JP On Gaming

Monday, September 30, 2013

Announcing First Ones Entertainment!

Here is it! The FOE logo. No, not the one I posted the other day - that one was but a template. I am very happy with what Brian has done for me.

You know what this means right?


Yes, it means that soon we will be able to sell Legacies adventures - and more - through RPGNow! That's right, we will be able to offer adventures directly to your RPGNow site.

Originally, we will focus on Legacies adventures and related products but I hope we might also offer other products soon. Stay tuned as more awesome news are coming!


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Funnies: Reading for all lady adventurers

I found this on Elfwood while looking for something about "Female Adventurers" to use as NPCs for an online NeoExodus game. Actually google cuz elfwood is unsearchable these days. I really thought it was both funny and imaginative!

Big Announcements: Exodites and New Logo!

After weeks of teasing, I can finally begin rolling out announcements. This means goodies for you!

First Ones Entertainment

Over time, I had a number of conversations with LPJ and we both agreed that the campaign needed more focus and attention. To do that, we agreed that we needed to streamline the process. So we discussed a number of options before finally settling on the following: I would set up a new imprint, which would license the NeoExodus setting from LPJ to produce material for the Legacies campaign. LPJ Design is still the publisher of the campaign and game material so he's still the man to go to for the core rules and setting.

I thought about finding a clever name for the imprint. Something that told who we were and had a clever feel to it. Some ideas I had were: Exodite Press, Khaynite Press, Legacy Publishing before I finally settled on "First One Entertainment". Which abbreviates to "FOE" which pleased me. I liked it. Ran it by D'Anne, she liked it.

With a company name, I now needed a logo. So I first tried to come up with something. Something very simple that any expert could spruce up and make real nice. I have posted some of my art on this blog and have yet to receive any praise or job offers for it.

I presented the basic idea to LPJ. (You can see it on the right--->)

He laughed.

Out Loud.

Seven times.

But he was no help. So I knew then that I needed to get a professional. Someone that would take that and make it nice. If you follow me on twitter ( my Facebook friend (JP Chapleau), then you know that many answered my call for a logo designer. I received a number of very interesting offers before agreeing to work with Brian-D (who I know through PFS & NeoExodus). I presented the logo to him.

And he did not laugh.

Rather, he said "Great! That lets me know exactly what you want and gives me some room to work with." SCORE!

Later this week I will unveil the logo here on this blog.

I am happy to announce my new imprint, First Ones Entertainment - FOE for short - FOE will be publishing the NeoExodus Legacies adventures. The imprint might, in the future also publish other material (whether for NeoExodus or others). Who knows? Well, I do, but right now I do not have any firm projects on the table.

Exodites Announced

I will finally begin to reveal some of the people whom I've been collaborating with these past few week: the Exodites. I am still looking for more Exodites to bring NeoExodus Legacies out to the wilds of the world!

Exodites, like Venture Officers in PFS are volunteers (with perks) who run NeoExodus Legacies events in their communities. As we ramp up the games, more things will be added and announced. It's not like we're running out of ideas! We're only out of time to put them all out there. Seriously.

Over the course of the week, I will introduce to you to our first group of Exodites, in a series of post named "Meet the Exodites". I'm very excited to let you know of some of the places where NeoExodus games will soon be available!

Good things are a-coming! Don't you think?


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Big Legacies News Coming

Tonight, after he finished watching "Agents of Shield" (which I missed due to cable box failure - let's not go there), I caught LPJ in a good mood and we got to talking about a number of things: Free RPG Day 2014, NeoExodus Legacies, writing projects, licensing, and a number of unrelated topics. A number of decisions were made during that hour or so. Including him laughing at my artistic talents. AGAIN.

Though I am still waiting, there are big decisions to announce.

You might see a few Legacies-compatible NeoExodus adventure popping up in new venues, some new products, and maybe some new surprises... This is some really exciting stuff! I know I've been talking about these things for a long time now but they are finally all coming together in a neat package. As usual, all at the same time!

Of course!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Update: I wrote nothing for 5,000 words

For over a week, I have failed to do any serious writing.

On anything.

I am both annoyed and frustrated about it, but I just have nothing good I want to write now. And I do have projects to do and things I want to get off the ground. But I just did not managed to get myself to do anything. I could give you a number of reasons or excuses: my move, the cable being on the fritz, a major release at work and just a desire to recharge my batteries.

I have been working on a piece of fiction for NeoExodus that is coming along slowly. Remember that Writer's group I attended? No? Well their input and insight was very helpful in how to create and write. I am currently are 5 Chapters in and the words keep flowing - slowly. From the story of a single fairly dumb kalisan barbarian, a number of different characters has sprung. As usual, the core of my story has expanded and I need to reign things in towards the conclusions. I enjoy myself as I write it. It's like a distraction of sorts. Keeps me from just slacking off, playing Blood Bowl (where I crush my opponents 4-0 on average) and trying to learn the numbers of my favorite channels on the TV.

I have also been adding a few rule elements to three products I've been diddling with: The NeoExodus Player's Guide, a monster book called "Scions of the First Ones" (which includes a lot of new monsters), and a book of nasty, evil things called "Magic of the First Ones" (which includes a number of things to decorate your NeoExodus games with). A lot of things going into these books that are little more than half-formed ideas, the kinda things you think about when you say. "Wouldn't it be cool/ nasty/ evil if [insert something Cool/ Nasty/ Evil]."

So this is a sort of update about nothing totalling some 5,000 words.



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

YARRR TE YE! Eat your hearts out, ninjas

AHOY me readers!

Eat your hearts out, ninjas. You will never be as cool as your eternal nemesis, the pirates.

Every year, I pull out my pirate hat and get ready to YARRR my way through meetings and work functions. As I shiver me timbers going steady as she goes until the day ends and I can return home to my favorite wench and my little deckhands.


To show you how much better pirates are to ninjas, check the following. out the following motivational posters. I also included a song to add some mood to it. In French, of course! :)

Dress up in pajamas and hide your face... Yep there's a good reason for that.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Under the Influence: 31 days of inspiration

I have been simmering this series of posts for a while now. I looked at a number of other blogs doing "30/1 days of movies/RPGs/whatever" and I have been thinking about doing something myself, something of an homage to things that have influenced me to become the gamer and/or writer I am today.

