JP On Gaming

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Le Troisieme Testament - First Part Review

Since I learned earlier this year that a new series for "Le Troisieme Testament", I bought all five albums and have just been trying to pace myself to make this delight go on and on and on. I remember when I bought the first, then second, then third and forth installment of this series. Wow. I loved it. The clues are there all along but they are well-hidden in the fast-paced story.

A story that is well-paced yet gives the impression of going at breakneck speed but the characters have plenty of time for some internal character development. This development happens particularly on the main character of the story, Elizabeth d'Elsenor, a orphaned raised by the Bishop of Paris. She goes from being something of a damsel in distress to a competent person who understands that the events of the series will never be known by the world at large, that they will be swallowed and hidden by other narratives.

I really did this sort of historical fiction where were are told stories contiguous to major events. And the supernatural is there, or maybe there, and can easily be denied or explained away.

Le Troisieme Testament does that masterfully. Who is the bad guy is and remains difficult to ascertain.

Tie-in biblical events with the Grand Inquisitor Conrad de Marbourgh (who was stripped or all his inquisitorial powers for accusing an elector of the Holy Roman Empire), the knight templar, tongue-less monks, money-hungry mercenaries, a secret occult branch of the Church, with odd raven-like knights. This story goes across Europe: Bohemia, France, Scotland, Spain, Viking lands, each land beautifully illustrated. Their involvement includes elements of that country.

The final denouement comes as a shock every time I read it. Every. Time. There is a feeling of solemnity and "OH CRAP" at the same time.

In case you want to know, they avert the Apocalypse atop a mountain lost somewhere. And everything makes sense for it.

Like The Ninth Gate movie, we are presented with a philosophical question whose answer is more difficult than it initially appears:

Yes. You start seeing... there may be a Third Testament, one after the New Testament... So the story says.

So this is a review of a re-read of this tale. You will no doubt guess my rating.
- Tome 1: Marc ou le réveil du Lion The series starts with a bang 5/5.
- Tome 2: Matthieu ou le visage de l'ange The action slows down here, and the mystery expands to near-confusing point. 4/5
- Tome 3: Luc ou le souffle du taureau Here we (think we) start to understand what is happening and the pace speeds up. 5/5
- Tome 4: Jean ou le jour du corbeau For parts of this tome, the story is a little confused. But the art just carried this to the final few pages where you jaw dropped and everything suddenly makes sense with a simple "I was wrong about everything".

Giving the whole series a 5/5 is one of the easiest scores I've had to give in all my reviews.

[Review] Pathfinder v2 thoughts

Back on Black Friday (Nov 29th), my good friend Florent ran an intro game of Pathfinder version 2 (PF2) for the kids and I. I was excited and intrigued about the game as I received a LOT of varying feedback. Feedback that spanned the spectrum from "good" to "worse thing ever". I tried to step back and just focus on my own experience.

The adventure he ran was one of the Pathfinder Society v2 intros. It was fine as an introduction and showcased the system which was what I was most interested in. PF2 will not change my thoughts on Golarion (I dislike it). However, would I spend time investing in this game as a publisher to publish material for it.

I have little to say about the adventure itself.

Now my thoughts on the system.

Good

The action economy system is simple, clean and after a few rounds, it flows well.

I got to play with my kids and my friends Flo & Flo.

Improvable

I am not sold on this "origins" thing. I expect there are two or three that are so good you must take them and hundreds of other ones.

Your level is everything Attack, saves, skills, and even Armor Class. I hated that about 4th Edition. As we discussed about it, telling a story becomes level-specific. I think 5e did it right here: that number is limited.

Here is the example: Your campaign starts with the PCs fighting orcs. These orcs are tough. Then you get a few levels and those same orcs must either: level-up or become meaningless after two or three levels. So when the game reaches level 10, the party only faces against orc generals, the average mook could take on an entire city.

In contrast, in 5th edition, you can send the same basic orc against the PCs. True, the orcs will not be much of a threat to the PCs, but in mob, they will soak a few attack and may force the PCs to expend a few resources.

Verdict

I will put this down as "fine". 3/5. Like Starfinder, I do not see this game taking over the landscape. People who still play Pathfinder nearly all went back to PF1 and dropped PF2. People who currently play 5e or other games seem to have no interest in it.

