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Origins: A Gamer’s Large Convention

Just over a week ago was the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio. I went as an attendee with my daughter so I can give the perspective of not only a gamer but also a parent, and I can say that without a doubt that we both had fun. It is one of the largest tabletop conventions in the country and well worth your time to check out.

Origins fills the Greater Columbus Convention Center and is in the neighboring Hyatt hotel, accessible by a sky bridge. Other hotels are accessible by a sky bridge so it is entirely possible that the convention could expand into them if Origins continues to grow, which it did by over 1,000 people since last year. Despite its size, Major gaming companies like Wizards and Paizo do not have a booth here, meaning that companies like Goodman Games, Evil Hat and others can have sizable booths there. Naturally there are tons of board games, roleplaying games, and more that you can try out. My daughter and I demoed Dragonfire at the Catalyst Game Labs as well as the Big Trouble in Little China by Everything Epic. If you haven’t played them yet, give them a play.

The D&D, Pathfinder, and Shadowrun organized play area was in the adjoining Hyatt hotel, meaning you could go between each game quickly and try out all three games without any difficulty. Not only that a food court was the floor below so you could literally get there first thing in the morning before your first game and not leave the general vicinity until after your last game ends at 11 that that night. It really was a sweet setup. My daughter and I spent much of our time in the D&D Adventures League area and as you can see from the picture it had a very nice entrance sign as they always do. We got to play in a number of games and had quite a bit of fun. I won’t go into any detail of the games since I don’t want to spoil the adventures for anyone. The majority of the events I wanted to get us into quickly sold out during preregistration (more on that later) but I understand that people had a very good rate of getting in with general tickets, so I am guessing that Baldwin Games added more tables. Had I known that earlier in the convention, I would have tried to get my daughter and I into the games that we had wanted to play in. Oh well. Better luck next year.

Like I said I did not get my daughter and I into all the RPGs that we wanted to play in so I got us into a number of other games that I am glad we did try. First of all, we got to play in Fairytale Gloom by Atlas Games. If you like telling stories as much as I do, this game uses the familiar Grimm’s fairy tale characters and lets you have fun while making these characters’ lives miserable. It was great fun and took far less time than a role playing game session. From there, we took a nice breather and went to the paint and take area. As you can tell from the picture, I am not all that good at painting, but it was nice to just take a calm break right in the middle of the con to paint a mini. Both of these areas were in a hall adjacent to the dealer’s hall. It would definitely be worth it to spend a day in there, playing full games, instead of getting a quick demo in the dealer’s hall.

If you are more of the physical sort, True Dungeon has its own area as well. I played TD before with friends, but I didn’t do it this year since I was not sure if my daughter would enjoy it. So instead I took her to an escape room there. Ours was a fantasy-based room, decorated with armor, mead barrels and more. I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t want to give anything away. If you prefer your True Dungeon experience to hit people with foam swords instead of sliding discs in a shuffle board-like fashion, there’s are those similar to TD there that do exactly that (my apologize for not remembering your organization’s name). Now that I know my daughter enjoyed it, I will have to have us try something more involved.

One additional point I want to mention, Origins was the same weekend as the Columbus Pride Parade. I and many other gamers there took time out of their gaming day to see the parade. I know because the parade went down the very street the convention was on and there were quite a few people sitting by windows or walking out the convention center’s front doors to see the parade. It was a beautiful parade, and I am proud of us gamers for showing our support.

So with all this great, is there any downsides to Origins. As I have commented about on the Dreamation and PAX Unplugged, my chief complaint revolves the preregistration system. As you might expect from any sizable convention, everyone that is has a ticket by the time you can preregister for games is waiting on their computers for the exact moment to beat everyone else. That kind of traffic requires quite a few servers to handle the load. The company that did it, Event Ready, did a better job than last year (where the system was down for days), but still it took hours to try to get into games you wanted, meaning that many people didn’t get into the games they wanted. That is the worst I can say about it. Origins has been run long enough that the kinks have largely been worked out. They know what they are doing. I applaud Event Ready for being better than last year, but progress can still be made on that front.

