JP On Gaming

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Conglomeration 2019 After Action Report

This year's Conglomeration began long ago. It started during the Holidays when I began plotting what I planned to run. I needed something cool to write about. Now if you follow this blog, you know that I spent a lot of time feeling blue about my writing, with bouts of the blues that struck me during the month of March, my least favorite month.

With the return of April and of the nicer weather, my mood took a positive swing and after grinding through encounters and forcing myself to work. I got to play more, ran more, and planned a bunch of events for the coming summer. Conglomeration was the second event of the year for me (after MidSouthCon), the first out-of-state event. I struggled to complete my adventures. I just could not find the right twist, the right surprise, or the one unique element that made my adventure different from the others.

I knew they were good: they had a mix of encounters, mix of challenges, a mix of story and dungeoncrawl, and unique NPCs providing different perspectives. But they just did not excite me. They missed something. Something that would make them unique. So I grinded and grinded. I mean, this was perhaps the most difficult time I had as I put in elements I took out days later. I powered up and de-buffed combats. Then on the Tuesday before the con, I found it. The twist was so elegant in is simplicity that I immediately snapped jumped with joy.

Conglomeration is the one time a year where I meet a number of good gaming friends, including ex-work-hubby Derek, Chuck, Archie, and it is the time of year when my daughter Jojo meets with her BFF from Kentucky Aubrie. I would also see JD (the mind behind Rhym).

I finished my work day at noon and hoped in the car with the kids as my wife dropped them off here at work. Kitty did not wish to attend, so she spent a weekend of shopping and girl-time with Julie.

We got there around 6pm got our badges and I began looking for a seat. I hoped there would be seats at JD's table, but he was full, running some Rhym. Everyone seemed to have a good time. Aubrie arrived during this time and the girls disappeared on me. Bah, I do not expect two fourteen year old girls wanting to stay near a crusty old man like myself, so I let them roam wild and free.

So I looked around and there was anew GM running some of her 5e stuff. I got ActionMan and we played this little game. A fun adventure with a new GM who has a lot of potential. I will look for her games next year. One of the characters had a great name: Sir John Elton...

As for me, I got the halfling wizard... Harriet Porter. I did my best Minnie Mouse voice to get into character. I had a great time until the gentlemen running the Steve Jackson Games demos came to me and offered me 5$ to stop. I jokingly said "no" so he upped it to $10. That's when I knew he was serious. I agreed and he gave the money and I promptly became Harrie Porter, travelling sage.

The adventure was fun and simple. I really value one-shots that are fairly simple and where the PCs can discover the main elements of the plot within the game. She did a good job. After the game, I gave her a few pointers from an old and grouchy player.

After that, we headed across the road to our hotel and slept. Well I wanted to sleep. ActionMan was out like a light, but the two hens kept clucking until I had to threaten them to throw them out in the hallway that they finally passed out. Perhaps I should not have put on Ridiculousness on TV... I was not to enjoy the peace for long as I gave in to the sweet embrace of Hypnos between "on" and "off" on the lamp.

Morning came too quickly. I had to wake the kids up. Showers, breakfast and we were off to the Marriott. I did not have any game planned for the morning (I thought I did). So I sat with ActionMan to play a Shadowrun Mission adventure. He took a brawler, which he really liked and I took a Shaman, which I normally liked but I was not a fan of the build. Still, we had an interesting group and a fun time.

My first slot, I ran some Akhamet, The Tomb of Prince Tsubeteb. This was the same adventure as the one I ran at MidSouthCon. I took the time between cons to improve and tweak a few things to improve the flow.

For the evening, I ran the new Desert Pearls also set in Akhamet. This adventure is one I had to grind through to get done, but when I figured out one encounter, everything came together really fast into an adventure that has a nice twist.

Then it was time to sleep. I ended up having an interesting adventure. First I get to my room to find my keycard demagnetized. So I went back down and up the three flights of stair. Then I unlock the door to find the kids had pushed the hard lock. After calling for five minutes, the door was finally opened. Not by my kids mind you - they kept sleeping though my banging on the door...

