PaizoCon 2015 Four-Day Seattle Convention This Memorial Day Weekend

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PaizoCon 2015 Logo

PaizoCon 2015 is coming to Seattle this Memorial Day weekend. Hosted at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotels near the Seattle Airport, PaizoCon runs Friday, May 22 through Monday, May 25.  Whether you want to aid in the Year of the Sky Key campaign in Pathfinder Society organized play, battle pirates in the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Guild, or participate in any number of Pathfinder and non-Pathfinder related games or workshops, PaizoCon has something for just about anyone.

PaizoCon is a gaming convention created by Paizo, the makers of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. In their words, PaizoCon is “an annual celebration of Paizo, Pathfinder, and the folks who play it!”  So, if you’re a Pathfinder veteran, looking to learn, or just interested in gaming, grab your umbrella and get to Seattle!

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game meeting room.
This will be the first year of organized play of the ‘Pathfinder Adventure Card Game’ at PaizoCon. Photo by Ryan Hiller.

The four day convention offers hundreds of tables of Pathfinder Society organized play, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game organized play, a “Kid’s track” in the Pathfinder Society room, Reaper Miniatures paint-and-take, twenty-minute Pathfinder dungeon delves run by Paizo personalities, and other Pathfinder and non-Pathfinder limited-seating events.

While the convention is primarily focused on Pathfinder related gaming, numerous other gaming systems are also represented. In 2014, PaizoCon included at least one table each from AD&D, D&D, Mythender, Call of Cthulhu, 13th Age, Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert, Sails of Glory, Swords and Wizardry, Nuns on the Run, and more.  All of these games, as well as the non-society Pathfinder games, are subject to limited seating and are distributed via lottery. So if you want to participate in these at PaizoCon 2015 you need to get registered prior to the lottery.

As of this writing Paizo has not yet posted the lottery application.  For the lottery, participants are given the opportunity to prioritize events they wish to attend, and then events are distributed based on availability, demand, and participant prioritization.  In past years I have been able to get about one lottery event per day and filled the rest of my time with Pathfinder Society organized play or cruising the con.

It’s not all about playing games either. The schedule has not yet been released, but seminars already announced include, “Auntie Lisa’s Story Hour” by Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens, “Pathfinder Adventure Path Q&A”, “Pathfinder RPG Design Workshop”, and “Secrets of Galorian” where Paizo developers reveal more secrets than they should about the Pathfinder campaign setting. Past years included such seminars as, “How to be a Better Freelancer”, “Secrets of TSR”, “Monster Design”, “Technology & Gaming”, and “Adventure Design 101”. When not gaming, perusing the Paizo store, sampling Pathfinder Online, or hobnobbing with industry big wigs, you’re sure to find a seminar that will fit your interests.

Ship miniatures from Sails of Glory
The French, about to take raking fire from astern in a game of ‘Sails of Glory’ at PaizoCon 2014. Photo by Ryan Hiller.

While I am looking forward to playing many hours of Pathfinder Society with my twelve year old, I am most eager for the unexpected discovery.  Participants are allowed to sign up with one “buddy” that will get a matching schedule. This allows parents to guarantee sitting with their children at games for instance. So, for the most part, I have my son pick the schedule.  Last year for one of our lotteried events he selected Sails of Glory, a miniatures sea battle game by Ares Games. The game was presented by Stephen Radney-MacFarland, a member of Paizo’s design team. After an informative and exhilarating four-hour session of broadsides, raking shots, and, due to having to plan movement two moves ahead, inadvertently ramming ally vessels, my son and I were hooked.  While not our first pick in the lottery, Sails of Glory is now a staple in our home, one we only discovered thanks to the fate of the lottery draw.

Participants have the option of purchasing tickets for the Saturday night Preview Banquet.  This usually sells out well before PaizoCon.  As this is a Paizo convention, the banquet  consists of Paizo employees presenting up-and-coming products. It’s nice hearing right from the developers what is coming down the pike.  In 2014, Ryan Dancy discussed the current status of Pathfinder Online, Eric Mona introduced Paizo’s new miniatures and other tangential products like Pathfinder Minimates, and Jason Bulmahn introduced the upcoming Pathfinder hardcovers. In addition, at least one Paizo staff member sits at each banquet table. It’s your opportunity to tell them all your best character stories! While the banquet costs a slight premium over a meal out on the town, the food has historically been good, and the evening informative and entertaining.

Four days of play costs $75 and the must-attend banquet is $35 ($100 for both if you buy the deluxe badge). Paizo offers a kid’s badge at just $40 for kids 10 and under.  This does not give them access to the lottery events, but they can participate in scheduled Pathfinder Society, workshops, and other games.  With a “Kid’s Track” in the Pathfinder Society Room, Reaper Miniatures painting, and more, this may be an economical decision.  My son has attended the past two PaizoCons, and I have always purchased a full badge so we could access lottery events together.  When taking a child, remember that each gaming session is 4-5 hours.  For the sake of everyone at the table, please make sure your child will be able to remain focused for the entire length of the game. The kid’s track is targeted at kids 10 and under and may be a better fit than the general admission sessions. Plan to leave some of your schedule free of scheduled events.  With gaming slots in the morning and afternoon each day, and evening sessions on Friday and Sunday, as well as a banquet on Saturday you can easily run you and your family ragged!

With somewhere in the range of 1000 attendees PaizoCon still has a relatively intimate feel to it.  I find that I am able to participate in everything I want to, and the Paizo employees are accessible and approachable.

This will be my fourth PaizoCon; it has become a great experience with my son, whether we’re beating to quarters in some new game such as Sails of Glory, taking our last stand against a Babau demon in Pathfinder, or learning about new product at the banquet. So, come and play some Pathfinder this Memorial Day weekend and make it a tradition for you and your family as well.

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