Origins is one of those larger conventions that is definitely worth going to. I got to game with people I gamed with last year, and it was great seeing familiar faces again. We didn’t encounter any problems with the convention itself and there were lots of games to enjoy. If you haven’t checked it out yet, this is definitely one to consider to start your summer off right.

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Pathfinder: Playtest at Origins

Yesterday I got my first chance to play the demo of the Pathfinder Playtest, and I couldn’t be more excited to have been apart of it. I played in a 2 hour demo with pregen characters. So I would like to share with you my impressions of the game.

Before I begin, I would like to say that I am not going to talk about the adventure itself since I don’t want to spoil it for anyone that is going to play it. I am only going to limit my remarks to my thoughts on the game itself.

Have you ever played a sequel to a video game you loved and realized from all the changes and upgraded that this was for all tense and purposes that this is a completely different game (none of the original programming code reused whatsoever), but the design loveingly took the time and effort to make sure that the new game still look and felt like it was a successor to the original. Like those working on it loved the original game but knew the code needed to rewritten for modern audiences. That is exactly how this felt, only with a tabletop game. It is undoubtedly a different game than Pathfinder 1e, but it felt the same. That is without a doubt a good thing.

I played the Kira the cleric (my apologies to Paizo if I got her name wrong). The character had the Fire domain, giving her a bolt of fire as an attack. I was able to cure one person in the group with a touch and the whole group with a burst. The fighter moved and attacked. Traps were disarmed and on and on. All of this sounds familiar to Pathfinder 1e fans, but the way it happened is different in 2e. That fire bolt was launched from my pool of spell points instead of X uses per day. The fighter had a specific 2-action option for moving and attacking. Disarming the trap was assisted by the paladin because she had a background that helped in this matter.

All those differences are good and all, but what do I think of it? And more importantly, is this the 5e killer? Well, I like it. It currently appears to be a solid game from the little I saw of it. Is it a 5e killer, I think that is the wrong question to ask. The right questions is, are they going after the same audience? To me, that is an unquestionable, “No.” Fifth edition is an elegant game. It is fun and easy for new players to pick up and learn. It also has painfully few choices for an individual character. Sure you get a subclass in the early levels and can choose to upgrade an ability or take a feat every so often, but that is it. It is all to easy to make one elf rogue look exactly like another elf rogue in that game. Add in the fact that the number of books they sell that are not tied to a specific campaign that contain new player options can still be counted on one hand several years in, and it becomes obvious that Wizards designed their game to be played by casual gamers. They wanted someone that only had the core book five years after launch to not be intimidated by someone with the gym bag library at the table.

That is not the audience Paizo is going after. One year of Pathfinder 2e will see more pages of player options published than 5e has from their respective companies outside of their core books by the same date. Where 5e is covering the basic ideas for you to play, Pathfinder 2e is going to cover all the options, allowing you to make exactly the character you want to play. Between classes, class options, feats, skill feats, archetypes, and more, choices for your character are something you will not be hurting for in Pathfinder 2e.

That is where I see Pathfinder 2e finding it’s home, among gamers that want their character the way they want it and not having characters that are highly similar. Where 5e is the Basic Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder 2e is the Advanced game.

I just want to take a moment to thank Mark Seifter. He ran an awesome game for our group and took the time to answer all of our questions about it after the game. I am sure he had to do that a million times at PaizoCon and he was still fresh and engaging with us at Origins.

Be sure to check out all our Pathfinder and 5e options at the JBE Shop.

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Going to Origins 2018

Monday morning, I am heading out towards Columbus, Ohio for Origins 2018. As I do with all the other conventions I attend, I will be sharing pictures on Twitter and Instagram as well as sharing my experience of the convention on JonBrazer.com when I get back. Here’s my links to PAX Unplugged and Dreamation. I will be attending as a gamer and not as a publisher. If you see me, I hope you come up to me, say, “Hi,” and we grab a selfie, but I will be with my daughter so I hope you understand if I will be not be able to spend more time than that with you. At another convention, I would be thrilled to talk with you. If you are going to Origins, I hope that you have fun and that we can game at the same table together.

