JP On Gaming

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

[Titan Tuesday] Titanic Dragon

More goodies for Gencon.

The dragon is a creature that will see use in at least two different adventures, playing a different role in both.

The Olympia Campaign Setting can be the home of any number of monsters and creatures you can imagine.

It is from Reaper Bones 5, I think.

Monday, June 27, 2022

[Die Inspired] Finale Madness!

Yesterday, the Game Keep held the finale part of Die Inspired's Convoy to Straith. This is the same game I have been posting about since mid-April (See this post and these updates May 8th, May 25th, andJune 25th).

I have yet to catch my breath...

Just as I thought the craziness was cranked up to eleven, the team cranked it up to FIFTEEN! I mean, without going into details, they used a few tools to help speed up the process and it worked... The pressure rose and things got worse and worse as more people died.

Again, most of the encounters were pretty simple (as I posted in a previous Old Pro Tricks on simple effective scenes) and... deadly.

Epic things leading to incredibly entertaining - but sad - deaths. As we tried to reach the find a way to leave this accursed island, things got from wild, to crazy, to insane, to COMPLETELY MAD! The breaks we took barely managed to cut the tension. I found myself holding my breath multiple times and my blood pressure shot through the roof!

As we died, everyone stayed to hear who would live, how they would live, and what would happen.

Even after sleeping over it and write about it... My pulse races and my breath quickens.

Yeah. It was that good.

I am sure I said this before, but I am not one who listens to actual play online. I just don't like them. But I will definitely tune in for this. I'm curious about how the games went for the other early groups and I will want to see those "simple effective scenes" again and how they will work those into post-production.

One of the things that was very interesting to see were the many ways people tried to survive: some use great teamwork, others focus on their own resourcefulness, other had a game plan. Everyone worked together during the event itself.

The few who lived got a share of the chest filled with 5,000$ in cash! Yeah, not D&D money, enough cash to make it rain! I won't give details about my own whereabout but...

AH TO HELL WITH IT!

Jim will be back for season two! The Innkeeper's son survived the ordeal. But I have to thank luck and the assistance of others.

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Ma' Hawkins didn't raise no stupid boy!

[Meet the Iconics] First Ones Iconics: Amarilynn

If you don't know, at Gencon, one of the adventures will have the players take on the role of First Ones... I had a great time thinking about which characters to use. There are so many combinations possible...

I went with about it quite simply: I first went through the many races found in the new Power is Fickle. This book updates, expands, and upgrades of material what was first published in Service is Eternal.

What does that mean? New art. Tightened the writing. Tightened the rules. And made the material more multiverse-specific than "just" Tyrants of Saggakar, even a short mini-setting of a world the First Ones recently took over. It is just full of options, magic, archetypes, monsters, and the usual good stuff!

I put down the eight races and their iconic class. Boy did I dream of really interesting, unique combos. But I limited myself to one class. Then, I trimmed down the choices.

Now Power is Fickle has 8 playable First One races and four minion races. So I actually have another 6 unique races to create a second group of iconics... another time! So without further ado, here are the iconics, with their miniature.

Amarilynn

Female First One (spiderling) bard 11 (Dark Dancer)

From a young age, you trained as an entertainer with your mother who was a Dark Dancer too. From her, you learn the secret dances of the school. Like many spiderlings, you prefer to manipulate events rather than control them directly, let others take the fall.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

[Die Inspired] Made it to the finale

Much to my surprise, I made it to the final event of the first season of Die Inspired! It's seems like so long ago that I sat down to create Jim Hawkins, the halfling son of the owners of the Admiral Benbo Inn.

I am really happy that I was able to use my 3-point background to create someone who is unique, easy to slot into any campaign, and really fun to play. I had a blast playing Jim, pulling from that background all the time. "Ma' Hawkins didn't raise no stupid boy." I will be using it on ALL my characters going forward and asking the same of my players.

Also in character-building, I went with a combination I felt was a little different that the more iconic role. Jim is a lightfoot halfling bard 3 (college of lore) whose background is Guild Merchant. Not typical but something I thought fit the character, and something I was able to bring in multiple times during the game. Yes, my membership in the Guild of Culinary Delights came up quite a few times. My spell list included a few utility spells that came in handy multiple times - and that failed as many times.

