JP On Gaming

Monday, December 5, 2016

New Art: Rhym is coming together

I have been way too quiet on this blog these past few weeks. A lot of that time has been spent on a mix of Star Wars: The Old Republic, playing adventure league, playing Legend of the Five Rings, playing Space 1889, playing a little PFS, mostly online, watching hockey in Smashville, doing dad stuff and more than my fair share of day job work. That is on top of working with JD, on Rhym.

Irene just sent me a sketch for the cover for Rhym and WOW I find it so much better than what I had in mind. I asked her for a Pathfinder-style cover. Yes, yes, I know Rhym is a setting written for 5e. It feels dynamic and full of action. I love it...

JP

Friday, November 25, 2016

Saggakar now available for 5e

It has been a long road, but finally, tyranny and oppression has come to 5e! While I have been playing around and poking at things here and there, I am not very happy to announce the official release of the Tyrant of Saggakar for D&D 5th Edition!

From an indifferent review I posted back in February of 2015 to today, I can honestly say that the game has grown on me. While I still grind on a few things, I found myself liking the much lighter approach to the rules, especially compared with the now over-bloated Pathfinder.

I posted a few times about designing for 5e and how different it was than doing so for other games. After some play-testing which I have done at events since Gencon this year, I have found myself thoroughly enjoying playing and running the game. Running 5e in Saggakar really makes for a good mix of the two. Oddly enough, I have always seen Saggakar as a "story"-first setting despite its darkness and gloom, is a world where you can tell stories, when adventure must happen.

It is now time for YOU to tell your stories in Saggakar!

Other than many rule elements ported to 5e, you will find some new art in there as well! Yes new art by Irene and by Peter Saga was added to the book.

Where can you get the book? They are available through RPGNow and DriveThruRPG right now!

JP

PS: I should not say this, but there is also a big sale of FOE title coming tomorrow through Tuesday...

[Review] Marc Edelheit's Stiger's Tigers

If you do not know by now, I am always interested in history. In 2016, I took a large number of classes: writing, business, and of course, history. At DragonCon, I met Marc Edelheit and spoke with him briefly about his work of military fantasy, namely his Stiger’s Tigers book. It had two things I enjoyed: Roman legions and fantasy.

Now, once again, I will be quite honest – as if I was not always brutally honest – and say that I am not a big fan of fantasy literature. Now that said, let’s go to the book.

The book begins with Ben Stiger, an officer in the Imperial Legions, note: not Roman Legions, we are in a fantasy world. There is a rising in the southern provinces. From there, Stiger will be sent on a mission to relieve a perceived siege of a distant fort.

Okay, the basics work and they got me interested in reading more. I won’t spoil the novel (even though there is not much to spoil, keep reading to find out why)

The Good

The author knows a lot about Roman Legionnaire training, tactics, organization, daily life, and supply network. The writing about camp life particularly was a high point.

I enjoyed the battle scenes, which provided a fairly chaotic view of what is happening with Stiger not fully knowing what is happening as his men move in complex maneuvers. Well described and executed.

The Bad

I will start with my biggest issue with this book: the characters. Ben Stiger is the perfect human: he does not make mistakes, he is better than ALL other people he meets, he knows better than everyone, everyone who hates him ends up loving him after spending time with him, even when he may be doing something wrong things turn out better than he expect. At first, this is funny, but it gets repetitive and eventually turned me off and I just wanted to see Superman get himself killed.

The man has no attachment: his family hates him (we are not told why), he has no love or woman (one is hinted at but again we are not told much), and he has no relations other than his elf buddy. This guy is all about his work. He has no interest in anything that is not related to his job. Again, Superman.

The other characters are also very two dimensional, though a little less so. His elf buddy is just like him, with a side of super-Legolas. He is a ninja-of –the-wild who disappears when in the forest, not unlike the elves from Records of the Lodoss War and those guys he trains become just like him.

Another element that put me off was the fantasy elements. Initially, I could get over it, but the more I read, the less interesting they were. It felt like I was reading someone’s D&D game, complete with character classes.

The Annoying

Two elements I will put into an “annoying” category because they annoyed me, but other readers may not find those annoying.

The first is the use of modern, “Americanized” names for the characters: Ben Stiger, Randall, Arnold, etc. I am so used to Roman names in legion that it took a while to get used to it. Eventually, I got used it, but early on, I found that annoying.