Speaking of gaming, I will be playtesting the new Pathfinder 2.0 Beta. I don’t know who my GM will be (fingers crossed from someone from the design team). Unless I am not allowed to talk about it, I most definitely will be talking up a storm about the new game afterwards. Also, I will be playing a few rounds of Adventurers League. I got in an escape room and will even be playing Fairytale Gloom. I’m really looking forward to that.

On a side note, If you order any print books from the JBE Shop between June 11-17, I will not be able to ship it out until the 18th. So if you want my personal copy of the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path, Legacy of Fire Adventure Path or the D0-D1.5 adventures (the Falcon’s Hollow adventures), order them now to get them that much sooner.

As always, happy gaming.

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Dreamation: A Gender-Inclusive Convention

If you want to know how to make your gaming conversation gender inclusive, to make it a welcoming place for all gamers no matter what their background, look no further than Dreamation. This convention, as well as DexCon, both if which are run by Dexposure, is a local con for me, located in North-Central New Jersey. It hosts board games, miniature war games, LARPs, and of course role playing games. It was this past weekend and I enjoyed myself immensely at it.

This conversation has a sizable indy game presence where you can find yourself in a game of Monster Hearts as well as Dungeons and Dragons. I spotted games of Dungeon World and Misspent Youth. I ran a game of Traveller set in the Foreven Worlds. Naturally Adventurers League, Pathfinder Society, and Starfinder Society were present as well as Living Arcanis, Greyhawk Reborn, and Shadowrun Missions. I can now finally say I played in Pathfinder Society. Despite having a low 4 digit society number, I never sat down for a game. My first character is now level 2. First, however, I had to play a pair of Greyhawk Reborn games. If you like D&D5e rules but miss the Greyhawk setting, but sure to check out Reborn. You will be glad you did.

Munchkin Panic

While I spent much of my time in the role playing area, I did slip out and got in a game of Munchkin Panic. This game is similar to Castle Panic, but with some elements of Munchkin thrown in. The shear number of games that were offered we’re amazing and well worth spending an entire weekend in those areas.

I never got to the war gaming and LARPing area and I always wish I did. Perhaps next year. Seeing people in costume or with their minis sets is always a joy.

So what about this conversation makes it inclusive? I will just let two pictures speak for themselves:

By having ribbons to stick to name badges that let everyone know how they should be identified, it makes it more comfortable for everyone. No one has to tell another how they should be identified; everyone can just read for themselves. On top of that, the signs in the second picture we’re covering the normal restroom signage, meaning there weren’t any strictly male or female restrooms. I did hear some ask others that the seat be lowered when they leave so maybe that can be added to future signs. Even still, there are plenty of other ways Dreamation supports an inclusive culture in tabletop gaming, and if every other convention followed their example in these two areas, it would go a long way to helping gaming to being a welcoming place for all.

When I talked about PAX Unplugged last year, I mentioned that they needed a much better way to pre-register people for games. While Dreamation’s system is light years ahead if them, they could be better. I would prefer it if they migrated completely to Warhorn or Tabletop.Events instead of only being done by Adventurers League, Pathfinder Society, and Greyhawk Reborn, but writing names down on paper still got the job done. Dreamation had a massive quantity more games, letting everyone get in a game in every time slot they choose to. Plus, Dreamation’s sign up sheets were always up and spread out over a sizable area, letting multiple people sign up for games at the same time, day or night. So if my biggest complaint about the convention is that its game registration system is not as modern as I would like it to be, I’d call that a serious win for this conversation.

Be sure to check out Dreamation and the other conventions such as DEXCon at Dexposure.com.

