JP On Gaming

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Curse of Strahd II reached Silver Best-Seller

I am happy to report that two FOE products reached Silver Best-Seller level!

Curse of Strahd II: Griffon Hill Manor is a loose sequel to the Curse of Strahd. It is a retelling and reimagining of the original Ravenloft 2. Simplifying many elements of the original to provide a way for a GM to be able to actually focus on what is going on.

To pull off successfully will challenge most GMs but the rewards are great when the PCs understand what is REALLY happening, that this is not "just" another vampire story.

This book came together very quickly but then I spent months just touching, tweaking, and rewriting. The ending itself went through at least eight rewrites. This one is the most exciting one, putting the PCs in the center of things. Unlike the original where you were just along for the ride without anything to do, or possibility of acting upon what they want to do.

It is currently available on DM's Guild

Friday, July 30, 2021

[Kinda Book Review] Superman Vol. 2: Trials of the super son

Continuing the series from "Rebirth" I started with Volume 1. This one, I happened upon during a later trip to the FLCS.

So this title continues the story of Lois, Clark, and Jonathan as they live in the small town of Hamilton. Here, Lois takes a job at the local newspaper. However, the big story here is the Robin (Damian Wayne) vs Superboy as the two clash with each other, while their fathers watch them resolve their differences.

Overall, this is a pretty laid back comic, with some action scenes and good writing. The characters are good and the interaction between them is interesting. There is one scene where the "Smiths" go to the carnival. Clark promises Lois he won't do any Superman stuff, but he catches a group of thieves and arrests them. The funny part is when they all go on the roller coaster, with the two attendants talking about how Superman just came and stopped the thieves, but do so in a gradual way. Their faces are awesome. Clark gets smaller and smaller in his pants while Lois looks more and more like a manga character who gets more and more annoyed. Jon in the middle keeps going "Up," "Up," "Up," as the coaster moves up. And as the the coaster begins to go down, Clark and Jon as really into it but Lois screams at Clark. Fun stuff any married man will understand.

Not much to write home about otherwise.

At the end, we meet a Superman/ Frankenstein's monster mish mash that looked pretty interesting. However, we do not learn much about his origins here.

I will rate this a 3/5. Not as exciting as others but nothing overly bad either. Very middle of the road.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

[Kinda Book Review] Alan Furst: A Hero of France

Taking a step away from comics, I picked this book up I received a while ago. So historical fiction/ semi-bio picks. Ever since my first visit to Paris in 1988, I have been interested in more.

But on to the book!

The story presents us "Matthieu" who leads a Resistance cell. He is athletic, intelligent, calm, prepared, and a great lover. In short, he has no flaws. Most of the characters in this story other than two of his allies are that type of character: cardboard, predictable, and without flaw. No, "caring about friends" is NOT a flaw.

Even the German captain who comes from Hamburg to track him down has all the right thing: he's not a nazi, patriot, good family man, not cruel, efficient, and competent. However, there is no confrontation between him and Matthieu.

I really wanted to like this, but the characters are fake and too good to be relatable.

So I will settle for a 2/5. This book is well researched and presents a number of interesting tidbits of information but in the end, only helps our hero be better.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

[Kinda Book Review] Justice League Vol. 7

Continuing the series from "Rebirth" I started with Volume 5 and Volume 6.

The previous volume left us a number of threads: the fan and Batman leaving, being the big two.

So for the Fan, the plot ends up with the League capturing him. Then out of the blue, Deathstroke appears and shoots him in the head, robbing the League of the choice about what to do about someone who knows the secrets of the entire League: secret identities, weaknesses, etc. Now getting to this is not super-surprise but I would have liked to see the League come to a decision about him. Instead, they are arguing about where to go. The issues are plentiful and this is an easy cop-out.

Everything in this book feels like an easy cop-out. There are difficult choice to be made, but the League makes none of them. They skirt the issue, talk it out, but never come up with any plan to fix anything. Now to be fair, they recognize that many of the problems are not easy, but would've liked to see them try and settle things. Wonder Woman goes and plays with the children but the other do very little. I do not expect to fix societal problems, but at least provide some ways they can work. If you worry about displaced people, move them. YOU HAVE TWO GREEN LANTERNS! At least provide short-term relief. Dig a ditch. Something. No, they don't they just keep the two warring factions apart.

Still, unlike the dumb presentation of those topics in (puke) Deathstroke at least here, the League presents both sides of the problem and recognizes these issues as complex without a single easy to identify cause. I'll give them props for that.

So in the end, despite its many failings, I'll give it a weak 3/5. Not great, just "okay"

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

[Kinda Book Review] Justice League Vol. 6

Continuing the series from "Rebirth" I started with Volume 5, I was curious to see what would come after the "Justice League Kids" plot.

In short, not much.

