JP On Gaming

Thursday, August 29, 2019

[Kinda Book Report] Glen Cook - Black Company: The Silver Spike


Silver Spike CoverNow if you are a fan of the Glen Cook's Black Company series (I am), this one is a special treat in that it follows the events of The White Rose where the decimated Black Company is heading south. After buying more of Glen's books at Hypericon, I wanted to get back into the BC universe.

This book can best be described as a spinoff. It features a number of characters that left or opposed the BC in the first cycle of the series. In many ways, this is a sort of epilogue to the Black Company empire-shattering tour of the North. This was a very different type of book from the rest of the series in that it is less militaristic and more along the lines of "regular" fantasy book, while still fitting in the univerSE of the BC.

The story starts with a group of characters: four random low-level thieves decide to go and steal the Silver Spike that was used to destroy the Dominator at the end of Shadows Linger. The story then brings back Bomanz, Raven, Darling, Silent and the Limper as a(nother) villain.

The characters are interesting and have realistic development, with complex interactions. The four thieves were highlights with plot twists. Old Man Fish started off very low-key and grew into a pretty cool character.

I will say that unlike Path to the coldness of heart, the story end with a climax that is epic and awesome. Most story arcs are closed off (a lot of people die) but leave the door open on enough character for a possible sequel or writing them back into the main storyline.

If I had to rate this one... I'd go with a 5/5.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

[Legion of Everblight] Proteus warbeast and Ancient Greece

Another old picture of a character I did a while ago. This is a Legion of Everblight Proteus.

This creature - and many of its brothers - has a future in the upcoming "Greek setting". I have been working with Roberto on this as we exchange ideas and now I need to sit down and write it. More on that in a different post...

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

[Old Pro Tricks] Character Backgrounds: How Long?

I was lurking around on RPG StackExchange and happened upon a question that made me pause. The poster asked the following question: "How much detail should I put into my characters backstory as to not be annoying to other players?"

Katharan al-ZawreeThe question was shut down because it is very opinion-based - true. But still the question is worth asking. How long should you have your backstory?

I will go from a historical view. I created characters that had a LOT of backstories: a few pages. And I created characters that had a very short backstories: a sentence or two.

I will differentiate between a background and a shtick.

A background links the character to the setting, creating ties between local events and NPCs. They tend to be rather specific in terms of which element you relate to. For example, my winter witch Katja grew up with her paternal grandmother after her father, a mercenary, dropped her off when she was about 5 years old and disappeared. This gave Katja a reason to help the locals: she grew up there, she had a grandmother present, and she was known as a quiet girl by the rest of the party. She had a few possible side-quests: finding her father and mother, discover her own powers, and an interest in books.

A shtick is typically short idea that gives the character a reason to be present but does not really get too close. For the past few characters we built for the Adventure League, ActionMan and I based and named our characters out of characters from Treasure Island. Captain Flint, Ben Gunn, Billy Bonescrusher, and Israel Hands all made appearances in games. They are all pirates and speak using "YARRR". They are there "just because". The shtick can generally be conveyed over a sentence of two. "We are pirates from Captain Flint's crew," gives most players a quick idea of what you look like.

Werner von Breshlow-GiersbergenSo how long should your background be?

I have a bias towards "keep it short". Why? Here is a short list of my thoughts.

- You want to integrate with others. The more you detail your background, the more likely you isolate your characters from the other party member.

- Easier to change and adapt. Nothing sucks more than to have to go back and redo all your background because the plot suddenly took you to a different place. "What do you mean my father is the brother of Sauron?!"

- The GM has other things to think about. Perhaps the biggest reason for brevity, the more expansive you make it, the more the GM has to remember all your stuff. Few points makes it easier to remember and integrate in the plot.

- A good shtick may be good enough. A simple one-liner "I am a son of the nobility who came here thinking it would be fun".

So I will add a caveat to this list. If your GM asks you for more of a background, then go as big as he wants it. Still try to keep it open: avoid the "I am a complete loner and I never met anyone and have no friends or family outside the party."

Monday, August 26, 2019

Akhamet: Two New Adventures released!

Finally, after a long time of preparation, view, review, and an absolutely great reception at both Origins and Gencon 2019, now is time to release not one, but TWO adventures for Akhamet. Both of these adventures has an Egyptian flair.

The Tomb of Prince Tsubeteb

Akhamet - The Tomb of Prince Tsubeteb is a dungeoncrawl with an little investigation. It's an adventure that introduces many of the concepts behind Akhamet while giving players a lot of freedom on how to accomplish the task before them.

