JP On Gaming

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Gencon Player Perks

These random miniatures, most of them are from Akhamet. It's been a while since I painted, but they were fun to do as one-offs.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Gencon GM Perks

These models I gave to the GMs. They each got an Erote and a hoplite with the first letter of their name (Will got "A" for Allen).

Friday, September 24, 2021

Gencon After Action Report Part 4

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Lessons

Naming the adventures "Part 1-X" is really a good thing because people want to play the whole story. I will strive to do something similar in upcoming years.

Running three distinct specials is just too much work. It's awesome to run, but it is so much work ahead of time. I am thinking of running fewer - or perhaps longer - specials.

I took Monday off (as I write this report) and that was a great and good thing. I did very little, except sleep, eat, and play with the Dora the Dog.

Masks and a beard that's not like a Moses is difficult when you have to talk for long period, particularly as a GM. I got me a big turtle but it meant I did not feel the mask as it rode down my face. So I kept pulling it up and up.

Thanks

Running and putting together an event such as this cannot be run without a lot of people. I'll start with the easy ones: the Gencon staff and the Marriott staff who gave us a home for four days.

Putting together events like this, and being willing to put up with my madness requires dedicated and quality GMs. I want to give a big thank you to Matt, Randy, and Will who not only gave their time, but made my meager writing come to life and pop with excitement. To you three: a big thanks. You guys made my Gencon.

A special thank you goes to Spicer who led the Marriott HQ crew. He let us whenever there was something happening and everything that was going on with the hotel, a locked door, and other small issues. Made it so we never had to worry about anything, and when I had questions, his entire crew were awesome, personable and very friendly.

Getting all of this together required the help of many a playtesters to give the adventures a trial run before show time. There were many including all three of my kids, Tommy and Miah (the neighbors), Florent and Florence, and the con GMs. They provided me with insight on how to tweak or change elements that did not work as well as I thought or wanted. In the end, the result were a series of different adventures where different types of characters, types of players, could evolve and have fun together.

How could I not thank the players who spent their time with us at the con. You guys are the reason I/FOE put together these events and try to outdo ourselves with every convention. You give us a lot to think about comes time to plot the next element of this grand pseudo-campaign that is the FOEniverse! A big, heartfelt thank you.

A final thanks goes out to the Heroes of Rokugan crew who played and GM'd with me in those precious slots.

Final Thoughts

I left this year's event in very high spirits. FOE will come back to Gencon next year with some new. The car ride back to Nashville was an opportunity to come up with more and adventures to expand on the stories we played. We discussed many ideas including a day-long special, potential plots for the future, how rope/ roll in different threads.

But right now, I will sleep and take some time off to rest and recharge the idea batteries.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Gencon After Action Report Part 3

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4

Saturday

Saturday, I was not scheduled for GMing. I kept myself as a backup if anything happened. So I got myself tickets to the Rokugan Larp and Battle Interactive.

For the Larp, it turns out I was the highest-ranking member of the Lion clan (I wore my Predators' jersey). Through great work from my fellow clan members, we managed to obtain most of what we wanted. Yay! Great work to the lions!

After the game, I ran back to the Marriott to make sure the guys had everything they needed. They did not need me and soldiered on.

As an added bonus, I got to listen to them practice their craft on the adventures I wrote. It was awesome to hear them and their take on the material. Made for interesting takes. Kreon, the main character of all these adventures was presented three different ways, but like Doctor Who, everyone recognized him regardless of the GM who portrayed him. I just could not stop smiling.

Photo by Philip TchouNext was the battle interactive. We were protecting the capital city from the Phoenix Master of Water gone mad. I joined a group with three other shugenja. A fun group, that included Brian-F. Throughout the game, Brian and I talked about things, including thoughts about Rokugan and Arcanis. We agree on many things and hope for many more about these campaigns we love. Made time fly by!

Highlight of the game was when we fought the master of water. In short, we softened him and his guards. A little. Then he beat the snot out of us. I survived by using special certificates. It was, I think, the only time in the campaign where I participated in such a unique/ major encounter. I only survived through the use of special certificates. I got my butt kicked and left to the side at the entrance of the palace. Memorable, with a story to tell about it.

Thanks to Ryan who ran it for us. Thanks to Cory and Parker for the final encounter. Thanks to the group who took me in for the day.

Back to the Marriott to listen in on the final scenes of the guys.

Sunday

Sunday was the final special, and the fourth installment Kreon's Woes, The Apology of King Kreon. Being Sunday morning, the eternal question of "How many people will show up?" And both Matt and Will shared that concern. I did not say much and tried to be conciliatory, but that question was on my mind as well.