My choice of October has more to do with convenience than anything.

The criteria for this selection was fairly broad. They had to be things that I would immediately name as influential in my life. These influences vary greatly from one to another, from books, to movies, to people, to trips,music albums and even a concert. They range the span of my life, from my earliest days to the present.

I avoided anything that I would consider a negative influence. There are many of those: people I do NOT want to be like, the jerks and idiots, music I hate, books I never finished, movies that made me value sleep. That list would take about 10 years as I would pour my vitriol on these things that deserve a good roast. I wanted these to be uplifting to me when I look at the list, to have memories fondly come to mind and I will try to share those with you.

These past few years, I wrote yearly retrospectives, mostly for me to remember and leave some type of record of what I did. This in a way is a retrospective of my life and what has brought me here. As I look at the list (which I keep in the same document as I write this)

There are many people who could've made the list but came up just short (or they were on it, but were cut for me to bring the list down to '31).

The order was (mostly) random. The first one was NOT random.


Friday, September 13, 2013

D12 OGL: Continuing my interview with Erik Evjen

Continuing the interview with Erik Evjen about Sword Land RPG. You can find part 1 by clicking here

JP: What can you tell us about the default setting for Sword Land?

EE: The "Iellos" setting is comprised of a single world, with four (with a possible 5th in the works) different continents. There is the typical "Material" Plane, a Plane of Elements (where all magical effects are drawn from), a Plane of Havens (Essentially the domain of the Gods), and a Plane of Shadows (Where most demonic/fun things come from, such as dragons).

Iellos is written as a more "realistic" take on High Fantasy - the standard magical elements are there, but the focus is more so on morality and ethics for the adventure modules. The typical adventure focuses more on the dramatics of various NPCs and factions committing actions and the repercussions of how Player Characters deal with them - the truly fantastic elements (For example, say Dryads, Salamanders, and dragons themselves) being used to flavor the theme of the adventure rather than being hack-n-slash cookie cutter fare. Of course players can always add in more of the "fantasy" elements to taste, but the standard is that the moral choices made by PCs matter more to the world than a single pixie, dragon, or other such creature involved in their adventures.

There's all sorts of oddities to the locations (The Shadow Plane having a ever-present reddish-green night sky, for example), and the continents on the Material plane all correspond to different play styles. People looking for more political intrigue in their games will find Alenosa appealing (With multiple Elven kingdoms and factions fighting for control of the landmass), while Norncrast appeals to apocalyptic lovers - so on and so forth. The world is balanced so that a character from one continent moving to another will not disrupt the order of things, but adventure modules for the setting focus on specific styles of play for each continent.

As mentioned with the Alenosa example, there are dozens of different kingdoms, legions and factions that populate the world - so players looking to make a grand-scale campaign can do so easily.

I'd have to say one of the weird things of how I designed the Iellos setting (the default for SLRPG) is how it draws from more recent time periods of our own history instead of staying firmly rooted in the traditional medieval roots of most other RPGs.

Of course, as earlier I mentioned I loved old spaghetti westerns - that colored the way ranged combat is handled within the Iellos setting. Even though you're able to find traditional bowmen firing line tactics in the setting, you're also likely to come up across "arrow-slingers" that fight with more modernized tactics. In particular, the combat tactics of Iellos were meant to model more modern-day applications instead of the traditional massed formations of early time periods. So to say, most people in the Iellos setting realize it's a good idea to avoid standing in giant masses while arrows are flying about - and so most lore revolves around guerrilla-style conflicts verses large-scale battles and wars.

Deities in the Iellos setting are more elemental-based and encompassing than most standard RPG Pantheons - as such the God of Fire also has things such as War and Valor in his Domain instead of having a single Deity assigned to each "theme". It somewhat frees up the mechanics for religion-based characters (Clerics, Paladins in particular) and makes it much more simple for those who want to use such themes in their campaigns without having a list of dozens of different Gods and Goddesses for the setting. In particular, one of the large variances from typical settings is that even magic-based characters (Wizards, Spellswords, Bards) tend to worship these deities. Magic is more akin to a supernatural force than an ever-present resource, and the common belief within the setting is that the various gods actively grant or deny usage of these elemental forces. As such, magic-using types often weave in chants and requests towards various gods in their spells and scrolls due to superstition - A character might be afraid that their fireball spell won't work if they didn't ask permission from the God of Fire while casting the spell, for example. Sorcerers don't usually follow that convention due to their innate abilities, but most other spell-casting classes in the setting do so.

Of course, there are plenty more things to talk about with the Iellos setting, but this is a teaser of things to come.

JP: What would you say are the biggest influences upon the setting?

EE: I'd feel that it'd be generic of me to say that I was highly inspired by Tolkien's works (I was). To make things interesting, I find the older video game RPGS were what inspired me to get into the tabletop industry. I grew up playing Dragon Quest (or Dragon Warrior here in the US) as a kid, which in itself is basically the Japanese computerized equivalent of D&D. I'd spend hours playing that game - along with others such as Shining Force, Lufia, Ys, Chrono Trigger, and of course the ever famous Final Fantasy.

The reason I mention those in particular is the fact I absolutely love the Eastern interpretation of Western Fantasy ideals - the way the Japanese portray high fantasy is very different than how it is portrayed in the traditional markets. It is difficult to explain, but there is a unique flair to Japanese fantasy that makes it extremely interesting to me. For an example I'd recommend watching Ryo Mizuno's Record of Lodoss War, which is quite possibly one of the greatest fantasy sagas ever created.

There is a delicate and serene feeling to the way mythical creatures and tales are portrayed in the Eastern style, especially in comparison to Western works such as Conan or Lord of the Rings. This definitely shows in their fantasy artwork, and the art from those old video games and mangas definitely moved me towards what I'm attempting with IGRE now as far as art direction is concerned.

As it is readily apparent, I am in love with watercolor artwork - Western or Eastern. For Sword Land I'm definitely trying to approach a more traditional style for the game's artwork. There is a deep demand currently in the rest of the industry for the computer-aided artwork, but for SLRPG I was wanting to break away from that trend. I'm aiming for the artwork to be something that is reminiscent of an earlier time in game design, yet still feeling modern and overly inspirational to those players flipping through the rulebooks.