The title of the trade stems from an operation that goes south and a nun is killed with Wonder Woman's sword. Okay, strong start. But that story fizzles out from there and just become "background" as they deal with other, mundane, and eventually less interesting plots. There is no big trials, with anything to mention.

The League discovers that someone they call "The Fan" who is a big supporter of the League, in a stalker-sort of way got a lot of information from the Watchtower and knows a lot about the league. This plot will continue into the next volume. Also, Batman gives up the leadership of the League to Cyborg.

I like the are but this is a not overly exciting book and really sets up what comes next more than anything happening here. It was "okay" so I will give it a weak 3/5. The art is great and there is a clear feeling of something happening.

Monday, July 26, 2021

[Kinda Book Review] Captain America: America First

Captain America. After Chris Evans' turn in the suit - which I thought was pretty good, I was excited to find a trade with Cap. At a quick flip-through, this was a collection of war stories. Good!

The book contains three stories. Operation Zero Point, Prisoners of Duty, and Commie Smasher.

The first two stories are "okay." Cap. Evil Nazi doctor. Punching. Explosions. Hot girl (who Cap makes no moves on). Girl dies.

Operation Zero Point has decent art. But resembles more a movie where every move Cap makes is drawn. It reads super-fast since there is almost no dialogue. There is no morality, no serious choice to make here. Cap = Good. Nazi = Bad. Punch = Face. At least give cap some meaningful choice here: destroy the nazi UFOs but kill the other prisoners. Something. Weak writing.

Prisoners' art is pretty bad at times and is a retelling with Cap of the Young Indiana Jones tale when he is taken to the escape-proof castle. Do you think a castle will hold Cap? Nope. Okay this one has an partial choice to it: Cap swears he'll rescue a nurse. Then he breaks out, comes back but her place was bombed in an air raid. Puts a downer on things and robs both Cap and the Nurse of the choice of what to do next. In the end, this was a futile story with crappy art that almost has interesting writing.

The final story, Commie Smasher, was written by a complete idiot, drawn by a drone, and edited by a total moron who has NO IDEA what Cap's Lore is. I mean... Even fans who know Cap only through the MCU know that he was frozen from World War II until "recently." Right? I mean Steve Rodgers spent the 50s encased in ice.

1955: Cap/Steve Rodgers goes after a terrible and overly predictable communist subversion plot in the States. A bad imitation of McCarthyism. The only thing about this story that's any good is the art - which resembles something drawn by classic Disney. Btw, without Cap, this story is "fine," not great and rather forgettable.

My rating for this one is a 1/5. After two uninspired tales, getting that non-sensical tale that completely ignore mythology of the character. Finally done with that crap.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Dreams of Dust Reaches Silver

Ravenloft Dreams of Dust is a stand-alone Ravenloft adventure set in a unique setting. It targets a different type of horror, one that is rarely a concern in more D&D games. This pressure turns the adventure from a horror story to a zombie-less survival horror game. Without spoiling anything, this adventure challenged every group of 5th-level characters who crawled out of it.

Dreams of Dust was the first adventure I wrote specifically for the DM's Guild out of an idea I had for Tyrant of Saggakar. One could say that DoD is a version of Saggakar's Ravenloft.

One tidbit: after I completed the writing of the adventure, I added a scene where the lone survivor of the playtest appears to help the PCs a little. I thought that was a nice touch to add. Even if I was cruel to the poor kobold...

It is currently available on DM's Guild

[Kinda Book Review] Thor: The God Butcher

After a lot of DC, now some modern Marvel titles. I preferred Marvel over DC while growing up so I was looking forward to seeing Modern Marvel vs Modern DC.

In short, Thor encounters a creature that kills gods. Not just one-offs but entire pantheons. That no one ever knew about. Okay... I can go with that. But the highlight is that we have three eras of Thor fighting the Godslayer: young Thor in ~1000AD, modern-day Thor, and old Thor in the year 3000AD. Young Thor is brash and very much the type of viking we expect: drinking and whoring with a smile and a laugh. Old Thor replaced Odin on his throne and rules over an empty Asgard. The first two are fine but old Thor would have survived Ragnarok while all the tales of the future are to be ignored because the Godslayer, killed them all...

The art is good and of quality but suffers from the constant drawing of vignettes, forcing endless dialogue that makes it seem like they are talking. And talking. And talking. And talking.

And talking.

And talking.

Show don't tell... where here they show us a cool action scene in a full page, but force us to imagine the in-between as they talk. And talk. And talk. And talk.

In the end, I wasn't sad to be done with this book. So my rating is a 4/5 for the art (I dig it) and a 1/5 for the plot, rounding down to a 2. Nothing to see here, folks. This is a throwaway villain we'll never see again (and whose final confrontation is not even in this book). Keep your money.

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!