Wow… I’m starting to finally recover from nearly 4 straight days of gaming. I have to say that PAX East was awesome. I got to play a ton of board games, video games and of course Dungeons and Dragons. I also had a lot of access to Wizards of the Coast folk to ask questions and bring up some issues. I also had a chance to DM the Dark Sun preview adventure. There was a lot of fun to be had and I highly recommend PAX (and PAX East) as destinations for RPG players. I met a lot of great people that I hope will be long-term gaming friends, but also unfortunately I met a few D&D Jerks (I didn’t know they existed). In the five adventures I played in I came across a whole slew of situations that will make great posts: effective use of skill actions in combat, dealing with bad players and dms, dark sun, organized play, PHB3, the DM’s challenge, upcoming D&D products (like the Player’s Strategy Guide), effective use of encounters and power designs, etc etc…
The people. I got to meet lots of great people: including some awesome gamers from as far away as Portland and Canada. I don’t want to brag and name drop, but so far two the people I’ve gamed with Phill, the Chatty DM (who lived up to his moniker), and Sarah Darkmagic (my regular DM) have written up their experiences so check those out. I also got to meet a lot of local gamers, and I hope to seem around FLGSs and future cons in the area. In addition to famous and/or industry people, there were lots of gamers playing every kind of game in every corner of the convention center. From people like this guy: Lots of fun for all.
The Games. In addition to D&D, I got to play tons of board games, including the new Mystery Express from Days of Wonder, some Magic with the promo decks in the swag bag, got to meet some Interactive Fiction people, see lots of upcoming video games, including Prince of Persia and Civilization V. There were even meta games for the convention, and games for waiting in line (of which there was a lot of).There were also console games, computer games, and classic console and arcade games! I even got meet Luke Crane of Burning Wheel. Must play Mouseguard sometime before the year is out…
The Keynote and Panels. Wil Wheaton brought his A game (along with Pandemic, D&D, and Dragon Age), and really managed to speak to all the generations of gamers there. In addition to Wil, there were a lot of concerts and game industry panels. I didn’t get to many of them, either because the rooms filled up or I was busy gaming elsewhere.
- In addition to some unofficial side gaming, Wizards had a big booth in the Expo Hall with “live D&D” which allowed six people to take on six simplified characters and attack a single monster rolling real d20s. It was a fun, especially considering the whole experience with waiting on line was less than 10 minutes.
- Learn to play d&d: I did not participate in this activity since I already know how to play, but this like all the organized activities “sold out” really quickly, and the people seemed to have a lot of fun.
- Dark Sun: On Saturday I played the dark sun adventure. I was surprised by how young the other players in my group were and that they haven’t been playing very long. It was a weird switch for me. They seemed to have fun, although I think they were pretty distracted by the time last encounter came around after about 2.5 hours. It didn’t help that the DM was really bad. Thankfully for the group I DM’d the adventure on Sunday I learned a lot from his mistakes. I think my group had a lot of fun as well, and I hope I brought Athas to life for them. Although I’ve DM’d tons before, it was the first for me since 4e came out, and I was glad WotC was short-staffed enough for me to get the opportunity. I hope I’ll get more soon. I’ll blog a bunch about that experience soon.
- Undermountain delve: This was another event that I did not get to participate in, but it looked pretty cool. Also I think there were prizes for the participants.
- DM Challenge: There was a poorly advertised contest for DMs to come up with a short adventure based on the Underdark book. About 9 DMs participated in this, including our own Sarah Darkmagic. For me, the adventure started off really fun with a nice dynamic encounter, but our DM kept us there until well after 12:30 when the contest was supposed to only go until 11pm (although most were still going on at 12). He had a wonderful scenario set up and it was the first time I ever saw a complete set of minis where the actual minis represented the monster it was supposed to be. Unfortunately the adventure was one encounter too long and the big boss fight was too complex to deal with at that hour. Here is a picture of Dave the Game’s winning final encounter:
- Save My Game Panel: The WotC hosts held a live session of save my game. Once again the differences between 4e and 3/3.5 became apparent by the types of questions that were asked depending on which edition was being played. I particularly liked that the panelists also let community members answer questions, and that there were lots of nodding heads along with the points I agreed with. I think this format would be great online as some kind of scheduled and mediated forum. Sort of like newbie DM’s new minicasts, but where anyone can answer. I’m looking at you @trevor_wotc.
It was nice that I got to sample a whole variety of games. I would have liked more time for card and board games, and to have a had the patience to wait in line to get signatures and meet more geekleberties.
Check out my pax pictures on flickr.