JP On Gaming

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Princesses Save Pemrose

So on Black Friday, I ran a new adventure called "Wine with a Succubus" where the players took on the roles of our iconic Princesses characters. The princesses are a collection of playable PC races inspired by the characters we all know. I took a screenshot of part of the action with our girls fighting goblins in the streets.

The pregens are pretty interesting when played, and running a group of them creates a fun dynamic.

I had originally planned to have a second game but I had cancellations... So I had to call it off. I will try to re-run it.

Princesses is available on the DM's Guild now. It is the product of a collaboration between myself and Ibsen Zayas who drew many of the characters.

A big thank you to most of my Friday night group: ActionMan, Ava, Kitty, and Tommy.

Friday, November 27, 2020

FOE BlackFriday/CyberMonday Sale!

FOE is having a big 20% off sale on most of our titles on both DriveThru RPG and the DM's Guild!

Check 'em out!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Feathers of Zariel Released on DM's Guild

I just released my first DiA product: two magic items gathered in a product called simply Feathers of Zariel. In there are the Feather of Zariel, and the Dark Feather.

You can get it on the DM's Guild. Feathers of Zariel by FOE.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

FOE Writing Update

A big update on all the major writing projects I am working on was published on the Patreon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

[After Action Report] Virtual GameholeCon 2020

This past weekend was filled with so much gaming that made it awesome. I attended Virtual Gameholecon (normally) out of Milwaukee.

This massive orgy of gaming started on Thursday night when I played in a Legend of the Five Rings home game. Now this was not part of the con program but it counted that way for me. More on that particular game in a different post...

Then Friday, I was scheduled to run two games: Akhamet in the morning and Rhym in the afternoon. I had only one player show up for the morning Akhamet game. It did not go off, but instead I played a tier 3 Adventure League game.

Friday night was my regular game with the kids, set in Rhym. The kids explored a dwarven complex that was not-quite fully abandonned as they sought the criminal known as the Weevil. They did not find her just yet but found a number of oddities within the dungeon...

Throughout Saturday, I played three more Adventure League games, finally getting my highest-level character to level 16! Only took around 4 years! Fun times. I also got to play the first season 10 epic and had a blast, aided by some terrible dice rolling on the part of the entire party!

Sunday morning was more Adventure League, this time with a new(ish) character exploring the frozen locations of the North. Pretty tough...

For the afternoon slot, I was scheduled to play the latest offering for Arcanis. After a little drama, the game started. A little late but we managed to get a group together. A fun group of regulars. Now the only downside was that we overran and I had to run for dinner. An interesting start to a new plotline I am curious where it will go.

Kudos to the Arcanis leadership for passing out a questionnaire about the likes/dislikes of the players. My own entry got some near-immediate follow-up questions from leadership. We'll see what, if any, changes are implemented based on that.

What did I ask for, you ask? "MORE PLAY OPPORTUNITIES" I make no secrets of that. Been saying it for a long time!

Positives

- Games with seats were easy to find

- Friendly Crowd, everyone was eager for some gaming.

- Got to play Adventure League at tiers 1,2, and 3! I almost never manage to play T3 stuff.

- Well-prepared GMs. I complained about this at quite a few other events, but not here. The GMs were all ready to go, knowledgeable and prepared to run their adventure.

Improvables

- Non-Adventure League attendance was low. My 3 events were cancelled from lack of attendance and from what I heard, many of the Arcanis tables went the same way. There were a few non-AL that seemed to be well-attended but they appeared to be local/ recurring events.

- The website is wonky, and takes some getting used to. There is a lot of clicking around to get what you want.

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed myself and will think about attending in the coming years. This would simplify it greatly if it remains online.

Fun times!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Curse of Strahd II: Griffon Hill Manor released on DM's Guild!

After months of writing and play-testing, I can finally publish Curse of Strahd II: Griffon Hill Manor, a sequel inspired but a complete revamping of the original Ravenloft II. The result is something that is much more runnable with 5th Edition and adds entire new segment.

