JP On Gaming

Thursday, July 15, 2021

[Olympia] Book Cover Revealed!

The British Shark and Niall Arts' works grace the cover of the book and it really looks FANTASTIC. Favorite FOE book cover thus far!

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

[Kinda Book Review] Action Comics Vol. 3

More Superman! This time, the 3rd volume of the Rebirth edition of Action Comics. After a lull in volume 2 where we set ourselves up for the next part, I was curious to see where this was going. Could really be a make or break issue for the series as far as my interest.

The main thread of this book is an interesting twist on the conundrum of "If you could travel back in time, would you go and kill baby Hitler?" It is an interesting dilemma because on the one hand, the baby is innocent and has yet to commit these crimes. On the other hand, you know the atrocities he will engage in.

Here, we have Lex Luthor accused of becoming a new Darkseid and taking over Apokolips. That's not a good thing.

Here the villains try put Superman in that position, and Superman intelligently has to deal with and react to the situation and the question. His resolution left me satisfied. It's not really surprising to guess what he does, but the reasoning he uses on the villains is not trivial and you can really go both ways.

Now there is no doubt that left unchecked, we'll have Darkseid Lex...

My final rating for this one is a solid 4/5. While enjoyable, the sidequests are less engaging than in Volume 1. The art is good and I could not wait to read more of it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Real Housewives of Ravenloft Reach Gold!

It has been a while since I post about this great title to have reached a new milestone - almost a year. After a meteoric rise, it has been selling consistently each month until it finally reach gold best-seller level! This makes it the most sold FOE product of all times (a few free/pay-what-you-want are beyond that).

This product led to a long list of products/ campaigns, like Curse of Strahd II and the upcoming Witches of Pikemaster (a full campaign that touches a LOT of classic D&D lore).

I can safely say this is the product with the most drama in all the Domains of Dread/Ravenloft. That level really scares me.

Big thank you to everyone who got a copy of it and to my playtesters!

Monday, June 28, 2021

[Kinda Book Review] Action Comics vol.2

Continuing the reading of Superman comic, picking up where Vol 1 left off. After a major bang to kick off the title, we now find ourselves in a more regular, slower pace as the questions asked but left unanswered by the more immediate threat of Doomsday.

This volume is not overly exciting but it advances the story as we get more background about Lex Luthor, and Lois gets a big storyline. Interesting but not overly exciting.

It sets up volume 3 but if you are looking for action, this will leave you wanting, especially after volume 1.

I will rate this a 3/5. This one was forgettable but makes sense in-between the two other volumes (yes, I will be reviewing volume 3 next).

Saturday, June 19, 2021

[Kinda Book Review] Superman Vol 1: Son of Superman

The Rebirth era brought some interesting new concept, in this one, we find Superman and Lois Lane married with a son, Jon. After the Crisis, they came from another universe where Superman died publicly. The story deals a lot with Jon's half-Kryptonian/ half-human heritage and that his powers come in as he grows up. Okay, classic stuff.

To complicate the plot, his DNA is identified by the Eradicator (a Kryptonian robot gone rogue). The story is interesting but drags on. The action is engaging, fast, and most of the story is interesting. The final reveal takes a long time to get there but is satisfying, if not surprising.

I will give it a solid 3/5. Overall, I would say this is a pretty classic Superman story with some twists caused by the Rebirth arc.

Friday, June 18, 2021

[Kinda Book Review] Action Comics Vol 1: Path of Doom

Continuing the list of comic I got at FLGS, I took on another Superman title. For the first time, Action comics! I do not remember ever reading that title before.

Well, right off the bat, we get Lex Luthor in a Superman suit, complete with the S-shield. Strong start!

Like in the other Rebirth Superman I read, we start with Superman and Lois living in the country with their son. Because this world's Superman is dead. It is not long before Superman confronts Lex Luthor and the two battle as Lex doubts Superman's identity and Superman doubts Lex's motivation. The confrontation is interesting as both characters have strong reason for their actions. It is a fight between two men whose experience of the other prevents compromise.

Then add to that story, Doomsday. The forced team-up dynamic is really well done as they do not let go of their prejudices or doubts about the other.

Jon and Lois watch on TV and there, the mother-child dynamic plays out as Lois tries to shield Jon from the revelation that Doomsday once killed Superman. A good counterpoint to the massive brawl.

The cameo by Wonder Woman is good and her presence facilitates the plot while not overshadowing Superman's actions. I liked her a lot.

Doomsday is a boring villain: he is like a dumber Hulk. However, I like how he is used here. Where the fight isn't the most interesting thing: the Superman-Lex and Lois-Join dynamics shine.

I devoured this book. On the back of the terrible Deathstroke crap, this was a great experience. 5/5!

[Kinda Book Review] Deathstroke Vol 1-3

Wow... a triple review all at once! It's been quite a while since (way back in September of 2020). I bought those three at my local comic shop. I was very excited about this one because I remember when I first read the New Teen Titans #1 back in the 80s.

And more recently, I really enjoyed his portrayal in Teen Titans Go To the Movies. Slaaaaaaaaaade. Hehehe It was funny.

