JP On Gaming

Friday, July 31, 2015

Live from Gencon: Already one day left

It is so hard to grasp the fact that we are already Sunday and that in a few very short hours, Gencon will be in the books.

The time between posts should give an impression of the whirlwind I lived through these past few days.

At the risk of jinxing it, all my tables went off thus far. That's seven out of eight. With only my Sunday morning slot to go, I never worry whether that one happens or not.

I can either go home early or play more Saggakar. Win-win if you ask me!

In the interest of keeping this post short and to limit it to first impressions, the only dark spot was my own inability to play Witch Hunter. Again. For the second con in a row.

I could've easily played but never play tables of seven or more. My choice. This is actually good news showing a growing interest in the game.

So everyone: PLAY MORE WITCHHUNTER. (So I get to play more)

JP

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Live from Gencon 2015: here we go

Finally it is game time and one slot is done! Ran In the ArchDespot's Service. Fun and quick. And filled with secret notes.

So more to come!

JP

Live from Gencon 2015: Day 0

Finally, I am now in the gaming world's most coveted destination: Indianapolis! This is going to be my third teip to the convention, my second as a GM, and the first for Saggakar.

The trip here took place yesterday night with my friend Florent. It was fun and we talked about gaming all the way through.

I got to the hotel and slept. Or tried to sleep. First I was told to use the other bed. Next my bed buddy snored. Badly. Loudly. And not in a regular pattern. So coffee it will be!

Let the games begin!!!

JP

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Already thinking beyond Gencon

After GenCon, I already have a laundry list of things to do, and in the interest of not forgetting then, I write this laundry list of things you can expect to see coming from FOE.

- Adventures! This is where things are really taking off! I currently have four adventures needing my editing attention, all of them waiting "after GenCon". The authors have been very patient with me as I keep working hard to get things done. Where I am really super happy is the quality of these adventures and their diversity. They are not all "JP-mods", so they explore and present adventure types I don't tend to write. Which is really exciting to me. Plus, two new authors (for FOE), and a returning one is really super exciting! No. I'm not the returning author. Oh wait, I am for one of them...

- Finish the Player's Guide: I need to wrap this one up and get it out to you guys. Right now I am the only one who fanboys over it with girlish glee. It will clock in around 80 or so pages, but it might expand. I will post an updated Table of Content to let you know a few of the goodies I added, thanks to your feedback. (Alex-FG, I still hate you)

- Map of the ArchDespotate: This one has bothered me for a while and as more adventures are written, this becomes more and more necessary. My simple map won't cut it.

- Master Sheets: Create a sheet for each Master similar to the LG's meta-orgs or what we had for the patrons previously.

- More art: With things picking up at FOE, I have been able to commission some more art. Right now I need one last piece to really be content (I do not have a piece for the kyneans). Irene should be sending me the cover soon. Kaitlynn should send me a skythian warrior soon.

- Public Design session(s): The one we did for Gytha was great and provided me with a lot of great material (that I will re-brand and re-publish in the future. I liked the ideas within this book too much to drop its content). I also really like that players with some of the special races given to the design team keep appearing in adventures!

- Conventions: I plan on attending a few cons and events, mostly local events (AB, KY, TN) in the next few months.

- Expanding Legacies: I am looking for GMs to run events in their areas. If you are interested, I can offer products for your time.

- Kickstarter? Free RPG Day?: A number of you have asked me about whether I would do a kickstarter or take part in Free RPG Day. I am still debating those two ideas. I'm not closed to either, but I'm not 100% sold either.

So my plate is nice and full for the coming months, but it's all things I'm looking forward to. With Legacies and Saggakar expanding all the time, it is a really exciting time for FOE and for me.

JP

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Gencon is here and I'm a ball of energy

With Gencon around the corner, I cannot tell you enough how filled with nervous energy I am. It is the same type of jitters and butterflies one feels when about to go on stage. It is something I feel every time a con is about to begin and particularly when I GM for players who pay for an event. I feel it is my duty to give these people a good time and provide them with the best of JP.

It is an energy I find difficult to channel into anything else before the con. I will walk around a lot, jump, flay my arms, and strike conversations. It is an energy I do not want to rid myself of, for I draw upon it once the players show up to play. I am, in effect a capacitor filled with electricity.