When I first wrote it, I told my player "Bah, we'll be done in 2-4 sessions," but I was wrong. We played for 30+ hours! This is game where a GM gets to use all the tools of his craft. This is very much a sandbox with tools to respond depending on the actions of your players.

It was great to see the players scratch they heads but then discover things piece by piece, until it formed a mosaic around them. The British Shark did a LOT of new art pieces for this one, much in the same style as his pieces for Apple of a Mother's Eye and Real Housewives of Ravenloft

This one came together quickly, and was touched and retouched to perfection. I am very happy with the results of this one.

Get it now on the DM's Guild.

Want a free copy? Become a FOE Patron before Nov 1st.

Dreams of Dust now a Copper Best Seller!

Almost two years ago, I published this adventure on the DM's Guild based on a previously unreleased Pathfinder adventure that was first played at Gencon years ago. The port to 5th Edition came with a massive expansion, turning this from a four-hour adventure to something that takes many sessions to play through.

The adventure is one of horror - as all good Ravenloft adventures are, but it is a horror that is much different that the Gothic horror of Curse of Strahd.

I love mentionning this adventure to my players and see the fear and terror in their eyes. That curl of fear that appears on their lips. DEEEEEEElightful. All this without any signs of gore or anything too nasty. This is one of those horror that is terrifying because of the ramifications of what it entails, not because of the graphic nature of the plot, which is something that I like and am very proud of.

The new pieces of art Irene drew for this one are just great! Really dig them.

You know what... I just might run it for the kids... It will be awesome! Muhahahaha

Now just letting everyone know this adventure has just reached the Copper Best Seller list on the DM's Guild. I'm so happy.

Until Nov 2nd 2020, it is on sale for 25% off! Get it now!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

FOE at GameholeCon Nov 5-7

On November 5-7, I will be attending GameHoleCon online this year and I have three events on the tickets. Two for Akhamet and one for Rhym. These adventures were originally scheduled for Gencon but... Well... Things happened. So I plan on offering these adventures at other cons, building up to Gencon 2021...

I put info about the games and the time slots in which they are running. The time slots are links to GHC's site.

Legacies: The Half-Crazed Mummy Everything was fine until a half-insane mummy walked out of the desert. A 3rd-level 5th edition adventure set in the Egypt-inspired setting of Akhamet. Part of the Legacies Campaign.

- Friday 8am-1pm
- Sunday 8am-1pm

Legacies: Royal Scepter of Alarian A rich aristocrat wants a scepter no one heard about for centuries, surely it will be easy to find. A 3rd-level 5th edition adventure set in the Rhym Campaign Setting. Part of the Legacies Campaign.

- Friday 2pm-7pm

Friday, October 23, 2020

Beast of Tawaret Defeated By Prince Diogenes

Yesterday, the Peleset Ambassador, Prince Diogenes, supported by heroes of Akhamet defeated a massive sea serpent that destroyed many villages and even an armada sent against it.

Brave Prince Diogenes brought his foreigner knowledge to bear as he guided the heroes into the belly of the beast itself after destroying a cult of Tawaret the Destroyer.

The triumphal return of his band of brave heroes was met with celebrations across Khemaphis. The Church of Seth is quick to remind everyone that Prince Diogenes came to Akhamet under their guidance and that he has become a well-adapted member of society thanks to their guidance.

Thank you to Prince Diogenes and his cohorts!

PS: Congrats to Amenheti, Lam, Neferhana, Prince Rytek, and Sha'do for escorting Diogenes in his adventure

Thursday, October 22, 2020

[Kinda Book Review] X-Men Blue Vol 2

At the same time as I bought Young Inhumans, I picked up this X-men title with both excitement and apprehension. By now, you must know that I've been a fan of the X-men from the time I picked up a comic at summer camp. Great characters, great storyline. My apprehension came from the fact that modern comics are not my thing.

So the story picks up with an intro/recap of the situation (good). Captain America leads Hydra and USA, California is a land for Mutants controlled by Hellfire Club. A lot of eyeroll, but fine, I'm still in.

The Team is composed of the original X-men/X-Factor with some alternate Wolverine. They seem to be some type of reincarnation of the originals. Since I missed the first volume, I did not get their origins and there were very little to allow me to figure it out.