JP: What makes Sword Land particularly unique among all the games out there?

EE: The main design goal for Sword Land RPG was that I wanted it to be simple - yet have an amount of complexity that players could layer on as they desire. In that, I think I've achieved that goal so far, as the basic game has been deemed easy and quick to learn for beginners. However, with optional rules for how HP is handled, to combat mechanics, and other such things, those players (and veterans) can go ahead and change fundamental parts of the game to their liking. Essentially, you can make Sword Land as simple or as complex as you'd like it to be.

The Abilities as mentioned earlier are a big change - Rather than worry about leveling Skills, players can just rest knowing that their character will relatively be able to accomplish anything without having impossible DCs (or Difficulty Checks) to beat. The Abilities give you a big jump in comparative power against the checks, so it would be akin to your character being a "specialist" in that particular skill being used.

The other major unique element to SLRPG is the adjustable scale of combat - in a way, SLRPG can be used as a war game within a game. The standard combat mechanics scale along with the size of the encounter - so your standard party verses monsters battles still occur, and can still occur while there is a major war going on around you in essentially a "zoomed-in" view. At the same time, you can "zoom-out" to role play that army verses army battle, with the PCs still being able to sway the outcome of that battle due to their actions. The new "Captain" class specifically is built around the combat scale mechanic, where at the party level they are giving their individual allies bonuses to attack rolls and morale - while at the mass combat level they are giving those bonuses to entire squads/platoons/divisions/armies, and providing negative effects to the enemy.

Overall, SLRPG is intended to be a "toolbox" of sorts as there is no immediately attached fluff within the rules themselves - so players can use the rules any way they wish without needing to revise or house rule the majority of the game.

Other oddities include new weaponry styles - things along the lines of a Projectile-Launching Crossbow (Imagine a bolt that has an adjustable head that holds onto items such as holy water vials, thunder stones, or oil flasks, and then launch it to where you could use those items most), and Automatic Crossbows.

JP: What would new GMs/players be familiar with in Sword Land?

EE: One of the main reasons I went with the OGL was due to the fact I wanted SLRPG to be a homage to the RPGs so many players are familiar with, and the tradition that comes with those RPGs. There are the classic four classes (Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, Rogue),which though they operate differently in SLRPG, they are immediately recognizable of representing those core roles. There are many other classes which survived the transition into SLRPG, and I wanted to make sure that the classics are there for a new generation of players to experience.

Of course, there are also the hard-coded mechanics as well - Hit Points and Experience Points are still around in SLRPG, along with Armor Class and Saving Throws.

Finally there are a number of classic spells appearing in SLRPG alongside new ones - so your spellcasters still can sling fireballs and lightning bolts all over the place.

JP: Are there any notable NPCs you designed for the setting that you particularly like?

EE: The most notable and most recognizable NPCs are the Representative Characters - The individuals that represent various Classes in the Core Rulebook for Sword Land RPG. Most of these characters were actually derived from the campaigns I've ran that were the inspiration for creating SLRPG, such as Aras the Fighter and Fiva the Ranger (those two being the first characters I ever rolled up for a tabletop RPG). They show off various ways to build a character of a particular class (For example, Aras shows off the fact you can build an effective unarmored Fighter), and are shown frequently in the art at various points of their adventuring careers. In a way you're watching them start from Level 1 and head all the way to Level 20, and in that way I'm hoping it inspires players with their own ideas for Player Characters.

These characters also have their stats laid out, so they are usable in adventure modules and campaigns as either Player Characters or NPCs. As mentioned earlier, one lady stated she would loved to have played as one of these characters - essentially I made that a point to make them interesting pre-generated characters.

The Iellos lore has all sorts of interesting characters too - A particular favorite of mine is named Queen Venna, who is a High Elf intent on uniting her entire continent to fight against an opposing faction in a Winston Churchill-styled fashion.

JP: Who else is involved in the project?

EE: Currently, IGRE is comprised by myself and Alexia Roman, who is better known as Saph-y. Saph-y is the main illustrator for Sword Land RPG, and is the leading cause of awesome art used for the game.

We are also currently working with a couple of artists and will be announcing new hires for the art team as they come aboard. One we are working with at the moment is Triton, who I'm pleased with so far due to her test artwork for the game.

Though they are not currently attached to IGRE Publishing in an official manner, I must give a million thanks to Jay Peters (Third Eye Games) and Robert Thomson (4 Winds Fantasy Gaming) for the advice they have given me along the way. They have been excellent help, and I don't think I would have gotten this far in the process without their insight and assistance.

I must also thank all of those who have playtested the Sword Land RPG system at the Sandbaggers Game Club (Great Falls, Montana), and all of those who have played in our public demonstrations. Your feedback has been greatly appreciated, though at times it has kept me up at nights.

JP: How did you all get involved in this?

EE: As stated before, I was interested in building a game system because I'm crazy. Well, not really, but I was intent on making things simple for new players.

I first met Saph-Y on deviantArt, and her watercolor work intrigued me - I fell in love with it the first time I went through her gallery. At the time I was just commissioning artwork to illustrate several of the game sessions I had ran previously, and decided to hire her on that basis. Her art of Fiva the Ranger blew me away when I received it, and we quickly began working on illustrating more scenes from the Iellos lore and setting.

When I began working on writing Sword Land RPG, I decided that out of all artists I had previous worked with that Saph-Y was the best in representing the lore of the default setting and had the best quality of work. Her art essentially had become the "face" of my writing by that point, and I couldn't imagine anyone else creating the majority of the important artwork for the Sword Land game (things such as book covers, or chapter arts). As such I invited her to become the main illustrator, and was quite glad and rather relieved when she accepted.

Triton is quite new to the IGRE team - she was recommended to me by Saph-Y and I very much liked the gallery that Triton had put together. We decided on a test art to determine if she would be a good fit for IGRE - and based on the sketch she sent me alone was enough for me to add her on as our second freelance artist on the SLRPG project. Give her a warm welcome!

JP: When will the game be out?

