JP On Gaming

Friday, November 25, 2016

Saggakar now available for 5e

It has been a long road, but finally, tyranny and oppression has come to 5e! While I have been playing around and poking at things here and there, I am not very happy to announce the official release of the Tyrant of Saggakar for D&D 5th Edition!

From an indifferent review I posted back in February of 2015 to today, I can honestly say that the game has grown on me. While I still grind on a few things, I found myself liking the much lighter approach to the rules, especially compared with the now over-bloated Pathfinder.

I posted a few times about designing for 5e and how different it was than doing so for other games. After some play-testing which I have done at events since Gencon this year, I have found myself thoroughly enjoying playing and running the game. Running 5e in Saggakar really makes for a good mix of the two. Oddly enough, I have always seen Saggakar as a "story"-first setting despite its darkness and gloom, is a world where you can tell stories, when adventure must happen.

It is now time for YOU to tell your stories in Saggakar!

Other than many rule elements ported to 5e, you will find some new art in there as well! Yes new art by Irene and by Peter Saga was added to the book.

Where can you get the book? They are available through RPGNow and DriveThruRPG right now!


PS: I should not say this, but there is also a big sale of FOE title coming tomorrow through Tuesday...

[Review] Marc Edelheit's Stiger's Tigers

If you do not know by now, I am always interested in history. In 2016, I took a large number of classes: writing, business, and of course, history. At DragonCon, I met Marc Edelheit and spoke with him briefly about his work of military fantasy, namely his Stiger’s Tigers book. It had two things I enjoyed: Roman legions and fantasy.

Now, once again, I will be quite honest – as if I was not always brutally honest – and say that I am not a big fan of fantasy literature. Now that said, let’s go to the book.

The book begins with Ben Stiger, an officer in the Imperial Legions, note: not Roman Legions, we are in a fantasy world. There is a rising in the southern provinces. From there, Stiger will be sent on a mission to relieve a perceived siege of a distant fort.

Okay, the basics work and they got me interested in reading more. I won’t spoil the novel (even though there is not much to spoil, keep reading to find out why)

The Good

The author knows a lot about Roman Legionnaire training, tactics, organization, daily life, and supply network. The writing about camp life particularly was a high point.

I enjoyed the battle scenes, which provided a fairly chaotic view of what is happening with Stiger not fully knowing what is happening as his men move in complex maneuvers. Well described and executed.

The Bad

I will start with my biggest issue with this book: the characters. Ben Stiger is the perfect human: he does not make mistakes, he is better than ALL other people he meets, he knows better than everyone, everyone who hates him ends up loving him after spending time with him, even when he may be doing something wrong things turn out better than he expect. At first, this is funny, but it gets repetitive and eventually turned me off and I just wanted to see Superman get himself killed.

The man has no attachment: his family hates him (we are not told why), he has no love or woman (one is hinted at but again we are not told much), and he has no relations other than his elf buddy. This guy is all about his work. He has no interest in anything that is not related to his job. Again, Superman.

The other characters are also very two dimensional, though a little less so. His elf buddy is just like him, with a side of super-Legolas. He is a ninja-of –the-wild who disappears when in the forest, not unlike the elves from Records of the Lodoss War and those guys he trains become just like him.

Another element that put me off was the fantasy elements. Initially, I could get over it, but the more I read, the less interesting they were. It felt like I was reading someone’s D&D game, complete with character classes.

The Annoying

Two elements I will put into an “annoying” category because they annoyed me, but other readers may not find those annoying.

The first is the use of modern, “Americanized” names for the characters: Ben Stiger, Randall, Arnold, etc. I am so used to Roman names in legion that it took a while to get used to it. Eventually, I got used it, but early on, I found that annoying.

Another element that annoyed me was the use of US Army ranks instead of roman ones. Ben Stiger is a Captain and he has his elf lieutenant, has sergeants who name corporals… This one never grew on me. I understand he may have done this to avoid going into too many details about the organization of the legion. This would have added a lot of flavor and kept up the illusion.