Getting to me in the morning before the start of the con, you will VERY likely find me particularly OCD, repeating myself, or distant. It's nothing against people, but until the show starts, it is impossible for me to stay in place. My mind is filled with a million thoughts, many of which I will push onto my phone, ideas for future plots, NPCs, or rule items.

That said, I am always happy to meet and speak with players, old friends, new friends, fellow designers, and game enthusiasts in general. Just don't hold my goofy or distantness against me. I'm just a ball of energy trying to contain itself!

If you are coming to Gencon, I'll be in the Hyatt all weekend, in either rooms A through F (usually E and F) with the rest of the Arcanis and Witch Hunter folks. You should be able to see Lucrezia's standing form nearby!

JP

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Five Signs I am becoming Southern

After the success of the previous post, I thought it might be fun to find out why I was becoming a southern gentleman.

Bourbon I have to say that my previous experiments with Bourbon were... not kind. After years of drinking Irish Whiskey, and Jameson in particular, I took family members to local distillery tours and acquired a taste of Kentucky gold.

Long Beard For years now, I kept a winter beard, growing it front Thanksgiving to April. Neatly trimmed and kept mostly short. This year I took a different path: starting at the usual time, I let it grow wild and bushy. With only the occasional trim to prevent it from turning me into one of the Duck Dynasty fellows. Though honestly it has more to do with sppusal death threats than anything else.

BBQ Everyone knows that the south has the best 'cue in the world. Be it Memphis-style, Texas-style, North Carolina style, those are the best stuff out there. Low and slow, like a warm southern day...

Country Music Well it is impossible to be in Nashville and not be touched by country music somehow. It is everywhere. While I am still a metalhead, I learn to appreciate songs about ice cold beers, pickup trucks, and country roads..

Drawl Okay maybe its the foreigner in me but I really appreciate the sound of the southern drawl. Particularly on a woman, I find it melodic and charming.

JP

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cults of Chaos: Chaosium's Organized Play

For years now I have been talking about how great and awesome the Call of Cthulhu game really is. The system is quick, simple and easy to understand, even for a newcomer to the game. The setting, to me, is not as hard and fast as others, instead has more to do with verbiage and evocation of a location. Lovecraft's wordsmithing is what created the Mythos.

Many people view the game as a meat grinder, and in many ways, it is. However, the best and most entertaining part of playing the game is like imagining yourself in a horror movie: Would you survive? What would you do? How would you react to those situations? Unlike most other games, you can't load up your shotgun and challenge any creature to come at you.

Well you can. And you are likely to end up dead.

Fast.

By the same token, NOT loading your shotgun is a similar mistake. Guns are great to promote diplomacy... Most people would rather avoid getting shot by a travelling thug.

But the simplicity of the game is really what makes it so exciting. "What do you do?"

So... Why am I *AGAIN* praising Call of Cthulhu?

Well, they are re-vamping their Cult of Chaos sponsored gaming/ organized play. I sent my name for the Nashville/Murfreesboro area. It seems my name was accepted! So prepare for me to start adding more CoC material to this page alongside my Saggakar stuff.

I plan on sending an adventure to them shortly after Gencon. This means play-testing. This is gonna be awesome.

JP

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New organized play guide released in time for Gencon

After many long days of sweat, angst, and tears, I am extremely proud to announce the release of the Legacies Campaign Guide for our Tyrants of Saggakar setting. My brave team of editors and enthusiasts have been going through this and pointed out many places where my writing was less than stellar.

To those familiar with the previous campaign will not be surprised by the content of this book. We only tweak things, add a few things here and there, tighten the writing. Add, explain and detail the masters. Explain the new LR format. A lot of tiny goodies!

Can't wait anymore? You can get it for FREE from RPGNow.com.

JP

Monday, July 20, 2015

Memories of a Frozen Hell: My biggest dungeon ever!

As I finish working on ToS1-I01 Memories of a Frozen Hell, I realize this is without a doubt, the BIGGEST dungeon I ever wrote. Five sections, more rooms than I dare to count.

And you know what? I could spend even more time and add more stuff to it!

But I must stop. For now.

The Gencon adventure does not need any more sections for one simple reason: there is no way players will be able to see everything that's in there already. However, one thing which I drew inspiration from are Paizo's adventure paths. I wanted to have combats, but also a story the PCs could piece together and make into something that's cool.