It wasn't long before this enthusiasm ended.

The worse part is the storytelling. The pacing is ridiculously slow. With MANY page show the same panel copied two or three times as the characters talk. Vignettes of characters standing there in the oddest positions. The fight scenes just suck, I don't understand what they are doing, where the characters are. Having just read Batman: Knightfall with great spacial awareness. Here we have characters jumping around in odd positions in unclear locations. And the fighting is a very tiny part between pages of characters that just talk about stuff that inevitably turn out to be a scheme Deathstroke planned from the start and everyone else is an idiot.

Not here.

The story reads like one of these old 60s DC comics where the character surprises the reader with a last-minute reveal. It's fun once but over and over, it gets tiresome. It is tiresome. Again contrasting with Knightfall, this should be a detective story. Whereas the former does it right, allowing the reader to get the same pieces as Batman, so as the story progresses, you can look back and go "Oh yeah! That detail makes sense now." Deathstroke is so good because he does not need any character development, only revelation of his level of awesome.

Ravager (girl-Deathstroke) is super eye candy, I think her costume is a tight panty. The highlight of the story. Only bright spot in a drab, predictable, heartless, soulless, and ultimately pointless comic book.

I rate this an easy 1/5. Quite frankly, other than eye candy, there was nothing fun, interesting, or intriguing here. Pass.

Save your money.

Save your time.

Monday, June 7, 2021

[Kinda Book Review] Justice League Vol 5: Legacy

I bought a number of these trade paperbacks in the bargain bin of my local comic shop. I bought tomes 5-7 so getting a big chunk of the story. I was both curious and intrigued at the idea of reading this.

The premise for this story hooked me from the start: imagine if the Justice League got defeated by some powerful force in the future and their children took up the mantle. We have Wonder Woman's son who also wear Superman's cloak, twins who can control the power rings off of all the power rings, and others. Aquaman and Mera's daughter. Aquaman becomes a half-cyborg and the evil force's #1 man.

Okay, I am in. The premise has a lot of potential.

These "Justice League Kids" travel through a portal back to "today" where they clash with the Justice League as some black force expands.

I won't spoil it all but the story is interesting. The final reveal surprised me in a positive way and the resolution was non-trivial, if a little quick and simple, which I appreciated very much.

My biggest problem with most of these new character is how one-dimensional they are. Only WW's son has some depth and is torn with a relatable dilemma. The others have trivial issues and they don't come into play at all. I have a feeling these characters are little more than throwaway characters owing to this blandness.

I left this issue with a positive vibe about it and will look forward to the the next trade paperback.

So a rating... If there were fewer characters, this would have ranked much higher. Everything done this was a decent 3/5. I want to read more, see where it goes.

Friday, June 4, 2021

[Kinda Book Review] Daredevil: Dark Nights

I picked this book up from the bargain bin of my local comic shop (Z's Comic Lair in Murfreesboro). I really dig that they have 5$ trade books with a constantly evolving selection. I rarely leave the place without 10-20$ worth of goodies, sometimes more.

So this one... Daredevilwas one of the first comic books I read as a kid. It was a book that had 3 comics packed in one book (the company that published them in French did that a lot, mixing random comics in a single book). Back in 2012, I read the Daredevil Essential #1 (as noted in the classic REFLECTING BACK ON 2012) and it brought me to this character.

This book has two parts: one where DD is a massive snow storm going to save someone. Next we move to Miami and the mood changes. A LOT. The stories are fine, nothing made me jump. They are the type of stories I expect from Daredevil. The snow story in particular feels like a 2-3 issue filler plot where DD tries to bring a heart for a little girl. It's fine, but this one does not have too many surprises.

This modern comic suffers from what I hate: slow pacing, little action. If this were a movie, I would think it a good one evocative, atmospheric, and moody. However, this is not what I want to see in my comics. I want action, I want people, I want things to happen. I don't want to see two pages of a dude walking in the snow. With internal dialogue limited to one word per page.

Final rating: I will settle on a 2/5. The storytelling brings down the art. Enough to make me hesitate to pick another book.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

[Kinda Book Review] Fall of the Ottomans by Eugene Rogan

Christmas 2019, Santa brought me "Fall of the Ottomans" by Eugene Rogan. I had been wanting to read more about the Great War. World War I (WWI) was the event that - even more than its sequel - defined the world we know today. But that is a rant for another day.

Fall of the Ottomans covers the war, from the events starting around 1900 with the two Balkan Wars that first gave the empire a bloody eye, then gave it some prestige to the aftermath of the war.

When I started this book, I thought I knew about the Ottoman Empire, but really, I did not. At the beginning of WWI, the empire spaned from Macedonia to Georgia, to Iran, to Saudi Arabia and the whole of the Peninsula. Massive! Then add to this the many ethnic groups: Slavs, Turks, Armenians, Arabs, Kurds, and Palestinians. Muslims, Christians, and Jews.

You can find the details of the war elsewhere: Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, Egypt/Palestine. The Ottomans had an army that mixed regular "European"-style troops and irregular tribal troops with German assistance and support.

