Posts Tagged ‘Paizo Publishing’

We’re going to go out on a limb and say YES! No questions asked. Blog done, end of post…nah just kidding.  Seriously though, my love of this company aside, they did put on the best (in my opinion) booth of the show, again affirming my belief that they are one of the best RPG publishers in the market today.  I don’t just mean best as in best sales, award winning, and best product line, but also just a good company.  For me they are right up there in quality, and customer relations as Steve Jackson Games and KenzerCo.

I did a comparison between their booth and Wizards of the Coast’s booth, and to me there is no real comparison.  Sure, WoTC had the statue of Drizzt and the Spider Queen (pictures coming soon), but as far as showing off their product line they were more about hype than the product.  Where Paizo’s booth was packed, wall to wall with product, and customers, WoTC was really a big empty space with a couple of statues, a few computer monitors featuring DDO and Neverwinter, and a small bookshelf with some product.  While Paizo’s booth felt like it was all about the games and the fans, the WoTC booth seemed to be all about wow factor, and while the statues were very ‘wow’, riding TSR’s hard work just isn’t enough and you can’t forget about why you are there in the first place.  Games and gamers.

Did I mention that, as far as tabletop RPG’s go Paizo took the show? Not only in this writer’s humble opinion but The EN World RPG Awards agree.  Paizo dominated the Ennie’s at Gen Con with a whopping 9 awards out of 22 categories.  More than any single publisher in the running.  Winning categories included Best Aid/Accessory (Silver), Best Art, Cover (Gold [duh]), Best Cartography (Gold), Best Free Product (Gold), Best  Miniatures Product (Gold), Best Production Values (Gold), Best Website (Gold), Product of the Year (Gold), Fan’s Choice, Best Publisher (Gold).

In the picture to the right, that’s also an Origin award if I’m not mistaken, they have several of those as well.  The picture is the contents of the beginner’s boxed set along with a few other books scattered around.

Short post for now, more pictures to share of course, and a couple more articles, then we are going to get into full swing with our GW2 coverage as I continue to familiarize myself with the game.  Also stay tuned for news on an award we’ve been nominated for, next month’s gamer lady, and much more.

Just like the title says, being level one sucks.  Sure, it’s kinda fun to meet new experiences head-on, learn something, and come out feeling like you conquered whatever it is you set out to do, but when you jump in head first and it overwhelms you…well it’s a whole mess of crazy amazing that can leave you standing there trying to catch your breath.  That was Gen Con for us this year, our first year there.  We are not new to conventions at all, we’ve been going to Wizard World/Comic Con, and C2E2 for years now, but this was a whole new level.  Usually we go up to Chicago, a routine trip for us that we can make blindfolded by shear memory, walk in, get in line for tickets, go in and have a blast.  It’s all in one room, everything is easy to find, the layout is nearly always the same.  Gen Con, however, was above and beyond a new experience right from the start.  The moment we pulled into downtown Indy and saw the crowds, the traffic, and trying to find a place to park, I knew we were in for quite the ride.  This thing takes place in the Indiana Convention Center, along with a multitude of other hotel and theater venues around downtown!

The first thing we walked into was this massive wall of posters (I want one!) for what I would consider the two heavy-hitters at the con.  As you can see, Paizo has two posters there…fitting for sure.  What you can barely see the top of, is a card house competition that was set up below.  People were trying to be a world record for building a card house and some of them were amazing.  It is an annual event called Cardhalla, a free event open to anyone, to help build a city of cards from those donated.  They were built out of Magic the Gathering cards mostly, but there were hundreds of other collectible cards in the mix.  On Saturday night they destroy the entire thing in a charity event.  I was already in awe and I was just in the lobby.  We walked around this place, trying to find where to get our tickets, and that’s where we started to grasp the scale of the place.  Not only did they have a massive hall with the main ‘show’ so to speak, but dozens of smaller rooms, lecture rooms, and even booths set up in the halls outside everything.  We didn’t even know where to start, literally.

Apparently we had walked in the wrong entrance, and will-call, where we were to pick up one of our two tickets, was on the other side of the building.  After walking around, and finally asking at an information desk we found it.  Got my ticket, then headed for the press room to get the press pass which was in my wife’s name.  There was an interview in the press room in progress, so she went in by herself while I waited.  No need for an extra body in there, especially if they were busy with an interview.  I waited a bit and when she came out there was a surprised look on her face.  Turns out the press pass was a 4 day pass!  We had no idea.  Looks like next year we might be going for more than one day.  Now it was time for us to split up, she had signed up for a couple of spouse events, so while she did that I was going to go hit the convention floor for a quick once-over.  See, I am tall and walk fast to start with, meaning my long legs make it even worse.  I figured I could get through the convention floor, scope out the important stuff, see if there is anything that has to be done at a certain time, and then when we walk through together we can take more time to see everything.  Well, we know what happened while I was on the convention floor, so let’s talk about spouse events.