As I prepare for the final event, I can only hope Jim will be able to survive to escape his current predicament.

And predicament it is.

Tomorrow is the final - and fatal - day. Wish Jim luck!

Friday, June 24, 2022

[Gencon 2022] Terrain Friday Crystals 2

Terrain for Gencon. What are these crystals for? What are their impact upon Olympia?

I received this crystal for free as a broken piece at a convention in Nashville (I think it was Hypericon 2018).

Thursday, June 23, 2022

[Akhamet Thursday] Heroes of Akhamet 1

Earlier, I posted about replacement sidekicks. These models will serve as these replacements. I will also have them for sale if anyone wants to go home with one of these little guys.

The Akhamet Campaign Setting is vast and you can create a vast number of different characters.

These models are from a mix of Old Glory and Crocodile Games.



Wednesday, June 22, 2022

[Olympia Wednesday] Heroes of Olympia 1

Earlier, I posted about replacement sidekicks. These models will serve as these replacements. I will also have them for sale if anyone wants to go home with one of these little guys.

The Olympia Campaign Setting has a wealth of miniatures from historical sources that can be used and most of them appear human. So you can use many such models for your character.

These models are from Wargames Foundry, perhaps my favorite company for historical models.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

[Titan Tuesday] Giants and Beastmen

More goodies for Gencon. The blue giants and the beastmen are titans.

The giants were printed by Matt - big thanks. While the beastmen and wood nymphs are from Reaper Bones. I think Bones 4 or 5...

The Olympia Campaign Setting can be the home of any number of monsters and creatures you can imagine.

Monday, June 20, 2022

[Release] Power is Fickle: Villainy and the First One

It has been too long since I published a FOE book. It has been even longer since I published a book about the First Ones. When I first published Service is Eternal, I focused on getting all my content and ideas together as they flooded into my mind. After a few years, I went back to it and... well I didn't think it was as great anymore. Concepts evolved some, clarifed, and formed into slightly different things.

One major concept that really form and got a good, definable name is the Burning. The ever-devouring ambition that links all First Ones together. It is neither a hive mind nor a deity, but something that has elements of both. It unites the First Ones without making them a monolothic presence.

Well if you don't know the First Ones, they appear in some form or another in every FOE setting, from Tyrants of Saggakar to Akhamet. They are used differently in every setting, in some, they are more directly involved than others.

ArchDespotToday, I am publishing the new and revamped guide to the First Ones, called Power is Fickle Villainy and the First Ones. It is mostly a book about the First Ones, how to create and use them, but it was expanded to include playing and running villains with style and a reason. Therefore, Power is Fickle is not a ToS product, but a FOE product.

For those who prefer a hardcopy, it is also available on Amazon.

The art in SiE wasn't up to par and frankly looked terrible. This new book has a LOT of new art. Most of it commissioned just for it and drawn by FOE regulars The British Shark, Niall Arts, John F Ridley (inspector97), Blehc, Irene Campos, and many others.

But you want to know what the book contains:

We are the First Ones.
Lordship is our burden.
Obedience is our birthright.
Power is fickle.
Service is Eternal.

A guide to adding the First Ones to your Campaign. This book presents who they are, what they do, and how to add their threat to your campaign. They are more than just a new faction. They are a threat to the multiverse that grows from within and without.

- Details on how to include the First One in your campaign

- Details on howto run an evil campaign

- Details to help you create a campaign for evil characters

- 8 playable First One races

- 4 playable Minions races

- New class options and expanded rules

- Over 50 new feats, backgrounds, and spells

- Over 15 magic items and artifacts

- 18 sample characters to help you link the First Ones to your campaign

- Over 30 new monsters

The Burning reaches across the Multiverse. All for 5th Edition.

Friday, June 17, 2022

[Gencon 2022] Terrain Friday Crystals 1

Terrain for Gencon. What are these crystals for? What are their impact upon Olympia?

I must thank Matt for Printing this for me. This large piece is definitely a centerpiece.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

When Inspiration Strikes!

