JP On Gaming

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Yearly Retrospective 2020

Hindsight is 20/20, indeed

This year was a wild one for sure: CoronaVirus, lockdowns, politics, and election madness. Who could have predicted such a year? Not me. Riots, towns ablaze, conflicting information, rushed science, politicking, and censorship all damaged our fragile faith in the system. This was not the year that would bring us together again. The divisions in American society deepened, and I can see both sides having points in their claims. Making my moderate perspective difficult to keep.

Yet, despite the gloom, I have seen many things that give me hope for mankind. People coming together in friendship and respect. People helping each other in small and big ways. People exercising their rights by manifesting for that perceive is right. My faith in society as a whole is strained, but my faith in my community is strengthened.

I am a Catholic and a capitalist, finding comfort in both because of their basic constants and their notion that those who work and do the right thing ultimately reap the rewards of their good deeds and hard work. Even if these rewards may not come in our own timeframe or quite as we wanted them. Faith allows me to keep a moderate opinion and look for perspective on what is happening, and keep my family calm during these troubled times. This is not the time to panic, or to freak out. This is the time for calm, for prayer.

Faith and perspective are powerful tools that will allows us to navigate these troubled times. The world saw worse days that those before and will see worse ones in the future. We are NOT in the End Times, though our actions and decisions may help usher it.

So I urge everyone to keep praying for our world, for our leaders, for our families, and for yourself. Regardless of your faith or creed, we can use all the prayers we can get. Please do it for all of us.

I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.


Personal and Family Life

Highlights of the year include:

- Perhaps the biggest news in our lives was when we moved back to Dublin in April. Okay, okay this post was a total click-bait. It worked great by the way. I have since set up my Command Post upstairs with flags decorating the walls, and an ecclectic collection of things between them: swords, hats, helmets, masks, and painting, in a way that vaguely makes me think of a de-cluttered version of Ray Bradbury's own workplace.

- Both Kitty and Patrick keep on practicing their flute: Kitty gave us a wonderful concert playing "Rudolf the Red-Nose Reindeer" via a Zoom call. The Audio was not great but I was lucky enough to hear the full thing. She did great. Very proud of her. As of the time of writing this, I have yet to hear Patrick's Christmas concert.

- Well... the kids are growing. If I needed any reminder, Jojo began driving this year. Now we may need another car... Crap, thought I would get rid of payments for a while! But seeing her take the wheel and drive around made me think of when I learned to drive: it was the fall going into winter. Winter in Canada. Many years ago now. Three decades ago for now in fact! She was hesitant at first, I guess she was really worried about it but the more she drives, the more she seem to like it. I remember that feeling, it is a feeling of freedom, one that I still experience today when I take the wheel.

- For those who have yet to learn, we adopted a little dog, Dora. I am allergic to dogs so I don't mingle with her too much. We still have our own thing: I chase the dog around and she teases me to catch her (note, I never catch her). She is a pretty good girl and the kids absolutely LOVE her and she loves the kids. I'm the one who is the odd man out. Find comment about allergic before and you will see why I am not particularly worried by it. She got four people wanting to take/ pet/ feed/ play with her already.

Professional Life

2020 marked the first full year of my work for CBS Interactive/ 247Sports. I enjoy my work and its many challenges. Like many people, I was sent to work from home as of March. After the big move, I have been at my command post here in the house.

Work got completely up-ended this summer when something happened where the team lost two extremely valuable team members to... "something". The whole hush-hush of the situation was not pleasing and strained how we worked and what we could deliver. This situation felt and smelled bad. The people who should have spoken were clearly legally obligated NOT to talk about it, which did not help the morale of the team for quite a while. As one of the most senior member on the team, I had to remind the others that all we could do was focus on the work before us and get it done well. It was not particularly comforting, but I like to think it helped the team recover. In the end, we delivered products and have grown together, bringing the guys together.

World Events

2020 saw the following events:

- The passing of Neil Peart, drummer and lyricist of Rush. The writer of the soundtrack of my life, really. From that day I came back home with (cassette) tape #9 which contained song by Rush, Queen, Heart and others. My friend Francois-M made that tape for me. It was used and used and used. I wish I had kept the playlist...

- the mass hysteria of the Corona Virus created massive toilet paper shortages as zombies rose in mass. This pandemic has really changed so many things about our lives. The development of the vaccine for Corona Virus is nothing but a spectacular achievement in the time. Now there are many concerns about it, but still getting a vaccine done in a few months really speaks to the quality and strength of the American spirit. I am impressed.

I wonder how the introduction of the vaccine will change the morose feeling shared by the population. Fear and panic are never the way to proceed. I made sure I explained to my kids that this was NOT the end of the world and that we need to act safe and not give in to fear. One thing about studying history is that it teaches you to have perspective, and while this is the biggest and worse thing in recent history, there were WAY worse things that took place before. The death toll from this disease is high. But we are yet to reach the levels of the Black Plague. We will get through this, trust.

