Looking to try and go to Gen Con 2016


Gamer Life General Discussion

Sczarni

Since Gen Con 2015 has just came and went, I am looking at trying to finally going to Gen Con after 2 years of saying I am too broke to even try. I am going to man up and start saving the money to go to next year's Gen Con. I am asking for help in grouping together expected costs for 1 person going and staying in a hotel. For sake of argument of someone coming in at the last second and halving the cost, I will paying for everything myself including staying in a hotel room by myself (I am a snorer so I understand having to room alone).

What I am looking at is plane flight out on Wednesday, hotel room from Wednesday night to either Sunday or Monday morning, all event pass (if I can get the 4 day pass in time to avoid individual day tickets) plane flight out on either Sunday night or Monday at any time. I am also looking at 1 or 2 souvenirs and buying food there (not expensive dine out meals but fast food or food while playing society play).

I know the site of the event would be booked quickly and could be expensive but it would counteract taxi fares or the sweaty factor of a fat guy walking to the Con with pathfinder books and stuff. Any help is very appreciated.


Two sites that you should look at, probably starting around January(?).

http://www.gencon.com/ for all things GenCon, including hotels, etc.
http://www.kayak.com for cheap air flights.

-- david

Organized Play Developer

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One way to get to GenCon is to volunteer for Paizo! It's a lot of fun to GM or work HQ, but be prepared to work hard for your badge!

There are different levels that have different rewards, from full badge/hotel room/book/boons to simply a badge.

The call for volunteers should start around January.

Sczarni

Thank you Jezebelle. I will look forward to that. I am willing to GM and January to August would provide ample time to prep. Any idea on what I should expect as a total payment if I pay for everything and get nothing for free. Would it be closer to $3,000 or would $2,000 be enough?

Organized Play Developer

My plane ticket from Texas was about $300.

I've never had to mess with GenCon housing, as I've always volunteered, but I hear it's a nightmare. I believe the closer hotels range $200-$300 a night. If you're willing to walk, get a ride, or take a cab in (though I don't recommend it) you can get a cheaper room farther out.

Of course, you'll want money for food, drinks, and visiting the dealer's hall.

The badge itself is really the smallest expense.

Sorry I can't really give you a good estimate, as I've never gone completely on my own dollar without the "freebies" provided by Paizo.

Sczarni

How much have you had to volunteer or GM to get the free housing and how many people do they place in each room?

Dark Archive

Depends on where you're flying in from. But, if you book a month or so prior, you can usually get a round from from/to just about anywhere in the US for ~500. Sometimes a *lot* less.

I, personally, drove up. I stayed in a room ~6 miles from the city center, and drive in early to park at the Zoo. Zoo parking is either $6 or $9 per day, and you can stay parked there till midnight.

Indy Lodge was $90/night for the 3 nights and 129 for 1 night. ( wed/thur/fri/sat, I wanted to pick up passes wed night, to avoid the insane thur morning Will Call line for tickets :) )

If you plan to run enough sessions for room + pass, you'll be running till midnight, and the zoo is a 15 min walk away.

I've checked all the really close places, and they're quite pricey. The only walkable place you can book *today* 1 year out, costs ~380/night. It's .1 miles away.

I'd suggest:

Get Indy Lodge for ~90/night for 4 days.
Get a rental car for ~250 for 1 week.
Plan on ~$40 parking for the zoo ( or riverside parking, 10/24 hours. It's closer, but fills up by 8am. You have to get there *early* )

That's around 1200 for travel / room.

You'll want to walk to the mall for food, during breaks. When you run the non-specials, you sometimes end early. This could give you enough time to walk to the mall, have lunch, and return. If you can't get away to the mall, you can still get something for about ~10/meal from the vendors in the convention center, or from the vendor trucks outside. Figure ~150 for food/drinks.

4 day pass was 80 dollars this year.

That's under $1500 for the trip. You could do it for significantly less than that. If you pre-register with Paizo, and agree to run 8 tables, they'll pay for your 4 day pass, and 1/4th of your room cost. Not sure how the room works, exactly. Maybe you'll get put in with 3 other random snorers :)

Debating 8 sessions next year. Will *definitely* have to budget for some 5 hour energy drinks for the attempt.