The new dynamic is as follows: Jean is the leader, the reliable and powerful one while the others dance around her. Unlike the doubt and angst-ridden girl that would turn into a flawed woman that would become the most powerful creature in the universe (Phoenix). She has no flaws and is tough, decisive, and precise at all times. Even later when she and Cyclops get a full mental merge, she can read all of Cyclops' mind but she can close hers off. Pretty Mary-Sue-ish. Bad character design.

Now Cyclops is relegate to being the boytoy of all the women in the story. Jean, the White Queen (Ex), Miss Sinister (Ex, when did he become a lingerie gal?), Goblin Queen. Jean calls him out on it "Which evil gal did you not get with?" which was a fun bit. Other and mental-joining Jean, he has no personal development.

Iceman's stick is that he's gay. And is very much a token character otherwise. He has little-to-no interesting development. Limited development. I like his power tweak where he does get some enlarge into a massive snow golem is cool.

Angel has fire wings, which is cool. Even tho I much prefered Angel's original thing. The Fire and Ice thing looks good but is not really used through the volume.

The one character who has an interesting storyline is Beast. He learns some magic and that is interesting, could be a longer story but it pays off as it gets into a big event.

The Wolverine-like guy is the least interesting and he takes away from the plot overall by really only adding a not-Wolverine-Wolverine guy.

Now the villains are so packed in this and their motivation is nebulous at best or overly simplistic and boring. I cannot decide which. Those villains were the best part of the X-men. Magneto. The Hellfire Club. The Goblin Queen. They had motivation that were easy to understand and that were relatable. They appear here but most of them are just bad reflections of these originals. It's like the writer wants all the villains to be mysterious and unknown so they all just come about doing random things "because they are bad."

Sooooooo. To come to a rating... The story/character development is a 2 or 3 due to the holes and nebulousness of some of the villains' goal but the action scenes are cool. The art is a solid 4: the characters are well-drawn and the action is clear and enjoyable. That said, I will settle on a strong 3/5. I expected to rate this much like Young Inhumans but this was a much better story. Heck, there were things happening that weren't just someone being a b*tch.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

[Kinda Book Review] Young Inhumans 1-12

A few weeks ago, I went to Z's Comic Lair, my FLGS. I had a stash of old trade books I wanted to sell. I sold them and took a bunch of new ones in exchange. One of these books was "Young Inhumans".

I always liked the Inhumans, dating back to the early days of the Fantastic Four where Medusa and Crystal replaced the blander Invisible Girl. I expected a tale involving them or Black Bolt. But no. Young Inhumans is about a group of Inhumans chosen to come to Earth as part of an exchange program. So they go to the University of Wisconsin.

The premise is as flimsy as the story itself. Once they get there, they are the target of unrealistic random racism reminiscient of the 1950s. With characters that border between interesting and boring. The pace is so slow that effectively nothing happens most issues. I can sum it up here: They get chosen, Nahrees is a bitch, Plant-guy is "dark and mysterious" Oh and he's played by Tom Huddlestone, Alaris is manic-happy, San is present.

I mean, what you have is a collection of scenes that rarely build up to much more than eye-rolling.

The Villain? Racism. What do they do against it? Nothing. Some characters get love interest as bland and predictable as the premise. Oh yeah. There is the "villain" who is this black industrialist (Sam L Jackson) who is "really not evil."

Nothing happens. No villains face them. Characters without development. They accomplish nothing in twelve issues. Slow-ass pace that lead nowhere. No wonder why I dislike most modern comics.

Even Medusa's cameos do not help the story. She just appears as a "strict mom who won't tell you what to do but criticize when you don't do it."

The rating would be an easy 1/5 but the art is pretty good, so I will give it a 2/5. Nothing to see here, folks. Just move along. There is more story, and a more compelling one with character evolution and development, in a 1980s Ron Jeremy film.

Monday, October 12, 2020

FOE Patreon: Free Adventure for All Patron Lord and Above

As a special gift this month all Patrons level Lord and above will receive a copy of Curse of Strahd II: Griffon Hill Manor. This adventure clocks in at 120 pages!