Prince Tsubeteb, one of Pharaoh’s favorite sons received the ancient and holy rites of mummification and was buried in the great necropolis. Death is not the end and many threads remain beyond its icy grip.
A 5th edition adventure with an Egyptian flair for characters levels 2-4

It runs for 3-6 hours. and is optimized for level 3 characters.

Get it on DriveThru RPG

Desert Pearls

Akhamet - Desert Pearls is an action-packed treasure hunt with a very unique twist. It is an adventure to be run at the speed of a crazy train. Yet, it offers the PCs many choices and will keep even the hardiest veterans on the edge of their seats.

In eastern Akhamet, local markets flood with desert pearls. A merchant is gathering an expedition to the depths of the desert that might make every one of its members rich. Or dead.
A 5th edition adventure with an Egyptian flair for characters levels 2-4

It runs for 3-6 hours. and is optimized for level 3 characters.

Get it on DriveThru RPG

[Minion Monday] Pulling out my big snake

Another one I painted long ago and used a couple of times in games. I got this monster from one the Widower's Wood pack I think.

I used Beetlejuice as an inspiration for its color scheme.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

[Kinda Book Report] Glen Cook - Dread Empire: A Path to Coldness of Heart

Another audiobook. Now I have been pretty excited about the previous two: they were clever, especially the scenes replayed from different sides. This one... Pfff... I'll be honest and did not enjoy it as much. This story dragged on and on with little that was happening of interest. It felt more like a soap opera with bad quasi-romance elements, and a huge cast of characters that effectively accomplish nothing but wait together.

The "Last" of the Chronicles of the Dread Empire feels like nothing like an ending.

Just not great.

I did not enjoy this book.

Another book by Cook I read that I did not enjoy was Bleak Seasons. However, I did not enjoy that one because of the odd tone and darkness.

According to Wikipedia, the original manuscript was stolen. Perhaps that one may have been better.

The ending is a let down. Effectively saying "I'm done for now, but there are so many questions and plot hooks remaining that the story feels incomplete." It leaves everything in the air. The main characters do not achieve anything.

Soap opera.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, August 19, 2019

[Minion Monday] Bunch of pigs

I painted these guys almost two years ago from the Hordes Unleashed RPG. This is a small band of Farrow (boarmen). I do not really have a use for them in most of my game so I may just sell them. I don't know... I still like their sculpts.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Dungeon Decorations: A trio of treasures

A short post with a few small items that have been waiting for a post. There are a trio of random treasure/ objectives/ dungeon decoration. I do not remember where I got those. They came as part of a kickstarter.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Ancient Ship Gallery and Construction Guidelines

Two years ago now, I made a series of ships designed to be used in RPGs particularly Akhamet. These ships served me for years now. I now have more ship designs I want to build, which I will with the experience I gained from building these three guys.

Here is a short guide on how to create such ships for you:

1 - The bodies were made of corrugated cardboard with the corrugations at 90' angle. This makes them light but sturdy. Make sure to keep the amount of glue to a minimum to avoid warping.

2 - Once the body is done and dry, cover the top and sides with Popsicle sticks. This will strengthen the body. Now here you can be as loose or tight with the planking as you want. Again easy on the glue to avoid warping, not only for the body but also for the sticks themselves. A little stick warping will make it look more "realistic".

3 - For the mast, use a chopstick you will stick into the center of the ship. Stick it through wood - having drilled a hole then force it through the cardboard. Since these boats are based on ancient designs, I use a square sail, with the cross beam to form a T. I chip small notches that makes both fit in together better.

4 - Painting is simple: brown then drybrushing to make the grain of the wood pop and a few black lines to make the planking appear smaller than they are.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Gencon 2019 AAR Part 5 Fallout from the FOE Specials

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

FOE Special: Battle of Farelis

I mentionned the multi-table special quite a few times, along with a number of pictures.

The story started at Origins, in "Battle of Farelis, Part 1" where adventurers discover the dire situation in Farelis following the capture of the city by the forces of House Faremhi late last in-game year. The situation is not great with a strong rebellious streak. As the PCs travel across Farelis, things are in motion.

Now back to Part 2, which was played at Gencon...

They came through the Mists surrounding Farelis. They came from different worlds, some from the desert, some from the cold of the rain, and some from a tiny island... All of them came to investigate what happened and discovered a city unlike any in their own lands.

