JP On Gaming

Monday, January 21, 2019

Ravenloft Dreams of Dust Released!

During the fall of 2018, I began work on updating an adventure I wrote for Pathfinder. The more I wrote, the more it changed shape into something completely different than what it started out as.

Then last year, I got three groups of great playtesters provided me with feedback. I went through many rounds of editing to get things all nice and ready. I took a lot longer than I initially planned to, but the final product is worth it.

Final tally is a 43 pages adventure that will take you AT LEAST 12-15 hours to complete, with near-limitless possibility for expanding. The time was confirmed by four tables of players.

This says nothing of the awesome artwork Irene did for the adventure.

Ravenloft Dreams of Dust is now available through the DM's Guild.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Writing Tricks: Writing Music

Every writer has his own tricks, his own way of getting the creative juices flowing. Surprise! I have mine too.

I have a number of songs I put on that put me in the mood for telling a story. It is not really something about the lyrics (what the song is about), the beat, or the artist, that get me going. I compiled a short list of five songs that whenever they come on, my fingers start flying on the keyboard and new material appear before me.

AvalonLand of New HopeProg Rock
The GatheringLiberty BellProg Rock
GenesisThe Cinema ShowProg Rock
Lost HorizonCry of a Restless SoulMetal
RushHemispheresHard Rock

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

[Patreon] New Art for Cynicea

With the Patreon up and running, I commissioned some new art. You can read everything about it on the Patreon post.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

FOE Patreon is live

The FOE Patreon is finally on-line! Before making the big announcement, I wanted to put up a few articles already so you would be able to see what you were subscribing to, not just a blank entry. I have a race write-up, and some additional background for Akhamet.

Coming in the next days: fiction, Herolab mapping, more background for the race, completing the background entry, and going from inspiration to design. All these topics will be covered, so it is more than "just" a 5e Patreon, it is something for all fans of RPGs.

Where is it? Simply click on the Patreon link!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

FOE Looking for GMs for Gencon 2019

It is once again time for Gencon planning. Yes, it is barely over that it again comes on the topic. This year, I have some very ambitious goals for FOE. I plan to have a massive showing. I would love to see if we could get three tables running at the same time! One of these slots will either be a cooperative or competitive event! Your group against another.

I am still considering the details of what we will run... Whether this be in Akhamet, Rhym, Saggakar or something else! A lot of time and work between now and then. I definitely plan to use the Patreon to provide insight into the writing process of these, but also offer additional perks and bonuses to players! Another perk of being a patron!

I have a few ideas yet to develop for what I want to do. Perhaps the return of Prince Diogenes, everyone's favorite foreign prince, and son of a god? A lot of people would really hate me for bringing this hero of a foreign land back... I would also like to work with my team of GMs in the creation of this special. Pick their brains.

I plan to run a program similar to the last two years: three slots of FOE games on Thursday and Friday, and a Sunday morning slot. This leaves me free on Saturday all day, and my GMs get two or three days off at Gencon!

Therefore, this year again, I am looking for one or two GMs who would be willing to GM for FOE for 1 or 2 days at Gencon. Last year, J-S and Isabelle did a stellar job, and received 3 days of available Genconing, a bunch of FOE products, and a set of hand-painted iconic characters for Akhamet. I offer similar perks for GMing one day for me (please I don't want to deal with half GMing here and there, dealing with the perks is a PITA)

So contact me with questions and your availability! This is your chance to run a great game AND decide what you will inflict on those poor Gencon-ians...

Thursday, January 3, 2019

[Rant] Wherein JP admits he's an a-hole

Last year, I began a collaboration with someone for a project. He is an artist whose works I've used before, and someone I like: he's a decent guy and a good artist. He has his art genre and is very good at it. He's an artist, I'm a writer...

The project was a D&D adventure that featured iconic monsters. Monsters I had not used up to now, and that I could not see myself using very much in the future. To add to that, I was in something of a funk at the time: I had many on-going projects but no direction, and no real inspiration to finish any of them.

