JP On Gaming

Friday, October 30, 2015

[30 Days of DnD] Day 30: Best GM you ever had

I have been lucky to play with many GMs. With various degrees of experience and skill and enthusiasm. However, I do have an answer and I did not have to think too long about it.

This one goes back, WAY back. I had to be just out of high school when my cousin called me for a game one of his friend, a guy called Alex, whom I knew only tangentially was running a game of Rifts. He was a buddy of my cousin, in the days you gamed with the people you met through intermediaries.

I showed up and he was running what can best be described as "Rifts: Aliens". We had twelve people to start and over the course of two days whittled our numbers down to two. Me and "Sim" made it to the escape shuttle, only to realize that neither of us could pilot it. So Sim flew it out with his related Pilot: Airplane skill.

I have never been riveted to my seat before. His mastery of the GMing art was leaps and bounds above what I ever experienced before. Even though we knew what the adventure was, he played to the genre and really made the whole thing come alive.

It was a revelation in my life, and ever since them I wanted to be as good as he was. Bring in and atmosphere to the game that made the players feel like they were right there.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

[30 Days of DnD] Day 29: What is the number you always seem to roll on a d20?

One less than what I need to make an awesome roll. So 18 when I have a crit range of 19-20 or 14 when my crit range is 15-20.

I seem to do a lot better as a GM - though it might be because I get to roll a lot more dice.

I don't really know.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

[30 Days of DnD] Day 28: A Character you will never play ever again

The Pathfinder gunslinger. Tried it, hated it, don't want to play that again.

I recognize that others love 'em and I'm fine with that. They just did not do it for me.

Oddly enough, I have no problem playing such a character in a Western Game - such as Deadlands. Peanut butter in my chocolate?


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

[30 Days of DnD] Day 27: A character you want to play in the future

I would really like to play in a game set in Saggakar. I have been thinking about a cambion paladin as a nice idea, or a skythian ranger.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Player's Guide Final Cover

It took a lot of work but finally, I am touching the goal - for real...

All I have left is a single piece of fiction I have to re-touch... the one about Okayaaa... That's right each of the iconic get a piece of fiction dedicated to them.

Irene got me the final large-sized versions of the iconics and after trying out a few, I settled on Awelara the witch and her familiar Peeker as the cover girl. I may actually have a special Limited Edition cover with someone else. But that's for another day... I will offer one such special cover for Aethercon... I can't wait... I am SO excited about this!


[30 Days of DnD] Day 26: Favorite Non-Magic Item

Armor. I like armor.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

[30 Days of DnD] Day 25: Favorite Magic Item

My trusty +1 weapon.

Truth be told, I don't really have a favorite item. I got burned by the wackiest of them back in high school that I now favor the simple stuff. That is a good story I'll have to tell you one day.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Friday, October 23, 2015

[30 Days of DnD] Day 23: Least Favorite Monster Overall

Hummm again there are so many. I have to say monsters that make no sense (like the flumpf) never appear in my game.

However, orcs are overdone and are usually boring random thug encounters. They are flavorless monster that wait to get killed by the dozen. I dislike 'em.

On the other hand, Orks are AWESOME!!! Once you go green, you never really need or want to play another army...

D&D orcs=suck, GW orks=awesome!



Thursday, October 22, 2015

[30 Days of DnD] Day 22: Favorite Monster Overall

One of the elements that drew me back to 3e was the fact that dragon once again became scary. They were not the pushovers they were in 1e and 2e. Now taking on one of them is indeed an adventure.

I still have nightmares of my buddy Sebastien-M who walked into the room with a sleeping red dragon, kicked it awake then proceeded to one-shot it using the red dragon slayer sword he found in the previous dungeon. (Thanks DragonLance). They really sucked in 1e... But they were really brought up to par in 3e+.

Even 4e dragons were no joke. They had staying power and some decent offense...

Even a white dragon is no gimme anymore.

Dragon. The name of the game! Are my favorite monsters!


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

[30 Days of DnD] Day 21: Favorite Dragon Color/ Type

I think the Gold Dragon. I like their scholarly interests and their mix of ability that makes them great in a variety of roles, from combat to support to mentoring to employer. They can work with the PCs as scholars, as mentors, as non-lethal opponents.

