JP On Gaming

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

FOECon 2020: Not happening

It was a nice dream, one I entertained for the longest time, but I have to close the curtains on FOECon for 2020.

But WHY JP?

Health. I want every one to be safe and I cannot guarantee this. I even thought about running the event outside but there just is no good way. So I will punt the ball.

Now I have most of the events ready or in a good place. I expect we will run them at next year's Gencon (worse case scenario).

However, this means that I have extra time to dedicate to the extra 10 pages of material I am adding to the Akhamet Player's Guide and I will have a massive campaign-sized Ravenloft adventure. I thought it may take 3 hours and done but playtesting proved me wrong. Again.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Housewives of Ravenloft Campaign Tales: I love hearing this!

There is one thing I really like as an author is when a GM contacts me about a product I wrote and tells me how the product affected their game (hopefully for the better).

This is what happened early when I got a direct message on Reddit (You can contact me there is you what FOE on Reddit) from a GM who ran Real Housewives of Ravenloft. I asked him what how it went and what type of plot he created for his PCs to resolve.

One thing that really impressed me was how simply he was able to explain the subplot he created and how easy I was able to visualize the impact it might have on his campaign. I love at the ways this could really add a new dimension with some "humanity".

And like every good "Housewives" show, they experienced SOME of the housewives they could not stand, some they liked, and some they did not care for, to the point of planning to frame one they disliked to protect one they liked.

Yes, the players involved themselves in the drama!

I was just ecstatic when I read this.

Let me know how your "Housewives" story unfolded. I love to hearing them!

Yes... "Tell me about your campaign"

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Rahadin: Dread Knight of Ravenloft Released

One of the characters from Curse of Strahd that peaked my interest has always been "the butler," Rahadin. For a character with such a rich (and absolutely abject) history and background, I felt, as a GM, that was a wildcard for me to use. He is powerful enough to seriously hurt the party at low-to-mid levels. And later, he becomes added muscle.

Now for all the horrific things he did, there is no way someone like him would simply fade away and vanish from history.

I thought of doing something to my players wherein he rose again - as he should. So I started playing with the idea and the name "Dread Knight of Ravenloft" appeared in my mind. I began playing with the idea...

What I came up with a monster that can definitely provide a challenge to a party of adventurers around levels 9-11 (basically by the time they finish CoS.

Now this is not set, defined encounter. It is very much a villain and that wildcard to use wherever it is most convenient in your own campaign.

The PDF contains a collated history and note on how and why he would become the Dread Knight of Ravenloft, as well as how to introduce this new menace. I included the original stat block but gave him an "out of stat block power" to make him creepier in an eerie way.

Get Rahadin: Dread Knight of Ravenloft now available on the DM's Guild.

Note: as a special thank you for their support, all members of our Patreon will receive a free copy of this book as a thank you.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

[Legend of the Five Rings] Three Samurai warriors

Three samurai I painted with Legend of the Five color schemes. These are guys that stayed on my painting table "forever". I decided to finish them once I decided on a color scheme.

From left to right:

A Dragon clan bushi. I know, I know, they usually use both swords of their daisho, so he could also work as a mantis warrior - even tho most of them use peasant weapons.

A Lion clan bushi. This one can be a Matsu or an Akodo-school warrior. I know, I know, Matsu warriors are mostly women.

A Crane clan bushi. From the Daidoji Iron Warriors school as they will often use spears and other polearms. I really dig the bunny ears and the fur on the armor. I know, I know, Rokugan samurai do not wear fur.

Friday, June 19, 2020

New Olympia Art on the FOE Patreon

FOE's Greek setting, Olympia is ramping up. A few small things to clean up before I get on that project full time really.

However, many artists are hard at work (British Shark, Irene, Tristan, and soon another) producing the art that will make this come to life. They have already produced a number of pieces I can't wait to show you.

Starting tomorrow Saturday the 20th and continuing for the next two weeks at least, I will publish the art, some WIP, some completed pieces foe Olympia. With a new piece coming out every 2 days. There will be gods, characters, and monsters/opponents.

Next up, we will be moving to some of the concepts and ideas behind the settings. Patrons get to have direct input in the process.

So if this interests you or you want to know more, go to the FOE Patreon!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Olympia: Cyclops miniature

As I ramp up the work on Olympia - FOE's Greek setting - I am starting to paint up more miniatures to use in these games.

