JP On Gaming

Thursday, June 27, 2019

[Origins 2018] Origins After Action Report Part 3

Part 1 | Part 2

Highs and Lows

So... what was good and what can be improved of Origins 2019?


- One of the best things about this year was the attendance numbers for my games. With quite a few repeat customers from previous years. I always thought of Origins as a convention where people attend specific events year in year out. Building a following is something I want to see more of.

- Last year, I posted that I did not enjoy one of the Arcanis adventures. It was not the case this year. I enjoyed myself at all the tables I played (all 5 slots). Some stories pleased me more than others but overall, it was a good.

- Seeing my kids at Origins was a high point. Maybe in the future, I don't think the girls will want to come, especially not for 5 days. ActionMan on the other hand will want to come. Five, ten, forty day...

- Friends. I have so many of them I get to meet at the con.

      My Arcanis buddies: Sean-E, Paul & Nicole-G and the kids, Dave-M, Jacquie, and the PCI gang: Henry, Jimmy, Pedro.

      Dave-M, Matt-M from Rogue Cthulhu,

I'm forgetting a lot of people here.


- Well... The biggest disappointment was that neither of my Wednesday games went off. Oh well. Maybe next time. Then again, Wednesday is slow all around the convention.

- I was shocked, and unhappily so, by the price increase of Shadowrun games. Eight bucks for 4 hours at a table of 8. NOPE. If the experience was good, I could console myself. But it was not. What happened was that everyone had a backup and a backup to the backup: four faces, two hackers, three adepts, four gun-totting goons. Surprisingly, I was the only one who was a magic infiltrator. Large tables and price hikes mean that I am OUT from future Shadowrun events at Origins.

- When people complain to the head of a department, as I did to the RPG HQ, I don't want to hear that "we can't do anything because of [politics]". That's lame. Take it seriously.

- Again, their website is just plain crap. People claimed issues with it - which I lucked out and did not experience myself. One problem I have is with the difficulty in getting to important things: number of tickets available, access to what to see. I showed my wife and even she thought it was pretty craptacular. I have little hope by now that they will change this.


- I already complained about this and people spoke to me about it. With the spread of the convention, generic tickets should be easily available. If you have an RPG HQ, they should sell generics. They do at Gencon. I don't care about your inner politics: make it easy for me, the attendee. This is something that can be improved easily.


This year's Origins left me thinking and seriously re-think whether I wanted to attend again. Perhaps bring ActionMan...

I will be debating it some more. However, there were a lot of good things this year that makes me think I want to return: That most of my games went off mostly.

As a bonus, the Arcanis games were great, with my character being oddly effective in combat situation for once. I was still a face that serves as a morale office.

More than a week after Origins, I am leaning towards going back next year. With most of my tables happening AND my fun time playing Arcanis, I think I'm going back next year. Whether I will plan a full schedule like this year remains to be seen.

I'm going back!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

[Origins 2018] Origins After Action Report Part 2

Part 1 Part 3


Friday morning, was another run of Battle of Farelis, Part 1. I am really digging this story more and more. I can't wait to run the Gencon element.

That was the last of my running slots until Sunday. Next up: PLAY.

I had tickets to play Arcanis, leading up to the big battle interactive on Saturday. My character, Kermina Gallia val'Borda who is an oracular nun. I will not go into details of the adventures but I will say that my character, after a retool two years ago, is now effective at more than using her tongue. Because she is a face character, at least she was but with time, she became much more of a caster. And now she can tweak Fate. This was a flavor character that is now surprisingly effective. She is fun to play because she is a devoted to her goddess who is also promiscuous.

She now says classic lines like "Can't spell housewife without hoe!" or that she prays hard and fervently on her knees, every night. I keep it PG-13 but nearly everything I say has a racy connotation.

I will commend my GM who allowed me to use my gift of sight during the adventure to make them special to me... Since we players so rarely have divination power, getting to use them is awesome.


This was the big day. One last Arcanis Hard Point adventure. This one led us straight into the Big Battle Interactive. Again, I got to see things which gave me some insight. Fun stuff.

Before the game, I walk the mile-or-so to go to Tim Horton's to get my coffee. It was everything I wanted. It was good. Now for those who do not know what Tim Horton's is, I can tell that you are 1- not from Canada and 2- you do not know what the best donut shop coffee is. TH is a Canadian coffee/donut shop that focuses on making the best coffee. Not only that but not selling it at the extortion price Starbucks sell their burnt sewer water. Yes, Tim was a hockey player who is best known for his coffee!