EE: Sword Land RPG is currently scheduled to be released by June 2014. It will be released under the IGRE Publishing Imprint, and should feature around 250-300 pages it has gone to print. We will be releasing it on the standard RPG e-distribution chain (driveThruRPG, RPGnow, and others). We are also currently looking at print-on-demand options as well.

JP: Planning any crowdsourcing for the setting?

EE: The answer for now is no. I went so far as to make a public pledge a while back along the lines that I would not do so until we were considering more wide-spread print runs.

There are two reasons for this - Currently I have been funding the project on my own, and we are doing fine as is. There are no immediate concerns as far as the financial stability of the SLRPG project, and even the start up costs for the IGRE imprint will be manageable without outside crowdfunding assistance. Even the most common reason for a RPG Kickstarter (funding to pay artists) is no concern currently, as the artist team is fully compensated already.

The second reason is that I do not want a PR disaster on my hands in the event of such a crowdfunding campaign going sour - I've been watching the trends intently, and simply put a failed Kickstarter is a career suicide for the team organizing it. There is no reason to put the SLRPG project at a severe risk at the current moment in order to make ends meet, and I will not gamble with my own reputation or that of my imprint in order to start a crowdfunding campaign.

Eventually, once we are in full steam and producing product on a regular schedule there is the possibility of running crowdfunding campaigns at that point. Mainly the aim of those campaigns would be to get the Sword Land RPG system into the hands of those unable to purchase directly through e-retail - these campaigns would be specifically aimed at retailers in order to put SLRPG in your local friendly game stores. However, there would be no significant risks with such a campaign as we would already have the products ready in hand - it would be a matter of building a distribution chain at that point.

JP: Are you running any playtests/preview events?

EE: Very much so!

The Sword Land RPG system was publicly debuted on International TableTop Day 2013, at Know Dice in Great Falls, Montana. Over the course of 8 hours I ran the game for two full tables of players (14 altogether), and all in attendance had a great time with the game.

IGRE and SLRPG also made an appearance at MisCon 27 in Missoula, Montana, where we had a 4 day stint of public games at the convention. We drew a total attendance of 26 players throughout the course of MisCon. Considering the "Haunting of Glimmerpoint" playtest module allows for 7 players, we had full tables on every day except the Monday of the convention.

Outside of public demonstrations the SLRPG has been extensively playtested over the course of the last year, thanks in part to the wonderful folks at the Sandbaggers Game Club in Great Falls, Montana.

Our next public appearance is scheduled for the Great Falls Gaming Rendezvous 2013 in Great Falls, Montana, October 11-13th. We are scheduled for multiple games - at least 6 confirmed times, with more depending on time constraints.

GFGR 2013 is also where we will be releasing the official public playtest version of the SLRPG rules - they will be available to the convention attendees first, and will be available to the public at large by October 14th!

JP: How can people help out ?

EE: We're always on the lookout for more illustrators - as more art is always nice! Generally we try to keep the traditional watercolor look when it comes to the artwork, but I'm always willing to look over a portfolio if an artist expresses interest.

As far as writers and editors, we are currently working with just the available staff (ie: Me) to finish the writing on the Core Rulebook for the system. At that point I would like to hire on an editor.

We will be actively looking for writers once the Core Rulebook is released - as I will be primarily concerned with releasing the Bestiary and the "Haunting Of Glimmerpoint" module at that point, and unable to write further modules for a period of time until those are released.

Feel free to get ahold of me directly if writing, editing, or producing art for this system interests you! Though for now I am not actively looking for writers, I will remember you when the time comes to hire fresh talent.

JP: Do you have any links for my readers?

EE: Currently we do not have an official page for the IGRE Imprint. However, as a bit of exclusive news for you - We will have an official website by the time of GFGR 2013!

As always, you can find the SLRPG system's official fB page at the link below:

Erik can be found at

Saph-Y can be found at and

Triton can be found at and

JP: Any parting words of wisdom?

EE: There will come a day when Sword Land RPG is officially released. Today is not that day, but keep October 14th in your calendars! The official public playtest for SLRPG begins that day, and I'll be looking forward to your comments and hoping you have fun with the game.

If you enjoy a fun and simple system (especially one that only uses a single die), then you are going to enjoy SLRPG.

Thanks for your time!

Questions: Magic: vancian? how does it work? Mana points? Creative (ars magica/mage)? Give an example of playing a cleric in SL.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

D12 OGL: An interview with Erik Evjen on Sword Land RPG

Many things have change in my life since I started writing this blog to talk about my personal passion: RPGs and Miniatures. Over the years since, I have met a number of colorful characters (LPJ, Venus DC, Joanna A, Tim Brown *giggle*, Peter B to name but a few I've worked with on this blog). Many of them I've known about or heard from people I knew with a "do you know?"

Then there are the oddballs. One day I receive a facebook friend invite from this guy called "Erik Evjen". Seeing that he was friends with other people I knew, I accepted the offer. I mean perhaps he was a NeoExodus fan or an interested party. After I accepted, I thought no more of it.

A few days later, guess who pops up in my Facebook chat? Erik! We get to talking and he tells me about his game called Sword Land RPG. I'll admit being mildly interested. Nothing against his game, but I just have a finite amount of time to play. Maybe I'll get to play the game sometime in the future at a con. But then we talk some more about (well he talks more) and my interest is suddently peaked. Notion of "OGL" and "d12" brought my attention away from the TV to the conversation.

I had to interview this guy and know more about it. And what better way to make that happen than to write a blogpost about the game!

JP: Who are you?

Eric Evjen: I am Erik Evjen, the creator of Sword Land RPG. I was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana. Currently I am the President of the Sandbaggers Game Club in Great Falls, which happens to be the longest lived social gaming club in the continental United States.

Along with running the club, I spend time working with the Great Falls Gaming Rendezvous as their RPG and Schedule Manger, which I've had a blast doing so. I also work for AetherCon Online RPG Convention as their Fest Hall Coordinator.

Aside from helping run social clubs and conventions, I freelance for Ophelia's Workshop of Roleplaying Specialties. They will have a future release that I have worked on, with hopefully more to come. As far as other concerns, I recently received an Associates of Arts degree in May and intend to finish an Associates of Science as well.

JP: How did you get into RPGs?

