JP On Gaming

Monday, June 30, 2014

Cryx Mondays: Scrap thralls for the heap

In the Cryx lot from Cincicon, were a number of these scrap thralls.

Where to start with these models... I love them. Not just for their use in the game. I have no idea how good or bad they are, but with a name like "scrap thrall", I don't hold my breath for them being awesome.

Seriously, their usage for me lies in their usefulness as RPG models. Half-skeleton, half-construct, what else do I need? I mean really? They look bulky, unwieldy and just plain mean.

I have been thinking about a Zombie apocalypse mini-game for a while, using Zed or Alive perhaps. These guys just scream "INCLUDE US!" Not to mention additions to Deadlands: Hell on Earth or steampunk horror. But even as NeoExodus necrostructs... This is an adventure that simply writes itself.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

[Interview] David Silver about Ponyfinder's latest Kickstarter

For my 100th post of 2014, I thought "Happy Thoughts" and Ponies make me think of happy things. Then of little girls screaming and squealing in delight...

Ponyfinder was a surprise delight for me. I really did not expect to like it. I am not sure whether I wanted to help on my own or if I was asked to do it (I was asked and waited to come back from my trip to Montreal before doing anything about it). I wanted to know more about the man, the project and this new kickstarter. And being a charitable person, I had a short interview with him and I'm posting it here for you!

I'm talking about the man in charge of Ponyfinder and the mastermind behind Silver Games LLC: David Silver (DS).

JP - How did you start playing RPGs?

DS My first taste of D&D was at the hands of a man that offered no advice. I left the experience confused and bewildered, but proceeded to go home and tell my friends about this thing. We went on to do cooperative storytelling for months, since I had no idea what the rules were and had no funny dice. Eventually I got AD&D 2nd edition and we started playing that, and I haven't stopped roleplaying since then.

JP - What is your RPG pedigree?

DS I'm about as indie as they come. I've designed online roleplaying games for over ten years, but never made an actual roleplaying book until just before the first Ponyfinder Kickstarter, when I made the race guide to ponies(Ponies for Pathfinder), which was later expanded into the Ponyfinder Campaign Setting that people are enjoying. I'm only starting to meet the 'big names' right about now, as I press further with my desire to keep on creating.

JP - What would you say is your favorite RPG system of all time?

DS Different systems work for different things! I admit that I tend to like crunchy numbers. I think it's the programmer in me, but I like watching those gears spinning around, and designing things to fit in the existing machine without breaking it appeals to me.

JP - What draws you to Pathfinder over other games?

DS Ponyfinder is a happy fit of luck and timing. I saw the joke version of it on the web long long ago, then got into Pathfinder organized play (Pathfinder Society). The organized play got me playing Pathfinder quite a bit, as it was a very fun format to bring a character from GM to GM.

JP - Ponyfinder is a 122 page book, quite an undertaking. What got you to decide to write?

DS Related to above. When I tripped over the joke Ponyfinder again, I thought I could do better, so I made Ponies for Pathfinder over a week or so and published it for all to see. The response was very positive, even to the point when I asked if they were willing to pay for a more polished book. I put their words to the test when I started a Kickstarter and they came through. We blew apart every stretch goal we could dream up and Ponyfinder was eventually born of it. It was an amazing experience.

JP - Why Ponies? My little girls love 'em... but grown and aging men?

DS Why dwarves, halflings, or elves? Tolkein's had a stranglehold on our fantasy for too long. I like interesting species choices, and the classic ones are getting a little dry. Making some races that had distinctly different anatomy and way of approaching life is great fun to write about and to play. The ponies as presented in Ponyfinder all have goals and ambitions that I try to make consistent with the world and 'realistic' as far as that world goes with brightly colored equines. They are not all nice people, and they don't live in a sunshine world of luxury.

JP - The Ponyfinder book introduces us to the Everglow setting. Can you tell my readers about it?

DS Everglow is a world parked right between the elemental planes. It's soaked in their clashing magic, which has given rise to elementally charged races, with flying horses, dogs that are on fire, and even races made of gems. The ponies were the last species to appear, but took the world by storm with their extreme variety(sea horses, gem, doppelgangers, unicorns, pegasi, bats, desert, ghost, and more) and their eventual cohesion. While their empire persisted, they were a powerful force of law and order, providing the framework for the world to function peacefully, mostly...

JP - One of the things I really liked about it was that you presented the timeline of the setting. Not only that, but you provided some hints, story ideas, factions for the era, in short you provided three settings in one. That I must say was quite ingenious. I think I may steal the idea in future products of my own. How did that idea come about?

DS When I wrote the original Ponies for Pathfinder, it was assumed the ponies were not in charge, and hints were given that they used to have an empire worth talking about, but it fell apart. We didn't want to abandon the roots, so we had to address that point in time, but we also wanted to touch on the empire itself.

I decided to go with three major points, before the empire, during, and after, and let the GM decide where along the timeline they want to run any given game. We don't mind which you pick, and not much changes mechanically, but it changes the flavor of the world dramatically from wild west to high court shenanigans, or post apocalyptic survival, all on the same world.

JP - Other than the obvious presence of ponies, what at the most unique elements of Everglow?

DS There are a lot of four-legged races, ponies aside. It's also the easiest setting ever to throw in elemental tomfoolery. It's not unusual for the border between 'here' and 'there' to thin out, causing a place to start manifesting properties of an elemental plane, causing trouble, or opportunity, for the players. We tried to add interesting character creation options in the form of feats, traits, spells, class archetypes, and such that you can use even if you don't set it on Everglow or play a pony at all.