So the first game had an interesting "time travel/dream" quality to it. When I took this picture, I wondered one thing: "WHAT ARE THOSE!?" A meme my children are very fond of.

This year, we got to participate in a silent auction where they offered a few items from the Forged in Magic book. I participated and, thank to my future in-game husband, Sestius/Comma/Tom (remember the joke about the Hoe in every housewife?) By getting some of his money, I won the bidding for the Sacred Holy Symbol of the Larissa the Harlot. I will need to get something to represent it.

The Battle Interactive was the big event of the Saturday... 10 hours of awesome. This year, I again was sat with Nicole and her boys. Completing our wacky team, was Paul's niece and Amanda-C. This meant that my Kermina had her two BFFs at the table: Magda (played by Amanda) and Tessa (played by Nicole). There was not a lot of time for us to gossip and blab, even though I'm pretty sure there were.

Kermina's new power as a caster really shined during this battle. I was able to do some battlefield control using my enveloping ward (the Arcanis version of Otiluke's Resilient Sphere). I was pleased with my performance. One thing I can do now that is pretty good is the summoning of Stig, my celestial belly dancer! A minor angel that served us as both a live-in girlfriend.

The best thing we did was a dance party when we survived one of the scene. Woop Woop! Go go Larissa!

One very odd thing I received this year: compliments for my outfit. Huh... okay... That's new. I thought I was inflicting massive Cthulhu-type horror on the world, but people complimented me! I guess my ear dangles (I'm not gonna pierce my ears), my pink sword or my head covering is making me look good. Yeah! FA-BU-LOUS!


Sundays morning slots are always interesting and something of a roll of the dice. I showed up ready to roll and I was very pleased to have five players to play in Akhamet's Desert Pearls. That adventure is a sharp contrast to the "Tomb" which I ran earlier in the con. Desert Pearls is more of a story-based adventure. It is better IMO to run on our sleep-deprived Sunday brains.

I then drove back to Tennessee where an empty house waited for me...

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

[Origins 2018] Origins After Action Report Part 1

Part 2 Part 3

Another year, another Origins. As every year, it is a roller coaster of highs and lows. Of great and suck. So let's take a trip down memory lane...

Before Origins

For a few months now, I have been writing, thinking, tweaking, and reviewing the adventures I wanted to run. This year, I would run Akhamet and Saggakar - I chose not to run Rhym in order to focus and force myself to put my time on specific locations.

Getting there and Wednesday

After a long day of work on Tuesday, where I touched a bunch of things and loaded everything upon my good friend in the QA department. My hope was that something would pass review and testing so that when I came back, they would roll out.

I got on the road shortly around 3pm. Traffic in Nashville is much different at that time, as it would get much worse a mere 30 minutes later. The trip was uneventful. The road was clear, traffic light, and in good time, I was at my hotel north of Cincinnati. Sleep was good.

I woke up late (around 8AM), showered and headed out.

I stopped at Meijer to get food for the con: ham, cheese, drinks, pickles, and cookies. Nothing very exciting and it would lower my costs, allowing me to buy more goodies.

The sacrifices...

One of the big changes this year, was the moving of the registration from the middle of the convention center to the north side. For me, that meant close to a mile walk from the south side. That is not a big problem, I need the exercise. My complaint with that is that they did not have a station for Generic Tokens anywhere else. "Buy a bunch of them" I was told.

Then they only take cash, but there is no ATM machine anywhere near there, and no indication it was cash only until you made it around the corner and was face to face with the booth. Not convenient for sure.

I won't complain about the lines, it's day one of the con, at the start of the con, it will be long. Having said that, the line went really fast.

For my first slot, I found myself alone. No tickets sold. Unable to get a table of Arcanis (as it was sold out), I made my way around the place. I made my way to one of the small-type groups and sat at a table of Mutants and Masterminds. It was an interesting game, set on Guam in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

My biggest issue with the game had to do with the setup that took a very long time. About 1h in a 2h game. The story was cool: something happened to the Maryanne Trench and we had to investigate. I expected something Cthulhu-related, but nope. It was a happy deception. Most of a mystical solution.

The evening slot, my table again had no tickets sold so I managed to get onto a Shadowrun table. I had been looking forward to playing that game again. With the new edition coming out at Gencon, it might be something I could get ActionMan into.

Now I will say this was the last time I would go to Shadowrun during Origins. Just having larger and larger tables does not make for a better game experience. Quite the opposite, it slows down the game and it just means you get to do less. Tables of 4 through 6 provide the best experience. Tables of 7 are not good, and tables of 8 suck.