The project seemed like a good idea: a few dungeons, a few traps, iconic monsters, and a good artist to help the illustration. He had an outline that was basic, but that could be expanded into something tangible. I found myself liking the idea and thinking this might pull me out of my funk.

"Bah! Might as well do it, could be fun," I thought to myself. So we talked some more, I expanded his outline, we signed some paperwork for compensation, and off I went. I blasted the first dungeon really fast, then completed the rest of the adventure ahead of time.

Finally, I got my first draft complete. It was not perfect, far from it, but all the ideas were there: basic formatting, with all the stat blocks. It needed work, that's why it is a first draft. It was filled with comments pointing out cool elements he might draw, stuff he might sell later as stock art. Remember when I said "iconic monsters"? Stock art, especially good stock art for iconic monsters is always in demand.

That's when I discovered my partner did not have access to MS-Word, that he wanted txt files. I was miffed because formatting is one of the things that takes longest to do, particularly stat blocks. I was greatly annoyed and broke one of my rules: never answer an IM while hot. Of course, the conversation got heated. For no reason really, I could have prevented this argument by following my own simple rule.

I did a few digs at Mac users... Which like every Mac users, he did not like... (yes that was another Mac dig there). I'm proud to say I own no Apple products!

Later, after much more work than I wanted to do, I put his comments and edits into the working document. First semi-editing run done. I tightened, cleaned up a few things, clarified a few things I thought felt wonky.

For the second draft, I went to a more universal format: PDF. During the clean-up, new mistakes crept in. Nothing bad, but they were there nonetheless. He became furious and I did not like his tone, and told him as much. Dumb-ass me. That's the second time I violated my rule.

This morning, when I got an email from him stating his grievances, I did not respond. I mean, I was working, but I could've taken a minute or two to tell him something along the line of "we'll talk tonight, I'm at work." But now I decided to follow the rule.

So he called off the project later in the afternoon. He stated his reasons for pulling out, and while I disagree with most of them, I can see how he would see things that way.

Yup, he had legitimate reasons for calling me an a-hole!

But in this whole thing, what did we learn?

- The rule about not replying when angry is there for a reason. For a good reason. So follow it, dummy!

- Email and IM are bad ways of communicating during disagreements. Conversations should happen face to face or at least with a camera (skype, hangout or even a Facebook conference). Such a call would've addressed his points and a lot would've been fixed.

- I come off as an a-hole on email and IM, even when I don't plan to. English speakers, when dealing with someone who is a native French-speaker and we use short sentences, it is not because we are angry or annoyed at you; it is because we want to make sure you cannot gather any secondary meaning to what we say. Language of diplomacy, see?

- I have an adventure in need of a final round of editing and art. I may offer it as a "Pay What You Want" on DM's Guild... I will pick it up later, just keep it on a back burner for now.

There you go, I was an a-hole.

Not really on purpose, but I was still an a-hole.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Yearly Retrospective 2018

Another one in the books, and what a year that was... Things changed, people grew, things stayed the same. 2018 was a year filled with ups and down, but overall a good one.

Family Life

Julie started volunteering at a local foodbank, and help the homeless. It gets her out of the house, which is good for her, since the kids are now old enough to stay at home by themselves (for short periods).

Jojo is still part of her school's swim team and she improved greatly from last year. She loves reading fantasy novels, especially Sarah Maas' "Kingdom of Ass" and "Hair on Fire". She goes with Julie to feed the homeless.

ActionMan did hockey during the winter and football in the fall. I think he enjoyed playing football more. The highlight of his career was to play quarterback (he is usually a lineman or an outside linebacker) and score an extra point from scrimmage.

Kitty once again was part of the city's cheer-leading corp, she cheered at ActionMan's football games. She is now part of the school band (playing flute) and is still a girl scout.

Personal Life

One of the big highlights for me this year was when I was able to reconnect with Francois-M, my best friend from the time I was ten through my teen years. Then in our early twenties, life took us on different paths, with me going out of town for College, and he stayed in Montreal. We talked a few times, and it felt like we spoke yesterday. It was such a monumental moment that it had to be mentioned here.

