JP On Gaming

Saturday, December 31, 2022

[Commission] Will's Yeti army

During the fall, Will asked me the following seemingly innocuous question: "Hey would you mind painting and getting paid in product?" My answer was a tentative yes, not sure what he meant. In effect, he offered me a pile of L5R/ Clan War miniatures to paint his Yeti army by Crocodile Games.

I stated many times how much I love painting Crocodile Games (makers of Wargods of Aegyptus, Olympus, and Hyperborea) because paint jobs come together quickly and just look good.

"Yep," I ended up answering. A quick trip to a Waffle House (another blogpost of an adventure if there ever was one) and I returned home with a case of mini and a huge bag of models for me. YAY! Of course, that meant painting. Which was a good thing since I was in a painting funk for a while. But no more.

One thing Will asked was to have bases as though they were on ice or a glacier, not the easier "just snow." An interesting challenge. I would have to make a test or two.

So, now to the bases... this elusive glacier...

I watched a few tutorials and how-to on youtube, but I did not like what they ended up with. The ones I saw were overly complex and I had one big issue: unlike them, the minis were already glued to their base, and well-glued too... However, these videos gave me many different ideas on how to accomplish what I could do.

Now, there is nothing like experience, doing it, and trying things to see how they play out. So I made a large base using a zombie and some stone/sand and a lot of open area to paint. I had a fun time with this one. The body was done quickly to focus on the ice. Despite this, I was able to find something that would work on the smaller bases.

The final result works nicely, the area is perhaps a tad overly blue for "real" ice, but the effect works. I gave this to Will as an objective marker.

Looking at the models, they are fairly basic: fur and abs. So I wanted to add some highlights, something that would be interesting. So the leather straps were simple, as were the wood on their weapons. No, I settled on the stones of their weapon. My first thought was to go black or red but after a quick test, it just didn't do it for me. The black just vanished and had no pop while the red was just the opposite: it popped too much and drew the eye from the rest of the model.

So I thought about about an effect I did earlier on my Hordes Trollbloods: a green with yellowy highlights. But again, a test proved this was not right.Close but not what I wanted.

So I simplified the work and focused on more basic elements: the dark green base with only minor highlights of bright green for the rock. I loved the outcome. It was subdued but enough to draw the eye without drawing too much attention from the rest of the model.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

DND Holidays Game Day After Action Report

Akhamet GebiteOn Dec 27th, was the first Holiday D&D Game Day where I hosted a small game day where we played D&D all day.

The format was simple: three GMs, three adventures, three hours each. Sitting back, I believe that without consulting each other, each of us ran an adventure that focused on one of the three pillars the game: combat, exploration, and social.

The first adventure was run by young up-and-comer GM ActionMan who presented our team of adventurers with a heist-style job in a tale of revenge and plunder. Many choices were presented and we succeeded in leaving with money in our pockets and our hirer happy, her revenge fulfilled.

The second adventure was Will's season-appropiate tale that put us face to face with many favorites of the holidays. Filled with Will's very unique humor style, we laughed while trembling in fear.

The final adventure was mine and the PCs had to go up into the mountain to find a rare flower to cure a young woman from a strange curse or disease. A tale of travel and exploration... They made it and only realized what it was... They played the adventure without a single combat! The traps took care of them really well and sank their resources and hurt them.

As I write this, I realize that I have not taken a single picture of the event. Oh No!

So, it was great to see faces I haven't seen in months, if not longer, and meeting new faces. I think this event may become a yearly tradition! I had a lot of fun and I saw smiles all around, after the painful frowns.

Again thanks to everyone who participated as a player and as a GM.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Dark Gifts of Ravenloft goes Silver Bestseller

First off, Merry Christmas!

CoverJust as the year ends, another FOE product hits a benchmark!

This time it is Dark Gifts of Ravenloft made from a collection of handouts I made for my players as we went through Curse of Strahd during 2019-20.

These handouts allow the GM to secretly pass notes to the players as they go through the Amber Temple.

Best part of those handouts? Remembering what happened as we played through. That was where two party members got lost to insanity having accepted too many things in there. One flew away on his new wings (Ragdoll, the tiefling warlock), and the other told off the party and disappeared amidst the snows (Billy Bonescrusher). The pair had been very often used as comedic relief for their hijinx and boister that they would take over Barovia.

Billy and RagdollNeither of them would have made things much better for the populace. They would have exchanged a tyrant for another. Still it was fun smack talking each other about how once Strahd was taken down, they would have a death match to determine who would rule.

This death match took place later, as the PCs entered Castle Ravenloft for the final showdown, Billy and Ragdoll had their final clash. The party almost bit the dust on this one... A lucky counterspell prevented Ragdoll from burning half the party in a fireball that would have killed most of the group.

Good times... We all knew it would end up that way...

With the party having to take out these two.

But few things rest easy in Ravenloft...

Including Billy and Ragdoll...

Bundle Cover Dark Gifts of Ravenloft itself is Pay-what-you-want product but to reach this bestseller level, many of you thought it was good enough to pay for it and that is always something that warms my heart.

This product is part of the FOE Ravenloft Bundle. Where you can get this and many other Ravenloft products at 50% off!

Saturday, December 17, 2022

[Release] Races of Akhamet: Mesaru in English and Francais!

One thing I learned over the years is how creative people are and how exciting it is to talk about them regarding a product you wrote. It's like asking a gamer about his character's background... But on a whole 'nother level.

One such conversation spawned over multiple FOE product led to the question many dread asking. "What about your campaign? What cool things are you doing?" I'm sure many of you immediately went to some dark corner of your mind and retreated.

Not I. Ooooh no not I. "Malcolm" began telling me about his campaign plan.

I'll be honest and I was annoyed, jealous, and a little angry at what he revealed to me. Quite simply because I could not join and play in that campaign! It's like he hit everything I wanted to play in Akhamet!

As the conversation continued, he said "you know one of my players came up with a race of based on the fennec foxes of the desert." More conversation, an original draft, and I was sold.

The mesaru (rename) are a people who do not claim descendance from one of the gods. The idea intrigued me because my thoughts drifted to "everyone in Akhamet is linked to one of the gods..." But then as the idea sat in the back of my head, it gained traction and I liked it more and more with each passing moment. Of course, creating an exception to the universal rule made the rule of "everyone descends" from the gods better!

Not only that, but I plan to add a Mesaru as one of the new iconics to replace the now-deceased Osaphis! I will post an update on that later. Who is that character? You will have to wait!

I got to speak with Greewi and worked on a way to include them into "main" Akhamet. This product is the result of those conversations.

Want to get it for 50% off? This has been added to the Akahmet Bundle, giving you access to the setting, adventures, and sourcebooks. A lot of goodies! And if you bought some already, you may actually get it for free or almost free! Check it out.