Another element that annoyed me was the use of US Army ranks instead of roman ones. Ben Stiger is a Captain and he has his elf lieutenant, has sergeants who name corporals… This one never grew on me. I understand he may have done this to avoid going into too many details about the organization of the legion. This would have added a lot of flavor and kept up the illusion.

So…

I am stuck with having to give this book a score. The good is good, the bad is bad.

For the characters: 1 out of 5. They are weak, cookie-cutter and without any reason to like (or dislike them) really.

For the military aspect: 4 out of 5. I have to take one point off for the use of US ranks.

For the plot. This one is difficult to score exactly. The plot is not overly exciting, but it works as an intro to a series then again, I hate series. The main plot works, but again, you have to deal with Superman for who everything goes right after some minor (and I insist on minor) reverses.

So what do I give this book for its plot? I will go with 3 out of 5, thus rating it “Okay” but not good and not bad.

Overall, I will go with 2 out of 5 as my total score. The elements I hated clearly outweigh those I disliked. Too many uncompleted threads and unlikeable characters.

Which leads me to the question I always ask myself when I review one such book. Do I want to read more of this? And that one is easy to answer. NO. This first book was not interesting enough to keep me reading some more. I do not care what happens to him, his unit, his lieutenants, the Empire, the rebels, or whoever there is in that series. That they die, live, become emperor, turn into ducks or break into a line dance party, I just do not care.

JP

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Turkey Y'all

A big thanks from all of us here at First Ones' Entertainment!

This has been another great year with new material coming out and some experimentation. Throughout all that you guys have been there with us. We are very thankful for all of you.

Enjoy your turkey and your day off (if you have one).

JP

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Post-Apocalypticon 2016: AAR

This weekend, ActionMan and I returned to Cleveland TN, just northeast of Chattanooga for Post- Apocalypticon. We both attended last year , which ActionMan thought was his favorite con of the year. Therefore, I made a point of trying to go back for another year.

I contacted the folks from Dicehead games and added a Saggakar event to the program. I thought about creating a unique or premiering an event, but time was short and I have been working on a lot of other things. Instead, I opted for re-heating an old favorite...

We drove to Chattanooga on Friday night, check in to the hotel. All good.

Then my stupid crappy ol' phone decides that it should adapt the alarm to the time zone! I wake up 7:35 and I am running at 8! PANIC!!! ActionMan and I get up, get dressed, pack the car and fly to Dicehead Games. Run inside and manage to set up just in time for the game. 8:02!

I ran the dungeon portion of "Encounter at Ramat Bridge" but set it in Saggakar. It was fun to revisit that old classic, which I hadn't run in well over two years now, perhaps even three... Time flies! The simplified version was still as fun as the original.

The game done, we mustered into some of the new Storm King stuff. I am quite happy to see they give out more XP than the Ravenloft season.

The game done, we took part in the Iron Baron special. Now I was very impressed. IT WAS TOUGH! Just like special should be. What a complete difference to the PFS specials. I felt challenged and the plot seem to plan for an actual, possible failure, and interaction between tables. That was great! We went to the brink of disaster, with most of the table out of spells, unconscious and dying to owning through assistance from others.

I really had a blast, and ActionMan was a true superstar at our table... He rocked it.

After that, I opted to skip the late slot, to let the boy sleep, it was his bedtime. We turned in, after watching the Nashville Predators on TV.

Sunday morning, the alarm did go off at the expected time. We ate and got to the game on-time and without issue. More Storm King games played.

That was it. We were done, time for a nice afternoon drive home.

JP

Thursday, November 10, 2016

PostApocalypticon, One-shot Saggakar, Adventure League

Just a short post today... This coming weekend, ActionMan and I are going back to Cleveland TN, for PostApocalypticon. Last year he and I had a lot of fun going there. This year it'll be a little different because I will be running a single adventure. I am running "An Encounter in the Mists", a one-shot adventure set in Saggakar using 5e. This is not a ToS adventure, just a one-shot game.

After that, we will be playing exclusively 5e. Since PFS apparently backed away from the event. Not that I would've done much PFS, but I am surprised to see how the local leadership does not seem interested in participating in such events, instead staying at a smaller event closer to Nashville. Well I'm no longer in charge, but last year PFS ran a number of tables there, being the biggest group there. This year it will be the Adventure League, and also where ActionMan and I will go to play. ActionMan's Sir Patrick does not like my tree-hugging priest...Until I heal him...

We will be playing a bunch of the new stuff for the Storm Giant series. It'll be fun to play together some 5e.