EE: Well, I first dabbled with RPGs when I first became acquainted with the internet back in 2000 or so. Of course, those were the days of those old Play by Post Forum boards that you'd usually find power players with Level 99 Half Goblin/Half Elf/Half Dwarf/Half Vampire characters after their first post. As I couldn't really find anyone that was interested in the more traditional role-playing that I was looking for, I eventually quit playing in those forums.

I didn't really dabble in RPGs much until after High School, though during my middle school years I'd often see a copy of the d20 SRD in my local book store. I'd always read through it and think that it would be so cool to write my own game - as such, I found it ironic I eventually ended up doing so. I never did end up buying that book, but I wish I did.

My first formal time playing a tabletop RPG was in 2008, after I had found out that two good friends of mine from High School were also interested. After somewhat cursing the fact we didn't get around to it sooner, we went and picked up the 4th edition of the World's Greatest Roleplaying Game that same day. It was decided I was to be the Game Master due to the other two being more interested in just playing - and we decided to start playing the very next day. It was probably one of the longest nights of my life trying to make sense of those three books, but I'm extremely glad I ended up doing so.

We started playing with the module that came with the rulebooks. In the middle of the first session, however, I found that I was more inclined to just start building the game world from scratch. After a quick talk with my two players, I set the module aside and started building what eventually became the Iellos setting.

JP: What game would you say is your favorite?

EE: I've played all sorts of systems in the 5 years since I first started playing tabletop RPGs, so picking out a personal favorite is tough. However, I find Basic Fantasy Role Playing Game to be the one game I prefer running when I'm not playtesting the SLRPG rules. Chris Gonnerman and his helpers did a great job of modernizing the 1st edition of the World's Greatest Roleplaying Game, and I find it especially easy to run when I'm teaching newer players how to roleplay. I'd highly recommend that system for those wanting a simple yet exciting game.

JP: If you could only pick one D&D setting, which one would it be?

EE: I've always loved the Dragonlance setting, just because of the sheer depth of lore that it contained. It held a grand element of romanticism and epic fantasy, and that flavor seemed to fit the tone of the game more so than the other released settings. It maintained d a balance of the traditional "Good verses Evil" feel, yet had it's own intricacies concerning morality and made for a great read without being a generic Tolkien-esque setting.

Despite my love for Dragonlance, though, I still can't find it in me to allow the Kender to be ran at my table.

JP: Most influential non-gaming inspiration for you?

EE: One of my favorite movie trilogies would have to be the Dollars trilogy (Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly). That and along with other excellent traditional and "spaghetti" westerns (Django, SHANE, Pale Rider, Last of the Mohicans, The Searchers) definitely flavored my writing a bit towards that style of "unsaid" coolness.

Other than that, of course I would have to mention the original Star Wars trilogy (A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi) as being one of my biggest inspirations into getting into such a creative business. As a kid I spent countless hours wondering what it would be like to be able to create such interesting stories like that saga, and in some way I'm pleased as punch to be able to work on such things now.

Also, I'm a bit of an anime nerd, so I find inspiration all across the spectrum.

JP: Tell us about IGRE publishing. Who is behind the imprint?

EE: IGRE Publishing is going to be a brand new Role-Playing Game and Fiction publisher, and will be incorporated either by the end of this year or the first quarter of 2014.

The IGRE acronym stands for Interesting Game Rules and Entertainment.

IGRE was primarily planned as the publisher for Sword Land RPG, but we have plans and ambitions for more products once SLRPG is out the door.

Currently, IGRE is comprised of myself as the main writer and editor. We also have Saph-Y, who is a freelance artist and the main illustrator on the SLRPG project, and Triton, who is also a freelance artist working on the SLRPG.

We're a comparatively tiny outfit, but intend to expand rather soon.

JP: What - if any - other products or setting are they working on?

EE: I'm glad you asked! Once the Sword Land RPG Core Rulebook has been released, we will be quickly putting out the SLRPG Bestiary to follow suit. In the same time frame we're planning on releasing the "Haunting in Glimmerpoint" Adventure Module, which is the same module I've currently been playtesting the SLRPG system with at our convention appearances.

After those have been released, we are looking at putting out the Iellos Campaign Setting (the default setting for SLRPG), along with the "Expanded Armory" (a guide of magic items and new weapons), and an expanded rulebook for the Mass Combat system in SLRPG. There will be more RPG books to come, but those plans will be revealed at a later point.

There has been some talk between me and Saph-Y about an idea called "Sword" Magazine, which would essentially be a small monthly/bi-monthly e-magazine that would feature new art, dungeon maps, NPCs, monsters, and magic items. It would attempt to keep new content generated between major book releases, though I'm still looking into the feasibility of that project with the current current lineup.

Along with RPG rulebooks and modules, I would like to start a fiction novel line based within the Iellos setting. There is a strong possibility that we will attempt to publish "Replays" as well - which are essentially a dramatized retelling of the events of a campaign in a script format. It is a style of writing that has it's origins in the Japan role-playing scene, but if it is possible I would like to see if such a style may find traction in the States and elsewhere.

Finally, at some point far down the line I would like to release another game system I've been toying around with named Itty Bitty Quest - but as of now our main focus is on the Sword Land RPG system.

JP: Why make your own imprint rather than work with an establish publisher?

EE: There was such a diverse amount of material created for the Iellos setting and for the SLRPG system that it seemed prudent to release them on my own time. I do not fear established publishers, as I do freelance work for other publishers when requested and actively work with them on a regular basis on the convention circuit. However, I wanted to have a imprint that would allow me and the team I've put together to create the SLRPG system and its' settings the way I envisioned them, and figured that it made the most sense to start anew.

JP: How/why did Sword Land come about?

EE: I started working on writing RPG material during 2008, when I first started as a Game Master for my original game group. Of course, at the time I was writing the RPG material for the Iellos setting as a hobby, as I didn't expect that it would become as popular as it did. Beforehand, I was writing sci-fi stories as my main creative outlet.

My original game group took a yearlong break between 2008 and 2009 due to work and other life issues, but I was essentially hooked by the unlimited potential that was the tabletop RPG. It quickly became my main creative outlet at that point, and I began revising the original setting material and story lines for the time we started playing again.