Professional Life

I spent most of the year working a Contractor with LKQ. That spell ended when I on-boarded and became a full-time employee. I really enjoyed this time as the team I am a part of is very dynamic and requires a lot of creativity to get things done. I am very thankful of the people at Apex Systems who found me the position. Thanks to you, Matt-V and Nick!

One of the oddest thing that happened during the year was that I returned to Eco-Energy for two nights to help them fix an issue. It was a little surreal to return to my old job, but in the end, I got them unstuck and ready to roll again. In other words, I once again worked myself out of a job! I entered talks about maybe returning, but decided not to. A decision I still stand by as I learned and did more things to further my career here at LKQ than I would have with Eco. Now, don't take this as nay-saying Eco, quite the opposite. The guy who "took my place" will have a lot of positive and very cool things to do. As for me, I learn more and do different things here, things I would never have done there.

As I said before, I became a full-time employee with LKQ. This came as something of a surprise, requiring a second, last-minute trip to Montreal to re-do my paperwork. This all worked out for the best as the family got to spend some more time with the family and I got to see my parents again. Then, we all went to the Statue of Liberty in New York City. Fun all around!


One of the biggest thing I started doing this year was to play family D&D. I would drag the girls to the table and run games for them. Now neither Jojo nor Kitty will become big-time players. They enjoy playing once in a while, but on occasion. ActionMan on the other hand, is becoming a good, creative, and tough player who enjoys and understands the game. I have a gaming buddy!

I spent most of the year, playing D&D 5th Edition. This year, I made a concerted effort to GM more games. This meant to write and prepare games for non-Legacies and have fun with it. I really enjoyed the freedom to do whatever I want.

One game I played some, but definitely not enough, is Arcanis. I really love the campaign and its players, but do not have enough opportunities to play. They came out with their 5th edition rules, but that is, in a few words, not for me. Though I feel the wind is moving in that direction (not unexpectedly).

At a few online games and two cons: Weekend in Rokugan and Gencon, I got to play Heroes of Rokugan, using the classic AEG Legends of the Fives Rings 4th Edition. I'll keep on playing this game as long as they keep this game, but will drop off if they go to the FFG version.

After one particularly terrible game of online Pathfinder Society, I decided it would be better to simply stop playing. I haven't been enjoying myself too much, and my fellow players were just awful. I have no idea how these guys lived to 9th level... Rather than rail, I just decided to stop playing. Which, coincidentally, matched with the near-death of the local community. Sure, there are a few games, but the number of players has taken a deep dive. Pathfinder 2e has not helped.

For similar reasons, I stopped playing Starfinder. Though here, we had one good GM (Bill-A), and "the others" (who all sucked), mixed with constant tables of seven meant that I had better things to do. Here, I WANTED to play, but withdrew myself... A definite personal choice.

Publishing/ FOE

This has been a massive year for FOE, with a number of important mile stones achieved. I spent a lot of time focusing on the business side of thing, along with improving my writing.

Best Year in Sales Sales have increased by 20% over 2017, and 10% over our best year. This is very much thanks to all of you, and I am extremely grateful. DriveThruRPG, CreateSpace, and direct sales did a wonderful job for us and are our main source of revenue.

First full-color books This is one achievement I am extremely proud of was the release of our first full-color book: the Akhamet Campaign Setting, inspired by ancient Egypt.

Close Collaboration with Artists This year, FOE continued its long relation with Irene and Blehc, both of which have done awesome jobs of illustrating the many different ideas I've had over the year. I kept a relation with local artist Peter Saga, with whom we will publish an adventure for 13th level characters in 2019 called "Fortress Of Fire".

Akhamet Campaign Setting is our new setting set in a fantasy Ancient Egypt. It seems very simple at first glance, but then the complications begin: the dead rising, the first-ever chance of a succession crisis, and foreign invasions are all themes in this innovative setting. This was our yearly big sellers Akhamet Campaign Setting


This year, I make two non-gaming trips, one mixing business and pleasure, and the other one purely for business.