- US Presidential Elections: What a mess! I cannot understand why one side completely ignores calls and evidence of irregularities, such things should be investigated to fullest immediately with the utmost transparency. What worries me are future elections, will we see a repeat of such thing? 100%.

The biggest loser of all is democracy itself - a sad omen for the future.

As a Canadian, a lot of the irregularities in the US are simply impossible to happen in Canada. Voting in Canada requires a photo Id to vote, pre-registration, all voting is on paper ballots, and voting is done only for one thing (the House of Representatives). There is no voting for the executive branch, or the senate, and provincial and local elections are usually done on different days. The process is odd and confusing to us Canadians.

As a student of history, I find myself rivetted to the events, looking for data and information about what is happening but finding my search blocked. This is a time in world history that will likely determine future events, much like the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Back then, I watched the events unfold with great interest, as if something told me the world was changing. And it was. The world has never been the same since.


Outside of gaming, I had two trips planned for this year.

- Montreal for the summer to go celebrate my father's 80th birthday. Well... That did not happen.

- Chicago for Thanksgiving to go see our friends Florent and Florence who just welcomed their baby boy to the world. That too was cancelled.

Publishing/ FOE

This year, I published fewer products, many on the DM's Guild. These products, added to those on DriveThruRPG and Amazon have been providing a steady income to FOE. Money I (too) quickly turned around and re-invested into FOE.

FOE's art collection grew a lot, because of the awesome and super-fast work by the Blehc, British Shark, Irene, Niall Arts, MedievalKite, and others. I mean art for Akhamet, Olympia, Ravenloft, and even a few Saggakar ones in there. I really dig this because now that I have a variety of pieces to use. And I plan on continuing.

This year's best seller (now at electrum and climbing) was Real Housewives of Ravenloft, an adventure that expands on the dinner at Ravenloft. Although the title is tongue-in-cheek this adventure gives the PCs a chance to work with the vampire Strahd, meet and speak with his brides, and perhaps obtain something of interest. The feedback from GMs has bee incredibly positive and I really love hearing what each GM did with the "Mystery" they have to build. In the end, it *DOES* play like an episode of "Real Housewives," with all the drama you expect.

That said, I focused on larger products this year, like the Akhamet Player's Guide and Curse of Strahd II: Griffon Hill Manor, a 100+ pages campaign/ adventure.

New in 2020:
- Real Housewives of Ravenloft on DM's Guild. This is now on its way to a gold bestseller!
- Princesses on DM's Guild. Product of a collaboration with Ibsen-Z.
- Rahadin: Dread Knight of Ravenloft on DriveThru RPG
- Akhamet Player's Guide on DriveThru RPG
- Curse of Strahd II: Griffon Hill Manor on DM's Guild.


It should come as no surprise that I attended few conventions this year than in previous ones. I am particularly sad of the demise of Conglomeration in Louisville who went away without even an actual send off.
- Weekend in Rokugan 2020 in St Louis MO
- Cyberconv 2020 on-line
- Gencon Online 2020
- DragonCon 2020
- Gamehole Con 2020

Blog and Patreon

The blog made something of a return this year, with just over 110 posts (there are 112 as of this writing). Topics varied quite a lot from books, to new products, to miniatures, to life changes.

I plan on keeping the FOE Patreon running into 2021. I decided to add a new perk for patrons: use of FOE art for personal projects. I posted A TON of new art on there for patrons. A lot of it is "generic" and can be used for pretty much any D&D setting, not just FOE's.

I plan on continuing at this pace in 2021 for both. This is a pace I can maintain and still feel productive.


This year, I read a variety of books with wildly different ratings. Some great, some terrible.

- In the Flesh by Clive Barker
- Civil Wars by Gaius Julius Caesar
- Marvel's Universe X Part 1
- DC's Harley Quinn Vol 1. Die Laughing
- Le Troisieme Testament: Julius I
- The Eternals 1982 1-12 the full series.
- New Defenders #1.
- Showcase Green Lantern #1.
- Le Troisieme Testament: Julius II Partie 1.
- Showcase Legion of the Super Heroes #1.
- Le Troisieme Testament a review of the first cycle of the series.
- Young Inhumans.
- X-men Blue Vol 2.

Final Thoughts

Although many will say 2020 was a disastrous year, and in may ways, it was. However, I prefer to think of it as a transitive year. There are a number of positive things that came out of it, like the creation of great products, the opportunity to play regularly with my children. We got a dog. We got to talk to old friends through social media.

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


1 comment:

  1. Not everyone here in the US agrees that there was evidence of election fraud. A demagogue in the US who is a professional grifter managed to stir up a crowd that has been lied to so effectively by the right wing media machine that they believed it, but sixty three out of sixty four court cases were thrown out because they couldn't produce actual evidence under oath. This was not a case of election fraud, it was a case of a concerted attack on the US itself.