After witnessing the odd nature of this place, they witnessed the many strange sights: from the dried-up river port, the nobles estates, or the private quarters where they were attacked by crazed locals and saw ghostly appearances.

They met an odd man that seemed partially solid and partially ghostly. He claimed to be responsible for everything that happened and asked for help.

Taking the PCs to his temple at the Treeshadow Institute, he invited a few people inside as a large group of ghostly shapes huddled outside the entrance, interested in hearing what happened.

Inside the cramped office, a man encased in crystal focused eldritch energies against a wall through which a massive angel appeared frozen in time, an instant before striking a black adamantine gauntlet.

Each group left the Institute heading for the vault in the palace where they encountered a variety of strange people, each with its own view on current events.

When most of the adventurers reached the room where the angel stood frozen in time, its blade a breath away from striking the black gauntlet with a shower of eldritch sparks flying everywhere. Again most groups gathered and discussed what they wanted to do before placing their dimensional stabilizers.

No sooner did they place them that the Vault began to self-destruct, jettison itself out into the void of the Mists. As most of the PCs fled to escape the Mists, a few were swallowed by them and vanished forever.

Fallout The Hand of Saggakar was taken out of the Vault and taken to different places in the FOEniverse. Next year, I will have two adventures that deal with the fallout of this year. One will be set in Rhym and one will be set in Saggakar... The game left me with a HUGE amount of story material to sift through and order.

FOE Special: Sun Never Sets

I ran a second special, this one on Sunday Morning that saw a full table come to explore the yet-to-be-completed Greek setting. I'll let you know there is much interest in that one too.

Last year, the Peleset sent the inimitable Prince Diogenes to Akhamet. A man of many pleasures and interests, Diogenes made quite an impression upon the Akhameti.

This year, the Akhameti government sent back to them Princess Dedeneke. "Unlike him, she seems pretty normal" the party said.

After a week of sailing, they shipwrecked on an island where they were attacked by local monsters. Eventually, they discovered why the Princess wanted to come to the island. "I've made a terrible mistake!" She called out.

The PCs fought and defeated a horrible creature and allowed the portal to be closed. A dejected Princess ordered everyone to come back to Akhamet where she planned to discuss the situation with her father. And the saga continues...

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Gencon 2019 AAR Part 4 The Good The Bad The Random

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5



- All four of my FOE GMs: Florence, Florent, Randy and Will made my work look - and play - awesome! A big thank you to each of them. My on-going elation and excitement about Gencon as a whole, I owe to these guys.

- A huge shout-out to the FOE players who bought tickets and spent their time with us. Many of them more than once! With so many choices at their disposal, this makes it even more special.

- I had most of my mods ready to hand out to my GMs, with only a few typos/corrections to do before giving them out.

- Running Slot zeroes for most of the adventures mitigated some of the panic regarding the special. This means next year, I will need to have all my adventures ready around Origins.

- Returning players from previous years and I'm not talking only of my friends like Derek and Steve, but people who played and returned. That really touched my heart and showed that we were doing something right and that I have a group of DM around me who are exciting and dynamic.

- I am a very lucky man for I know so many great people. In addition to my GMing crew and playuers, I got to meet (and I'll forget a lot of folks here) Josh-B who I haven't seen in years, Derek-M, Ken-W, and the rest of the Heroes of Rokugan.

- The FOE Polo Shirts really makes the GMs stand out.


I searched for this one, before coming up with:

- Before Gencon, Double and triple check that each GM received, printed, and read their copies of the mods I need them to run.

- Do not do wait until the last minute to write an adventure.

- The blizzard of '19 will long be remembered. Bring long pants.

- Note to self: take pictures of the GM team.


- ActionMan wants to attend. So I will have to find a way to get him to attend the con. He might have a part to play in the FOE special for next year...?

- When running a two-night special, have it be over two nights. Perhaps running what was the Origins special one night as a re-run.

No doubt, no hesitation. FOE is coming back to Gencon in 2020! With more new stuff.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Gencon 2019 AAR Part 3 Rokugan and Hatred

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5


Saturday was my play-day. After waiting a whole year, I got to play another Heroes of Rokugan.

This campaign is in the middle of a big story arc, one I am enjoying quite a lot with my little crane. She has serious flaws, but she has worked hard to work around them. Doji Haruhime promotes peace and the benefits of civilization such as origami, cleanliness, floral arrangements (ikebana), and pursuits that encourages quiet time. Her quirks makes her interesting to play.