JP

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Walking Dead: How I would fix it

I do not post many of these "What I would do" for TV shows, but this time, I think I can offer a perspective of interest and how the plots can be made more interesting for the future.


I have been thinking and re-thinking about this and I firmly believe that "The Walking Dead" is loosing its sheen. For the past few seasons, it has become repetitive and less and less interesting. So I went back and tried to figure out what would make it better. As a fan, I tried to come up with something that would continue the show, keep some of the shock factor it had in the early seasons, and provide story materials to keep the show running for at least one or more season.

With the start of this seasons being quite a shocker, it make me gasp and wonder what would come next. Let's go back to the start of the episode. Rick's crew is kneeling before Negan and Negan as a new villain makes a speech to let us know he's a bad hombre. We are all holding our breaths, speculating who he goes after.

For you TWD comics fan, I didn't read that far into the series, so this is likely to greatly diverge, but I'm only interested in the TV series.


TWACK! Negan swings his bat.

And kills Rick.

The rest of the scene goes on as in the episode: Daryl rebels and tries to kill Negan, Negan kills Glenn in retaliation.

Negan is a complete jerk, a completely rotten bastard that promises one thing but then turns around and kills the leader of Alexandria.

Why? There are a number of reasons.

- By removing the head of the opposition, he can promote someone else to power. Keeping Rick there only ensures a rebellion from day one as Rick will seek to undermine him.

- He can place one of his own men in charge of people. With one of his people in place, he can control the group of Alexandria.

- Let's be honest, Rick has been through the gamut of emotions: he's been secure, cocky, confident, crazy, distraught, murderous, vengeful, happy. What else is there for him to do? Become a simpering crying wimp for his son and daughter. He is the most disposable character at this point.

- By killing him, one of the others must rise to become the leader of the main group.

- It would completely shock the audience, thus bringi back the feeling of worry where we didn't know who would be next (right now I am not worried about any of the main characters to die mid-season any more).

Of those, the conflicts within the group, whether Negan places a leader there or not, we have a number of conflicts we can explore within Alexandria.

Abraham I though with the last few episodes, he was due for something more. I expected him to move for leadership and to rise to promonence within the group. By him growing into the position, he would be a good character to seek control. This alpha male type would no doubt ruffle some feathers.

Carl The role of new leader and Carl seems made for each other. He has grown over the previous six seasons from a kid into a man. He lost an eye. However, as long as Rick is gonna be there, he'll always be "Rick's boy". With Rick gone, Carl could become a great leader for the group.

Aaron "The Gay Guy" is someone I think could be greatly developed beyond "gay guy". This dude spent some time out in the world, alone, stalking a group of veteran survivors without them knowing about him. He could be set to become a big-time leader. His sexual orientation serving as conflict potential with others. This guy is solid. I want to see more of him and want to see him grow, not, like I suspect, be bitten by a random zombie and die. His status as an outsider makes him great for leadership.

Daryl Okay... Daryl is not the leader type. I think he's grown soft and less interesting than early on. Without Rick, he would be the king maker, the one everyone courts for support.

Michone She's cool and she would make a decent leader. I could see the group get behind her.

Maggie Another good choice, though I would expect her character would be greatly changed by Glenn's death. She is a more balanced person when it comes to fighting, survival and non-zombie skills (farmer's daughter). She might be "late to the party" in that while most of the others struggle and argue to come together, she might avoid that as she grieves her husband. She can then rejoin the others, be the peacemaker and the natural leader.


Unfortunately, we're not gonna get a struggle like that... We're gonna get crying and Rick self-loathing as the others try to tell him how great he is. Not a power struggle between characters trying who could each influence the group in their own way. I am not as keen on seeing what comes next than the previous few years.

Those are my two cents...

JP

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Rhym: New Setting for 5e

I have not been posting much about gamnig these days, and that pains me. However, I have not been idle all this time.

For those of you who do not know, I am working with a new writer on a new setting called Rhym (pron Reim). Rhym is a traditional setting designed for 5th edition, though it can easily be adapted for any game system.

The writer and I got together a second time at Imaginareum in Louisville a few weeks back where we addressed a number of thing we had to do. There's still a lot to do. Which means I drain all my free time into editing and expanding what we have.

Doing this reminds me a lot of the work I did for LPJ to bring NeoExodus into a coherent whole. For Rhym, there is coherence already, but I need to add a few tidbits of history, add fantastical elements, modify things that don't feel right. It's a lot of work and one that is very time consuming. But something I am very much excited to do.