This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen at a Con.  How many people would love their spouse, significant other, girlfriend etc. to go to one of these things with us, but face the fact that it’s more about us than them and they would probably just be bored?  Gen Con is the first I’ve heard about that has accounted for just that.  You can take your spouse, or whoever, that might not be into gaming as much as you, and still find something to do.  They had craft events such as themed scrapbooking, jewelry making, and needlework.  There was an open craft room for anyone to go in, use supplies and tools, and just get creative.  Several active events were available including pole dancing fitness classes, belly dancing, country and 70’s/80’s dancing.  They provided some non-traditional events like massage classes, recipes for gamers, and chakra balancing.  Finally if they just wanted to get out there were tours of local museums, breweries, haunted sites, and even a tour of the catacombs under Indy.  This is a great way to share your passion for gaming with a spouse that isn’t quite into it so they do have something else to do while you geek out at the convention.

Once I had picked up my wife from her classes we headed for the convention floor.  Mind you, I’m a fast walker, and at my pace I only made it halfway through in the two and a half hours she was doing her thing.  This place was huge.  On the way back we got several great cosplay shots, the one here being one of the best I saw.  There were a lot of people mixing genres/themes, I saw a storm trooper in a kilt, several steampunk variations of non-steampunk characters, but this one took the cake for me.  It was probably the way the mask was done, it looked exactly like the ones from the original movie, and the person behind it had the mannerisms down.  Between the way the mouth worked, just like the movie, and the oddly submissive head tilt the chimpanzee characters had in the movie this guy/gal was perfect.  Even the stance was right out of the movie, as if a chimp had gotten off the Planet, and found his way into the imperial army in a galaxy far far away.  By far one of the best, but a convention wouldn’t be a convention without a Slave Leia.

Posing here with, what I presume is, Bloodrayne, this was one of the few Slave Leia’s attending the con.  As you can see, this is a no-joke costume that requires some serious commitment and self confidence.  This is definitely not a costume for the shy introvert, or the gal that’s too worried about how she looks and cares what others think.  If you are going to wear the brass bikini and chain, wear it proud like this lady does.  By this time we are in the convention hall and the madness is just overwhelming.  Once we got through artists alley, our first stop after Tracy Hickman’s booth, it was time to hit the main area in earnest.  First though, a word, again, about how family friendly this con is.

On our way to the beginning we passed the Training Grounds, an area for kids with games, puzzles, toys, books, and even foam weapons.  The perfect place to get young kids interested in games, crafts, miniatures, and for them to have fun when the rest of the convention is boring.  They even provide child care in a room down the hall from the convention floor, with the help of a group called Sitters to the Rescue.  Between all of that and the Family Fun Pavilion that is dedicated to family friendly games for all ages, this con does live up to the standards that all gamers expect.  Many of us gamers are older, with families, spouses, kids and such, and while we all hope they will share our love for gaming, that’s not always so.  At least this con offers ways for families to share time together, or apart while still enjoying a weekend event geared for everyone.  For the older kids, they also had quite a few video game opportunities available.

Finally, I just have to say, this con is really for everyone that loves games.  You don’t have to be into RPGs or miniatures, LARP or fantasy to enjoy this event.  I would say fully half the booths were dedicated to card and board games.  I heard a few years ago, someone say that gaming was dying, that roleplaying was going to be a thing of the past.  I have to say I just don’t see it.  I see gaming evolving, becoming something different, but I certainly don’t see it dying.  The traditional RPG company booths were just as busy as the zombie card game booths, or the miniature wargaming spots.  If Gen Con is any indication, Gaming as an industry is still growing with no signs of stopping.  I am excited to see what comes out of this change!

Stay tuned for more about the Con, along with, hopefully, a training guide for GW2 coming soon!

To kick off this review, Frags and Beer has an exciting announcement, which also inspired the timing of this review.  This year will be the first year ever that I attend Gen Con, the role-playing, fantasy, and gaming convention in Indianapolis, formerly of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  On a whim I signed up to get a press pass for the blog, to see if anything would come of it, and wouldn’t you know, we got approved!  That’s right readers, family, and friends, Frags and Beer is officially considered a press guest for Gen Con Indy 2012!  There’s lots of planning, and hopefully lots of posts to come out of this.  We will keep you updated with anticipated interviews, meets, and information for our trip to the event.  Maybe next year we’ll go for the entire 4 days.

Well, onto the review.  I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I dislike Wizards of the Coast, and there’s a whole post of reasons why so I won’t go into that.  What they did with Dungeons and Dragons is relevant however, so I’ll give a brief summary.  I am not ashamed to admit that I was an early adopter of 3.o, otherwise known ast 3rd edition.  I have been playing D&D since it was being sold as 2nd edition, right after the change from 1st.  I had also played Magic the Gathering from WoTC so I should have known what I was in for.  Unfortunately I adopted 3.0 before I got my head on straight and then I dropped MtG because it was obvious that Wizards was just interested in milking as much money out of their fans as they could rather than delivering quality and long-lasting content.