After reading this book, I grew to have greater appreciation and revulsion for the Ottomans. Admiration as they ground the British down in many campaigns: Gallipoli, Mesopotamia. Revulsion for their actions against non-muslim populations: the Armenians. Very much a mixed bag overall.

One of the thing that got me into this book more is the prose. Yes, it is a history book, but the writing is dynamic and ties together the narrative into something resembling a plot. I could not wait to move on to the next chapter, as if I was going to discover something (okay, many times I got surprised by what happened).

What is this book lacking or that I wanted more of... I would love to read more of the fallout of the war... what happened after? Now, there is a satisfying conclusion that describes what happens in broad lines. Short, too short.

So you ask me for a rating... I thought "4" but then got to think: why? What I wanted was not the focus of this book. The subtitle says what this book is: The Great War in the Middle East. So my wanting to know more about the early history of the nations created by the partition. Since those things are "out of scope" and "future reading," I must say that brings this book up to a 5/5.

Must Eugene Rogan books may find themselves on my future wish lists.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Doctor Who: The Tardis

Continuing Will's collection of Doctor Who characters and mini-scenery with the Tardis, inside and out. I decided to take "action pictures" where the Doctor and his companions are just about to head out on an adventure.

Starting inside, the Doctor and his companions discuss where they are: a strange new planet. This scene inside the Tardis features the control panel. Painting some random indicators, graphs and colorful buttons. Two things annoyed me as I painted this. First, I had no idea how to base the model. It was not outside, but INSIDE. And from my memory, the TARDIS floor is plain white. Maybe I could've used a smaller base... But now that it is done, I really like the larger and stabler base.

The Tardis posed an interesting challenge as a painter. It is monochromatic, all blue. So what I did was to start with a darker blue and then using wet overbrush, I made at least four layers. The result is a multi-layered blue that is impossible to capture on camera. Then I did the "Police" headers, then the light atop the Tardis, and finished with the glass panes.

I had a kick-ass Tardis in need of a base. I left it alone for a while as I thought about what I would do.

As I finished the rest of the minis, I decided how I wanted to paint the bases. My inspiration was "Skarro" during Genesis of the Daleks, my favorite serial of all time. (See a picture of the planet nearby) I used a base of dark grey, then very light grey for highlights with scattered tufts of flock to represent the low grass and brushes.

However, for the TARDIS, I decided to add odd-colored water, presenting the TARDIS as it landed in puddles. I started a real water color but used a series of different colors to make it look alien. I must say the final result is awesome and made me want to ask "where are we now?" and "What happened here?" Isn't that the prelude to a good Doctor Who episode?

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Two Doctor Who Companions: Leela and K-9

Continuing Will's Doctor Who miniatures with two iconic and beloved characters: K-9 the robot dog and Leela the prehistoric woman.

K-9 is a snarky robot dog (little to do with the short-lived Australian TV-show of the same name). K-9 was a multi-purpose dog that had a laser in its "nose" and could scan many things. Now K-9 was a fun character who alternated between a super-useful tool and another damsel-in-distress. K-9 later returned in the modern era where he was part of the cast of the Sarah Janes Chronicles.

Leela is a woman from the future descending from a space expedition. She was a tough woman always ready to stab people with her knife. She played the role of a savage/prehistoric woman. Her violent side contrasted sharply with the Doctor in a fun and interesting dichotomy.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Doctor Who Companions: Nyssa and Romana I

Continuing the work on Will's Doctor Who collection...

These two are characters come from late in the 4th Doctor's run. Nyssa and Romana I.

Romana (I) was a female Time Lord who travelled with the Doctor for a few years. She was played by two actresses: Mary Tamm (Romana I) wanted to have a tough woman as a counterpart to the Doctor. However, most of her stories made her a damsel in distress. She was later replaced by Lalla Ward (Romana II) who played the character lightheartedly giving Romana a playful aspect. Romana is one of the characters many fans are hoping will return to the show.

Nyssa was a scientist from another planet who was to be a one-off character but who enventually stayed on as a companion. I will admit to prefer Romana to her as she did was drowned in that massive amount of companions (sounds familiar?). Unlike the modern "Fam," Nyssa's background and training as a scientist gave her something different (until the much-reviled Audric showed up).

I did not realize how uneven her eyes were until I was done... :(

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Doctor Who Minis: The 4th Doctor

After finishing work on Will's Tau army, he handed me some "surprise minis". When he pulled out that white USPS (US Postal Service) box, I was a little wary. What was he going to pull out there? It took only a second for me to recognize the models.

Is there someone more Iconic as Doctor Who than Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor? Okay, okay, David Tennant. But is there anyone else? Okay, I can give you Matt Smith... But is there anyone else? No. No, there isn't. His big floppy hat, the scarf, the jacket, the smile, the jelly babie.

This miniature from Black Tree is awesome and capture the energy of the character perfectly. If I am truly honest, I dreaded painting him because I was afraid of not doing a good job. But the end result looks awesome. The scarf came out great and full of movement. Really proud of this guys

Saturday, May 29, 2021

[Tau] Will's Commander

These Tau are a commission I did for my friend Will. Last I painted tau was back around 2002 or 2003 when I lived in Quebec City.