Quick shower before bed. Then sleep.

Sunday morning came quickly enough. We packed everything and headed back to the convention for the final day.

As always, Sunday morning is reserved for a game that includes something binding. This year's adventure was set in Rhym. This is another one I grinded through the writing until I tied it all together at the eleventh hour. I ran it and it was good. In fact, running the adventure made me realize how much what I could be expanded into something bigger. The idea is pretty exciting and may be changed before getting published.

Conglomeration was done. The kids did not last until we hit I-65 before they were sleeping.


- The Game room was swinging from the moment I arrived on Friday through Sunday morning. Multiple events went off and as a player, I had multiple choice of games. Archie ran his typical unique twist on Pathfinder events, the Shadowrun Mission people ran many events, and a few indy games. The crowd here is interested in playing games, any games. In contrast to Lexicon where most players are there for the larger organized play campaign events.

- The kids had a blast. As I said, I barely saw Jojo and Aubrie. Every 3-4 hours, they came to see me, drop a few chips and a soda from the Con Suite, before promptly vanishing once again. ActionMan spent an inordinate amount of time in the video games room. They participated in mini painting, wand making, and participated in cosplay crafting events. They had a blast.

- The attendance was good with a wide variety of events: cosplayers, gamers, writers, and videogamers.

- I was lucky enough to have full tables for all three of my events, which is always a big plus, as people recognize me, my style, and my material. Similarly, JD is becoming something of a local celebrity, which is awesome.

- Speaking of JD, I heard great new about his health. Not specific to the con, but a nice bonus nonetheless. I hope we can attend more events together this year.

- During the car trip, I was able to listen to the Classic Genesis discograph: Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Selling England by the Pound, and A Trick of the Tail. But also Misplaced Childhood.


- Have the gaming panels and the game room work together and cross-polinate more. As it was, I had no notice or information as to what was happening panel-wise for gaming. I came and ran events. In all fairness, this is something Derek and Chuck mentioned to me, so I really think this will happen next year.

- Again, I will gripe at the lack of clear and firm gaming slots, as some RPG games started every hour in the evening, from 6-9pm. This meants there were quite a few players who may have joined games instead just stood by and waited for their game not to happen. I'm not talking about board games, but please, hold firm slots for RPGs, even if you have two 2h slots.

- Easter weekend... That causes friction with my significant other who wants me home...


This year's Conglomeration was really a highlight. It was smooth, simple, and pleasant operation for me. The kids loved it too, so that's double points. I will be back next year.

Great crowd and I look forward to seeing again Derek-R, Chuck-W, Archie, Derek-M, Matt-McC, Austin, Dave-M, Pete, OMG I forget so many peoples... If I saw you, I want to see you again.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

[Review] Perilous Nights in Eckwold for 5e

I happened on one of the DM's Guild Facebook Groups on a new author wanting to get some critique about his adventure. Jos-W put out an adventure called Perilous Nights in Eckwold by Dicey Games. He was asking for feedback on the adventure... and what better way to do so than to review it!

So let's get to it, shall we?

1- Overall. The first thing I noticed about it is that the pdf is dry and without art (except for a set of maps at this end, an overall map with the distance of the main events would REALLY help). This felt like an Adventure League product in appearance. I will rate this as "okay", so 2/5.

2- Editing. I noticed a few issues here and there, nothing really jumped out at me. The issues were less with the English and more with the D&D terminology, like skill names having the wrong casing, magic items and spells not being italicized and capitalized. Okay. Okay, I'm an old and grumpy guy who focuses too much on these things. None of the issue prevented me from understanding, so I'll give it a 4/5.

3- Flow. I am torn in this one. On the one hand, the adventure has a good series of investigative elements and combats. On the other hand, the trail of clues is linear. "This NPC is missing over there" means the players will IMMEDIATELY head "over there" turns out, that is not really a wrong thing to do. This means that the PCs are likely to miss, ignore, and not care about 95% of the investigation presented. Another issue I have with the adventure, the boxed text and presentation assume a lot - what PCs feel, what they do next - and that irks me 2/5.

