It seems like just yesterday that I was on my Alaskan Roadtrip and had passed by the Seattle Airport DoubleTree on the way up north. I suppose I had never really considered PaizoCon before this past year, despite the fact that I am a con nerd. Growing up, my family traveled to a bunch of classic car conventions, and while I am not that obsessed with vintage vehicles today, the idea of traveling about and hanging out with fellow hobbyists did stick. There can be something magical about immersing yourself in a weekend (or week) of gleeful dice-rolling. I digress...
Today’s embarrassment of gaming wealth has left us with a quandary however, especially during holiday weekends. There are only so many hours (and only so much money) that one can reasonably spend cavorting about in these magical lands of fantasy. So over time, I’ve developed my own system for valuing these adventures:
"Conventions should provide you with an opportunity to do something unique,
something you can’t get at your local game store or weekly campaign."
And this is how PaizoCon really got on my radar. Admittedly I cannot believe that I did not attend sooner – a chance to hang out with the creators of Pathfinder and Starfinder in an intimate setting (intimate = ~ 800 attendees). Really, it’s hard to believe it took me this long to head north to Seattle. Also, in full disclosure, as a major fan of The Glass Cannon Podcast, their attendance did finally tip the scales.
Wow! PaizoCon did not disappoint. I realize I'm known as a fangirl who is rarely disappointed. Let me try to make my case here. Not only did I reconnect with RPGA (Role Playing Game Association) friends from back in the days of Living Greyhawk (I still miss that living campaign format and those original stories; that’s a tale for another blog), but also I found the smaller setting afforded opportunities hard to come by at other cons. Here’re my top three takeaways from my first PaizoCon:
Starfinder Happy Happy Joy Joy! I played two organized play scenarios and I should have played more. What stood out to me was the quality of the scenarios. For standalone 4-hour tales, they were completely engaging, eminently inclusive, and loads of fun for con strangers to play. I mean, who doesn’t want to dogfight a space shark the size of your starship? Or roll fortitude and reflex saves to avoid being trampled trying to get that elusive physical copy of Star Sugar Heartlove from Strawberry Machine Cake, the latest musical craze within the Pact Worlds? That aside, the variety of content lends itself to more creative play and diversity around the table. I plan to try out more organized play at my local stores – something I haven’t done in several years. You should too.
Sandpoint Forever! OR Long Live the Paizo Content Monarchs! At the banquet (you can see it twitch), they announced a Sandpoint Campaign Setting book coming out this fall. Sandpoint! Beloved smalltown Golarion, starting place for countless adventures, including Rise of the Runelords and Jade Regent! Home to the Sandpoint Devil and to the Rusty Dragon and the Fatman's Feedbag. I could go on... Also Paizo announced the final two Pathfinder 1st edition Adventure Paths. First was Return of the Runelords – time-travel to interact with those arch nemeses wizards in order to influence the future. What could go wrong? Second was The Tyrant’s Grasp – Do you want to take on the Whispering Tyrant?! Again, what could go wrong? For Starfinder the Armory book looks hilariously promising too, with a plasma fork (to battle with), a physician drone (to follow you around the battlespace and heal you), and a fluffy pet Squox (Squirrel + Fox, sp?), for which you can buy a pet carrier (to protect it when you are in battle). Just go watch the twitch, really.
The stories are amazing. By this, I mean the real-life stories. There are deepcut tales like how Lisa Stevens, CEO of Paizo, helped acquire TSR when she was with Wizards of the Coast. Or the mystery behind the purple Paizo golem. Or how Amanda Hamon Kunz, journalist-turned-Paizo Development Coordinator, is a powerful voice for inclusivity in gaming. Check out Glass Cannon's Cannon Fodder Live from PaizoCon and for her interview (among many others). You can play a game with Developer Mark Seifter or hang out late with Publisher Eric Mona and other welcoming Paizomoi (my word for Paizo-product developers/players). And yes, I did also get to see the guys from Glass Cannon. Though in all the bustle, I could only attend 2 of their 4 events. For such a small con, it really packs a wallop.
In retrospect, that last bit sums up why I’ll be back next year. Here you connect with friends old and new. Here you can be safe and feel included. Here, in this small convention at a hotel near the Seattle airport, you get to be part of those stories at PaizoCon. You are not a voyeur or lost in a crowd of thousands at the back of some auditorium. You get to be front and center. You can see them AND they can see you.
Post Script: I realize I did not mention Pathfinder 2nd Edition. I did not ignore it out of spite, nor did because I didn’t get a chance to play. In fact, I played a 4-hour playtest and a delve. Rather, I did not speak about it because it deserves its own blog review, which I am planning for next week. A quick preview though – it was fantastic, though for reasons one might not have expected. Was that enough of a tease?
So get out there and try some Starfinder!
And let me know what you think!