Yes, it turned out to be a table of 8. No wonder the guy wanted to sell his ticket. Wise man.

For that, I must give the people at Baldman Games who run the Adventure League a big kudos. They limit their tables - as do I - to a hard limit of 6. This means everyone gets some GM-time and have the opportunity to shine and provide something unique to the party. Good job, BMG.

The game over, I headed to the hotel and tried to sleep. It was difficult to find sleep because I was kept worrying about whether my games would go off or not.


Thursday was a day I was looking forward to. Before the con, I had a few tickets sold, but I was really worried about it. A quick breakfast with my good friend Dave-M.

Trip to the car, which was conveniently parked just under the Delaware rooms. I was surprised by light my game box was. It had grown so heavy as I ran Curse of Strahd, having like a million things in there.

My first game was Battle of Farelis, Part 1 set in my Tyrants of Saggakar setting. As I posted, this adventure is part of a bigger storyline that will culminate at Gencon. I had a really good time running it, even if the final scene came off as a little abrupt. Okay. A LOT.

It has been a while since I wrote a module set in Saggakar. A year I guess? The Mad Despot of Hellsmere was the last Saggakar release for Gencon last year.

For my next two slots, I ran "The Tomb of Prince Tsubeteb" set in the Akhamet setting. This is an adventure that is really fun to watch and does presents some unique challenges for the players. It reminds me a little of the Lost Pyramid of Neferheket which I published last year.

It is very fun to see what different groups do with the same information.

Both feature tombs but they play out completely differently because of the story around the plot. And the layout is also different...

The highlight of the day was when my wife and kids showed up to for a short time. They showered me with Father's Day gifts. I could see ActionMan's eyes go to the table as he has yet to play either of these adventures... And he wants to play them... And he will... Just not now.

Why would they drop by you ask? They were on their way to Canada for a month's trip where they spent time with family and practice their French. There was a bit of paperwork to do and lucky for us, Columbus is on the way between Nashville and Montreal! I think next year I may have ActionMan come with me.

Heck! He's already asking me "at what age can I GM for you at Gencon?" Nice... Guess who will beat you up in a few years?

Monday, June 24, 2019

[Patreon] Welcome to Saggakar Part 2

It's been a while since I posted to my Patreon... but here it is, a continuation of my short story "Welcome to Saggakar".

Patreon Post

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

[Review] Kendal Santor's Treatise on the Mournland

I was on one of the many 5e Facebook group lurking and killing time when I happened on a post asking for reviews. On a whim, I replied and Alan-T sent me a copy to review.

The product is Kendal Santor's Treatise on the Mournland by Alan Tucker and [friends] (there are a lot of people on this project).

Full disclosure, I am not a fan of Eberron. That campaign setting does nothing for me. It leaves me completely indifferent. High-Tech in my fantasy is something I like in small doses. If I want to play Sci-fi, then I would play a Sci-fi game. With this know, let's go over the document...

The document is 78 pages long, including a cover page, a page for credit and foreword, a page for table of contents, and a page of ads/links at the end. Meaning you get 74 pages of content, for 12.95, that's not bad. A tad pricey, but let's see what we get for that price.

The first section, environment presents some environmental challenges you encounter when playing in the Mournlands. This section is one of the surprise highlights for me. The presentation is concise, and clear. My favorite section was the one about spellcasting. In short, every time you cast a spell, any spell, you roll a d20. On a 20, the effects are doubled; and on a 1, the spell has no effects and the slot is wasted.

The best part of this section is that everything is in a sidebar/ textbox. This makes accessing them when you have players bombarding you with questions easy to find.

Next is the Map which looks very good. It is attractive and clear to read. Even in black and white, it is clear to read.

Next, is the Geography section which presents the locations within the Mournlands. They are short but interesting. If I have one thing that irked me here: alphabetize. The "random" or "map order" makes it difficult to find during a game. While not explicitly detailed, I find tidbits of adventure idea in every entry, a few of which I will most definitely use in my own games.

The Personalities section is well-made, but for me, something of less useful. This section is well-made and the characters have definite personalities. Including Ikar the Black, a half-orc treasure-hunter who wrote comments throughout the book, adding great flavor.

The too-short What caused the Mourning? accomplished exactly what it needs: it gave me a few possibilities without a definitive answer. The GM can decide and use the one he wants for his campaign. What created this massive scar is one of the mystery of the world that makes it interesting for us players to explore and find out what the DM thinks.

