JP On Gaming

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

[Kinda Book Report] X-Men vs Avengers/Fantastic Four

Another book I drew from the bargain bin. This trade book includes the X-Men vs Avengers and X-Men vs Fantastic Four (FF) along with the issue where the two groups first meet. The oddest thing is that the more modern series is FOLLOWED by the first meeting, when it seems the other way around would be more natural.

The Fantastic Four vs the X-Men series comes first. Here we have Reed Richards having a personal battle with his demons, doubting himself and his capacities are he is challenged by the X-Men to find a way to save Kitty Pride who is phasing away following the mutant massacre (a cross-over event I really loved at the time when I began secondary school). After Richards refuses to help, the X-Men turn to the next brightest mind: Doctor Doom.

This is Chris Claremont at his best. Everyone of the characters gets to shine here. Reed Richards' crisis is not trivial and understandable. His relation with Sue and Franklin are strained. On the X-Men side, they have to deal with internal conflicts, their alliance with Magneto and working dealing with the coma of both Colossus and Nightcrawler, and Kitty Pryde's condition. They come of as very stressed and some of their decisions are rash but not foolish. The two teams clash multiple times but the pace and story keep moving on.

Easy 4/5 with re-readability.

Next we have Fantastic Four #28 where the X-Men are sent to kill the FF because the Puppet Master took control of Professor Xavier. This is a classic early hero vs hero issue serving as a way to expose FF fans to the X-Men. It's serviceable yet it's greatest value is its nostalgia of seeing these early X-Men before they became the accomplished characters Claremont later gave us.

4/5 (rounded up from 3.5) with good re-readability.

The third series are X-Men vs. the Avengers. The line-up of both teams is one I'm familiar with and timewise happened before the FFvXM series. Here, we have Magneto recently turned good guy with the Avengers trying to arrest him, the X-men protecting him, and the Soviet Super-Soldiers (SSS) trying to kill him for his crimes.

After fighting on and off for three issues, the two teams eventually join forces while SSS exit because the Crimson Dynamo manipulated them to go after Magneto. It's a little wonky, but works. I must say that I really like how Captain America, Captain Marvel, and Doctor Druid (who they are really trying to push) are pivotal to the plot.

The final issue has Magneto put on trial for his crimes. In the end, he is found innocent which only seems to fuel more anti-mutant sentiment. In a way, it's a very bittersweet ending, yes he is released but things are not going better.

The biggest downside I have with this is that there is a LOT going on, as does not feel as refined as the FFvXM. Still the final issue is absolutely reveting as Magneto tries to find if one of the judge is crooked and whether he should influence the judges. It really add gravitas and keeps his character intact: he may have decided to reform but he's not suddenly a goodie-two-shoes. He is still willing to do some underhanded actions. Claremont knows Magneto and this series advances him and the X-Men.

4/5 with high re-readability (5/5 on issue #4).

The final issue is X-Men #9 when the X-Men first meet the Avengers. Again the hero vs hero formula, though this time the X-men are going to deal with a problem when the Avengers show up and effectively tell these kids to stay out of the way. After beating up the X-Men, the Avengers decide to leave when Professor Xavier tells them he needs the X-men.

The villain is creative if his name (Lucifer) is not. He has a nuclear device that will destroy America if he is damaged. The Professor and Cyclops finally disable the device.

This is the weakest of the stories in this book, and my rating may be biased from nostalgia but I'll go with a 3/5 with some re-readability.

Overall, this book rates a solid 4/5 with the biggest issue I have with it is the odd order the issues are in the book. I would've preferrred a chronological presentation with FF 28, X-Men 9, X-Men v Avengers, and finally FFvXM.

Monday, November 29, 2021

[Review] Doctor Who Flux: Survivors of the Flux

As the season keeps crashing down, I keep watching this ever-growin trainwreck of a season, we continue fitting a house boat, a car, and all the garden tools we can on this 10 square feet shed and wondering why things aren't going well.

