JP On Gaming

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

MidSouthCon 2022 After Action Report, part 2

Part 1


Woke up early... and drove back to that McDonalds for breakfast... Guess what... It the drive-thru was STILL jammed. So I searched for restaurants and picked the closest place. Now for breakfast, the only place I go for fast food is McD. Love those sausage McMuffin.

Oh! And the McDonald's coffee is one of the best there is. Especially since there are no Tim Horton's hre in my part of the US.

Caffeinated and filled, I headed to my panel. "The Unprepared GM" I enjoyed the conversation with Logan, Sin, and the Dark Naga (sorry can't remember your real name). Very dynamic panel where we approached a number of topics from "I did not do anything for my game" to "the players decided to go left." I learned a few tricks and a few I have were consolidated or refined.

After the panel, I took part in Pro-Row, where those who can't or don't want a full booth at the can showcase their stuff.

Now... This is where things didn't go as well. The area was VERY dark and there was very little traffic to the booths. The only people who stopped by were people who knew me. I met a player for who I GM'd only (Hi Ava!)

Still I will want to do it again.

For the next two slots, I ran the first of the Gencon Olympia adventure, the Marauding Titan. Why? I planned on playing Akhamet but I forgot the iconics. Oh well...

After that, I went looking for food, found nothing open, so I headed to bed.


Sunday, headed to the quick McD for breakfast and coffee. I had a light day at pro-row, for which I showed up early and spend more than expected. Fun time, but again, light on visitors.

My time over, I headed back. Three and a half hours of driving solo is rough, so I was not sad to leave "early."


MidSouthCon is a highlight of the year and in 2022 did not disappoint. I think for next year, I will focus on doing gaming panels in the morning and gaming in the afternoon/evening. I definitely plan on coming back in 2023, if they will have me again.

One big change for me is the lack of ActionMan. I really enjoy having my wingman.

The hotel was a definite change. Different layout. Different location. I will call it a mixed blessing. Some good. Some less so. But nothing that's a hard stop.

Until next year, Memphis!

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

MidSouthCon 2022 After Action Report, part 1

Part 2

After a long two year hiatus, I was so happy to be invited as a guest in Memphis once again. The first in-person non-Gencon event and the first one in Tennessee. Now in 2018 and 2019, I took ActionMan with me.

But this year would be different. ActionMan got himself grounded just before the con so I would be flying solo. Although I did it for years, it felt strange to not have anyone in the car.

I got to the con. Whereas it used to be set at the Hilton near Germantown, it was now at the Clarion near the airport.


When I got there, I visited the con, walked the grounds to get me situated. Now, the organization is really top-notch. Jeffrey and Denise had everything ready for me (shout-out to you and the volunteers).

As I was walking around, I went to the game board to see what I could register for. Many good games. I settled on a Warhammer 4th Edition because I wanted to try it, see how it played.

I signed up and then decided to put my badge.

It was gone!

I frantically searched the forty feet where it might've been.


I did the walk of shame back to registration... They were awesome and got me a replacement badge. This time I put it on the lanyard immediately. And immediately around my neck!

The Warhammer game went really well. I had a great time. I'm especially stoked that my crazy "Follow Maury Povich" theory proved to be the right approach. It was great for the other players dismiss me as a nut but then I was proved right.

Fun fact... there is no food near the Clarion. Nowhere near to make a quick food run between slots - even less so now that I do not have a copilot.

Soooooooooooooooooooo after the game, I checked in to my hotel (not the Clarion) and got direction to the nearest fast food, a McDonalds. Not great but I just needed food then off to sleep.

I get in line for the drive-thru and order through the app to gain time.


It took ONE HOUR to get a cheap-ass value menu! Oh well.. one hour of lost sleep!

Friday, March 25, 2022

Princesses Get a Copper Crown!

More great new from the DM's Guild as the supplement I co-created with Ibsen has just reached Copper best-seller.

Took a little longer than I expected but it got there. And a big THANK YOU to everyone who helped them get there.

I created a set of Iconics for them that can be used to tackle any adventure sent their way. And thus far, they performed admirably!

Now... You may have noticed is that I have been using them to playtest a variety of random adventures. They are fun and add a levity to the game other characters would not have. As you can see in this classic post from 2021 Revisiting an old adventure, where I ran a classic FOE adventure (no longer available) converted on-the-fly to 5e and set in a generic world instead of its original one. Love that adventure. Love the Princesses.