JP - Who are the main bad guys?

DS That's a tough one! Most settings don't have a baked in nemesis for all that is good and just. We have some evil gods to worry about, but even they have their purposes, and are acknowledged by polite folk, rather than being banned. There is no good in war, so their war god is evil, and they accept that if one accepts the idea that killing a field of soldiers is probably not a 'good' thing to do, even if sometimes justified.

We expect storytellers to come up with more specific bad guys for their specific stories. Our first level adventurer has a gem gnoll that's quite a baddie. Every party I've run the scenario for has taken glee in putting him in his place.

JP - Quite simply: Why Kickstarter?

DS Kickstarter is an amazing tool that not only gets me the funding to pay artists, layout, and editing to make the book look right, but also connects me to the fanbase to share ideas with them. People love seeing their ideas come to life, and it was a blast working in their characters, towns, and even races into the campaign book the first time through. Kickstarter allows Ponyfinder to be a true product of the community.

JP - What does the griffon add to the setting?

DS Griffons are present in the campaign book as a racial option, but it's not very generous in details about them. The griffon book (Who's Kickstarter is going on right now!) dives into details. We'll reveal where their towns and cities are up in the mountains most ponies don't intrude upon. We'll give them specific class archetypes to do things 'the griffon way', and delve into their way of life and thinking. It will be an excellent tool for roleplaying a griffon, as well as a helpful guide for GMs who may wish to use griffons as aids or antagonists for the player. They have the potential to be amazing heroes or incredibly troublesome villains.

JP - Why griffons instead of any one of the other races?

DS In staying with our community driven ways, we ran a poll with all the non-pony Everglow races, and griffons came out on top.

JP - This kickstarter should be funded. How far advanced are you in the writing of it?

DS I have a basic timeline written out with events, one unique griffon goddess, and the griffon outlook for every class in the book. We also have some griffon racial types, allowing you to shuffle your stats a little if you prefer to play a clever raven-headed griffon or a pious pidgeon. When we hit our twelve thousand mark, we're going to be expanding on those options a lot. While they all look about the same to untrained eyes, the griffons have their own variance to compete with the ponies.

We're looking forward to the next stretch goal at ten thousand, less than five hundred away, which will allow us to bring on Hugo Solis, an artist who has worked with Paizo in the past, to do up some amazing pieces for inclusion in the book.

Just about every stretch goal makes the book better. I set the funding goal just as Kickstarter suggested, at the minimum amount needed to do the project. With each goal we bust through, the book will be that much better in the end.

JP - Who is your team on this new book?

DS Our artists, Sita Duncan and Tama'at Studios returns. My right-hand editor Anthony Mckaskle is ready for action, and we have a new marketing /PR consultant, Kyle Elliott. I'll be writing and keeping things moving. Lastly, we have an actual module for levels 1-3 being cooked up by William Kreber(the fellow who did Tower of Misery) and Michael Azzolino.

JP - Do you have any plans for a campaign?

DS Oops, just touched on that above. We have aspirations to do an adventure path type thing, starting with the first module I hinted at above. We're using some of the funds raised in the Kickstarter to cover art and editing on it, and look forward to releasing it when it's done.

JP - What about an organized play campaign?

DS I would love to see this! But I think we need a lot more content and a more steady stream to support such an endeavor.

JP - Are you planning to attend any major cons in the coming year?

DS My con list for the year: Everfree Northwest, Brony Fan Fair, and Nightmare Nights I only got my first taste of vendoring at a con early this year, and it was far too late to try to squeeze in one of those big ones. Maybe next year? Time will tell!

JP - Any there any important links where people can go to learn more about Ponies/ Silver Games/ the Kickstarter?

Twitter: @silvergamesllc
Facebook: Pathfinder Ponies
Our forums:
The Kickstarter:

JP - Are you looking for writers/ editors/ gms?

DSGMs are a precious commodity. If you like running games, you should set up some on our forum at where you will find players waiting to play!

JP - Do you have any non-pony projects in the works that you can talk about?

DS Not at the moment. Ponyfinder is consuming my life!

JP - Any final word?

DS Thanks for the interview! I hope this was as fun to read as it was to type and if you haven't already, fly on over to and support the book. We can't wait to write with you!

If you can participate, I encourage you to check out the Kickstarter. Learn more about it for yourself. I know that talking with David, his enthusiasm about this project is quite contagious.

A lot of good stuff in there... And a few surprises if you read through everything...


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tweaking Pathfinder: Mobs vs Hordes [Response]

One thing I've really enjoyed since I started writing this blog is to read comments, responses and counter-proposals. It is always my goal to make the game better overall.

This past Thursday, Perry-S posted a reply on G+ regarding my mob rules. In his response, he directed me to his post on Paizo.Com (found here). In his post, he offers an alternative to the mob system I presented.

At first glance, my gut feeling was "It's 4e monster roles re-hashed". In many ways it is, but with a few things that got me thinking. What in there could I use myself? I read and re-read his thread. I thought the way he presented his stuff was simple, intelligent, and really using 4e's roles well. Not only does the thread present his thought process, but also some guidelines on encounter-building, which had me fascinated.

I was quite intrigued by his simplified stat block, which was a very 4e/5e thing, which for minion-like things, I really find a good thing.

Mobs vs Hordes

Since he posted in regards to mobs, he uses "hordes of minions". Both represent a similar thing: large number of (generally) weaker opponents fighting in a somewhat coordinated manner.