This product is now available on DriveThru RPG.

Pour ceux qui parlent Franccedil;ais, ce produit est offert dans les deux langues ensemble!

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

[Kinda Book Review] Secret Wars by Marvel Comics

When I got into secondary school (roughly middle school), I met a guy named Clint-G and we hit it off. He was big into comics and got me back into the hobby. He would tell me about some really awesome storylines I'd miss in the years between my switching between the French comics and the English version (about 10 years difference). I was hooked. One of the stories he told me about was that of Marvel's Secret Wars. From listening to him, this was just crazy-awesome and that idea stayed with me for years.

I bought myself a copy of the Marvel Super Heroes adventure/campaign for the Secret Wars and the scope was just crazy. Of course, I never got to PLAY that. And looking at that adventure book today, I find that it is extremely bad. I mean, the only "plot" is to replay what the comic did. You know... super-railroading the players... There is just no chance it would turn out remotely well.

Last year, I managed to find a really cheap copy of the mini-series on Amazon and nabbed it. I placed it on my stash of things to read with great interest. I placed it under my copy of DC's Crisis on Infinite Earth to savor later. I am a big fan of Jim Shooter's work and could not wait to delve into it.

Well... the actual story did not match the decades of anticipation. Thinking back to 1984, it may have been absolutely great and fantastic, but I kept finding the holes in the plot: distances and locations unclear, no one caring that blocks of Denver came to Battleworld, no one worries about why and how some aliens live on the planet. It is just... bad. I mean the plot crawls forward as the heroes try to understand what the Beyonder means and how they can get out of their current predicament. Add to this the mutant/racist subplot that was big in the 80s.

Everything feels shoehorned into the plot. They need a healer? Oh there's an alien! The villains find themselves fewer than the heroes? Look we pick up randos from "Denver". The story is completely resolved and explained in the final issue rather than doing so gradually where we are just unsure of whatever is going on.

So I'm left with a clear disappointment. I wanted for it to be great, and all I got was good. Trying to think back to the original release, this would have been pretty important. From the Secret Wars, we got Spider-man's black costume. She-Hulk in the Fantastic Four. And Magneto in a truce with the X-men. So the outcome was more important than the story itself.

The art is good, the writing is "fine", so my rating will land on a 3/5. I expected to rate this well above Crisis on Infinite Earth but DC's book was just leaps and bounds better.

Monday, December 12, 2022

[Rant] What Paizo got right (and I got wrong)

Great Day in Taldor vignetteIt's not often that I admit that I was wrong. But the more I work at writing and expanding my own game settings, the more I have to give it to the people at Paizo. Now, don't get all excited (Chad). I have not played Pathfinder in years and just have no intention of doing so - mostly because I don't want to put the effort into organizing it.

I got into Pathfinder when it first came out, in 2009 and really liked what I saw of the rules. The game is solid and well-tested. I played it with great enthusiasm until 2017 or 2018.

I remember looking at the Golarion Setting Book. Multiple times. And every time, I kept getting the impression of something missing, like I was drinking a Kool-Aid drink into which there was too much water. Sure it TASTES like something, but the full flavor is not there. Like everything was in there, but that it lacked some meat.

For years, I kept that impression.

Then earlier this year, I decided to give a new look. And won't you be surprised, I found the book to be extremely well written with just enough material to make it viable. And therein lay its genius: the razor's edge upon which it thread. Just enough.

Could it use more? Yes! For most of the nations in the book I find myself wanting to learn more about them. There is just enough to tease my taste buds. Just enough for me to create an adventure there. Having since written multiple settings (Akhamet, Olympia, co-wrote Rhym, and soon Ozaka), I found myself in awe of the Golarion setting book for its simplicity.

So what did I get wrong back in the day? How did I come to this impression of incompleteness? Of water-down Kool-Aid? I mean the book is the same. How could I have changed so much?

On the one hand, clearly experience. With more writing, I could appreciate it more.

On the other hand, I guess the issue was that I could not find good hooks for the stories *I* wanted to tell. That while good, nothing reached out to me. The light flavor of historical elements with fantasy elements just did not feel like it went deep enough. While this latest impression remains, I have to review my thoughts on the rest of it.

This is a solid product that deserves the praise it earned in the past and the accolades it garnered.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

A Little Update

It has been many years since I gave this blog some attention... Well no more!

I added the third column to make accessing interesting content quicker (with less scrolling).

I made a new head banner too!

After so many years, it is a change I am still getting used to. Good news is: I can always tweak or change things around and this post will remain true!

[Release] Races of the Planes: Rogue Modron

While writing Witches of Pikemaster I came up with the entry for the Rogue Modron. Modrons are automaton creatures of ultimate law. However, sometimes, one of them go "wrong" and begin to think for itself. Whatever the event, they become pariahs among their people and hunted down to be killed on-site. Luckily, modrons are rare in most places.

One of the main inspiration for this race came from MedievalKyte's awesome art. I mean that little monodrone just looks so cute. I mean, who would not want to take it with them on an adventure?

This small product is meant to create some truly unique characters that will add spice to any group.

When a modron faces something that challenges its view of the world, its mind shatters and opens to a broader reality. With such revelations, they become rogue modrons. For the rest of their lives, rogue modrons travel the multiverse seeking the meaning of life through a long string of adventures.

This book allows you to create a rogue modron for your games. Includes a new race and a new feat for your rogue modron character.

Want to get it for 50% off? Races of the Planes: Rogue Modron has been added to the FOE Character Option Bundle, giving you access to new character races, such as the Githzerai, the Princesses, and the Rogue Modron. A lot of goodies! And if you bought some already, you may actually get it for free or almost free! Check it out.

This product is now available on the DM's Guild.

Friday, December 9, 2022

[Kinda Book Review] Port of Shadows by Glen Cook

So early this year, I completed the final book of the Black Company, Soldiers Live, which I really enjoyed. Around that time, I found a copy of the latest book, "Port of Shadows", which was a story set between The first and second book of the series... A long time ago.

Now if you are interested in reading the books, I recommend you read them in publication order. This book includes many reference to names and characters that were not known at the time, and you would be extremely confused. Heck, having read the full story, I was still very confused in parts.

Now, this book has many things that drove me nuts, and made its reading difficult, chief of which are the many names used for the many characters: Baku, Blessed Baku, Firefly, for one. For most of the story you keep reading wondering where this whole thing is going and how it will end.

Now, without going into spoilers, this book gives me the clear impression that it should be part of another cycle, with a few book to complete or expand the story. Most of the books of the Black Company (and indeed most of Cook's other material), then to have an end where you can either decide to continue or stop reading. In the end, the final twist left me... unsatisfied. I expected something... better/ more exciting/ less vague and I refuse to set my mind on time travel as a way to tie everything together.

