Thursday, March 12, 2015

GAD Con & Busting my PFS GM Cherry

So, it's my spring break.  I don't often get several days to myself, so I needed to take advantage of it.  I headed up to the Games and Dice Convention in Maryland this weekend.  GAD Con was about 70 miles north of DC.  The traffic was a little bit rough on Friday, but nothing over two hours.  There were 12 tables, mostly devoted to Pathfinder Society and D&D organized play.  There were a few other adventures of the Star Wars and Dragon Age varieties as well as gigantor Warhammer and Magic: the Gathering tournaments.  I've posted the convention guide if anyone wants to take a look-see.

I hope the organizers made a fair bit of cash.  They also had 3 vendors show up to sell stuff, so hopefully that helped as well.  It was held in a Hilton Garden Inn in Aberdeen, MD.

I got to play a few PFS scenarios, but that's not all!  While I was registering on Friday evening, the con organizer mentioned that one of the GMs for the Saturday night Pathfinder Society special had taken ill at the last minute.  I'd already played the special at GenCon, so I couldn't play it and it was the only scenario taking place in the Saturday night slot.  So, I just said, "Fuck it."  I found the Venture Lieutenant in charge of the convention and told her that I'd played the scenario and that I'd sub for her sick GM.

This PFS Special was the first I ever ran for a PFS
game at all.  I played it a GenCon.  It's technically
the beginning of Season 7, which confused a lot
of players on Saturday that already had some inkling
about the mysteries just hinted at in the special itself.

During my Friday evening game, she came back with a photocopy of the scenario.  Fortunately, she knew I would be running the table for characters levels 5-6 and I could prep for that.  I went up to my room and boy did I prep.  If I was going to GM for strangers, I was going to do it right.  I read the adventure and highlighted it.  I added margin notes like it was a case book for law school.

Next, it was on to pulling the monster entries from the Bestiaries and putting together the maps from the scenario.  Most of them were from official flip-mats and map packs, but there were bits in the very beginning and a couple of late-middle battles that I had to pull out my blanks and draw the maps on.  I wish I'd had a PDF of the scenario.  I would have pulled those maps and printed them too.  Paizo is apparently very stingy with convention specials until a year after the GenCon they are first played at though.

When it came time to play, I was ready.  I had minis or pawns that represented (or would have to make do representing) every monster in the 5-6 level tier.  Then, right before the scenario, I found out that I would actually be running the level 3-4 tier.  On the bright side, that was the tier I'd played in at GenCon, so I was familiar with it.  On the down side, some of my prep went out the window.  (Actually, this may have made things easier as it meant stripping the advanced creature template off of some creatures).

The demon mini on the right here is featured in the Special.  Paizo gave them
out to us when it was going on at GenCon.  I was excited to get to use mine
when I GMed at GAD Con.

I ended up with 7 players--a super full table for my first experience.  Overall, I think it was a hit.  We dragged a little bit in the middle, but there's a neat twist that woke everybody up for the last 90 minutes.  In fact, at the end, one of my players remarked that she couldn't believe that 5.5 hours had passed.  I made a few errors: immunity to energy attacks doesn't grant immunity from a cleric's channeled negative energy for instance.  But, everyone seemed like they had a good time!  At the end, I told them it had been my first time and everyone said it was fun.  One of my players turned out to be a former Venture Lieutenant and he said I already GMed like I had 3 stars.  I was blown away!

Anyway, I've decided that I'm going to volunteer to do some scenarios when AwesomeCon comes around.  I'll be at the beginning of summer school, but I really enjoyed seeing people get involved at MAGfest about six weeks ago (a post that, alas, did not occur) and it would be nice to get people involved.

I'm thinking I'm going to offer to GM the Confirmation (5-08), Rise of the Goblin Guild (4-01), and Tide of Twilight (3-05).  Why those three?  The Confirmation is a great into adventure.  Rise of the Goblin Guild will let me use all of my goblin minis and some set pieces I have coming.  Finally, Tide of Twilight was the first adventure I ever adapted (significantly) to run for my home group.  I am a big fan of all three and look forward to playing them.  Now, time to start planning.  First of all, extended campaign or PFS Core...?