Paizo has their fans and PF2 will keep them relevant for a few more years but I see them fading from the forefront. They will remain a major name in RPGs. Someone I spoke to about it used a phrase I thought was appropriate. "There is nothing new here that is not available elsewhere." True, if you don't like or care about Golarion... Then what will bring you here?

What should they have done? I don't know. If I did, I would be rich and selling my own book.

The biggest question that lingers: Would I play Pathfinder 2 again? I am not closed to the idea, yes. Yes I would though I would not go out of my way to run this, especially if I can play other systems that do the same thing.

I could even see FOE creating PF2 products.

Monday, September 7, 2020

DragonCon 2020: After Action Report

So for the second time, I attended DragonCon this past Labor Day weekend. Now my regular job would not allow me to do so but this year was a clear exception because the College Football season does not have a full-time kick-off this weekend, just a few games. In case you do not know I work in college sports for 247 Sports.

Now I was reminded of the event through a rather odd way. I received an email from the organizer who reminded me how to log into my account to be ready to run games. I suddenly panicked. I did not recall offering any games there!

Turns out I did not, so it was good.

I looked at the list of game offerings and settled for a few Adventure League modules. Though there were not many different adventures, there were enough for me to play a variety of characters, of every tier. I played 2 adventures with Igor (my 10th-level servant of Strahd), 1 with Israel Hands (4th level pirate), and 1 with Corfell (my 13th level cleric who I only play once every 6 months... So I never level him up to 17th...)

The GMs were well-prepared and ran tight games I really tought were high-quality events. This is something I think builds community. What I call the game experience. It's not that you just win. I did voice my disagreement with one decision to call it because things got really bad and we were on the fast-track to a quick death. Well that's why we have boons and rewards, and bonuses. Wussing out when thing get tough does annoy me, but fine.

I left my Sunday game with a positive vibe about it and really give a big kudos to the AL people.

So thanks to my GMs: Brett, Krishna, and Rebecca, who GM'd for me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Great Idea, Amazon!

This morning, Amazon sent me a recommendation for a product I might like.

They were right, I love that product!

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Akhamet Player's Guide Released

After many months of writing, refining, and reviewing, it is with great pride that I announce the release of the Akhamet Player's Guide, the second book for the setting.

ActionMan has been reading the book from cover to cover and he's been really been enjoying it and learning a lot of new things.

The book includes and expands on the following:
- Expands on the Akhameti Pantheon by adding four new deities, from the beautiful Hathor, to Thoth the scribe, to the vengeful snake-headed Meretseger.
- Ten new races, including the cow-headed Hathorians, to the vulture-headed Nefru and living mummies!
- Six new class options, from the hoplite fighter to the divine agent rogue, to the divine sorcerer.
- New backgrounds including the fake priest, the former cultist, the prophet, or the palace brat.
- New feats, equipment, and magic items.
- Learn about Akhameti society, new cities, and locations.
- Explore the universe of the lands beyond Akhamet, the lands beyond death.
- Discover the ancient states and kingdoms that existed within Akhamet and the lasting impression they left behind.

The book is available right now through DriveThru RPG.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Apple of a Mother's Eye reached Copper Best-seller!

It took a little more time than I wanted it to, but earlier this week, Apple of a Mother's Eye reached the first threshold into eternal posterity... It reached the level of a Copper Best seller on the DM's Guild.

That adventure was written on the heels of Real Housewives of Ravenloft as an expansion of Curse of Strahd and from talking to the players, was one of the highlights of the campaign. It provided insight into the many NPCs and their backstory. You know how experiencing something gives you insight and perspective.

The adventure is available on the DM's Guild.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Treasures of Ravenloft released on the DM's Guild

As I was running Curse of Strahd this past year, one thing I created was a list of magic items. Why? Because nothing annoys me more than to have to stop the flow of the game to pull out the DMG and then read out loud the powers of an item.

That annoys me. Breaks the flow. Breaks immersion in the game.

One thing Call of Cthulhu taught me was the importance of putting things in the hands of the players: something tangible they can use a reference.

And in D&D, magic items are important. Getting a "Vine Axe" is more interesting than a +1 axe the deals extra damage to plants... It allows the player to read the item and understand it, refer to it, and reveal to the others as much or as little as he wants. Helps the game by adding mystery.