I waffled between a 3/5 and a 4/5 for this one. For most of the book, I was really invested and wanted more. I devoured the book, burning through its pages. Then the ending... So I'll average it to a 3.5/5 which rounds out to a 4/5. I'm not fully satisfied with this but it will do. It's an easy 3/5 for anyone picking this up without having read a few other novels of the Black Company.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

[Kinda Book Review] Essential Avengers vol 4

Again back to Marvel Comics with another Essential-series book. This time, it was the Avengers vol 4. As a child, I found the Avengers stories to be highly uneven, and this book did not change my opinion.

Quite frankly, the book was "fine." And that means that there is very little that is memorable here. The art is fine. The stories are fine. The characters are fine. But nothing that really jumped out and got me very excited, it was... (as you guessed it) fine.

Perhaps the best part of the story is the crossover with Hulk, serving as a touchpoint with Essential Hulk vol 4. Whereas the Hulk's plot continues into the micro-world, the Avengers go on to deal with a different problem.

Fine rates an easy 3/5 and there is fairly little more to say about it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

[Review] Mobile Suit Z-Gundam

I was lucky enough to find a special sub'd version of all 50 episodes of Mobile Suit Z-Gundam. This series was originally shown in Japan in 1986-87.

Now when the show started, I expected something similar to the origanl series, with complex characters, both for the good and bad guys. Even if most of the villains were somewhat crazy with maniacal goals and short-term obsessions. But still, a few of the villains, such as the Zabi family and Char Aznable, had goals that could be understood. They may be evil but you can see how they do not see themselves as bad.

The basic story is ten years after the original series, with the defeat of the Principality of Zeon, the Earth Federation created a new group to ensure no group in space would grow powerful enough to threaten it, called the Titans. In the decade since, the Titans grow into a militaristic powerhouse that subsumes the Earth Federation Military.

And what happens when you give people all the best and latest weaponry and a decent dose of power?

You end up with a "Who watches the watchers" scenario where, on one side, the Titans want to assure and consolidate their power. And on the other, freedom fighters who oppose the move.

I won't go into the many twists of the series, but from the AEUG (Anti-Earth Union Group), the Earth Federation, and the Titans, we later add a group of Neo-Zeon trying to return to prominence.

Our heroes here are a gathering of random people from the latter group. Most have no ideological attachment to one side or the other. Some are there because of someone else. And others have a private reason to join one side. There are 50 episodes, so that makes a LOT of characters.

Of course, my favorite in Gundam-dom, appears here as a good guy. Char Aznable (going by the name Quattro) is a lieutenant in the AEUG and one of their best mobile suit pilot. His presence and participation in the events starts as something of a mystery but his charisma and intelligence shine through as the series progresses. He is Mr Cool throughout the series, keeping his eyes on the prize (most of the time). His reactions are very human and make him an endearing figure throughout the series.

The main character is Kamille. Many people make jokes that his is a woman's name (in French, it is a unisex name). At first, he is a petulant child, but losses and lessons hit him hard at the end.

One side plot involves the many women, on both sides, who try to prove themselves as pilots but also try to figure out their places as women. Their role is contrasted by the women who took on domestic roles. I found the questioning, the answers, and the doubts they went through to be surprisingly deep. They are not just eye candy (though some of their dresses in space are odd choices...). I found myself wondering about the two roles women have. I thought it was a well-presented dilemma overall.

A major element of the story has to be with the Titans trying to control the Earth Federation. The political aspect is important throughout the series because some characters like Char have to pull double-duty: pilot and politician.

Char's speech in Dakar is pretty powerful and one I thought was truly a highlight of the Gundam universe. (You can see the full speech on Wikiquote). It encapsulates everything that is right about Gundam. I copied the final paragraph because it speaks of a timeless truth, of a tyrant losing his grip on power and the extremes he will go to to keep that power.

The Titans have started a battle above us, disregarding the lives of the delegates of this Assembly. You can see the brutality of their actions for yourselves. They set themselves above the regular Earth Federation Forces, and smear anyone who opposes them as terrorists. But it is their own arrogance that is their greatest sin; it will be the ruin of humanity! Those of you who have been watching these events unfold on television must realize by now that this is who the Titans are. I admit, it was wrong of us to take over this Assembly, but what of the Titans, who are trying to destroy it with the representatives still inside? Would they even destroy their own supporters among them?!

Another thing the series does well is to draw in characters from the Original Series, give them a cameo role that plays into the bigger story. This is the case of Amuro Rey, of Frau Bow (now Kobayashi), and Mineva Zabi. These characters come in for a few moments or episodes before fading in the background as we focus on Kamille. Now I don't like "Uber good boy" Amuro but I liked that he stayed on Earth when Kamille returns to space. We touch base with him later when they return to Earth.

When we first meet him, I worried that we'd get a massive blob of characters, similar to the latest era of Doctor Who when fifteen characters all try to say something and everyone's plot gets drowned in noise.

The team of Z Gundam are not modern-day writers. They did it right. So much so, that I feel like a series could be developped around the adventure of Amuro and Hayato as they fight the titans on Earth. Their actions are important but do not detract from the gravitas of what we see. Though there is something there for sure. Well done team.

Now... one element that looks really odd has to deal with physical contact. Yes, some dudes just randomly grab the women's breast or butts and no subtly. They are quickly slapped but still it took me by surprise.

Another is whenever a subordonate refuses or challenges an order, the commanding officer slaps or punches the subordinate. Kamille gets his butt kicked a few times, especially early on.

Now... This series is ABSOLUTELY BRUTAL. I mean people die. A LOT. Named and unnamed characters meet their end. Their deaths are sudden, and even when a Titan gets killed, I felt sad about the loss. Long-time rivals like Jerid, Mouar, and Bask in particular.

The series ends on a sad note, with Kamille's mind getting completely broken. This series takes no prisoners and really lets you know that no one escapes war without serious loss. No one wins. Only, the Titans are defeated. A lot of people died.

So... I did not have to deliberate very long about this one. The animation is dated, but the fight scenes still deliver, the story is good, and the characters different and each with their own subplot and the questioning it presents spot on.

This is the type of great entertainment that, had I seen as a child, I would have loved it. Mecha, missiles, action, girls, everything I like (still). However as I watch as an adult... the questioning and dilemmas become most important. Pixar did that on a few of its products too.

My rating for this is a clear 4/5. This is a solid and highly enjoyable anime that's more than firing missiles and laser swords.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Played Kanabo RPG - Mini Review

This past Saturday (Nov 12), I went on Warhorn and joined a random game that was announce to be "Bushido." I was interested and wanted to play that game forever but never got the opportunity (or when I did get the opportunity, there were other things I wanted to do more).

