Allot of people have been asking me about PAX East. I just returned so I'll using this blog as a blog for the moment.
First off, PAX was great. Lot's of people. People had good attitudes. It was clear almost everyone had fun.
I was there primarily for the DND, and I'll be talking about that mostly.
WotC hosted a one hour Dungeon Delve that ran an hour long. It was two encounters long and featured pre-made, 3rd level PCs. It was fun, if only because the PCs were solid, the DMs were in high spirits and its a great chance to play a game with strangers. The 2nd encounter was formidable and, I found out, made up of 8th level monsters.
It didn't feel like a loss though. It felt exciting cause the danger was evident.
Playing granted you small wooden coins (you got 2 or three per play session). For two coins you could get a kobold mini, for five an Ampersand patch, and for 15 you could get a D&D backpack. You could obviously play more than once and participation was first come, first serve, with quite a line at times.
I was told that the setup and number of sessions/volunteers was based on the turn out for Comic Con. It seemed Comic Con goers don't like D&D nearly as much as the people at PAX because there simply was not enough sessions and volunteers to go around in any of the D&D events I saw.
Dark Sun Preview
This was fun. I like the brief story and I liked playing the characters. We got to see a thri-keen in action as well as Mul. Both seemed interesting and worthwhile to play.
The goliath gets re-skinned as a half-giant and I have a good guess from the content of the session that Githzerai are going to be the settings Gith.
The background themes give your PC an extra encounter power at level 1, which has a comparable usefulness of the class encounter powers. My half-giant fighter was a gladiator and he could shove someone, do 2d10+str damage, push them 2 squares, knock the target prone, and slow any adjacent enemies.
Not bad eh? Well you're going to need. The adventure set a bar of dangerous adventure. If they encourage this type of play, be prepared for your PC to die, possibly at the hands of another player.
I found this to be a pleasant distinction from the other settings.
MS Surface Scapes
This was a very nifty toy. I did get to play. I even got to fireball goblins. It was fun. It didn't feel like D&D though.
Things I liked: I liked being able to see LoS, blast radius, and movement right on the map.
Things I didn't like: Not being able to use physical dice, the idea that all the math and stats are held in the program (we all know about the mistakes and limitations in/of the CB), the fact that the enemies worked on AI.
About the AI. I know this is optional. I didn't get to see how programmable it was for the DM. In fact we didn't get to see much of the DM side of things at all. But if the bad guys make their own decisions, how is this not a video game? I don't want a video game. We have D&D video games. I want a video tool.
General Notes on PAX
- The enforcers were awesome. Nice, energetic, interested and patient, even when it was clear they did not want to hear your anecdote.
- Wil Weaton had a great key note. He really set a good tone and had everyone laughing.
- Lots of people to talk to.
- Get In Line Games was there keeping people entertained as they waiting to get in. If you could see the screen, it was pretty entertaining.
- There were a ton of games to choose from in the free play console room.
- Most lines moved very quickly (more props to the enforcers).
Cons (get it?)
- There were allot of lines.
- There was allot of confusion about lines. For the really big events and panels the enforcers were really good about marking what some lines were, and trying to keep things orderly. On the Expo floor and in side events, like the wotc rooms, this was not the case. People were told lines were things that they weren't (by guests and staffers), lines were often not marked, and lines were sometimes not cut off properly.
- Related, is the lack of information. You could sign up for somethings ahead of time, and others not. This information was not centrally located. You could sign up for somethings only when you got there, even for future days of the expo. This means people who were coming on Sunday, potentially didn't get a chance to sign up for some things at all, without even knowing that this was a possibility.
- There was girl, barely wearing any clothes, chasing people with glove hands.
Most of the above was caused by vendors not having a good idea how many people would be interested in their events and therefore not having enough staff. There was also a limitation on total space. I heard they are moving to a new location, in Boston, next year.
All and all very positive however.