JP On Gaming

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Book Review: LA Story's Urbania

Some of you will remember my AAR about MidSouthCon 16 (If you don't simply Check the post here). During the Saturday afternoon, I got to sit down at Pro's Row with author L.A. Story. At the end of our short time together, she signed me a copy of Urbania.

Once I returned from the con, I added it to my stash of books and left it until it came up in the rotation.

Now I am not a big fan of modern urban fantasy. I did tell Leigh Ann that, and I dare to think that she gave me the book to try and convince me.

The book itself is 76 pages long and follows Richard Shelton, as he tries to enter Urbania.

Before I start, allow me to provide you with a blurb that will, I hope, bring your mind along the lines of what this book is about.

Richard Shelton, a determined journalist, is fascinated by the story of Urbania – the Great City. It was a city that began as an ideal and became an enigma. Populated years ago with the best and most creative minds from across the globe, the city was established in the Nevada desert. The city’s leadership became more reclusive with each generation and they eventually constructed a gargantuan 50 foot wall around the city to keep out The World. The only entrance is the city’s famed gate where most petitioners are usually shot. Richard locates Ketch, the only person to have escaped Urbania and survived. Ketch advises Richard how to successfully petition and get past the gate, but there is a price. Ketch wants Richard to help Ivey, the woman Ketch had to leave behind during his long-ago escape. Richard gets through the gate, only to find the city harbors unimaginable secrets he may not live to tell.

The first scene as he tries to enter the Great City is very much like one of the good teaser from Star Trek. It stops you in your tracks and makes you go "Wow! That's pretty strong." I was taken aback a little as I did not expect the story to start this strong - and good. I really could not drop the book as I anxiously kept on reading.

And I kept on reading.

And I kept on reading.

And I kept on reading.

I did not put the book down until I was done. I lost some sleep over it. The storytelling is strong, evocative, and at the same time revealed more secrets and made me ask more questions about what was happening. I honestly did not expect that. The pace was fast, very fast, but not to the point of ever losing the reader. It was fast because events demanded they flew by.

One thing I was worried about was excessive embellished prose (what I sometimes call mental masturbation). But L.A. really does a great job of NOT falling in that trap. The images and the mystery is describe very effectively using fairly simple language. I will say that such a tour-de-force really drew me in. I found it riveting.

To avoid spoilers, the plot had my mind wonder from an alien over-plot to the Matrix to Dark City to a Science-Nazi state. Each page adding more questions while answering a number of them.

I came in with very low expectation
- This is not my favorite type of litterature
- The blurb worried me the story would meander
- I worried the plot would get nowhere, that I would be left with more questions than answers.
- I expected long, over-complicated sentences and obscure imaging
- A blurb that only covers the first two pages of the story

However, *I* was wrong on all accounts. The plot is crisp, questions are answered, but enough remain at the end that I would be willing to read more about the characters and Urbania. Enough is resolved that I am happy with it, but should more become available, I would want to read more. The prose is simple, clear and exciting. The blurb is accurate and exact, to the point where after reading the book I re-read it (for this review) and thought "Yeah... that is a great way to say this"

Try as I might to find fault with this, all I can come up with it:
- I would love to write in such compelling style
- I would love to produce such a fiction piece
- The story was too short, I wanted more
- The story has a strong ending, not needing more, but allowing more to be produced.

Hummm.. Yeah none of this is L.A.'s fault and really on my end. Which forces me to give Urbania a 5 star rating. I thoroughly enjoyed myself reading this.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Indian food, a pair of ladies, a phone, and Napoleon

For a few days now, I have been in a rut. I have an idea for an adventure: encounters, a story line, NPCs, and an interesting development. However, I completely drew a blank with regards to how to tie it all together. Everything I thought about either felt flat or fell into the "already done it" bucket.

Neither held my interest in wanting to write. I played around and avoided doing much. Lucky for me, I had some editing to do, so I did that.

But my writing output has been low and slow... Not much to brag about. Oh things are still being worked on, but nothing is approaching the end.