So the adventure was called "Kwaidan" - the same as the movie of the same name and that loosely translates to "Ghost Story". The movie is awesome and beautiful at the same time, presenting us with four tales of ghost. Many of them fairly well known today. One of the things I love about these old Japanese horror movies for their aesthetics.

But enough about the movies, on to the gaming!

Well... the game turned out NOT to be Bushido but a rules-light system called Kanabo by Monkey's Paw Games. Very story game.

Background of the setting (as presented) was a non-descript Japan where a major war ended about five years ago. The specifics were not important. Cool. Still in.

How rules light? You have 4 stats Earth (discipline, durability), Fire (aggressivity, speed), Water (inquisitivity, tranquility), and Wind (grace, intuition). D100 system (I have Ea22 Fi39 Wa26 Wi33), so someone who is aggressive and agile but without much consistency or insistence. Background generated through character generation elements. I was born in a castle and an artist by trade.

So I came up with a quick story: I worked as a painter in a village with my family. A drunk samurai set the house on fire while I was away. I plot revenge against him but am too much of a coward to actually do anything about it. So, in an effort to steel my (crappy) resolve, I became an adventurer/ investigator for hire.

One unique element of the game: if you die (and the system is pretty deadly), you make a new character the party encounters shortly afterwards. "Poor Hiro, he was a good friend... But hey there Tatsu the villager" We had one death that could easily have been more than that.

Okay already, I liked it. It was simple, quick and highly versatile. Setting and rules easy to grasp. I won't give you all the details of the adventure but it were confronted with some ghosts that gave us little chance. A great little story game.

My rating? It was a 3/5. I don't see this game as something I would like to run a campaign with. But it is a nice system, perfect for a one-shot: quick, simple, and fun.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

[Release] Races of the Planes: Githzerai

Now, you may know that I am working on a plane-hopping campaign, something that harks back to the days of Planescape - or perhaps more accurately to the days of its predecessor: the Manual of the Planes or the Tales from the Outer Planes. Therein, you got your party to go from one plane to another solving problems.

This adventure/campaign is going to be a loose sequel to Witches of Pikemaster which was published earlier this year. As I was writing WoP, I had a number of additional ideas and elements I had to cut in the interest of brevity. However, all that research would not get wasted as I came up with a number of potential products that would go great with it.

Race of the Planes: Githzerai is just the first of a number of small products meant to accompany this new campaign. Yet, they can easily be added to your home campaign. To add a touch of planar flavor. This product was purposefully kept short and small because of the vast amount of lore out there, and each edition giving them a slightly different flavor. Either clarifying or expanding the lore. I opted to let each GM define the full racial flavor and background.

Initially appearing in the Fiend Folio the githzerai were psionic slavers who hated both the mind flayers and their githyanki cousins. In time, the slaving aspect was drop to focus more their introspective aspect.

Want to get it for 50% off? Races of the Planes: Githzerai has been added to the FOE Character Option Bundle, giving you access to new character races, such as the Amazons, the Princesses, and now the Githzerai. A lot of goodies! And if you bought some already, you may actually get it for free or almost free! Check it out.

This product is now available on the DM's Guild.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

[Kinda Book Review] Showcase Elongated Man vol 1

I picked this one up during a big comic sale wanting to read something different. Having read about the Elongated Man while reading the New 52 (reviewed part 1/4, part 2/4, and part 3-4/4). He was one of the characters whose arc I was interested in. So why not go to the source and read the earliest appearances of the character...


The story starts with a few cameos in the pages of flash. These are stories from the early 60s by DC. They are trying to write "mysteries" but they fail. The stories all go the same way. EM and his wife are somewhere and find a "mystery". EM then stretches around, finds the goons responsible, beats them up and win.

In the 500 pages of comic in this book, in no case does EM face against a real super villain. He has no enemy, no recurrent opponent. And no real storyline. Other heroes show up as cameos, with their own villains and they do not do much together.

The line art is mostly good, but oftentimes when EM is fighting, he stretches odd parts of himself and that takes a few moments to understand what is going on.

So I rate it a 2/5. Weak stories and enough odd drawings justifies this. Yeah, I'm good with a 2.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

[Release] Campaign Events on DM's Guild

Imagine the following scenario: You are GMing for your party. During a trip, you mention they pass through a different province. Your goal is to move the story forward.

Then one of your players go and ask you "So... what's going on in that town? Anything of interest?"

Will you simply answer "nothing important or interesting" or will you plant the seed for a future adventure and tell them something exciting, at the risk of running something impromptu?

If the latter, this product is for you. With one massive table, you get a number of events that can affect life in a town/ province/ nation. They range from natural disasters to political events to outside factors. All of these should help you come up with adventure ideas to keep your players interested.

Or like some of mine: not interested and they can keep moving along. You now have a seed for later and you haven't spent hours of preparation on it.

Okay so that was what I thought this product to do. However, I have since used it as a preparation tool for my Ozaka campaign. I wanted some event to happen but could not decide between two or three of them. So I let the dice decide. In a few seconds, I came up with at least three ideas and my game was saved for another few weeks!

This product is now available on the DM's Guild.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Vanishing Ziggurat Reaches Silver Bestseller!

I remember the day well, when I came up with the wacky idea that became the Vanishing Ziggurat I had two girl scouts and dozens of boxes (the boxes that contain the boxes for the cookie) just piling up in the garage. After playing with them a little, I found a way to stack them up to form a massive 3D ziggurat. At that time, I had only a few notes containing ideas of what I wanted to add in there: constructs, undead, fiends, some social encounters, and a few treasures for this dungeoncrawl.

I took the ziggurat first to my local FLGS (before it became much less "F" to the "G"s) and ran it there. Met a few great people and had a fun time of it. Then later, I took it to a few con, including Hypericon 2019 here in Murfreesboro TN. There, I used the ziggurat in a simplified (and lower-level'd) version set in Akhamet.

The ziggurat adventure is a dungeoncrawl. But one that is not simply door-monster-treasure. It asks a number of questions, many of which tie it into other FOE product.

One of its biggest successor is a minor tie-in with the awesome Witches of Pikemaster where a character from Vanishing Ziggurat makes an appearance. Its a fun tie-in if you played both but not one that is the core of the adventure.

Did I mention that both Vanishing Ziggurat and Witches of Pikemaster are currently on-sale on the DM's Guild? They are during the October monster fest sale!

Anyway, I guess the most important part is to thank all of you for your continued support. I am always amazed and touched by it.

Thank you.

Monday, October 24, 2022

[Review] Power of the Doctor

The 13th Doctor's finale has come and gone and after viewing it (once), I feel I have to go over the predictions I posted in a Previous Post and see where this one hit and where it failed.

And where I hit and where I failed.