This guy is a Reaper Bones cyclops. I enjoy the dynamism of the pose. This guy will see many uses on the tabletop.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

[Kinda Book Report] Le Troisieme Testament: Julius II: La Revelation Partie 1

After devouring the First Chapter, I could not wait for this one to arrive. Now we get into the core of the plot and it gets darker as the characters travel east towards Babylon. We are treated to a similar set of absolutely superb frames and panoramic views.

Here, the plot gets a lot deeper with the direct appearance of the supernatural, which until now could have been explained with a simple explanation. I was happy to see one of the major thread from the first series get picked up here, thus far still shrouded in mystery. Who are these guys? Where do they come from? Why are they summoned this way?

And more importantly, how do they play into the greater story?

Unlike the first one which I read VERY slowly, savoring each frame, this one I just blew by so fast. This one has more interaction as the Jewish characters and Julius the Roman have this relation of distrust. One scene drew my attention: when they are making two camps separated by a few yards. That whole page was just awesome visual storytelling. Just WOW.

This story is BLOODY. Many people die throughout the journey which is yet to be completed.There are many action scenes that are equally well-drawn and that make your pulse race as you breathlessly want to see what will happen next.

Now to give this a rating. Although still great, it was not as great as the first one. So I settled for a 4/5. This feels a little weak.

Monday, June 15, 2020

[Kinda Book Report] Showcase Green Lantern #1

I don't know why but I have been interested in reading some Green Lantern comics recently. As such, I ordered myself the Showcase GL #1. This is a series that takes classic DC comics from the 50s and 60s and give you 500 pages of material on course newspaper with black and white art. I read a few Superman and Teen Titans from that series.

After reading the Superman title (which caused a lot of eye-rolls) and the Teen Titans (one which sucked and one that was fine), I did not expect much from this title.

However, while the stories are clearly in a similar style where the hero is more like a paternal figure than someone with real problems they have to deal with. The morality is simple and manicchean, with the bad guys wanting to be evil.

It is little surprise that Sinestro, the rogue green lantern, is introduced in this book. He makes ever-more machiavelian and convoluted plans to capture or kill Hal Jordan.

From his personal life, Hal Jordan does get the girl, but he keeps getting interupted and has to run. And Carol, the love interest, waffles between Hal and Green Lantern not knowing they are one and the same.

I found this book to be the most enjoyable of the Showcase series I read thus far. Some stories raising some definite eyebrows and piquing my interest more than others. The 57th century storyline where they pluck GL from the 20th century and name him Dictator of Earth so he can clean up problems was interesting. The Qwardian plot where evil is good and good is evil is convoluted but did not really detract. We are dealing with superhero-logic.

Rating? I hesitate between a 3 and a 4. It is not a 4, so I have to fall back onto a 3/5, which sounds right. This was good, but not great.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

[Kinda Book Report] New Defenders #1

I got this book in the bargain bin from a local comic shop. I was very excited to get into this one because I read the essentials volumes 2,4, and 5 back in 2017. I enjoyed the feel of this "non-team". The cover of the New Defenders featured some of my favorite characters: Angel and Beast. I was all in.

But this book, that gathers Defenders 122 through 131 is not great.

First, there is a story line where X-mas elves take Dr Strange, Hulk, Silver Surfer, and Namor to the future where they are told they will destroy some unnamed random alien that will lead to the destruction of Earth if they band together as the Defenders again. I mean... WHAT? Superheroes that when told that just go. "Uh... okay we will disband now." That premise was just stupid and spanned like 3 issues. Then they show up and say "bye" to the "new" defenders.

Where is the "we won't let that happen!" They just give up and leave.

By then I was pretty bored... Even after Beast forms the new Defenders, with Iceman, Angel, Gargoyle, Valkyrie, and Moondragon. Moondragon has a bit of an interesting side plot but all the others are there just "because". The team has no identity, no villains to give them a nemesis, they are just 3 former X-men with randos.

At one point both Beast and Valkyrie vie for the title of team leader but they never resolve this discussion as things happen. Personally, of the characters, Angel or Valkyrie would be interesting leaders but nothing comes of it. This seems to be a recurring theme. Thankfully, the title would be cancelled a short time later in favor of the much more interesting X-Factor title.