You can see that one of my favorite thins about them was to find and model the characters on their archetypes as I created the characters. A short introduction to each appears in this other classic post.

Ibsen and I have been toying with other ideas I will eventually get to once I finish the Gencon adventures.

I still have a LOT of writing to do for that.

Four specials is just NUTS.

Worth it. But still nuts.

Get it now on the DM's Guild.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

[Release] Shugenja Voice of the Kami for 5e

FOE is happy to announce the release of our newest product: Shugenja: Voice of the Kami on the DM's Guild.

This product presents a new 20-level class for 5th edition that allows you to master the elements.

Part priest, part scholar, part wizard, a shugenja is part wizard, part cleric, but neither yet completely different. Like a wizard, they use scrolls and a spell book. Like a cleric, their true domain is that of the unseen world of the spirits.

Shugenja is a class designed for Oriental Adventure, Kara-tur, Rokugan, or any campaign with en emphasis on the myths of the East.

Some of the highlights of the book include:
- Each of the four elements: Air, Earth, Fire, and Water make for unique character classes with different powers and spells lists.
        - Air deals with illusions and the mind
        - Earth deals with the body and resilience
        - Fire is explosive and creative
        - Water is shapable and transformative.
- Five spell lists: one for each element and a common list.
- Four new spells: from the Iron Kimono to Sanctify Torii Arch

You can get this product today from the DM's Guild.

Headed to Midsouthcon for the weekend

I am going back to Memphis!

If you happen to be in Memphis this weekend (Mar 25-27), I will be at the Clarion Hotel & Suites in Memphis TN (right by the airport), I will be taking part in panels, do pro-row, and run a few games.

ActionMan at MSC in 2019Covid canceled the 2020 (and 2021) editions by little more than a week, but it is back on! MSC is my favorite TN-based con. It announces the return of spring and the beginning of con season. And really serves as the butt-kicking I need to begin lining up my summer material.

10am: Panel on the Unprepared Game Master
12pm: Pro Row (come chat and check books)
1pm (Or perhaps 2pm): GMing Akhamet
7pm: GMing Olympia

10pm: Pro Row (come chat and check books)

Come say hello!

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Crypts of Ravenloft Goes Silver!

Crypts of Ravenloft was a product that came out of my own notes from running Curse of Strahd. As I prepped for the game, I wanted my players to be able to hold something in hand so they could appreciate the many puns and wits rather than me saying it aloud.

So I created this simple document. After I finished running the campaign, I polished it a little and put it as a pay-what-you-want product. Good decision as many of you seem to really appreciate it enough to pay for it.

Big thank you.

Get it today on DM's Guild.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

[Question time with JP] Influences in making the First Ones

What is your favorite part of the creature construction process, and how did this affect the construction of agents of the old ones? by James-Y

My favorite part of the creature construction is no doubt coming up with the fluff. Thinking about what the creature does, what purposes does it serve, and how to integrate it into the whole of the world. THEN I can come up with its mechanics. Though sometimes elements of the mechanic - like its challenge rating - sometimes become a major factor.

A great influence, is the Monster Manual which serves as a baseline and an inspiration. I use it to put in proxy monsters to calculate the challenge rating of something and get an approximate idea. For example, I recently wrote an encounter where the monsters are monsters sent by Zeus. At first I put in the target cr and my pseudo-written notes read "like a blue dragon". Later on, I went back on the encounter and developped the creature as a storm eagle with unique abilities of its own. But I'll let slip that its powers are wind, lighting, and thunder-related.

Another way I do, which I most often use while writing a non-adventure such as a setting book is to I sit down and pre-build a stat block with the abilities I want. In Akhamet the Seth Beast/ Sethathu came about that way. I wanted a creature that was "about" CR1 that would be Seth's private beast. I compared it with hyena and wolves and came up with something a little different but still similar to both.

When I am in the final stage of a non-adventure, I will look at the bestiary assembled and try and identify any gaps in both CR and function. Are there any famous mythological creatures I am missing? I added the sirens and Opyros to Olympia that way.