I tried to give each location a unique flair, but also tried to make it so it made sense that people once lived there. I'll freely admit that there are no privies anywhere. But there are bedrooms, dining rooms, meeting rooms, libraries, gathering places, temples, all the things that make exploring a location fun and exciting (to me at least). Add on top of that, I have ten unique items that are located in random places of the island.

Now as the ultimate teaser... Part of the Introduction to the adventure!

For years, Yorix Lake was a place avoided by most: it was remote, inhospitable and strange things kept washing ashore. However, what most people dread is the persistent fog clouds that extend almost all the way to the shores of the lake. Those few slaves sent here to keep the roads open, kept a constant, wary eye on the waters. Rumors of a castle in the waters persisted in spite of the brutal punishment the First Ones inflicted on those spreading the rumor.

Three weeks ago, rumors filled the ArchDespotate that an entire island, complete with a castle appeared in the lake. Unlike previous sightings, the island remained did not vanish in the Mists. With surprising speed, the three great houses acted together to prevent anyone from reaching the island before they could.

Since that time, slaves built a tent camp on the banks of the lake. Every major and minor house in the ArchDespotate has a presence here. Even independents and foreign agents made the trip to this remote area.

The ArchDespot himself arrived yesterday, announcing a great game. Randomly formed groups of slaves will sail to the island, explore it, and perhaps return with tales of what happened. The First Ones cheered happily as they each chose their champions.

All I have left is to tweak my master's missions and the LRs! I just might get to the finish line with a small measure of Sanity!

As an added bonus, I am very super excited to say that there are only three Saggakar tickets for sale left of the eight slots (total 48 tickets)! All the tickets for Memories of a Frozen Hell and GONE. WOOHOO!

Service is Eternal... in more ways than one!

JP

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Five signs I'm not becoming southern

And now for some light entertainment.

I have now been in the south for two years. While I do like it a lot I realize that my good ol'Canadian self has limitations in its adaptability. Here are five reasons I am not turning into a southern man... before you go flaming me, note that those are personal likes and dislikes. They form part of the southern identity I love so much.

Biscuits and gravy: I've tried and can't get behind this. People keep telling me I haven't had the good stuff. But never offer it to me. To be honest, I like both individually. Just not together.

Fried turkey: This one has more to do with the logistics or taste. Too much YouTube and jackass?

Collared Greens: What don't I like about slimy leafy veggies?

Sweet Tea: I love iced tea. I don't get a drink that packs more sugar than a Coke. I'll take the slightly bitter taste of unsweet tea any day. Brewed iced tea is just delicious! I love good tea, with a touch of cream. And the occasional touch of honey. But sweet tea: no thanks.

Hockey: Lets be honest. The south is not a hotbed for hockey. I lucked out here in Nashville to have a team! A team I can root for most of the year until my Habs come to town!

Now you can start flaming. I wrote this post specifically to spur you on. I hope it worked. I love the South, so much warmer than my native land!

JP

Saturday, July 18, 2015

When should I start the 30 days of DnD?

I'll be lending myself to the exercise of the thirty days of D&D. However, with Gencon, I'm thinking of waiting for either September or October to do it. It seems more appropriate to be able to do it in a month.

I always like reading those when people post them to their blogs or their Facebook. So I'll just on the bandwagon!

I *may* have to break my usual rule of a maximum of one post a day, but I can live with that. Can you?

JP

Friday, July 17, 2015

Five places I want to see (Bucket List)

For reasons unknown, have been making small lists of things that inspire me. Perhaps it is the frantic pace of my writing ToS1-I01 Memories of a Frozen Hell that has me thinking about some of my inspirations and dreams. This list focuses on real-life places I would like to visit but haven't yet, so it won't include "Middle Earth".

From this list, a number of runner-ups came to mind: Mexico City, Havana, Athens, Maui, Manilla, Madrid, Lisbon and Barcelona...

Rome, Italy The center of Christendom and a city filled with history and intrigue. I'm not talking of Dan Brown's excellent Angels and Demons, but back to the days of Napoleon, to the days when the popes were temporal rulers, to the Roman Empire. All that within the confine of one city. Rome, the first name I wrote.