Then today at lunch time, I sat down to eat at a local Indian restaurant I really like. A pair of ladies at a nearby table took a picture with their phone. Nothing there, people do it all the time. The spark of inspiration struck when one of the ladies said, "now it is recorded for posterity!" Perhaps it was the odd, yet perfectly correct, word that drew my attention, I will never know, but what remains is that I had my idea.

My mind wandered here and there until it settled on David's Coronation of Napoleon. Definitely my favorite painting of all time. It is both a grandiose work, but it also serve a propagandist purpose. What a great piece of work!

A little Google work and I had all the information I needed. Now to expand the concept, link the encounters and make it a coherent whole.

Thank you, Napoleon!


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Gencon Events submitted

I just submitted my 35 hours of Gencon events for Tyrants of Saggakar. Most of the games (5/7) will be using Pathfinder and two will be using D&D 5th Edition. I kept all of Saturday for myself to participate in... Well, whatever! I am already thinking of playing some Shadowrun, maybe some Rokugan, hopefully some WitchHunter, but I may get myself into something new I yet have no idea.

Why split between 5e and Pathfinder?

It is something I agonized over... In the end, I decided to try and offer one of the adventures in a 5e model. I won't say it, but it will force *ME* to hurry and finish a few things. You know, having a deadline really forces one to get his act together and stop procrastinating. I know today I think "pfah! I have months to go" But comes July I'll be a nervous ball losing even more hair than I have left trying to get everything nice and perfect!

I can already predict the panic!

Still until then, there is a lot of time to go...

All I have to do now is to wait to see if Gencon will approve my proposals, have no fear, I will let you all know.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Player Tips: Playing a Paladin

A number of times, friends and players have commented that playing a paladin in Saggakar must be impossible to do, particularly if your character belongs to one of the great houses. It always surprises me when I hear that. And while I can see that worshipping a good deity and promoting order and goodwill may not make you a lot of friends, I firmly disagree.

Too often, a paladin lives in a place where choices are easy: a friendly populace, a government that support his goals and ideas, a public church to rely on, or an order to have his back.

It's easy to be the good guy with the lofty ideals when everything goes your way and your one choice is kill or capture.

But what happens when you cannot fight every evil at the same time? What happens when you have to hide or face a populace that is not fully behind you? When you have to choose what best way to improve the world? When simply using detect evil and beating up whoever walks up.

Is it harder? Yes.

But it is also much more rewarding.

1- choose your fights well Though you may not be the brightest or wisest in the party, doesn't mean you must or should take on every fight, immediately. You will fight evil, and much evil there is, but like a policeman, you can take down the street pusher, or you can go after the head of the snake. Pick the fight you want, and win it.

2- just because someone is evil means that all his works are The First Ones are forces of evil, and while most of their works are evil and done for evil goals, not all are evil all the time. Such works much be encouraged and not opposed: creation of a new aqueduct or building of town walls. Work to improve the workers' conditions.

3- there is nothing wrong with working within the system This does not means that you seek out to help evil forces. This means that while you are forced to do so, keep your eyes and ears open for ways you can help out and make world a better place.

4- quarter turn at a time Not everything will work immediately, so focus on making small changes. However, like with a screw, if you turn it one quarter-turn at a time, you will get far.

5- you are a beacon of good As a paladin, you are a major warrior of the forces of good. There are many ways this can be played: you can be a martyr, taking onto you the pain and suffering of other. You can be the one person encouraging others to avoid antagonizing the masters, reserving that role for you. You can be a local leader and protect your people.

So as you can see, it is definitely something of a challenge, but not something impossible. The paladin can do much more good alive, than turned as a zombie.

Service is Eternal after all...


Monday, April 25, 2016

Lexicon 2016 After Action Report

This past weekend, I travelled back to Lexington Kentucky to attend Lexicon for the second year in a row. Last year, it served as a major plot point for our emerging Battle of Gytha storyline. It would also be the final convention where NeoExodus would make an apparition. It was an important event for me: I introduced new players to the campaign... some people you now know... Shall I say Randy? Mr Onero himself! You can read that after-action report from last year by clicking here.