However, fourteen brave souls woke up and arrived in time for the game and had to make a final judgement on poor Kreon.


(thanks of Matt for the pic)

The special went off very well as the players embarked in the craziness of the story. The mingling brought a lot of different and new perspectives to the different tables, making everyone think about their ultimate choice.

Everything done, we loaded the car and drove back to Tennessee without any serious events. Sleeping at home was nice.

Critical Events Summary

There are quite a few things to report from the events. Events that will affect the game worlds going forward.

Starting with Akhamet, the PCs explored some of the city of Algazan and returned with the following items that will need to be investigation and researched done to discover what they are:
- a magical copper bowl
- a magical gold bowl
- horrific writings in Horyrehmet
- odd windchimes
- a mysterious slab of pearlescent material they were unable to bring back but that sucked in two of their numbers.

Next on to Olympia, four of the adventures dealt with Kreon, his family, and his kingdom. After all was said and done, the following became clear:
- Queen Dionea was returned to Kreon's court
- General Klephos and his troops were rescued from the Lexosian
- Queen Aria was released and allowed to return to Lexos
- Zeus offered mercy to Kreon instead of smiting him with lightning
- Saggakara learned of the ancient crypts near the Pool of Athena.
- Kreon was taken by the Furies to be forever reminded of his shameful behavior.

These events may (will) influence future events in the world. Exactly how remains to be seen. I still have time to think about that before having to write anything.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Gencon After Action Report Part 2

Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4

Thursday

I slept poorly. I was nervous, excited, and filled with new ideas. There was much to do before 8am:
- get food and coffee (our hotel had a McDonalds nearby and I have something of a love affair with their coffee).
- set up the room: the banner, the book table, make sure everyone was ready.
- set up to run my own game
- get the badges (we arrived in Indy too late to pick them up on Wednesday)
- calm down and give a short prayer

It is always nerve-wracking waiting for the players to show up. Not only that, but would they like what we offered? Were the adventures good? Were they too niche/ complex/ difficult? Would they want to come back for additional slots? How many people would not show up?

For the first slot, I ran the Akhamet adventure: Burned and Cooked which is an interesting investigation that exposes elements of the setting.

One worry I had, was that Randy who was to GM the second slot but he had to run from one place to the other and may be late. But he was got to the game on-time and was ready to roll when the players arrived. Yay!

For the second slot, I ran Border Aflame, an Olympia adventure that is the most combat intensive of the two.

Then came the first of three special adventures: Digging in the Dirt. I worked on this one, then jumped to the Olympia ones, then came back to this one. Here, I thought of having the adventure location as the BBEG rather than having a monster. This made the story different and advanced the overall plot I wanted. Now the biggest issue we had: Randy runs fast, I run slow and we had a touch point where the PCs could meet each other.

The final part of the adventure involved the PCs searching a palace for any magical item. Now the place was not immense, and it had numerous rooms, challenges, and magic items to find. I'll provide more information about what was found.

Well in spite of that snag, we got it off pretty well and the players enjoyed the adventure and hated the city (hands wringing).

Then it was a quick drive back to the hotel to sleep.

Friday

I slept better as the pre-con jitters passed some. Many people talked about playing more FOE games and were excited about it. I was looking forward to a new day of adventure!

In the morning, I ran a slot of Lovers' Dawn, a story of love, betrayal, and Kreon. I had fun running this adventure inspired by watching too much Maury Povich Show.

For the afternoon, I hoped to catch a game of something OR serve as backup. Since I was not needed, I got to run across the ICC to play some Heroes of Rokugan.

I ran like a madman first to get a ticket, next to reach the HoR location... Only to find that I was one hour too early for their slot! So I visited the vendor hall. Not really wanting anything more than some Chessex dice, I wandered around. This cavernous hall was cutsmaller

No worries, I just stood around and talked to people. Especially my friend Bill-M. So we talked about our characters, and I told him a few of the secrets of mine (he's usually a GM, so that's fine). Fun chat, you know. Two old gamers talking about their characters...

Came game time, I sat at a table with... BILL AS GM! And to make things more interesting... Bill ran a very interesting game in which he used the information I told him against me in the adventure, adding an extra personalized touch. I really enjoyed the adventure and it felt special to my character. Thanks Bill!

My playing slot over, I ran back to the Marriott to get ready for the second special, The Spartian Queen.

