JP On Gaming

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

[Kinda Book Report] 52, vol 2 (but a different one)

Having read the second part of the story and wanting to read more, I decided to bite the bullet and get volume 2.

But JP, you say, didn't you already read and reviewed that volume already?

Well yes. However, this is volume 2 of 2. This book has the equivalent of volumes 3 and 4 of the series. In short, the final of the year.

So how did it do?

Well the story started out pretty good, but the plots go down from there. Most of them just drag on and on without any really full interest. In the end, the world is changed but it's not that exciting. I liked the ending of the plot with Doctor Fate/ Elongated Man and the new Question, they were "fine". But the space travel story with Lobo, yawn. The plot with Black Adam was okay... it dragged on a little too much. The EggFu and his island of mad scientists was okay. But the one thatleft me angry was the Booster Gold plot: after an interesting reveal, the rest was just exposition and talking, including time and dimension traveling (while talking).

Instead of having action, they talk. They talk. They don't do much but talk and talk to the point where it get boring. I expected they do more than build machines. The art was good but the story fizzled out and that, more than anything else left me with a bad taste.

My final rating is 2/5. I found myself bored and looking forward to the end. The endless exposition "look how clever my story is, here are three pages where I explain what the bad guy did instead of doing stuff." I like action in my comic. This is a modern comic and why I am not a fan. Good start, no idea how to finish. Too bad, I paid good money for that book. Got ripped off.

Demonic Forces I: The Blighted released!

During the work for the upcoming Witches of Pikemaster, I came up with a number of monsters that can easily be bunched together in a collection I call "Demonic Forces".

The content of this small product is a set of five monsters to serve as low-level nameless faceless hordes of the Abyss. Blighted look like monsters whose flesh has their armor welded directly on their skin. Vile, disgusting, near-mindless, and malevolent, they were designed to serve alongside the bigger demon, surrounding them with mobs of creatures.

I cannot wait to use them against my party. Again and again...

You can now get Demonic Forces I: The Blighted on DM's Guild.

Monday, April 12, 2021

[Kinda Book Review] Spectacular Spiderman Vol 1

I have to admit that in my youth, I did not follow Spiderman too closely. I was an X-men guy. However, he was the subject of multiple TV shows and crossovers. He just wasn't my favorite.

When making my list of potential gifts for Christmas this year, I added a number of "Marvel Essentials" comics. I really dig that line of 25-30 comics from one series reprinted in black and white on newspaper paper. The great part is that you can get a full story, and more all in one place. I mean, isn't that what I love best? A full story.

I was really happy that my secret Santa (aka Kitty) chose that book! Excellent news. I placed it on top of my read pile and wait. The one book over that one was The Man with Two Names. Having finished that one, I dived directly into Spiderman with great gusto.

Now let me explain what I got from reading this book (and later confirmed by making a Wikipedia search). The stories focus more on Peter Parker and his entourage, the "normies" that surround Peter Parker: MJ, Flash, Betty, and Hector Ayala/ White Tiger are pretty important to the stories. I could say it is something akin to what the team-up series is but instead of Spidey meeting super heroes, he deals with his friends.

The story has one notable exception: it serves as an epilogue for the Champions title that was canceled a short time before. Appearing here are Angel and Iceman, founding members of the X-men. That story and seeing those characters hit a soft spot and I was really intrigued and devoured that story. I really liked it. Some of the other stories weren't as strong and some (the Brother Power/ Sister Light) were overly convoluted to provide a rewarding conclusion. Other characters, like the Arkansas Razorback (this is a wink to the mascot of the University of Arkansas' mascot, the razorback) were funny but became tiresome in his bad stereotype of a southern man.

Still an enjoyable read, that leaves me in a lurch between a 3 and 4. So to break the tie, I looked at the 3s and the 4s I rated on this blog and it is closer to the other 3s and 4s. So I rate this one a 3/5 because of the uneven nature of some of the stories.

Friday, March 26, 2021

[Kinda Book Report] Batman: Knightfall Vol 1

A now-classic Batman story of Bane creating utter chaos in Gotham so he can move in and break Batman. He orchestrates a break out from Arkham Asylum and sends all the crazies into the streets at once. Bane stalks Batman.

Batman is tired and does not sleep, while Robin tries to help but is clearly overmatched by the villains.

The art reminds me of classic DC, a style I really like because it is full of action and crisp. I enjoyed reading this one and had to pace myself to avoid going through this in a single go.

I rate this one a strong 3/5 because some of the stories, while enjoyable do not seem to advance the plot very much.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

After Action Report: Week in Rokugan 2021

It has indeed been a full year since I attended a con in person. The last one was Weekend in Rokugan 2020 Before everything wnet sideways... I remember it fondly.