Plus their shape-shifting abilities makes them extremely useful for infiltration. I was able to write the story of a family of them in Living Greyhawk and really thought it was a fun addition.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Drakonian

Every since I read and kinda ran "Curse of the Azure Bonds" in the early 90s - yes I had the adventure decades before I got my hands on the novel. I devoured that novel so fast it left me wanting for more... I had no idea this was a trilogy and read it as a single novel. As such, I totally enjoyed it, which I would not have had I known of the trilogy.

But enough of my gripping with trilogies...

So since that time, there have been draconic adventurers in games: whether they be Dragonlance's draconians, or lizardmen from Greyhawk, or the Ss'ressen from Arcanis (I am butchering that spelling) but their presence always seem to make things more interesting, with their reptilian perspective. So when it came time to add some new races in Saggakar, some type of reptilian had to be in the conversation. Hence the drakonians.

"But JP, you never played one," I hear you say. And you'd be right. I tend to play blander characters but I still love to adventure with them.

This guy here will serve as one of the generic drakonians! Now I need to use more of them in adventures!


[30 Days of DnD] Day 20: Favorite Monster (Humanoid/ Natural/ Fey)

A difficult category here... Very vast.

If pressed for a race I like to use best, I'll go with the skythians from Saggakar. Created and bred only for war, they since evolved and are trying to come to terms with their nature versus what they discover of the world.

Conflict and story potential in one.

This makes the fun to write for as their inner nature is to give in to mayhem and slaughter, but they have more. In some way, I see them as teens trying to find themselves, who they are and what their role is in the world. As a writer, I have a lot of freedom with them. Some may go one way, others another all the while keeping to who they actually are without changing or creating a bunch of oddball character concepts.

Fun to write about, fun to play. I like 'em!


Monday, October 19, 2015

[30 Days of DnD] Day 19: Favorite Monster (Elemental/ Plant)

I am a big fan of the basic four elementals: air, earth, fire and water. They are just beat sticks that pound PCs to the ground quite effectively. There is nothing but raw, brute, power in these creatures.

They may not have all the coolest bells and whistles that others - like the genies, but adding them to an encounter means the PCs have to worry about them.

And they scale throughout the PCs' own careers, from the small at low levels to the elders of higher levels.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

[30 Days of DnD] Day 18: Favorite Monster (Immortal/ Outsider)

A difficult one... But I have to go with the Erinyes devil might win the cake here. Their look as fallen angels draw me to their story more than most of the other creatures of this type. They are archers that also make awesome warriors.

Yet with their core abilities as warriors, I have also seen them used successfully in a variety of other roles: diplomats, spies, and concubines.

For more beat-stick I do like elementals, but these are mostly as straight-up combat brutes.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Aethercon, Promo, Paint Shop Pro and MAX POWER

I had to make a promo for the Aethercon booklet and I included all the products I was giving away. Well most of them are on there as I will be giving away a Player's Guide to Saggakar!

I wanted our Big-O to be present... Branding, you know.

I am still a noob at Paint Shop Pro, but I'm starting to do it the MAX POWER WAY. There's the right way, the wrong way, and the MAX POWER WAY.


[30 Days of DnD] Day 17: Favorite Monster (Animal/ Vermin)

I have to say I am extremely partial to spiders. Mostly because they immediately creep out most people simply by mentioning them or hinting at the way they move.

Spiders are creepy, but they are so much worse when they are five feet high.

Now if I had to chose an animal I like because I like the animal... I would have to say canines (such as dogs and wolves) or bears.

I like bears. I was given the totem of bear when I was in the boy scouts.

I am a brown bear.


Friday, October 16, 2015

[Friday of the Dead] Skeletons, Part 1

More Reaper Skeletons. Painted with use in Frostgrave in mind, hence the snow on their bases.

Undead like these are multi-purpose from role-playing to miniature games


[30 Days of DnD] Day 16 Favorite Monster (Aberration)

This one is easy, the rust monster. Nothing spreads terror through a group of PCs like this little tentacled beetle. It is priceless and awesome.

Blast it from orbit!!! is something I heard once or twice.

Music to my GM's ears...