Dark Archive

Ulfen Death Squad wrote:
How much have you had to volunteer or GM to get the free housing and how many people do they place in each room?

You have to volunteer for 8 games, iirc, for the room. And they're reimbursing for 1/4th a room. Not sure if that means they put you in a room with 3 people, or say you get 1/4th of the standard cost of 'a room' somewhere local.

Can someone who ran the max comment on the housing particulars?

Organized Play Developer

Tier 1 and Tier 2 volunteers get rooms. Tier 2 = run 7 slots, Tier 1 = run 8. There's a total of 10 slots at the convention.

You won't always run until midnight, and if you have scheduling needs HQ will try to work with you. It is a lot of work, but they put you up with 3 roomies in a hotel literally right across the street (less than 5 minute walk) from the convention center.

It's not for everyone, but it's a great way to get to the show for the first time.

Dark Archive

Nice of them to put you up close. They also bring around bottles of water while you're running.

Organized Play Developer

For the past few years, and in the future as far as I know, GMs and HQ volunteers are housed in the downtown Marriott. Like I said, it's very close, and there is even a skywalk that connects it to the convention center.

The typical room has 2 full beds with 4 volunteers. Some people share beds, others bring sleeping bags or otherwise get creative. More than a few people have braved sleeping on a floor for a chance to go to GenCon. :)

As for snoring and whatnot, you kind of realize that you get what you get. People realize they may get put with a snorer, and heck, they may snore, too.

The rooms in my opinion are very nice. You can also request to be housed with people you know.

Sczarni

Thank you all for the helpful info. I so do not have the money to reserve a room anywhere close to now. It would be around December at best. I could be willing to gm 7 slots but not a huge fan of sharing with 3 other people but it might be worth it for my first time visit, especially with being on a budget.

Do the GMs get to choose which encounters or specials they GM (granted they qualify for the specials)? I know that playing in the specials is mostly done by lottery but there may be other scenarios that I really want to play and not GM during that time slot.

Organized Play Developer

Scenarios basically get assigned to you. If you said "I need Friday and Saturday night off" so you could play the special, there's a good chance your request would be honored. Like I said, HQ leads try to get everyone the schedule they want/need. You could also request to only GM low or high tier scenarios and the leads would take that into consideration.

At the end of the day, we need more reliable volunteers. Other than just GMing, if you are knowledgeable about Pathfinder Society play and have decent social skills you could work HQ. There are positions like game marshal (they muster tables), info desk (what I do), boon station, etc. People who work those positions talk to players, GMs, and random people visiting the room rather than running games. I love GMing and I was a Tier 1 GM my first year at the show, but it was rough. I lost my voice and was absolutely exhausted at the end. I've found that HQ is more enjoyable for me, but some people prefer to GM.

Overall, it's an option to consider. You'd still have to buy the plane ticket but that's pretty much it. If you work HQ there's occasionally a pizza or some bagels that might come your way, and every volunteer gets free bottled water all day.

Silver Crusade Contributor

I didn't even know about all this volunteer stuff. Thank you for the info, Jezebelle. I'd love to be an HQ worker, if I could...

(I'd be worried about sharing a room, though. I'm guessing Paizo would understand, & maybe accommodate.)

Sczarni

Could I mix GMing and Volunteering (say the boon station)? I should easily be 4 stars by then but would leave the specials for the super star GMs. I definitely want to GM at least 2 or 3 slots and would be willing to volunteer some as well if I still get the free room and a boon or two for GMing.

I would not mind the scenarios being assigned to me as long as I can try to make some requests. This will most likely be the way for me for my first time going. This would also enable more money saved to go to souvenirs and purchasing of boons people may not want or need, if available.

I guess I could use some of the extra money saved to get a room for Sunday night after the con so I can sleep before going home.

Organized Play Developer

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1) We don't encourage mixing, as the slots actually start at different times for GMs and HQ, and the uniform (free colored t-shirt) is different.

