Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

This year, I see life in a brand new way: not only did I turn forty, but I also had a brush with the grim reaper... All of this has made me re-think a number of things, and showed me how blessed I am.

First off, I have an awesome family, with an awesome wife and great kids! My wife has always been great. (Though I suppose that she keeps me around just because I don't like chocolate...) True, I may strangle the young'uns sometimes, I would not trade them for the world and seeing their little faces is one of the highlights of my day.

Second, I am so thankful for the great friends I have made over the years, from my native Canada, to France, to Ireland, to Colorado, and now Kentucky. Having so many people really make me a rich man! If you read this, I consider myself blessed and am thankful for you.

Finally, the small things. I won't go into details, I will keep them between myself and the Lord above...

Quite simply: Thank you Lord for the many blessings you have granted me and mine.

Thank you

JP

PS: Thank you for that bird and the feast around it. It was great!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New iconics for Legacies?

For the last while, I have been thinking about a lot of things regarding the Legacies campaign. Since we came up with the original 8 or 9 character, these characters have evolved through a number of adventures. But I wonder if it is time that we add a few characters to our own suite of iconics.

Question is... WHO?

A P'tan ranger? A kalisan oracle? A gevet male?

So many exciting choices. Which ones do you wish to see? Which ones should I worry about?

JP

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Funny: Cardiac humor

I thought this was pretty funny. Not gaming related, but funny nonetheless. I now have to take one of them every day for the rest of my life.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Gostor: Not bolted down released!

Anyone who plays with me or who has read this blog for any length of time know that I find the idea of storing any form of wealth in coins like uncle scrooge is simple ludicrous. Wealth has to be found in things, in items that one can use. This Gostor product, like most of them so far all come from personal charts and tables I generated over the years. This product brings them all together into a consistent whole. The writing was tightened and the tables made clearer.

This product is available now from RPGNow.com for the sum of 2$ I rather than go with 1.99, I just rounded the cost of ALL Gostor products to 2$, bringing the price of some of them down.

Gostor products are written in a way that they can be added to a campaign simply without too much fuss. Like others in the series, this one is system-agnostic, meaning you can use it with any system you use, from fantasy to sci-fi!

Let me know what you think!

JP

Friday, November 21, 2014

Real Life: How I narrowly escaped death

American Heart Association: Click here
Canadian Heart Association: Click here

JP

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Commission: Allison Jakes Kickstarter Exclusive

Following up on the post about Aiakos, Chad got himself two model. The second one being Allison Jakes of the Cygnar army.

I will admit to not being very impressed by the mini when I first looked at it up close. Another boring blue model... But after priming, I noticed that she was wearing mostly clothes instead of armor with a few armor pieces and a loincloth/skirt.

She suddenly became more interesting!

Now painting leather is something easy. Easy to do an okay job: a based brown, a dark wash and (maybe) a little brush touch-up.

Doing some good leather, especially when there is that much of it is much harder to go well. The technique is the same: base, wash, but instead of the dry brush, I did a "wet brushing" which dulls the previous without altering the color too much. Then I added highlights on the belt straps to differentiate them from her clothing.

The armor plates and the skirt got a "boring" treatment of blue with white highlights. The leathers is what really pops to me on the model and I not wish to detract from that.

Difficult to see, but I used very watered down blue on the sword to give it a blue sheen.

JP

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Commission: Aiakos Kickstarter Exclusive

This model was a commission my good friend Chad brought me. He took part in the Kickstarter for Warmachine Tactics, the online game for Warmachine - which I am anxiously awaiting. While I participated in this kickstarter, I could not afford the exclusive sculpts of the journeymen warcasters. Getting to paint them was a reward in itself!

I painted the fellow with the typical Cryx colors of dull green with a few highlight. I really painted them so he would be at home with my own army. The paint job itself was fairly straight forward as the model is basically armor, leather belts and some skin. I initially planned on giving him some tattoos, but as I worked him, I found the burnished brass/gold over dark steel was already quite powerful, almost longing for a large piece of uniform color, to contrast with the details. So I settled with a monotone "skirt" and the bright red mane. These drew the eye in a simple but effective manner and become high points to the model.

However, Chad intended this model as a Role-playing character for Pathfinder Society (or maybe NeoExodus...?) It has a lot going for him: the chain and trident, the piecemeal armor, the scars, and that wicked blade. He looks mean.

A great mini.

JP

Monday, November 17, 2014

[Old Pro Tips] 5 quick villains for any GM

Villains are important in any campaign. I believe, the villain create the hero. To any new GM, here are five villains you need to be able to generate on the fly. They are generally not the the ones who the PCs confront directly - not initially at least.