It features new art for this adventure drawn by the British Shark. This is a complete retelling of the Classic Ravenloft II adventure.

Perhaps the most ambitious FOE adventure yet! This is a huge one full of surprises that completes and expand upon the Ravenloft lore.

You can check this post on the FOE Patreon

Adventure Creation 101 Friday Oct 16th

This Friday evening, I will be running a short seminar with the kids of my Friday group. However, if a few starter GMs want to join, I would be fine with a few join in.

The event will run from 18:30-21h CDT on Friday night using Skype.

We will go over the basics of writing/ preparing your own adventures. From the original idea to the production. We will cover encounter creation, overall adventure creation, polishing, and running.

The theme will be Halloween monsters. I asked everyone to think of a monster typically associated with Halloween. This can be skeletons, ghouls, vampires, witches, whatever, anything you want.

Next preparatory step: think of a short way to use the monster in an adventure in a few sentences.

The vampire lives in a dark castle and feeds on maiden from the village

Bring a few pieces of scrap paper, a pen/pencil/sharpie and your ideas.

If you are interested, contact me directly through email, Facebook, one of the many ways in the internet.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

"Stealth Missions" are not all about Stealth!

I was lurking on Reddit about how to run "Stealth" adventure. He was thinking ofrunning a game in the style of Assassin's Creed: mostly moving around, avoiding detection, and fighting the least amount possible.

I thought this was worth cross-posting here. This is the answer I wrote:


The thing about "stealth missions" and how to run them successfully and in an interesting way, is to NOT be "just about Stealth". True, the goal is to not be detected but unlike in computer games where you just have to move from mob to mob and hide, TTRPG require "more".

This include:

- Using Deception to disguise yourself as guards or servants
- Find out what a password is
- Prevent the enemy from raising the alarm
- Climb around obstacles/well-guarded areas
- Parcour

Notice that I avoided to give specific checks because the players may have a variety of spells/ feats/ abilities to mitigate the challenge. Spells like alter self, disguise self, invisibility, spider climb, or even sleep may be used. And those are just BEFORE the action.

There is something to be said for Before the action: obtain duplicate of keys, passwords, outfits, and plans.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Rahadin becomes latest FOE Copper Best-Seller!

Rahadin, Dread Knight of Ravenloft is the latest FOE product to reach best seller level. This idea of mine as an avenue for expansion of Ravenloft for this character who terrorized my players more than Strahd did I think. They pitied and understood Strahd but he repulsed and disgusted them. They feared his emotionless and flawlessly calm demeanor and had planned to send every remaining dusk elves against him.

A good idea that did not play out that way, but a good idea nonetheless.

Big Thanks to the British Shark for his drawings of the murderous dusk elf. (Yes, there is another piece of art inside...)

It is currently available on the DM's Guild.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

[Kinda Book Report] Showcase Green Lantern Vol 2

Another omnibus from DC comics, this time Green Lantern Vol 2. Following my previous reading and review of volume 1, I was interested in reading more about early GL.

I must say that the schemes in this second one are not as good as the previous one. There were one or two new villains that had interest, I think of Evil Star. We see some Sinestro, Purple Sapphire, and Eduard Hammond (the paraplegic super mind-master), the Guardians take an active role in a few stories. The rest were against random minor criminals who would be underpowered fighting Robin and very meh.

As you can guess, this volume was not as interesting as its predecessor but I still found myself enjoying it throughout. Very "episode of the week" like a TV show or a cartoon. I read this slowly before talking naps, and the lightness of the material really hit the nail on the head. It helped me relax and fall asleep.

So I thought about how I would rate this one and I settled on a 2.5 out of 5, which rounds up to 3/5. Its predecessor was strong 3, this one is a weak 3. Yeah, that seem appropriate.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Le Troisieme Testament - First Part Review

Since I learned earlier this year that a new series for "Le Troisieme Testament", I bought all five albums and have just been trying to pace myself to make this delight go on and on and on. I remember when I bought the first, then second, then third and forth installment of this series. Wow. I loved it. The clues are there all along but they are well-hidden in the fast-paced story.