If I understand his post correctly, the two are similar in the following way:
   - They move all at once (a mob as one creature and the horde as a unit)
   - PCs are able to take them down fairly easily

Here is where a mob has an advantage:
   - quick to run
   - no extended tactics or options (makes them very easy to run)
   - swarm attacks scare players (minions are likely to miss constantly)
   - focuses only on damage rather than tactics
   - uses existing and current game rules and stat blocks

Here is where a horde has an advantage:
   - blocks space (each minion must be bypassed individually)
   - minions have attacks of opportunity
   - action economy (you must take the time)
   - use of tactics (flanking, aid another, use of special abilities)

I can see how the two groups could be used in different instances. They both have their advantages.

So... which is best? That's a toughie. I am personally tilted towards mobs, but I cannot discount the use of a more complex encounter provided by the horde.

I will be talking to Perry on his math. That thread of his shows that he put a lot of thought into it and I would like to see more of these house rules. I am quite intrigued by his take on Commanders & Solos. Stay tuned guys for more word on this. A Gostor product? Who knows!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Origins: What I did during the con


Wednesday morning came real quick. I got up at 3AM, showered then packed the car with the last of my stuff (computer, medicine, clothes). The rest was already in there. After a last check for things I might've forgotten and an email check, it was off to Columbus. I listened to a few CDs I hadn't listened to in a while: Marillion's Season's End and Brave Live in Paris Part 1, Rush's Power Windows, Genesis's Theater of the Mind (a bootleg), and Oasis's Familiar to Millions Part 2.

I was in a good mood when I arrived in Columbus shortly before 7 AM. I parked the car, took the elevator and was elated to discover that the Delaware room(s) were just outside the elevator. I set up my NeoExodus stand and table. Isabelle quickly arrived and we both got into game mode. I showed her where all of the games and material for the games were located. The mods, the LRs, the handouts, the iconics, everything. We were both stoked and ready to go.

Players showed up and we were off to play John Dow's "Black Glass Valley Raid". Enjoyable game. Interesting choices. I will say this put me in a good mood for the con. I was really hopeful that we would have a number of tables.

Next slot, we waited in vain for players. So Isabelle and I went to play something. I played Arcanis.

For the evening slot, again no players. So then I got myself a ticket to play a game whose blurb spoke about a Soviet invasion of Denmark. I was definitely intrigued. So I got a ticket and showed up to the room. To both my surprise and delight, it was a Twilight 2000 game.

Uncle JP's olden days story time

It was the late 80s. The Iron Curtain was still high across Europe. My fellow classmates and I were playing a game that put our hormone-filled teenage days with heavy machineguns, rocket launchers, tanks and things to destroy all kinds of things. It was awesome. To think we would go about Poland to destroy, pillage, and loot whatever we can.

That was Twilight 2000.

I have a number of really interesting stories such as stealing a herd of cows to pull our tank or meeting people from countries we barely knew or understood or stealing Russian supplies in a Lada. Ah... Memories.

One of the things that ended this campaign was the following scene - which was the last time I played the game.

I was a medic and we were escaping our latest botched operation (due to poor planning as usual). I was trying to keep a prisoner alive in the back seat of a lada while the other two hulking heavy weapon specialists in the front drove like madmen down this little Polish country road. I kept screaming to the guys to slow down so I could stabilize the man. I kept failing due to the crazy penalties from the driving.

Then Marc turns to me nicely telling me to STFU and punches me. In the face.

The minimum amount of damage he dealt made my head explode.


The campaign ended right there.

Ahhhh the 80s.


Thursday morning, I joined a game of Witchhunter, then Arcanis with the gang from Denver: Bill, Gregg, Jim & Michelle. Then in the evening I again played Witch Hunter. I must say that I really like the game and its setting. I've said it before but it is really growing on me even more. I have a number of ideas for things I would like to write for it. One thing at a time, I remind myself. One thing at time.

That last game I played with Isabelle, which was an added treat.


Friday brought more of the same. So I played Arcanis with Isabelle. I failed pretty much every check I did, except the one to spend money... It was fun. Again playing with Isabelle made this game somewhat special.

For the afternoon I managed to join Pedro's Rotted Capes table.

I will be honest. Superheroes and zombies are both things I love. Separately. When first approached with the idea of mixing the two together, I was... underwhelmed. I can see the draw, but did not really feel it. Still, if you read this blog, you know that I try to give an honest shot to every game I play. Peter and I had been talking about it for quite a while and I promised him I would play it. One day.

That day was Origins 2014.

I sat down to play with the gang from Fandible. It was really enjoyable. The Arcanis system used with superheroes works fairly well. Though I am still quite partial to Mutants & Masterminds as my Superhero system of choice. I played the Iconic "Powerhouse", a Colossus look-alike. The adventure had a lot of the typical zombie-tropes. Everything one expects and likes about them. While I can honestly say that it may not be my thing, I strongly encourage anyone who loves either superheroes or zombies to give it a good go.

To add to the awesome, the table was run by the creator and huge enthusiast of the game and setting: Peter-B. The energy was high and the great really exciting.

The evening slot, I went around looking for a game and eventually sat at a table of a new game called "Reality A." Rather interesting game. To give a quick description of what I understood, some strange event happened and now some people are able to manipulate the world around them. It is a very mixed group of genre that mixes techno wizards, with Harry Dresden type things. I got to be a redneck with a Dale-Call (see below for the commercial), and a pick-up truck with a tank turret. Awesome.