The final size of the Rhym Campaign setting may reach 150 pages! There is still so much to do before I can release it. I originally thought of releasing around Thanksgiving, but it won't happen. I want this to be great and that means it'll take time.

The Question on everyone's mind and one I keep getting asked all the time is. Is Rhym linked to Saggakar?

The short answer is no.

Long answer is "yes but". Saggakar, by its nature, can be linked to anywhere, any time. The two settings are not designed to go with each other. No races in common, they are completely separate settings.

Now I won't swear that Rhym will not feature in future Saggakar products and vice-versa, just that they are designed as independent entities. And is definitely part of the fun.

I have a first set of iconic characters created already, and yes, these guys will be available to play in Saggakar!

So I'm still here.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

[Review] Fire and Gold by Mara Amberly

A good friend of mine (now) from Ireland is up-and-coming author Mara Amberly. Mara has published a number of books of poetry and other short work, but her latest book is a fantasy novel called Fire and Gold, Book 1 of the Sisters of the North. We were talking writing and she offered to send me a book to get my impressions. I readily agreed not mentioning that my stash of books has gone down to almost nothing. I had but one book to read before I was out. So two birds, one stone. Plus as you know this year, I have been trying my hand at short works of fiction, hoping to complete a bigger one myself.

So on to reading I went.

I will be honest and say that it flew by so quickly. I could not put it down until the end. The story revolves around two sisters: one fiery and spontaneous, the other quiet, pensive and reserve. This may be cliche, but it works as a basic dynamic. They are part of a religious order and have received magical training. The magic is elemental-based with each caster getting one affinity for one type. Simple.

Our heroines find themselves away from their temple when it is attacked by an evil order that kills (nearly) everyone else. From that point, they are on the run trying to reach safety of another temple of the order. There that's the overall plot in two sentences. Again simple.

This simplicity of story is not what made me like this book, but the characters themselves, with their flaws and strengths, are where this book really shines. The story has enough surprises and twists to keep you interested.
- Quite simply, the base story is good. It's simplicity makes it that much more believable.
- The main story is given in the third person narrative where the story unfolds from the perspective of the characters. As the sisters flee the city of Kalle, their flight is easy to imagine and with a good portrayal of a group of city-women heading out into the wilds. We are presented with the elements of the world we need as readers only when they become relevant through natural and realistic dialogue. Therefore, I never felt as the story progress that I was lost as to where they were or what were the challenges they expected to find along the way.
- The women were not experts of wilderness survival, but neither are we given Paris Hilton going into the wild, nor do they become master bandits because they need something. They don't go from city slickers to master huntresses. Procuring food and water is a vital challenge with decent obstacles. They are capable, but clearly out of their comfort zone.
- There is a feeling of refrained sexuality the sisters experience throughout the story (as they meet male characters). I will tell you that if there is no long romantic or sex scenes in the book (I know, I hear many of you pervs out there sigh) but this tension actually adds to the story. Providing a few interesting scenes as one of the sisters' reaction to the male lead creates moment of definite interests as she tries to look but not look, playing strong but inwardly shy. This interplay was really one of the gems and one of the elements I liked best of the book.

And now the weaker points of the story.
- As good as the main characters and their interactions were, the story has a couple of side-stories. These were weak and did not contribute to the story. They felt like distractions. Now that being said, I can see how these side-plots can develop into major story lines later. The potential is there for them to grow and mix the main story. But here, they felt weak. This is a personal peeve and a reason I dislike series, this starting of random thread. Since a number of the sub-plots should be in a different book. I would hate to pick up book 2 then go "who the heck are these people? Why are they here? Why do they do this?" Some people will love this, I dislike it myself. A lot.
- Related to the previous point, I could not care about any of the characters in these side-plots, that they lived or died, I did not care. They only one was poor Luke, whose side-plot explains part of the action and was a pretty interesting story. The thread started and ended within the book.

So if I have to give this a solid 4/5. However, this is mostly related to my dislike of unresolved threads. For those who enjoy reading this type of saga, you will find your fix here.

However, in spite of the scoring, when I get to the end and think about it, I feel compelled to ask myself. Would you read a sequel? And the answer is a clear and definite YES.

You can get your copy of the book on Amazon.Com. While you're at it, tell Mara you read this review!

JP

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

[Commission] The Lost Pix

This is the forgotten final installment of the first batch of Will's Arcadia Quest.