A story that is well-paced yet gives the impression of going at breakneck speed but the characters have plenty of time for some internal character development. This development happens particularly on the main character of the story, Elizabeth d'Elsenor, a orphaned raised by the Bishop of Paris. She goes from being something of a damsel in distress to a competent person who understands that the events of the series will never be known by the world at large, that they will be swallowed and hidden by other narratives.

I really did this sort of historical fiction where were are told stories contiguous to major events. And the supernatural is there, or maybe there, and can easily be denied or explained away.

Le Troisieme Testament does that masterfully. Who is the bad guy is and remains difficult to ascertain.

Tie-in biblical events with the Grand Inquisitor Conrad de Marbourgh (who was stripped or all his inquisitorial powers for accusing an elector of the Holy Roman Empire), the knight templar, tongue-less monks, money-hungry mercenaries, a secret occult branch of the Church, with odd raven-like knights. This story goes across Europe: Bohemia, France, Scotland, Spain, Viking lands, each land beautifully illustrated. Their involvement includes elements of that country.

The final denouement comes as a shock every time I read it. Every. Time. There is a feeling of solemnity and "OH CRAP" at the same time.

In case you want to know, they avert the Apocalypse atop a mountain lost somewhere. And everything makes sense for it.

Like The Ninth Gate movie, we are presented with a philosophical question whose answer is more difficult than it initially appears:

Yes. You start seeing... there may be a Third Testament, one after the New Testament... So the story says.

So this is a review of a re-read of this tale. You will no doubt guess my rating.
- Tome 1: Marc ou le réveil du Lion The series starts with a bang 5/5.
- Tome 2: Matthieu ou le visage de l'ange The action slows down here, and the mystery expands to near-confusing point. 4/5
- Tome 3: Luc ou le souffle du taureau Here we (think we) start to understand what is happening and the pace speeds up. 5/5
- Tome 4: Jean ou le jour du corbeau For parts of this tome, the story is a little confused. But the art just carried this to the final few pages where you jaw dropped and everything suddenly makes sense with a simple "I was wrong about everything".

Giving the whole series a 5/5 is one of the easiest scores I've had to give in all my reviews.

[Review] Pathfinder v2 thoughts

Back on Black Friday (Nov 29th), my good friend Florent ran an intro game of Pathfinder version 2 (PF2) for the kids and I. I was excited and intrigued about the game as I received a LOT of varying feedback. Feedback that spanned the spectrum from "good" to "worse thing ever". I tried to step back and just focus on my own experience.

The adventure he ran was one of the Pathfinder Society v2 intros. It was fine as an introduction and showcased the system which was what I was most interested in. PF2 will not change my thoughts on Golarion (I dislike it). However, would I spend time investing in this game as a publisher to publish material for it.

I have little to say about the adventure itself.

Now my thoughts on the system.

Good

The action economy system is simple, clean and after a few rounds, it flows well.

I got to play with my kids and my friends Flo & Flo.

Improvable

I am not sold on this "origins" thing. I expect there are two or three that are so good you must take them and hundreds of other ones.

Your level is everything Attack, saves, skills, and even Armor Class. I hated that about 4th Edition. As we discussed about it, telling a story becomes level-specific. I think 5e did it right here: that number is limited.

Here is the example: Your campaign starts with the PCs fighting orcs. These orcs are tough. Then you get a few levels and those same orcs must either: level-up or become meaningless after two or three levels. So when the game reaches level 10, the party only faces against orc generals, the average mook could take on an entire city.

In contrast, in 5th edition, you can send the same basic orc against the PCs. True, the orcs will not be much of a threat to the PCs, but in mob, they will soak a few attack and may force the PCs to expend a few resources.

Verdict

I will put this down as "fine". 3/5. Like Starfinder, I do not see this game taking over the landscape. People who still play Pathfinder nearly all went back to PF1 and dropped PF2. People who currently play 5e or other games seem to have no interest in it.

Paizo has their fans and PF2 will keep them relevant for a few more years but I see them fading from the forefront. They will remain a major name in RPGs. Someone I spoke to about it used a phrase I thought was appropriate. "There is nothing new here that is not available elsewhere." True, if you don't like or care about Golarion... Then what will bring you here?