Let me start by repeating my two main predictions:
- A lot of character, too many for the run time
- A great premise
- An over-convoluted plot
- The Shipper's paradise.

Well... there were a characters. Yup. There were A LOT of them. Both on the good and bad sides. Now... This one played around this, by doing some clever things. First, Dan was pretty much written off right at the start. I was not happy seeing the most interesting character of the crew getting kicked out early. Frown #1. But from that point on, it was great to see old companions, each of them adding to the story and its resolution. Even the final cameos added to the story in a positive way. The appearance of old Doctors was favorite part of it. Their use was clever and added to the plot.

I really think Chibnall was helped by having established characters to use rather than having to build them up (though having seen what he did with Captain Jack, this argument does not really stand). Perhaps it was Tegan, Ace, and Kate who refused to a plot that was pretty lame. I guess I'll never know but whoever edited the script finally said "no" to the worse ideas.

Now if I have a criticism, the daleks had nothing to do here, just over-crowding. They could've been skipped or replaced by the cybermasters without affecting the plot. I would have removed them.

Only Vinder added nothing to the story. His inclusion did not add anything. I still don't know what he was doing in the story.

I am sad that Sacha Dewan is also stepping down as the Master, a bigger loss than Jodie Whittaker's Doctor. I really liked him as he overshadowed the Doctor throughout his tenure. I am hoping he comes back later, similar to when John Simms returned. I thought he was very convincing as Rasputin. And the Master and Rasputin are a match made in heaven.

The great premise... This one I don't think I hit the mark. I can't quite say the premise was particularly great. That said, the premise and the hook are not the same. The hook (or hooks) were actually pretty good and had me wondering where the story was headed from the get-go, but in a good way. It proceeded forward at a good pace, with the plot advancing and characters helping and doing something.

Over-convoluted plot... Yeah I called this one. The plot was pretty convoluted, trying to be overly clever. This is where the story loses points. The whole "Forced Regeneration" thing is unclear... What did it hope to achieve? What was the goal? If the Master became the Doctor, okay... That whole thing made no sense. I just don't see what the end point was. What was up with the two random planets fighting each other? I thought it was Earth and Mondas (home of the Cybermen). Just another random element

The story was filled with winks and nods to classic Who - references that mostly lead nowhere, but that Who-nerds thought was pretty cool. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but it would have been more interesting had such nods happened throughout the season. Also, there is no explanation for the Flux, why half the universe was gone. I guess this whole season is something that will never be mentioned again.

Shipper's paradise. I got this one COMPLETELY wrong. They nodded to it, but did not do much with it. So a big plus.

So in the end, I am not sad that Jodie vanished. I'm not sad the Chibnall era is over. This was without a doubt, the BEST episode of her tenure.

What's your score, JP? I would give this one a solid 3.25/5, which rounds out to a 3/5. I can live with that. The episode was entertaining and most of the plot was good. As much as I wanted to hate it, I found the story was very enjoyable. But with a little time, it is only "fine". I don't hate it that's for sure and think was one of Jodie's best, despite the plot hooks. I expect there is little-to-nothing that will be referenced the era of the 13th Doctor. It will just be ignored and forgotten.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

[Release] Courtiers: Envoys and Peacemakers on DM'S Guild

So what is this you ask? How did that come about? Why do I need this for my game?

Well "Courtier" is a full 20-level class that allows you to create a jack of all trade focused on Charisma. It occupies a role between the bard and the rogue: it is less magically-focused than the bard and more "trick"-based than the rogue. Closer to a non-combat rogue from Pathfinder v1 (before it was retooled). 

These tricks allow you to do minor dips and get a number of special abilities that include some minor spellcasting abilities, to mirror abilities of other classes, to getting a yojimbo, to the ability to gain resistance to some damage types. The trick here is that courtiers are great toolboxes that give you a lot of customization options. And if a trick no longer applies or lost its shine, you can swap them out when you gain a new level. 

This product was designed during the writing process for the upcoming Ozaka setting. Now this idea of playing a courtier or noble is not new to me and my games. Years ago, I wrote Gostor Nobles for Pathfinder v1. It was based on the original class by PCI. 

While there is no doubt that Courtier inherits some ideas from that product, it is at the same time something different. Whereas Nobles put the character in the role of a member of a ruling elite, Courtier makes the character someone in the employ of a powerful. 

Why are not all courtiers nobles? Well... that's where character creation and the background feature of 5e comes into play. Was your character born into abject poverty and clawed his way to this position? What if you were a charlatan who impersonated a diplomat and you turned out to be really good at it? I never hid the fact that I love 5e's background feature and that your background comes into play during my games. So one of the design changed was to focus on separating the background from the class and to let the character build and tell his own story.

Why do I need this for my game? Well... a courtier gives you a lot of versatility in how you decide to built your character and your bard does not have to do all the talking anymore. 

Courtiers will be present in our iconic characters coming in 2023. Not sure which just yet. But there WILL be a courtier. Want to know more? It is currently available on the  DM's Guild.

Oh! And a big thanks to the British Shark and John Ridley (Inspector97) for the interior art!

Friday, October 14, 2022

[Kinda Book Review] 2113 Anthology

Earlier this year, my childhood friend Francois-M came to visit us for what turned out to be whirlwind trip with his daughter Florentine. It was great to meet her for the first time.

I had not seen him since around 1994-95 (when we attended a Musical Box concert in Sherbrooke). So we caught up. He was always a music afficionado, knowing and keeping an ear out on what was hip at the time. Oh and classic rock too. Well now it is classic rock. It was just "rock" at the time...

But that's not why you are here. You want to know about the book.

I'm getting there. I'm getting there!

One day I went to his house with a cassette (which was forever to be known a #9) for him to put on some of the music he has me listen to when I went to his place. Those were NOT the bands that you'd hear at my house.

#9 included many different bands like Queen, Heart, and most commonly, Rush. Songs like Xanadu, Limelight, Tom Sawyer, Big Money, Subdivisions, Circumstances. Good stuff. Real good stuff. Almost all of these songs are still on my playlist today. But JP aren't a big Genesis fan? Yes. But that was #23. I got into it MUCH later... This was around 1986 (I know because Hold your fire was not out yet and Power Windows was the latest album).

So Francois brought me a book (he knows I'm a geek like that): 2113, an anthology of stories inspired by the music of Rush.

I had the relatively bland Ancient Japan on my reading desk. And man did I want to ditch that to move to 2113.

So if you are not a Rush fan, they have music that deal with a variety of topics, many of which have a clear science-fiction theme, the reality of life, and other questioning one asks himself during his life. I mean it is a match made in heaven.

I won't spoil the stories. But the idea was well executed, with some stories being more litteral with their story than others. One or two, I must say the inspiration was... distant at best. I was pleased to find that Fritz Lieber wrote a story in there (from where Neil Peart got inspired) and the story that inspired Red Barchetta.