All my supernatural abilities I re-branded with a redneck flavor: I drank PBR to use "dull pain," I had a truck with Dale Earnhart's #3 on the side (along with a turret gun), I created some beer goggles using... Beer bottles. You get the drift. I really laughed during this game.

After that, I played in the midnight slot of my first Heroes of Rokugan adventure. I did very little of use as my character pretty much sucked. However, I enjoyed myself enough to order me a 4th edition book and look forward to playing some more of it. I haven't played the game seriously since 2002. My campaign in Ireland being the last true L5R campaign I ran/played in.

I guess there might be more posts about L5R in the future.


On Saturday morning, I had a ticket to play Witchhunter (again). However, it turned out that the adventure had been swapped for The Mastiff of the Baskertons. Instead, I ended up running it! I must say I really liked running the adventure. There were still a few rough edges (I have since sent a reviewed version to Clint with a few correction). I really enjoyed running it. It was the first time I played a Witch Hunter adventure that lasted the full 4h of the slot.

The rest of the day was spend playing the Invasion of Tultipet, the Origins Battle Interactive for Arcanis. It was a massive undertaking. Ken, my GM, pulled few punches as we fought waves after waves of dwarves. Dwarves with heavy crossbows are just NASTY. I spent a lot of time on the ground, just bleeding out. For a skirmishing character like myself, front line duties end poorly.

The story involved us trying to stop the mad queen of the dwarves from summoning a dragon. Now in case you don't know Arcanis dragons are massive forces of destruction. Really scary stuff. We succeeded, but victory was, as usual, bittersweet. Definitely an experience to remember.


Sunday morning, I had a ticket to Arcanis, but I just had enough. I'd played so much of it that I wanted something else. I initially went looking for more Rokugani goodness, but there were no such games.

Then I turned to Catalyst's Shadowrun. I'm getting to enjoy myself some more, even if I can honestly say I'm not a huge fan of the world, but I can live with it. I have fun with it, and I'll leave it at that.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cryx Monday: Black Ogruns arrive only on Thursday!

I won these three black ogruns on Ebay. One of the guys was missing an arm so a quick chat with the seller got me a small rebate. WOOHOO!

I looked through my bitz box before finding an old 40k ork arm that would fit right. The lad in the back right now cheers with that arm.

As usual, I debated whether or not to give them a banner. However, the only way to get the arm to fit right was in a position not conducive to a banner. So with that...


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tweaking Pathfinder: Tweaking the Mob rules

If you have played NeoExodus Legacies, chances are that you are familiar with our mob rules. Mobs are used as a creature where putting a horde of minion-level characters would be appropriate, but would be just too unwieldy.

Thus far, mobs have appeared as a terrifying element - which is what I think a mob should be. So I came up with mob rules and we have been using them occasionally in products since 2012.

This week, one of my players (shout-out to James-S) pointed out to me that when you are in a mob, you should be heavily distracted, something that was NOT in there. However, after some thinking, I must say that he was right. So I will be adding the following to the mob rules.

Why entangle? I hear you asking. Because, like the mob rules themselves, I want something that is easy, simple and that already is well-defined. The entangled condition provides a DC for concentration, makes the mob difficult terrain, lowers a target's Dex and attacks, etc. Although I considered mobs to get a free grapple, I thought it would be too powerful and not keep with the theme of disordered, unruly assault mobs do.

Note that this is entangled condition, not the entangle spell.

Mob Rules

Sometime it is more convenient (and quicker) to represent a group of low-level combatants by have them swarm or form into a mob. Such a group usually contains individuals with similar abilities, such as a mob of peasants or an enuka tribe. A mob obeys mob mentality and surges forward striking with whatever weapon it has handy. This creates a “creature” that resembles a swarm in many aspects.
    1. Except where mentioned below, a mob is considered to be a single creature.
    2. A mob can move without penalty into any area that its member could fit through.
    3. Mobs never use spells or special abilities requiring activation (but a mob of rangers would gain bonuses from the favored enemy ability and a mob of p’tan does additional damage to creatures with the First Ones subtype).
    4. Although not immune to weapon damage, any attack that targets only a single creature cannot deal more than 10% of the mob’s starting hit point in damage.
    5. A mob is vulnerable to area of effect attacks the same way a swarm is. Any area of effect attack deals half again its damage to the mob.
    6. Deals damage like a swarm.
    7. A mob is immune to any spell that targets a finite number of creatures with the exception of those dealing damage, those spells act like weapons (deal a maximum of 10% of the mob’s starting hit point).
    8. Anyone inside a mob is entangled. The mob also provides cover to anyone inside it.

A mob that reaches zero hit points is dispersed, leaving one third for dead, one third injured or unconscious and one third still alive. However the creatures have lost the will to fight and flee as fast as they can.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Real Life: Thank you Lord

For once, a real life post that does not suck. Just good news.

I just returned from Montreal, my hometown. There I attended what I thought was my sister' 50th birthday. I was glad to do something for her. She is the godmother of both my eldest daughter and me.

However, my lovingly devious wife concocted a scheme where it was not JUST for my sister but a 40th birthday party for me as well! It was a 50th and a 40th together! (or a 90th as my brother so kindly put it).

It was a great and happy surprise to see my parents, all 3 of my siblings with their families, my in-laws and their family, my oldest best buds, and a veritable horde of children: nieces, nephews, and friends from ages 22 to a few months. I cannot tell you how excited I was to see the latest two family additions: little Malek and baby Joanny.