2) All rooms are available through Sunday night. You might, in fact, find yourself alone in the room that night!

Sharing a room is really not that bad, but if you have a serious issue with it when the call comes let the HQ leads know and *if* they can accommodate, I'm sure they will.

Sczarni

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I understand Kalindlara. I have been on enough group trips and mission trips that I am used to sleeping on the floor if needed and sometimes prefer the floor to sharing a bed with someone my size. Plus, I move enough in my sleep that I may go straight for the floor anyways. The issues for me would be someone jacking/messing with my stuff and not being able to get the ability to shower and other bathroom stuff before or after each day.

But for the price, I may have to roll the dice if you will on the hotel mates for 4 nights.

Silver Crusade Contributor

Well, there's my general fastidiousness and social anxiety (which I wouldn't expect any special treatment for). But...

Spoiler:
My bigger concern is about being transgender. Safety concerns, others' discomfort, that sort of thing. :(

I'd also have anxiety about most of what you mentioned, UDS - especially stolen goods. I don't have your experience with group trips, though...

Sczarni

Thanks again Jezebelle. Looks like I may be GMing 7 slots then.

Last bit of questions for the night, Jezebelle. Do those GMing and Volunteering get any extra favors or lottery tickets for the lottery drawing for playing specials (if the lottery thing still exists)?

For the sake of scenarios being ran in regular or core campaign, can we request being assigned a scenario in either campaign (or both and run it twice) or is it at random?

Sczarni

@ Kalindlara - like Jezebelle mentioned, that may be something you may need to take up with HQ or Paizo before they assign everything just like my being a mover in my sleep.

Silver Crusade Contributor

Yeah, I don't want to sound greedy, but are the boons - like this year's Changeling boon - only for GMs?

I'd still volunteer for HQ, but I'd be a tiny bit disappoint.

Organized Play Developer

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The boons are for GMs and HQ. Both also get the store credit and hardcover. :)

Silver Crusade Contributor

Awesome! :D

Organized Play Developer

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Oh, and you're welcome!

We don't have a lottery anymore. That's only for PaizoCon. A Tier 1 Volunteer (either HQ or GM) gets:

1 of the recently released harcovers (this year it was Occult Adventures)

1 race boon

1/4 of a hotel room

1 badge

4 T-shirts (orange for HQ, purple for GMs)

$10.00 of Paizo store credit per slot

Unlimited bottled water and tons of new friends!

Silver Crusade Contributor

Is it all right if I PM you in the future with more questions?

I never thought about doing this before, but now I want to start planning and see if I can make this happen...

Organized Play Developer

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Go ahead! I don't mind. This is year 3 for me and I am quite close with 2 of the HQ leads so I can get answers to just about any question you have.


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Ulfen, where are you coming from?

First, if this is your first GenCon, don't volunteer as a Tier 1 or 2 GM. You need time to experience GenCon and that means leaving the PFS room. You need time to play some of the PFS specials. You need time to wander the vendor hall (it's like three football fields in size). You need time just to look around and see what else is going on.

A GenCon 4-day badge is around $80. You need to GM Pathfinder for five 5-hour slots to get a free 4-day badge and you also get $50 in Paizo store credit.

Having a great GenCon on a tiny budget:
I have actually done this and I'm looking at this for next year.
  • Tier-4 GM (5 of 10 slots) = free badge and $50 Paizo store credit.
  • Tent camp about 7 south of town, 15 minute drive, $15/night includes shower. (Wed - Sun, $60)
  • Park about 3 blocks away $5 to $10 day ($30)
  • Food $25/day (Wed - Sun, $125)
  • Stuff in the vendor hall (I budget $100, but people spend thousands!)
  • Game tickets $6/slot x 5 slots = $30
  • Gas around $60 for me. YMMV.
Total around $300. And I'll have a lot of fun!

Now you may consider that radical, but I spend all my time at GenCon, not at the campground or hotel. I'm literally at the con from 7:30 am to midnight.