Matt and Will held the fort like champs and we spent a few moments going over the adventure, making a few last-minute tweaks. This one again, Will ran fast, I ran slow, and Matt was in the middle. But we nonetheless got through it all, and the appearance of Zeus and Hera at the end added some weight and gravitas to the adventure.



If you are worried about me being mask-less, don't worry, I pulled it down, took the pic, and brought it right back up.

Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Gencon After Action Report Part 1

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Gencon 2021 was going to be a unique experience. Masks all-around, a smaller attendance, an NFL football game next door on Sunday, many regular vendors would not attend, social distancing, all-around questions about what would happen and how it would go. Well, we have the answers to those questions.

The vibe around the con was one I will describe as "not like Gencon" at the same time as "totally Gencon."

Confused?

The lack of massive over-crowded events as I moved about the Indiana Convention Center (ICC), made everything feel different. Not bad. In fact, I compared this year's Gencon to Origins, where I never feel like I'm running around in a panic, have time to talk to people I meet, and don't feel like I'm in a rush to get everything done. It was odd and refreshing all at once. Before drawing any conclusion whether this was good/ bad/ indifferent, let's go over Gencon, touching on the highlights.

Wednesday

The day before Gencon... I was working. My original plan was to start early, finish my day around 1 or 2pm. Pick up Matt. Then pick up Will. Then drive to Indy, getting there around 8pm (because of the +1h time difference). It was a good plan. An easy plan. One that should be easy to implement. This allowed me to avoid the Nashville traffic.

But that's not QUITE what happened.

Turns out, I was added to a group to participate in an interview for a new (and well-needed) resource on the team. The meeting that planned for 14:30. DANGIT.

Well... That's nothing bad... All I had to do was leave Murfreesboro an hour early, join the interview from Will's house (he lives on the north side of Nashville, passed the traffic).

But then I was added to another interview, finishing around 1pm!

The best plans... Why not step out of the interviews, JP? Well I enjoy doing those. They are fun and I like to see if I can read the people well enough. (I like to think I've been pretty good so far).

In short, all went well enough. I realized my old PC was a junker. The interviews went well, I gave my thoughts and am waiting on leadership's final decision. We got stuck in traffic while in Tennessee, but from there, we flew to Indy as we (Will) talked about gaming, work, etc. I used the last 40 miles to talk business. And give my final recommendations to the guys: make sure ppl have fun, a few other notes about the adventure. Answered questions, etc.

Then we were in Indy, dropped Matt, checked in, headed to Dennys, then sleep.

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Monday, September 20, 2021

FOE Library for Gencon

With time,the FOE catalog grows and grows. This is (part) of what I am taking with me to sell at Gencon. This is the growing number of books I have to carry with me. Soon I will need an SUV to carry this library.

There are 2 Akhamet books, 1 Olympia book, 2 for Saggakar and 1 for Rhym. As I am not pushing much for TOS and Rhym my numbers are smaller. 

And a small overflow of Olympia books...

And with everything gathered for the con... I have more and more stuff to bring all the time. And that is after dropping a lot stuff: extra books, extra banners, extra cardstock, and even many of the GM battle maps!

So there you have it... all I will have to load into my Elantra. Oh and did I mention I was also loading two GMs and their stuff in there???

Oh MY!!!

FOE Gencon Goodies!

This year I gave out special goodies to FOE participants at Gencon! This means hand painted miniatures!

The GMs (Randy, Thor, and Will) each got two. And the table captains for each of the three specials will get one. These minis will be given at (near) random... (Okay I forgot on Friday night but gave them after Sunday's )

Monday, September 13, 2021

Olympia featured on Splinterverse

Splinterverse, a YouTube that goes over and gives overviews and first impressions of products from DriveThruRPG and DM's Guild (among other things). He gave a good overview that really captures many of my ideas when I wrote Olympia.

Check out the feature: Splinterverse on Olympia.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

[Released] Olympia Campaign Setting, part 3

So what is unique about it?

I took the races that first appeared in Gostor: Amazons, Olympians (now renamed "Demigods", and split into Demigods and Favored who earned the attention of a deity), Medusans, Nymphs and Titanborn. I edited them to make them more balanced. I took the most standard of each type and placed it in the book. For example, only the maliad nymph appears in the book.

Next, I decided to spend time on clerics. Since I opted out of using many undead, giving clerics turn undead would give a class's main ability becoming useless. So I gave everyone of the Twelve, a domain of their own. These domains heavily change how a priest from Aphrodite plays versus a priest of Athena or Zeus.

There are new feats, backgrounds, spells, and a few pieces of gear.