This year, I had different plans. Having just run a number of events at Conglomeration and needing a personal break to play games, I chose Lexicon as "it". I did, however, send an event offering. Driving back from Mid South Con, I resolved to produce a 5e version of Saggakar, with options and everything so the game could be enjoyed using either of the systems. Then I spoke to Henry after their big announcement. The Lexicon decision was somewhat last-minute, but it did force me to get my stuff done.

The folks from Lexicon are great, quick response time, very interested in projects. I mean really, it is one good and well-organized group.

The Trip

I left work a little early (I had time off left from my planned trip to the DMV earlier in the week, which I used on Friday. The drive went well and I got into Lexington around 7PM whereas I had planned on arriving around 10PM. Ka-Ching!

I spent the evening playing Shadowrun. I thought I did not have my character, Ralf, with me. But by sheer luck, guess who I found in my box! YEAH! I would get to play Shadowrun with my own character and not a pregen! WOO HOO! I really like how he plays and with more Karma (I won't say XP), he gets more and more interesting. Definitely a tougher hombre, somewhat in spite of himself!

Ralf is based on Dave Chappelle's character Tyrone who is a crack addict. Though in the world of Shadowrun, that's a rather interesting proposition.

I got to play two Shadowrun missions with Michael-B as my GM, one in the evening and another one in the morning. I played with the very blasty Flamewitch and the ever-funny brawling Jim the Troll. A fun team, really. A few others joined us with pregens to complete the team. Fun.

In the afternoon, I initially planned to play some Adventurer's League adventure, however, they already had six players so I had to find something else to do until 5pm. At this point Chad needed a GM to run something for a few people.

He asked me "What do you want to run?" to which I invariably replied "Tyrants of Saggakar".

His face remained unconvinced (though it was the most honest answer I could give him).

He will say things.


Things that are not true.

But he found someone to run an adventure for him and get him out of a bind.

Later that day, I received a cool new ribbon! Yeah! I am the Big Cheese!

I then played an Adventure League adventure part of the latest Ravenloft-themed story. That storyline is rather interesting and makes me want to play more of it. My GM, Heather, was pretty good and I enjoyed myself quite a lot.

A minor event happened during that game where some guy was oddly rude for no reason. I let Karen, the organizer know about it later and the problem went away. Remember what I said earlier? Classy organization? Proof.

After the AL adventure ended, I went to see if Chad had any seats left (I did not want to play some more Shadowrun, tho I believe the option was still there). Turns out they had one seat left.

Poor Randy who had to deal with the inside party treachery of Ben Gunn, the cheatiest scallywag this side of the Inner Sea.

That swine even signed his name in a Hellknight fortress and painted up the sign of Besmara the Pirate Queen. He was working against the party to get us all killed all along! I did propose that we all jump him and shank him before he do something to us. But I'm certain that he had paid the others to spare his wretched life!


Which brings us Sunday. Final day of the con.

This was the day I was scheduled to run the first of Tyrants of Saggakar playtest. To save time and to be able to get a comparison, I chose to re-run an adventure that ran previously. So last year's Gencon special it was! It is an adventure that has a fair amount of lore and actually has a number of interesting encounters. So it would be definitely a valuable way to compare how the two run.

Thanks to Randy and his family for being there (being Sunday Morning, attendance is always sketchy). The game went well. I want to run a few more tests to see about game balance and the races, but the first test was a success.

One thing I noticed is that when you increase the challenge of a monster to face the party, the numbers from the DMG quickly scale up. I will have to experiment with this some more but I am not overly worried about this.

So let's thing over the con...

The Good

Lexicon has done quite a number of good things
- Getting events on the program was VERY easy
- On-site, Karen is an awesome RPG coordinator: knowledgeable, interested, and attentive. LOVE HER!
- They removed the dividing wall and made the RPG/tabletop room bigger.

The Improvable

Things the con could improve to be better
- The biggest issue I have with the con is how to purchase on-site tickets. To buy a pre-printed 2$ ticket, you had to go online (though there were supposedly tablets for that, I was never offered to use them, nor did I see them).
- With the dividing wall open, a lot of the open/board game tables were so close to each other that it was hard to go from the RPG section in the back to well... anywhere. Perhaps removing one row of these tables would give us fat gamers a way to walk to the bathroom without having to make long detours.