By 2010 we were actively playing again, and that work I had done in the break had paid off. The world of Iellos is a very expansive place, and the campaigns within it had a life to them, as I tended to run games with a bit of a dramatic flair to them. This definitely pleased the players at the table, but I was still only pursuing it as a hobby at the time.

Due to the amount of story content we had generated within the setting I began posting up transcripts of our game sessions online - and those quickly became more popular then I had possibly imagined. People were actively reading what little I had posted and loved characters such as Fiva the Ranger or K'Rena the Rogue, but I still hadn't considered attempting to write RPG material professionally. That changed after I had commissioned an artwork of K'Rena during 2012, as one person who had commented on the art stated "If I was to play RPGs, I would want to play her! This is the type of character I would like to run!". It was at that point I realized that the setting and its' contents were appealing to a good number of people, and I began writing with an intent to publish at that point.

At first I was intent on first releasing the Iellos setting as a whole campaign setting book in its' own, and began expanding the fluff for the setting past the point I had originally intended. I took this early draft to the RPG Writer's Workshop at the Great Falls Gaming Rendezvous 2012, where at that point I had several big names look over the material. In particular, I had John Goff (Deadlands Noir), Jay Peters (Third Eye Games), and CJ Ruby (4 Winds Fantasy Gaming) look at the material - it was a great experience, as even though I did not win the Workshop at that event I came out of the room with dozens of ideas to improve.

It first crossed my mind to focus on writing a game system instead of a setting during that time frame - I was regularly running games for the Sandbaggers Game Club, where I was frequently finding new players that were discouraged due to the complexity of the majority of RPG games currently out there. People were leaving my game tables due to the fact they did not enjoy the published RPGs I was running, and it became apparent to me that there was worth to the idea of writing a "simple" game system.

At first I was working on "Itty Bitty Quest", which was a D4 dice-pool game, but by December 2012 I had come up with the initial germ of an idea that evolved into Sword Land RPG. I shelved ITQ almost immediately as I was finding much more of a spark designing and writing a D12 system, and I shifted all of my RPG writing to focus solely on SLRPG at that point.

It has almost been a year since I originally began writing for Sword Land RPG, and I'm quite glad with the progress that the artists and I have made with the project. It seems that so far I've somewhat succeeded with the original goal of a "simple" system, but I'm leaving that for time to determine.

JP: D12? with the OGL? You have to tell me how that came to be.

EE: The main reason I decided to go with D12s for SLRPG was due to the fact so many other excellent systems exist for other dice combinations. D20 is the homeland of D&D and Pathfinder, of course, and I had no desire to attempt to compete against those giants. D6 has the likes of Dragon Age RPG and Shadowrun, and D10/DPercentile have games like Anima and RIFTS.

Rather than get caught in a trap trying inventing a better mouse trap, I figured it was best to build a system around dice that were not commonly used. My first attempts ended up with a game called "Itty Bitty Quest" that used the D4, of course being the smallest dice in the standard polyhedral set. ITQ was shelved relatively quickly as I came across some elements that required a heavy revision of the rules that had been already established, and multiple ideas that were intended for Itty Bitty Quest instead found their way into Sword Land RPG. At some point I'd like to revisit the IBQ game, but for now Sword Land is my priority.

The main reason for staying with the OGL was to cover our bases legally, and still be able to use several common themes and terms. We can use the terms like "Armor Class" or "Hit Points" without finding a Cease and Desist Order at my mailbox, which as you can expect is a very good thing.

JP: In our conversation, you mentioned the character creation was unique and fast, please elaborate on this. I'm curious to know how you replaced feats and skills with "abilities".

EE: Character Creation was designed the old fashioned way - there's no need for a overly complicated character sheet, as a single sheet of paper will work. Stats are rolled up with the D12s in a multitude of ways (along with a Point Buy method), the race and the class of the Player Character are picked, and then the "Abilities" and equipment of the character are picked out. In all, the process takes about 5-10 minutes for an experienced player, and along the lines of up to 30 minutes for a beginner. The intention was that there would be no need to spend countless hours trying to create a character - after a few choices and ability scores are determined, you are ready to play.

The Abilities are a big game changer - Skills and Feats as written in the SRD do not exist in the SLRPG rules due to the focus on a smaller cap on DCs (Difficulty Checks) and Armor Classes. The intended cap is 20, though it may change later on. For almost all checks, only the Ability Score Modifiers are added in to the roll. However, Abilities can change the results of those roles.

The Abilities are separated into 2 categories - General Abilities, and Combat Abilities.

General Abilities encompass things that are either biologically or skill-based activities and functions, and are always active. For example of a Racial General Ability, "Wood Elven Stomach" will allow a Wood Elf to eat greens (such as leaves and other plants) and receive a full day's worth of nutrition from them - where as a human or other race would find them inedible. For a Skill-Based Ability, something like the standard "Move Silent" or Hide" will grant a permanent +3 bonus to a character's roll when they are attempting such actions - which is a huge bonus in the game mechanics. If you have the General Ability, your character is essentially concerned an expert concerning the skill in question - though you stand a decent chance of still being able to pass any check without it. I was trying to avoid the pitfall of ever ascending DCs with the system, and this mechanic works in that regard.

Combat Abilities fundamentally change how your character operates in combat - of which there are multiple examples. There are things like "Cleave", "Extra Attack" and such that allow your character to potentially attempt to attack more enemies in combat. There are also Abilities such as "Block", "Parry" and "Counterattack" that allow you to interrupt enemy attacks and prevent damage done to you - essentially giving you an attack roll to cancel out the enemy's hit. Finally, there are other Abilities that increase the range of a ranged character's zone of opportunity (changing the range from melee to a straight line the length of the weapons' distance, all the way to eventually covering everything in front of the PC), amount of HP, magic usage, and other such.

Essentially, the Abilities are "perks" that make your character more efficient at certain tasks. You'll always receive one of each (General and Combat) on every even level up, and some classes will grant more.

Of course, another fundamental change is that you are not limited to receiving Abilities from Level Ups, as they are also able to be granted and used as "treasure" in a way after accomplishing quests. In that way, PCs who are more adventurous and willing to be trained or taught tasks can pick those tasks up as Abilities after the quest or training session.

