JP On Gaming

Monday, August 20, 2018

Milestone: 1500 Posts!

1500 Posts has just come and gone (this is post 1501). So many things changed since those first tentative posts just before the Boy was born in 2009. It has since served as a sort of personal diary, retelling my gaming journey.

So here's to you 1501 posts on JP on Gaming!

It saw the creation of FOE, the setup of the Tyrants of Saggakar, Rhym, and now Akhamet settings. So many memories.

Thanks everyone!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Gencon 2018: Part 4: Highs, Lows, and Lessons

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Highs and Lows

Starting with the Highs:

- The biggest kuddos and most awesome thing about Gencon 2018 was the FOE GM Team of Isabelle and JS, two dear friends who are just awesome, top-notch, super-GMs. They made my stuff look and seems SOOOOOO good! Thanks so much to both of you.

- I was really glad that this year, All tables happened. That was seven tables of FOE games total! The biggest turnout for FOE event ever at Gencon. What a benchmark to bring up! I can't wait for next year!

- I want to thank God for bringing so many great people in my life. I am truly blessed to knowing so many people that share my addiction to RPGs. There are so many people to put in this section. I'll start with my wife who tolerated my talking about Gencon for MONTHS, next come my kids who playtested all of the adventures, my GMs Isabelle & JS who did a fantastic job, my (many) other playtesters, my good friends Florent and Florence who came to see us and played some 5e goodness, and my L5R GMs: Brian-F and Phil-C.

- I will also point out the many people with whom I got to stop by and chat throughout the con: James-R, Randy-P, all the players who took a chance on FOE. To you all, I thank and salute you. If you saw me and recognized me at any point, then this section is for you.

- It has been said that you know you are having a good time when 3 hours seem like 3 minutes. Well those four days seemed like four minutes.

Now a few lows, or "how could it have been made better?"

- Throughout the cons, we had a few no-shows despite us being sold out almost from day 1. Guys, if you buy a ticket, please show up, or trade it in/exchange it for a refund. It will greatly help groups like FOE to grow in the face of Gencon.

What Lessons did we learn from Gencon this year?

- Park under where you GM. This is especially true as I spent Thursday having to run to get food, and had to skip lunch. It was not great. Yes it is expensive but being able to park and access your food/game stuff between slots is worth its weight in gold. I will not make that mistake again.

- This one I knew, and I still did it: Don't do midnight madness or any game that starts after 9PM if you GM and/or drive the next morning. It makes things so much more difficult.

- Don't go to the dealer hall. If you want to keep your cash, don't go. Just, don't. Too many shinies. Too many goodies. Too many things to own. Just don't go. But you will.

- I was quite worried about it, but Akhamet is a massive hit copies are selling very well, and I could not be more thrilled. I really think I need to produce more material for it, pronto. That will not be difficult, because there is so much to do, so much that can be done with it.


Gencon 2018 was a massive success for FOE. My two GMs just knocked it out of the park! They were awesome.

You will guess correctly, that I do plan to have FOE return next year to run some more material. ActionMan offered to GM for me, so did Will... Could we have 4 GMs?


Monday, August 13, 2018

Gencon 2018: Part 3: Saturday-Sunday

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4


Ahhh, Saturday... My day off! It was my day to play a game I have been doing more and more of these past years: Heroes of Rokugan/ Legend of the Five Rings. Today's multi-slot special started with a LARP.

Now I am very much a terrible LARPer: I look nothing like my characters (unless I play an orc or a troll, which I do not), I have difficulty hearing other people in loud, multi-noise situations (like my mother), and I never remember who the NPCs are and my previous relations to them.

Still, I enjoy playing them very much as I do random things and get to explore elements of my character (who has many, many flaws). It gives me a chance to play and explore the setting and meet a lot of people.

So the set up for this day-long craziness was as such: there is a war between the Crab and Lion clans over some points of honor. The first part, the morning LARP had these two clans seeking allies, along with a number of side-quests including deciding the imperial adviser. It was one of the LARPs I liked best due to the variety of things to do - at least from my own perspective. It was also one of those that featured the most major announcement, such as a reforming of the minor clan alliance, major weddings, and a few minor ones.

