JP On Gaming

Friday, February 14, 2020

[Doctor Who Review] 12.6 Praxeus

I sat down for this episode expecting a Gallifrey. What did I get? Something about Earth... Guh! I thought to myself "Hey! Maybe I will get to sleep for an hour". Then after two scenes, I was rolling my eyes and saying out loud "Oh no! Not another global warming episode this is gonna suck as bad as Orphan 55". But to my (very pleasant) surprise, the show moved on to a mystery that was way more than "just" a pollution episode. I kept watching, trying to guess where this was going and being surprised more than once. The episode starting with the companions and the Doctor starting separated from each other and looking into a mystery across the globe.

This episode has a few highlights

Splitting the companions was a good idea and it allowed each to interact with other characters. Of course that everyone of these subgroup end with more travelers into the Tardis makes travelling in the blue box less interesting.

For the first fifteen minutes of this episode, I felt I was watching an episode of Torchwood with humans investigating a mystery - like Miracle Day (before it went to crap). It was interesting to see and made me look into what is going on.

Now this episode suffers from a few things:

First, the massive cast crowds the episode. More added NPCs coming from each location. This gives us Doctor and 3 companions plus Brazilian girl, Aramu and Suki, the Astronaut and his husband = 9 characters each with something to do. Just crowded the plot.

When this group all gets together, they are all suddenly great friends. Making jokes with each other as if they knew each other. For example, Ryan meets the Brazilian gal and have an interesting interaction. Then later, they meet Yaz. The two girls head off together without any more than a passing introduction and enter a dangerous area. Makes sense for Yaz but not for the girl.

Second, one man's sacrifice rendered effectively meaningless due to just-in-time rescue. I get it, it is a time-travel show, but allowing one character to sacrifice himself saving the world in an action that provides him with a big bout of character development. The fallout of his death could've sparked changes in the gang and the Doctor, but NO. She saves him last minute making his character arc meaningless so he can live happily forever.

So an astronaut takes his cellphone into space...

I was relieved to hear the moral of the story at the end! At least this one was delivered - like everything in this episode - at breakneck speed in Jodie's girly babbletalk.

When the episode was done, I was left unfulfilled, as if there was something missing. To my surprise, the core issue of the episode: pollution, an issue that needs our attention, is rushed and almost dismissive. I felt they had much more material to investigate and deal with. This could easily have become a two-parter.

- A submarine disappearing: that should get the world governments accuse each other, create tension and a reason for all this to come together. Bring in UNIT (even if only as a phone call with Kate Stewart keeping the Doctor and us informed of what the outside world does/thinks)

- An astronaut disappears: sparking a search, conspiracy theories about aliens among us.

- Crazy bird attacking people and people just vanishing.

The elements are all there, if only you let these subplot grow and explore them. Even have a first part without any aliens! You can show people throwing out trash throughout the episode, bringing attention to what is going on and what you want to say.

When I thought back to the episode, I found that in spite of these issues, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would and that this one had surprised me in a positive way. Having to give it a review, I agreed on a 2.5 (okay) which I have to round up to 3.

Would I re-watch? Maybe (not a definite no).

Rating: 3/5

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Real Housewives are HOT!

Wow! The Real Housewives of Ravenloft have caught fire! They are trending on the DM's Guild. So much so that they have now been certified Copper! This is the first FOE title on the DM's Guild to reach that level (although Dreams of Dust is really close).

We even reached #12 on there (I think it is now "down" to #17).

I cannot thank everyone enough for this. A big thanks to TrustyPeaches on reddit, to the British Shark and James-W (Check out his Patreon James RPG Art).

Saturday, February 8, 2020

[Release] Real Housewives of Ravenloft on DM's Guild

It is with great pride and joy that I announce the official release of my next DM's Guild release.

Real Housewives of Ravenloft is an expansion for Curse of Strahd where the PCs actually have dinner in Ravenloft and Strahd has a proposal for them. One that could benefit everyone involved.

The art by the British Shark really makes it all come alive and James' RPG art really makes it all come to life! Beautiful work!

The Master of Ravenloft is having guests for dinner – and you are invited. He has a proposal for you, one that could be highly beneficial for all involved. Even if this puts you in the center of the drama of the Real Housewives of Ravenloft?
Investigation, intrigue, and mystery with over 160 combinations of culprit. 
Each of the four named bride receives a new stat block with legendary actions - everything to create a memorable night in Ravenloft.
This 4-12 hours adventure of travel is best played with a group of 4-6 characters of level 3-11.