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Player's Guide test cover

Irene is working hard to finish the Iconics I plan to use on the cover of the Player's Guide. I spent some time this evening playing with Paint Shop to see what I could come up with... I don't dislike it, but it definitely is too crowded. I'm not sure what I'll do.

I'm open to suggestions.

Speaking of suggestions, I received a few very good ones from my buddy Alex FG. I haven't yet responded to him on his points as I am pondering what to answer. I like that he sent those to me now, when I still can work on the document and add some additional tidbits to the Player's Guide.

What nice problems to have...


[30 Days of DnD] Day 15: Favorite Monster (Undead)

I have used a lot of skeletons and zombies in my days. However, my favorite undead is the classic mummy. Mummies are intelligent, have a nasty curse, pack a punch and they can serve roles similar to a lich, but at lower levels.

Versatile and interesting


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

[30 Days of DnD] Day 14: Favorite NPC

Again there are a lot of choices here. I will pick one I was able to portray a number of time: Lord Dane, the Lord Chamberlain of the County of Urnst - the prime minister if you will. Something of a stickler for protocol and a man with ambition, he was a man who knew his place, but still used it to advance the County and himself.

I especially liked him because his mother (often played by D'Anne) arranged to have him be named as consort to the well-like Countess Rachel (Nice job D'Anne!). An agreeable man who appeared quite often in the last two years of the Living Greyhawk campaign. He was broad, tall and blue-eyed... Almost like a description of someone...


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

[30 Days of DnD] Day 13: Favorite Trap/ Puzzle

As an engineer, I like traps that make sense. The needle in a chest is fine, but I'd rather through all the thieves into a pool of acid and merely hurt them. Although I disliked their implementations, the encounter-traps that appeared in late 3.5 had the right idea. By the same token, a trap must have a way that people who live in the dungeon must be able to bypass easily (even if the answer is "they use the secret entrance").

However, I am not a big fan of puzzles in DnD. I do not write too many of them in my adventures.


Monday, October 12, 2015

[Frostgrave] More Adventurers

More minis from Reaper Bones II.

These two ladies served as Kitty's wizardess and her (wo)man-at-arm. She really liked them.


[30 Days of DnD] Day 12: Favorite Dungeon Type/Location

I have to say "the castle". Having had the chance of visiting quite a few, they always fascinate me and still do to this day. Not only did they have a military vocation, but they were places where common, everyday people lived and breathed (some would say breed, which is also true).

Their construction fascinate me: their location, the materials used, the time it took, the skills required, the engineering requirements, and the ingenuity required fascinates to me. Definitely my favorite.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

[Frostgrave] Two Knights

I have painted these guys from the Reaper Bones II. They will serve us as Frostgrave knights and/or RPG characters.


[30 Days of DnD] Day 11: Favorite adventure you ran

Again a lot of choice. I will go with 93-LC-03 Sugar and Spice and see the PCs screw themselves knowingly. It is a delightful adventure to run as a GM. The NPCs in that adventure are also quite meaningful with goals that are very relatable. In many ways, it is one of the adventures I would love someone to write for me...

If I were to specify an adventure that had been written by someone else... I would think of Ron Lundeen's TUS3-01 Haunted House of Bin-Khadij, and I also loved the lore and story of Expedition to the Demonweb Pits. I'd have to go with those two.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

[30 Days of Dnd] Day 10: Craziest thing you saw

Well so many of them... but I have to say the icing on the cake is my buddy Steve who, while playing Call of Cthulhu managed to live so long with a Luck of 30 while other PCs constantly out-shined him with better skills, "Steve St-James" became something of a local legend. He lived through so many adventures before finally getting what was coming to him. And we were all sad.

I would like to add the wooing of a few maiden fair with some strange dice rolling through some verbiage that... well... should not be repeated. But then a '20' came up and well things came together and love ruled the day...


Friday, October 9, 2015

[Friday of the Dead] Desert Mummies

This pre-Halloween series will feature a number of undead miniatures I painted for use with various RPGs. I have also grown interested in Frostgrave, a Mordheim-like skirmish game I read a lot of positive things about online. So I decided to buy it on a whim and hopefully get to play it with the family.

