PAX Events for Tabletop Gamers

The official PAX East schedule has been revealed and it is looking pretty good, but what is really exciting is how many of the panels are shaping up to be about tabletop gamers! Below is a list of all the panels that I’m hoping to get to, but I know that will be impossible because of some overlap.


How to Start Playing D&D
Cat Theatre
Friday 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Let’s face it, all those rulebooks and funny-shaped dice can be intimidating. What do I roll to kill the goblin with my sword? What does Magic Missile do again? Why is that gazebo attacking me? The truth is that all tabletop roleplaying needs is a creative gamemaster and some players willing to go on an adventure. We’ll help you make sense of esoteric game manuals so you can stop just lurking on RPG websites or hearing about other gamers’ campaigns and start actually roleplaying. If you used to play D&D in the 80s or you’ve trouble with a male-centric hobby, we’ll show you how to find a group that matches your playstyle and gets you back into gaming. New dungeon masters can learn how to form a group, while we’ll show all prospective players that there’s no reason to be afraid of rolling a few dice on a Friday night.
Panelists include: Greg Tito [Games Editor, The Escapist], Ethan Gilsdorf [Author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, journalist and critic for New York Times, Boston Globe,’s GeekDad], Alex Guzman [RPG Networker / Game Organizer, Bad Wrong Fun], Shelly Mazzanoble [Author of Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Dungeons and Dragons., Wizards of the Coast]

Design an RPG in an Hour
Merman Theatre
Friday 2:30pm – 3:30pm
We’re making a pen and paper RPG, and you’re invited to the design meeting! During the panel, you’ll address the problem-solving and analytical questions required to design a successful game in a seat-of-our-pants, fast-paced environment. During the discussion, we’ll cover the basics of game theory and how to outline, centered around an example you’re participating in.

Ask the Dungeon Masters
Wyvern Theatre
Friday 6:00pm – 7:00pm
Being a great Dungeon Master requires a variety of skills. Part referee, part storyteller, and part actor; the art of the Dungeon Master is in combining these talents to become a superhuman, D&D-propelling package. Join D&D staff members Mike Mearls, Chris Lindsay, and Chris Youngs as they discuss various tips and tricks to bring the best adventure to your players, as well as ways to make them equal participants in the story. A Q&A session will follow the panel discussion.
Panelists include: TBA

Fix Your Tabletop RPG with the RPG Doctor and the Gamer Assembly
Merman Theatre
Friday 7:00pm – 8:00pm
Do you have a problem with your RPG group? Looking for ways to make your games more awesome? Thinking of expanding your experiences? The RPG Doctor has played dozens of games (and designed a few), and will lead a panel with the RPG players of the Gamer Assembly, answering your questions about RPGs.
Panelists include: Brent P. Newhall [The RPG Doctor, NASA], T.W. Wombat [Gamer Assembly Steward], Brian Liberge [Gamer Assembly Steward]

Design a Dungeon
Cat Theatre
Friday 7:30pm – 8:30pm
Create a whole adventure in an hour! Even if you’ve never DMed or played D&D, you can still participate in mass-brainstorming with your fellow gamers. We’ll take suggestions from the crowd for colorful non-player characters, terrifying monsters, as well as the big bad guy and weave them all into a complete dungeon-delving adventure. Join experienced RPG designers from Wizards of the Coast, Margaret Weis Productions, White Wolf and more as they help pick ideas for the adventure we design together.
Panelists include: Greg Tito [Games Editor, The Escapist], Mike Mearls [Head of Dungeons and Dragons Development, Wizards of the Coast], Philippe-Antoine Menard [Chatty DM, Critical Hits, Margaret Weis Productions, Wizards of the Coast], David A. Hill Jr. [Game Designer, Machine Age Productions]

Going Cardboard: A Board Game Documentary
Arachnid Theatre
Friday 10:00pm – 12:30am
In 1978, the German press and board game makers created the Spiel des Jahres, or “Game of the Year”, award for excellence in board game design. Competition for this award contributed to an explosion in the variety and sophistication of “Eurogames.” With the arrival of The Settlers of Catan in the United States in the mid-nineties, more people began to discover the new breed of board game that had been quietly evolving in Germany for the past 30+ years. Going Cardboard takes you into the world of “designer” board gaming, from the community of enthusiastic fans to the publishers and self-publishers, and of course, the designers.
Panelists include: Lorien Green [Owner, T-Cat Productions, LLC]


The Campaign Doctors
Merman Theatre
Saturday 12:30pm – 1:30pm
The Doctors are IN. Award winning RPG designers Luke Crane (Burning Wheel), Jack Graham (Eclipse Phase), and Joshua AC Newman (Shock) team up with RPG blogger Tracy Hurley ( to solve all of your campaign problems! Players, how do you get what you want out of your GM? GM’s, how do you keep all of your players happy? An RPG group is a tricky organism to care for and feed; how do we keep them alive and vibrant? Bring your questions up on stage — or tweet them to the moderator, if you’re shy. The Campaign Doctors have the answers — even if you might not like them!<
Panelists include: Jack Graham [writer and game designer, freelancer], Luke Crane [publisher and game designer, The Burning Wheel], Joshua AC Newman [publisher and game designer, Glyph Press], Tracy Hurley [blogger and game designer,]

