LFR experience at PAX 2008 (no spoilers please)

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I'm not sure how much smaller PAX is in comparison to GenCon, but I thought it would start a thread for attendees to share their Living Forgotten Realms experiences from this past weekend in Seattle.

As a whole, I thought the events were consistently well-managed. I'd signed up online ahead of time, and I wasn't turned away for anything I'd hoped to play. I had all kinds of questions answered at the headquarters table, mostly by a friendly, energetic, and seemingly ubiquitous woman named (I think) Michelle.

If the guy that I saw running around was Chris Tulach, then he is a problem-solving machine. I'm not sure I standing in one place more than once; he was constantly doing something for someone to make the con easier.

Personally, I was able to play in five out of the six slots (skipping Friday night to introduce some friends to their first game of D&D via a Dungeon Delve, then helping them create characters for an LFR adventure the next day). I didn't regret a single session, despite missing out on much of what PAX had on offer. I was treated well by other players, and I'd happily join the weekly campaigns of any DM who ran a game in which I played.

Of particular note were Travis, who brought a level of enthusiasm I've never, ever seen before in a DM, and Bill who seems to have trained and maxed out every skill relevant to DM'ing. I'm not overstating things at all when I say that these were two of the greatest games I've had in 20 years of D&D. I'm also thankful to have had a chance to play and even chat a bit with the genial and humble Rodney Thompson. (I just hope that he didn't see the fanboy shine through when I found out he wrote the DDI article on Mithrendain.)

I'd never played Living Greyhawk, but I'm completely sold on Living Forgotten Realms. I'm looking forward to running events in Vancouver, starting this month.

I'll sum up with a genuine thank you for everyone who attended, especially the organizers and DMs. I had three days of real fun, and I look forward to paying you back (indirectly, of course) by applying the lessons learned from your good examples.
Let me second the kudos to the organizing of the helter skelter that is a gaming convention. Not only (I think) Michelle's vocal cords but also Denise's patience with problem schedulers such as myself deserve awards.

I also want to confirm that Bill B. was an incredibly awesome, passionate, creative and spontaneous DM. He knew the mod very well (but then, he did write it.)
His running of the skill challenges was a great demonstration of how interactive and free form that mechanic can be.

Unfortunately not all my DMs were so skillful or prepared. I had one DM (who ran the core special in fact) that had to ponderously read each encounter before presenting it to us. Another DM did not seem very positive about 4th edition and his running of skill challenges was awkward at best.

My experience with DMs was 50-50. Perhaps because of the new edition it was more difficult to find DMs - last year's PAX was much better.*

That doesn't mean I didn't have a blast playing (despite two DMs being a hindrance) as the game itself and the players were all great and fun.

*Because I dislike idle griping as much as the rest of you, I'll do my part and start running some mods.
Unfortunately not all my DMs were so skillful or prepared. I had one DM (who ran the core special in fact) that had to ponderously read each encounter before presenting it to us. Another DM did not seem very positive about 4th edition and his running of skill challenges was awkward at best.

My experience with DMs was 50-50. Perhaps because of the new edition it was more difficult to find DMs - last year's PAX was much better.*

That doesn't mean I didn't have a blast playing (despite two DMs being a hindrance) as the game itself and the players were all great and fun.

*Because I dislike idle griping as much as the rest of you, I'll do my part and start running some mods.

The big problem all convention organisers face is if they aren't familiar with a DM they have to take on trust their ability. The best thing palyers can do if they have a problem with a DM is to let the organisers know (and let them know enough information to actually do something - I saw a feedback form from Gen Con UK that said one of the DMs wasn't that good on 4E knowledge but gave no details on DM name, the scenario or the player). Equally important let the organisers know if you have a good DM - that way they can steer the good DMs towards things like the specials.