Every once in a while, a writer gets suddenly inspired by something you see in the world around you. For me, it was when I randomly clicked on a YouTube video and suddenly elements for a one-shot began to fall into place. One after the others, the dominos fell into place with scenes and elements to play.

In short, it took less than an hour to have basic character outlines, a plot, a mini-setting, and a game system to use.

So yeah, it took an hour to write the skeleton and a few extra ones to flesh it out and make it playable. It was lightning in a bottle.

Now will it be good and/or fun? I believe so but that's where I have to spend more time to complete the work. A skeleton may be good enough for me to run, but I want to flesh it out some more.

So what is the idea? It is a Cthulhu Modern adventure. I thought of using Delta Green but that brings too much baggage and would dilute the adventure. The main tenet of a good One-shot adventure stands in the simple adage: One Action, One Time, and One Location. The idea fits all of these, into one convenient whole.

I don't want to spoil anymore but I've been blasting the idea onto the page, creating the scenes, the handouts, and unique tweaks and secrets to make the characters more interesting. I'm about 75% done for the adventure, working on the finale with explosions and sanity-draining horror.

But at the same time, make this adventure something that players new to CoC can get into the action and learn something about the setting and how usually the plays. As well as deliver what people expect when playing CoC: madness and horrible death!

So why am I talking about this? Because I still have one last adventure for Gencon to write and complete. And I'm a little stuck with it. All my ideas for THAT feel flat and uninspired.

I plan to run this adventure a few times before publishing it on the Miskatonic Repository, Chaosium's equivalent of the DM's Guild. It feels so refreshing to write some non-D&D. And I wonder how many of you can make it of... Beyond the Gate.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

[New for Gencon] Replacement Characters

This year, I have really gone overboard with new ideas and material to bring to the game table. In addition to a full slate of events (who are selling out nicely, see all the FOE events and slots there are fewer and fewer availability every day), one of the things I am going to add this year are sidekicks.

As I wrote the specials, I was stuck in a position where characters might die or be left for dead. Which in turn might leave someone with nothing to do. I really hate that and "just pretend you didn't die" really takes away from the events that are happening. I wanted to have a way where death could be real, but that would allow the player to keep experiencing the adventure. Nothing worse than showing up for a paid event, die soon after and be done, especially when there are multiple possible replacements within shouting distance. In a home game, the player might get a short-term NPC to complete the scene or current event before either leaving or fading into the background. How many times did "Jimmy the Guard" suddenly became a recurring character or contact of the party after being played as a sub?

Since many of the specials take place in or near urban locations where there are many people about, the idea of "replacement characters" made sense. So having them handy required making them! I created first two for Olympia: an hoplite and a psiloi (archer) as both made a lot of sense from the people available nearby. Which then led to the idea of creating some for Akhamet - a guard and an acolyte.

I commission fellow Canadian John F Ridley (Inspector97) for the art and thus these guys immediately began taking shape. (As I write this, he is working on them).

But JP, why would I want to play a sidekick? You ask. Simply, the sidekicks are going to be available only during special events (every evenings and the Sunday morning finale), or by player choice. They are built using the rules found in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything. When I first looked at them, I was not impressed. But after using them for Witches of Pikemaster, I found them to be surprisingly fun and interesting. Not as powerful as regular characters, but decent enough to be useful while not overwhelming the table.

So how do I go from a sidekick to "Jimmy the Guard"? This one was a little more complicated however, inspiration struck during a conversation with a fellow DM. When someone plays a sidekick and should the sidekick survives the adventure, that sidekick will become an NPC to be written in future adventures. So if "Megakles the Hoplite" survives the adventure, he will be written in future adventures and supplements. Perhaps he becomes an officer, a respected citizen, or an adventurer of his own.

More Gencon news to come...

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

[Die Inspired] Staying Alive (for now)

On the 15th, I participated in the third session of Die Inspired's big campaign and well I managed to survive it. Events are definitely moving forward as we head towards the end.

Again, the "simple effective scene" principle they used applied once more... (see my post on this here) Though I take it with the two previous sessions everyone was pretty gun-shy but that did make for some tense and interesting roleplay.