Tokyo, Japan Ah. Tokyo. The "Eastern Capital" of Japan. Such a wonderful city and the site of so many kaiju attacks. While I have been in Tokyo before I honestly can't say I saw the city. Why? Because I was feverish at the time, having caught some type of disease. I did see Akihabara and the train station. But not the Imperial Palace, the castle of the shoguns, mount Fuji, etc. I have to go back!

Jerusalem, Israel The city of David is a place I have to see one day. As the center of three major world religion, it deserves the time to visit. I'm not just talking Hebrew history, but I am also talking about Roman, Egyptian, Byzantine, Muslim/Arabic, Medieval, all the way to the World Wars and the foundation of modern-day Isreal. I will admit that I am wary to go over safety concerns. But the dream remains.

Egypt The first major parent of Western civilization, Egypt is a place I always dreamed of seeing. From the Pharaonic age, to Alexander the Great, to the Successor Ptolemaic dynasty, to Caesar, to St Louis's Crusade. This is another land of history cannot help but visit: the pyramids, Luxor, Karnak, Alexandria, Abu Simbel... However, my concerns about instabilities as in Israel make this another dream.

The Moon, Space As a child of the 80s, I grew up with Star Wars and the hope that we would by now have colonized the Moon and be on our way to Mars and beyond. I always dreamed of flying out into space and explore or check out different and new things. Obviously, things haven't turned out that way and space colonization does not seem as much of a close reality as it did back then. There are no more space shuttles. *Sigh* So much for my dream weekend on the Sea of Tranquility...

There you have it: five places I would like to see. What are yours?

JP

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Five places that inspire me

I was thinking of a couple of places that inspire me as a writer. I focus on a few elements of the place that give me different perspectives.

Now for this list, I chose only places I have been to myself. This list does not include place I want to go. They will be the subject of another list.

Chateau de Versailles , France For a whole century it was the center of the civilized world. Politically. Musically. Socially. It was at the heart of so many trends. It sponsored great works of art, awesome music, an architectural style that to this day signifies wealth and power. During my stay in France I must've gone there at least ten or twelve times. Each time, I was in awe of this chateau.

Washington DC USA The capital of the United States holds a special place in my heart. I first visited the city while I was in high school, a 10h+ bus ride. Next a few years later, I played in a DC by night with some guys in Ottawa (shout out to Raf & Shawn) where the group was involved in a number of plots. Including the city of Baltimore... a fun game it was. Forward a few years and I end up in DC again. This time in Reston, at the headquarters of AOL. There I trained for a week a few times. While there, I served as tour guide for my Irish coworkers, showing them the Mall, the White House, Congress, the Washington and Lincoln memorials. There is a pleasing aesthetic about the city. While what happens IN it is not as niceor clean, the heart of the city is beautiful: the wide avenues, the open spaces, the great monuments. There is something to be said about the city itself. If you've never been you are missing out!

The dirty politicking going on there is also part of the ugly fascination the city holds.

Nikko Mountain, Japan This volcano is one of the marvels of Japan. Among them are the many tiny monkeys that snatch and eat potato chips. These little guys are cute, quick, and unforgettable. The top of the mountain has shrines and shops. But the most enduring memory is the 3 hour drive DOWN. Along extremely narrow roads, the back of our bus occasionally suspended over nothing... I remember it well.

Vieux-Québec Canada It would be hard for me not to include a place from my homeland... A few years ago (okay now "many" years ago), I would've included Old Montréal as part of this list. But since I live in Quebec City for 2 years, the Old Capital took the cake. A true parcel of Europe in North America, the old town still has part of the old city wall and some of its gates (as pictured here). The history of the city, particularly during the French regime is still alive here. Yet, it also includes elements from the British, then Canadian regime. I have rarely seen a place that holds it all in such a small space. Vieux-Quebec conjures images of a town that evolved throughout the ages, retaining something of each subsequent era, adding to itself and making itself more beautiful for it.

Dublin Ireland In many ways what draws me to Dublin is similar to what draws me to Quebec City. However, Dublin is much older than Quebec. One of the element of the city is that the Liffey bisects the city. Much smaller than the St-Lawrence, it divides the city, giving it two distinct identities (at least in the first few blocks near O'Connell Bridge) : the business-like north side and the partying south side. This tale of two halves makes for interesting contrasts in a city.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Saggakar at Gencon: Memory of a Frozen Hell

With Gencon fast approaching and my move to Nashville finally done, I sat back down to go over what I had for the special "Memory of a Frozen Hell" (there are still a few tickets for the Thursday night, but Friday is sold out). Overall, the Saggakar games have sold REALLY well (out my 8 slots, I have 7 tickets available thus far). So I want to really do something very exciting for the official campaign launch.