In the end

From the previous event, the con has made great strides. The only "real" negative point and where they did not improve was with the "go online to pay cash" thing. Annoying, but in the end definitely fixable.

Lexicon is definitely a convention I want to keep attending. I will definitely try to attend it again next year! Hopefully with the kiddos...


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Two new adventures for Pathfinder RPG

I have added the final two adventure for the first year of the Tyrants of Saggakar setting. I really enjoyed running them quite a few times. (Click on the adventure names to go directly to the adventures).

ToS 1-08 Sailing Down the Kiflan is an adventure I have had in mind since the days when I was writing for NeoExodus. It is a fairly simple adventure where you sail down a river. This type of adventure is a nice departure from our others in that it is definitely more site-based. I really had a good time writing this one. I got to work some more with my good friend Lady D'Anne Goldstein! She makes such beautiful maps! This adventure has a lot of Hajit, those fun sneaky halflings.

ToS 1-09 One Final Night of Freedom brings back an NPC many players met and really had fun with: Lady Hellebora of House Tioten. The former adventuress is about to get married and become queen of the ArchDespotate. All that she has left is one final night of freedom!

Both of those adventures complete the Saggakar Year 1 Adventure Bundle. Get all the adventures in one go, at a reduced price! This bundle has no less than TEN adventures AND the ArchDespotate of Faremh book.

Now, on to working on the Year 2 material!


Friday, April 22, 2016


Sometimes, there is a post that you write and go "I'll post this tomorrow." Then tomorrow comes and your mind is off to other things and you forget about actually publishing the post. This is one such post.

Here are parts Part 1 and Part 2.

Sunday morning started early. Shower. Packing. Off to the convention hall. There, I had the happy surprise to note that I had one extra hour before my game. Unfazed, I headed to the nearby Waffle House for a good breakfast.

Refreshed and ready to go, I came back to my table and set up for the game and waited impatiently to see if the game would go off. Sunday morning is always a luck-of-the draw type thing. Though I personally hate people who sign up and do not show, I realize that many do not take their commitments as seriously.

But my entire table signed up, all six players, too bad that I had to turn away one person. Finally, the table was set and the wheels of Saggakar were set in motion. Things were moving and play advanced.

That's also when I realized that as a dumbass, I threw away the Legacy Records for the special. GAH! Tiny moment of panic there... However, Jacob got me squared away and my paperwork printed out as I ran the game.

I will admit the adventure was a very complex one. It had pages of NPCs, a lot of complex interaction between them, and a number of individual scenes that had to be played to get the whole picture. Credit to my players, they navigated that complex weave with great skill.

When the game ended, I was not only excited but reinvigorated and full of energy to keep on working on Saggakar. I drove home on a cloud of new ideas, taken from my players' querying. It was a great time.

My final tally from Conglomeration was three tables of Tyrants of Saggakar, and one of Call of Cthulhu. A very dynamic group of players and a definite interest in playing games.

The Good

- The organization was very smooth to deal with. I sent them some wacky ideas or thoughts and they got back to me in a quick timeframe.
- On-site things went super-smooth. Chuck, Jacob and Derek did an awesome job making sure I had everything I needed. My missing LRs arrived in time for me not to skip a beat.
- GM badges are finally comp'd if you commit to running a number of events. This is a GREAT step forward for the con, and one I wholeheartedly embrace. Nice job.
- Open panels, perhaps it was just the ones that I participated in, but I rarely went to a con where panels were as open to participation, almost like group discussion. It was fresh and exciting to participate in them.
- The People. Now I will have to say that Kentucky folks are as welcoming and friendly as you'll ever find. So many faces greeted me with smiles and a "hey man how are you doing?" People I saw only once or twice.

The Improvable

- The entry price is a tad steep. This is no doubt related to their con-suite. Dropping the con suite would only make the con better, as more than one person I know mentioned the entry price.
- Speaking of which, the con suite was not very impressive, especially comparing it to Mid South Con. Everytime I when there, I had to enter the cramped room to find mostly empty bowls of chips and dips. I really think it should be axed. It is far-removed from the event sites in the hotel. Not super far, but enough that it requires a game break to get there.
- More people. But I think the two above points will address this.