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PAX Unplugged: The Best Convention I’m Not Sure I Will Return To

This past weekend I was at PAX Unplugged, and I am glad I got to go. I got to play in my very first Call of Cthulhu game. I had fun with a new character in D&D. I met a gamer I had previously only interacted with online. I even met a fellow Captain Hammer. They even had a diversity lounge with some really cool people. And of course, I snagged some awesome stuff in the dealer’s hall. It was really great.

https://www.facebook.com/ThatJayJustice/

Will I be back next year? I don’t know. Why? Short answer: poor organization. I was there most of Friday (arriving around 1 pm instead of the 10am open), and I didn’t get to play in a single game. Zero. None. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. I checked in at the D&D AL desk and they were full for the next 6 hours. Other games, no open spots on the wait list. I stood in a few lines to get any game I could only to have the available games fill up before I got to the front.

Why didn’t I sign up online beforehand? There wasn’t any. No, I’m not kidding. They did not do any kind of official online preregistration before the convention started. Need proof to believe me?

That is the “queue room” 20 minutes before we we’re allowed to sign up for role playing games Saturday morning. Note, this doesn’t include minis gamers or board gamers. I got in that line 2 hours beforehand, and I was not the first. I got into three games that day. Considering the number of games available, most of the people in that room didn’t get to sign up for games in advance.

This brings me to my second complaint: there just weren’t enough games. When I asked an “enforcer” (their name for one of the super polite staffers and/or volunteers), they said they underestimated the popularity of the games. There really needed to be double the space for RPGs. I can’t speak to board gamers or minis gamers as to whether they had enough space for their games since I didn’t check them out all weekend.

At the end of the day, these are rookie mistakes, and they can certainly be forgiven even if one could have simply Googled “how to run a tabletop convention” and get solutions to these issues. The Pathfinder/Starfinder Society crew saw PAX Unplugged’s setup and decided to use Warhorn on their own to schedule their games; I did not hear of similar issues from them. The Google link above has Tabletop.Events on it’s first page. Both of these services allow for people to sign up for games beforehand and would have solved the above mentioned issues. They both do their job extremely well, and I cannot recommend them enough to anyone running a convention, no matter what size. Had they used either of these (or one of their own creation), they could have discovered how popular RPGs (and other types of games) was going to be and shift resources accordingly.

Will I be back? Not unless these have some type of online pre-registration for events. Waking up before I normally wake up for the day job to get in a 2 hour line is not exactly my definition of fun. If they do get some kind of pre-reg system in place, will I then? In a heartbeat. I got to see lots new games and familiar faces, roll dice and slay monsters, and it was 11 hours closer to me than GenCon. I just don’t want to have to wait in 2+ hour lines for a game again, not when I can just click a few buttons and have a guaranteed spot.

Final thought: I want to give a shout out to the enforcers. They we’re kind and patient and did EVERYTHING they could to help upset gamers. They made things run as smooth as they could with what they had to work with. Every last one if them deserves a round of applause. Thank you for your part in making the convention as great as it was.

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Pathfinder: Adventures Ideal for Conventions

We mentioned last week a number of Fifth Edition adventures that are perfect for running at a convention if you are looking to run something a little different than the norm. We also have a number of Pathfinder adventures that make excellent convention games that you should check out.

Deadly Delves: The Gilded Gauntlet – Level 9

The city of Hunstoc is experiencing a rash of calamity. Livestock and horses are falling ill, children and elderly people are dying off without any explanation, and the city’s clerics can’t manage to cure the mysterious malady. The Mayor’s Office has posted a bounty on strange clockwork creatures that keep emerging from the nearby foothills outside Hunstoc’s gates. Investigating these sinister happenings leads to a massive underground complex full of devious puzzles, dangerous traps, and alchemical wonders beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings—and only the most cunning of adventurers will survive the journey into its depths! What would you do for limitless wealth? How far would you delve? What horrors would you be willing to face?

