ones, and the map on the wall is updating, allowing you to better choose the next mission your table goes on. It's a lot of fun. At one point living cloudkill moved in to the city and some tables abandoned their missions to go help 1/6th of the city each. Again, it's kind of cheesy to think of an army of adventurers but also lots of fun imagining all of these Special Forces tables undergoing missions while the main battle rages. They do a good job of making you feel special, and part of the larger effort with your actions having consequences, without it being the lame "you, Bob, single-handedly are the star and saved the universe." It's a very nice shared experience. The second 4-hour section had us attacking the prison of the mad god Cyric to sunder his throne and bring back Mystra so she could rework the weave. These didn't seem as fun as the first section of missions, but at the end you kill Cyric, restore Mytra, etc etc etc. Oh, and for killing a god you get bumped to 21. So my son and I started as rutabega farmers that morning, went to the wizards tower to help with the war effort, were given some magic training and sent off to war (our backstory we made up), leveling up through 11 and on to 21 by the end of the day. Kind of a cute series of events. Lots of fun, and just 11 hours of tactical miniatures battles using 4e, with nothing resembling the kind of D&D I like to play ... but still an AWESOME con experience. I think we died something like 12 times among the 6 of us, with 2 complete TPK's. We got res'd and they marked that mission as a 'fail' on map. It doesn't have to make sense, it's fun.

I ****ed up our tickets he next morning. We were supposed to play Castle Greyhawk from 8-12 and then Isle of Woe from 12-4, both 5e events. I looked right at the tickets and said "were playing isle of woe from 8-12." and we did ... and then couldn't play Greyhawk from 12-4 because it was full. I was supposed to help tear down the boardgame library, filling in as a favor to someone who broke an ankle, but they pushed the time back to 3pm and I wasn't about to wait around for 3 hours, so we drove home after I got a replacement. At the end of Woe a different judge made the mistake of asking me my opinion. There is STILL too much b*#$~~&% in 5e, IMO. Every time someone says something like "oh wait, you get an extra +blah because of ..." or someone is looking at their Char Sheet instead of at the DM, then the the designer has failed. That is CLEARLY the 4e way, and the latest 5e rules have some of that also, although not as much. The judge announced it was free-flowing i 5e and then spent a lot of time judging the game like it was 4e (although not as hard core) with lots of rule look ups, etc. Maybe that was just because it was an intro game, IDK. I tried to make a point, since it was dungeon, of not taking combat spells but rather utility spells. There were not as many utility spells (to be "creative" with) as I would have liked. I don't know what's going on. If people are in Pathfinder/3e/4e mode and can't look at the situation without looking at the char sheet and rules, or what.

On the way home my son (13) said something like "Im a little sad; 4e was MY first D&D and my favorite because of that."

It was a good weekend, and my comments should not be taken as otherwise.

My test of a good DM is my equipment list. If I can use my Big Blanket and Chicken, shovel, crowbar, or sock full of CP in an adventure then the DM is a good one. If I can't then the DM is a rules-bound tool. This isn't hard and fast, but the DM's reaction to creative play tells a lot about them, I think. I threw my blanket over a "sticks to snakes" square in pathfinder, and fed my chicken to a river serpent in pathfinder. That was a good DM. I didn't even try anything in the BI, and the Obould's lines DM wasn't having any of my creative nonsense. The Woe guy let me get away with my Wand of Doors (from Fight On! Magazine) but was a little too combat focused. The dungeon was stuffed with nonsense creatures who wanted to nothing but fight. It felt a lot more like a 4e delve than a 1e dungeon. But there WERE puzzle rooms and weird effects and ****. I think I detected a "treasure parcel" which set off my rage-O-meter. I've had better DM's at Winter Fantasy than the 5e guy, but he wasn't in full on 4e mode. Gotta remember, Winter Fantasy attracts the hardest of the hardcore rules RPGA players.

Liberty's Edge 2/5

It's interesting. Im looking for another Living style campaign to compliment PFS (Which I did with Dragonstar/Arcanis/Greyhawk back in the day).