Kithran
Luruar POC
Gen Con UK Senior DM
I had a great time at PAX, both as a player and a DM. All the DMs I had were very well prepared. I myself was running LURU 1-1 and I did end up having to rush the final skill challenge due to time constraints (it's a tough module to run quickly). However, I talked over the situation prior to entering the encounter with the players and got buy-in from them that it was better to get though the encounter in an expeditious manner than to not run it at all.
As a judge for dragoncon I will have to agree on LURU 1-1. It is definitely a tough mod to be able to finish it within the 4 hr time limit for a convention.
Hi All!

My name is Robert Altomare and I was the Senior GM and RPG and Minis coordinator at PAX. It is a big endeavor to bring together dozens of judges and hundreds of players and make everything happen. I hope everyone had fun and enjoyed the adventures. We had an overwhelming demand for seats at all our tables. PAX is growing fast and is now well established as a big event in the Northwest gaming community. It is one massive ball of fun!

I would love to hear from players. If you have any feedback at all, please fell free to post here or email me. Do you have advice how it could be better? Did something go right and you want to make sure it happens again? Or, did something go horribly wrong? I'd welcome any and all feedback and suggestions.

-Robert
[email]comixguru@yahoo.com[/email]
I'm not sure how much smaller PAX is in comparison to GenCon, but I thought it would start a thread for attendees to share their Living Forgotten Realms experiences from this past weekend in Seattle.

As a whole, I thought the events were consistently well-managed. I'd signed up online ahead of time, and I wasn't turned away for anything I'd hoped to play. I had all kinds of questions answered at the headquarters table, mostly by a friendly, energetic, and seemingly ubiquitous woman named (I think) Michelle.

If the guy that I saw running around was Chris Tulach, then he is a problem-solving machine. I'm not sure I standing in one place more than once; he was constantly doing something for someone to make the con easier.

Personally, I was able to play in five out of the six slots (skipping Friday night to introduce some friends to their first game of D&D via a Dungeon Delve, then helping them create characters for an LFR adventure the next day). I didn't regret a single session, despite missing out on much of what PAX had on offer. I was treated well by other players, and I'd happily join the weekly campaigns of any DM who ran a game in which I played.

Of particular note were Travis, who brought a level of enthusiasm I've never, ever seen before in a DM, and Bill who seems to have trained and maxed out every skill relevant to DM'ing. I'm not overstating things at all when I say that these were two of the greatest games I've had in 20 years of D&D. I'm also thankful to have had a chance to play and even chat a bit with the genial and humble Rodney Thompson. (I just hope that he didn't see the fanboy shine through when I found out he wrote the DDI article on Mithrendain.)

I'd never played Living Greyhawk, but I'm completely sold on Living Forgotten Realms. I'm looking forward to running events in Vancouver, starting this month.

I'll sum up with a genuine thank you for everyone who attended, especially the organizers and DMs. I had three days of real fun, and I look forward to paying you back (indirectly, of course) by applying the lessons learned from your good examples.

Wow, I'm pretty humbled. I had loads of fun this weekend, and had a lot of great tables. I definitely look forward to seeing everyone next year.

Travis.
You had to get the one of Travis flipping me off....
:D

Anyway, thanks so much for the kind words. As a DM, I want folks to have fun (myself included). I'm happy that mission was accomplished.

PAX was a blast, I met lots of great folks, introduced my wife to her first convention and got my oldest son to see his first live concert. What a weekend!

Bill
Wow, I'm pretty humbled. I had loads of fun this weekend, and had a lot of great tables. I definitely look forward to seeing everyone next year.

Travis.

I also had travis and bill. You guys were awesome and made my first RPGA event one to remember. I really feel spoiled by the enthusiasm you showed the table and the fun added to the module. Especially considering we went 9 hours I think? Bill was equally as enthusiastic and made his module the next day great too!I would love to be apart of either of your regular gaming group and hope they guys in them truly appreciate your skills.
You had to get the one of Travis flipping me off....
:D

I'd honestly thought Travis was flexing rock horns behind your head, but now that you draw my attention closer...


Traveling in Dan's company, playing with high-calibre folks at the table, and surrounded by famous WotC folks, I truly regreted not have a title, rank, or position. I've solved the problem, however, and generated one of my own.