This year I was a Tier-2 GM (7 slots) so my hotel room was included (well I shared the room with three other guys). Parked my car at a friends house and sold a bunch of stuff at the auction. I actually made $60 when all was said and done.

Sczarni

@ Swiftbrook,

I be coming from San Antonio, Texas. I do not mind GMing 7 scenarios and then either walking around during the other 3 slots or doing what-not if not playing. I will need to fly since I do not have a vehicle of my own right now (sold my vehicle for scrap a few years back since it died twice in 6 months and haven't been able to purchase a new or used one).

I understand that there will be so much more to the overall convention than the little paizo room but if GMing 7 sceanarios/sessions and going is the only option I have to be able to go, I may have to make those decisions while saving up for the following year so I do not need to GM to go. Plus, tomorrow I will be playing in one of the specials and will get a look at how they may be in quality. I should easily be a 4 star gm by Christmas time so I may get chosen to GM a special. I would prefer the super star GMs be chosen for that but I would take the challenge and prep all that I can.

But hey, I may get lucky between now and January to where I come into a lot of extra finances and do not need to GM for all access pass type of thing.

Sczarni

@ Jezebelle, Do 2 tier people who GM 7 sessions get the same stuff, granted the store cred will only be $70??


Ulfen Death Squad wrote:
@ Jezebelle, Do 2 tier people who GM 7 sessions get the same stuff, granted the store cred will only be $70??

Intercepted .....

Tier 1 GMs get an additional boon option that the Tier 2 GMs don't. This year Tier 1 GMs got access to Skinwalker in Blood of the Moon.

Both Tier 1 and Tier 2 GMs get 1/4 of a hotel room as well as the other rewards.

Also, at GenCon, you don't need to be a 4 or 5 star GM to run the specials. I ran three of the specials this year and two last year. Three of those specials (Bonekeep 3, True Dragons, and Serpent's Rise) are now limited to 4 or 5 Star GMs.

Organized Play Developer

Swiftbrook wrote:
Ulfen Death Squad wrote:
@ Jezebelle, Do 2 tier people who GM 7 sessions get the same stuff, granted the store cred will only be $70??

Intercepted .....

Tier 1 GMs get an additional boon option that the Tier 2 GMs don't. This year Tier 1 GMs got access to Skinwalker in Blood of the Moon.

Both Tier 1 and Tier 2 GMs get 1/4 of a hotel room as well as the other rewards.

Also, at GenCon, you don't need to be a 4 or 5 star GM to run the specials. I ran three of the specials this year and two last year. Three of those specials (Bonekeep 3, True Dragons, and Serpent's Rise) are now limited to 4 or 5 Star GMs.

Thanks for answering! Yep, that's right. I agree that it's great to experience the con without giving up so many slots for volunteering but I've always had a good time as a Tier 1, so you probably will, too.

Sczarni

Thank you all again for the helpful info.

Unless I win the lottery or suddenly get a job paying way more than I get now, I will be signing up as either a tier 1 or tier 2 GM for Gen Con. This will enable me to bypass a good portion of the financial costs for my first time. Depending on what tier I am, I can play one scenario or special and use the other free time to go venture off somewhere and buy things. Plus, having 6 or 7 months to prep what I get assigned will help a ton and hopefully help keep the running time closer to the 4 to 4 1/2 hour time, if possible.


If I do go next year should one wear a nametag so people know who I am, or is anonymity the way to go :-)

Sovereign Court

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Dont you look like weird Al? Thats probably enough.


So should i bring my Accordion then:-D

CY fun fact: i do in fact own an Accordion, and a Zither, not to mention the Violin thats been in my family for about 80 years or so:-) i can also play Smells like Teen Spirit on the Banjo:-)

Shadow Lodge

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
captain yesterday wrote:
If I do go next year should one wear a nametag so people know who I am, or is anonymity the way to go :-)

You should *definitely* wear a nametag.

The nametags at PaizoCon include your forum name (if you want them to) but at GenCon you have to wear a separate one. And one of the best parts about (both) cons was meeting people you already knew from the forums, and finding out they were at least as cool in person.

