JP On Gaming

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pathfinder Society Commissions for March

It has been a while since I posted commission work. Well I'm happy to post that this situation is ended!

The first one is something of an odd request... Steve-B for whom I painted an Amiri a while ago and a lot of Malifaux models now has his character leveled up and tougher than before. So he found Reaper's tiefling model much to his liking because of the horns and the spikes on its right arm. So he asked me to paint this one up "like the other one". I did a few things to convert the model, the most important was to swap the sword from a rapier to something more like the original... I found an old plaguebearer sword I used. I was not convinced initially about it, but after a lot of putting the still-metal mini next to the screen, it grew on me. The sword looks more "feral" than Amiri's but it works. Next was the painting...

The armor designs are not the same, but I tried to keep as true to the original as I could (again painting with the picture on-screen). I debated putting a pattern on the red "backskirt" but in the end decided not to - to keep to the original. The tiefling's armor has a lot of motifs, which I spent more attention on for Martin's mini here, left more subdued, to give the impression of something stitched into the armor design. I was apprehensive about it, but it worked out pretty good in the end.

When Steve's character rages she becomes one ugly lady! I put a link to the original next to the next version and the final models have a nice, united feel to them which worked out better than I thought!

This second commission is for Tom-C. Tom plays in my NeoExodus home game on Tuesday nights. I have another model for him which I will put up tomorrow. He bought the iconic PFS druid for his PFS character.

Tom's request was "Gnome: bubblegum pink hair with fold eyes and tanned skin".He asked for "bubblegum hair". Which is what I provided... I made a number of touch and wash on the hair but it looks pretty pink to me! The picture does not do justice to the hair, which appear darker in person. I wanted her clothes in a drab, simple color to make her hair really pop. I chose green because it is a good color for the contrast but also because it makes for some realistic clothes and it can be low-key while still looking good.

Like the entire Pathfinder range of models by Reaper, this one is great to paint. They paint up easily and quick, which I like. My issue with this one is the size of it. There are relatively few areas to add accent. I did put something on the skirt: a floral pattern. This pattern is nice and simple.

The sickle I chose to make out of bone/ivory rather than the usual steel... It also gives it an accent on the relatively drab colors of her clothing.

What do you think? I am available to paint your minis!


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Writer's block sucks!

For the past few weeks I've been either putting down ideas for our Free RPG Day Kickstarter or actively writing the adventure. I have a lot of great ideas, LPJ and I came up with (you'll remember I posted a lot about it over the past few months). I have a number of encounters written, a cool premise, a set up for Owen Stevens and Lee to make the adventure even bigger and MORE awesome. I mean this is one of my favorite adventures so far, up there along with Cold Visitor.

Then Tuesday it hit me.

The dreaded writer's block.

Oh no, not the "I have nothing more to write about this" block but the "how am I gonna fit all this in here" block. I need to remove material and change a few things around to be able to fit as much of it as I can. And that's where the problem lies. What do I take out before putting it in?

Very annoying.

So taking and alternative route to just plugging in stuff I wasn't sure would fit, I took some of the elements I thought were "more generic" (and it sounds really strange to write this) and added them to another adventure I have been working on. This has effectively allowed me to "get out of my system" some of the encounters I felt would've been contrived and forced into "Temple".

This is a technique I learned from a fellow writer who said that he always keeps a few small projects to advance when the writers' block hits. It really works! Now I have a number of new ideas for "Temple".

And I'm at my day job... so those ideas will have to wait.



Monday, February 25, 2013

Sunday Funnies: Best Familiar Ever

This is simply the best familiar ever.


Friday, February 22, 2013

[Rant] Really Wotc? Highjack Free RPG Day?

Earlier this week, I heard that Wizards of the Coast will be doing a "Worldwide Game Day" and that they will NOT be participating in Free RPG Day. Both of those are fine. If WotC wants to do its own thing, they can. Last year's FRPGD 4e stayed on the shelf at my FLGS as no one wanted to touch it. The game was dead, we all knew it.

What really pisses me off is when WotC goes and schedule its WWGD ON THE SAME DAY as Free RPG Day.