The commander of a Tau army, if they have a crisis suit immediately made me think of a Gundam. When Will gave me the "80s cartoon" I immediately knew what his commander would look it. It would be a Gundam.

I took pictures with an RX-78 I bought in Japan. The final work is much to my liking. I really liked it.

I put my old '03 commander... Will definitely got the best of this one!

Friday, May 28, 2021

[Tau] Will's Shadow Commander

These Tau are a commission I did for my friend Will. Last I painted tau was back around 2002 or 2003 when I lived in Quebec City.

This is a stealth suit commander. I chose to paint him in a muted version of all the other stealth suits. The colors are very muted with the cream (white) serving as an accent. I never saw this model before and really liked it, the dynamism make it exciting while not having a million different trinket hanging everywhere. I think this guy is my favorite of these new Tau models.

[Tau] Will's Heavy XV-88 Suits

These Tau are a commission I did for my friend Will. Last I painted tau was back around 2002 or 2003 when I lived in Quebec City.

Now when Will gave me that whole army, he told me he wanted a color palette based on the classic cartoons like Mazinger.

As I looked at these guys, I kept thinking these guys I thought the first batch looked like a trio of guitarists, like Iron Maiden... After chasing away that idea from my mind, I decided to paint them using a blue base roughly inspired by the GMs from Gundam. The end result was much bluer, but they look cool.

The other group with the missile-launcher arms were painted in green, using the Zaku from Gundam (one of my favorite Mobile Suit of all time). The two are posed next to a Zaku I bought in Japan in 1998.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

[Tau] Will's Stealth Suits

These Tau are a commission I did for my friend Will. Last I painted tau was back around 2002 or 2003 when I lived in Quebec City.

The Stealth Suits are always some of the coolest models in the Tau army. They remind me more than a little of the elementals from Battletech, units I always thought were interesting.

I painted the two units using different "cammo": one is a more typical green and the other follows the marine theme I used on many other models.

Finally, my original conversions for stealth suits. Although the painting not great... I still love this conversion... The pulse rifle used to make "wings" and large cannons.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

[Tau] Will's Crisis Suits

These Tau are a commission I did for my friend Will. Last I painted tau was back around 2002 or 2003 when I lived in Quebec City.

These guys were painted by using some of Gundam's GM mobile suits for the Earth Government, with whites and reds. The scheme formed a sort of alien camouflage that I really enjoy. These were fun to paint.

After the suits, I put some of my '03 Tau. The difference is mind boggling.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

[Tau] Will's Devilfish

These Tau are a commission I did for my friend Will. Last I painted tau was back around 2002 or 2003 when I lived in Quebec City.

A devilfish! I will admit I has NO idea what color I wanted for it. So I left it in the back as I worked on the other models.

It was only later that I decided to use a mix of the colors of all the infantry units, so he could chose which unit would get the transport. The end result is a ecclectic mix that works.

I added a picture of my 2003 devilfish at the end for comparison. My style has definitely improved with time.

Monday, May 24, 2021

[Tau] Will's Breachers

These Tau are a commission I did for my friend Will. Last I painted tau was back around 2002 or 2003 when I lived in Quebec City.

Now this is a unit I never knew about... Breachers. They are fire warriors with carbines. Nothing overly exciting as a painter. Different helmets, bah.

Now one thing that upped the game was that Will added these gun blast from GF9. This was something different and exciting. My original idea when I got these minis was to paint a bluish fire.

I decided to go with a "marine" theme and paint these in blue/dark blue with red and white highlights. As I selected ith blue scheme, I had to change my direction for the blast and go with a regular yellow/red/black flame.

The blasts made gave the unit a "blast" of color (see the pun there?) that made them fun to paint as a unique unit.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

[Tau] Will's Drone Army

These Tau are a commission I did for my friend Will. Last I painted tau was back around 2002 or 2003 when I lived in Quebec City.

A collection of drones! Each drone is different on purpose so they can be identified and recognized.

I put my own drone, which were pretty monochrome...

Saturday, May 22, 2021

[Tau] Will's Fire Warriors

These Tau are a commission I did for my friend Will. Last I painted tau was back around 2002 or 2003 when I lived in Quebec City.

The basis of every army is its infantry. I often joke that the Tau Empire was the only empire that was won by retreating. Their fluff is cooler than the implementation.

For this unit, I chose a fairly dull and simple color scheme: shades of green with a light green. Highlights were made with red and white. I made them have a dirty and grimy appearand for their weapons. The result is pretty effective.

With them here is a commander figure that gets attacked to the unit. For added contrast, I made him cleaner, less grimy that the troopers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

[Kinda Book Report] 52, vol 2 (but a different one)

Having read the second part of the story and wanting to read more, I decided to bite the bullet and get volume 2.

But JP, you say, didn't you already read and reviewed that volume already?

Well yes. However, this is volume 2 of 2. This book has the equivalent of volumes 3 and 4 of the series. In short, the final of the year.

So how did it do?