One story I did not particularly like but it has some very clever writer's artifices was the story based on "Mission". I love how they presented the point-of-view transitions by having the sentence run on, put a divider, and continuing the sentence but as a different character. What? You don't really care? I thought that was a really cool thing and it enhanced the story.

Some stories had some clever endings that made me smile, some left me wanting more, some had an interesting twists. None were bad, just less interesting.

Perhaps my personal favorite is the final story of the book, the eponymous 2113. This is one of the most literal ones, a story that where the classic 2112 ends with the ominous and domineering Attention all planets of the Solar Federation, we have assumed control. And the story takes us to that mad vision of an Elder Race and of the Temple of Syrinx, in an almost Hemisphere-ian dichotomy. Loved it. The ending? Very well done. I put the book down on a high.

So a score... It's an anthology, so the stories ranged from 2/5 to 4/5. However, I think a better score would be 3.5/5, which according to my rules make me give it a 4/5, a score I can easily live with. I plan on going back and re-visiting these stories later, after I let the kids read it.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

[Release] Burned and Cooked Released for Akhamet

Gencon 2021!!!


Well... I thought it was out there already. I set up everything for it last year after Gencon but never made it public. So it was simply waiting for me to push the button.

Funny thing: I was talking to a FOE writer about something done in this adventure and told him "here let me send it to you to see what I mean." Well... I could not find it. With good reason!

This is an investigative adventure with an alternative way to run things without making PCs choice irrelevant or giving out all the information in one dump. It is a style I will certainly revisit in the future.

Here is the blurb for this one:
The City of Cats is a great place to find entertainment and relaxation. After a few weeks, you are in need of funds but lucky you, you managed to get a lucrative job lined up.
A 5th edition adventure for characters 1 through 4 (optimized for 3rd level).
This adventure first premiered at Gencon 2021.

You may also be interested in getting this and other Akhamet adventure for 50% by getting the Adventure Bundle.

But if you are interested in this one only... Cooked and Burned is available on DriveThruRpg now!

Friday, October 7, 2022

Doctor Who Centennary Predictions

If you haven't been following closely you would never know the finale of Jodie Whittaker. There has been so little leaked about the plot. What we did get are a lot of info about WHO would be in it! (See what I did)

For something that should be a big deal, there has been surprisingly little about it. I guess even the BBC expects this to be so bad they have no intention of supporting it more than they have to. It would be a recurring theme of the Chibnall era: pack too much then the Doctor

So many peopleAnd in Chibnall fashion, it is a lot. Let's see:
- The Doctor
- Deadfish expressionless Yaz
- Dan
- Ace (Former companion of 7th Doctor)
- Graham (Former companion of 13th Doctor)
- Teagan (Former companion of 4th and 5th Doctor)
- Kate Stewart
- The Master
- The Daleks
- The Cybermen

See? So we can expect exactly that: every one having equal screen time. So in all fairness, I expect there will be a lot of people standing around or having cameos. The return of Teagan and Ace will not have a significant impact, and they will be relegated to the background, interjecting a few lines in a crowd of people.

Wasted opportunity. Again.

Seems to be the hallmark of this 13th Doctor era. Great premises then too many people all of which must be important when they are not. Fewer characters would provide a better stories...

So I can predict the following: a plot that is convoluted, overly-simple resolution (if any), and with too many characters to have any time to play out.

Oh yeah. And I expect to see the back of my head as my eyes roll with the "resolution" of the Deadfish-Doctor "love angle". Cringe.

So I really do not have any expectations for this one. Unlike the 14th Doctor era where there is a lot of buzz and excitement. Quite a difference in energy.

Prove me wrong, Chibnall.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

[Kinda Book Review] Ancient Japan by Captivating History

Book coverAs I am working on Ozaka, a fantasy Japanese setting, I wanted to read a few books on the history of Japan. Something to serve as a reference.

Not speaking Japanese, I looked around for a while before settling on this one.

This book was not what I was looking for... It delivers what it promises on the cover A Captivating guide to the ancient history of Japan, their ancient civilization and Japanese culture, including stories of the samurai, shoguns, and zen master. But it does not provide much more.

I found this book dry and lacking depth. If I had no basic knowledge, then I would've appreciated it more. But as it was, it felt like I learned very little.

This seems like a wonderful book to read while on a plane to Tokyo. Not for the type of research I was interested in.

So... a score... I am going with a 2/5. However, for those with less knowledge about history might find it a good overview and introduction an rate it 4/5.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Dead And Buried Akhamet adventure released!

With Gencon over (for a while), I am going over a number of things left undone. This includes making the adventures available to everyone.

"But JP! You put the Olympia adventures out there weeks ago."


Okay, my only defense is that I've been busy writing new material for a Planescape campaign AND Ozaka. That's not an excuse but... That's the truth.

So... Dead and Buried is an adventure I worked and reworked and tweaked and prodded and disliked and changed and switched. Until AT LAST, I got it right. This iterative work made this into a fun adventure that really moves the Akhamet forward and that has a nice flow. The flow was what really tripped me as I was writing this one.

Here is the blurb for this one:
Some secrets lie under the desert for good reasons. Part 1 of the Dark Tide series.
A 5th edition adventure for characters 1 through 5 runs around 4 hours.
This adventure first premiered at Gencon 2022.

It is an interesting adventure that challenges not only the combat-enthusiasts at your table, but also the role-players and the puzzle fans.

I back-seat drove a few tables and found it fascinating to hear how different GMs presented the same challenges. And challenges, with an "S" is exactly what this short adventure provides.

You may also be interested in getting this and other Akhamet adventure for 50% by getting the Adventure Bundle.

But if you are interested in this one only... Dead and Buried is available on DriveThruRpg now!

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

[Patreon][Cleric] Fire Domain

Continuing me series on the elemental cleric domain for Ozaka. This time everyone's favorite: FIRE!!!

Who else to represent this than Rhym's very own Juri-sho (yes, I know she is a sorceress... but isn't a sorcerera funky shugenja?) with Irene Campos's awesome art.

Check out the FOE Patreon! It is available for free!

Friday, September 30, 2022

[Kinda Review] Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

So for many weeks, I have been dreading watching the Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance on Netflix. I remember seeing that movie as a child and really loving it. The Skeksis (whose name I forgot but whose plots marked my childhood) influenced how the First Ones took shape. Their look stands out to this day as unique in the world of fantasy.

After giving up on Rings of Power, I was SOOOOOOOOOoooooo worried it would be a similar story with bland character defiling something I loved from my childhood.

Well I must say that my worry was for naught. I was so wrong.

To put it simply, this is how you create and write a story that will engage the viewer and interest them.