Emperor Palpatine (From the Star Wars movies) This villain is the one who has reached the pinnacle of power and now seeks to keep it. To many ambitious villain, the Emperor is a complete success story. He would rather seduce you to join him, but you refuse, he is quite ready to destroy you. Overconfidence and paranoia are the two common flaws this villain commonly has.

Jason Vorhees (Friday the 13th movie franchise)This villain is simply a psychopathic madman with a singleminded focus and no intention to share or work with others. He proceeds on his path destroying anyone he encounters. This type of villain usually makes a lot of enemies, creating a case for the "enemy of my enemy".

Magneto (Marvel comics super villain) This is the villain with a clear idea and a definite, easy to state goal. As such, he can be almost predictable in his action, but therein also lies his power. Although his ultimate means may be villainous, many heroes might share some -or all- of his ultimate goal.

Igor (Classic Horror movies) Named for the usually deformed villain's henchmen of classic horror films, this villain is one who passes himself off as a or as a weakling to deflect all danger away from him. As such, he lets others take credit for his work as he secretly amasses the power he needs. Chancellor Palpatine (from Episode 1 and 2) fits this bill. The Igor is not in a hurry, and is willing to make temporary alliances as long as he benefits in the long run.

Hannibal Lecter (From the Hannibal, Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs movies) This is a villain who is completely rotten and insane, almost as though one chose that path of evil, and is perfectly happy with how he is. The Hannibal Lecter can be flattered into helping or pushed off the rail to become a Jason Vorhees.

JP

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Funnies: T-Rex Selfie

Just too funny

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

When playtest go wrong

One of the things I am really attached to is that all NeoExodus Legacies adventure comes playtested by our players.

Their feedback is extremely valuable to us. I take these playtest as an opportunity to pick the brains of players to see if the flow is right. If they reach the conclusions I want them to reach. And overall see how they like the adventure.

This sometimes leads to situation where I as a writer or editor thinks a course is obvious and it is not. Or a case when dice bungle the equation. Or a case when a player reaches a third conclusion and walk completely off track.

It happens, and it is something I value. If I pick your brain, I must be willing to deal with the fun thingsthat dwell within...

As I'm sure you've devised by now... such a thing happened to the one of my playtest group.

We TPK'd.

Yup.

It happens. But it brought to life a number of points... important ones. Now however we have to go back to the drawing board on some of these issues to fix them.

Another thing that came to light is also one of the difference between Legacies and PFS: that of the gm is allowed to adapt and modify the adventure as needed to provide the players with as good an experience as possible. Running numbers has never been something that attracted me as a gm, but telling a good story still does today.

So it's back to work! I'll let you know how things go.

JP

Friday, November 7, 2014

[Old Pro Tricks] 5-tips to writing boxed text

This week, a good friend of mine sent me an adventure he wanted to run for his friends. The plot was really good, very ambitious, full of role-play and backstabbing potential. Oh yeah! It was set in Golarion's Cheliax.

Yes.

Too bad I could not play in it. But his stuff was NICE. Very, very nice. However, one thing I lamented (and I told him): too much boxed text. Entire encounters were pre-written with only minor interaction by PCs, making it effectively a novel with a few breaks. Seriously its not THAT bad, but you get the basic idea.

Adding to that, many GM become very stiff and static when they see boxed text, and mindlessly read what is in front of them.

1- Use boxed text to set the scene, not the action Your boxed text should include only what is exactly needed to set the scene. Focus on the high points and what they might use or that has relevance. I like to think of this as Tales from the Crypt telling us where we are now, but he quickly fades and lets the action unfold.

2- Pique the PC's interest, don't flood them A common mistake and one I have been VERY guilty of over the years. By using this principle, point out the elements that appear out of place, with a goal of letting the PCs return and examine those later.

It's okay to say that the walls are covered with tapestries, there is rarely a need to describe each of them. At least until the PCs decide to examine them. Then you can provide a more detailed description.

3- Start big, finish small When describing a scene focus on elements that get PCs thinking about where they are. Then you can elaborate on the unique elements and finish by what is most likely to generate a reaction from them. Never mention the treasure or threatening monsters first.

4- Avoid the rolling boxed text The rolling boxed text often appears when an NPC appears, speaks, then the boxed text breaks to "Allow the PCs to agree" then continues. Rather than that, have the NPC give the essential of what is needed, and let the PCs ask questions. It makes for a scene that is more dynamic and interesting to play. Forcing the PCs to ask questions creates a dynamic around the table where the can each get into character in a fairly safe place. The NPC usually WANTS to interact with them so they can get into the game.