Well the story started out pretty good, but the plots go down from there. Most of them just drag on and on without any really full interest. In the end, the world is changed but it's not that exciting. I liked the ending of the plot with Doctor Fate/ Elongated Man and the new Question, they were "fine". But the space travel story with Lobo, yawn. The plot with Black Adam was okay... it dragged on a little too much. The EggFu and his island of mad scientists was okay. But the one thatleft me angry was the Booster Gold plot: after an interesting reveal, the rest was just exposition and talking, including time and dimension traveling (while talking).

Instead of having action, they talk. They talk. They don't do much but talk and talk to the point where it get boring. I expected they do more than build machines. The art was good but the story fizzled out and that, more than anything else left me with a bad taste.

My final rating is 2/5. I found myself bored and looking forward to the end. The endless exposition "look how clever my story is, here are three pages where I explain what the bad guy did instead of doing stuff." I like action in my comic. This is a modern comic and why I am not a fan. Good start, no idea how to finish. Too bad, I paid good money for that book. Got ripped off.

Demonic Forces I: The Blighted released!

During the work for the upcoming Witches of Pikemaster, I came up with a number of monsters that can easily be bunched together in a collection I call "Demonic Forces".

The content of this small product is a set of five monsters to serve as low-level nameless faceless hordes of the Abyss. Blighted look like monsters whose flesh has their armor welded directly on their skin. Vile, disgusting, near-mindless, and malevolent, they were designed to serve alongside the bigger demon, surrounding them with mobs of creatures.

I cannot wait to use them against my party. Again and again...

You can now get Demonic Forces I: The Blighted on DM's Guild.

Monday, April 12, 2021

[Kinda Book Review] Spectacular Spiderman Vol 1

I have to admit that in my youth, I did not follow Spiderman too closely. I was an X-men guy. However, he was the subject of multiple TV shows and crossovers. He just wasn't my favorite.

When making my list of potential gifts for Christmas this year, I added a number of "Marvel Essentials" comics. I really dig that line of 25-30 comics from one series reprinted in black and white on newspaper paper. The great part is that you can get a full story, and more all in one place. I mean, isn't that what I love best? A full story.

I was really happy that my secret Santa (aka Kitty) chose that book! Excellent news. I placed it on top of my read pile and wait. The one book over that one was The Man with Two Names. Having finished that one, I dived directly into Spiderman with great gusto.

Now let me explain what I got from reading this book (and later confirmed by making a Wikipedia search). The stories focus more on Peter Parker and his entourage, the "normies" that surround Peter Parker: MJ, Flash, Betty, and Hector Ayala/ White Tiger are pretty important to the stories. I could say it is something akin to what the team-up series is but instead of Spidey meeting super heroes, he deals with his friends.

The story has one notable exception: it serves as an epilogue for the Champions title that was canceled a short time before. Appearing here are Angel and Iceman, founding members of the X-men. That story and seeing those characters hit a soft spot and I was really intrigued and devoured that story. I really liked it. Some of the other stories weren't as strong and some (the Brother Power/ Sister Light) were overly convoluted to provide a rewarding conclusion. Other characters, like the Arkansas Razorback (this is a wink to the mascot of the University of Arkansas' mascot, the razorback) were funny but became tiresome in his bad stereotype of a southern man.

Still an enjoyable read, that leaves me in a lurch between a 3 and 4. So to break the tie, I looked at the 3s and the 4s I rated on this blog and it is closer to the other 3s and 4s. So I rate this one a 3/5 because of the uneven nature of some of the stories.

Friday, March 26, 2021

[Kinda Book Report] Batman: Knightfall Vol 1

A now-classic Batman story of Bane creating utter chaos in Gotham so he can move in and break Batman. He orchestrates a break out from Arkham Asylum and sends all the crazies into the streets at once. Bane stalks Batman.

Batman is tired and does not sleep, while Robin tries to help but is clearly overmatched by the villains.

The art reminds me of classic DC, a style I really like because it is full of action and crisp. I enjoyed reading this one and had to pace myself to avoid going through this in a single go.

I rate this one a strong 3/5 because some of the stories, while enjoyable do not seem to advance the plot very much.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

After Action Report: Week in Rokugan 2021

It has indeed been a full year since I attended a con in person. The last one was Weekend in Rokugan 2020 Before everything wnet sideways... I remember it fondly.

Fast forward another year and WiR was upon us again. I had vacation time lined up and getting excited about an in-person con. Alas, WiR2021 would not be the first in-person convention of a restarting world...

What the crew of Heroes of Rokugan did was pretty clever, I think. Instead of cramming all the games within a Friday through Sunday timeframe, they moved the con throughout the week with the newt adventure AND an open library event evening. In short, there were at least three tables running every night. Since there were two new adventures and a battle interactive on Saturday night.

I got to play one of the catch-up adventures on Monday night GM'd by Cory-M, on what is typically my gaming-free night. My writing night, if you will.

On Tuesday, I was out with ActionMan for his soccer night in Dekalb County - a surprisingly distant trip! ActionMan is improving and he still enjoys playing.