LFR has finished now? Was there any announcement over what was taking its place. Ive played some next... there were some good and bad parts but I dont hate it.

Im more concerned that encounters will be it nowadays (ive never played any encounters)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Bryce, thanks for the summary of Winter Fantasy. I've been looking for just this sort of report for the last couple of days.

Matthew, a couple of years ago, I played some Witch Hunter and Arcanis living campaign games. They were a lot of fun (a nice complement to PFS). I understand that Witch Hunter just underwent a reboot.

Liberty's Edge 2/5

So did Arcanis (to some extent). It never rebooted locally though, the drop time between both campaigns effectively killed it locally. LFR has never run locally where I am and Im not sure runs over in the eastern States of Australia anymore either.

Im not going to stop playing PFS , but ive come to the point now where when games get put up I have to make sure I have not played them before, so another Living style campaign would be helpful for me.

Now If I knew that a replacement for LFS was coming, I know exactly what books I need to buy/read to play and so on then that would be the best but its hard to get concrete information nowadays.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Matthew, I was asking around on enworld regarding hints from Winter Fantasy about organized play support for D&D Next, but the response that I got was that everything was still pretty hush hush.

Liberty's Edge 2/5

Which is what annoys me. I understand the big thing about unveiling stuff at large Conventions, but anticipation often drives success. You want people to look forward to playing something. Im more of the belief that they dont know what they are doing yet, so cant tell us anything.

Im looking into going to Origins this year (looking at Accomodation currently) so hopefully I hear something there.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Matthew, it annoys me too. I'm trying to think back to the Summer of 4E's release. I'm not sure if I am right or not, but I think Origins that year featured some 4E games with pre-gen characters, then GenCon saw the release of LFR. I can't remember if those LFR games made it to the event catalog in a timely fashion or not.

A friend and I have been speculating what the 5E's organized play campaign will look like. Part of me thinks it will be set in a single region of the Forgotten Realms, probably the North and/or Baldur's Gate. If they go this route, there could be tie-ins with the Tyranny of Dragons story arc. Basically, WotC would steal a page from Paizo's playbook with cross-promotion between an adventure path, organized play adventures, minis, etc.

Another part of me thinks that they might keep the Forgotten Realms for their published/print products and Encounters; and use Greyhawk for their organized play campaign.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Nevada—Las Vegas

Matthew, you might want to check out the NeoGenesis OP campaign.

Uses Pathfinder rules, some additional races and rules from the company that puts it together (LJ Porter), and one of the big names in the campaign is former Venture Captain JP Chapeau, in charge of creating the adventures, IIRC.

NG starts at 3rd level for PCs, and runs up from there. Like PFS, the OP campaign guide is a freebie.

Liberty's Edge 2/5

I do own some Neogeo stuff and information from JP pops up in my facebook feeds every so often. The guy certainly does have an opinion on just about everything :).

Its more me trying to get another living campaign going locally which would help if they became more widely known. Its a chicken and egg thing really.

David Christ wrote:
I will be addressing this but there are few other things I need to do first before doing so. There are proper ways of doing things. Just didn't want people to think I was ignoring it.

David, I would like to contact you on another topic but don't see an option for PM. Is there an e-mail address I can use (or something similar)?

Liberty's Edge 2/5

How did Winter Fantasy go this year in regards to PFS?

I noticed several new AL Expeditions scenarios were debuted there.

Liberty's Edge 4/5

Matthew Pittard wrote:

How did Winter Fantasy go this year in regards to PFS?

I noticed several new AL Expeditions scenarios were debuted there.

There wasn't any PFS at WF this year. Just one or two tables of Pathfinder in general.


The Exchange

Correct. No PFS at WF 2015. I paid to rent a table there so I could potentially sell some PFRPG books to said players only to find a complete absence of said potential customers. I cut my losses Friday afternoon and won't be returning to WF in the future. To be honest, even if there was a PFS presence there I disliked the dealer area because it was an unsecured area and had room for a grand total of 4 dealer tables.

Liberty's Edge 2/5

That is surprising.

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