It was truly a great evening, one I will not soon forge where I only had enough time to spend a few, too short moments with everyone. Speak and laugh with everyone. Great plans and future vacation ideas were discussed, good times and fun stories also surfaced.

In all this hustle, feeding frenzy, and organized chaos, I could not help but spare a moment to thank the Good Lord for surrounding me with so many loving people. Really making me a very lucky person.

Now that I have a moment to sit back and reflect on things. I am twice as thankful for having everyone in my life.

A few shout-outs to my wife Julie for putting this together and stalling me when I wanted to get there early not to miss the surprise.

Second, to my sister Christine on that big day for her too. I tease her a lot, but I love her for it too.

Finally to everyone who attended: un gros MERCI de m'avoir fait réaliser une fois de plus la chance que j'ai d'être entouré de gens aussi divers et formidables. Même de loin on ne vous oublie pas et on s'ennuie du temps trop court qu'on passe ensemble. Merci. Merci. Merci Seigneur.

I have no pictures of the event myself. But they do exist...

Again, Thank you Lord for having place all of these people in my life. Thank you.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Origins: A writer, gm and player's comments

Origins 2014 is in the books. Every game has been played. Lessons have been learned. Experience gained.

I have to say the this year, Origins was a very mixed bag for me. Some lows and some highs. As I start writing this I'm pretty sure this will evolve into a number of different posts. As I feel I will have a lot to say. So I will start with the bad, go on the 'meh' (things that are important to me, but not others or vice-versa), and finish with the good stuff.

The Bad Stuff

The Program was one of my biggest issues with the con in general. Not only was one of our slots, simply NOT in there (the Friday Afternoon), but it was missing something very important information: the game system. I did join a few games based solely on the blurb, but it was a very random thing. With the amount of games and events offered, it ended up creating something of a SNAFU with many of the smaller groups having difficulty finding players (note that a number of them still got to go off, but I know of another creator whose games all fell through). I passed on my comments to the leadership team and they will be addressing this in next year's program, by putting the game system in the program.

I learned that I will be adding a note that "This is a Pathfinder RPG game" (or something like it) to all my future submissions to large (and small) game shows. Live and learn, I guess.

Only 1/9 slots of Legacies went off Directly linked to the previous issue. Because of that only one table went off! Of the 18 available tables, (I had two GMs: the lovely Isabelle and myself for 9 slots each) it was pretty disappointing not to run all these games I wrote in a frenzy in the weeks before. Plus it was the premiere of John Dow's first adventure for us. That's the one that got to go off. Now I need to run Secession and Legacy of Lies in other venues... looks like I will have to put games up on the web... So keep watching the Legacies Facebook Group for full details and upcoming dates. They will be posted shortly.

Didn't have time to do everything In a con this big: one must prioritize what to do. I did not have time to see or do everything. Those things I really wanted to do, I managed to find some time. I will admit that having my slots not go off helped getting me to do most of those, still I would've preferred to run more NeoExodus.

One-Page This one is 100% on me. Of all the things I needed to print, the one thing I forgot was the one-page intro to NeoExodus! I will have those at Gencon for sure (tickets are going for Gencon, with a few tables fully booked already), so that's good! I really kicked myself for this. Lesson learned!

5-hour slots Isabelle pointed this one out to me, and I say I have to agree. slotting 5 hour games makes it difficult to have food breaks between games. Next year, I will plot my events to be 4h long. NeoExodus games usually run in that 4h more than 5h anyway. Another lesson learned.

The Meh

KOLD This one was something that I did not expect. Yes, I mean KOLD with a 'K'. The Greater Columbus Convention Center is an ice box. I mean freezer cold. Lucky for me, I brought (through pure dumb luck) a hockey jersey I wore most of the con over my t-shirt. I also put on socks to keep the frost at bay. Though this was an inconvenience I can easily remedy, the alternative: hot sweaty gamers is so terribly worse that I had to push this from the "Bad" to the "meh". Next year, I will have long pants and a few long-sleeves packed in advance knowing this.

Mostly Board games (vs. minis & RPGs) From what I have seen, Origins has a very large board game community and vendors carry a lot of them. To me this is a no-use situation: I don't play them, I have too much to do with minis and RPGs already. I don't need another vice/money pit. Many people I know love and enjoy them. This con is great for you! I strongly recommend it. I did look at a few things here and there (mostly games with some minis). I am happy to see that the creativity in that field is thriving, I just have no interest in it myself.

Kickstarters I have a very love-hate with kickstarters, particularly those companies that start new ones without fully delivering on previous ones (I look at in particular). Unlike at Gencon, CMON did not have any Relic Knight or Wrath of Kings minis, the two kickstarters I still wait on. RK in particular is late by more than a year and it is supposed to be shipped "any day now". Call me St. Thomas: I'll believe it when I open my box of minis.

But back to the point. I encourage and enjoy companies that talk about their kickstarters (both previous and upcoming), it seemed to me that most companies were all waiting on KS to do anything, and that is somewhat annoying to me. I want to see more companies push forward without KS but I understand its lure. So that's one thing I consider to be a neutral.

The Good stuff

Got to play a lot of Arcanis I got to play 5 rounds of unscheduled Arcanis (2 of those were originally planned). So this is good! As usual the story remains compelling and exciting. A few changes were made to the rule/campaign that I disagree with - and will be posting later this week. In spite of this, I decided to focus on the good and had a lot of fun, reforming 4/6th of our Arcanicon team. Paul and Nicole who I play with regularly on-line and Eric. I forgot about Eric's mancatcher... I will say that this BI was BY FAR the most difficult and tough one of them all. I spent a lot of time on my back or almost on my back (and I do not mean anything dirty by it, for once). My face character is not designed for these situations. So I will have to teach her some new tricks for upcoming games.