This might be a way to get people back to their games. But they will not generate goodwill by highjacking/sabotage other people's event. I accuse you of trying to stir people away from games so they can play 4e/5e only.

When I set up events, I try to see what other large-scale events are happening. I don't try to set events to compete with others, to make sure as many people as possible can attend events. I might've been interested in trying out some of their latest product, but now I will not and will focus on the NeoExodus and Pathfinder offering.

I guess the thing that really ticks me off the most about it is that I would *LIKE* to see WotC be a leader of the community like it was. However, when they pull crap like this, its like they just try to say "F-U" to the rest of the community. Rather than work with others, they just do their own thing and expect the rest of the RPG world to follow suit.

Unfortunately, the RPG community doesn't work to whatever WotC says anymore. WotC is no longer the only flagship of the RPG world. It is a big player, but just because they say something doesn't mean we'll do it. For many years now they've been the Microsoft of gaming: the big brute on the block who pushed everyone around. Kinda like Games Workshop in the world of minis.

Pulling this stunt does not endear them to me, and I assume a number of other members of the community.

Too bad, I thought WotC had a good chance of repairing their reputation and generate some of positive view among those who do not expect much from 5e.

I guess this isn't much of a rant, more a post of disappointment on a missed opportunity.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Talking Interactive: Genghis Con's Opening Moves

The first multi-table interactive we've run at Genghis Con is done. Allow me to give you a quick recap of what happened. The grayed sections are taken directly from the adventure itself.

Morning prayers are barely over when all the church bells in Macawi begin to resonate at once. The populace and the Crusaders all gather outside the eastern gate.

On a podium, surrounded by Caneus High Guard, comes the blaring of trumpets. Then from a golden carriage drawn by grey stallions and escorted by a hundred knights, arrives the Empress.

Empress Cassandra the First, second daughter of Emperor Desmond the Second of House Eland, benevolent and wise ruler of the Caneus Empire climbs the steps to the podium. Her white dress, platinum crown, and golden buttons sparkle in the morning sun. Her blonde hair floats in the light breeze as she waves to her people, a radiant smile on her face.

Behind her is a dark and brooding man dressed in stark white and red. The Archprelate Leonid Kaleri of the Sanguine Covenant’s disposition contrasts sharply with that of the Empress.

“Fellow nobles of the Caneus Empire! Retainers! Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of our most Holy of Crusade against the animals that have pillaged our lands, slaughtered our flocks, and enslaved our people.”

“This dream, I shared with my father and my dearest sister, Mercy. But I, Cassandra Eland, Empress of the Caneus Empire gathered such an army that puts the Northern Crusades of old to shame. You, my blessed Crusaders, will bring the righteous hammer of justice and victory upon our enemies! May your swords be guided by the hand of justice and righteousness.”

“I will not hold you any longer… May the Sanguine Lord look over you and your retinues! Scatter our enemies before you and remember what you would do to a wolf that plagues your flock… Mercy and compassion is not due to such beast, act swiftly for you are all blessed in this endeavor.”

The Empress turns to the Archprelate who steps forward. After a moment of silence, he says. “Before this Crusade is over, many of you will find yourselves before Koliav at the Icy Gates. He is anxious to know how many of his enemies you have slain in the name of the Sanguine Lord…”

Raising his index and middle finger, he makes a gesture of blessing over the assembled Crusaders.

The trumpets blare once more as the smiling Empress waves off her Crusaders. Her smile lifts the already high spirits of the Champions .

The army slowly disperses, heading towards the east and the lands of the Janus Horde.

The Crusade has begun!

Thus a large army left Macawi to seek and destroy the animals of the Janus Horde. The Crusaders scattered across the countryside, looking to bring death to an enemy that had plagued their borders for years.

For three days, these adventurers roamed the country, encountering a number of creatures, Hordesmen, and unique situations. A few prisoners were rescued and allowed to go free. The blue dragon Kago who had terrorized the eastern Caneus Empire was seen fighting with the Janus Horde on the side of the Crusader.