These four mummies came with the Reaper Bones II set. I decided to speed-paint them, and they took little more than a few minutes to complete each, minus the time to wait for the magic dip to dry. The result was as expected: quick and effective, but not overly spectacular. As wondering monstrosities however... they will do nicely.


[30 Days of DND] Day 9: Favorite Character you haven't played

This one is harder... Character concepts that I like, I usually end up making. I guess a gruff non-dwarf based on Paul Teutel Sr from Orange County Chopper might be the one concept I haven't played. I am worried it might get old fast.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

[30 Days of DnD] Day 8: Favorite Character you played

I have had a number of characters I really loved to play: from the womanizing Mousset (see his wanted poster), to the heroic Sir Azrel (see his sponsorship), even my Warhammer FRP character (read his epic finale), or the young scholarly witch, Katja Alterborg (which I played in both the Reign of Winter AP AND in PFS).

All come into consideration... So many choices...

If I had one choice, I would most likely select Werner (von Breslau-Giersbergen), the metro-sexual priest of Sigmar. He had so many awesome quirks and (mis)adventures because of those quirks, that he was a blast to play, regardless of his skill and abilities. He ended up rather formidable in the end, being the sole survivor of a fight with a god-like thing.

Mario's ability to integrate each players' subplot into a greater whole really made this game and the characters within memorable. I have a number of posts on that campaign and the character: See the Warhammer FRP posts.

Shout-out to Mario, Sarah, and Mike-M who made that campaign awesome.


More Art from Irene

Art is rolling in! Here are the sketches for Awelara, Kraan and Korb. I like the sexy-but-not-slutty Awelara, Kraan's scruffy clothing and Korb's staff and look. He looks mad...


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Commissions: Three Adventurers

Here are three adventurers I painted I will be giving up for charity auction. All of these came from the Reaper Bones II set. The details are really not as crisp as the metal ones.

The first one is from the Pathfinder set. He is a somewhat generic adventurer.

This second model I converted in a few ways. The original model is one of the bugbears. I did a headswap with a beastman. Then I altered the horns. The result is another anuka warrior. That one will go into my Tyrants of Saggakar minis box.

This third mini is a barbarian. I keep thinking this dude will end up as one of the wizards for Frostgrave.


[30 Days of DnD] Day 7: Favorite Edition

Hummm... I consider 1e and 2e to be the same and stopped playing that for 10+ years because I found them inflexible and limited compared to other games out there.

I have been playing 3e since January of '03. And have been enjoying it very much. Although not as free as other games, it did address a number of issues I had with 1e and 2e.

I disliked 4e almost from day one. Let's leave it at that.

My personal jury is still out on 5e... (I'm not over excited by it.)

So 3e/3.5/Pathfinder is definitely my favorite! With Pathfinder really taking the cake. I'm sure there are people completely floored and surprised.

Finally an easy and obvious question!


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

[Frostgrave] First forays into the frozen city

For months now, I have been reading about Frostgrave. Battle reports, adventure, warband building, and reviews. All of them were positive OR the few that weren't had issues with thing I didn't really care about (too small, scope too limited).

For those who do not know what Frostgrave is, it is a Mordheim-like fantasy skirmish game where every player takes on the role of a wizard (and there are 8-10 types of wizards) that travels to the ruins of the city of Frostgrave to loot its secrets and treasures. Pretty simple premise, right?

I had the kids play the roles of one wizard each. To keep it simple, we did not use any magic. I wanted to get familiar with the basic rules of the game first. I built two warbands using a little variety based on model. They had thugs, knights, man-at-arms. Kitty's band was mostly composed of girls and ActionMan's band was all boys.

I used some of my terrain - trees and tents. As a base for the whole thing. It was simple, but I did not need anything more. And frankly, it looked pretty good as a battle site: a few narrow funnels created by the tents and the trees.

So we had Kitty the Fire Wizardess vs ActionMan the Primed! Their forces were (I go from memory here):

ActionMan's Warband: Wizard, Apprentice, 2x knights, 1x man-at-arms, 2x thugs 1x warhound

Kitty's Warband: Wizard, Apprentice (with sword), 1x knights, 1x man-at-arms, 1x infantry man, 2x thugs, 1x thief

JP's Warband: I played the GM and the monsters. Next time around I will have a warband of my own.