Got to play a lot of Witch Hunter Like Arcanis, I was able to play more Witch Hunter than I expected. A nice bonus! I will say that I really like WitchHunter, not only for the game itself but the fanboy in me who has a thing for the 17th century really digs it. The adventures I've played thus far are all somewhat fast-running (about three to three-and-a-half hours each). Still fun fun fun.

Got to run WitchHunter I did get a chance to run my own Mastiff of the Baskertons to a lucky table! The adventure had a few rough chinks that I will correct and send to Clint for review. Nothing overly major, just references to things that were not correctly edited out (by me). If he will let me, I may very well write another one.

Got to play: Heroes of Rokugan, Shadowrun Missions, Twilight 2000, Reality A, Rotted Capes So many games I never played or haven't played in a long while. I will detail my thoughts on each of them in my day-to-day. But you can know that I liked most of them already. Big Kudos to the many GMs.

Nerdgasm truly, there are three things that really got me excited to the point where I would call nerdgasm.

First, I got to spent time with a good friend from college, Isabelle. She came down from Ottawa to experience Origins. We also got to play a number of Arcanis and Witch Hunter events together. It's always good to play with her and I really enjoyed myself.

Second, I got to meet with all the PCI staff in one place: Eric, Henry, Jim and Peter. My weekend was done when I received the personal thanks of Henry for my work on Witch Hunter. High praises indeed! I also played a game GM'd by Peter (long story there...). Got to speak with them at the PCI booth, at/during the interactive, and even between/during slots. It was a very fun thing for me to exchange with these guys who put up a product I love so much.

Finally, and this was something of a surprise for me, I got to chat with Chris Tulach about some of the 5e organized play. I really liked how he was tackling some of the issues that plague organized play. I won't go into to many details, but I think that his take that stores should be the main beneficiaries of WotC's plans. This, I believe, is a GREAT setup for success. By using stores as their local representatives, they hit the nail on the head by getting willing and invested partners in the success of their products. Other than a few of the "big cons" (Chris said that list was going up to 20 this year), all local events will need to partner with local store(s) - which many of them do already - for special access. This is a good move, unlike the previous 4e move of "support home play above and in spite of everything else." I really liked what he said, and that echoes a lot of things I hear about 5e.

Convenient Setup Of *ALL* the conventions I have attended, I can easily say that Origins was easily the most convenient overall for everything: food, hotels, parking, and resources all accessible between slots without a mad dash. For the food, I would not call it cheap, but I would not call it overpriced either - much to my surprise. The ice cream place was really cheap for the amount one could get. Always a win in my book. Great setup to the con team and to the thinkers of the convention center.

24h gaming I was able to get into some planned games starting at midnight. Not the classic midnight madness with a dead-tired GM and bunch of sleeping players. No, a GM who was alert and players who were also.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Cryx Monday: Asphyxious

After the Menoth mega-lot, I got my hands on a lot of Cryx at the bring-at-buy at Cincycon. The lot included a number of Cryx blisters and jacks. Here is the first one of this lot, the iron lich Asphyxious. I like how he came out, all burnished.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Avatar of Menoth

The Avatar of Menoth is an interesting model. I bought this one for myself at Xmas! I painted this one for serve as something of a center piece for the rest of the army with the burnished brass.

I Initially wanted to add some flame motifs, but after burnishing the metal, I thought it looked quite "busy" already. With all the etchings in it. The result is nice. Easy to do on a nice model.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Gladiator Tuesday: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE!

So I've come to the end of the latest collection of gladiators. I thought that a group shot would be pretty nice. Indeed when they are grouped together, they form quite an impressive band! I really like the overall multi-colored fighters together. The blood on the ground also is quite bright and flashy.

I find the humor that I post this just as I am about to enter the arena that is Origins! If you are there, drop on by and say "hello".


Monday, June 9, 2014

Minion Monday: Gunboars

These guys got forgotten when I painted a number of minions during the winter. The paint job is pretty standard: leathers on top of skin. I debated about going with pinkish skin undertones, but after watching some TV show about hogs, I decided to go pretty much human-ish.

The final effect is pretty good, they look really good, if I say so myself. My daughter loves them.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday Funnies: Playboy featuring Princess Zelda

As one navigates Deviant Art, one never know what you can come across. This is surprisingly SFW...


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Origins news! The Mastiff of the Baskertons to Premiere

Well I have cried, whined, griped and despaired over it, but finally, I got it done. What at first seemed to me like a simple distraction turned into something much bigger. And now that it is done, something I am very proud of. Of course I am talking about my Witch Hunter: The Invisible World adventure.

The adventure now has number and a release date!

SP1-2 The Mastiff of the Baskertons will be offered at Origins! That's right! If you have a ticket for SP1-2 at Origins, you will be playing a twisted tale from the recesses of my mind. The adventure draws upon one of the most read and filmed stories in the history of the world. I read this story a few years ago, after having seeing more than my fair share of adaptation in film or on TV.

I can't wait to hear feedback on this adventure.


Friday, June 6, 2014

[Warmachine] Another pKreoss for Menoth

Here is a second pKreoss - this one in metal that came in with the super lot. It was really badly broken up, so I had to do a little bit of conversion work. I originally fixed the flail with the whole (redone) staff as a straight ensemble, I dropped it and was never able to get it straight again. So I cut the edge and place it so it rested on the base for added support. It's not straight, but it's good enough.