One of the most interesting element created are for the greaves: legs, foot and arm protection. When you wear them by themselves, there is no bonus. If you wear them with a light amor, you gain a +1 to AC but your armor becomes medium armor. Heavy greaves do the same but bumps your armor to heavy.

Why should I care? Because this creates added variety in look and abilities.

The creatures in the book cover a variety of types: beasts, giants, monstrosities some legendary, other mythic monsters with from a variety of levels. I wanted to make this a good primer but not a full list monster book.

One controversial entry - actually twelve - one for each of the main Twelve gods. Yes, I provided stats for the gods!

There may be times when you get to fight them. However, defeating them banishes them to Olympus where they are ridiculed by the others gods. I debated about giving them a "sliding stat block" where they would have a CR 4, 8, 12, and 20 version so the gods "level" with the PCs. They are gods.

As the PCs grow in power, they will face different deities. I did put Eris, goddess of Discord, in there as a Challenge Rating 6 adversary, giving you a variety of level challenges.

Do what you want, make it fun, make it epic, create a new legend! That's why I wanted to do when I started this.

Part 1 | Part 2

You can get your copy of the book today directly from DriveThruRPG: Olympia Campaign Setting.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

[Released] Olympia Campaign Setting, part 2

Design Choices

One thing I learned with LPJ is that you never do the same thing twice. Always give it a different

Regardless, I began to put down more and more ideas. As I added elements, writing one

Here are some of the unique design choices I set up for myself.
- The gods have no alignment. They act as they wish without regard for morality. They act based on their personalities.
- Few undead. After Akhamet, which is a land filled with undead, there would be few of them here. Sure, basic ones like skeletons and zombies are fair game.
- No Blood War. The gods are above everything and they command both celestials and fiends.
- The gods are present but not always there. The gods have to be involved in adventure, but I don't want them to appear for every little things
- Nothing is permanent. Again, as a reaction to Akhamet where things change very little over time. Here things have a short life span. People, kingdoms, gods, etc, all change over time.
- Mortals have agency. Mortal are the puppets of the gods, but they control their actions and destinies.
- Not a history lesson. This is an RPG. With magic. History is the inspiration, and we move on from there into something awesome.

So a lot of history melding together. Maybe reading those books of Greek history pay off.

Part 1 | Part 3

You can get your copy of the book today directly from DriveThruRPG: Olympia Campaign Setting.

Friday, August 27, 2021

[Released] Olympia Campaign Setting, part 1

How long has it been? How long since I first began talking about writing a book for D&D based on Greek Mythology? I will say 2018, when I started showing Akhamet to the people at Conglomeration in Louisville KY (sigh I'll miss that con).

At the time, I began writing some basic ideas. I'll be honest and say that I dropped the ideas I had. Why? They sucked! They were little more than a rehashing of historical events without anything magical. It bored me. I looked at the document every few months, only to be reminded how much I hated it.

Inspiration came to me while watching a random TV show, I think it was Dr Pimple Popper. Yeah. Nasty.

So I came up with the idea of a series of power wells that would serve as focus power points. I leave up to you how I made that connection...

Now I had something unique: power nexus. So from here, I needed to come up with adversaries. Some would seek to destroy the nexuses, some would seek to corrupt or control them. I spoke with friends about this, and the concepts refined into something more and more interesting.

Over the course of 2020, I returned to this book. While working on Ravenloft material (Real Housewives of Ravenloft and Curse of Strahd II) and the Akhamet Player's Guide. Yes I know, maybe I should focus, but I follow the flow of inspiration...

Part 2 | Part 3

You can get your copy of the book today directly from DriveThruRPG: Olympia Campaign Setting.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

FOE and Organized Play Part 2

Continued from Part 1 where I stated the many reason why it does not really makes sense for FOE to support and run an Organized Play (OP).

Well as you guessed, the answer to "Should FOE give up on OP?" My answer is Yes.

And No.

...

Okay, FOE will not run an OP like Wizards or Paizo. I don't have the manpower for that (and I want to focus on other things) or frankly the interest. I wrote for and ran OP campaigns for a decade and a half (2003-18). I say 2018 because from the time I published Akhamet, I already pulled back on the OP elements to focus on adventures and playing. I want to provide a fun product to showcase my settings, and the base game, though I'm pretty sure my settings are not what converted many people to a game (looking at you, Chad-N). Still I believe my products provide a fun experience and something different than "basic D&D."

So why keep up the OP?