4- Rewards/ Magic Items. There are a few rewards (some good ones for a low-level game), but nothing unique here. One or two special items could have added to the interest. 3/5

5- Plugin potential. This is a side trek. As a night when you are missing 1 or 2 party members, this can be very effective. I don't think there would be more than an evening of gaming here. Advertised as an adventure for 3-6 hours, it hits its mark (though I would expect closer to the 3h than the 6h). The adventure includes future hooks, many which are hinted at, but not addressed in the narrative. 4/5.

Running this, I would use it more as a canvas than a script. The story is interesting, if very basic. Now if you are looking for a simple sidetrek where you can add stuff, where your PCs' paranoid minds will look for something dark to find, this is not a bad one.

So... I see a lot that this adventure COULD be, leaving me torn in giving a final score. There is potential to take this from a simple story into a really nice, complex adventure. With a few tweaks, the flow in particular can be improved.

I will settle on using math 2+4+2+3+4=15/25 = 3/5. I can live with that.

Update Note. Between the time I wrote this review and now, the document was updated. One of the minor issues: the maps, were taken out of the document and placed in their own zip, which is a good thing. It adds value, but I still think the 3/5 rating stands.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

[Review] Saving Encea for 5e

Earlier this week, my Facebook feed brought me a request by fellow creator Matt-V, asking for feedback on his adventure. I replied and in short order, he sent me a copy of his product to go over. I printed the adventure and began reading.

The adventure is Saving Encea, presented as 6-8 hour one shot adventure. Now knowing my players, they would spend 12 hours in the first encounter, but that is besides the point.

1- Overall: The look and presentation is top-notch, reminding me of a Paizo product (the gold standard IMO). The art is and layout is clear and easy to follow. 5/5

2- Editing: I found a number of minor issues. Nothing that prevented me from understanding, but enough for me to notice it. 4/5

3- Flow: This is one of my personal major points. If the adventure does not flow, then it sucks. However, as I read the adventure, the flow was natural and realistic. I found myself thinking I could use this adventure in my own setting, with little modification. Although not unexpected, I enjoyed it very much. 5/5

4- Rewards/Magic items: I will ding the adventure hard on this one. The rarity of the items and their abilities are really out of whack, and the mechanics for them unclear at best. Many of these can easily be traded or substituted but as presented 1/5

5- Plugin potential: The adventure is one that lends itself very much to a sequel, or for the PCs to continue the story, both with the helpful NPCs and the villains. Not part of the adventure, but something I would like to see: a prequel where Caine and Encea are introduced, to give the PCs more of a reason to care for them and their plight. This adventure can be used as a sidetrek, start of a campaign, or continuing one.

Therefore, I can settle with a solid 4/5 (would go to a 5/5 if the magic item issues are addressed). I will use this adventure as part of a campaign I am planning.

You can get this adventure on DriveThruRPG.

Friday, April 5, 2019

[Akhamet] Lost Pyramid of Neferheket Released

Back in October of 2017, I had just lost my job and was actively looking for a new one. That's when I came up with the idea for the Akhamet Campaign Setting, my setting inspired by Ancient Egypt. The setting grew from an idea for adventure, which started with an introduction that would become the Lost Pyramid of Neferheket.

For months now, I have been running this adventure, and it is a very fun and exciting one. It presents a lot of the elements of Akhamet in a format that is fun and very approachable.

I must say that Blehc's awesome art for Pharaoh which graces the cover is one of her best work, based on Yul Brinner's portrayal of Ramses II.

This was a short message letting you know the Lost Pyramid of Neferheket is now available through DriveThru RPG.