I wanted to do this one with a simple and clean look. However, midway through, I added flames and decided to keep the robe dirty or off-white. The effect is pretty good as Kreoss fits in VERY well with the rest of the Menothian infantry I have.

I just recently painted another pKreoss (sometime during the Fall of 2013). I added a picture for comparison. I like them both.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Warmachine Wednesday: Iron Fangs, then and now

Part of the Khador lot I won that reeked of cigarette smoke were these guys. Back in January of 2012, I won a number of these pikemen which I painted and sold at a great price to my friends Carey and Josiah (shout-out!). These models came to me without shields, banners or arms in more than one case. Here they are again, to jog your memories:

Comparing the two jobs, I like them both. The original one was more "typical" with the reddish-orange highlights, while these later ones are much darker with the black highlights. The older ones had something I like, something about all the conversion and changes that stuck with me.

One thing I think is missing is a nice big Khador banner. However, the spears are just too pliable to hold a banner nicely.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

[Predictions of Doom][Rant] Is Pathfinder Society Dying?

This is really not a rant... more of an inner questioning about a game I love so dearly. There are some ranty parts, mostly geared towards some people in particular.

For the past three or so years, the gaming landscape has been dominated by Pathfinder and Pathfinder Society. Paizo has done a great job of keeping us entertained with fun adventures, and an evolving storyline. PFS has grown from strength to strength until it became the biggest organized play campaign out there. Under the steady leadership of Mike Brock, and as of year 5, the inspired guidance of John C, we have been offered adventures that changed some elements of the campaign (killed the factions, better, more concise story line, an overarching plot).

All things I have been clamoring for since I submitted my application for Venture Captain in 2010. So I rejoiced in the additions - with the exception of the death of the faction. I like the factions.

Paizo fading?

In the past few days, I spoke to three different people (each in a different country, some Venture Officers, others local coordinators), and all of them remarked to me that PFS attendance was dropping and that the focus of many players was moving to 5e (either quickly or slowly).

With 5e getting closer, and WotC started to announce a few things. We are starting to see what the final product will be. The Exodus is about to begin.

For the past 2 years (since the banquet in 2012), I have been having this nagging feeling that Paizo has been kinda waiting for the next iteration of D&D before seriously touching the game. Going on a holding pattern until 5e was out: no major changes to the rules, no big updates, just a few additional products with an appeal that is much more limited than in previous years (no APG). From the major releases they have been putting out, I think their products are... uninspired. There are no more core books that really are core books. Bestiary 4's big selling point during the banquet was "you can fight Cthulhu."

I will go on a tangent here, but the idea of Cthulhu-in-D&D has never attracted me. There is something about it that just feels wrong. That said, I am a big fan of the Call of Cthulhu RPG. Hopefully the 7th edition will be arriving very soon. I have no interest in fighting Cthulhu. Like the Tarrasque in D&D, it is more or a plot device. Like Mutants and Mastermind's Power Level X opponents. But back on track.

During these two years, Paizo has moved from a purely RPG company to a bonafide gaming company. They have branched out into the card business, exploded their miniature business (I am wondering if they may new be glutting the market, but...)

I didn't see the quality of their product drop. I did not see the quality of the art drop significantly. I certainly did not notice a lack of enthusiasm for the PFS volunteers.

So why is PFS dying (one source's words, not mine)? Why is it loosing steam? (I think losing steam is more appropriate than dying) if by most account (including my own), Season 5 is the best season so far? Shouldn't it soar and keep on growing?

Attempt to understand

I will try to provide a few reasons:

Players have no buy-in Although the adventures are entertaining, players have nothing holding then there. They are not fighting for an idea. They do not work for a goal that is tangible. Even season 5's goal is neither noble nor really clear. What the PCs are doing as part of the season and the results are difficult to judge. So I as a player don't know what - if anything - my contribution, and I mean *MY* contribution brings to the table.

I and many others complained that 4e felt too much like an MMO. Have we cheapened our play experience to exactly that? Have we settled to treating our RPGs and Organized Play like we do our MMOs, something we do to pass time? Have we, as players, just decided to be viewers on the rails?

Asking the question another way, what is there that makes me feel important? What is there that makes *me* feel special?

Why, after being dead 6 years now, is Living Greyhawk still highly talked about, over Living City, or pretty much all of WotC's other organized play campaigns? Could the players have buy-in? Did they feel important and part of the plot? Did they have a way to help shape events in the campaign? Yes. Yes, they did. And that's where PFS failed to give the players any reason to remain loyal.

Players have no influence over plot Continuing the previous entry... For the first few years of the campaign, we were lied to and told that playing one's faction would influence something. There were a few half-hearted efforts to pretend like something mattered. Really, some ideas I proposed that were rejected off the cuff: have a monthly "winning faction" and give a minor bonus (a reroll, a +1 to a Knowledge skill, etc). There are many ways to decide who "won": Average PA/session, total PA, each only requiring a slight math change in a database query. Takes 2 seconds to do. I know the leadership looked at the number on a regular basis, so why not do that.

The bonus would be irrelevant to the adventure played. "For the month of June, all members of Taldor gain a +1 to any Diplomacy check." Not over powered, but to incite play and see which faction won.

Players have no influence over world After five years of play, what can we say the players have accomplished that affected anything in the world? Oh yeah! We opened a teleportation hole between Absalom and Varisia... This allows us to travel quickly between the two, when all adventures did that before. So no gain.