As I was playing a Crane, I kept offering to people that they settle this conflict with a contest of ikebana (floral arrangements) but they shut me down. A clash of arms was inevitable... (To be fully honest, I did not expect they would take me up on my offer, but it was worth a shot trying to convince them).

I then did a quick stopover in the dealer hall. I did not want to spend too much. I know, funny ha-ha. I first look over the plan for both Crocodile Games (who make all the Egyptian minis I use for Akhamet) and Privateer Press (I like to get their special promo mini). No croc games on the map. So I head to PP only to be told that they were sold out of the special mini. I wandered the hall a little, first getting my Crystal Caste Promo dice. Next I went to the location Crocodile Games were last year. I stopped by Sea Dog Game Studio, who make 3d printed ships, my eye drawn by a Greek-style ship. Turns out, they were out of them, but I got his card and will be in touch with him later.

Then I reached the far end of the hall where I found Crocodile Games... DANG IT. I got a bunch of Greek and Egyptian packs. After that, I just ran out of the hall, not looking at anything, not stopping, until I was WELL clear of the room.

I stopped by Pathfinder to say hello to my friend Florence and then returned to my car to drop the bag and get some food.

The afternoon was the battle itself. The Crane sided with the Lion clan, so my little shugenja went off to war once again... My team was composed of a mounted Lion bushi, two Mantis (1 water shugenja, 1 brawler bushi), and three Crane (the other two were courtiers wielding bows, and me).

The battle pretty much went as expected: I tried to keep everyone alive and prevent as much fighting and death as possible. But those people really wanted to kill each other. Once again, I suffered from epileptic fits during the fight, which forced me to change clothing during the adventure.

The battle did not go very well for our army. The crab are well-used to fighting in a defensive style and in spite of some initial success, we moved back into the outskirts of battle, with our battlecry: FOR IKEBANA!!!

Funny scene. During the final phase of the battle, our commander told us to withdraw to make sure the army had a place to fall back. Blocking our path out were 3 Hida warriors (massive dudes in heavy armor wielding tetsubo) backed by 2 Hiruma archers (armored archers). Our group was pretty hurt by that time and withdrawal was not a bad order. So I cast a spell that granted me great protection from attack (I did not want to get beat up). The other maneuvered to engage the enemy. I shout at them that I will make sure we can obey our orders and I summon a massive fog covering everyone. I begin running to pass through the enemy line.

And I ran again the following round, exiting the fog, feeling quite happy that I avoided the battle and provided my comrades with a way out. Then the next round, I ran again.

After two rounds of running, I stopped, looking back at the fog cloud and finding myself alone.

As I looked around, I could see Crab infantry moving in that would complete the encirclement and the likely end of our army. At that time, I stopped and called that information to the others, whom I thought may already be dead. Following my last orders, I moved away. A moment later my fellow Crane came out, along with out genso (officer). The other two did not leave.

Why? Both of them had the overconfident flaw and they thought they could beat the enemy, so they stayed and fought on. Both were eventually captured and ransomed home. It ended with both generals facing each other and dying in classic samurai fashion.

In the end, my plan was to promote peace within the empire, and I manage to participate meaningfully in a battle without dealing a single point of damage to the enemy. While never a very offensive-minded spellcaster, I was able to protect my people enough that I gave all of them a way out, had they not been overconfident and insisted on staying behind.

After that, I engaged in the worse mistake of the con.

Since it was barely 9pm, I was approached by others to play one of the adventures leading up to the events I just played (remember, I've been GMing throughout Gencon...) So I signed up. It seems everyone was just getting food and we'd start. We used the opportunity to talk about this and that. Took part in an interested debate about a number of socially touchy subjects. Debating and arguing with people with different perspective on issues is something I've been doing forever and that I rather enjoy.

Ten o'clock came by and I said "well guys, I can't wait any longer, I have to GM in the morning and therefore, I have to leave." Just then our GM returned from fetching food and so we set up. It took another 45 minutes before we were ready to go.

The game was good, Phil did a great job, but we took the wrong adventure. At 3AM, I decided I had to go. There was a lot of diplomacy left to do and I just had to sleep. Remember, I had a game at 8...

So I drove on home, found myself stuck in a police-induced traffic jam but finally crashed.