Anyway, when they announced 3.5 I was well within my dislike of Wizards, for one very good reason.  In over 20 years, the previous publisher of D&D had put out 3 editions, basic, 1st, and 2nd.  In less than 5 Wizards was scheduled to release 2, and we would later find out another edition quickly followed, 4th, and now they are announcing 5th.  Why does Wizards do this?  They know we are collectors, us gamers.  We like to have it all, as many books, maps, pictures, and swag related to whatever it is we like.  They can slap D&D on anything and there are people out there that will buy it just because of that.  When I was sure that Wizards was turning my favorite RPG into nothing but a cash-cow with no love for the actual game, I determined they would get no more of my money for it.

Now, why Pathfinder has become my go-to game…well it goes back to 3rd edition.  Like I said, I was an early adopter, and 3rd edition was great.  It had some marked improvements over 2nd.  Easier system to learn, faster to get into the actual role play, with less roll play.  It was also broken.  Instead of fixing it with 3.5, they broke it more.  The open license thing was great, lots of source material for this great game, from lots of other companies, but then 3.5 manage to make a lot of that material obsolete or inaccurate.  Then a few years later 4th edition is announced, totally new system, new books, new rules, no open license.  Players are pretty much told, too bad, convert or be stuck with no new material.  All in the course of a few years Wizards had managed to take a great game, update it, improve it, break it, and make it obsolete.

Cue Paizo to the rescue!  Some of you might remember them as the company that took care of Dragon and Dungeon magazines during their old age, when Wizards pretty much kicked them out to pasture.  Now they have come in to revitalize, and rescue a game system that many of us came to love, and felt was abandoned by Wizards of the Coast.  With Pathfinder, based on the 3.0/.5 game from Wizards, Paizo has updated, fixed, enhanced, and basically given us a reason to keep playing this system.  Everyone pretty much calls this game D&D 3.75, and with good reason.

First and foremost, what caught my attention about Pathfinder, was the exceptional art.  I don’t know about you, but I remember opening up the AD&D Player’s Handbook, back in 2nd edition and being greeted by Larry Elmore’s amazing painting of the adventuring party with the hanging dragon, sort of like a group fishing picture with the trophy hanging in the middle.  So many characters were inspired by that painting.  Art in these books should inspire players and DMs alike, making them say things like “I want to see that guy in action,” or “I want to make that character, how cool!”  I just never got that feel from later works from Wizards, but look at this Dwarven Ranger from the Pathfinder Core Rulebook!  Who wouldn’t want to play that?!   Along with inspiration, eye catching art is important to sell books.  Go into any game store, and the customer is inundated with sourcebooks, games, magazines, comic books, board games, card games, miniature games, and even in some cases video games.  When faced with such a daunting task of finding something interesting in that plethora of gaming heaven, good art like this will draw the customer in, and separate you from the competition.

Another major thing that drew me to Pathfinder, and Paizo in general, is their business model.  Do you remember when 4th edition was announced, they released a preview book?  Yah I remember that, a 30 dollar little pamphlet, I think with all of 20 or 30 pages of splash art, text, snippets of rules and the like.  Great huh?  A little preview of how Wizards was going to handle this new edition.  Here comes Paizo though, and they release a preview book for Pathfinder.  It’s a 48 page, FREE PDF, with complete text to see how character creation and combat goes.  Heck, you could almost test the Pathfinder system with this Free PDF…did I mention it was FREE!!!!  Second thing, about their business model, is how they released the core book.  Where, traditionally, D&D has always had three core books, a Player’s guide, a Dungeon Master’s guide, and at least one Monster Manual, needed to play the game, Paizo did something different.  You can play Pathfinder by buying two books, the Core Rulebook, and their monster guide.  It is actually cheaper, and more effecient, to get into Pathfinder versus the new editions of D&D.  Not only that but if you bought them online, order the hardcopy from their site, they threw in a digital PDF copy of the books for your convenience.  See anything like that over at Wizards?  To cap it all off they have a reference document that is free, online, and gives a lot of info on the game right at your fingertips.

Now, besides the eye candy, and the fact that Paizo just seems to be an upright company, there are some real reasons that Pathfinder is a much improved game over D&D 3.0/5 and newer editions.  They took what was good about the d20 system, D&D 3.0/5 and they fixed what was broken, simplified what was mind-numbingly complicated, and updated what just didn’t make sense.

Anyone remember how complicated it was to turn undead in 3.0/5?  Crazy amount of math, and completely unintuitive.  It just didn’t make sense to anyone in my group.  Pathfinder fixes that, simplifies it so that instead of spending so much time decrypting the rules, your cleric can roll his dice and everyone can move on with story.  Same with grapple, bull rush, trip checks and the like.  Before there was a rule for each and every special attack, and different rolls for all of them.  Now, one roll, vs one number, with different results based on what the person is doing.  No more complicated math, opening the rule book to see how it worked, or any of that.  Attacker rolls dice, checks against defender’s number, succeed or fail move on with story.  The game really makes it easy for the group to focus on roleplay and story as opposed to rolls, rules, and math.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  You can get a multitude of resources on their site, including a massive blog, and forums packed full of questions and answers.  I highly recommend this game to anyone who enjoyed the d20 system, but doesn’t want to keep catering to Wizards, and wants to support a new company that really seems to care about supporting the gamers.