Pathfinder Society, You Ruin My Convention Experience!

Convention season in the Southeast begins shortly after the new year starts and I have been looking over all the local and regional conventions to fill out my calendar with great convention experiences. So far, I have found several (see the top of the page) that are on my “to go” list, but there are several regional conventions (they shall remain nameless) that are not on my list for good reason. The regional uptick in Pathfinder Society (PFS) games is getting ridiculous!

Before you flame me, I have played Pathfinder and PFS and it’s not a horrible game, but I have issues with the PFS presence at conventions. See here for a previous blog I wrote.

Ok, now onto my newest observations. Several regional conventions are overly bloating their RPG schedules with PFS games. While a large-ish presence of any game is typically a good thing, but when you are advertising 200+ PFS games and offering little else, in terms of RPGs, for those of us who do not like or play Pathfinder. There are other regional conventions that have the same problem as the one referenced above. The domineering presence of PFS is very disconcerting to me and many I know who love diversity in our gaming.

I go to conventions, big and small, to play games I enjoy and to try new games I have yet to play. So, a convention that is bloated on PFS or any other game for that matter to the point it limits what other RPGs they can or will offer to con-goers is an issue for me. I have no issue with organized play programs, but when one casts a long shadow over the gaming hall and pushes other games and gamers away, it’s not something I want to be apart of or support. That is why I do not go to these conventions.

I have yet to see or experience anything else similar to the way PFS dominates many conventions in the Southeast. While I have seen some sizable offerings of D&D in all its many flavors, they pale in comparision to the PFS problem. Now if I were to go to North Texas RPG Con or GaryCon I would expect predominately OSR and D&D games, but these conventions cater to that. As does PaizoCon each year.

So, my hunt continues for more conventions to visit that offer diversity is all their game offerings and has a great atmosphere. Those are two key elements for me.

~ Modoc

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14 thoughts on “Pathfinder Society, You Ruin My Convention Experience!

  1. Hold it. I will check with Mike and Doug but AFAIK NTRPG Con is not dominated with Pathfinder. It may have something of a presence there but it’s not the be-all-end-all as far as games go. Mike and Doug go out of their way to make sure a large cross-section of different OSR RPGs are offered.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello! This is Badmike, co-founder of NTRPG Con. We do NOT participate in the PFS as a sponsor mostly for the reasons you mention. Any PF events we schedule must be playable by any walk-up and we prefer it not be part of a “storyline” or planned event tree. We did discuss at one time becoming a convention sponsor but due to our unique niche of gamer (predominantly old school oriented) we felt it would not be in our best interest to participate. PFS is a great organization at promoting their company and system, and they give tons of freebies out to cons who agree to run their organized play games. But they also require a dedicated area to run their games as well as having a somewhat “closed” atmosphere (i.e., most people playing in organized PFS play don’t do anything else at the con). The most we’ve had any year is a couple of PF games, mostly run by the Frog God Games people, and they tend to run beginning PF games so that people who aren’t familiar with the system can jump in. I’d say at least 80% of our games each year are either rules sets written before 2000 or are simulations/retro-clones (Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, Mutant Future, etc) . Heck, this year we already have Merle Rasmussen running two Top Secret scenarios using the “classic” rules, our annual Boot Hill game, and I’ve decided to add a Metamorphosis Alpha (original rules) game into my DMing duties!

    Liked by 1 person

    • BadMike,

      Thanks for the comment! You are spot on about PFS and what it brings to a convention, both good and bad. I too am associated with several conventions and they all strive for diversity and limited to no barriers to entry into any of the games. All games are geared for walk up players.

      Glad to have you in the Boxcar Nation!

      Modoc

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  3. I had a con experience nearly ruined by Pathfinder Society, but from a different perspective. I attended a local convention as a volunteer for my local FLGS, helping them run their booth and run some non-d20 based games (mostly Savage Worlds). However, apparently Pathfinder Society was placed in our room as well. They took half our tables, yelled at us for now hanging up a PFS banner for them, and stole players from us at every turn (causing us to actually cancel a few games). That experience has really soured my opinion of PFS.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Cody C.,

      I too have seen this happen more times that I would like to count. It’s frustrating, as a GM, regardless of the system to have to try and wrangle players sometimes. But to have a huge presence and wantonly steal players from other games it crap!

      Modoc

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  4. PFS goes the extra mile to make convention organizers frustrated as well with table space. They ask for 5 hour game blocks when most cons do 4 hours. This locks up their tablespace a whole con day. And their DM’s don’t get “boon” rewards unless you have at least 15 or 20 sessions of games.

    Liked by 1 person

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