Akha-01 Lost Pyramid of Neferheket by JP Chapleau
Queen Neferheket was once Pharaoh's favorite. She was buried in a pyramid out in the desert. Last night, her ghost appeared in the small village of Onoris asking for you by name.
An adventure for APLs 3-4 (characters level 1 through 4)

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Midsouthcon 2019 - After Action Report

This AAR was written and got lost to a freak Notepad++ accident. So you are getting this a month late...

Our trip to Memphis began on Friday evening as ActionMan and I packed the car and began the three-or-so hours down 840 and and I-40...

As we got to mile marker 60, some 120 miles from home, the car begins acting up. When I hit 80 mph, the engine loses all power. Crud. I had to decide what to do. I decided to make my way there and worry about it on Sunday.

As we got there, we signed up for a Shadowrun game. Now this was something I planned to play with ActionMan when he would be a little older. However, this would be the time... He picked a Street Samurai pre-gen and I got a combat mage named "Sparkles" who was an Ese, a bad stereotype of a latino gangbanger. We had fun committing the usual array of crimes related to a 'Run. Now without a Face, a Decker, or a Rigger, this game is MUCH MUCH MUCH more difficult. However, we made this by keeping it low-tech.

After the game, we checked into our hotel. That's where I realized I forgot the power chord to my dead computer...

So sleep it was!

Saturday Morning was my first slot of running something. I had originally submitted a Rhym adventure, but it was not ready, so I audibled it and opted to run "The Mummy of Prince Tsubeteb" twice instead of "just once".

During that time, ActionMan took part in an Adventure League adventure and an Epic, of which he said he had a good time, but did not tell me much about the games themselves. Good boy.

That adventure includes a lot of elements unique to Akhamet in a plot that is easy for people to understand and get the ramifications and consequences of their choices. Two fun games.

I had a Pro-Row during the evening, so we had a fun dinner together at the Panda Express, a place ActionMan really enjoys. I met some interesting people, sold a few books, and had ActionMan completely pooped that he fell asleep on the floor - which he later said was "uncomfortable".

We got to the hotel around 9:45. I was not really tired so I had a mini-marathon of channel-surfing until sleep overcame me.

Sunday morning, we played an AL adventure together, where he created a new character, a dwark cleric named Brockheath Orkbuster and I played my ork character: Gurbaz the Unvanquished. We had a blast playing with cats... I got a big fat orange cat named Cupcake who was bossy and brutal... It is always fun to play with ActionMan who really picks up playing a new class like a fish does water.

My final event was a 2PM panel on "History as a platform for gaming". I will admit when I first saw my schedule, I felt discouraged about it. Sunday afternoon... it will be a ghost town.

However, I could not be more wrong. To my joyful and pleasant surprise, I had a very good attendance. The result of the talk wherein I shared some of my successes and (many) failures using history as a vessel to gaming. Akhamet being a good example of the successes. I gave a big shout-out to those who suffered through my previous experiment (Eric-A, Steve-H, Sebastien-M, Marc-Andre-L, Isabelle-R to name a few...)

So with a big smile on our faces, ActionMan and I left the Marriott back for our home.

I nursed the engine back home without problem... but I could not go over 80... a good thing since I could not speed. However, I could not engage the cruise control... I got home safely with a tired foot.

The Good

- The crowd at MSC is great, with people really wanting to play a variety of things. Every year is a big plus

- The Con suite is awesome, so close to everything that you can play a turn, make a food run, and be back before it is your turn again.

- The Hotel provides steamed hot dogs for attendance Saturday for lunch.

The Improvable

- I was surprised by the low number of Adventure League games. I expected more AL than there were. I expected to play some Tier 2 games, but there were none throughout the weekend. Minor annoyance really.

- The guest/gm schedules were posted VERY late. I was not the only one and in the end, the onsite event went off without a hitch.

- MSC took place on the same weekend a Weekend in Rokugan, which was again in St. Louis. I had a tough choice to make between those two events. I chose to go with ActionMan. I chose well.

The Conclusions

- I love the con, it is definitely the top one in Tennessee

- ActionMan wants to come back

- I want to come back next year, as a guest or not.