World building is quick but effective. The narrator at the start gives us a lot of info but it's enough to get you started. It is not long that we understand the dangers of the Darkening. Their effect on people. The Tree of Sanctuary. Everything is done organically, presented when first needed.

There are a few moments where we are introduced to something that flows naturally in the story but whose significance comes to the forefront later. The gobblers, the nurlocs, the arathim. Everything happens first, then there is a payoff later.

The characters have emotions that make sense. They feel and show despair, hope, joy, suspicion, worry, and sadness. Their motivations start off very simple but grow with time. I can say that when one of the good guys met its end, I was genuinely sad. Because I cared enough for the characters to WANT them to succeed. And the Skeksis to get their butts handed to them.

The main characters all add to the plot in their own way: Deet, Rian, Seladon, Tavra, Brea, and Hup. They start off very simple but grow through the story. The clans took a little more time to know but their appearance showed what they were about and made it easy to associate them.

When the final confrontation comes, you know why they stand against the skeksis. The story grew them into this confrontation. And the payoff is... Well it's great. The battle show the skeksis as tough opponents. And for every major gelfling who dies is an emotional moment. Again, because they built them up into great characters.

Even the villains had personalities: the Emperor, the General, the Chamberlain, the Collector, etc. They had enough development to make them different from each other. You cannot help but hate them because they are so devious and nasty. But it makes them cool too because none of them is a generic baddy. They wrap themselves in the trappings of good but behind the scenes do the worse things of all. The way they plot against each other and try to cheat each other is a over-the-top comical, but makes them no less evil.

Now without the comedic aspect, how they used the Skeksis is EXACTLY how I see the First Ones working in a world as they rise towards ultimate power. I just could not stop seeing them with the more typical First One appearance. And man... that added to my enjoyment of the series so much more.

One of the things I will say is that each episode has revelations throughout, not just in the last 5 minutes.

Oh something I really loved: they used divination and oracular powers. Some of the scenes we are shown are those from the movie. They tied the two together very neatly and I had a had a blast. It was fun and exciting.

I thought I'd be annoyed by the puppets, but no. They are top-of-the-line and in many shots very creatively used.

I'm sure you know by now, but I must give this a 5/5. I may go rewatch it later.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Panacea Reaches Copper Bestseller

When it first released, Panacea was the first adventure in quite some time that was designed as a multi-level adventure. Previously adventures I published were all designed for a 4-5h one-evening campaign.

Panacea started pretty much the same way, as a simple dungeoncrawl. And as I wrote and wrote, additional elements came to mind, making the result an adventure that could easy bring characters from 3rd to 5th level and still provide a challenge.

Not only is there challenge, but a fair bit of exploration as well. I ran my own Akhamet group through this and it really made an impact on them. They learned they should've brought garlic butter...

This post is to thank everyone who bought a copy of the adventure. I am greatly appreciative and thankful.

Panacea is now available on DriveThruRPG. It is also part of the Akhamet Adventure Bundle.

Monday, September 26, 2022

[Kinda Review] Rings of Power... I tried

I tried to watch Rings of Power on Amazon Prime. I really did. And quite frankly... it is terrible.

The overall look and the scenery is breathtaking and fantastic. It LOOKS like the Peter Jackson movies. Good.

Now let's get to the story...

The uh story.

You know, the things that happens between the plot holes.

OOPS. I meant what you are told happens. (Cuz the coolest elements are narrated, not shown on a visual medium).

Well... Yeah, nothing of consequence really happens. The worse the character is, the better the outcome. But actually, everything is not revealed at any point, forcing you to wait to the end for some reveal that will no doubt let you wondering why you wasted all this time. Nothing feels like it builds to anything (other than a Season 2).

There is an ensemble of characters, I could not tell you most of their names because they are wallflowers and decorations. Everything they try to do leads to something pointless that is immediately addressed without a later payout. In the end, you recognize the character, but their name is not important. "hobbit girl," "fat hobbit girl," "black elf guy," "Scottish dwarf," "not-Elrond," "black dwarf wife," "rogue-like-guy-from-the-boat" etc...

She is scowling againThe one exception is Galadriel who walks around with that strange "no expression" movies love to give tough women. It's that same face you see throughout Marvel movies (if you saw Captain Marvel, that's the face). There are two looks: either a scowl of contempt at everyone around them and the shocked/confused but disgusted look.

For a famed centuries-old commander, she doesn't give two craps about her troops. She scowls at them in disdain and disgust. For troops who followed her for centuries (as we are told, not shown), you would expect her to have respect for them. To at least consider their opinion rather than be faced with mutiny before going back.

Well.. seeing how she kills the troll by herself while her troops just look around like 1st-level sidekicks... She may have a point. But I cannot accept that centuries-old elves be that useless. Not in Tolkien. Maybe your 1st-level D&D character... but not Noldor elves.

The actress' (I can't be arsed to look for her name) performance is made even worse because of the contrast with the stellar performance given by Cate Blanchett in the original. Her portrayal was great as she comes across as someone of great power but still have emotions and feelings, almost vulnerable. Particularly after she is offered the One Ring. Cate wasn't scowling in disgust of the hobbits and humans.

Then she fails in her task but everyone gives her accolades... That is addressed when you learned the elf king wants to get rid of her later: "Yeah there is a shadow, but I don't want to rock the boat" kinda bull-crap.

That's not how you create a lovable, interesteing character. The character must grow, learn from its mistakes and either succomb or overcome its flaws. Sometimes they are sad, sometimes they are happy. Triumphs and failures. Mistakes and learning.

Comparing Galadriel's performance with that of "Hobbit girl" is night and day. The protagonist of the story scowls in disdain while the halfling goes through various emotions that gives us insight into her character. I really her portrayal in the scene where she finds a worg track: her expression changes from carefree to worried and she takes charges of the young ones. I remember when I was watching going, "Oooh, that won't end well for the Hobbits"

Then nothing happened after we saw the worg on a nearby hilltop. It doesn't attack the hobbits, because they fled too quickly.

All of this. All my issues are things that could EASILY have been addressed, but as it is modern TV, that's not something we are going to talk about/deal with. Galadriel is better than everyone and everyone knows it because she is just that good! There are some flashes of potential but the door is quickly closed again or the threat is made quickly irrelevant. The snow troll. The worg. The orc mine. The sea serpent. The Numenor prison. No build-up for no payoff. The monsters appear, are defeated or cause a problem then are gone/ killed/ defeated.

After three episodes, I just had to give up. I have better things to do with my time. Like watching reruns of Family Feud or wondering what my dogs are barking at. It is just awful. Nothing of consequence happens.

Rating? The beauty of the sceneries and sets cannot offset the abysmal nothing happening or how unlikeable most characters are. So I can easily put this in the 1/5 and turn the TV back to Family Feud.