I had my original adventure done, but as I began to look into it, it felt much more like an adventure for a more established campaign (indeed it was written for NeoExodus and then adapted).

So I had to redo it. I had to go back to the drawing board.

But what to do? I had a few ideas but needed a gimmick. Something that would make it even cooler. And had to go back to the drawing board.

Well partially. I had to retool a few elements to make it more acceptable to what I wanted to do. I had to redo my map, change things around some and add a bunch of stuff. The only downside is that the title is not as a-propos as it was. But there is still some link, a little more nebulous perhaps.

I tease a little bit of it here for you all. Those few who played ToS 1-00 Out of the Mists will know that the epilogue mentions a strange occurence... So the basic premise of the special is a veritable race where the First Ones send different group of adventurers to investigate the phenomenon. With the amount of material in this, it is unlikely any one group will be able to do EVERYTHING that is in there. Should one party manage to make it through, they are models of efficiency.

Then how could I make it as a race between the two tables? I spent some time thinking about it. The idea came to me as I (re)drew the map. Instead of a sequence of adventure locations, allow the PCs to start in one of a couple of places. The first table that will play through (Thursday evening) will get to choose where they want to go. The group coming through second (on Friday night) get to pick next, seeing that someone has already been through one area.

So how will I handle unique items and encounters? There is only one version of what is going on. One encounter and one copy of the unique items. Anything that is present in a fixed manner (say a building) will still be there. So there are goodies for the taking.

Split the party anyone? I'm sure it's safe.

JP

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Letting go: Farewell to Mike Brock

Last week, it was announced that Mike Brock was stepping down from his position as campaign director for Pathfinder Society. The news was mostly greeted with sadness at the loss of a staple in the organized play community.

To start, allow me to thank Mike for his years of service and his constant desire to change and improve the campaign. While I did not agree with the implementation of many of his initiatives, it is obvious from the success PFS had that he did something right, and that deserves to be commended. Ruling a community like PFS for years is an effort in herding cats and dealing with the chronically unhappy, the whiners, the fan boys, the haters, and me. Dealing with those who like, enjoy and appreciate is easy.

I remember meeting him at PF Chang's in Denver when he was moving cross-country to start his job at Paizo. We talked about a number of his ideas, mine and I was very impressed by him. After years of mellow leadership someone with a clear idea and the stubbornness to direct the ship onwards and forwards was a breath of fresh air. I was very excited. However, it seemed that too quickly success got to him and he would not tolerate any opposing or different points of view. Everything had to be great and awesome.

Between February and August of 2012, the relationship between Mike and I soured. I tried to keep out of the inane arguments with the VO-Trolls (those who loved and approved everything without giving anything a second thought), but Mike kept soliciting for my opinion, which was generally unfavorable. I try never to completely close the door, but to offer solutions. Again, computer engineer training: always try to find alternate solutions to problems instead of merely saying "No can do". Enumerate the reasons why it won't work and work up from the constraints.

Things came to a head in August of 2012, just after Gencon when I was asked to step down from my position as a VC (see this post from 2012). I wasn't happy with the way he handled the situation - something which still bothers me to this day. Fast forward to November of 2013 when I had my heart surgery. Although he retracted his comment quickly, I got to see a touching post from him wishing me well. I admit at that moment that I thought about putting up this post, but pride got the better of me.

However, there comes a time to let bygones be bygones. I did a passive resistance by merely refusing to GM any PFS (I think I ran like 3 or 4 games since getting my 5th star in October of 2012). During that time, I supported my VOs, passed along word of local PFS events, participated in them when I could/wanted trying to be as nice as possible, promoted Pathfinder - obviously with a tint towards promoting Legacies. I just could not bring myself to DM for him.

So, officially, as of today, I am letting go of my peaceful gm-boycott of PFS event and will be occasionally supporting my VOs by stepping in to help GM events when they need it, they need but to ask. (to be honest, I am very likely to offer an alternative Legacies adventure, but won't refuse out right).

Good luck in your future endeavors, Mike.

JP