Wednesday night, we had to cancel the Akhamet campaign and I canceled my True20 campaign to join one of the new events (#50) GM'd by Jason Beck. It was interesting playing as an Emerald Magistrate in an adventure where you have to deal with a fellow magistrate who is effectively a total jerk, but he does outrank me, so I must obey...

Thursday, I picked up the second new adventure, #51 run by the author and campaign master himself, Chris-W. This adventure led directly into the Saturday night battle interactive. A special thing I did: I killed two oni, the first kills I did in at least twenty adventures! My specialty is protection and healing, not damage. I was able to buy up my Willpower to 4, a major and useful investment

Life prevented me from playing anything on Friday.

Saturday morning, I played a non-L5R game of Dark Heresy. I am digging that campaign too, even if it may be a tad too simple. Now we could've done better, but our dice rolls were a complete pile of garbage. I mean constant fails.

Finally Saturday evening came the big event, the Battle interactive. It was a battle in the Shadowlands. A terrible place filled with even worse things to face. I mean all the undead, rotting, squishy, nasty, venomous, bile-filled nasty things. Fear is the order of the day. Whenever you go beyond the Great Wall, you never come back quite the same. This time, I should have been in command, but I defered command to one who was more skilled and had experience fighting the Shadowlands, it turned out to have been a very good decision in the end.

We were able to tackle two of the heroics: We fought a horde of zombies, Lost/revenant samurai, and a force of maho-tsukai and undead knights. The first combat was easy, the second was effectively won on us rolling ridiculous initiative, and the final fight had maho-tsukai and bone knights. The final battle was quite a major challenge as our initiatives fell and this one got really hairy. We lost our commander because I failed a spellcasting roll for being too ambitious with it. In the end though, we all survived (thanks to a well-used cert). Two heroic encounters were an interesting challenge as we cleared out the enemy siege engines.

In the end, I thought this was a very clever way to run events and make sure people got to play the games leading up to the big battle interactive. Really mad props to Chris, Cat, Cory, the GMs, and the writing team.

A big thank you. I will be back next year, whether in-person (hopefully) or online. Oh! And I will be at Gencon too!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

[Kinda Book Report] The Man with Two Names

For Christmas in 2019, I received this book, The Man with Two Names by Vincent B Davis II. Historical fiction set in ancient Rome: I'm in.

The story takes Sertorius as the main character. If you don't know Sertorius, he is best known for being a Roman General who rose against Rome and took control of Hispania. He struck a deal with Mithridates the Sixth of Pontus into what could have been the death knell of Rome. It precipitated the fall of the Republic for sure.

The story starts as Sertorius grows up in the wilds of Italy, then becomes the head of the family, despite being the younger brother. Then he heads to Rome to get help for his people and gets involved in the politics of the city. Crooked, twisted, complex, and corrupt are all great ways to describe what happens. After that, Sertorius joins the army and head to Gaul to stop the Cimbri.

The high points of the story are how naturally, his characters mingle with the greats: we meet a young Julius Caesar and Gaius Marius. The dialogues feel natural and interesting.

Some of the real high points are the military briefings. I could not help thinking VBD attended many of them. He is indeed a military man, and it shows. Still, we don't get stuck in the weeds. A good flow, an interesting story, compelling characters.

Now since receiving that book, I learned that he is making a series, which drops it in my eyes.

So for a rating... I have to give it a 4/5. I will ask for the next installment.

Monday, March 22, 2021

After Action Report: Festival Draconis 2021

Fourteen years ago, I attended a small convention in Montreal. I attended mostly for its Living Greyhawk component. It was a good time. I wish I could point you to an AAR from back in those days, but I think I played and was granted a special mission to become one of the Dwarf Queen's handmaiden for Torgga Copperbraids who was a Cleric/Wizard.

Fast-forward to 2021. Living Greyhawk is a distant but cherished memory. However, the convention is still around and I got lucky enough to get invited to run games. Now with the current situation I would not have been able to physically travel to Montreal, BUT that's where the Interwebs come into play.

I offered four games: two Olympia on the Saturday and two Akhamet on Sunday all of them in French. Long story short, the afternoon table of Olympia went off, and the morning table of Akhamet went off. The greatest thing about the table was that I got to play with an old college buddy, Phil-D in both game and ActionMan got to join in on the action, in French.

Now a pleasant surprise I got was after dinner, I came back upstairs (where my mancave is located), a little late for the start of the slot. I did not have much hope for something still being available.

Going through the tables, I joined one where there were a few people, I joined and stepped out when it was Pathfinder 2e. Then I hopped on another one where there were only 2 people.

JP: "You looking for people?"
Both: "YES!"

Turns out the game they were playing is called "Praetoria Prima," a historical game set in Ancient Rome. WHHAAAAAAAAT? How do you think I would be able to stay away?

The setting is during the reign of Emperor Nero (around 60AD). The PCs are part of the Praetoria Prima, a covert operation team whose aim is to protect the Emperor, his household, and the stability of the Rome. Interesting. The game has no supernatural component and plays a very investigative way, much like a Call of Cthulhu.

The system is a modified version of the classic World of Darkness. It is "fine" a little over-clunky but workable. Once you understand how it works, it runs well.