I am stuck with having to give this book a score. The good is good, the bad is bad.

For the characters: 1 out of 5. They are weak, cookie-cutter and without any reason to like (or dislike them) really.

For the military aspect: 4 out of 5. I have to take one point off for the use of US ranks.

For the plot. This one is difficult to score exactly. The plot is not overly exciting, but it works as an intro to a series then again, I hate series. The main plot works, but again, you have to deal with Superman for who everything goes right after some minor (and I insist on minor) reverses.

So what do I give this book for its plot? I will go with 3 out of 5, thus rating it “Okay” but not good and not bad.

Overall, I will go with 2 out of 5 as my total score. The elements I hated clearly outweigh those I disliked. Too many uncompleted threads and unlikeable characters.

Which leads me to the question I always ask myself when I review one such book. Do I want to read more of this? And that one is easy to answer. NO. This first book was not interesting enough to keep me reading some more. I do not care what happens to him, his unit, his lieutenants, the Empire, the rebels, or whoever there is in that series. That they die, live, become emperor, turn into ducks or break into a line dance party, I just do not care.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Turkey Y'all

A big thanks from all of us here at First Ones' Entertainment!

This has been another great year with new material coming out and some experimentation. Throughout all that you guys have been there with us. We are very thankful for all of you.

Enjoy your turkey and your day off (if you have one).


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Post-Apocalypticon 2016: AAR

This weekend, ActionMan and I returned to Cleveland TN, just northeast of Chattanooga for Post- Apocalypticon. We both attended last year , which ActionMan thought was his favorite con of the year. Therefore, I made a point of trying to go back for another year.

I contacted the folks from Dicehead games and added a Saggakar event to the program. I thought about creating a unique or premiering an event, but time was short and I have been working on a lot of other things. Instead, I opted for re-heating an old favorite...

We drove to Chattanooga on Friday night, check in to the hotel. All good.

Then my stupid crappy ol' phone decides that it should adapt the alarm to the time zone! I wake up 7:35 and I am running at 8! PANIC!!! ActionMan and I get up, get dressed, pack the car and fly to Dicehead Games. Run inside and manage to set up just in time for the game. 8:02!

I ran the dungeon portion of "Encounter at Ramat Bridge" but set it in Saggakar. It was fun to revisit that old classic, which I hadn't run in well over two years now, perhaps even three... Time flies! The simplified version was still as fun as the original.

The game done, we mustered into some of the new Storm King stuff. I am quite happy to see they give out more XP than the Ravenloft season.

The game done, we took part in the Iron Baron special. Now I was very impressed. IT WAS TOUGH! Just like special should be. What a complete difference to the PFS specials. I felt challenged and the plot seem to plan for an actual, possible failure, and interaction between tables. That was great! We went to the brink of disaster, with most of the table out of spells, unconscious and dying to owning through assistance from others.

I really had a blast, and ActionMan was a true superstar at our table... He rocked it.

After that, I opted to skip the late slot, to let the boy sleep, it was his bedtime. We turned in, after watching the Nashville Predators on TV.

Sunday morning, the alarm did go off at the expected time. We ate and got to the game on-time and without issue. More Storm King games played.

That was it. We were done, time for a nice afternoon drive home.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

PostApocalypticon, One-shot Saggakar, Adventure League

Just a short post today... This coming weekend, ActionMan and I are going back to Cleveland TN, for PostApocalypticon. Last year he and I had a lot of fun going there. This year it'll be a little different because I will be running a single adventure. I am running "An Encounter in the Mists", a one-shot adventure set in Saggakar using 5e. This is not a ToS adventure, just a one-shot game.

After that, we will be playing exclusively 5e. Since PFS apparently backed away from the event. Not that I would've done much PFS, but I am surprised to see how the local leadership does not seem interested in participating in such events, instead staying at a smaller event closer to Nashville. Well I'm no longer in charge, but last year PFS ran a number of tables there, being the biggest group there. This year it will be the Adventure League, and also where ActionMan and I will go to play. ActionMan's Sir Patrick does not like my tree-hugging priest...Until I heal him...