I like OP campaigns. I played in some good and some weak ones. In some big and some small ones. In some for well-known and some obscure ones. I like the idea of building my own story and playing with a variety of people, not "just" my regular group.

So as I thought about this and discussed with people, I received different feedback and decided that rather than an endlessly ongoing campaign, I would try to create a mini-campaign where players would get rewarded for playing more FOE games at the con. Driving traffic to my tables yes, but also creating a demand for my games and a (more) unique experiece.

I searched and thought what I could do, and think I came up with a clever idea: a "reward" sheet that is valid for the con only. Take Gencon, FOE offers a total of 6 unique adventures, 2 Akhamet and 4 Olympia. I came up with the following restrictions.
- Must be simple
- Must not be paperwork heavy
- The rewards must be adventure and setting agnostics
- The rewards must be worth it at whatever levels (so I don't have to "just" write intro material)
- Very simple and intuitive

I played with the idea and settled on the following: A promo "card" (in a postcard format) that would double as a reward card for the campaign. So I came up with this basic design. I may very well change or tweak things before the con but this would replace a full-on OP campaign. A player would get the card, and regardless which character, level, setting (Akhamet, Olympia, Rhym, or Saggakar) he plays in, he applies the rewards to his character.

This means I can offer games of any level, from 1 to 20 with limited disturbance to the game. The biggest changes are the addition of 5 HP or potions.

What do you think? Comments? Anything I should add? Remove?

(There are a few extra surprises I added already )

Friday, August 20, 2021

FOE and Organized Play Part 1

It's been a while since I posted here about gaming. I have been in a cave writing, tweaking, writing, editing, tweaking, writing, editing, tweaking, writing, editing, tweaking, writing, editing, tweaking, writing, editing, tweaking, writing, and editing the upcoming Olympia.

One of the many things I have been thinking about was to find a way to encourage players from playing more FOE games. Now clearly one great solution is to run an organized play(OP).

For those who do not know what OP is, it is a way to play the game where a company offers adventures and common creation guidelines. Then a player gets to play a character across many events, with different GMs, different players, and in different venues. For those who don't know, go look at Wizard's Adventure League or Paizo's Pathfinder Society.

For a while, I ran Legacies as a smaller version of them and had a great time doing it but with time, the amount of energy I had to put into it versus the return was not worth it. I can't run enough to make this really worth it. Unlike other publishers, I am not happy with just the sales (I am not unhappy with just the sales either, to be honest).

So should I abandon the idea?

Well yes.

OP campaigns require many volunteers: GMs, writers, and event organizers to name but a few. I am lucky enough to have some great friends who help out and both do and have done awesome. I always love hearing them make my stuff sound and feel amazing.

I am busy. I have a wife and three children: two teens and a 12 year old, a day job, and only one life to live. While gaming is a HUGE part of my life, I also have many other interests that take what little time I have available. When I have leisure time, I would prefer to play games than to spend working at making sure the campaign has what it needs. It is a surprising amount of work.

So should I give up on OP?

Continued tomorrow on Part 2

Saturday, August 7, 2021

[Kinda Book Report] Xmen and Micronauts 1-4

Last year, while doing my Xmas shopping, I went to my local second hand comic store and found the full series of Xmen and Micronauts. A 1983 4-issue limited series and I got all 4 in one go.

For those who do not know: the Micronauts are superheroes who live in the microverse (remember that weird location in the Marvel Movies when Antman travelsback in time?) Yeah... Like that. That's fine. There is a full universe - the Microverse - to explore. The MCs know about the bigger world and the visited it a few times.

The MC come out as very flat and cardboard. They get drowned in the amount of characters present and none of them do much to resolve what is going on. Now, the main MC villain does get a lot more focus but in the end, he too is little more than the standard villain who is ruthless and wants to take over the world. Blah.

Of the X-men, Ariel (later Shadowcat) gets more focus because of a mind-transferal. The others... are also drowned in the cast, giving them little to do. How many people are there? Oh yes, I forgot there was the New Mutants too. So we end up with three groups of superheroes in a limited series.

Truth be told, there is little to be told about this. It is very much a filler series using the X-Men to plug and introduce the Micronauts. And in that, it fails. Everyone comes out flat and boring and the best past of it is the nostalgia of it.

So a massive crowd of characters with no one that stands out. A run-of-the-mill story with a single surprise who I'll admit was interesting but drowned in the cast and uninspiring dialogue.

I can give it a 2/5. Skip this if you can. You will learn nothing from this series, nothing important happens. You discover nothing about this massive cast of 15 characters who all fight for space on the page. Sad really.