Montreal in May My contract at LKQ ended on May 31st. Lucky for me, it was renewed, but I needed to go back to Canada to renew all my paperwork. Since this coincided with the kids ending school, Julie and the kids spent a few weeks. However, their cousins are all still in school (Quebec schools finish around June 24th). I only spent a few days (someone has to pay the bills) before flying back to Nashville. It was great to see my parents, sister, and in laws.

Montreal in August When I got onboarded by LKQ, it meant another trip. This one was after the kids started school. Julie took the kids to Montreal for a week while I flew in. We drove down to New York, stopped at OCC and thne we went to the Statue of Liberty. I already been back in '93. Seeing the city again was fun, and still as impressive.


This year, I played a few games of Frostgrave, usually with Kitty who likes that game.

This year, I initiated ActionMan to not only a series of History-based podcasts, which are great to listen to while we go to and from a game (usual going TO, because he sleeps on the 'from' part of the trip). Thus he heard from the great of the late Roman Republic (Marius/Sulla, the Triumvirates), the Diodachy, the Wars of the Roses, the Three Kingdoms, the Tokugawa Shogunate, and more. With short 10-15 minute podcasts, these guys do a good job focusing on one topic. In a 2-hour trip, we get to listen to 7-10 of them, covering a wide variety of topics.

So, after a few times, I asked him if he wanted to play a miniature wargame that mimicked those battles, and he agreed. I post a Battle Report on his first game. It was great to share something like this with some kid who is pretty sharp and is going to be a tough cookie.

I also broke a years-long hiatus about playing Games Workshop games. I purchased a copy of Kill Team, a small-scale version of Warhammer 40k. ActionMan and I played a few quick games, with gangs of the Astra Militorum, the Genestealer Cult, and the Adeptus Astartes. Again, ActionMan enjoyed playing this one and we will be playing some more in 2019. Here are a few pictures of our game.


The biggest event of the year was the fact that after nearly 9 years of blogging, I reached a total of 1,500 posts.

For the first time in many years, my productivity here took a massive drop. This was a mix of fatigue, focus, and doing some gaming. Not just talk and whine about it, but play and GM. So refilling the batteries and posting the important highlights here really helps. I will finish the year with 93 posts, just short of 100. I expect next year will also be lower, as the Patreon may soak more of my time.


Murasaki Shikibu - Tale of Genji I read about this book long before I got to pick it up. I had high expectations for this one. It is, after all, believed to be the first novel, written in the 11th century. Reading and playing a fair amount of Japanese material (remember... Legend of the Five Rings). After reading Lucia St.Clair Robson's The Tokkaido Road last year, I wanted to read more. Let me tell you: this book is just terrible. The plot is hard to follow and resembles a day time soap opera where Genji pursues a woman, who tells him no, then she says yes, then she is again unhappy. It is confusing and boring. At some point, his lover just falls off and dies. The following text made me wonder "Was she killed by a ninja?" No. That would have been exciting. After love, she falls down dead. I was so unhappy and hated reading this book so much, that it defeated my resolve not to abandon reading a book. But man... I thought of dropping it in the toilet, having fly away as I drove my car, forgetting it somewhere, all these schemes just so I could stop reading this book. In the end, I merely decided to give up and to leave this crap on my shelf, until I go to the 2nd hand book store to sell it for something good. Heck, a Harlequin love book would have more, and clearer action. If only there HAD been a ninja... But no...Thinking about it makes me yawn. B-O-R-I-N-G

Roger Lancelyn Green - Tales of Ancient Egypt This book of fictional tales apparently taken from the tombs of the Egyptians. Well, the stories are interesting as they present a number of historical characters and well-known gods. However, they fell unpolished, unfinished. I am certain my children will love to read this book as it has tales of the gods, tales of magic, and even of the kings and queens. Many of the stories feel like others we know today with an Egyptian flair. Not great literature, but fun nonetheless.