The second game slot left me two hours of free time. What to do... DEALER HALL!

I walked over, roamed almost randomly. Spoke with the PCI guys before moving on to a place I have to avoid... The Crocodile Games booth. Like a kid in a candy store, I wnet through their goodies, their many goodies. I will post later about this.

On my way back, I met some of the lads from the Nashville PFS group. We chatted a little and I noticed they bought Arcanis. Cool! Maybe get to play more of it here in the area...

The final event of the day was a LARP/interactive event. Now I am not really super-excited about those because it always hinges on a few people and frankly, they just aren't my thing. But once a year...

The usual tropes happened: we argued over some foible. However, this time, there was a big change with an announcement that changed the face of the event, with the Crane claiming a big treasure. After that it returned to the same.

One player provided a side plot regarding poetry. Right up Haruhime's alley! Then as someone who seeks to mend fences and sponsor friendship, I joined forces with a pair of Lion Samurai.

Well... we won this competition after a very challenging playoff. Winning was fun, and I got to receive my winning, a massive fan painted by a Hantei painter. With me? The Daimyo of the Daidoji family. What a major honor for me!

I was pretty happy about my participation. So much so that next time, I believe I will propose participation in a side-quest like this for those who, like me, aren't too keen on the large-scale politics.


Final day.

I survived thus far, still had a voice and was super excited to get things done. After my panicked writing, this was the time to see how it worked.

I was super happy that Derek-R was present at the table. He is the gaming overlord from Conglomeration in Louisville.

So, in spite of my great worries, the final version was pretty good and flowed naturally. It introduced the elements of the Greek setting-to-be without delving too deeply into it. This adventure was the sequel to Death in Anupolis, which some players did on Thursday!

The hatred of the product I felt for all five previous versions paid off as the final product played smoothly, particularly in parts where previous drafts died, namely during the ship and crew interaction and the ogre village. It was much smoother and less forced.

The adventure went well and everyone left happy. It also let me know that there was more work to be done.

I returned to the dealer hall with Will, returning to Crocodile Games where I talked with Chris some more. Again, at a later date.

Gencon for me and Will was over. It had been a great one. I was really excited. Tired, but excited.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Gencon 2019 AAR Part 2 Near Heart Attack And Rhym Cosplay

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5


Our ride into the convention center on Thursday was made more interesting by a pair of events. First off, the closing of I-70 made for a detour through more of the inner streets of Indianapolis. The other was the reveal that Will did not have his copy of the special for the night. Remember last post?

We got in, met Randy who was already waiting for us and waited for our players to filter in. I went over the guys to make sure everything was good and ready to rock.

That time before we all sit down and set up my own table. I used the time and made a run to GM HQ, a mile or so away. I got the GM badges and got back on-time for our 8ish start time.

In spite of the crazy mile-long line, we managed to have most of our players show up on time and all three tables went off without issue.

Same went for the afternoon slot, for a while it seemed that Randy's table was at risk, but his table filtered in and he was able to run.

During the afternoon, we got hit by a blizzard, wherein we had to use many dice to keep paper from flying and the temperature dropped to the low teens. I had to run to the car to put on socks. It was COLD! Lucky for us, the manager came by and felt the howling wind and saw the icicles that dangled from our ears and noses.

Throughout the day, Will ran Desert Pearls, Randy ran Death in Anupulis and I ran Tomb of Prince Tsubeteb, all of which were set in Akhamet.

Now was time for the big panic moment... Will and I would each run our table using a single copy of the mod. Having run the adventure, it was not very difficult for me to wing it. Only a few boxed texts required the help of the pages. The game flowed smoothly enough through and people left with smiles on their faces.

Mega-crisis averted. The problem would rear itself tomorrow once more. But that was a tomorrow problem. Come to think of it, if I'd been bright I would've asked Randy for his copy...


Friday came too quick: that morning the team changed. Instead of Randy, Will and myself, Florent, Florence, Will and myself would run the FOE games. I was very excited, riding the wave of awesome that had been Thursday. We all loaded into Ilantra, my latina spitfire car, we made our way in - it did help that we were all at the Porn Hotel.

Pretty much the same story happened as yesterday. Florent and Will ran Desert Pearls, while Florence and I ran Tomb of Prince Tsubeteb.

With four tables, the special really flourished. I won't lie that with both Will and I having done it once before helped and Florent and Florence both followed us into the gap of crazy.