Monday, September 9, 2013

More lies: Tacticon and NeoExodus Legacies

Tacticon was a smashing success for NeoExodus Legacies... we ran at least one table in every slot. Full tables of six players for the most part.

The Friday night interactive ran with two tables: one of APL 3 and one of APL 7.

What was at stake was the future wedding of Tsarina Anayanka of the Arman Protectorate. After the near debacle in Trovaska earlier this year (Paizocon) she realized the danger her family dynasty was in. So she resolved to find herself a husband to secure her family's legacy.

Four Princes came forward: Prince Vladimir, a former senator for the Protectorate; Prince Dmitri, who became famous during the recapture of Trovaska in 91AU; Sheik Abdel from the Dominion sent with Khagan's regards; and finally Prince Bial Eland, wanted in the Caneus Empire in relation with the murder of Empress Mercy, his sister.

To ensure as much information as possible, the Raina hired bands of adventurers herself to meet with the Princes and report to her. The adventurers were sent to meet with the Princes to gather some of the information about them for the Raina - and for their patrons. For indeed all six patrons were interested in the affair, whether to help, hinder or simply know about what's going on.

Making a notable appearance was the Folding Circle whose first appearance in the Legacy campaign surprised a few people! It really was great to write something for such memorable characters. Now if you don't know the Folding Circle, (click here to find out more and where you get get the book in dead tree or pdf). The short version of it is that these guys are über-terrorists think a group of super-powered Osama bin Ladens. but the coolest thing about the book is that the Folding Circle are scaled up: from a CR 3/4 through 25 or so, making them villains that can take it throughout your PCs' adventuring careers. They each have a distinct role in the group and their abilities are quite unique.

The voting ended in a tie with recommendations going to both Prince Vladimir and Sheik Abdel. After some deliberation, the Raina saw that most of the supporters favored Prince Vladimir and thus recommended him to her sister. The Tsarina, it is said, was so overjoyed that tears ran down her face.

During the official engagement ceremonies, the Folding Circle made their move, attacking the Alexeisdom, the grand Sanguine Cathedral of Mureath. Because of the bravery of both adventurers and the Protectorate army, the Folding Circle was repelled and the Janus Hordesmen they freed were prevented from entering the cathedral, saving the attendees.

If you missed it, here is the Epilogue to the special.

The festivities for the coming wedding of the Tsarina with Prince Vladimir resumed even before the debris had been cleaned. As the fireworks, merry songs and drunken dancing resumed, the whole of the Protectorate reveled in the future coming of an heir.

Tsarina Anayanka paced through her bedchamber in the dark, what little light there was filtered through the drawn curtains. Lost in her own thoughts, she failed to notice the sudden appearance of the dark skinned man next to the door.

After a minute, he put his hands on her shoulders. She froze, her hands reaching for his.

My love, both whispered. Enjoying the proximity, they remained still, both knowing this moment would end too quickly.

Turning to face her beloved, Tsarina Anayanka closed her eyes and gently kissed his lips. Milady, you are now engaged! It would not be right. It would not be proper, he said.

Oh Nasser, no other man will touch me but you. Never again should you bring his name into my bed chamber.

Sultan Nasser drew a breath to reply, but Anayanka pressed her finger on his lips. Never again, my love.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Farewell Denver, for now... (Tacticon)

Now that Tacticon is over, I have to focus forward to upcoming events. Scarefest in Lexington is my next big NeoExodus event.

But it would not be right for me not to spend a few moments on my trip to Denver and let you all know of the large amount of awesome the Rocky Mountain Gaming Community has. I mean really.


I flew out of Cincinnati early in the morning and made my way to Denver without issues. From there, I got a car, drove to Colorado Springs where I helped my family with some last minute moving things. Then I went to sign my house away at the realtor. And then to the Red Lion to take a nap. I was beat.

My first - and only - slot was running "As if it could get any worse," re-running PaizoCon special. Once again, we got a different outcome (one much like the play-test). I really enjoy running that one (like most of the NeoExodus specials actually). With that one in the books: much needed sleep.


Friday was another day of GMing for me. I first ran "In Sickness and in Health". This adventure has a lot of nasty to it which made me giggle all the way through. And when I giggle, players shiver. Rightfully, I might add. I know I already talked a lot about this one. Yep, it delivered.

In the afternoon, I ran the "Silver Lining" a Janus Horde adventure, that took a lot of time to form in my own mind, but that with one scene (the finale) suddenly took a life and a shape all its own. The story advances the Janus Horde and the Caneus Empire plot in what I believe is an interesting twist. As always, their is a silver lining to all of this...

Okay that was a terrible pun, but still I think it's funny and very à-propos.

The evening slot had fewer players than expected, but that did not lessen the impact or the fun. Chris-S and I gave our third GM (Martin) the night off to play.

The plot of the interactive dealt with the coming wedding of Tsarina Anayanka (you can read the prologue to the interactive in this blogpost). In short, a number of unaffiliated adventurers were asked by Raina Blanka to meet with the four suitors and recommend the ones they favored.

This being NeoExodus, things could not be as simple as that. It seemed the terror group known as the Folding Circle chose to get involved in the affair by attempting to sabotage the engagement, which they did as all five of its members spread death and chaos throughout Mureath. Makesh, Nysska, Emok, the Destroyer and Haru-anon were all seen in town.

It took the might of the Protectorate Army and the brave action of adventurers to prevent the Folding Circle from disrupting the ceremonies. But in the end, Tsarina Anayanka was engaged to Prince Vladimir Gregorevitch, in the massive Alexeisdom. Their wedding to come later this years (and a narrative is in the works).


For the past cons, I have kept my schedule open on Saturday to play rather than GM. It turned out to be an interesting one...

For the first slot, I had hoped to play Arcanis. but when I got there, I was told to "go shopping" as I was the only player slotted for the event. DANG! I got to play 5-01 Glass River Rescue with Jeff Kokx. A fun event for Obata who drunkenly adventured through the game.

The next slot, I mustered with Calvin to finally try "Rotted Capes" a superhero vs. zombie variant from PCI. I must admit that I am a fan of both genre, just not together. However as I was - again - the only player to show up for this game, I instead went to play some Arcanis! I had promised Peter from PCI that I would try it and when I could, it didn't happen.