What should they have done? I don't know. If I did, I would be rich and selling my own book.

The biggest question that lingers: Would I play Pathfinder 2 again? I am not closed to the idea, yes. Yes I would though I would not go out of my way to run this, especially if I can play other systems that do the same thing.

I could even see FOE creating PF2 products.

Monday, September 7, 2020

DragonCon 2020: After Action Report

So for the second time, I attended DragonCon this past Labor Day weekend. Now my regular job would not allow me to do so but this year was a clear exception because the College Football season does not have a full-time kick-off this weekend, just a few games. In case you do not know I work in college sports for 247 Sports.

Now I was reminded of the event through a rather odd way. I received an email from the organizer who reminded me how to log into my account to be ready to run games. I suddenly panicked. I did not recall offering any games there!

Turns out I did not, so it was good.

I looked at the list of game offerings and settled for a few Adventure League modules. Though there were not many different adventures, there were enough for me to play a variety of characters, of every tier. I played 2 adventures with Igor (my 10th-level servant of Strahd), 1 with Israel Hands (4th level pirate), and 1 with Corfell (my 13th level cleric who I only play once every 6 months... So I never level him up to 17th...)

The GMs were well-prepared and ran tight games I really tought were high-quality events. This is something I think builds community. What I call the game experience. It's not that you just win. I did voice my disagreement with one decision to call it because things got really bad and we were on the fast-track to a quick death. Well that's why we have boons and rewards, and bonuses. Wussing out when thing get tough does annoy me, but fine.

I left my Sunday game with a positive vibe about it and really give a big kudos to the AL people.

So thanks to my GMs: Brett, Krishna, and Rebecca, who GM'd for me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Great Idea, Amazon!

This morning, Amazon sent me a recommendation for a product I might like.

They were right, I love that product!

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Akhamet Player's Guide Released

After many months of writing, refining, and reviewing, it is with great pride that I announce the release of the Akhamet Player's Guide, the second book for the setting.

ActionMan has been reading the book from cover to cover and he's been really been enjoying it and learning a lot of new things.

The book includes and expands on the following:
- Expands on the Akhameti Pantheon by adding four new deities, from the beautiful Hathor, to Thoth the scribe, to the vengeful snake-headed Meretseger.
- Ten new races, including the cow-headed Hathorians, to the vulture-headed Nefru and living mummies!
- Six new class options, from the hoplite fighter to the divine agent rogue, to the divine sorcerer.
- New backgrounds including the fake priest, the former cultist, the prophet, or the palace brat.
- New feats, equipment, and magic items.
- Learn about Akhameti society, new cities, and locations.
- Explore the universe of the lands beyond Akhamet, the lands beyond death.
- Discover the ancient states and kingdoms that existed within Akhamet and the lasting impression they left behind.

The book is available right now through DriveThru RPG.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Apple of a Mother's Eye reached Copper Best-seller!

It took a little more time than I wanted it to, but earlier this week, Apple of a Mother's Eye reached the first threshold into eternal posterity... It reached the level of a Copper Best seller on the DM's Guild.

That adventure was written on the heels of Real Housewives of Ravenloft as an expansion of Curse of Strahd and from talking to the players, was one of the highlights of the campaign. It provided insight into the many NPCs and their backstory. You know how experiencing something gives you insight and perspective.

The adventure is available on the DM's Guild.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Treasures of Ravenloft released on the DM's Guild

As I was running Curse of Strahd this past year, one thing I created was a list of magic items. Why? Because nothing annoys me more than to have to stop the flow of the game to pull out the DMG and then read out loud the powers of an item.

That annoys me. Breaks the flow. Breaks immersion in the game.

One thing Call of Cthulhu taught me was the importance of putting things in the hands of the players: something tangible they can use a reference.

And in D&D, magic items are important. Getting a "Vine Axe" is more interesting than a +1 axe the deals extra damage to plants... It allows the player to read the item and understand it, refer to it, and reveal to the others as much or as little as he wants. Helps the game by adding mystery.

This new product is available now on the DM's Guild. Pay-what-you-want for it.

