Saturday morning was my one free slot of the con. Already my voice was trashed from talking like a pirate the night before. I was hoping for a pass on the GMing. Lucky for me, I got to play in one of the new adventures 3-2X Storming the Diamond Gate. Since I had not brought any of my characters (I fully expected that slot to be spent GMing something), I had to play off my computer. I hate running faced with a wall of computer, so I tried to keep my screen low. A fun table we had. Very melee-heavy with no dedicated clerics. Still, a good time.
What an interactive it was!
The afternoon slot was the one that had me nervous all weekend: A5 - Battle of Trovaska, the NeoExodus interactive. It might've been the coffee, but I really was shaking with anticipation. I wanted to see what the players would do, what they would decide, and how they would "wreck my setting".
Actually, I say that, but I really relish it. It forces me, as a story developer to think in new and creative ways on how to evolve my storyline. As a player, there is little I love more than to be able to change the world I play in. And since I like to design a setting/storyline that *I* would like to play in, it's a natural conclusion that I would give that opportunity to my players.
I will not go into too many details about the adventure itself at this time (I have a whole series of posts to come on it). I will say this: the players really did not disappoint in my "changing the story". From the play-test, I expected one type of result, but the game itself went completely another. This included the death of an Iconic character who from this day forth will no longer be offered as a playable character at NeoExodus events. That was something I did not expect AT ALL. But I always say that actions in the game matter, so I have to uphold my own stipulations.
Here are a few pictures: (you can click on them to enlarge them).
The Preview Banquet
My stuff packed, my head full of new ideas and "how will I move this forward?", I headed for the endless line of the banquet. When I saw how long it was, I decided against waiting in line. So I headed for the bar where Alistair and Martin were also "waiting". CA joined us and we talked about this and that. While imbibing a decent quantity of White Russians... Quite a few, based on my credit card statement, but it was all in a good cause!
Finally the line vanished, we headed for the food. Unfortunately, we had to wait (and eat most of our food on the line waiting for chicken or beef or potatoes)... The food was "okay". Found a seat next to LPJ pretty much just as the talking parts were to begin.
First presentation of every Paizo employees, then Lisa gave a very passionate speech to promote and congratulate Jeff Alvarez, Vic Wertz and Erik Mona. It was very moving and heartfelt. Then it was the Volunteer of the Year (going back to 2008).
Now at the risk of angering my Paizo Overlords, it was very long. Yes, I get that it was Paizo's 10th anniversary, but it went on and on. The high energy from the start did fizzle out some and I had difficulty staying awake: a mix of full stomach, lack of sleep and gamer anxiety. I was here for the preview stuff and that's what I wanted to see the new stuff coming down the pipe.
Jason Bulmahn presented three book: Complete Equipment, NPC Codex and Ultimate Campaign. While the layout and appearance of the two books we were shown was nice, I don't see the value to *ME*. I'm not a big equipment guy and going through endless lists of stuff just does not do it for me. NPC Codex could be useful, but for GM-only. Ultimate Campaign I am very ambivalent on. Knowing Paizo it'll be a useful book, but I don't see the up-front usage. So I'll reserve comment.
Gary Teeter spoke about the online element. The free Virtual table top stuff was cool, though left a lot of questions on the table.
Wes Scheider talked about the Player Companion revamp. I'll be blunt (and more than a little unkind here). These supplements sucked. They really did: the useful content was minimal for both Player and GMs, other than one useful feat or trait or weapon, they were non-essential books. But the new format presented by Wes is great. The format is more magazine-like, which is fine, but what I really look forward to is CONTENT. Having a book that gives me - as a player or GM - information about the topic I can use is likely to put these books on my "recommend" list. They weren't before.
Ryan Dancey gave a presentation about Pathfinder Online. It seemed like a well-rehearsed presentation because I doubt there were many in the room who did not know about the Kickstarter, what it was, how it would be done. But in the end, we saw what we wanted: some stills. Seoni the sorceress looks delightfully boobalicious and the goblin looks vile and evil. I can't wait to see what they come out.
Vic Wertz presented "Project Swallowtail" which is a Card game. I don't know much because once the word "Card" was uttered, I immediately turned off any attention I had left. He talked about it, and I kept laughing at myself thinking that Swallowtail could mean "C**kS****r". I just kept giggling to myself, prompting LPJ to threaten me - again. But the joke was too funny.
Finally Erik Mona came in to show us some miscellaneous goodies... A plush goblin, the covers of Pathfinder comics, and a few other things. Interesting.
After The Preview
The banquet over, I headed back to the bar with the usual suspects and LPJ. Reaction was not particularly positive. Many grumbled out loud. The length of the presentations may not have helped. I spent a few drinks trying to sort out my feelings on the matter, and making sure people remained calmed about the whole situation.
I felt it was unfair to Paizo to grumble that their new books were not "great". Not having seen them myself, and using their track record for great stuff, I have to believe they were gonna come up with some good stuff. I think perhaps the biggest problem is that unlike last year, when Tian Xia was coming out, there were a lot of products that opened to Oriental setting, and a book that would capture everyone's interest (Ultimate Combat), this year does not feel... Special.
I compared it to the guy expecting a porterhouse steak and getting a burger. As good as the burger might be... it's not a steak. I believe that most of us expected "something" magical and grandiose. The products offered are not like that. They are useful and practical but lack some "zazz".
This contrasted sharply with the announcements and dynamic changes I heard two nights before at the VC dinner. Very contrasting moves.
The Elephant in the Room
One topic that was not touch and that really felt like it overshadowed everything was 5e. No one mentioned it, but the timing of products and the impression I got is that a lot of people at Paizo are holding their breath to see what 5e will be. Again based on the track record, I don't expect much positive from WotC so I'm fine. I want to see the final version of it and play, but I'm not holding my breath.
In all, I left with a positive view of what is going on. It was a little long, true. But I don't share the doom and gloomers's vision for once. I think the future is bright and clear. Looking forward to many years of Pathfinder.
Yes, yes, I stumbled to my bed after the bar ran out of Kahlua to make White Russians, then out of Baileys to make Dog Farts then out of everything to make us some weird chocolatey drink... Yeah... That part really sucked...