(Below, a group of Crusaders fight against the Horde. With Nose-Cutter down following a charge of the Horde...)

After three days of intense campaigning, everyone gathered at Brandenborg Castle to resupply and rest.

(Below a view of the players discussing what they encountered as Chris-S makes a face for the camera...)

Then the Warrior-Queen Thais's own horde appeared. Immediately, front units charged the Crusaders' position.

(Below are the terrain of the tables first Jon, then mine and D'Anne's. You will notice the very natural terrain: the tall grass, shrubs, cut-down woods, ruins, rocks and on D'Anne's table: a pond.)

During the assault of the Horde's vanguard, Sir Heinz von Pushkar who has sponsored a group of adventurers made a successful sortie backed by adventurers. The sortie was successful and the Horde reeled back to reorganize, giving the Crusaders a chance to reorganize. Another group then left the relative safety of their positions to take down a band of manticores, forcing the Horde's healers to try and help their creatures.

The Horde withdraws and sets up camp for an obvious siege. Campfires and magical lights appear all around the ruins of Brandenborg. There are easily thousands of Hordesmen and monsters surrounding the Crusaders.

To the beat of deep and distant drums, a lone rider carrying a white flag approached the Crusaders' lines. Stopping over a hundred feet away, standing on his stirrups and called out.

“Invaders! Your bravery has been noted and Our Glorious Queen offers you safe passage back to the border! She recognizes your military honors! This is the only offer you will get!”

The rider sat back on his saddle, waiting for the Crusaders' next move.

After deliberation, the Crusaders chose to withdraw (by a vote of 2-1).

Making their decision known to the rider, a band of twenty Janus Horde veteran approached to serve as an escort. The Hordesmen did not speak and formed around the assembled Crusaders.

In the morning, the Crusaders came within sight of Macawi. The walls in sight, the raiders drew their weapons to form an honor guard, allowing the Crusaders to proceed between them. Their demonstration done, they kicked their horses and rode back east, towards their home.

Back in Macawi the news was not good. Most of the Crusaders are beating back in defeat, surprised to have met the Queen’s Horde. In spite of the loss, the few veterans of Brandenborg impressed both the locals and the Janus Horde.

First blood belongs to the Janus Horde.

Although the battle was lost, the PCs managed to leave Sametian with military honors. It seems the conquest of Sametia may not be as easy as was originally assumed.

So you know, I already received two proposal for follow-up adventures...


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Genghis Con Report (Rant, love, gaming)

This year's Genghis Con is now in the books. And it was a good one. For the first time since 2006, I was not in charge of any major gaming group. New NeoExodus adventures and a storyline we really wanted to get out. So it was with a lot of excitement and quite nervous that I headed out on Thursday.

We got there without issue... Other than me remembering all the things I forgot... (the NeoExodus Books, my little trolley). But on-site it was good to see people I see only occasionally.

The last hours before kickoff are always a time I dislike... I get the pre-show jitters but I use that nervous energy...

Finally, muster came and GAME ON!

Thursday Night

Thursday night, D'Anne and I ran two adventures. She ran "92-LC-01 Bloody Ice" and I ran "A4 - Slavers of the Dominion" to two full tables of players. It was great to be able to play with people I haven't played with, namely Mary & CA from Boise, Homer, Lenny, Matt... It was a great table! The adventure is fun to play - and run. I had a blast, though I did not speak with her too much, D'Anne seemed to enjoy her table with a number of the Waterdeep Boys' Club. I went to sleep quite pumped and very ready for the next day!


After a decent night's sleep, I got up, rearranged my stuff (remember when I said I forgot my trolley) and went downstairs to run. As luck would have it, we had only enough players for one table, which D'Anne offered to run 92-LC-03 A Rose by Any Name, which was written by Linda Weygant-Robison (the RPG coordinator). Again awesomely positive feedback.

Not having to GM, I headed over to play a slot of Arcanis, I played it with the Powells and had a fun time - once again. I managed to live in spite of being quite scared. Kermina Gallia val'Borda reached her rank 4 and now has some minor magical ability. Very minor indeed.