Deadly Delves: Rescue from Tyrkaven – Level 2

When hobgoblin raiders kidnap a caravan full of workers and supplies, the adventurers set off to get them all back. But neither the raiders nor the adventurers know what terrifying horrors await them in the depths of their cavern hideout. Now, the adventurers must risk it all to prevent the minions of an ancient enemy from visiting death and destruction upon the land. Can the heroes rescue the captives from the hobgoblins and deliver them from this ancient foe—or will they all perish, ushering in the rise of a forgotten deity?

Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider – Level 1

Giant spiders have overrun Mossdale, and every last villager is either dead and dessicated, or cocooned and abducted. But what were they after, and who coordinated the vermin to attack en masse? Could it have been the local ettercap or a crazed arachnophile druid… or was something far more sinister behind the attack? Can the adventurers rescue the missing citizens and foil the plans of the nefarious mind behind this dastardly deed before it is too late?

Deadly Delves: Doom of the Sky Sword – Level 1

Following the disappearance of personnel at a lumber camp, a mysterious sword drops from the sky, cleaving the very earth to deliver a pronouncement of doom upon all who refuse to leave the logging site. Can the adventurers ferret out the source of this ominous portent and put a stop to it before it wreaks further havoc on the loggers?

Check out all of our Pathfinder products at the Jon Brazer Enterprises Shop, DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, Paizo, and the Open Gaming Store.

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JBE Sponsors GameHoleCon

Earlier today, JBE became a sponsor of GameHoleCon. This is a great gaming convention in Madison, WI. Be sure to check out this convention going on from Nov 2-5.

If you know or run a gaming convention and are looking for sponsors, contact us through twitter or facebook and we will discuss sponsoring your convention.

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Fate: The Fate of JBE

I do admit that for quite some time I did not “get” Fate. I tried to. I’ve read the Dresden Files RPG books as well as the FATE Core RPG book. I played in a few games at conventions. But for whatever reason it just didn’t feel I understood the game. That all changed this past weekend. I played in a Dune-verse Fate Core game (thank you to the excellent GM and the guys in the group for a good time) and for whatever reason, it all just clicked somewhere in the middle of it. Now I feel the Fate rules and mechanics are something I can play with and more important to this post, work with.

So this brings us to you. What would you like to see for Fate? What is your preferred playing genre? Let us know what you are interested in by voting in our poll. And please leave a comment below if you want to see something specific designed for the game.

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Pathfinder: We’re Not Going To PaizoCon Sale

Book of the River Nations: Complete Players' Reference for Kingdom BuildingThis is the first year in a while that Jon Brazer Enterprises will not be attending PaizoCon. We will miss you all and hope everyone there has a good time.

But if you are like me and cannot make it this year, we have a surprise for you. All this week, we are running the “We’re Not Going To PaizoCon Sale” at Paizo.com. Grab all of our PDFs that are over $1 for 25% off all week.

So if you are looking for more monsters, get all the Book of Beasts for 25% off.
The whole Book of the River Nations series is 25% off.
Fight the Dark Size for 25% off! All of our Shadowsfall titles (except the fiction) are on sale.
Get more spells for 25% off with the Book of Magic series.
Add some amazing vehicles to your game with the Book of Multifarious Munitions, both of which are 25% off.
Want some themed NPCs, take 25% off the Book of Friends and Foes.
Delve into one of the greatest researcher’s material with Riyal’s Research, now at 25% off.
Play a new race today with the Book of Heroic Races and many other titles for 25% off.

And its not just our Pathfinder PDFs that are on sale. Even our Traveller PDFs are on sale.

We at Jon Brazer Enterprises always aim to Enhance Your World and Your Game. Download these for 25% off today.

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Pathfinder: Scavengers of the Northwood Ruins

This Sunday at PaizoCon, I will be running a Pathfinder game called The Yet Unnamed 2013 Free RPG Day Kickstarter Game. I am pleased to announce that it has been named: Scavengers of the Northwood Ruins. In this adventure, the players will go off on a treasure hunt, encountering some of the unique magic items (and their associated dangers of these items) of the setting.

I hope to see you there,