I had already been up a good portion of Sunday... The sleep took the edge off and I was functional and active for my game. It was great to see a number of repeat customers from the year before AND from the rest of the con.

I ran the second Akhamet adventure, Dying of the Day which featured characters from either the Akhamet iconics OR the Mythic Greek iconics, creating a fun mix. I ended up with four Akhameti characters, one Greek, and one Idelgo from Rhym (he played him last year and wanted to play him again). It is a naval adventure filled with interesting role-play opportunities featuring an NPC not-so-loosely based on Zap Branigan...

The game over, I handed in all my paperwork, said my goodbyes to everyone and hopped back into my car.

The trip back was difficult. Not having slept well the previous night... Let's not do this again. I did drink a LOT of coffee and sweet stuff to stay awake, got home and crashed.

Gencon was over. I was home safe. I was ready for more.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Gencon 2018: Part 2: Thursday-Friday

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4


Full of nerves and excitement, I could not sleep so my alarm found me quite awake and showered. From there, I headed to the Walmart just over the interstate to get some food items that would last me the con: sliced turkey, cheese (provolone and swiss), wheat bread and strong mustard. I also bought chips and oreos. Not fully healthy, but enough to keep me going, have a quick turnaround time for meals. Most of it good stuff, a little junk food to feel like I'm doing things right.

Isabelle was running "Mad Despot of Hellsmere" set in Saggakar while I would run "Come to the Hills" set in Rhym. On the rare occasion I got to look her way, I could see the side smirks she gave as her players tried to understand exactly what was happening. It is a tale of madness after all.

Come to the Hills can best be described as very old-school D&D, hitting the major tropes of games I played when I was a teenager. An interesting amount of twists and turns to keep you off-balance, but you are never completely lost in what is going on.

For the evening, we both ran Akhamet's Lost Pyramid of Neferheket. Again, while serving as an introduction to the setting, this hits the classic tropes you would expect from such an adventure. Isabelle and I both enjoyed watching the PCs go through the many twists and turns of the plot.

Before I knew it, I was walking back to my car headed back to my hotel...

A lot more gaming to come...


I got up, ran to McD's for a mcmuffin, but really, I wanted the large coffee. I find their coffee better-tasting than the burned sewer water sold at Starbucks. As an aside, I must give big kudos to the Marriott Starbucks for offering 1$ refills... That is amazing and kept my coffee budget low.

So armed with food and caffeine, I was heading back to the Marriott for day two.

Today, J-S was going to run the Rhym adventure while I moved to do the Saggakar event. Another whirl of a day: great table. JS is one dang hell of a great GM, more than once I saw him do thing and went "That's not really in the mod". You know, that thing every writer says and does. But the look of puzzlement, terror, and excitement at his table, I reminded myself to let him do his thing. I AM SO GLAD I DID. As we talked at the end of the day, I could not help but go "OMG YES! That's even better than what I have in there!" Great work, dude.

Again, the evening had us both running Neferheket. Fun times again...

Friday, August 10, 2018

Gencon 2018: Part 1: Before Gencon

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Before Gencon

Like all Gencons since 2014, the con really started way back when for me... It started when I had to submit a program. This year, I wanted to do something simpler. After having to blast six adventure during the summer, I wanted to have some time to myself. Summer was going to be filled with exciting things to do and I wanted to enjoy it. Trips, friends, gaming, cons.

For the adventures, I offered a program that was basically the same as Origins, but adding a special adventure. I'll admit, I had but a fuzzy idea of what I wanted to do with it at the time: I wanted to use my ships. More on the specifics of the writing of the adventure will have to wait.

I ran the adventures a few times as slot zeroes to Isabelle, JS, and a few brave souls... So everything had been run at least once before Gencon.


The trip up to the con will be forgotten quickly as nothing of note happen: open road all the way up I-65 between Nashville and Indy.

I got there "early", sat on my bed and began writing while something played on the TV. I did not sleep particularly well, but good enough.

Of note, my hotel was on the south loop of I-265, ten minutes to the convention center, fifteen in the morning traffic. I chose not to share... I needed my beauty sleep (as in, I need a lot of sleep to be beautiful, and I don't sleep a lot).