So the lead-in at the end of the previous episode with the Doctor turning into an angel turns out to just fizzle out. ANOTHER let-down. So in turn, we got nothing new about the angels, nothing interesting.

Most of the episode were a series of monologues where the NPCs speak with the Doctor about their masterplan. Again, Dan and Jericho (another NPC we keep from Village of the Angels) are the only people who have normal reaction. Dead fish Yaz is never affected, surprised, curious, or scared by anything, so she's a waste of screen time.

Add to that Dog-Guy, Cute-Asian, Kinda-Black-Dude, and the blue guy and gal.

The joke-pushing Himalayan hermit was just... BAD. He's making modern-day jokes about gossip. I mean does Chibnall have any concept of time travel or how long paint stays on the group if untended? Nope. When you are trying to set the tone for something catastrophic slapstick and Disney-Channel humor does not help.

Did I forget the many scenes with some other villain we never heard of before. And Kate Stewart, whom I was happy to see whose appearance had gravitas.

Oh yeah, half that time, we get back to the Timeless Children person and keep trying to showhorn that arc into the overall story. To be honest, I expect that to be retconned or simply abandonned later.

So this over-plot is just bad. A mega conspiracy that includes everyone that only the Doctor does not know about. Oh wait, her memories are locked away. Pffff... Everything about this is just BAD.

I cannot wait for the season to end and Flux gets forgotten. This is another episode that should be 2 or 3 and that does not want to drop any character for any reason, or allow the Doctor to experience and discover what is happening and piece together for us in a Sherlock Holmes-like fashion. Instead she looks confused with her upper lip curled as if someone farted on set (that is also Yaz' usual face).

The only survivors of the flux are us, and after watching this, I'm not sure if I don't want to just disappear in it.

1/5 with no care for a rewatch.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

[Review] Doctor Who Flux: Village of the Angels

After an episode that I rather enjoyed the previous week, we now jumped into "Village of the Angels". Now, I will say a few things... I think the angels are overdone and have little interesting that can be added to them and their mythology. Well... At the same time, they have not been a direct enemy of a story for year (though they were mentioned or shown briefly throughout this season).

So although I thought I suffered from Angel fatigue, I really dug the idea of them coming back.

So here we get a story of a crazy village in 1967 and 1905 with a missing girl. The story is convoluted, with the angels sending the NPCs to the past. Again, the only person who has human reactions is Dan. Yaz is still a dead fish, and when we find the young girl, she is even calmer and more stoic than a cyberman.

So the girl's family are mere caricatures: neither of the two old people have any redeeming quality about them: they are bad to the girl, they don't really care what happens to her. Then later when they get killed by the angel, we should care? No. No, we don't. If they have been sourly, disciplinarians, and even annoyed that she misbehaved, they might've garnered some sympathy or even a reaction from the cyberman-girl. No one cared but Dan and Yaz (whose eyebrows lifted).

The Doctor now has psychic powers she can use like Spock, and it just gets too much. Why not give those to a companion and give them something more to do. Pfff.

The big reveal at the end, that the angels are minions for a yet-defined group. This feels like a conspiracy that wants to be the Pandorica but less interesting and with too many people sharing the screen.

Again, Cute-Generic-Asian-Girl appears. Just stop. Focus on the essential. Drop Yaz.

All right, after some initial interest and curiosity, that quickly dropped as the story unfolded and I just felt like someone wanted to give me twelve thread at the same time thinking they are all equally important and interesting. But they are not.

So my score? 2/5 with no re-watch. I could not wait for the end of the episode. I dread the ultimate reveal will not be worth the wait.

This one sucked but differently that the previous episodes of this season, while still having too many characters.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

[Review] Doctor Who Flux: Once, Upon Time

Well, it had to come. The 3rd episode of Doctor Who Flux came by. and this episode, Once, Upon Time. After the previous episode left me with positive thoughts about the possible direction for the show, now we go into a confused mess of scenes and subplots that are boring and simply uninteresting.

Eye rolling occured frequently throughout.