I had difficulty going to sleep so I high on excitement was I. I could've kept on running for six days straight. After many years of hard work, seeing something like this happen with such a level of excitement. OMG! Mega-Girly-Giggles! I still am in super-fan-girl-mode for the work all four of my GMs did.

A big thank you to Florence, Florent, Randy and Will (who also gave me near heart-attacks, but I forgive him).

We had our first ever Rhym cosplayer! Lady Hanalyr! She did not make it out of the Vault...

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Gencon 2019 AAR Part 1: Panic and Porn

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5


The Biggest gamer-event of the year. One that draws heavily from table-top, card, board, miniatures, and video games together. Every year, it is the event we all look for.

From my first Gencon in 2013 after I had just moved from Colorado to Kentucky. I attended for the weekend only, playing PFS and WitchHunter. That year, I only played.

2014 was the first time I participated and GM'd for the first time. Since that time, that year, I ran 3-4 tables, and it has slowly grown and grown.

Last year, Isabelle and JS did an awesome job, growing the FOE presence by doubling the previous number of tables, from 7 to 13.

So this year, I was lucky enough to have no less than four crazy people: Flo-M, Florent-F, Randy-P and Will-M who accepted my offer to run games for FOE, which would take our total number of tables to twenty one.

Ambitious and nerve-wracking but exhilarating.

So what happened?

Before Gencon: Repeated Panics

Monday came by, I had my mods done and sent. The slot zeroes revealed a few issues that got fixed before I sent them to the guys. In all, everything that I had to do was done, I had to pack and load the car, but I was in a good place.

Around 10AM on Monday, I get a chat from Will saying "I was just let go."

And there it was: the FIRST panic. Panic for Gencon. Worry for my good friend. I quickly sent him information about the good recruiters, and even some of those I like less. With the goal to get him all squared up again. We talked and found an arrangement that allowed him to attend the con.

He's a good man and a trooper. The crisis was averted. Now there is still much work for him to do, but for Gencon, crisis averted.

Tuesday came by, at lunch, I thought back over what I had, ran through my list of mods and went. "OH CRAP!"

I did not have any adventure for my Sunday slot! Oh! I had notes, stats, and no less than five intros to this adventure. I hated all of the elements I had. My main NPC was flat without any spark of interest. The combats had no real interest, they were overly simple and formulaic. The finale only led to more and more adventure, without any way for me to close the story.

So, guess what my Tuesday evening was spent doing?

Yup! You got it! I spent writing and blasting everything, forcing it all to come together. Now, I spent a number of hours tying everything together. Now that I am a week removed from this panic, I can see that I grew as a writer. The craft of writing, which I work on all the time, really came together in these short hours. Oddly enough, the result was a cannibalized version of all five version, with a final combat I came up with at the time when I said "OH Crap!"


I got up and expected to find a 4 o'clock bug. But nope. Throughout the day, I kept getting updates from friends saying they were in Indy. Landed. Checked In. Badge obtained. GAH! The day just rolled on and on. From noon-ish onward, I did not do much. Everything I had was waiting for others to review or test.

Finally, I could not take anymore and my weekly hours were done. I was up I-65 headed to Will's place. The gamer blabbing started and went on for the next 5 or 6 hours. Dinner at Denny's where neither of us had been for a long time.

Thursday morning. We are driving into the con and I ask him if he has questions about the Special. Then he replied "Huh. I did not get that one." And there I went... Panic struck again. I had one copy of the mod. I had sent the mod to Randy and he acknowledged it. So... what to do... But later.

So there is was: three major panic moments. And I was yet to reach the Marriott!

Before Gencon: Porn!

Using, I booked myself a hotel way back in January-ish. Good price of 60$ a night. I was very happy with my bill. Sure, it was 15 miles from downtown, but that's like a 20 minute drive. Since I drive in at 7-7:30 AM and leave at midnight, traffic is not an issue.

We get to the hotel. I get in to check in.

Standing at the check-in counter is a scantily-clad lady. Somewhat pretty and chatting with the lady behind the counter. Throughout my check in process, she tries to chat me up. The lady at the counter told me about the open porn channels. It wasn't until she heard that "my buddy's in the car, it's just the two of us," that she walked away.

That's when everything clicked: The Lingerie shop, The toys behind the glass, The large-breasted mannequin, and the decor of the room. That's when I recognized the room: it was the set of everyone's favorite porn movie!

I could not stop laughing!

Well, I did, I was exhausted.