Will I go back?

If invited to go back, I will most definitely head back to Louisville and Conglomeration! The event has vastly improved and needs to be revisited if you haven't been in the past few years.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

[Designing 5e] My first race

For the past two weeks - ever since I returned from Conglomeration full of new ideas - I have been reading, designing and writing on 5e. My mind is moving from a Pathfinder paradigm to the 5e paradigm, while the two are similar from the outside, are quite different. As I wrote down about the races, because that's where I started.

5e has a few different time units: active time, short rests and long rest (4e' encounter and daily powers). While Pathfinder provides a number of ability per day, in 5e some abilities may be refreshed after a short or long rest. Using these rules allow for a simpler and smoother integration into the game. So I have to become more familiar with them. That is why I have been playing more 5e and discovering the game.

One of the first races I decided to work on were the Kalibans. I sat back and began thinking along the following line. "What makes a kaliban unique?" I looked at the many abilities they had in Pathfinder. However, after trying to design something I did not like. It felt too heavy, too convoluted. The best way to put it, is that it felt too much like Pathfinder and not enough like 5e.

So I deleted everything.

Just removed everything and took a walk around the living room.

"How do I explain a kaliban to someone new?" They are cannibalistic. They are marauders. They run for days. They are hard to kill. Those are the three elements that really make them up. I now had guidelines and somewhere to go with my 5e kalibans.

Cannibalistic. I went through the options in Pathfinder for inspiration. There were two elements: first increase stats or heal oneself. The stat increase is not in line with 5e's philosophy. So it would have to do with healing. I wanted to avoid the "we killed Bob, I will now use him as a potion of healing..." mentality. It would be overly gruesome and not be something I want people to know. Not able to find a good answer on how to resolve this, so I tabled it.

About them being able to run for days, a simple way is to give them advantage against effects that would make them exhausted.

Hard to kill was another issue that caused me to scratch my head for a long time. I looked at orc ferocity, which was the inspiration for the Pathfinder version. Inspiration struck me as I was playing "Death House" at Grand Adventure Comics here in Murfreesboro (shout-out to Steven-L). I got my rear end kicked badly and had to start making death saves.


What a great mechanism to represent the kaliban's toughness!

With everything else, I had to go back to the cannibalistic. What if, they could regain additional health when they take a short break and have munchies available? Give them some extra hit points when they spend hit dice to heal themselves between encounter. I was stuck until one of my elite team of reviewers provided me with the answer.

What it was will have to wait til next time.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

FOE Unveils new 5e Logo!

This morning, inspiration finally hit and I knew what I wanted... I wanted something that was both simple and obvious yet that fit in the color palette I already used. So I needed a new logo to let people know if it were a Pathfinder or a 5e product.

With my work on 5e-compatible products advancing: the first draft of the races is currently out to a select panel of 5e expert for feedback). This handpicked group of people have played a lot more 5e than I. I will maintain their anonymity for now, but these guys will all get credit for their assistance in the final book.

Now that I have a first draft of the race ready, I need to start looking at the classes: this is perhaps a bigger challenge. However, explaining my design philosophy is a whole other post.

This post is for the logos.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Batman v Superman: What I liked and disliked

This is a spoiler-less series of notes about the movie.

This movie is the kind of movie only DC can make. Why? Because their heroes have much richer personal histories that do not really rely on villains. Unlike Marvel who for me is usually about the villains.

Here is a spoiler-less notes about things I liked and disliked.

High points
- Like most people, I was greatly and positively surprised by Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne.
- I said many times before that I am tired of superheroes origin movies. This is one but it deals with the relation of the two characters, not "how did they become superheroes". Both of their origins are important, but Batman's (especially) was well done. Take two minutes, show us the scene, of his parent's death, and move on from there.
- I really liked how it tied into Man of Steel, a movie I did enjoy.
- The all-star cast was good all-around. I especially liked Jeremy Irons as Alfred and Lawrence Fishburne resuming his role as Perry White.
- The tie to other heroes (you know that "Dawn of Justice" thing?) and their introduction was well done. Just enough to say "Oh! Nice!"
- This opens the door to other superhero movies from DC.