For the afternoon, I ran a table of 92-LC-04 The Prisoner and gave D'Anne the slot off. I was really happy with the feedback.

Then the big one... The Friday night interactive! The one we've been talking about for the past months. For the first time since the days of LG, I really had the creative freedom to write what I wanted. Last year's PFS event was not quite what or how I wanted it. It was fun, but having a storyline at play is really what I've been missing. Giving the players the freedom to impact the story and the world they get to play in. That is what I like most.

I'll post later about the interactive itself: what was at play, how it played out and the immediate consequences of the PCs' actions. It was... entertaining.

We ran 3 tables of it. There was a lot of encounters, a lot of combat and a lot of heroics. I left tired, but excited.

A few drinks later and I was on my way to bed.


Saturday I had plan an all day of Arcanis play. I played the setup to the Big Story-Ending Interactive and I was very anxious. The first game was fine - even if I dozed off a few times. Once again, I played Kermina Gallia val'Borda.

Then I showed up for the interactive... with 7 other players. After hearing talks of "running a table of 8" I chose to drop out. Big tables are not my thing. It's long and boring. So I stepped away and went off looking for something else. I had been really looking forward to it, but knowing I would not enjoy myself, I preferred to step away.

My wife showed up with my kids and I took Kitty to Con Jr. for her first ever con. If I'd ever seen a little girl so happy, it was Kitty. She enjoyed and had a lot of fun. I was really looking forward to her coming and she enjoyed it. I fully expect Kitty to become a gamer-girl (moreso than Josiane).

So I went back downstairs and went to see Jacque, who promptly seated me at Jeff Kokx's Bonekeep table. Bonekeep is not my kind of game, but knowing going in that it was a dungeoncrawl, set my expectations at the right level. It delivered. Our group was - at that time - the only one that finished the entire dungeon! I played my samurai character and had a lot of fun with him. More than I thought.

For the evening, I roamed the hall and met up with CA. We went to see Savage Worlds - but it seems there was more people wanting to play than seats. So we opted for something else. We quickly took seats at a Serial Pulp (remember my interview with James Stepanek) because that slot would be the only time we might get to play together. We got to play together and it was a lot of fun.


Yes, I said it. Curse him!

Why, JP? Why do you wish him a chicken on his head?

Because now I will have to try and make room during upcoming cons for at least one slot of Pulp! GAH! The adventure we played really hit a cord with me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. For a start-of-WWII scenario, I didn't pull out my gun once. I am really looking forward to playing more. I have been willfully avoiding the campaign because I know I'd be hooked if I played... GAH!


My character was a hoodlum named "Dirk McGrit" who had his butt kicked during "the Kansas City job" by "The Sable Specter" (played by Troy-L). It was funny and I think it gives a different take on the character.

A few drinks later, I chatted with the Boise gang and Jacque before going to bed.


Sunday morning started with packing the car. Then I waited 15 mins for an elevator that was not full. The more cons we have, the more I hate the Red Lion. I really hate the Red Lion. One elevator did not work for the entire weekend... The rooms are fine, but the breakfast is just BAD. The bar ran out of draft non-piss beer, I was served a VERY watered-down White Russian. GAH! I can't believe it...

So I finally got to down, where no players (only 1 showed up) were present. So again, I went to PFS where I got a seat at a table of "The Disappeared". Our group succeeded, in spite of ourselves. Fun times once again. Once again I played with Obata, my samurai.

That slot was interrupted by the fire alarm. I walked around the hotel to find Kitty with the Con jr. people. She was seated peacefully on the curb waiting for the all-clear. We talked for a few minutes and then I let her go back with the other kids. She is such a cutie!

The last slot, I ran "92-LC-03 A Rose By Any Name" by Linda. I really like that adventure because in a number of ways it embodies what we want to have in Legacies: the concept of choice... And the choice is not as trivial as it seems.

After the closing ceremonies, we came back home and slept.

Actually, I was told I had to go to bed before I fell asleep on the couch... So I did. That ended Genghis Con 2013.