One small trick? Never have the NPC specify the payment in an employment boxed text. This ALWAYS leads to either: PCs bargaining for more OR arguing over the value, either case, it breaks the flow of the discussion. And getting back "on-track" rarely feels natural and few PCs care about the rest of the details. They heard money. They want more. The GM is now droning on like the teacher in Peanuts, because they feel cheated.

5- You have too much of it Doesn't matter what you think, chances are you could trim your boxed text. There is too much of it and you could reduce some of it.

For all the love I have for some fellow writers, many of them put too much in there. Doesn't make their products any less enjoyable, but it makes part of their adventures... well more difficult to follow and gives a 'low-point' to what happens.

Compare the following:

Description #1 "Visible rafters only add to the cavernous aspect of the throne room. Tapestries and wooden sculptures break the stark grey monotony of the stone walls. Courtiers and men-at-arms of all races stand around a raised dais upon which sits a rotting lich."

With this:

Description #2 "A rotting lich sits on a dais in the center of the room, surrounded by a cadre of dwarven and elven courtiers with human and orc soldiers wearing plate mails. The decor of the room is elegant, rich, and dominated by long tapestries depicting hunting scenes where skeletal beings hunt men and women as wooden gargoyle sculpture look down on the assembly.

How many players will actually know of care what's on the tapestry? They will be too busy rolling for initiative.

Don't believe me?

Try it.

JP

Thursday, November 6, 2014

[Old Pro Tricks] 5 ways to keeping players engaged

Someone in the Moonlite Comic RPG group on Facebook asked the seemingly simple question "How do you keep your players on-track".

First let's get our topic defined. I mean keeping the players involved and interested in their game.

1- Vary the pace: Not everything can be a nail-biting encounter. There are some parts that should develop slowly: the PCs travel cross-country. The mix of slow and fast encounters allows some players to disengage for a short period and be less engaged

2- Focus on the important: Not every NPC requires a long, extended conversation. Make what is important, important. Make what is not, not. Yes, throwing a curveball once in a while keeps them guessing.

3- Make sure your style of game is what your players like: running political adventures for those who want hack-n-slash, and vice-versa.

4- Make it personal: Not necessarily possible in organized play, but give the characters an impetuous for adventuring. Instead of a nameless princess being captured, have it be a PC's sister or their mother. Adventuring just for loot is fun for a while, but quickly gets old.

5- Some players will never get it: Some players never get into it as much as you want. Make sure they have the opportunity to become engage, but don't force it upon them.

Those would be the five point list!

JP

Monday, November 3, 2014

Legacies: Creating Gytha, a teaser

I case you missed it, a few weeks back, I held a public design session. I assembled a crack team of NeoExodus enthusiasts in the creation of a city that we would be using extensively during this campaign year - and perhaps beyond.

I will commend my team of James, Rory and Steven who came up with some really evil things - better things than I could ever come up with. With that session over, it fell to me to integrate everything: their ideas with mine into a coherent whole. Originally, I had planned on having this book be around 10-12 pages but the final product will be around 28 pages long!

The result, I will say is a very compelling town, the first of the genre of what I hope will become a great series. The book includes a history of Gytha, a series of exciting locations both near and in Gytha itself including the Aquaspire, Iron Graveyard, the Pearl Beds, the Sahuagin Quarter. Four fully-stat'd NPCs with their background and history. New character options including three character archetypes, new feats, new weapons, unique items, a gallery of Janus Horde low-level combatants and no less than four new monsters!

As I write this blog post, I am putting the finishing touches on the document, I hope to have available for everyone by the weekend.

As a first teaser, I will leave you with the following: WIP art of the map of the city itself!

JP

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday Funnies: Back at the Cantina

I really found this old cartoon extremely funny. The expression on Obi-Wan is precious.

JP

Friday, October 31, 2014

An update on... well everything!

Legacies

I've been working really hard to get things done and our latest waves of adventure rolled out. I have new editors working on products. I am just about to announce the next big story arc for Legacies! Stay tuned.

About the public design session, it went extremely well. The guys came up with some very nasty goodies and great ideas I am putting the finishing touches on. It will be a very good book. At first, I thought it would be only 5-6 pages but it looks like the final product will be 20+ pages long. Filed with goodies!

The Charity Auction

A quick note on the charity gaming event from this weekend at Moonlite.

I spoke with Jay (the owner) about the amount gathered for the weekend. I'm very happy to report that my minis brought in a whopping 87$! More than 10% of the total proceeds. With over 700$ gathered, I know this will help the UK Children's Hospital!

But really I'm very happy to report this. Though my contribution was not much, a big thanks goes to the guys who bid on the silent auction. A big thank you! I'll definitely provide more for the next one.

JP