Again, the episode is filled with too many people with too little to say or do while trying to do too many things all at once. Like a "Buddy Cop Sci-Fi Time Travel Historically-Accurate RomCom with nod to 70s and 90s Horror." You understand that it is just too much to create something interesting.

Except Yaz who looks as interested as I am in eating a bowl of tofu with no seasoning, no sauce, and no way to hide that I'm eating Play-Doh. That girl just phones it in. She has the emotions of a dead fish and the only sequence involving her where she makes a difficult decision is done off-screen. I'm thinking that may be because seeing her act through the

Compared to Whitaker's attempt are coming across as interested or that she understands what's going on (she does not). I'll git it to her that she tries but the material is a confused mess of guh. Again we have Jo Martin (who unlike Whitaker understands what she's trying to do and comes off as a competent character).

Again Dan is the one character who would be interesting in developing but he's drowned in the noise and pointless side-stories of the the useless characters.

Now we have extra black-guy with a subplot to join cute-traveling-asian-girl-with-tamaguchi. I just do not care for these random characters.

CUT OUT THE EXTRAS. Explore these characters with us AND the Doctor, not in an ensemble cast, which Chibnall is incapable of writing and giving us a coherent story. It was as if you had so many random ideas and you flattened them all together... Pfff.

For a score, I will give this ADHD-filled delusion of an episode a 1.5/5, which rounds out to 2/5. A little strong, I think. A clear "NO" on the rewatch.

Monday, November 15, 2021

[Review] Doctor Who Flux: War of the Sontarans

Time for the second episode of the Doctor Who Flux, and an opportunity to see where this plot is going. So let's get into it.

The story begins interestingly enough with the Doctor, Dan and Yaz all appearing in the Crimea (1854-55). And meeting Mary Seacole who is the only level-headed person here.

One of the things this episode really excited me was the return of the Sontarans. Not the bumbling comedy Moffitt gave us. I like the Sontarans and their over-the-top militaristic tough guys approach to everything. It is funny but at the same time terrifying that people may actually think that way. A good point for the villains!

Now what most people remember of the Crimean War is NOT Mary Seacole, but the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade. No reference to it here. Not a word.

All the man are bumbling fools who do random things without concern with repercussions. Pffff... I am so tired of these predictable plots where token characters can be described as "dumb old white guy," or "tough calm intelligent black woman." Lazy writing. To give you an idea, the episode did not spend any time telling us who Mary Seacole is, what she accomplished, why she is important. Nope. You, dumb viewer, SHOULD know who she is. No. Tell me. Use this in the story.

But no. we just get the same preachy bullcrap where the woman is right, good, and intelligent while the officer is completely idiotic, listening to no advice or intelligence from anyone.

Now after a trip to Wikipedia informed and now I'm actually even MORE disappointed in how she was used in the story. Rather than have the Doctor ask her to catalog and merely look at the Sontarans, have the diary. In case you did not know, she kept an extensive diary complete with illustrations that was turned into an autobiography.

I will say that at the end, when the Sontaran ships exploded and the officer claimed the credit for it, I cheered. "By Jove, you saved your world!" Then the Doctor chewed him out and I just wanted her to STFU. Instead of just displacing TIME-TRAVELLING SHIPS, he destroyed them.

Yes. Destroying TIME-TRAVELLING SHIPS is the only way to ensure they won't come back (in time) and take you over.

Good work, Dumb Old White Guy!

Dan on the other hand, gets an interesting subplot where he travels to modern-day Liverpool where the Sontarans are building time ships. He does some sneaking around. All the while trying to convince himself that this is crazy. You know, a real person's reaction. He is truly the high point.

Yaz is a talentless actress without any range of emotion who always looks confused or disdainful. Don't care about her. Yaz is just surplus at this point. She adds nothing, has no meaningful arc and will not evolve, change, or mature before the camera. She is "tough cop Indian woman".

I love the fact the his aging parents are the ones who teach him how to take down the Sontarans. It is just so funny. I really like Dan and what little we have seen of his girlfriend, family, and subplot overall so far. A high point.