One of the most interesting story, which came in a one-off plot is when Beast gives a conference to a college and craziness ensues with a super-powered moron and Frogman.

Basically, you have cool characters without any reason to be together, no leader, no plot, no nemesis, nothing. No wonder this title failed.

Review-wise, I would give this a 2/5. I thought of a 2.5 but .5 was just because of the characters themselves, not the story or the book, so I have to drop this to 2. Two is about right.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

FOE updates

Updates on all things FOE on the FOE Patreon. Find out what is currently in the works and what is coming!

And an art preview!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Strahd is dead, Part 2

Part 1

Continuing my look back at my Curse Of Strahd 2019-20 Campaign. From the art on the top, you can see Strahd let himself go a little... That's me as Strahd... With hair! WOO!

Handouts

During the game, I created a few products to help me run the game.
- Crypts of Ravenloft is a series of handouts for the crypts so the players have something
- Dark Gifts of Ravenloft for the Amber Temple.

Expansions

I added the following sub-adventure/plots to enhance parts I felt were weak or where I had an idea that I thought was better than the material in there.
- Apple of Mother's Eye expands and re-imagines the town of Berez.
- Real Housewives of Ravenloft enhanced the Dinner at Ravenloft into a drama-filled plot.
- The Song of Aracos adds yet another tragic dimension to the tale. This one is likely to end poorly for the PCs. Very sad
- Interactive Tome of Strahd is a way for the PCs to live through the events rather than having a read of a page long story. I think this makes the story much more personal and gives added insight into what happened.

Notable RIPs

Many fell during this campaign, not all of them to rise again...
- Bando, "Maybe it wasn't such a good plan"
- Billy Bonescrusher, who almost became king of Barovia
- Donavich, who turned insane then turned to evil
- Ireena, disintegrated by a rival lover
- Patrina, She came back to life for a short time
- Ragdol, who almost TPK'd the party with a fireball
- Rahadin, ruthlessly faithful to the last

Thank You

There are so many people I need to thank for allowing this whole thing to come together.

A big thank you to Marvin-H who hosted EVERY session from the start.

Thank you to Steve-L who put together the Murfreesboro D&D group which led me to get off my rear end and run CoS "just to get people leveled up to continue the Adventure League stuff".

Thanks to the British Shark for making such awesome drawings of the team and the NPCs to enhance the game.

A special thanks to Sarah-R who played under-powered NPC character through the whole thing and made these NPCs come to life.

A thirty years-later thank you to Louis-G who ran me through Ravenloft when I was 12 or 13. Because of him, I learned to appreciate the material and kept good memories (okay, they were horrible memories, see First Love: Ravenloft and [WTF Gaming Moment] Balance Sucks). Thanks man, wherever you are.

Thank you to the Curse Of Strahd sub-reddit for giving me perspective and the shared knowledge of other GMs. There is a lot of good material there.

Congratulations

Finally, a big thank you and congratulations to the players who I really beat on and did dozens upon dozens of dirty tricks. I did not pull punches (at the end) and you guys got the job done, especially when I fully expected to TPK you all - which I came real close to doing.

You guys pulled it off!
- ActionMan who played Billy Bonescrusher, then Kasimir
- Billy-C who played Theron the albino dusk elf "I'm not albino!"
- Corey-C who played Beorn
- Dylan-B who played Ragdol, then Ismark
- Sarah-R who played Ireena, Arabelle, and Esmeralda
- Marvin-H who played Hapla

What now?

I don't know. I have a follow-up event I'd like to run but that will NOT be of the same scope as CoS. Then... Who knows?

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Strahd is dead, Part 1

Part 2

After just about a year, my group emerged victorious from the Curse of Strahd campaign. What a magnificient sandbox campaign that will always rate really high in my all-time favorite and most memorable.

It has been years since I ran a bonafide, full on campaign. IIRC it was in Colorado Springs last time I did that. The other were collections of one-shots or short-campaigns. Nothing like this. With a set, constant, quite clear goal.

Quirks

Here are a number of things I injected into the campaign that made impacts.
- "It's not very far down the Old Svalich Road" Every time they got directions, they got this "not very far". And "You can't miss it, it's the first... no second road on the left." Pretty soon they began asking "So if we leave now will we make it before nightfall?"
- Never let the PCs breathe They must always feel like they have to do something. There will be no week-long rest in Barovia, no constant long rests, no time when nothing happens.
- The Weather is your friend. Let's be honest, the weather is always miserable in Barovia. It is cold. It rains. It snows. It sleets. By playing with the weather you can convey Strahd's mood or his approval or disapproval of what the party is doing.

