JP On Gaming

Monday, March 30, 2020

Frankenstein's Monster

I read Mary Shelley's book when I was sixteen years old. And to be frank, I did not like it. However, as I grew older, the concepts behind the story make more sense to me and I really enjoy it. It is a theme I approached quite a few times in my writing.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

[Kinda Book Review] Caesar's Civil Wars

Now the dying days of the Roman Republic is a time that calls to my heart. I read many material on that time period. The case of characters is fascinating as each of them can be interpreted in so many different ways. Caesar, Pompey, Cicero, Crassus, to name but a few.

The book itself is separated into four parts, of which only the first one - the Civil War - is believed to be written by Caesar himself. The three other parts, the Alexandrian War, the African War, and the Spanish War.

If you go into this book trying to learn more about the period by reading this you will find yourself wanting. These books are dry and limited to military actions, particularly for the last two parts. The Spanish War in particular is written by someone who has a limited strategic view as we are presented with a complicated series of minor engagements. The result of these actions is hard to understand.

Like the Gallic Wars, this book is very much a pro-Caesar propaganda. His enemies are always overconfident and prone to panic while he acts with poise.

There is little mention of anything happening that is not a military matter. For example, little to nothing is mentioned of his affair with Queen Cleopatra or any of his actions while in Rome. This is a straight up after action report on four wars.

From a wargamer's perspective, this is a great book as it shows how the legions were used and we get extensive deployment details: placement of the cavalry, use of light infantry and auxillia.

So for a rating of this one... The narrative and its quality drops the more time advances. I will put it on an average of 3/5. The narrative starts with a 4 and ends with a 2 because some of the most interesting passages are missing.

Which leaves me with a 3/5 when it comes to the final score. I can live with that rating.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

[Kinda Book Review] Clive Barker - In the Flesh

I never read any Clive Barker. I watched a number of horror movies based on his work and thought they were pretty good. Hellraiser was good (I watched them all the way to #50. I know I know there aren't that many but that's fine. I saw almost all of them) and even the Candyman series was entertaining. I did not quite know what was in that anthology of short stories when I put it on in the car as I made my way to (and from) St Louis.

I won't go into too much detail about the individual stories. However, one stood out: The Forbidden from which the Candyman movie was taken stood out and is easily my favorite tale. The rest left me unimpressed or uninterested in reading more. And ever The Forbidden was enough. The Children of Babel was one that got me wondering where it was going but the denouement drew a groan from me. The Madonna was interesting but I felt it go nowhere. In the Flesh was Lovecraftian that kept me going until the end. The end was just odd and I had to go online to find out what the whole thing was about.

Now as an author, I must say that he is a MASTER WORDSMITH and storyteller. How he crafts his sentences and wording is just superb. Really drove me to better myself in that department so that was a big win.

So this leaves me in a pickle. I would rate the stories 3/5 but the writing a 5/5. Thinking about it, a 4/5 seems at once low and high but seems to be about right for my thoughts. A 4.25 may be closer to what I would be happy with, which rounds down to 4.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Weekend in Rokugan 2020: After Action Report

Legend of the Five Rings is a game I discovered when it first came out around 1997. The card game did nothing for me. I tried it but meh. I just cannot bring myself to enjoy a CCG. Yeah... Still... that was during my "decade without D&D" (93-03). Over the years, I met some great friends around an L5R table. (Shout-out to Florent-F, Darryl-T, Tammy-T, Kristian-I, and Oliver-E to name a few)

I have been playing the Heroes of Rokugan organized play for about five years, ever since I reconnected with the game at Origins years ago.

Last year, I could not attend WiR because it fell on the same weekend as MidSouthCon. A difficult choice but seeing how I was a guest of MidSouthCon, I made the choice to go there (and did not regret it as a ActionMan and I had a blast! Check out last year's After Action Report).

I had only poked around a few adventures since last Gencon and caught up with the storyline in the weeks leading up to WiR. An interesting time for all involved. I really love to see other campaigns and what they do, see how I can use their methods for Legacies.


I woke up with everyone Friday morning and drove to the St Louis area but not in STL itself. Thankfully, the convention was in O'Fallon, a small town some 15 miles in Illinois. Closer for me!

I got to my hotel and realized I had a reservation for Germantown, TN - which is for MidSouthCon! Gah! After a little bit of scrolling, I realized I ALSO took a reservation there! The weekend and my wallet was saved! I cancelled the other reservation and headed to the con!

For the first slot on Friday, I played a game with Ken and Heather-W with who I played a lot of Arcanis, and Phil-C who is the unofficial-official photographer of every Heroes of Rokugan event. It was a fun time! The adventure was tough! The monsters used a variety of abilities they rarely used before to make a very interesting game. At the climax, I fell on my back in the throes of an epileptic fit! The team really needed me but hey... I took a major flaw!

The second slot was again with Phil-C and the 2 Brians. This adventure was very long and featured even more unpleasantness (from the plot perspective). In short, we got our butts kicked by a godlike figure. The party decided to tap out and I got to read one of Isawa's Black Scrolls. An object of legend!

Then sleep.

Saturday morning, I sat down to a table with three Phoenix characters all brother (the characters) for an adventure. Now the GM ask "This is Part 2 of Shadows of the Shinomen". None of us had played it, so I asked the GM if it would be possible to run Part 1 instead. After a bit of shuffling, a new GM appeared and we headed out to kill bandits in that cursed forest!

This adventure featured a large-scale battles rarely seen in HoR. Our group: three shugenja and a bushi (3 wizards and a fighter) turned out to be surprisingly well-organized for this. We did some good planning and our mixed spells did pretty good. I am an Asahina which is mostly defensive/protective in nature while the Phoenix had one utility caster and one fire-blaster. In all, we did pretty well and succeeded at our mission. Fun times!

For the Afternoon, I did Part 2! This time with the 2 Brians and Heather-W who completed the table. This one was investigative. Turns out there is a MASSIVE battle at the end. We only succeeded in part so we made the ending more difficult for us. Still, we managed a partial success and all lived which was good.

At some time during the adventure, I told Heather that I was thinking of joining the lion clan as my character would get married off. We laughed then she said "You should become a Matsu and have to boss people around". The Matsu women are some of the fiercest warriors in the empire. I was thinking of Ikoma (bards) or Kitsu (ancestor-priests).

I did not laugh as my character is reserved and quiet - as she tries to avoid epileptic fits. But the idea struck home. What a bit of character development! I tried to argue against it but I knew the decision was made.

The Saturday night slot was a LARP. I donned my Nashville Predators' jersey with its sabertooth tiger on the from and its bright gold color - perfect for the lion clan. Quite a few people jumped as "Matsu Haruhime" when they knew me as "Doji Haruhime". It was a fun challenge to "act Matsu".

Then sleep.

Sunday they ran a "for those who can" slot but it started at 10AM and was self-muster. Not wanting to drive the 5h in the dark, I chose to drive home early. I make it here before 1PM.

My head filled with exciting development for Haruhime and Gencon. Couldn't wait to play some more L5R!

So yes, I am planning on going back next year!