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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 parade 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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Origins 2010 Plans

The summer convention season is upon us. We don’t have all of our plans finalized yet, but we do have this firm: we are going to Origins 2010. What is Jon Brazer Enterprises doing at Origins? Well, we’re going to be selling Mech Tech ‘n’ bot: Mech Squadrons for Traveller in the dealer’s room, Booth #420 a mere two booths away from Mongoose Publishing’s booth. My booth is the GPA booth and it is shared by other small game designers, so you will have to look for or ask about Mech Squadrons. I myself will be hanging out at the booth much of the time the dealer’s room is open. Even if you have already picked up Mech Squadrons or are a Pathfinder player and are excited about Book of Beasts, stop by and say hi. I would love to go to know the many people I have gotten to know over the internet but have never met face to face.

What about when the dealer’s room is closed? I don’t have any firm plans yet, but I am probably going to be running some pickup games of Mech Military for Traveller and Hunters of the River Nations for Pathfinder. If you play in my Pathfinder game, you will be able to get an exclusive peak at some of the monsters in our upcoming book Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations.

We can’t wait to go. We’re looking forward to our Origins and the fun we’re going to have. See you there.