Weaker points
- Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal of Lex Luthor was a nice surprise. Although I was initially happy with it and his portrayal. I did not like how he turns out. Not really Eisenberg's "fault" but how the script's.

So... Overall, I had a great time with ActionMan. I am looking forward to a Justice League movie...


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Conglomeration 2016: After Action Report, Part 2

Here is Part 1.

Saturday morning I was full of nervous energy. Would players show up? I got some food and unpacked my stuff, banner, books, minis. I soon declared myself happy and satisfied. Now let's get ready to do it.

My first game started mostly on time. It was the fairly light "ToS1-08 Sailing down the Kiflan". I say light because the next two adventures have a very dark tone to them. Starting light and easy helped me get into my groove. Nice, lucky shot, JP! Game was fun to run and it went very well.

The afternoon game was the darker and more story-important "ToS1-09 One final night of freedom". I will admit that I was very worried about this one, as I ha d only a single player registered for it. But in short order, I had four players and they were off helping Queen-to-be Hellebora on her journey. Again, it went very well and the players soon threw "Service is Eternal" back at me...

It stung a little. But it was worth it.

I ran to my next panel as the game overran a little. How to be a freelancer, had a great panel: an editor (Carol), an artist (Jaye), and a writer, yours truly. Again it worked by answering questions from the audience, and interjecting personal stories and anecdotes. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and traded a few business cards.

Networking all three of us stressed, so networking we did.

My evening slot was for a Call of Cthulhu game I wrote years ago, In Darkness, I wait. There is usually a reason the Keeper does not give players grenades or access to explosives. So when you go out of your way to acquire them...


I tried to be kind with them, but if that's what they want and they want to do all kinds of cool things... Well grenades are dangerous.

Then it was time for more sleep.

I was out between light on and light off.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Conglomeration 2016: After Action Report, Part 1

For the first time since 2014, I returned to Conglomeration in Louisville KY, I did mention some of my issues with the con but this year my good friend, Derek-R joined the committee and heard my whining about things I would like to see at the con. Having received the assurances I wanted, I offered to fun three premieres for Legacies including a one time special.

I was also looking forward to seeing KY VC Chad and his LT, Randy (though I was more interested in meeting Randy to talk about Saggakar stuff, but nonetheless).

For those who do not know my connections with Louisville date back to 2013 when I left Colorado for KY. I will admit KY does not sound as "sexy" or exciting destination as some other place but dismissing it that way is a bad mistake. Great people, very welcoming. I like Kentucky and it's people. I still own a small piece of it, actually. About 2 miles from the Ramada that held Conglomeration, actually!

My weekend started earlier than usual when my boss allowed me to leave a little early. Great! Then I was able to cross Nashville in a half-hour, during early rush hour. Excellent, I thought. I'll be in Louisville in no time.

What a fool! Just as I was think it would be two hours to my destination, that I would get to eat a real sit down dinner, did the traffic slow down. The next twenty miles of I65 took me a full hour.

There would be no dinner.

There would be no social time for me.

I strode into the hall just a few minutes before my first panel started, got to chat with Derek-R about stuff, catching up a little, seeing where things were, getting re-situated if you will, before heading to the panel room.

My Friday night panel was about GMing and offering tricks to new GMs. Unlike other panels I attended, this one was very much in a Q&A format with the attendants (I can't call them "audience"). It generated a lot of very interesting topics from "How do I break up a campaign into episodes?" to "How can I do investigative adventures without giving them the answer?". While I do not remember the names of the panel, but together, all four had over seventy years of experience, a lot of it in multiple systems, from LARP to tabletop. It was very dynamic, and I would've been very happy to attend and just listen to the panel.

After that, I walked about, did the social thing, chatted with people I recognized, Derek-M, Jake-L, Chuck, and talking to some of the guys who attended the panel and had questions. I walked around the room and discussed with folks about 4e, 5e, Saggakar, Pathfinder. You know what a veteran opinionated old guy like myself has.

As I had a short night before, I turned in around 1am.

Soon it would be Saturday...