This new product is available now on the DM's Guild. Pay-what-you-want for it.

I also added it to the FOE Ravenloft Bundle.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Kinda Book Report: Legion of the Super-Heroes Vol.1

Many times, LPJ and I would talk about these guys. To me, the Legion of the Super-Heroes is just a gathering of the randomess, dumbest super-heroes. Whatever idea of the week ended up in there. Too many characters to have any kind of personality. A legion of them, litterally.

Half the stories deal with people they reject because of their dumb powers, and why they either turn into villains wanting revenge or joining the Legion of Substitute Heroes. As if there weren't enough characters already! Now surprisingly because of their really dumb flaws, the substitute heroes have some personality and are more interesting than the perfect super-heroes.

This book presents the origin of the Legion. These characters did not have their own titles but were taken from the pages of Superboy or Supergirl comics. The "modern-day" character would fly so fast that he or she would travel through time to the future... a similar trick to the Superman movie.

Now these are DC stories from 1960-1964 where wrote simple stories without any thought: the villains were evil because... well because. There were little-to-nothing in the way of foreshadowing the villains. Very bad-guy of the week with bland cardboard characters. The alien monster all look the same: some type of dragon/ crocodile/ dinosaur mix and look more silly than dangerous.

The Legion has a constitution that is used to bullshit reject or expel people from their ranks, to at least limit the number of members. I mean they are just the worse, most elitist jerks in superhero-dom ever.

One thing I did enjoy is that there is a meta-plot involving a barrier in time, which they frequently allude to in the latest issues. I do like this thread but the resolution did not happen as part of this omnibus.

To review this... Well the art is good - at least on-par with other comics of that era, which is a style I enjoy. However, the stories were mostly weak and without much wonder or interest, happening to characters without interest or personality.

So a rating? 2/5. I don't think I would read another omnibus set during that era. I WOULD be willing to read some later omnibus in the series, perhaps from the 70s when DC abandoned these types of stories.

In the end, I can tell LPJ that my original assessment of this series was right.

Gencon Online: After Action Report

Well as you all know, Gencon Indy did not happen this year. I had originally planned on running a smaller local event here (FOEcon) but I had to call that off. There was Gencon Online... I thought about it but in the end elected not to participate by running events. Maybe I should have, but I managed to get a lot good things done instead...

Normally I would tell you a tale of a trip and of the perils and experiences of the road. Of the Speedway coffee I'd get in Bowling Green or Lebanon (both KY). But no. There was to road trip with Will or Ryan as had been originally planned...

This year on the Wednesday, I got a teeth pulled (the whole crown popped off while I was GMing live a week before). Surgery it was! I survived but slept through the day enjoying the Maury show.

Thursday, I planned on taking off and find some game to play. However, work needed me so I coded and reviewed all day and finished work around 5pm. A short dinner later, at 6pm I was at my Heroes of Rokugan table. Well truth be told, that table was not part of Gencon. Let's say it was an impromptu planned game! Yeah go with that. Enjoyable, and another opportunity to play Haruhime, a character that I am really digging.

Friday, I had a ticket to play the newest Arcanis adventure by Cody Bergman. I must say that of the Arcanis authors, Cody writes the adventures I find the most fun to play. They are not key to the "main plot" but from a gaming aspect (what I call in French, scenaristique - the science of scenarios) they usually deliver. This one did. In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I will say that his adventure went back to the Blessed Lands book and pulls material directly out of there, crafting a story with NPCs from there. I dug that.

Another point of interest was that I got to play with my in-game husband, Sestius Ovidius val'Mehan aka Comma played by Tom-C. He and I have been playing Arcanis together for years. We rarely play together but when we do, it's always awesome, like, super!

I could not find anything I wanted to play for the next while so I watched TV most of the day.

On Friday evenings, I run a D&D game for my kids and the neighbors so I ran that as they ransacked through my sahuagin temple looking for loot and plunder. I mean, it was pretty much a fight the whole time as they took down the sahuagin priestess and her entourage. It got dicy for them but they pulled out.

Saturday evening, after talking to Florent and Florence during their stay here at the Dublin House, I got a ticket in a Starfinder game. While I'm still not a HUGE fan, it is "okay". I will say the GM I had (Cory) mastered the system and was really on-point with both the rules and the scenario, which made things roll much smoother. The game was enjoyable though a few places the plot dragged on a little. I think everyone had fun and there was an interesting mix of colorful characters and cardboard PCs to keep my interest.