This group has a Legolas, "Chaz" (who ActionMan kept saying he looked just like Sir Patrick, his Adventure League character), as a Grace-Jones like character. I will say that I think she has to be one of the ugliest woman in history. That said, the model is full of character and captures the her wild and crazy persona in Conan The Destroyer.









Tuesday, October 18, 2016

[ArcadiaQuest] The end of batch 2

The Final installment of this batch of ArcadiaQuest Minis for Will.

Perhaps my favorite mini of the lot is LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEROY JENKINS!!! It has so much character! The face and posture is just iconic. I love it!

The second guy, Spike, I painted highly inspired by classic Warhammer dwarven slayers, this mini was perhaps one of the most fun of the lot. His spiked hair and beard are just so cool and the bright orange gives them a lot of character. Add some blue tattoos and you have a great mini.

Next to the other two, this final mini, called Diva, is uninspired. There is nothing wrong with it, it just does not have the dynamism or the character of the other two. It is hard to see, but the armor is red with metallic red. I played with various mix levels of reds and metallic.







Monday, October 17, 2016

[ArcadiaQuest] Hallo. My name is not Inigo Montoya. You killed my father

More painting for Will's ArcadiaQuest. These three are an interesting contrast.

The first is Montoya. He is clearly inspired by Sean Connery's character in Highlander, not one named Inigo who looks for his father's killer...

The second is a barbarian king called Haldor wielding massive weapons. His face is very

The third is a knight called Johan. This guy was surprisingly simple: covered with metal armor. So I spent some extra time on his eyes and hair.







JP

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Gostor: Ethereal Horrors released!

Here is a book I have been thinking about for the longest time. Initially, I wanted to include it into Saggakar, and as I worked on developing and expanding the creatures so they become a different and unique threat, it felt that limiting them to "just" Saggakar. So that's why I decided that it should be a Gostor product. It made sense to me: the content was not unique, it had nothing that was specifically setting-specific.

Where did I get the idea? I was going over an old storyline written for Living Greyhawk. One I really enjoyed, but that I thought had a weak ending. Creatures from the Ethereal Plane broke through and attacked, a nation.

So I sat back and thought about the creatures. If I had been in charge of this plot, how would have I gone about it? First, I needed creatures, more than one type of them to provide variety. Next, I had to think of a target threat level, in Pathfinder this means CR. High CR creatures sound good, but I found that few people care for putting them. So I went for some lower-powered creatures. This affected the rest of my design work.
- First, it meant the PCs could fight them at low level. Low-level meant the PCs would not have access to cross-planar travel methods.
- Second, the ethereals could be used in large numbers rather than one big monster: a personal love of mine.
- Third, I could create non-magical equipment specifically to combat the ethereals.

With that in mind, I put everything together. And left it there.

Yeah, I just left it in my pile of "stuff I need to finish". I worked on other projects (many I'm still working on today) and let this one were it was.

I was looking through the internet for another project when I happened on something for this one. WOW! It was better than I thought! So I quickly returned to the book, and began working on Ethereal Horrors again. I quickly got things up and running: formatted and aligned. I thought I was done in a day or so. But after a hardcopy review, a number of additional ideas came to me. Things I wanted to share with the prospective GM. So I went back to my document and added a number of extra information. Namely, unique magic items and expanded the campaign section I had.

So with all this, I am really proud to announce the official release of Gostor: Ethereal Horrors for the Pathfinder RPG.

I will tease you that Loren is working on making the 5e version of the book! Great stuff!

You can get a copy of Gostor: Ethereal Horror on DriveThru RPG or RPGNow!

JP

[ArcadiaQuest] And now for something completely different

And now something completely different...

More ArcadiaQuest for Will! Okay that's not very different. However, these guys are bad guys - from my understanding - and are twice as large as the adventurers I've been painting up to now. I got two beastmen with hammer and two with spears.

I painted them with hair color variation along with highlights so they can be easily distinguished when on the board. I don't know if it matters, but I thought it might be cool.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

[ArcadiaQuest] Solomon Kane and Conan

Another set of commissions for Will from his Arcadia Quest set. This time three new characters from literature.

The first is Victor, but he is clearly modeled after Robert Howard's Solomon Kane. I like how the hat covers his eyes, giving him this dark and brooding look.

The second is Grom. Or should I say Conan? Yeah. Conan...

The third guy is the King of Thieves. He makes me think of a leper king. I feel there is an anime reference with this character.