However, the game was pretty much 4 players watching two replayers and the GM dominate the game. I left somewhat annoyed that replayers stole the game rather than leave us first-time players fumble through the plot. When I told the GM afterwards that he should focus on the non-replayers rather than a three way, his answer was "What can I say, their characters care about the story."


Love those guys but man it sucks to having to shout over everyone to do anything and when all the discussions and plot points are known by some and that they drive the game. I can only imagine how the noobs felt. I doubt you'll see them put Arcanis at the top of their list going forward. (which sucks cuz the *I* can't play in the slots I want)

The evening slot, I was also slotted to play Arcanis. This time they mustered with me as a 7th. Crap! I don't do tables of 7: overcrowded, long, loud, among others. So I got bumped to make sure the replayers got to play again.


So getting bumped (I really felt like I was getting kicked out) from Arcanis I went to speak with Jacque who quickly funneled me to Jeff Kokx's table (again). I got to play the third of the PFS Season 5: The Hellknight's Feast. I was happy to see this was Jeff's 150th table. And so it qualifies him for his fifth star. He's really a great judge and very deserving of the honor. I had good fun even if our table of thugs managed the adventure without too much difficulty. This was one of the most enjoyable PFS adventure I got to play in a long while. I will talk more at another time about my thoughts on year 5.

A few cold ones and I was off to bed.


I woke up early - which turned out to be a good thing because I had to deal with some issues with my move (we were moving during the con).

JP playing Nose-CutterSunday was another GMing day for me. I was scheduled to run "In sickness and in health" again but a few drops brought the numbers to 3. So I allowed my "backup" GM, Chris to run this one for me. And I got to play my own creation as Nose-Cutter.

Okay, I knew I was sick, but I grossed myself out. It was pretty sweet. I liked how Chris put his own twist on the adventure. I had a good time discovering NeoExodus from the other side of the screen. I will disclaim myself and make a strong effort not to take over the game and to let the others shine and make the decisions - something fairly easy when playing Nose-Cutter. He's really our most iconic character and the one who appears most often in NeoExodus games.

For the next slot, I was specifically requested to GM the adventure so I did. It was "Silver Lining" again. This time we once again had a full table of 6 players. Silver Lining is fun to run, particularly when running the adventure to players who have a lot of experience with the Janus Horde. It introduces some new elements in the mix, and really makes the Horde scarier.

Then I attended the closing ceremony and snagged a new Pathfinder Corebook (I used to have 2, one got stolen and the other one is dying) - Thanks Jacque. It is always good to hear feedback from the top about attendance and congratulate major GMing achievements & efforts.

Then I went out for dinner with Homer, Ryan and Matt-M at Village Inn (there are none here in Kentucky and I do like VI).

Mini Haul!

I got me a few goodies while at the con. I took pictures of them to give you all ideas of what will be coming down the painting pipe. A lot of Horde, some Warmachine and a few Bones. I spent some time walking through the dealer room - obviously. I picked up a selection of items I ordered from Gamer's Haven (Shout out!), a few Bones from Total Escape Games (also Shout Out!), and a few toffee'd peanuts from Dustin S (YO!).

I can't wait for my painting table to be back so I can paint. It's been a month and I am suffering from terrible shakes.

GM Rating System

The DGA (Denver Gamers Association) has long been using a GM rating system. A laudable effort. I remember "back in the days" when a "10/10" was very difficult to obtain and was an achievement in itself. GMs with "perfect tables" usually no more than 3 throughout the con were mentioned. I don't know what happened but in recent years, the number of "full 10s" began to grow. A lot. Jeff K even pushed the bar with 9 tables with all 10s.

Where do you go from there?

So this time around, a new thing was tried. Now you would rate the GM in 5 categories with a unique number from 1-5. I'll be blunt: I don't like it. It does not tell me, the GM if I am doing a good job or if I was crap - other than my own gut feeling. Comments were plentiful this time around but still the rating told ME nothing (especially since I did not have time to evaluate the results, where the 5s were, where the 1s were, etc).

The idea is good, but the goal of this is important. Do you seek to tell the GM his strengths without making him feel defeated? Do you seek to find out who sucks as a GM? What?

Personally as a GM, I want to know what I'm good at and what I can improve.

The proposal I made to Jacque and Jenn was to have the same categories however rather than a numeric score, have each player check the GM's TOP TWO skills/ abilities. That way you can average a GM's best ability and know what players like most about that person.

Decisions and Parting Thoughts

The Rocky Mountain community is just awesome. Just. Awesome. I've said it before; it is with a sad heart that I leave it behind. I'm gonna be "the new guy" here in Kentucky. A role I enjoyed playing in Colorado.

I received some very nice testimonials from many players about how I really made them feel at home in the community and how through my personnality and actions, I got them MORE involved in gaming in general. It really touched me because I did not expect it, but I knew it was real and heartfelt. I should do that more myself: tell others who influenced me in the past. I got my chance many years ago when I met the teacher who I can say had the most influence on my young mind: Jean-Pierre Bacon (yes, another JP!). Learning under him made me love math and after a year under him, I was firmly decided to go to engineering school, which took me around the World: from Japan in th east to Colorado in the west (through France, Ireland, and Quebec)...

It seems the stars are never aligned for me to play some Rotted Capes. Another opportunity that did not go off. GAH! I'll never get to play it!

I have heard about a number of changes within the community: big changes coming. I'm both excited and worried about them but I will wait to see how they play out. One good thing is that I am no longer part of it all, so I my involvement will be as a traveling guest, enjoying what I like most: playing/GMing. I have a feeling Kentucky will also have all the same politics. As Genesis wrote "Though names may change, each face returns the mask it wore"... Hummm I really should put that song on... (Can-Utility and the Coastliners from the eternal Foxtrot album, 1972)

After my experience with Arcanis, I decided I would no longer play it at Denver cons, there are too many games I want to play. It is not something I decided lightly, as I love Arcanis but the experience has left me soured about it. I'll play it at origins and other big cons - where I will try and avoid PFS play. I will also be playing the game online when possible.