The space-guy Vinder is window-dressing. Just someone else to steal away screen time. He's "fine" but really provides nothing of interest.

So despite all my moaning and griping about what I did not like about it. This episode is actually pretty decent and fun. The pacing is good, the side-stories advance the overall plot. We learn more about Dan. I will definitely rate this one a re-watchable 3/5.

"By Jove, you saved your world!"

Monday, November 8, 2021

[Review] Doctor Who Flux: Halloween Apocalypse

Okay so I decided I would watch and review Doctor Who's thirteenth season called "Doctor Who Flux." I giggled when I saw the name but Flux can mean diarrhea in French. So let's see if this proved to be prophetic.

Quite frankly, the episode, call "The Halloween Apocalypse" opens on a bad CGI scene where the Doctor and Yaz are hanging from a flying thingy. It is pretty obvious neither actress cared for the situation because they both looked bored, jaded, and unimpressed. And no surprise, they escape through some shenanigans that left me unimpressed and bored.

The rest of the show goes at a break-neck speed introducing villains we should be afraid in spite of us not known who they were. Truth be told, I got the impression that I was watching the introduction to a long movie.

Highlights: John Bishop is a breath of fresh air. He comes across as genuine, for his reactions are "normal" as he is curious, worried, afraid, intrigued, and his thick accent is just fun and interesting. In just a few scenes, he comes out as fleshed out and interesting. He's "one of the lads" and a Liverpool boy through and through.

- The Dog People. I think the basic idea of their relation to mankind was a really funny trick and I'll admit that I smiled at that reveal.

Low-Points: Well... Let

- In an effort to present Mandip Gill as a rough and tough character, she comes across as a jaded, uninterested bitch whose only expression is one of contempt. Whereas before we had three companions of which Graham was the (potentially) most interesting, now Yaz gets no on-screen development. She is the "tough" chick who is the equivalent to the Doctor. Heck, she even helps fly the TARDIS, something which some better, more developed companions like Rose, Amy and Rory, or Clara didn't do, or very little of. I can't wait for her to go.

- The Doctor is just neurotic, providing exposition, but not really. She now is hit by psychic powers/ premonitions on a constant basis.

- Too much foreshadowing in one episode, which makes this episode a gathering of too many short scenes to let us know the Sontarans, the Weeping Angels, and Gem-head will be antagonists. I thought the foreshadow by John Barrowman was a MUCH better way because it was concise and gave all the details in a few short sentences.

- Other than a few lines about "Trick or Treat, Doctor", it had very little to do with Halloween.

- The Dog People joke went on just a tad too long here without resolution.

So what are we stuck with in the end? A big block of random scenes and characters that make little sense so far. From the moment I decided this was the start of a big long movie, I began to appreciate it more. Knowing this season will be six episodes, we can guess:
- 1 Sontarans
- 1 Weeping Angels
- 1 Dog People
- 1 Gem-head
- 1 Fixing the Tardis/Flux

... and that's a season.

So the reason this felt like all of this was crammed together almost feels like Chibnall did not have enough material for one episode so he added scenes.

Frankly, I would've like to have some character development for Yaz, but token "tough Indian chick" is about all she will ever be from now on.

So my rating... I waffled on this one. It is a solid 2.5/5, worse than a 3 and better than 2. The final rating will depend on following episodes. So for now, I will round up to a 3. Against myself, I found myself surprised and smiling (the Dog People, I really liked).

Would I watch again? Maybe. My answer is not a "no".

Friday, October 29, 2021

Rescue of Princess Phoedra released for Olympia!

Last year, at the height of the quarantine, I was busy putting together the first adventure set in Olympia. It was a work that featured a lot of discovery. Discovering what was different between Olympia and Akhamet and Saggakar and Rhym.

Writing this adventure forced me to ask myself the question: what do I need from the setting to write this adventure? how can I showcase unique elements of this?