Sczarni

pH unbalanced wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
If I do go next year should one wear a nametag so people know who I am, or is anonymity the way to go :-)

You should *definitely* wear a nametag.

The nametags at PaizoCon include your forum name (if you want them to) but at GenCon you have to wear a separate one. And one of the best parts about (both) cons was meeting people you already knew from the forums, and finding out they were at least as cool in person.

For someone like myself, the cool factor can be highly debated but I will do all I can to bring my A game as a gm.

Shadow Lodge

I wear a hat. No one ever looks at the hat.

Liberty's Edge

I am thinking about going next year as well. Have they announced the dates for next year?


Link Here


One thing I did to save money this year is purchase some stuff called soylent. It's a powder mix that's a complete meal replacement. Costs $10 a bag and each bag is about 1 days worth of food. I still went out for dinner, so I used the soylent for breakfast/lunch.

I don't describe the stuff as a pleasurable experience, it's completely utilitarian. It's not bad, just inoffensive and bland. I only went through 2 1/2 bags worth, including the drive down and back. So for 5 days, breakfast/lunch combined cost me ~$25.

You don't have to go that extreme, but purchasing simple, cheap foods you can prepare in your hotel room for breakfast/lunch/snacks goes a long way to keeping costs down.


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Dont get the green variety of the soylent it tastes funny.

Sczarni

I will try to bring other items for snacks and stuff. I also have a friend who used to play pfs that usually bakes cookies and other treats to sell at conventions for charities. I could try getting some from her before leaving.

Shadow Lodge

UDS, as somebody that can only afford GenCon as a volunteer I can honestly say that I had a blast this year. Its well worth it.

Something else to know. Outside the specials paizo tries to limit how many senarios you run so that you don't burn out preping 7 to 8 scenarios. I ran three specials and one other scenario as a tier 1 GM this year; and yeah that was rough but I made sure my tables had fun. It did mean I was slotted for the same scenario 5 times but that was cool. I wound up playing twice when HQ released exess GMs. So I only ran two games that didn't earn a chronicle sheet.

Shadow Lodge

Ulfen Death Squad wrote:
I will try to bring other items for snacks and stuff. I also have a friend who used to play pfs that usually bakes cookies and other treats to sell at conventions for charities. I could try getting some from her before leaving.

I also had my snack packed to have at my table. The one complaint I would have is the lack of a break between morning and afternoon slots. But even that was managable.

Sczarni

Usual Suspect wrote:
Ulfen Death Squad wrote:
I will try to bring other items for snacks and stuff. I also have a friend who used to play pfs that usually bakes cookies and other treats to sell at conventions for charities. I could try getting some from her before leaving.
I also had my snack packed to have at my table. The one complaint I would have is the lack of a break between morning and afternoon slots. But even that was managable.

The lack of a break, whether it is due to the session going over or for any other reason, is why I am going to try and bring goodies to snack on.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

My plan for next year is to volunteer Tier 2 and have my three sessions off be the afternoon slots. Then I can nap in between if need be. :)

Sczarni

So another question: which is better for enjoying society play, Paizo Con or Gen Con?

Shadow Lodge

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Ulfen Death Squad wrote:
So another question: which is better for enjoying society play, Paizo Con or Gen Con?

I have had *exceptionally* good PFS play at both. In one year of each, I only had one table that I would call weak, and that was at GenCon. (And to be clear, in the entire universe of PFS games I've played, I would still rate that one at 2 stars out of 5, so far from the worst I've played.)

My gut tells me that the floor is markedly higher at PaizoCon and the ceiling is slightly higher at GenCon. If your interest is in the PFS Specials, it's worth mentioning that the PaizoCon Special is essentially a playtest of the GenCon Special, so it should be a smoother, more complete experience at GenCon. (But if you prefer the early access/beta vibe for these things, PaizoCon would be more up your alley.)

Grand Lodge

I roomed with a fellow one year who was a very loud snorer.
His solution for all the roommates was to provide some very good ear plugs for all the roommates. It did help immensely!

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