St Augustine - City of God (Book I-XIV) This massive treatise on God written following the sack of Rome by the Goths in 410 AD provides a great insight into early Christianity and its battle against polytheism. It is eerie to see how similar the attacks on Christianity level against it and its followers (among them, me) are basically the same today as they did in the fifth century. It provides a lot of insight into the conflict of polytheism and monotheism. I spent most of the year reading this book. Although I would not normally put it here, It is organized into a series of books, each dealing with a specific topic. This is not for casual readers. This is the most difficult book I ever read, but a read I thoroughly enjoy.

Marvel - Essential Rampaging Hulk #2 I have never been a fan of Hulk. It's a character that leaves me uninterested. He is too limited and the stories all end up the same: Banner tries to get rid of Hulk, but then turns into Hulk, smashes things and then goes away. When I bought this, was in a pile of other books, and I did not know about this particular series. Like all the essentials, they are black and white, but this art was clearly designed for color, and make many panels just unclear blobs of dark grey. The stories were very much like the TV series (of which I have good memories). Not really my thing, but the art was very good, when I could see what it was...

Marvel - Essential Thor #5 Another superhero I was not overly fond of as a child. This volume of Thor, unlike the #1 I read long ago, focused a lot more on Norse mythology and adventures in space than Thor fighting jewel thieves. I enjoyed this one a lot as it featured a lot of strange situation. Though how Thor solves things is rather repetitive. I say thee nay!

Marvel - Essential X-Factor #5 I've always been partial to X-Factor, at least its original line-up of the original X-men, and this here is the final issues of the series with them. It covers the X-tinction Agenda where the X-titles mingle into one big plot. At the time, I missed a few of the issues so I was not able to understand exactly everything that was happening, but with an omnibus like this getting the whole story in one go really helped. It was near the time when I stopped collecting and caring about comic books too. For most of this book, the X-Factor characters feel somewhat flat without much character development. Even the best parts and the big reveals aren't too exciting. The characters they are trying to push, don't hold up. I mean who cares about Forge? A few characters do stand out, but they are not X-Factor: Jubilee and Wolverine come to mind. In retrospect, I would still stop collecting comic after this... just too many characters to keep them engaged and providing a sustained, interesting contribution.

Sir John Glubb - Fate of Empires This essay deals with the stages of empires, over the last three millennia. He presents a lot of examples, from the Assyrians, to the Greek, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Mameluke, the Ottomans, and the British Empire. A lot of what is happening today out there are things that in the past have marked decadence of a civilization, such as the laxity of religion, the influx of foreigners, materialism, a welfare state, and generalized pessimism. Definitely raises eyebrows and questions about our modern civilization. To those who say this cannot happen to our modern world, it happened before. I'm not sure I fully agree with his time frame of a two hundred fifty year cycle (some of the dates seem odd), but I found myself nodding in agreement with some of his point, or looking in surprised at his example of the fall of the first caliphate in the ninth century. You can find the essay by clicking this link.

Robert Graves - The Greek Myths This is the first full-length audio book I read on my phone, during my nightly peregrinations then during the trip to and from Gencon. This is a book that includes a LOT of myths and presents them in something rather concise. It is however, more than a little dry and includes many sidebars that makes you unsure of who you are talking about anymore. Still, it was a very interesting unified look at mythology in something of a chronological order.

Ian Page - La Pierre de Lune The second tome in the Greystar series takes us through the countryside to a forbidden city and from there to a strange dream-like realm. Again, one of the things of these series is that I get the impression of doing a lot.

Ian Page - Le Royaume de l'Oubli Here, Greystar to another world to retrieve the Moonstone. The narrative feels lyrical and ethereal. It also brings back Tanid, Greystar's love interest that disappeared in the first tome of the series.

Ian Page - La Guerre des Sorciers The final tome of the Greystar sees him return to the normal world and help in the war against the Chadakine Empire. While in the other world, he finds himself returning after being missing for five years. He helps the League of the Free in a war to overthrow their oppressors. This tome is interesting because you are presented military choices that influence a full war. The final battle left me a little down, but I did enjoy the rest of the book so much that any ending going to be a sad thing.