I would not have completed Olympia had I not completed this adventure actually. I ran a first version of the adventure for the (FOEPatreon) in August or September of 2020.

After the first version, I went back into it later, having written Olympia. It was fun to revisit this adventure.

I wondered for a long time whether I should include this adventure for this past Gencon, settling in at the last moment to the story of King Kreon.

A good choice in the end.

Get is now on DriveThruRPG!

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Early Firearms released on DM's Guild

Let me preface this post by saying that I am not a gun enthusiast. I am a history fan and a D&D fan (if you don't know, how are you here???). So when I began thinking of ways to add early firearm. I'm talking 16-17th century firearms, the era of high chivalry into the musketeers.

Ahhhh musketeers, definitely on my list of favorite books ever.

So I got to thinking to myself: how can I make guns useful in the game without becoming an exercise in gun crafting and handling. I put my ideas on "paper" and refined them. This product is the result of all those thoughts, iterated a few times.

And a few others.

In the end, the book provides a concise series of weapons PCs are likely to use. So muskets, pistols, blunderbuss, and small artillery like swivel guns. Things a party are like to use themselves.

If I could publish this under GOSTOR, this fits right in with the others. However, since the DM's Guild does not allow me to use that imprint...

So you won't find naval guns or battery cannons here. They may be the object of future products.

Get it today and add some boom to your game on the DM's Guild!

Friday, October 22, 2021

FOE writing update Oct 2021

It's been a while since I posted a writing update. So here goes. These are the bigger products FOE is actively working on.

- Olympia Adventures With the success of Olympia, I plan on releasing some of the adventures I used as I playtested the campaign world, and the two original Gencon adventures, part of King Kreon's Woe series. Expect those starting in November.

- Ozaka Campaign Add-on This is an idea that germinated as I was putting the finishing touches on Olympia about a place inspired by ancient Japan that could be dropped into any campaign setting. Not a full setting by itself, but something to throw a curveball to your players.

- Princes a race book for 5e that complements Princesses with Ibsen-Z we have been arguing over "what does THIS prince do?" for a while now. Fun stuff.

- Service is Eternal (Redux) When I first published Service is eternal for Pathfinder, I was still very new at this and when I returned from Gencon, I looked over the book and... well I did not like it. FOE products have really improved since then. Not only in the quality of text and format, but especially in the quality of art. That book is an expansion of the First Ones so they are less tied to the world of Saggakar and more of the universal threat they have been in (almost) everything FOE published.

- Witches of Pikemaster A campaign for levels ~3-10 I have been inflicting on my group for a few month now. Witches + Inquisition type of story, with influence from Hammer movies, Salem witch trials, and classic D&D. This is going to be a big campaign (over 120 pages). Prepare to meet some very classic characters, travel the planes, and decide the ultimate fate of Pikemaster...

- Gencon Specials and adventures Yes, we are already working on Gencon material for next year!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Lost Pyramid of Neferheket reaches copper on DriveThruRPG

It seems that not that long ago, that I put down the first lines of what became the "Lost Pyramid". I remember that time well. I had just lost my job and was looking for one and desperation was setting in. It seems that those times produce some of the most creative products.

The Lost Pyramid is an adventure I wrote when I started Akhamet. It was written before the setting even had a name. I took the adventure to multiple cons, using it to introduce new people to the setting. It has a little bit of everything that makes Akhamet the awesome setting.

It is, in effect, a trip down memory lane for me. The adventure remains a solid one with many fun surprises, even for veteran explorers who have seen it all.

It is available today on DriveThru RPG.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Akhamet Player's Guide Reaches copper!

I cannot believe I missed this but a few days ago, the Akhamet Player's Guide reached copper Best-Seller level on DriveThruRPG! I keep two copies of the book (both WIP) next to me here as my immediate reference for my weekly Akhamet game (Shout-out to the gang!)

This is a big event as I have a few Akhamet books in the works: magic items, spells, and new monsters! I've been working on that next book on and off for a while now and its exact content is always evolving, as is its title.