I also added it to the FOE Ravenloft Bundle.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Kinda Book Report: Legion of the Super-Heroes Vol.1

Many times, LPJ and I would talk about these guys. To me, the Legion of the Super-Heroes is just a gathering of the randomess, dumbest super-heroes. Whatever idea of the week ended up in there. Too many characters to have any kind of personality. A legion of them, litterally.

Half the stories deal with people they reject because of their dumb powers, and why they either turn into villains wanting revenge or joining the Legion of Substitute Heroes. As if there weren't enough characters already! Now surprisingly because of their really dumb flaws, the substitute heroes have some personality and are more interesting than the perfect super-heroes.

This book presents the origin of the Legion. These characters did not have their own titles but were taken from the pages of Superboy or Supergirl comics. The "modern-day" character would fly so fast that he or she would travel through time to the future... a similar trick to the Superman movie.

Now these are DC stories from 1960-1964 where wrote simple stories without any thought: the villains were evil because... well because. There were little-to-nothing in the way of foreshadowing the villains. Very bad-guy of the week with bland cardboard characters. The alien monster all look the same: some type of dragon/ crocodile/ dinosaur mix and look more silly than dangerous.

The Legion has a constitution that is used to bullshit reject or expel people from their ranks, to at least limit the number of members. I mean they are just the worse, most elitist jerks in superhero-dom ever.

One thing I did enjoy is that there is a meta-plot involving a barrier in time, which they frequently allude to in the latest issues. I do like this thread but the resolution did not happen as part of this omnibus.

To review this... Well the art is good - at least on-par with other comics of that era, which is a style I enjoy. However, the stories were mostly weak and without much wonder or interest, happening to characters without interest or personality.

So a rating? 2/5. I don't think I would read another omnibus set during that era. I WOULD be willing to read some later omnibus in the series, perhaps from the 70s when DC abandoned these types of stories.

In the end, I can tell LPJ that my original assessment of this series was right.

Gencon Online: After Action Report

Well as you all know, Gencon Indy did not happen this year. I had originally planned on running a smaller local event here (FOEcon) but I had to call that off. There was Gencon Online... I thought about it but in the end elected not to participate by running events. Maybe I should have, but I managed to get a lot good things done instead...

Normally I would tell you a tale of a trip and of the perils and experiences of the road. Of the Speedway coffee I'd get in Bowling Green or Lebanon (both KY). But no. There was to road trip with Will or Ryan as had been originally planned...

This year on the Wednesday, I got a teeth pulled (the whole crown popped off while I was GMing live a week before). Surgery it was! I survived but slept through the day enjoying the Maury show.

Thursday, I planned on taking off and find some game to play. However, work needed me so I coded and reviewed all day and finished work around 5pm. A short dinner later, at 6pm I was at my Heroes of Rokugan table. Well truth be told, that table was not part of Gencon. Let's say it was an impromptu planned game! Yeah go with that. Enjoyable, and another opportunity to play Haruhime, a character that I am really digging.

Friday, I had a ticket to play the newest Arcanis adventure by Cody Bergman. I must say that of the Arcanis authors, Cody writes the adventures I find the most fun to play. They are not key to the "main plot" but from a gaming aspect (what I call in French, scenaristique - the science of scenarios) they usually deliver. This one did. In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I will say that his adventure went back to the Blessed Lands book and pulls material directly out of there, crafting a story with NPCs from there. I dug that.

Another point of interest was that I got to play with my in-game husband, Sestius Ovidius val'Mehan aka Comma played by Tom-C. He and I have been playing Arcanis together for years. We rarely play together but when we do, it's always awesome, like, super!

I could not find anything I wanted to play for the next while so I watched TV most of the day.

On Friday evenings, I run a D&D game for my kids and the neighbors so I ran that as they ransacked through my sahuagin temple looking for loot and plunder. I mean, it was pretty much a fight the whole time as they took down the sahuagin priestess and her entourage. It got dicy for them but they pulled out.