Victor Milan - The Dinosaur Knights This book I purchased at random at Nashville airport when I realized I had no book with me for a trip to Montreal. This is exactly the sort of book I would NOT read. Why? It is the second part of a series of which I had not read the first part. By the time I realized that, it was too late to change. So I got into it. Best way to describe this book is "Game of Thrones with dinosaurs". The story presents a mosaic of characters of pseudo-European backgrounds. The stories intermingle and move about at different speeds, quite a few Mary-Sues in there, characters whose reverses only become greater for them. The story twists and turns some until you get to the main event of the book. The battle scenes are appropriately chaotic and changing but typically related by the bard character trying to tell everything at once. The battle scenes were definitely a highlight for me, with his use of light cavalry. I was going "finally, I'm done with this, I don't have to read any more." And I was pretty happy with it. But then the final sentence of the book includes a twist that piqued my curiosity for more. I may definitely look for the next volume of the series. I went from a "definite NO" to a "maybe".

Comic - Free Comic Book Day I read a lot of the offering for FCBD this year. The kids love going as they look for different titles and series that interests them. I like the variety. There are a few series I or the kids like, but nothing super-exciting. Nothing we would buy on a monthly basis, but a few things we would buy in trade format.

Comic - Halloween Free Comic Book Day As above.

DC Comics - Justice League Vs Suicide Squad ActionMan and I bought this trade book on Black Friday after we spent the afternoon playing Warhammer Ancients. I do not really like the pace of most modern comics, they feel bland. I expected this one to be like the others, but I was very positively and pleasantly surprised with the pace and story. Interesting twists kept the story going. One criticism is that with such large cast, there are many moments when some characters disappear for a few pages, especially when the two groups battle each other. Still, I enjoyed the read very much as a change of pace.

JH Brennan - La Horde des Démons (orig. Fire*Wolf) is a Fighting Fantasy book I bought for myself because I wanted to re-read the whole series, just like I gifted myself the Greystar by Ian Page and Joe Dever. This series is so completely different than the other. There are fewer choices to make, and in many ways the plot of this Conan wannabe feels more like reading a novel that has been chopped up into pieces than an adventure where you are directly involved. I remember as a kid not really enjoying this series, especially when comparing it to Lone Wolf where it seems you are making a million choices AND really make something epic. Still, a fun return many years back. This first book introduces us to Exterminor - sometimes called Salvator, his demon-sword, as well as set up the rest of the series.

JH Brennan - Les Cryptes de la Terreur The second book in the Fire*Wolf series. Unlike the first book, this one really hit what I remembered of this series as a weaker, less interesting story. Now one thing about it is that the story is not bad, but there are so many completely random choices the lead to insta-death: "You open the door, and die." OR choices that mean nothing: "You spend time searching, find nothing, go back and make another choice." Now there are a few meaningful choices: who do you go to ask for help? You have like 5 choices, but they all eventually funnel to the same thing. That plus it is VERY short, 158 entries.

JH Brennan - L'Ultime Combat de la Horde The third book in the Fire*Wolf series. Fire*Wolf's story advances, he is now a Lord and member of the King's Council. This one is different because it has a few puzzles that block you unless you solve them. The story is good, but some of the best elements feel rushed. This is really where these types of events shined in LoneWolf, but feel weak here.


This year, I participated in a number of conventions, here is the report I posted about them.
- MidSouthCon in Memphis, TN
- Weekend in Rokugan in St Louis, MO
- Conglomeration in Louisville KY Part 1 and Part 2
- Lexicon in Lexington, KY
- Origins was 5 days of gaming, four parts of blogging Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
- Hypericon in Nashville TN Part 1 | Part 2
- Gencon was four days of awesome, four parts report Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
- Imaginareum 2018 in Louisville KY
- Post-Apocalipticon 2018 in Cleveland TN
- SuperConin Louisville, KY
- NerdLouvia in Louisville, KY

So with all this, I wish you all a very happy new year.