I was tired but very optimistic about what was to come and with the result of our new adventures. D'Anne, Swags and I ran a total of 8 tables of NeoExodus: Legacies, our biggest con thus far. This is gonna be our benchmark for future cons!

Before closing Genghis for good, I want to thank the GMs who ran for me : D'Anne and Swags: you guys did an awesome job of it! I also want to thank the GMs who allowed me to play: Jeff-K, Paul-L, Bill-F, Ryan and James-S (even though I maintain my curse on you). A big thanks to Linda for organizing and operating the complex waltz that is muster and running everything. Finally, a big thanks to the many players who tolerated me and to those who played NeoExodus.

Now I have to work out what happened and them post the results of the Critical Events summaries... For those of you who missed it. And for those who were present to know how bad things are because of them!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Funny, NSFW, Adam vs. Eve for Valentine's day

With Valentine's Day I managed to get a few really funny posts. Men vs. Women is a humor topic I really enjoy. This one, an EPIC RAP BATTLE OF HISTORY made me laugh. It's so funny! Oh! And it is also VERY NOT SAFE FOR WORK (thank you earplugs). I love that series, its always funny and insightful. This one makes no exception.

So Happy Valentine's Day! Assuming you'll survive playing this to your other half.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Genghis Con Teasers for the NeoExodus Interactive

For those who are still hesitating about joining us for the NeoExodus interactive at Genghis Con in Denver, let me show a few pictures of things I've packed for the interactive.

Now that I have most of my stuff packed and ready to go I took a few pictures. You can get an idea of what the adventure entails... and a few surprise... Of course, those do not quite tell you what the adventure is about but is a fun teaser...


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cynean models by Crocodile Games

I am posting a number of Cynean models by Crocodile games. Cyneans are crystalline entities with a strong bend towards arcane magic. Now though they are crystalline, they are nevertheless humanoids.

Cyneans are a popular race for players; many have created characters: from magus, to sorcerers, to machinesmiths, to fighters, and oracles. Cyneans are - in my opinion - the most popular PC race in NeoExodus (with P'tan coming a close second). Surprisingly, I find that we have used them sparingly as NPCs. Don't read into it, but that might change...

Now for the first two models... You will notice they are of the same model. The story for this one quite interesting: a group of us had traveled to Denver to play-test the two adventures for GenghisCon. Upon our return, we stopped at Gamers' Haven where we browsed their collection of Crocodile game model - after I told the guys that they made GREAT models for NeoExodus, namely their "To-Tanem" range for Cyneans and the "Basti" for P'tan. I will add their Sebeki for the First Ones' Krocas also... But I'll blog about then later...

So there we found two To-tanem characters... These are just AWESOME for machinesmiths. I planned on purchasing one and Brian the other, when Brian-B offered me a deal I could not refuse: he'd buy me one if I painted one for him. Well... that was deal I could not pass on! So I painted the two models differently: one red and one blue. With a few different accents here and there the two came out really nice and surprisingly different! Now I can't decide which one I want so I will offer both to Brian and let him decide!

I said Cyneans were very popular, well as proof of this, my good friend Martin-B also has a Cynean character: his is a magus. I took the model below and cut out his spear to replace it with a flaming sword from the pack in the above machinesmith pack. That's another thing I like about Crocodile Games: their Wargods of Aegyptus packs come with a number of unique little trinkets and bitz. I kept the sword somewhat dark to further contrast the brightness of the flames.

The final one is a "hero" I plan to keep for myself. A warrior with a strange flail-hammer weapon. I just might have to create this weapon and add it to the player's guide... This one will be a cool addition to my collection.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Fiction: Prologue to Temple of the Forbidden God

As I was putting things together for "Temple of the Forbidden God". I came up with this little prologue to - and I will admit it - put myself in the right frame of mind. I'll admit it worked! LPJ posted it as an update to our Kickstarter.

We have reached our basic funding goal - thanks everyone - but do not stop so we can reach higher levels. LPJ and I keep joking that "the more we get, the more I have to work!"

An Enuka's Tale

The enuka tribes of the northern Wyldlands of Bal believe that the mists covering the area to the north can swallow one’s soul. The stories are highly colorful, filled with enormous monsters, heroic acts of bravery and tragic endings.