One fun fact is that after the previous two dates, we were now overly cautious when faced with a challenge, even when the challenge was not overly deadly. (It was, but the threat was less immediate than the previous two games) That's why I always "you train your players." It will be fun to see the face of poor GM Roscoe seeing how we overcomplicate something that should be easy... I've been there too.

But the big kicker is how everything came to a head at the head, which left us, the players, on a cliffhanger. I mean hold-your-breath-until-next-game type of thing and left me chomping at the bits for more. I was actually annoyed that we stopped instead of continuing... I just want to go back and see what happens and how things play out.

Now to wait for the next game... guh... so long!!! Jim Hawkins still lives!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

[Old Pro Tips] Creating Effective Scenes

:I've been writing a LOT these days. And I mean A LOT for Gencon (see the blurbs for everything in this post). I have been thinking of other GMs who ran games that really hit home. I focused on scene-setting. What worked best? What didn't work?

What didn't work

Among a number of elements, one that doesn't work involves over-described room. Rooms with so many elements that get lost with the number of things present. Here are two examples that jumped to my mind (one was Pathfinder Society and the other from a GM I don't want to name here).

- An inn where you know the size, composition, type of the cups of beer, add the number, size, color, and history of the boar heads trophies on the walls, the exact position of the tables, the graffiti on them... Then the scene focuses on talking to the strange guy in the corner.

- A forest where you are told the type of trees in great details, the size of the fallen trunks and branches, the color of the leaves (it was set during summer), and the sound of the birds singing and squawking nearby. And then, what we had to do was sneak through the forest.

Tere

What does work

Reversing the scene, I kept thinking back to Mario (who ran WHFRP in 2009-10) and the other is from a more recent GM. These scenes were notable by focusing on the essential and unique elements of each location. The simplicity of their dressing made it so they allowed for us players to come up with solutions. Then if we, the players, wanted to do something with the environment, we can ask and go from there. Need vines? Now they are there! Need Spanish Moss? Sure! What about a very knobby tree? Oh yeah!

- A bandit camp centered around a fire pit with a series of tents in a rough circle around it.

- A thick jungle where a creek flows into a pond covered with waterlillies.

What I really like is that each of us were able to use the basic description and add elements to it based on our common imagination, with each player adding something. By the time we attacked the bandits in the camp, there were deer skins getting tanned for cover, buckets of water (and chamber pots), the two sentries huddled around the fire, and a pair of horses were tied nearby. I really love that scene because each of us, player and GM, built into something concrete we used in our plan.

We didn't care the bandit's spears were made of maple, oak, or pine wood. So it was never defined.

Finally

Everyone can picture a tundra. A sandy desert. A pinewood forest. A pool beneath a waterfall. A fortified city gate. See what I did there? You pictured each of those scenes and I use no more than 5 words to describe each of them.

KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid. Focus on elements that matter to the players or major elements. Unless you plan to have a confrontation or a trap-like with a scaffold, don't mention it unless/until it becomes relevant to the players. Work with them.

Yeah. KISS. And grow the story and scene together.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

[Question Time with JP] What would've happen to [NPC]?

What was up with [NPCs we didn't look in the game] by Sarah-R

This question was asked in-person by Sarah-R, a playtester for many of FOE's campaigns (and the one who GMs back for me).

This answer is really a non-answer. Basically, everytime I get asked, my answer may and will change, depending on whatever latest idea I have. Anything that is not in the adventure frankly is irrelevant.

For her specific question, she asked what would've happened if they tracked down some NPCs they heard about but never chose to track down.

One thing I have been doing in the design of larger adventures and mini-campaign is to set up a location and present unique locations with characters and main event or element that would happen there, and let the PCs explore and follow the threads they are interested in.

So, in short, if the party went to track down these NPCs, They could've been there, unaware of anything.

Or they could be in on the conspiracy and support it.

Or they could have been victim of the conspiracy.

Or they could have been replaced by robots.

Or be ninja turtles in disguise...

Or nothing.

Why are you asking me? I don't know.