Read my more contrite review on Amazon.

Friday, September 23, 2022

[Rant] Fighting with Feedback

I have been receiving feedback on a new class for 5e: the Courtier. In short, the courtier is a class that is a low-magic version of the bard and a less combat-focused version of the rogue.

I asked a crack group of experts from the FOE Facebook group a couple of questions
- What do you think of the class overall?
- What is the weakness of the class?
- What is its strength?
- Would you allow this class in your home game? Why/Why not?
- Is there anything missing? Anything you would add?
- Is there anything you deem overpowered? Why?

I'll admit the courtier is focused on the social pillar of RPG (with combat and exploration). But it needs to be good enough to be at least functional in the other pillars. Nothing worse than a character who is completely useless when not in their element. The trick to the courtier was to make the class something of a non-magical toolbox that you can tailor to your own campaign.

I'll talk more about the class later but here is what made me write this post. Two weeks ago, I reached out to the FOE Facebook Group asking for feedback on the class. Got a lot of very diverse feedback: what someone likes another dislikes. What one thinks is "meh" another thinks is very exciting and full of role-play potential. Which means it is up to ME, the designer to read into the arguments for why something is good or something sucks... The glorious life of a game designer.

This is pretty much why I think large-scale public playtests like Pathfinder and the current OneD&D one leads to fairly little as even things you may think if great and obvious will have its fans and detractors. Now my pool of feedback-providers is much smaller than WotC's but I think the issue is the same.

The touchy part is that both sides have value and their impression matters. I, as the writer/designer, form the third leg of that love triangle.

Like trying to get three historians agree who is the best General in history is (toughie between Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon)... Or what is the best Rush song of all times (these days, I'll say Time Stand Still). Or the best Genesis album ever (Selling England by the Pound, I will fight you).

All of this to say two things: design has many elements of addressing gut feelings and impression AND a new FOE product allowing you to create a courtier character is coming "soon".

I guess this is the least offensive rant I ever posted here... Pretty tame, old man...

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Two Olympia Adventures Released on DriveThruRPG

It has been over a month since Gencon has ended and it is now time to release the Gencon Adventures for Olympia: The Marauding Titan and Best Served Cold. These two very different adventures take you back to the Island of Mytenia where things are afoot

In 2019, the world first visited the island of Mytenia, a city-state the allied with Athenion and Lexos allied with Spartia. With war looming, events precipitating, and divine interest growing, heroes are needed to protect the people and the land, from more than Spartian invaders, but also from the titans and gods themselves!

These two Greek-Style adventures are set in Olympia for character levels 1-4 (optimized for 3rd level).

The island city-state of Mytenia and its allies in Athenion face off against Lexos and its Spartian allies. These adventures require heroes to help Kreon and his many problems.

The Marauding Titan Monsters roam wild across Olympia. As a hero, you are called to help protect the people from these menaces.

Best Served Cold Monsters roam wild across Olympia. Someone is responsible and you must uncover their identity and make them pay.

Both adventures premiered at Gencon 2022.

Big Shout-out to the GMs who made these adventures come to life: Bill, Logan, Marissa, and Will.

Get them today on DriveThruRPG (they are sold together). OR you can get them as part of the Olympia Bundle at a discounted price!

Monday, September 19, 2022

[Patreon] Ozaka material incoming

I will start posting game material to the FOE Patreon (and you thought it was defunct...). I decided I would use the Patreon to post actual game material, including monsters and art material, and to use the blog to showcase things like miniatures I painted and give my opinion on things. As I know many of you like to read my (many) rants and opinions on things, I thought it was a good idea to separate the two.

If you like what I do and want encourage me, feel free to ship a whatever you want my way. It always helps.

So to learn more about Ozaka... you will have to go check out the series on the FOE Patreon. There are already a few posts there to hopefully wet your apetites.


[First Ones Monday] The Mad Alchemist

While I was trying to decide which character I wanted for the iconics to support Power is Fickle, I painted up many characters. Seeing which character would stick.

Another Reaper Bones. This Reaper Bones is a great-looking model and as soon as I saw him, I knew he would be a First One. I am particularly proud of how the apron with the and the blood splatter came out. Imagine a mad plague doctor or an alchemist.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

[Kinda Book Report] Essential Hulk 4

CoverYou know that feeling you have when you read something and go "this is very familiar." And as you keep reading you keep that sense of déjà vu. A series of simple, threadbare plots where Hulk goes and seeks to be left alone but he also continues going around the same people over and over.

Well... This feeling was well-deserved because I had already read it. Yup. One of the cool things about posting to this blog is that I can then go back and see what I read and thought about things, in the moment versus what I think about it right now. That previous time, in 2019, I did not rate the books at the time.

On a second reading, this is a forgettable book with a decent array of villains that each try to take on Hulk and beat him up. One thing that annoyed me is that Hulk's breathing ability goes from him flying around the Sun to being unable to stay in the depths of the ocean.

So where does this book stand rating-wise? I would rate it as a 3/5. It is "fine". The art is solid and decent but the plots are... well you are reading Hulk, so the situations and their resolutions are not very complicated.

It's Hulk.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

[Kinda Book Report] Crisis on Infinite Earth

Earlier this year, the artist George Perez passed. So I picked up one of his seminal work: Crisis on Infinite Earth.

Crisis coverThis was one of the first major cross-over events that we began to see in the 80s, and something that reintroduced me into the comics in the latter half of the decade with events like the Fall of the Mutants spanning multiple titles.

For those not in the know, someone is destroying entire worlds and universes. Right off the bat, the action begins with the entire universes swallowed into nothingness.

Now I will give a shout-out to my man LPJ. I kept joking about the 3 million characters of the Legion of the Superheroes not making much of a story... Well I stand corrected. This story succeeds and thrives by its large cast.

All right Perez is an amazing artist. His characters are well-and clearly drawn, with varied expressions, and most importantly, what is happening is clear and easily understood without a lot of narrative text. I like to be able to SEE what is happening by looking at the page. Art is 5/5.

The writing by Marv Wolfman is also top of the line. The story is never confusing, despite the ongoing mysteries: Who are the villains? What are their goals? How can they be stopped? Who will rise to the occasion? Characters get to act and get their time to shine. Having that many characters do something is a tour de force. No surprise, the writing is also 5/5. My one concern is I had

With time, the events were undone, but for a while, the DC universe was "reduced" to just one universe with some heroes gone and others rebooted. DC would do similar things later in the 2000s to clean up and shake up their universes.

So coming to a final rating? 5/5 Well worth it.

Monday, September 12, 2022

[First Ones Monday] The Necromancer

While I was trying to decide which character I wanted for the iconics to support Power is Fickle, I painted up many characters. Seeing which character would stick.

Another Reaper Bones. The final one is a necromancer I really l