Available now on the DM's Guild

Thursday, February 6, 2020

[Doctor Who Review] 12.05 Fugitive of the Judoon

This one I was looking forward to seeing. I liked the Judoon as they appeared in "Smith and Jones" way back when. This trigger-happy mercenary police force made for an intriguing set up.

So the episode begins with an embargo of earth with the Judoon looking for a fugitive. But without providing us with much details about the fugitive, as one would expect from the judoon.

The let down is the big reveal of the show where they try to re-write the Doctor's own history. It was bad. Not every actor should be used as action stars and seeing them go kungfu on a bunch of people really broke believability. From that point on, I just could not care and rolled my eyes. It would've been SO MUCH BETTER to provide us with a different character, perhaps the parent of Susan (from the first 1963 season)...

Again this episode suffered from too many characters. Captain Jack's appearance was a welcomed addition but his appearance in the blinking FORESHADOW HERE scene was made less impactful by the repetition of the scene "Oh! You are not that Doctor... Either!" made me smile but really did not work because of the cheap decor...

Again, the rest of the world remains completely still and takes no action as these aliens take over earth. The governments go "okay, we'll wait until you are done" and wait.

The Moral at the end was about the Companion telling the Doctor they were her friends and family. It would've been powerful if spoken by just one person - Graham was the right one to say this - but with three people standing there, it looked and felt more like an intervention. Then she promises to take the crew to Gallifrey and we end up...

Would I re-watch? No.

Rating: 2/5 (Started as a 3 then plummeted to a 1, so average of 2)

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

[Doctor Who Review] 12.04 Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror

Tesla is an interesting character for sure. A genius without business acumen. A man of ideas. In many ways, he embodies the little guy brutalized by the big man. As soon as I saw the teaser and title, my eyes rolled in exasperation. "This is gonna suck" I immediately thought.

To my surprise, this episode had some interesting ideas. The biggest problem was that it introduced the aliens too quickly and then with their 1988 CGI effect and terrible costumes (we only see the queen in super close-up), the story was an interesting romp that used historical elements pretty well.

One of the best element of the story were the companion asking each other "What did he invent?" and not being able to answer. He did come up with a number of ideas for technologies that we have today. My favorite is the death ray! Hummmm Death ray... So many uses for such a device.

Another highlight of the episode was Thomas Edison. I expected to see him as "evil corporate man", he did show some aspects of that (because he was a rather crummy individual) but one of his best lines was after Tesla accuses him of being a man of parts not a man of ideas to which Edison said something along the lines of "I make things people use". That exchange embodies the dichotomy between the two men: one makes, one thinks. When you get the two together, you can make awesome things. Problem is, both think themselves the most important.

The problem of the episode is very much like the rest of the season... Too many characters! Doctor + 3 companions + Tesla + Edison + Tesla's secretary... That's seven characters running around trying fighting for screen time. With one good companion, the three special characters could shine and do more. Here, they fight for lines and screen time.

The Moral section at the end was a bit of a let down as it details Tesla's life from this point on in a few sentences (it sucks).

Would I re-watch? Yes.

Rating: 3/5 (Best episode of the season so far)

Monday, February 3, 2020

[Doctor Who Review] 12.03 Orphan 55

Guh... Whu... Pfff...

No surprise here. I guessed the overall thing a few minutes in the episode. Re-hashed. Tired. Boring. Unimaginative mega-cast of NPCs going through the motion. The plot is old and has a lot of nothing going on.

But the worse is the preachy speech we get at the end about "Capitalism Bad. Global Warming Act Now." (I disagree with both of these ideas)

Guh...

Best part of the episode was the end credit.

Would I re-watch? Hell to the NO! NO! NO!

Rating: 1/5 (Because I limit myself to a 1-5 scale, or I would give it a 0).

Saturday, February 1, 2020

[Doctor Who Review] 12.02 Spyfall Part 2

After a mostly positive feeling about the first part, I looked forward to the second episode to see where this would be going.

...And I was left holding a steaming pile of excrement. The goodwill from part 1 gave way to eye rolls almost from the start. I don't think I really followed what the glowy-things were as I must have dozed off.

And frankly by that time I flat out did not care. The Master's plot became so convoluted that I could not follow it. He acts like a simple bank robber rather than do things.

I want to thank Jesus for allowing me to doze through a significant portion of this episode (no I'm not watching it again).