Fast forward another year and WiR was upon us again. I had vacation time lined up and getting excited about an in-person con. Alas, WiR2021 would not be the first in-person convention of a restarting world...

What the crew of Heroes of Rokugan did was pretty clever, I think. Instead of cramming all the games within a Friday through Sunday timeframe, they moved the con throughout the week with the newt adventure AND an open library event evening. In short, there were at least three tables running every night. Since there were two new adventures and a battle interactive on Saturday night.

I got to play one of the catch-up adventures on Monday night GM'd by Cory-M, on what is typically my gaming-free night. My writing night, if you will.

On Tuesday, I was out with ActionMan for his soccer night in Dekalb County - a surprisingly distant trip! ActionMan is improving and he still enjoys playing.

Wednesday night, we had to cancel the Akhamet campaign and I canceled my True20 campaign to join one of the new events (#50) GM'd by Jason Beck. It was interesting playing as an Emerald Magistrate in an adventure where you have to deal with a fellow magistrate who is effectively a total jerk, but he does outrank me, so I must obey...

Thursday, I picked up the second new adventure, #51 run by the author and campaign master himself, Chris-W. This adventure led directly into the Saturday night battle interactive. A special thing I did: I killed two oni, the first kills I did in at least twenty adventures! My specialty is protection and healing, not damage. I was able to buy up my Willpower to 4, a major and useful investment

Life prevented me from playing anything on Friday.

Saturday morning, I played a non-L5R game of Dark Heresy. I am digging that campaign too, even if it may be a tad too simple. Now we could've done better, but our dice rolls were a complete pile of garbage. I mean constant fails.

Finally Saturday evening came the big event, the Battle interactive. It was a battle in the Shadowlands. A terrible place filled with even worse things to face. I mean all the undead, rotting, squishy, nasty, venomous, bile-filled nasty things. Fear is the order of the day. Whenever you go beyond the Great Wall, you never come back quite the same. This time, I should have been in command, but I defered command to one who was more skilled and had experience fighting the Shadowlands, it turned out to have been a very good decision in the end.

We were able to tackle two of the heroics: We fought a horde of zombies, Lost/revenant samurai, and a force of maho-tsukai and undead knights. The first combat was easy, the second was effectively won on us rolling ridiculous initiative, and the final fight had maho-tsukai and bone knights. The final battle was quite a major challenge as our initiatives fell and this one got really hairy. We lost our commander because I failed a spellcasting roll for being too ambitious with it. In the end though, we all survived (thanks to a well-used cert). Two heroic encounters were an interesting challenge as we cleared out the enemy siege engines.

In the end, I thought this was a very clever way to run events and make sure people got to play the games leading up to the big battle interactive. Really mad props to Chris, Cat, Cory, the GMs, and the writing team.

A big thank you. I will be back next year, whether in-person (hopefully) or online. Oh! And I will be at Gencon too!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

[Kinda Book Report] The Man with Two Names

For Christmas in 2019, I received this book, The Man with Two Names by Vincent B Davis II. Historical fiction set in ancient Rome: I'm in.

The story takes Sertorius as the main character. If you don't know Sertorius, he is best known for being a Roman General who rose against Rome and took control of Hispania. He struck a deal with Mithridates the Sixth of Pontus into what could have been the death knell of Rome. It precipitated the fall of the Republic for sure.

The story starts as Sertorius grows up in the wilds of Italy, then becomes the head of the family, despite being the younger brother. Then he heads to Rome to get help for his people and gets involved in the politics of the city. Crooked, twisted, complex, and corrupt are all great ways to describe what happens. After that, Sertorius joins the army and head to Gaul to stop the Cimbri.

The high points of the story are how naturally, his characters mingle with the greats: we meet a young Julius Caesar and Gaius Marius. The dialogues feel natural and interesting.

Some of the real high points are the military briefings. I could not help thinking VBD attended many of them. He is indeed a military man, and it shows. Still, we don't get stuck in the weeds. A good flow, an interesting story, compelling characters.

Now since receiving that book, I learned that he is making a series, which drops it in my eyes.

So for a rating... I have to give it a 4/5. I will ask for the next installment.

Monday, March 22, 2021

After Action Report: Festival Draconis 2021

Fourteen years ago, I attended a small convention in Montreal. I attended mostly for its Living Greyhawk component. It was a good time. I wish I could point you to an AAR from back in those days, but I think I played and was granted a special mission to become one of the Dwarf Queen's handmaiden for Torgga Copperbraids who was a Cleric/Wizard.

Fast-forward to 2021. Living Greyhawk is a distant but cherished memory. However, the convention is still around and I got lucky enough to get invited to run games. Now with the current situation I would not have been able to physically travel to Montreal, BUT that's where the Interwebs come into play.