The Future of Dungeons & Dragons
Wyvern Theatre
Saturday 1:30pm – 2:30pm
The next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons is on its way! Join D&D Senior Manager Mike Mearls in a Q&A about the next D&D, and how the open playtest is using fan feedback to help shape the future of the game.
Panelists include: TBA

Wizards of the Coast – Magic: The Gathering Panel
Wyvern Theatre
Saturday 4:30pm – 5:30pm
Come and talk with the Magic creative team and get insight the world of Magic. Get a preview of the new Avacyn Restored expansion and much more. You’ll see new art, new cards, and you’ll even have a chance to pick up some Magic swag!
Panelists include: TBA

Paint the Line TCG: Making the Game
Merman Theatre
Saturday 5:00pm – 6:00pm
Have you ever wondered how crazy someone would have to be to decide to take a sport like Ping Pong and mash it together with a Card Game, and then merge it with the Cold War and Penny Arcade IP? Wonder no longer! Come feast your eyes upon the forms of Lead Designer Steve Bowler and Penny Arcade’s very own Kiko Villasenor as they try and relate to you the story of how this card game came to be. Hear! How it started! Laugh! At the crazy pitch meeting! Ask! All the questions that cover all the stuff we forgot to talk about! You’ll get to see the evolution of the cards (from Steve’s first index cards to early prototypes to Kiko’s amazing final layouts), some of the gorgeous artwork done by the artists on the game blown up real huge-like on the purdy projector thingy, how the project got started over a game design seminar and a chance meeting between old friends at a Starbucks, and there may or may not be a showing of the famous “Football” briefcase that once contained the original nuclear prototype.
Panelists include: Steve Bowler [Lead Gameplay Designer,], Kiko Villasenor [Art Director, Penny Arcade]


Real RPGs: Sexuality, religion, and race in design and play
Merman Theatre
Sunday 11:30am – 12:30pm
The real world is full of all kinds of people- shouldn’t your game be, too? Talk to some world-class designers and serious gamers about how to make the world you create a more realistic and cosmopolitan place. Whether you’re trying to build a D&D game that feels rich and diverse or designing a game about a tough topic, eventually you face the same questions: how do I build something realistically different than my own viewpoint? How can I tackle this controversial subject honestly and well- and make it fun in the process? Join professional ladies/brown people/bisexuals (with bonus white dude!) from a wild array of religious traditions as we discuss the games we’ve made, the games we love, and how My Little Pony may be the platonic ideal of race relations in popular media. We’ll also open it up to Q&A to help you puzzle over the religious wars between your fantasy races and the age old question: how do I play a [person of another religion/gender/race] well?
Panelists include: Elizabeth Shoemaker Sampat [Partner, Two Scooters Press], Nora Last [Another Feminist Blog], Julia Bond Ellingboe [Owner, Stone Baby Games], Meguey Baker [Owner, Night Sky Games], Vincent Baker [Owner, lumpley games], Shreyas Sampat [Partner, Two Scooters Press]

How D&D Saved My Life — and How It Could Save Yours!
Merman Theatre
Sunday 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Ever wonder how to explain to your spouse/parent/loved one why you dig Dungeons & Dragons? Why it’s important to you? And what the game has given you that you can use in real life? D&D taught Ethan Gilsdorf how to emerge from his -5 Shell of Introversion and become a confident, decisive, even cocky, creative soul. If you can run a D&D campaign – a months-long series of adventures requiring infinite attention to detail, exacting execution and on-the-fly problem-solving – you can run an advertising campaign, an IT company, or a freelance life. 
In this humorous, self-deprecating and inspirational talk – punctuated by Gilsdorf’s own 1970s and 1980s-era slides and movies of maps, dungeons and character sheets and snapshots — Gilsdorf will take you on a nostalgic trip through his own love affair with D&D and his personal transformation, and show you how to feel good about all those years spent in the dungeon.
Panelists include: Ethan Gilsdorf [author, Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, journalist/writer/critic/blogger]

Saving Your Campaign By Game Designing
Cat Theatre
Sunday 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Sometimes, you keep running into issues with your RPG sessions that no amount of GMing skill can fix. You and your players are getting frustrated, and you’re ready to toss out the campaign, the game system, or both. Before you toss the core book across the room, come listen to us talk about how you can change the rules to customize any game to the needs of your own group. Some techniques like making failing interesting, adding relationship rules to a game, or adding personality rules to otherwise flat characters can help fix your campaign before it implodes.
Panelists include: Dave Chalker [Editor-in-Chief, Critical Hits], Phil Menard [Content Manager, Critical Hits], Quinn Murphy [President, Thoughtcrime Games]