JP On Gaming

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!