I offered four games: two Olympia on the Saturday and two Akhamet on Sunday all of them in French. Long story short, the afternoon table of Olympia went off, and the morning table of Akhamet went off. The greatest thing about the table was that I got to play with an old college buddy, Phil-D in both game and ActionMan got to join in on the action, in French.

Now a pleasant surprise I got was after dinner, I came back upstairs (where my mancave is located), a little late for the start of the slot. I did not have much hope for something still being available.

Going through the tables, I joined one where there were a few people, I joined and stepped out when it was Pathfinder 2e. Then I hopped on another one where there were only 2 people.

JP: "You looking for people?"
Both: "YES!"

Turns out the game they were playing is called "Praetoria Prima," a historical game set in Ancient Rome. WHHAAAAAAAAT? How do you think I would be able to stay away?

The setting is during the reign of Emperor Nero (around 60AD). The PCs are part of the Praetoria Prima, a covert operation team whose aim is to protect the Emperor, his household, and the stability of the Rome. Interesting. The game has no supernatural component and plays a very investigative way, much like a Call of Cthulhu.

The system is a modified version of the classic World of Darkness. It is "fine" a little over-clunky but workable. Once you understand how it works, it runs well.

So my Marius Tullius Crassus, a patrician (mix of socialite/ diletante/ and politician) and Neferita, a medica (scientist/ doctor/ philosopher) investigated the death of a man. The plot was pretty expansive and featured quite a few red herrings. However, we found a good way to resolve the situation, allow Nero to save face, and punish the guilty one.

Thank to Fil-de-Crystal for running this an making me discover this game. I will look for it on future cons. The game is no longer available but I learned of an effort to buy it and expand it. I would really like to know where that is going. There is much to be done with this setting and something I would perhaps want to explore.

DAMMIT Another project on the back burner!!!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Rahadin reaches silver!

Few NPCs flat out inspire dread than Rahadin, Strahd's half-brother/ butler/ handyman. When I first read Curse of Strahd, I immediately fell in love with him as a villain. Without scruples, without regrets, he is simply a highly-functional psychopath who should be in an asylum. Locked away for good.

But this is Ravenloft where horror is ever-present. Where even the small things have a dark past.

When I began plotting how I wanted to run the campaign, I envisionned Strahd as someone with a past, with relatable emotions, goals, qualities, and flaws. Strahd is the main villain of the play but one you can understand. Though he suffers from his own insanities, he is that villain you can work with. You can guess some and rationalize his next moves.

Not Rahadin.

This idea for the Dread Knight came to me as I pondered why the Dark Powers would allow him to die, but force Strahd to stay behind. No. They would not.

A crazy idea came to me for a CoS sequel... one where Strahd was back but he no longer was in charge. Where the dark force that held Barovia together was the mad dusk elf.

I stopped myself. I many ideas in mind for this "Ravenloft II" but at the time, I was working on House on Griffon Hill... Rahadin Dread Knight of Ravenloft had to be stopped at this small product. Needless to say, The British Shark's art and James' RPG Art on the cover sell it.

Therefore it is with great pride that I can announce that Rahadin Dread Knight of Ravenloft made the Silver Best Seller list from the DM's Guild! Thank you so very much. More content is coming. Soon. I swear. Really.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

FOE Gencon 2021: First Musings

I'm sure you all heard by now but Gencon 2021 will be a dual-threat: both in-person AND online. As we are waiting for extra details, I am forced to start putting my publisher cap on and think "What do I want to offer this year?" "What will be FOE's presence?" What setting? New or last year's adventures? Special?

Most important: FOE will be present in-person.

I'm not 100% sure if we will have an online component. If some GMs are willing to run online FOE games, I will make that happen.

So... what setting? Akhamet is a given as it is very popular. And volunteer GMs want to run it. I will gladly accomodate them! I did have a completed adventure for last year.

Which leaves me with the other three: Olympia, Rhym, and Saggakar.

I need an intro mod for Olympia. I don't know If "Princess Phoedra" or "Tomb of Antikles" are good enough. They are stable, fun (to play and run), and are ready to go but may require additional work on my end. Writer's worry?

Rhym is an interesting case. I have an adventure written and ready to go for it, one that plays into the story of the planned special for last year. So I got that one in my pocket.

Tyrants of Saggakar is a funny setting. While I really enjoy it, it is a much harder sell to passersby than any of the above. I did spend a lot of time last year working to update the setting, but I don't think it is ready for a big reveal just yet. Still, this one is my sweet little one and a threat that many people rightfully feel with dread.