So my Marius Tullius Crassus, a patrician (mix of socialite/ diletante/ and politician) and Neferita, a medica (scientist/ doctor/ philosopher) investigated the death of a man. The plot was pretty expansive and featured quite a few red herrings. However, we found a good way to resolve the situation, allow Nero to save face, and punish the guilty one.

Thank to Fil-de-Crystal for running this an making me discover this game. I will look for it on future cons. The game is no longer available but I learned of an effort to buy it and expand it. I would really like to know where that is going. There is much to be done with this setting and something I would perhaps want to explore.

DAMMIT Another project on the back burner!!!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Rahadin reaches silver!

Few NPCs flat out inspire dread than Rahadin, Strahd's half-brother/ butler/ handyman. When I first read Curse of Strahd, I immediately fell in love with him as a villain. Without scruples, without regrets, he is simply a highly-functional psychopath who should be in an asylum. Locked away for good.

But this is Ravenloft where horror is ever-present. Where even the small things have a dark past.

When I began plotting how I wanted to run the campaign, I envisionned Strahd as someone with a past, with relatable emotions, goals, qualities, and flaws. Strahd is the main villain of the play but one you can understand. Though he suffers from his own insanities, he is that villain you can work with. You can guess some and rationalize his next moves.

Not Rahadin.

This idea for the Dread Knight came to me as I pondered why the Dark Powers would allow him to die, but force Strahd to stay behind. No. They would not.

A crazy idea came to me for a CoS sequel... one where Strahd was back but he no longer was in charge. Where the dark force that held Barovia together was the mad dusk elf.

I stopped myself. I many ideas in mind for this "Ravenloft II" but at the time, I was working on House on Griffon Hill... Rahadin Dread Knight of Ravenloft had to be stopped at this small product. Needless to say, The British Shark's art and James' RPG Art on the cover sell it.

Therefore it is with great pride that I can announce that Rahadin Dread Knight of Ravenloft made the Silver Best Seller list from the DM's Guild! Thank you so very much. More content is coming. Soon. I swear. Really.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

FOE Gencon 2021: First Musings

I'm sure you all heard by now but Gencon 2021 will be a dual-threat: both in-person AND online. As we are waiting for extra details, I am forced to start putting my publisher cap on and think "What do I want to offer this year?" "What will be FOE's presence?" What setting? New or last year's adventures? Special?

Most important: FOE will be present in-person.

I'm not 100% sure if we will have an online component. If some GMs are willing to run online FOE games, I will make that happen.

So... what setting? Akhamet is a given as it is very popular. And volunteer GMs want to run it. I will gladly accomodate them! I did have a completed adventure for last year.

Which leaves me with the other three: Olympia, Rhym, and Saggakar.

I need an intro mod for Olympia. I don't know If "Princess Phoedra" or "Tomb of Antikles" are good enough. They are stable, fun (to play and run), and are ready to go but may require additional work on my end. Writer's worry?

Rhym is an interesting case. I have an adventure written and ready to go for it, one that plays into the story of the planned special for last year. So I got that one in my pocket.

Tyrants of Saggakar is a funny setting. While I really enjoy it, it is a much harder sell to passersby than any of the above. I did spend a lot of time last year working to update the setting, but I don't think it is ready for a big reveal just yet. Still, this one is my sweet little one and a threat that many people rightfully feel with dread.

As a special bonus, I just learned that another adventure of mine, may be at Gencon. I am waiting for confirmation, but a non-D&D game may be on the program! I am excited and will post more about it if/when I get any more details.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Akhamet is now Silver Bestseller

Now... this one has been a long time coming and it does not represent the actual number of copies of the setting that are out there, with the many paper copies floating out there. Akhamet is a big-time success for FOE and one of my greatest pride as a writer and as a game designer. That many people really enjoy the setting, with its many intricacies, quirks, and pseudo-historical elements, is something I really appreciate and value.

To add to my great delight, the adventure has three five-star ratings!

I really miss running new material for in-person conventions for it. It is a real delight as players who never knew of the setting quickly pick up, usually with a basic middle school knowledge of Ancient Egypt.

If you don't have it, get Akhamet Campaign Setting today. It is on-sale during the GM day sale!

May Pharaoh's light shine down on you!

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Strahd II reaches Copper level!

It is with great joy that I am proud to announce that Curse of Strahd II: Griffon Hill Manor has just reached Copper Bestseller level! Many FOE products are reaching these milestones in a quick succession, making me even giddier!

Thank you, thank you to everyone who bought the product, the six victims who survived this wacky idea, and my wife who tolerated my evening antics.

This adventure is the first of a new style of mini-campaigns I ever wrote, with the upcoming Witches of Pikemaster written in a similar way, with chapters giving the PCs a sandbox with a number of threads to investigate and problems to resolve.

A sequel to CoS is an ambitious project and one I am very proud of.

You can get Curse of Strahd II: Griffon Hill Manor today on the DM's Guild. As a bonus, the DM's Guild currently runs a 10% off sale! Bonus for you.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Apple of a Mother's Eye goes Silver!