Saturday evening, after talking to Florent and Florence during their stay here at the Dublin House, I got a ticket in a Starfinder game. While I'm still not a HUGE fan, it is "okay". I will say the GM I had (Cory) mastered the system and was really on-point with both the rules and the scenario, which made things roll much smoother. The game was enjoyable though a few places the plot dragged on a little. I think everyone had fun and there was an interesting mix of colorful characters and cardboard PCs to keep my interest.

2$ well-spent.

Throughout the weekend, I kept looking at the Heroes of Rokugan tables as my ticket was on Sunday morning and my table not filled... Always a worrisome sight for Sunday morning.

When I rolled out of bed WAY too early (giving me time to play with some ideas on Olympia), I hoped the game would happen. Turns out, we had four players, to old hands and two new players (one was completely new and the other had only played a different edition). This adventure turned out to be a play-within-a-play situation and was a marked departure from the usually serious and dour scenarios that make Rokugan so enticing.

The adventure over, I looked at a few other offerings but did not find anything that drew my eye.

The trip home took my rear end from the chair to the couch and a well-deserved nap! Prepare

I have been thinking of participating at the next Gencon Online if/when it happens and put together a FOE program. Offer one or two adventures... Ah well live and learn.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Akhamet Player's Guide going to the printer...

After working and re-working the manuscript for months now - what to say... I'm a tweaker! I finally posted the final cover on the FOE Patreon. Patrons get access to a lot of early details on the book such as art, new races, new class options, and whatever I complete.

I also have a few occasional recorded chats about some of the design topics and interesting aspects with many of the regular FOE GMs and

The next project will be the Olympia Campaign Setting, a setting inspired by Ancient Greece! There is already a LOT of art getting posted and some additional details. Check out the FOE Patreon for full details.

Friday, July 24, 2020

FOE Christmas in July sale

In case, like me, you are living in a hole in the ground furiously typing away your summer, you may have (almost) missed the DM's Guild and DriveThruRPG's Christmas in July sale! Every FOE product is 25% off.

Check out our Ravenloft material at the DM's Guild .

Or our classic adventure settings and support material, such as Akhamet, Gostor, Rhym, or Saggakar on DriveThru RPG

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Something to break this block...

I've been affected by writers' block lately and not producing as much as I think I should produce. There are a few reasons for this, not the least of which is being almost entirely homebound and some changes at the day-job. I have just not been as inspired as I would've liked...

To change that, I submitted an adventure idea for the Heroes of Rokugan campaign. See what they think.

I will let you know.

Prompting me to write this is that I am starting a new fiction series on my blog that features Samurai and L5R character of my own creation. Check out the new Fiction on the FOE Patreon.

The illustration is by Irene of my own character, Matsu Haruhime (née Doji)

Friday, July 10, 2020

Real Housewives Now Electrum BestSeller!

Wow. Big news! I only dreamed the Real Housewives would do that good on the DM's Guild. It is now an Electrum BestSeller! This makes it the top-selling FOE product of all time.

What will I do to celebrate? Well I have more products in the works!

A big thank you to everyone who supports and backs many of my crazy ideas.

Another big thanks to the BritishShark whose art really made this book pop and to James (check out his awesome Patreon for scenes out of Ravenloft and other of the hardback adventure books).

If you don't have your copy yet... Get access to the most drama ever in Real Housewives of Ravenloft!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

FOE's Ravenloft Bundle on the DM's Guild

A few days ago, I ways asked for a list of Ravenloft products by FOE. I scrounged up a list of every Ravenloft FOE product and sent that person (shout-out to you, Jim-S!) the list.

It gnawed at me that I did not have one place I could send people to get our Curse of Strahd products, such as the bestselling Real Housewives of Ravenloft, Dark Gifts of Ravenloft, and some other great titles (almost bestseller) such as Rahadin Dread Knight of Ravenloft, and Dreams of Dust

For those of you who already have SOME of those titles, this is an opportunity to complete your collection at about 66% (not quite because I like nice numbers). If you already bought SOME of the titles, I believe the DM's Guild credits you that cost against other titles.

So here it is, the FOE Ravenloft Product Bundle.

What to tell us what you want to see from us going forward? Our Patreon is a great way to do so. Check it out.

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.