And the presentation that "only the women are important" like Ada Lovelace being more important than Charles Babbage and that "Indian spy-chick" who no one knows about is more important than actual people who spied in occupied France. The Ada/Babbage particularly was rough with the flat-out dismissal of Babbage.

The final reveal failed to impress me. Not for the shock value - I did raise an eyebrows. But by how rushed and crammed almost matter of fact it was thrown in there. Rather than having the Master tease it through the episode for a payoff at the end, we have a massive cast fighting for screen time.

This is a show about time travel... So why do you cram so many things in there?

Would I re-watch? No

Rating: 1/5

Friday, January 31, 2020

[Doctor Who Review] 12.01 Spyfall Part 1

I was surprised by this episode: I expected it to just suck. However, this one pulled me in with the question "where is this going?" and not in a bad way. While there were some horrible parts (the car chase), overall I was kept on the hook.

I liked the reveal at the end which was interesting. It made some sense and I did not expect that.

Would I re-watch? Maybe (That turned into a "no" after I saw part 2)

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, January 30, 2020

[Art] Real Housewives of Ravenloft Cover!

This is the cover of the upcoming books from FOE for the DM's Guild. It expands on the "Dinner at Ravenloft" by adding drama, gossip, and betrayal to the menu!

Come have dinner with the Lord of Ravenloft and his consorts...

Big thanks to the Crew for coming up with the name!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

RHYM: Great for intro to D&D

I have been introducing a lot of children/ teens (including mine) to the game and they all seem to have taken a shine to it. I wanted to keep thing simple, so I chose to set the campaign in Rhym. With deceptive simplicity, running games in Rhym present a variety of places, cultures, and conflict types. I concur with others of the parallel with Greyhawk.

I never set a full campaign in Rhym and after running a few games, I dig JD's world even more than I did before. It is rich with cultures and filled with adventure potential. The more I prepare and set up, the more I like it.

Beyond my own geeking over the content, the PLAYERS are enjoying the game and its elements. They are beginning to see some of the faction in my Tarani Empire campaign and wonder which is "the least worst one".

Great work, JD!

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Mutants and Masterminds: DONE

In my annual retrospective I put down that I joined a campaign of Mutants and Mastermind and that I hate was the Player-versus-player (PVP) events but I enjoyed the guys, the game overall (the PVP were occasional things/ monthly).

Well it's barely mid-January and the game is done. It is certainly not because of lack of player want: we had enough players to keep the game going - and many of the guys do A LOT of Play-by-Post role-playing in the Discord server (I just can't keep up with them). So the game itself was healthy, with invested and interested players.

Problem is one that I know well... DM burnout.

I won't go into details but he wanted a co-DM to run the game though I really wanted to step up. There were two GMs but one stepped down. Leaving one to run the whole thing.

I just could not find the time to put together something I would be proud of, write my products AND run my regular games. When having to chose between half-assing something or not doing it, I'd rather not do it.

I looked for options to lighten his load but his heart was no longer in it and he was already making plans for something completely different. Having been there, once you begin to look at reorganizing your game in something completely different, your heart is in the new thing.

So I walked away from the game. It was a fun three months in which I got to remember what I like of this system. I will remember this campaign fondly.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

FOE looking for GMs for Gencon

It is Gencon-planning season again!

Yes, I know, Gencon is at the beginning of August but now is the time for me to set up what we will be doing. Before I go and request tables and room, I would like to know how many of you would be willing to GM for FOE this year.

Over the past two years, I have been BEYOND lucky to surround myself with a wonderful team. (Isabelle, JS, Will, Randy, Flo & Flo). And I plan to once more organize events at Gencon and make it FOE's biggest ever. Like last year, I plan to have a multi-table event, one that would span both days. I am dreaming BIG! But also some single-table events.

This year's games will be mostly in Akhamet but may have one set in Rhym.

The GMs will be involved in the creation - by providing ideas and critique (and writing if you want to).

What do you get?

FOE products, carpooling (if you need it), and some extra goodies (previous GMs received sets of hand-painted miniatures and iconics). But most of all... A free Gencon Badge!


Interested? Available? Ask JP by any means: email (JP@FOELegacies.com), facebook chat, etc.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Clockwork Angels stopped: RIP Neil Peart

On January 7th, 2020, Neil Peart, drummer and lyricist for the Canadian rock band Rush passed away from brain cancer. Aged 67.