Henceforth, when someone at a con asks me who I am, I'll just be honest and tell them that I'm "Canada's Gaming Sweetheart."
I'd honestly thought Travis was flexing rock horns behind your head, but now that you draw my attention closer...


Traveling in Dan's company, playing with high-calibre folks at the table, and surrounded by famous WotC folks, I truly regreted not have a title, rank, or position. I've solved the problem, however, and generated one of my own.

Henceforth, when someone at a con asks me who I am, I'll just be honest and tell them that I'm "Canada's Gaming Sweetheart."

OH MY GOD!

You could have at least call yourself "The Jungle Speed Raptor" or something like that.

...I mean, you are probably the nicest gamer in canada.
I only went 1 day, and now wishing I could have gone more...

Now, my biggest question: When does the events I participated in (or points) show up on the RPGA website?
I think WotC/RPGA is still having difficulty with the conversion to the new database, so there might be a delay in seeing your play history. ("Top people are working the problem.") However, be sure that if you have more than one LFR character, that you go and update the character listing so that the event organizer won't suffer an error message when they try to enter your play data.

Keith
Keith Hoffman LFR Writing Director for Waterdeep
Ahh, and there lies my other problem.. I can't input more the 1 character.. Heck, I can't even input one. The only option I have is the D&D awards card..
I wasn't all that impressed with the DM who was running IMPI1-1 Alone for my group. Still, he was a pickup DM (said he'd just volunteered at the last minute), so maybe that was the source of the problems. He definitely wasn't familiar with the mod.

My biggest problem right now is that I feel in limbo waiting for my account to appear on the website, and I'm a little concerned about what out-of-order reporting might do to the system. I'm going to be participating in a Game Day this weekend, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was reported quicker than the convention -- and given the problems people seem to be having with the database (just the general feel from the other threads), I just don't know how it'll handle it.
My biggest problem right now is that I feel in limbo waiting for my account to appear on the website, and I'm a little concerned about what out-of-order reporting might do to the system. I'm going to be participating in a Game Day this weekend, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was reported quicker than the convention -- and given the problems people seem to be having with the database (just the general feel from the other threads), I just don't know how it'll handle it.

Keep in mind that the online reporting system is only intended to be a backup of your character. Your adventure log(s) are your primary documentation.

That said, I'm guessing that when the GenCon events are reported they'll be stamped with the original dates of GenCon. Hopefully the system will be smart enough to see that this means the "GenCon" event occurred before "this weekend's" event and apply found items accordingly.

Failing that, I'm sure (okay, well. . . I HOPE) the people at WotC doing data entry have higher database priveleges than you and I and will be able to over-ride any errors the system kicks up about things like "Too may found items!" and the like.
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

Siliconrose, there were people who were turned away from game slots at PAX due to the high demand for games. Unless you were willing to step up and DM, please show some respect for people who actually rose to the occasion and tried rather than complaining about it in two different threads. Either that or elect to sit out and let someone play who will appreciate the effort.
I'm trying to step up and DM. Sadly, I can't until my account goes through.

With all due respect, as far as I'm aware, I've only complained about a DM on this one thread. The only other time I might have said something that could be construed as a complaint is when I stated that the DM I was with didn't appear to know the package system very well. Could you point out the thread to me? I might be missing it, or my words may have been misconstrued. This thread is for criticism, and I think I've been fair in how I've stated mine.

I'll be honest; I'm frustrated I can't take the Herald test yet. I don't like the way that Wizards' system works. It's crazy frustrating that I've been waiting for over a week to get access to a website. I don't believe that something on the Internet should work like that.

Oh, and I was scouted for my slot. They were looking for more players for the mod. I know most of them were overloaded, but apparently I got lucky. I'm glad I had the experience, and I'm grateful for the DM running it, but it doesn't change the fact that I think he could have done better.
I'm trying to step up and DM. Sadly, I can't until my account goes through.

The good news is, you don't need to be a Herald-Level GM to run a module. Just to order/sanction an event.