The Clash: Turn 1

Kitty placed her models in a rather haphazard way, seeking to visit the board while ActionMan bunched his guys with the clear intent of going to take as much treasure as he could.

The Clash: Turn 1

Both forces move forward. ActionMan grabs two treasures and one of them reveals two skeletons! Kitty's moves are still quite random.

The Clash: Turn 3

Kitty grabs a treasure and then a big melee brawl featuring many knights arise in the center of the board. This fight would last until the end of the game with the flow going from one side to the other.

The Clash: Turn 4+

In subsequent turns, a giant rat appeared and got quickly squished by one of ActionMan's thugs.

The Result

My wife called it around the 6th or 7th turn. By then the game had devolved into a number of ineffectual melees. ActionMan took four treasures to Kitty's two. There was only one casualty: Kitty's infantry man died.

ActionMan REALLY loved the game and he asked that we keep the warbands for another game. Kitty seemed to enjoy herself also. Jojo was really annoyed that she had to go to bed before the others... Especially since she refused to play...

What I did wrong

   - Double move After a few turns I remembered the double-move rule. By then I decided to just let the kids play on as we had before.

   - Shooting rolls That one I COMPLETELY bungled. From what I can see, shooting is rather useless in this game. I wonder why one would bother using them. I will have to try it again.

   - Spells Quite simply, we did not use any spells in the game. This will be for next game.

   - Weapon Damage Once the game started, I completely forgot that some weapons had different damage, particularly the thugs with two handed weapons and staffs. Not a biggy as we were trying out the rules. This could be one of the reasons our combats went on and on without any damage.

What I really liked

   - Quick flow The game flows very quickly, having both players constantly engaged in doing something. The phases are clear and flow well. I like the way the phases are separated, encouraging small retinue-style action.

   - Random Encounters This was one of the elements of the game I was most warry of. At some random time, monsters may appear, adding chaos to the game. They do indeed add a layer of surprise. Now you can't be sure that your flank is fully secure when surprise a group of skeletons appear in your rear.

   - Treasures I remembered playing Mordheim and Necromunda. Gathering treasure and loot was secondary to killing the enemy. You got WAY more per kill than for loot. Well Frostgrave is the opposite. You want to move in get some stuff and run out before you get yourself killed. It gave me some opportunities to use some of the misc terrain I had.

   - Use any model This will sound a little petty perhaps, but something I thought was really cool. I used a variety of models: bugbears as thugs. However, I could image a more themed warband with dwarves or elves. Which makes me think of a Saggakar plugin for Frostgrave... Fun...

What I would've like to have

   - I would've loved a cheat-sheet with the basic game math. As it stands a lot of the very important stuff is "stuck" in paragraphs and does not appears as a simple and clear mathematical operations. I'm sure there is such a thing on the internet and I will search for it before our next game. Tonight?


[30 Days of DnD]Day 6: Favorite Deity

This question is one that holds particular interest for me. I am personally interested in religion, but not "just" the theological implications of religion, but also the sociological, philosophical, and political ramifications of it. So when answering this question, I have to ponder such concerns.

From Saggakar, I am extremely partial to the Dark Gods of the First Ones. I love the progression they have and how they mimic life. From youth and rebellion (The Zeal), to middle age and conquest (The Warrior), to older age and dominion (The Law). These "deities", make sense to me as guides and mimicking worshipers' way of life. They provide a path of life, set goals, form political lines and create natural alliances among worshipers. Yet they are not "true" deities, instead being deification of the First Ones themselves.

See... that philosophy reference?

From other pantheon, I will admit to liking the Greco-Roman Hermes/ Mercury. As the god of travel, commerce, and messenger of the gods. I think he has a portfolio that is really cool. Not only that, but through the addition of local attributes, he was associated with a number of gods throughout the ancient world: such as Anubis in Egypt and Lugh in Celtic lands.

Not to mention that, as messenger of the gods, he is associated with Nyarlathotep...


Monday, October 5, 2015

[Cryx Monday] or [Merc Monday] Here are (more) Cephalyx

Here are the rest of the Cephalyx. Featuring the mind slaver and rest of the drudges. I don't have much to say about them really...