In case you did not know, I have been a life-long Rush fan, going back to sometime in 1986 or 87 when I was introduced to them by my best friend Francois-M. (With whom I recently reconnected through Facebook) I remember the mixed taped, number 9. The tape had some of the tunes like "Limelight", "Xanadu", and "The Trees". Though the tape is long gone, its legacy remains. Rush and their many albums and evolving style form something akin to a soundtrack of my life.

In many ways, Neil's lyrics always called to me. They were the first band I listened to whose songs were not "just" about love and girls. His lyrics talked about history, philosophical concepts, immortality, science-fiction, space travel, the digital age, and mythology. All things that my young mind spent a lot of time on (and girls too, but that's for another post). Many of the questions I thought about was the subject of songs from my favorite band.

I learned of his demise on my Facebook feed first, then through quite a few people who let me know through direct messaging.

I replied a simple "Yeah I heard."

What could I say?

It was like a dear friend had passed away, one whom I never saw but who was always there. One who is still there. I'm one of those many strangers who's a long awaited friend.

I did get to see them quite a few times with other friends. Many of whom I rarely see. I saw them for the Roll the Bones, Counterparts, Test for Echo, and for R30. All of those in Montreal.

Thanks for the memories.

Farewell Neil.

See you in 2112.

It is only fitting that I leave the last words to him... From 1987's Time Stand Still

Summer's going fast
Nights growing colder
Children growing up
Old friends growing older


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

[Old Pro Tricks] Finding a group: a plea

This past Sunday, in Murfreesboro TN (where I live), was held the first DMs meeting organized through the Murfreesboro D&D Facebook group. It was attended by a GMs with experience ranging from some who only ran one or two games all the way to the old guys with white beards. We had a few guys looking for a game. A wide variety of experience, interests, skill sets was represented and the discussion was dynamic, respectful, and super engaging. I really recommend it if you are in the area and interested in meeting other DMs.

From the short discussions I had with these guys (many of which I met for the first time), a few things quickly became clear to me:

- There is a big demand for GMs

- There are quite a few games out there; the problem is to link GMs and players.

I ask those of you who do have games with open seats to please post it on public forums (such as the Murfreesboro D&D Facebook group) and do the same if you are looking for a group, you never know when an availability will happen.

Now on the flip side, do not get discouraged if you don't get a group within the first 15 minutes. It takes time to find a group once you leave college. It takes even more time before you can find a group that works well with what YOU want.

You may have to try your hand at GMing. Those great GMs you played with in the past once started without experience either. At some point, we all sucked and had to grind our teeth somewhere and did horrible things - to our PCs and our NPCs, then improve.

Reach out.

Monday, January 6, 2020

[Review] Spoilerless Review of Rise of Starwalker

Where to start? The Force Awaken was "fine" in that it set up things so I was willing to give it a pass. I really hated The Last Jedi: it just destroyed every story threads without setup anything to follow. So I went into this one with expectations so low.

How low? You ask. Well let me give you an exchange I had with the kids about going to see it.

JP Hey kids, let's go see a movie.
Kids Yay!
JP So... Star Wars or 1917?
Kids 1917! 1917!
JP finds out there is no showing in Nashville area.
JP It's not playing.
Kids (Disappointed Groan) Ah okay... Star Wars then.

So those were the expectations. Star Wars is no longer the first-day event it once was. I remember when Phantom Menace came out in 1999 and I was ready to sell my future children to see it day one. Which I did showing up 15 mins ahead of time...

Well... A few things

- Very fast pace. Very fast.
- Lando is a highlight. He's a pretty cool character and Billy Dee Williams' charisma overshadows the other, blander characters.
- This feels like a proper sequel to The Force Awakens
- Wasted potential on many of the non-Rey characters
- Many times I found my eyes rolling in my head so much that I would (thankfully) loose 10-15 seconds of movie.
- The kids loved and agreed when I referred to Rey as "Super-Jesus-Girl". She is beyond Mary Sue. She can beat Chuck Norris with one frown.
- Space battles never gave me the impression the outcome was in doubt.
- The lightsaber battles did not feel as meaningful as those from the original and prequel. The background was more exciting than the action.

So... What did I think of it? My review can best be summed by the following sentence: "It did not suck as much as I thought it would". There are some moments I enjoyed (typically when Rey is not there) but overall, it's a suck. Thinking back to the prequel, in spite of their many issues, they now look like great movies.

I will put this down as a 2/5.

Wow... Wow... How could I ever write this about Star Wars. 2/5! Jeez... I will give the final word to ActionMan who said: "There are six Star Wars movie... Oh and Rogue One... Rogue One was okay too..."