Even year five will not provide any significant change, just another fight of the Crusade... I am waiting to see what the GenCon finale will be but I won't hold my breath on its awesomeness. I expect it will be fun, but not great. FYI I won't play it at Gencon, I play it here in Kentucky with my children and local GMs who want to provide a good game experience. I've enjoyed myself a lot more locally and will continue to support and promote local play through my local stores above Gencon.

No special content, ever Only a few events in PFS history were ever unique: The Grand Convocation. And those were quickly dropped and barely remembered. No player ever does anything remarkable. Funny how people who play other organized play (I will use Arcanis as a counterpoint) can talk about battles they did and the unique encounters they had.

How many of those events can you remember in PFS where you did something really remarkable? I will admit that, since year 2+ most of the moments I remember are tied to the table with people doing something great. Generally things that would not have mattered whatever the game or adventure we played.

Bloated Rules After five years now with monthly releases adding partially-to-tested rules, feats, spells and other elements to the game Pathfinder, like all its predecessors has become bloated and is in serious need of a slim-down. Something that will concentrate the rules together, not add more. It is time to shake down the house and trim some extra branches. Since PFS only keep adding and adding to the campaign a lot of these rules elements

I have been saying we'll be getting a PFRPG 1.5 (not a full 2e) one year after 5e. Why not a full 2.0? Because Paizo realizes that even MORE people will drop off from their band wagon. So they need to update the rules just enough that people will WANT to change but not feel obligated to do so. Like 3.0-> and 3.5->PFRPG. From there, I hope we will see a number of simplifications of the game.

Newness factor of 5e One cannot discount the "newness" factor of 5e. It will be new, shiny, with fewer books to get into. And WotC will aggressively push it, seeking to regain its traditional seat as Lord of the RPGs. Will it work? I think it will have a nice success. It is very 4e-ish to me, but I try to keep an open mind. Will I try it over a game of PFS? Likely. I will make my decision on whether I like or not very quickly.

For me, supporting 5e will heavily depend on whether the have a real OGL. And just offering some free goodies is NOT an OGL. It's great to get players to buy-in, but for publisher to support and encourage the game... We'll see. My money is no "NO OGL". There will be partnerships, enough for WotC to get a couple of people involved, but the open safari that is the OGL is over, I think. Meaning the community as a whole is unlikely to jump in behind. Sure there will be a lot of people playing, but on a personal level rather than publishing level.

Adventurers League This is really what drew my eye: The announcement of the Adventurer's League. That post a LOT of goodness to it. They hit all the nails on the head: Premiere events impact the storyline, players get to make choices, a flow of new and different adventures.

Now my excitement about this is to be strongly tempered by this caveat: if this is just another endless series of "Encounters"-style games, I know I will have a lot of free time on my hands and I will not be playing 5e very long. BUT if we are given a quality campaign, with a story (and not a story of "you enter the tomb of the lich" kinda crap). But encounters where those who seek to play and interact with the world can do so, are rewarded, it may hold my attention.

Culture change Most people who have been with PFS a long time, have noticed a sharp culture change. From a "glad to play"-culture to one of entitlement where players always assume GMs are there to roll over an wallow in their own awesomeness. I will not lie and say that I can optimize the heck out of my characters (and when I try not to, they turn out even more ridiculously overpowered). The death of 4e really signaled the end of a fun time. Climbing the mountain make it exclusive. But with that gone, we've become the Jabba of the world.

A number of Venture Officers believe the world is owed to them and that because they are involved in PFS that everyone else deserves to bow to their will. I heard of a VO who claimed that boycotting a major event was "good for PFS."



I mean, really?

How will not helping an event help you in the long run? You have to be a COMPLETE MORON, to say, and believe that. Even if you dislike a convention or something about an event, supporting it is important. Whether attending as a player or a GM, supporting local and nearby event when you can is important and helps build relationship with gamers from other games. And what do you think these other gamers tell people about you and your campaign? That's right, they say that you are the best and most awesome people in the world and that they want to associate with you!

No. No they do not.

So when PFS will begin to die off, and it will. You will find yourself without any friends who will want to support you. That's just a really stupid attitude and shows how long you have been in the world of gaming. The answer is not a long time. Come on people!

Now that said, there are plenty of fine Venture Officers (enough to compensate for the idiots like the guy mentioned previously). They are passionate about PFS and run a good game and are a delight to their communities.

So is PFS doomed?

Everything dies.

I mean yes. But I do not see PFS going away in a short time. It may have a long decline before it goes away or is rebooted (PF2.0 would be a good time to reset the campaign...). It had a 5-6 year run. It has nothing to be ashamed of itself.

The coming year will be a big revelation to many people as players and GMs desert to 5e games. Events that used to regularly fill venues, will trickle to less and less.

That said, I think Paizo will continue to be an important part of the gaming landscape for a long time.

Is this a "PFS is gone in a year" prediction? NO. But I don't think we will see rooms the size of those we've been seeing at Gencon. It will be smaller.

The question I have is: "How will the leadership cope with this and how will the bounce back?" I think PFS or a revamped PF-OP can indeed rise again. There will be big changes to shake things up, but I think Paizo has this well in hand.

But only time will tell.

Hey what is your prediction? I foresee than within a year we will see a decrease in PFS play at large events ranging from 50-75% in the coming year while 5e will take an ever larger place. How long will this continue? I will post again after the release of 5e.