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

[Conglomeration] Teaser for the special this weekend

As I finally get everything done, I think it is time to provide some teaser material for what it coming to the campaign this Sunday morning at Conglomeration. As a teaser, I am sharing the opening boxed text for ToS1-I02 Something Borrowed, Something Blew. It will be an adventure that will run only ONCE. So the six players sitting at that table will have big choices on their shoulders. So you will be able to blame THEM if things get.. better! yeah! better!

The central courtyard of the summer palace of Tearfield is filled to the brim with local nobles, foreign dignitaries, soldiers and slave retinues. The reason for such a gathering is the wedding of His Ruthlessness, ArchDespot Gaztokell and Lady Hellebora of House Tioten.

Having taken the oaths of obedience to her husband, the pair is all but effectively married.

The pair stands on a balcony, waving at the crowd below. They could not be more different. He is a man in his twilight years. She is in the full bloom of womanhood.

He is smiling with a content expression on his face. She is uncomfortable as her smile is forced and rehearsed.

Still, the crowd roars its approval. Members of House Ougozar hope the marriage will cement their hold on the throne. Members of House Tioten see their fortune and their standing increase, cheer the loudest. Members of minor houses welcome the stability such an arrangement brings to the nation.

Conspicuously quiet are the members and servants of House Faremhi, who see the alliance and their hold on the throne slip further away from their grasp.

After a long ovation, the aging ArchDespot addresses the crowd.

“My people! On this day of my wedding, a day that will be remembered as the first of the Gaztokian Dynasty, I want you all to enjoy yourselves. Masters, allow your slaves to do as they wish. Slaves, celebrate until you cannot remember! Celebrate the glory of the moment.”

Roaring cheers erupt as a thousand slaves walk out carrying amphora of wine, and platters of food. Stations are quickly set up as musicians play joyful tunes to impromptu dancers. Within moments, the courtyard is the biggest party the ArchDespotate as ever seen.

No one notices the pair retreated into the castle.

First Ones gather with others of their kind, leaving you with other adventurers. A conversation breaks out between you.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Update: Stupid is as stupid does

I have been very quiet on this blog for many days now. I blame it on real life...

I spent a wonderful week end with my family at the Beach in Pensacola, Florida. It was my second time in Florida, ever... the last time had been in 1981 when my mother took my brother, my (paternal) grandmother and myself to Walt Disney World. For those who don't know how long it's been. Epcot Center was "going to open next year" kinda long ago. Well like that previous time, I enjoyed myself again. Saw some dolphins, did some fishing, built castles with the kiddos, visited a US Civil War fort, and just spent some time with my family. Good times.

Then I came back Friday. And I immediately went to working on everything at once.

You know that type of nervous, crazy energy where you have like, a million ideas all coming into your head at once: storyline, product ideas, locations, encounters, NPCs, stuff for 5e, stuff for Pathfinder, stuff for Call of Cthulhu, stuff for games you haven't invented yet. Your head is so full of everything that just sorting out things destroys your creativity. You are jumping around, hoping from project to project like a bee, dropping a few sentences here, words there, paragraph there, write a few lines of HeroLab goodies there, paint a few models there.

And of course, that comes at a time when you are trying to put the finishing touches on three projects. One "regular" adventure, one year-end special and the 5e playtest you promised yourself you'd do. But with the deadlines looming, you are starting to see the end of the tunnel! ToS1-09 One Final Night of Freedom is done. Perhaps a little more editing to do first, but done. ToS1-I02 Something Borrowed, Something Blew is in need of a conclusion. But how do you write a conclusion to something that is so open-ended? I'm still sorting that one out, but things will fall into one of three overall ending. I have half of my characters done in HeroLab for the 5e adventure, all I need now is to polish them and finish the adventure in a 5e format. I expect to run this adventure a few times here and there.

So what does this idiot does?

He goes off and volunteers to run some miniatures for NashCon! I am planning to run a "Conquistadores in Africa" using a simplified version of The Sword and the Flame. Its been too long since I did any Minis games that I will enjoy running them once again. If you've been following, you will remember that I have just painted a number of african warriors and conquistadores... So... 1+1= Minis game! I will post updates here.