When I first released this adventure on the DM's Guild, I hoped it would sell a few copies and pleased people, as well as allow me to expand my craft as a writer/designer. It was the first tie-in product I wrote for Curse of Strahd.

As of today, "Apple," a reimagining of the bland Berez chapter for Curse of Strahd, reached Silver Best-Seller status on the DM's Guild. I dropped this on my players as they headed to this destroyed town... After this, they had to re-evaluate their position on Strahd...

As a big thank you, I created a special discounted price for the tie-in of 40% off on the DM's Guild. This special deal is available until the end of February!

Friday, February 12, 2021

[Kill Team] The ActionMen, ActionMan's Astra Militarum

A few years back, when I opted to return to playing some GW after checking out Kill Team and realizing I had a lot of models leftover to create a multitude of smaller teams. I found a starter box on Ebay that had the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Genestealer Cult.

What sealed the deal for me was that there were a set of additional models with the box, including two crates and a number of Tempestus Scions aka stromtroopers. From my FLGS, I added a Commissar - I mean what good Imperial Guard/Astra Militarum is not led by a commissar?

I painted up the squad as a Christmas gift for him, and the Adeptus Mechanicus for me (we never used those).

To build 100 points, I lent him my Necromunda Cawdor.

The canon represents a plasmagun and is a piece I did out of sprues way back in the 90s while I was still in college andhad plan to field an Imperial army, complete with Imperial troops, Space Marines, squats (yes, I had squats!), etc. He really enjoys the look of the piece and has been deploying it every game since. It is pretty cool to see old models like that take the table.

The team is composed of:
- Commissar with plasma pistol and power sword.
- Tempestus Sergeant with bolt pistol and power fist
- Tempestus Scion with meltagun
- Tempestus Sergeant with plasmagun
- Tempestus Sergeant with hotshot laser
- Tempestus Sergeant with hotshot laser
- Tempestus Sergeant with hotshot laser
- Guardman with plasmagun
- Guardman with lasgun
- Guardman with lasgun
- Guardman with lasgun

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Necromunda: Escher Gang

These are the Escher gang that came with the Necromunda box I got for Christmas. I was not sure what color scheme I wanted for them. I decided on something basic, so I went with a base of dull green with contrasting purple. That was fine, but I needed something else. So I added plaid to their half-skirts, this red/white splash brought a nice splash of colors.

Their hair, I did in frosted-green (green with near-white highlights). The hair, more than the half-skirts or base uniform, brings them together.

One more special thing I did: I gave them very pale face with make-up. Because you know that no girl in the Underhive would go gang-bashing without her face on.

I really like the sculpts, finding them dynamic and active but one of my favorite element is the sludge on the bases. Its color is very similar to the team color, serving as sort of camo.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Necromunda: Goliath Gang

These are the Goliath from the 2017 Necromunda box. They are dull red with gold and off-white highlights.

I originally planned on using a different color scheme for them but none of the tests I did looked right. So I came back to the "basic" red. In the end, I was really satisfied with them.

One element I am really proud of are the bases and the effect of the glowing green slime in the recesses of the base. They make the characters pop and draw the eye.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Chaos Force: Alpha Legion Force

The full gang.

Chaos Sorcerer. (all metal)

Five heavily-converted Raptors. These guys had their jetpack broken and one was an arm-less original obliterator. They all got homemade packs and a variety of weapon conversions. (all metal)

Chaos Terminator led by a classic Chaos Lord - but used here as a champion. (all metal)

This dreadnaught was created from a Warmachine model. It fits in well with the rest of the game.

Monday, February 8, 2021

[Kill Team] Adeptus Astartes: Tearbringers

The Tearbringers are a Blood Angel-descendant chapter. These guys were created as a "lighter" team and features many scouts. They are pretty adaptable.

They include:
Tactical Marine Sergeant with Plasma pistol and chainsword
Tactical Marine Gunner with missile launcher
Scout Sergeant with bolt pistol and chainsword
Scout Gunner with bolt pistol and chainsword
Scout with astartes shotgun
Scout with bolt pistol and combat knife
Scout with bolt pistol and combat knife
Scout with bolt pistol and combat knife

In larger games, we add two terminators with power fist and storm bolter.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Tearbringer Adeptus Astartes Army

An army project I painted a year or two ago. Now they take up space and I am thinking of selling (if you are interested, let me know). These are all long-OOP models table-ready for action. My idea was to field them as a Blood Angel Successor chapter, the Tearbringers. However, by using my own chapter, I can field them as whoever I want... There are quite a few conversions in the army.

The army includes:
Space Marine Captain (Dark Angel Master Azrael with Watcher-in-the-dark)
Veteran with Grand Banner
Librarian in Terminator Armor
10 Gold/Veteran Assault Marines
10 Black Assault Marines aka Death Company
5 Sergeants
10-man Veteran/Tactical squad with a flamer and missile launcher
6 Tactical Space Marines with heavy weapons (3x missile launchers, 2x heavy plasma, 1x heavy bolter)
4 Tactical Space Marines with special weapons (2x flamers, 1x meltagun, 1x plasmagun)
16 Tactical Space Marines with bolters