As a special bonus, I just learned that another adventure of mine, may be at Gencon. I am waiting for confirmation, but a non-D&D game may be on the program! I am excited and will post more about it if/when I get any more details.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Akhamet is now Silver Bestseller

Now... this one has been a long time coming and it does not represent the actual number of copies of the setting that are out there, with the many paper copies floating out there. Akhamet is a big-time success for FOE and one of my greatest pride as a writer and as a game designer. That many people really enjoy the setting, with its many intricacies, quirks, and pseudo-historical elements, is something I really appreciate and value.

To add to my great delight, the adventure has three five-star ratings!

I really miss running new material for in-person conventions for it. It is a real delight as players who never knew of the setting quickly pick up, usually with a basic middle school knowledge of Ancient Egypt.

If you don't have it, get Akhamet Campaign Setting today. It is on-sale during the GM day sale!

May Pharaoh's light shine down on you!

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Strahd II reaches Copper level!

It is with great joy that I am proud to announce that Curse of Strahd II: Griffon Hill Manor has just reached Copper Bestseller level! Many FOE products are reaching these milestones in a quick succession, making me even giddier!

Thank you, thank you to everyone who bought the product, the six victims who survived this wacky idea, and my wife who tolerated my evening antics.

This adventure is the first of a new style of mini-campaigns I ever wrote, with the upcoming Witches of Pikemaster written in a similar way, with chapters giving the PCs a sandbox with a number of threads to investigate and problems to resolve.

A sequel to CoS is an ambitious project and one I am very proud of.

You can get Curse of Strahd II: Griffon Hill Manor today on the DM's Guild. As a bonus, the DM's Guild currently runs a 10% off sale! Bonus for you.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Apple of a Mother's Eye goes Silver!

When I first released this adventure on the DM's Guild, I hoped it would sell a few copies and pleased people, as well as allow me to expand my craft as a writer/designer. It was the first tie-in product I wrote for Curse of Strahd.

As of today, "Apple," a reimagining of the bland Berez chapter for Curse of Strahd, reached Silver Best-Seller status on the DM's Guild. I dropped this on my players as they headed to this destroyed town... After this, they had to re-evaluate their position on Strahd...

As a big thank you, I created a special discounted price for the tie-in of 40% off on the DM's Guild. This special deal is available until the end of February!

Friday, February 12, 2021

[Kill Team] The ActionMen, ActionMan's Astra Militarum

A few years back, when I opted to return to playing some GW after checking out Kill Team and realizing I had a lot of models leftover to create a multitude of smaller teams. I found a starter box on Ebay that had the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Genestealer Cult.

What sealed the deal for me was that there were a set of additional models with the box, including two crates and a number of Tempestus Scions aka stromtroopers. From my FLGS, I added a Commissar - I mean what good Imperial Guard/Astra Militarum is not led by a commissar?

I painted up the squad as a Christmas gift for him, and the Adeptus Mechanicus for me (we never used those).

To build 100 points, I lent him my Necromunda Cawdor.

The canon represents a plasmagun and is a piece I did out of sprues way back in the 90s while I was still in college andhad plan to field an Imperial army, complete with Imperial troops, Space Marines, squats (yes, I had squats!), etc. He really enjoys the look of the piece and has been deploying it every game since. It is pretty cool to see old models like that take the table.

The team is composed of:
- Commissar with plasma pistol and power sword.
- Tempestus Sergeant with bolt pistol and power fist
- Tempestus Scion with meltagun
- Tempestus Sergeant with plasmagun
- Tempestus Sergeant with hotshot laser
- Tempestus Sergeant with hotshot laser
- Tempestus Sergeant with hotshot laser
- Guardman with plasmagun
- Guardman with lasgun
- Guardman with lasgun
- Guardman with lasgun

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Necromunda: Escher Gang

These are the Escher gang that came with the Necromunda box I got for Christmas. I was not sure what color scheme I wanted for them. I decided on something basic, so I went with a base of dull green with contrasting purple. That was fine, but I needed something else. So I added plaid to their half-skirts, this red/white splash brought a nice splash of colors.

Their hair, I did in frosted-green (green with near-white highlights). The hair, more than the half-skirts or base uniform, brings them together.

One more special thing I did: I gave them very pale face with make-up. Because you know that no girl in the Underhive would go gang-bashing without her face on.

I really like the sculpts, finding them dynamic and active but one of my favorite element is the sludge on the bases. Its color is very similar to the team color, serving as sort of camo.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Necromunda: Goliath Gang

These are the Goliath from the 2017 Necromunda box. They are dull red with gold and off-white highlights.

I originally planned on using a different color scheme for them but none of the tests I did looked right. So I came back to the "basic" red. In the end, I was really satisfied with them.

One element I am really proud of are the bases and the effect of the glowing green slime in the recesses of the base. They make the characters pop and draw the eye.