If you don't have your copy, get it now on DriveThruRPG.com.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Akhamet: Two Numru

Those two characters were painted to represent the Akhamet iconic wizard, Futeb the Scholar. He is a character that may not get as much love as I think he should. He's a tough cookie - litterally as numru as hardy folk who like their goat-head are survivors. They make good wizards.

These miniatures are from Crocodile Games.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

[Release] Demonic Forces II: Graz'zt's Entourage Released on DM's Guild

I am happy to announce the release of a new product, Demonic Forces II: Graz'zt's Entourage.

These creatures were originally designed for the upcoming Witches of Pikemaster (currently being play-tested). I will have more information about this one a later time, with the British Shark doing a wonderful cover. Can't wait to unveil it.

The armies of the Abyss are formed of demonic humanoids, like the blighted. Three new demons to ravage and destroy the Prime Material plane and the planes beyond.

- The Caprazau, brutal demonic warriors
- The Dark Cherubs, vile monstrous children
- The sensual and fast Lantazu.

…and three named demons to lead them for the glory of the Dark Prince.
- The Avatar of Graz'zt
- The Oracular Glabrezy Red Hierophant
- Graz'zt Herald, the caryatid gargoyle Zeravina

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Monday, October 4, 2021

[Kinda Book Report] Glen Cook's Water Sleeps

Way back in 2019, before everything stopped, I was lucky enough to meet Glen Cook and buy the final omnibus of the Black Company. In both my 2013 and 2014 retrospectives, I reported that I did not enjoy that the previous offerings. Going so far as nothing that I don't think I will read any more of this series [...]. The characters become stale and boring.

The sequel is Water Sleeps. This installment is very much a transition book, setting up the final mega climax of the series. Truth be told as much as I disliked the previous, this one seemed to provide more answers than the previous two which did not answer anything. They were just a slow build-up, building up towards nothing.

Water Sleeps moves to the endgame. Finally some answers are given, and though not everything is revealed, the final book, Soldiers Live should be filled with explosions and world-shattering events. I can't wait to read it.

I said the previous characters were stale... Well now most of them are gone! And ten years have passed! And the Black Company is "no more."

Okay Glen, you have my attention. I'm reading.

My one strike against this one is that it FEELS like a setup for the next book rather than a complete story. Most of the threads are still on-going, and we see a few resolution.

So a score?

I was stumped. This was NOT the best book ever, but I enjoyed it more than a little. So I did the following: I went to my list of other ratings on this blog and looked at the entries. Comparing to others, I can give this one a 4/5.

Yes, I will read the next installment in the series! I have an omnibus!

Sunday, October 3, 2021

[Kinda Book Report] Avengers West Coast: Sins of the Past

I never read the West Coast Avengers during its first run. Frankly, I did not care about it AND none of its members really drew me to read the series.

So this was my introduction to the series, something I was looking to. This book covers issues 10-16 and Avengers Annual #15 and WAC Annual #1.

One thing I like is the storytelling style of the Jim Shooter era at Marvel. Regardless of when you start, the issue is a jumping off point to the series. The art is fine and the stories are okay.

My biggest with it is that as a group, they do not have the power to do much more than beat up on people: no mystic, no energy-blaster, and no alien (Wonderman being the oddest one in the bunch, and Tigra's powers are those of a tiger...). It is the most mundane group of superheroes I read in forever.

I got annoyed when the plot took the WCA to some hellish region, but they could do nothing, having to turn to Hellcat and the Son of Satan (from the defunct Defenders) who became protagonists for a few issues.

The Annual had an interesting plot until the reveal when you go: WHAT!? And again the resolution was made by non-active members. However how the two teams work together to resolve the problem is interesting and the pace does not let up.

Giving a score put me in a quandary. Storytelling was entertaining, but the team has nothing unique about it. The characters are randomly assembled. Yet the plot moves forward and is interesting. That made me settle for a 2.5, rounding it up to 3/5.

Will I buy another title? Maybe, but without enthusiasm.