We will be playing a bunch of the new stuff for the Storm Giant series. It'll be fun to play together some 5e.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Walking Dead: How I would fix it

I do not post many of these "What I would do" for TV shows, but this time, I think I can offer a perspective of interest and how the plots can be made more interesting for the future.

I have been thinking and re-thinking about this and I firmly believe that "The Walking Dead" is loosing its sheen. For the past few seasons, it has become repetitive and less and less interesting. So I went back and tried to figure out what would make it better. As a fan, I tried to come up with something that would continue the show, keep some of the shock factor it had in the early seasons, and provide story materials to keep the show running for at least one or more season.

With the start of this seasons being quite a shocker, it make me gasp and wonder what would come next. Let's go back to the start of the episode. Rick's crew is kneeling before Negan and Negan as a new villain makes a speech to let us know he's a bad hombre. We are all holding our breaths, speculating who he goes after.

For you TWD comics fan, I didn't read that far into the series, so this is likely to greatly diverge, but I'm only interested in the TV series.

TWACK! Negan swings his bat.

And kills Rick.

The rest of the scene goes on as in the episode: Daryl rebels and tries to kill Negan, Negan kills Glenn in retaliation.

Negan is a complete jerk, a completely rotten bastard that promises one thing but then turns around and kills the leader of Alexandria.

Why? There are a number of reasons.

- By removing the head of the opposition, he can promote someone else to power. Keeping Rick there only ensures a rebellion from day one as Rick will seek to undermine him.

- He can place one of his own men in charge of people. With one of his people in place, he can control the group of Alexandria.

- Let's be honest, Rick has been through the gamut of emotions: he's been secure, cocky, confident, crazy, distraught, murderous, vengeful, happy. What else is there for him to do? Become a simpering crying wimp for his son and daughter. He is the most disposable character at this point.

- By killing him, one of the others must rise to become the leader of the main group.

- It would completely shock the audience, thus bringi back the feeling of worry where we didn't know who would be next (right now I am not worried about any of the main characters to die mid-season any more).

Of those, the conflicts within the group, whether Negan places a leader there or not, we have a number of conflicts we can explore within Alexandria.

Abraham I though with the last few episodes, he was due for something more. I expected him to move for leadership and to rise to promonence within the group. By him growing into the position, he would be a good character to seek control. This alpha male type would no doubt ruffle some feathers.

Carl The role of new leader and Carl seems made for each other. He has grown over the previous six seasons from a kid into a man. He lost an eye. However, as long as Rick is gonna be there, he'll always be "Rick's boy". With Rick gone, Carl could become a great leader for the group.

Aaron "The Gay Guy" is someone I think could be greatly developed beyond "gay guy". This dude spent some time out in the world, alone, stalking a group of veteran survivors without them knowing about him. He could be set to become a big-time leader. His sexual orientation serving as conflict potential with others. This guy is solid. I want to see more of him and want to see him grow, not, like I suspect, be bitten by a random zombie and die. His status as an outsider makes him great for leadership.

Daryl Okay... Daryl is not the leader type. I think he's grown soft and less interesting than early on. Without Rick, he would be the king maker, the one everyone courts for support.

Michone She's cool and she would make a decent leader. I could see the group get behind her.

Maggie Another good choice, though I would expect her character would be greatly changed by Glenn's death. She is a more balanced person when it comes to fighting, survival and non-zombie skills (farmer's daughter). She might be "late to the party" in that while most of the others struggle and argue to come together, she might avoid that as she grieves her husband. She can then rejoin the others, be the peacemaker and the natural leader.

Unfortunately, we're not gonna get a struggle like that... We're gonna get crying and Rick self-loathing as the others try to tell him how great he is. Not a power struggle between characters trying who could each influence the group in their own way. I am not as keen on seeing what comes next than the previous few years.

Those are my two cents...