The final section, and the largest in the book, is the Bestiary. This one has a lot of interesting horrors. We have two templates: warped, and living spells. The rest of the monsters offer a variety of beasties: from the low CRs to the high CRs. There is a lot of variety: aberrations, monstrosities, constructs, plants, and beasts. They are presented in a format similar to the Monster Manual.


- Perhaps one of the most random elements I found myself looking forward to read on every page were Ikar's personal notes. They made me think of a PC's own notes. The one on the Cthulhu-like Droxa which is featured on the cover reads: Blood and soul, this thing’s a story. It better be a story. I hope it’s a story. - Ikar A definite highlight

- The writing is good and well-edited. I found it clear and concise, not using overly complex prose.

- The art is effective and gives the Mournland a good impression.

- The Rule elements and sidebars are well-used and draw attention where due.

- The biggest value and most likely to find reuse for the GM is the Bestiary. The variety of both creature types and challenges means your party will have a lot of challenges. So you are not just fighting orcs or warforged.


Okay, I had to work hard to nitpick this one... Almost everything was good. So these are really minor and personal preference.

- The art is a mix of CGI and art. I am not a fan of the CGI stuff, but it is well done and the composition are good.

- I would greatly appreciate if the locations were alphabetized


Well this one was easy to rate. I could not find anything really wrong with it! That means a solid 5/5. If you are not into Eberron, I may drop it to a high 4.5, which again rounds back up to 5/5.

This is a great product! Check it out!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Origins and Gencon: Two Specials Completed

I was beginning to wonder myself when I would finally dig myself out the massive hole of writing I dug myself in with Origins and Gencon. I spent March and April in a writing funk but today, I can breathe a lot easier for I finished not one, but TWO of the special adventures, called Battle of Farelis, parts 1 and 2.

Part 1 is set in the Tyrants of Saggakar setting and opens the story in a kinda set up for what is to come. In many ways, Part 1 explains what is happening and allows the players to experience how things god that bad... Because yes, they are bad...

It has been a while since I wrote for the Tyrants of Saggakar, which I took to like a fish in water. I really like this setting because it has everything I would love to play in a setting: bad guys with motivations, the potential for good deeds, and endless possibility for adventure.

Part 2 is not a sequel, at least not for the characters. In part 2, adventurers from a variety of game world deal with what happened in Part 1. I do not want to explain too much at this time but it is pretty cool, I think.

So in the weeks after Origins, I will be running all these adventures as Slot Zeroes for my GMs (Will, Florent, Florence, and Randy), and it is very likely I will post a few additional seats if you are interested/available.

The format idea was something I envisioned way back when I started FOE and began to lay the groundwork for Saggakar.

I thought I would post the covers here as an added teaser.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

First Love: Ravenloft

This past weekend, I jumped back into the pool of GMing by running the first part of the 5e Epic Curse of Strahd.

This adventure, which I played back in '86 with Louis-G as the GM. At the time we played during our lunch hour, squeezing however long we could out of a quick hour. Louis-G was the one of us who spoke the best English and he bought this classic. I6 Ravenloft was us twelve and thirteen year old boy wanting to beat the crap out of a vampire. Pfff Strahd had nothing on us.

To make things worse, we each had two or three characters. I had two myself: Ibut the Gnome who was a fighter/illusionist (level 1/1) and Sir Parish (Paladin 3 or 4). Now Ibut was the first character I built when I first bought my PHB, back in 1986...

Here are a number of high points (it has been 35 years...)

- Ibut was killed by worgs, which Louis-G kept referring to as "worg wolves" (with a thick accent) that I kept hearing "werewolf". It took me years to get what a worg was.

- Sir Parish had a romance with Ireena.

- J-M-Scaz played a druid who decided to "get it on" with the old gypsy lady, and caught an STD that forced us to get him some magical healing for his "lower body".

- This led to the events I spoke of in another post.

- Perhaps, the best part was the ending, when after we threw everything we had at Strahd: every spell, every ability, and then he opens a portal and jumps through. Of course, without thinking we charge through, intent on slaying the vile beast.

- The next scene has us wake up in comfortable beds without weapons or armor as a warm sun filters through the window. An old maid jumps up "Oh! You are awake! Wait here" and she walks out. A moment later, a charming blonde man enters the room. "Good to see you are awake. Welcome to my home, I am Count Strahd von Zarovich!" Mike drop. (It was the start of Ravenloft II)

That was one of the times that made me fall in love with gaming. It was one of the moment when the dopamine high got me going through years of less-than-stellar gaming as I discovered what I wanted out of the game itself.

Over thirty years ago... Wow... We were all kids. Good times.

Now get off my lawn!