One tribe, the Red Fangs of Lake Ozomatli, possesses a scale that towers over the biggest of their hunter. If the stories are true, a warrior of great renown left for the mists and brought it back after years spent there. He returned suffering from a wasting disease no shaman could heal; no herb could sooth the terrible pain that wracked his body. As he lay dying and delirious, he told stories of a dragon so massive that its head rested above the clouds and its tail reached beyond the horizon. Enukas came from leagues around to hear the tales of his adventures and his fantastic descriptions of the colossal monster.

His many tales were carved into the scale in the simple script of the Enukan language to pass them on to generations of enukas.

To this day, those planning to travel into the mists seek the Red Fangs to view the scale and ponder the tales and descriptions. Scholars deliberate on the colorful language used and the complex metaphors rarely found in the Enuka’s tongue.

Nine-Fingers sniffed the air looking for a jungle boar. However, the scent he caught was different. There was something out of place in the slight breeze. From his perch high above the jungle floor, he tried to pinpoint its origin. He sniffed to his right and his left before settling on his right. His senses on edge, he leapt to another branch then another, approaching the source of that new smell.

Someone. Yes, someone. A human? It’s been months since a human came to these parts. There are no humans here. Yes, this was the smell of man. Man is trouble, better be prepared, Nine-Fingers thought to himself pulling out his obsidian-lined war club.

The Enuka swung through the thick jungle following his nose, ignoring the other scents. Nine-Fingers did not see the human until he was almost on top of him. The man was in the Atoyatli River, the creek-where-the-water-flows-black, caught in creeping vines where they reach into the river. If left alone, the vines would strangle the man before eating him.

Nine-Fingers used his war club to cut the vines and release the man. Sure, the vines fought back, but his mighty war cry and raw power allowed the Enuka to triumph easily. He roared his victory with a deep and powerful growl, before remembering why he was doing so.

Jumping into the shallow but swift black waters, he pulled the man out onto the shore. The man’s golden skin was covered in mud and festering wounds. Nine-Fingers washed the man’s face, revealing tattoos on his skin. Tattoos that moved. Tattoos of letters.

The Enuka jumped back pulling his obsidian-lined war club, cursing in surprise. He looked at his hands to make sure the magic had not spread to him. Satisfied they had not transferred to him he poked the man again with his club, grunting a greeting in the tongue of man. The man’s eyes opened with obvious effort, and he groaned. A raspy grunt exited his lips, forcing the enuka to come closer. Nine-Fingers’ eyes flew open in a mix of terror and awe, as he understood what the man said.

Sheathing his war club on his back, he grabbed the man under his left arm and quickly ascended the trees where he began swinging from branch to tree branch to vine towards his village. Moving as fast as an enuka ever moved through the thick jungles of the Wyldlands of Bal, Nine-Fingers could not wait to speak with the Elder. The elder, yes the elder would know what to do.

Nine-Fingers reached the edge of the clearing where the females grew rice and he howled his arrival. Immediately, a number of females approached him, war clubs in hand. He ordered them to get the Elder as he gently placed the man on his back. The females stared at the man Nine-Fingers rescued from the river.

Nine-Fingers refused to let them come too close, which only tickled their curiosity even more.

Finally, the elder arrived with one of the younger females. Ordering everyone back, the elder kneeled close to the still unconscious man for a closer examination. The moving letters intrigued him. They did not form words – at least any word that remained for very long. Looking up to the hunter, the elder grunted an inquiry about the man.

Nine-Fingers’ answer was simple and brought fear to every enuka in range.

"It’s the First Ones."

What do you think?


Sunday, February 10, 2013

More Fun with Vader

Yes. Vader knows.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Hero of Arcanis

I finally done a model in a suitable armor for my Arcanis character, Kermina Gallia val'Borda. I have yet to find a model of a roman woman in a legionnaire armor. Closest I got were the plastic Amazons. These are very nice models and I plan to use them for a variety of roles, not so much for making units and using them in battles, but to make vignettes and RPG characters. As is the case here...