2$ well-spent.

Throughout the weekend, I kept looking at the Heroes of Rokugan tables as my ticket was on Sunday morning and my table not filled... Always a worrisome sight for Sunday morning.

When I rolled out of bed WAY too early (giving me time to play with some ideas on Olympia), I hoped the game would happen. Turns out, we had four players, to old hands and two new players (one was completely new and the other had only played a different edition). This adventure turned out to be a play-within-a-play situation and was a marked departure from the usually serious and dour scenarios that make Rokugan so enticing.

The adventure over, I looked at a few other offerings but did not find anything that drew my eye.

The trip home took my rear end from the chair to the couch and a well-deserved nap! Prepare

I have been thinking of participating at the next Gencon Online if/when it happens and put together a FOE program. Offer one or two adventures... Ah well live and learn.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Akhamet Player's Guide going to the printer...

After working and re-working the manuscript for months now - what to say... I'm a tweaker! I finally posted the final cover on the FOE Patreon. Patrons get access to a lot of early details on the book such as art, new races, new class options, and whatever I complete.

I also have a few occasional recorded chats about some of the design topics and interesting aspects with many of the regular FOE GMs and

The next project will be the Olympia Campaign Setting, a setting inspired by Ancient Greece! There is already a LOT of art getting posted and some additional details. Check out the FOE Patreon for full details.

Friday, July 24, 2020

FOE Christmas in July sale

In case, like me, you are living in a hole in the ground furiously typing away your summer, you may have (almost) missed the DM's Guild and DriveThruRPG's Christmas in July sale! Every FOE product is 25% off.

Check out our Ravenloft material at the DM's Guild .

Or our classic adventure settings and support material, such as Akhamet, Gostor, Rhym, or Saggakar on DriveThru RPG

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Something to break this block...

I've been affected by writers' block lately and not producing as much as I think I should produce. There are a few reasons for this, not the least of which is being almost entirely homebound and some changes at the day-job. I have just not been as inspired as I would've liked...

To change that, I submitted an adventure idea for the Heroes of Rokugan campaign. See what they think.

I will let you know.

Prompting me to write this is that I am starting a new fiction series on my blog that features Samurai and L5R character of my own creation. Check out the new Fiction on the FOE Patreon.

The illustration is by Irene of my own character, Matsu Haruhime (née Doji)

Friday, July 10, 2020

Real Housewives Now Electrum BestSeller!

Wow. Big news! I only dreamed the Real Housewives would do that good on the DM's Guild. It is now an Electrum BestSeller! This makes it the top-selling FOE product of all time.

What will I do to celebrate? Well I have more products in the works!

A big thank you to everyone who supports and backs many of my crazy ideas.

Another big thanks to the BritishShark whose art really made this book pop and to James (check out his awesome Patreon for scenes out of Ravenloft and other of the hardback adventure books).

If you don't have your copy yet... Get access to the most drama ever in Real Housewives of Ravenloft!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

FOE's Ravenloft Bundle on the DM's Guild

A few days ago, I ways asked for a list of Ravenloft products by FOE. I scrounged up a list of every Ravenloft FOE product and sent that person (shout-out to you, Jim-S!) the list.

It gnawed at me that I did not have one place I could send people to get our Curse of Strahd products, such as the bestselling Real Housewives of Ravenloft, Dark Gifts of Ravenloft, and some other great titles (almost bestseller) such as Rahadin Dread Knight of Ravenloft, and Dreams of Dust

For those of you who already have SOME of those titles, this is an opportunity to complete your collection at about 66% (not quite because I like nice numbers). If you already bought SOME of the titles, I believe the DM's Guild credits you that cost against other titles.

So here it is, the FOE Ravenloft Product Bundle.

What to tell us what you want to see from us going forward? Our Patreon is a great way to do so. Check it out.

Friday, July 3, 2020

More New Art at the FOE Patreon

As I complete work on some of our other products: Curse of Strahd II, the Akhamet Player's Guide, and the "Gencon" adventures, I have been working with new artists. Have a peak:

Check out the new art at the FOE Patreon