Lessons

Here are a few lessons I learned while running the game
- Too Many NPCs This one I managed to save myself from when party members turned evil and abandoned the others. If the PCs play their cards well, they could a bunch of NPCs with them: their designated ally, Ismark, Esmeralda, the Order of the Feather. Avoid the party getting drowned in this massive mob without robbing them of these hard-earned allies.
- Sunsword too powerful. Removing its shedding of actual sunlight should be good. Alternatively, preventing it from dealing auto-damage or forcing the user to use a bonus action to make it do it would be fine. Once the PCs get it, there is very little that can hurt the PC. Most creatures here have vulnerability or powerlessness when in sunlight.
- Use Strahd smartly, kiting the party whenever possible. Move in, hurt them, bounce out. The lair ability of moving through walls and the legendary ability to move without opportunity attack is a GODSENT! Play the long game, drain the PCs of their spells, and abilities.
- Don't puss out, if people die, let them. If they win, let them. But don't take it easy on them. Let them stumble out of Ravenloft looking like Rocky I-VI: bloody, battered, bruised, and in a lot of pain.
- There is a lot to do. This is a tough one. Do not overwhelm your party with choices, especially at the start. Have them discover about one area/situation at a time then go on an on. Otherwise they may very well suffer from choice paralysis.
- A lot happens, often at the same time. This one is to help prevent the above and force the PCs to prioritize. Every few days, one of the NPC does something that may require the PCs to act. For example, at one point, Ismark left Vallaki for Barovia to check things out. At another, the PCs noticed women being herded into the black carriage.

Part 2

Friday, May 29, 2020

Eiryss II: Angel of Retribution

I may not play Warmachine anymore: no time, no players, but I still really enjoy the look of their minis. I will be re-using a bunch of them for upcoming FOE projects. This is not really one of them. I just like the character.

I pretty much painted her the same as my other two versions of her.

Now I do not like this sculpt very much. I am not really a fan of scenic bases and this one you have no choice but to use.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Introducing the Iconics: Rebel Greeks

This group of characters is composed of a rag-tag band of PCs best suited who would get together for mischief. Their backgrounds lend themselves to being outlaws, outcasts and rebels. The image of a Greek version of an "Ocean's Eleven" comes to mind.

Aktea

Female Olympian (Daughter of Apollo) Warlock of the ArchFey, Apothecary
You were born to a town physician : your mother made potions and spells to heal the sick and treat the sick and wounded . When you were of age, she brought you to meet your father Apollo at a party of the nymphs and the satyrs. They accepted you as a friend and taught you secret powers.

Kalliope

Female Amazon Cleric of Hera, Exile
Born to a princess in the lands of the Amazons, you were forced into exile because Hera herself gave you her cloak and sent you as her emissary. You grew up seeking to prove yourself worthy of that burden. Today you present yourself as a champion of Hera rather than a priestess.

Kleothera

Female Olympian (Favored of Artemis) Druid of the Order of the Moon, Scavenger
Born in poverty, you left your home for the road. One day, you killed a poacher before he shot a pregnant doe, this got the attention of Artemis who has since guided you.

Kritias

Male Olympian (Son of Ares) Paladin, Exile
When your mother, a princess, became pregnant with Ares’s child, she was sent away in exile. You grew up, dreaming of proving your family wrong for how they treated her . You spent your youth training, dreaming of becoming a legend.

Lysandra

Female Medusan Bard of Glamour, Subversive
You learned at a young age that people feared your ability to turn other in to stone, so you learned to keep to yourself. You joined a secret society called the Sons of the Gorgon, together you seek to establish – or takeover - a kingdom that will be ruled by medusans.

Thalassios

Male Olympian (Son of Poseidon) Fighter (champion), Pirate
Born to a disgraced princess abandoned at sea by your grandfather, you joined a pirate crew and took out your anger upon your prey. However, an oracle warned you that your crew would turn on you. You barely escaped with your life and the help of your father. After the destruction of your ship, you are re-thinking your place in the world.