That said, for the larger cons it's not unusual for the organizers to require you to be Herald Level before they'll assign you a table.

People who "step-up" to fill a table need few qualifications however, because at most cons we'll do anything we can to seat more people we have space.

With all due respect, as far as I'm aware, I've only complained about a DM on this one thread. The only other time I might have said something that could be construed as a complaint is when I stated that the DM I was with didn't appear to know the package system very well. Could you point out the thread to me? I might be missing it, or my words may have been misconstrued. This thread is for criticism, and I think I've been fair in how I've stated mine.

Can't speak for other posters, but I understood your point just fine.

I'll be honest; I'm frustrated I can't take the Herald test yet. I don't like the way that Wizards' system works. It's crazy frustrating that I've been waiting for over a week to get access to a website. I don't believe that something on the Internet should work like that.

Typically at a major con data entry (for new players, as well as for modules played) is completed on-site as much as possible. Simply because it leads to fewer headaches down the road.

Unfortunately, with the recent merging of databases at a less-than-opportune time this isn't working as planned right now. There haven't been any official ETAs that I've seen, though some people are rumoring that we're looking at early October for GenCon/PAX entry to be completed. Give that as much or as little credibility as you like, it's an Internet Rumor. ~shrug~
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

So, Bill, by the looks of the above photo you used one of those GameMastery Combat Pads to handle initiative order. Just curious -- how has it worked out for you? Is it significantly better than 3x5 note cards or writing on the battle map?
The good news is, you don't need to be a Herald-Level GM to run a module. Just to order/sanction an event.

Oh, sweet. There was a local event that I wanted to help out with, but I thought I couldn't DM. That's great news.

I'm still getting used to the rules...

Typically at a major con data entry (for new players, as well as for modules played) is completed on-site as much as possible. Simply because it leads to fewer headaches down the road.

Unfortunately, with the recent merging of databases at a less-than-opportune time this isn't working as planned right now. There haven't been any official ETAs that I've seen, though some people are rumoring that we're looking at early October for GenCon/PAX entry to be completed. Give that as much or as little credibility as you like, it's an Internet Rumor. ~shrug~

Yeah, I'd heard there were problems. It makes my hands itch, because I've been working on databases for the last year, and being a programmer, I could "of course" do better than the people actually working on it(*). I hope whatever's going on works itself out soon.

(*) I'm mocking myself here. I don't actually think I could do better.
So, Bill, by the looks of the above photo you used one of those GameMastery Combat Pads to handle initiative order. Just curious -- how has it worked out for you? Is it significantly better than 3x5 note cards or writing on the battle map?

I can't speak for Bill, but he convinced me to get one. Used mine at PAX, and while it took a little getting used to, I prefer it loads over index cards.
I can't speak for Bill, but he convinced me to get one. Used mine at PAX, and while it took a little getting used to, I prefer it loads over index cards.

It helps me when I am either playing or running. As a player, if I am running the pad, it helps me remember the other PC's names. ;)

As a GM, it is useful for tracking initiative, durations, very easy to swap order when someone delays or readies, etc.
At the risk of being a thread necromancer, I had a great time in the game too. I'm relatively new to Living FR, and the RPGA in general, but I had a blast. Plus, it's great to game with new people.

Next time I think we should make Travis eat a bunch of sugary candy before the game, because he was way too quiet. ;)

Rodney Thompson

Advanced Designer

Dungeons & Dragons R&D

Wizards of the Coast

Follow me on Twitter: wotc_rodney

PAX was fun. I got to play 6 rounds of LFR. The only round I didn't enjoy was the Luruar module I played during the last slot. There were some things I found frustrating and I can't be sure if it was the module, the DM, or just being tired that late in the con. It was even fun having my Genasi Stormsoul wizard get killed in another module when he went to the front and started Thunderwaving without sufficient defense. It really emphasized the value of working as a team and the excitment of NPC's working as a credible threat. There were good DM's who in addition to making an enjoyable game showed ways to handle 4th edition that will be useful when I DM.