Friday, February 8, 2013

StoneHaven Dwarves: Part 1

Last year, I took part in a Kickstarter for StoneHaven's dwarves. These dwarves are just awesome, their sculpts are full of characters and scream "build a character for me!!!" Here are the first group of them.

When I heard they were making another Kickstarter, this time for Gnome Adventurers I immediately threw a few buck their way! Check them out, their stuff is awesome!

Here are the ranger with boar on his back, the witch and the druid.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Super-secret NeoExodus project revealed. Really!!!

I know I try to keep publishing funny material - usually non-game specific, but when my buddy Neale sent this to me, I could not resist. It seems Neale finally discovered the secret book I've been working on...

Monday, February 4, 2013

[Rant] Fantasy Fiction and the Fiction-Writing Bug

For the past week or so, I have been bitten by the fiction bug. Something I never really felt before. At least not seriously... I mean I do have a novel or two partially written but never anything like this. During this time, I wrote a few fiction pieces, most of them not gaming related at all. I received some great comments about it from readers and might lead me to write some more. I have a few ideas I have been floating around I might just get into a Word doc.

I don't mind fiction or fantasy at all - I love reading Lovecraft (which I am reading right now - Thank you Santa!), Bradbury and Howard. But my first true love remains in historical classics: Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, and Frederic Soulier form my top 3. Though I would like to see if I could get my hands on some Balzac this year. Yes. You noticed these are all French authors from the Romantic period (roughly 1820-1860). It was a period of complex stories with strong characters put against a background of social upheaval (for the most part). The protagonists lead their lives and conduct their business and endeavors with the world around them acting as a barrier or an impetuous for action. Dumas' "Le Chevalier de Maison-Rouge" about the "Complot des oeillets" deals with a plot to smuggle Marie-Antoinette (last queen of France) out of her jail with the Terror as its background. Hugo's "Quatre-Vingt-Treize" (Ninety-Three) deals with the rise of Nationalism under the revolution also, with the wars of Vendée as a backdrop.


Now if you know me, and I'm vocal about this, I'm not into modern fantasy (as in, recently written fantasy). At all. It's predictable, overly simple characters and rarely have a plot that seriously makes sense. Perhaps the worse sin of modern fantasy writers in my opinion is this obsession with trilogies and endless series. That just drives me NUTS. Good stories rarely spin twelve volumes. Most of the trilogies I read would've made awesome single books, but have so much filler, like the characters describing the working of a loom, the twenty-five different type of mushroom, spanning from 1 to 5 pages make me lose interest, especially when it's barely relevant to the story.

We're not talking about a crime drama where the detectives are off on a red herring following a lead. No... This would be like watching CSI and they spent ten-minute period talking about the type of paints used in the motel when there really is no reason for it. "Mr Jones drowned in the tub, can you tell us of the different types of white you use in your rooms..."

As the exception to my own rule, last year, I bought at the auction, Kate Novak's Azure Bonds, a novel I've been meaning to buy and read for years... Every since I bought and (tried to) run the "Curse of the Azure Bonds" adventure (and played the Gold Box of the same name). This is a one novel story. When I was done, I wanted to know more about the characters, but the reason for them being together was done. They were free to move to other adventures - alone or together. I like that. I really enjoyed the story. It was quick, complex and well woven together. It made me think about getting a few more stand-alone novels...

Similarly, I read Elaine Cunningham's "Winter Witch" for Pathfinder which was interesting for the most part. I thought the ending was too contrived and short, that should've been an epic battle, but it felt so... So quick. We spend 250 pages building up this villain and we'll end it in 2. I found the story enjoyable for the most part, with a few things I would have liked to see differently, but wanting to see things done differently does not lessen my enjoyment of the book. I could be persuaded to buy another book with those characters... Though in reality I liked the villain more than the good guy...

One of my biggest peeves is when I feel the author is describing round-by-round combat, as though I was being told of his home game.

I guess publishers of fantasy novels are only interested in long stories that never end or that stagnate.

I must not be their target audience.


Sunday Funnies: Humor with Vader

Vader is such a funny guy.