For the First Ones... That is a longer answer... However, I do a bit of "all of the above" and will go into older books to see if anything tickles my fancy. The war slaves and zombie war slaves came from looking at miniatures I had of Cryx drudges. I wondered how I could use them in a game. What rule they would serve (tougher zombies), who would create and make them. War slaves would thus be converted into killing machines while still alive and animated to continue fighting. As sort of lower-tier mythic monster.

The medenites are a race of ooze people I thought of while writing for the skythians. Since the skythians make weapons out of their bones, what would be an example of a previous, failed race? Why would they be abandoned in favor of the skythians? What did the First Ones do with them? So I thought about a race that would generate slime they could turn to armor and protect themselves. Okay that's interesting ability. Now why would they suck for the First Ones. They are not overly evil and have no desire for battle. Fine but not over imaginative. Lazy? Unless commanded to do anything, the medenites tend to lounge around and way - much like an ooze. So you have lazy soldiers who need to be commanded or forced into action... The idea of garrison troops come to mind; they don't do much unless forced into action.

So I guess the answer is "a little bit of everything."

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

[Question time with JP] Multi-Level adventures

Have you ever thought of making a campaign module, an adventure to take chars through many levels through a multi-mission type of story (like Curse of Strahd)? Why or why not? by Will-M.

Yes, I have.

I published a few much larger adventures. Such as The Many Secrets of Tothet Island (generic world, could be repackaged for Akhamet...) and Panacea for Akhamet (which provides a travel segment and an island to explore). They are both something adventures that will give you a level or two

Those massive epics like Curse of Strahd take a long time to write and develop (I spent about 8 months working and play-testing Curse of Strahd II and Witches of Pikemaster) and they take characters up to about level 10-11 (Cos2 a little less but it is mostly story-development).

Will there be more in the future? Yes. I have a number of ideas that keep taking my insomniac time away from sleeping. A "Return to Ravenloft" and a "Planescape: Exile"is an idea I have right now. Publishing larger adventures on DriveThruRPG is awesome but eventually more of a loss-leader than sound investment. I am thinking of writing them in generic-world but run them in Olympia or Akhamet.

I love writing adventure, but from a business perspective, FOE is too small right now to really make them worth the time investment. Except DM's Guild. I prove my point by pointing out that only 1 Akhamet adventure is in the best-sellers list.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

[Question time with JP] First FOE Book

What was the first FOE book you produced and what inspired you to make it? by Steve-E.

The first FOE product I published were two adventures 92-Li-01-Bloody Ice and 92-Li-02-Shattered Peace (no longer available) in October of 2013. Followed closely by the intros 92-IN-01-Spreading the Word and 92-IN-02-Lady of the House.

I was running an organized play for LPJ Design and I needed to publish products faster than he could output them. I wrote them, he did the formatting and paging.

After some grumblings on both sides (I was telling him he was too slow, him telling me I was too fast), we agreed that I should publish them on my own and pay him a license fee for the use of his setting.

The partnership worked out well enough for me as it was a crash course in many things: formatting, paging, and just making the product look good. I must admit that they look pretty bad and dry for the first two years.

Content was good.

Appearance sucked.

Monday, March 14, 2022

[Question time with JP] A new type of posts

I will be publishing over the next few days answers to an open question I put on the FOE Facebook Group. The actual question I posted wat as follows: Ask me about any FOE setting or NPC (past, current, or future).

Open-ended enough?

I will admit that I thought all the answers could be a few words. "Yes, Saggakara appears in Power is Fickle." or "Prince Naraf is the transformed character who took up the Gauntlet at Gencon 2019." You know, short answers.

But no.

Every question required development and explanation. And god knows how verbose I can be.

And opinionated.

I started to respond directly on Facebook but I have an innate fear or somehow losing my responses, so I moved it to Notepad++ (shows I'm a software developer by day) and wrote my responses here. Then I copied them as responses in FB.

Which leaves me with what I think should be interesting and informative responses for GMs, world-builders, and anyone interested in what's next for FOE.

I will be posting both the questions AND my answers here.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Festival Draconis 2022 After Action Report

At the end of February. Yes I know, I'm late with this AAR. I know. So at the end of February, I attended the Festival Draconis. Draconis is a convention in Montreal. With this year's return of the lockdown in the province, the convention was moved from in-person to online. Yay for me!

It also meant that the convention would include French-speakers from Europe.

Friday night, I ran Olympia's Border Aflame which premiered at Gencon last year. I find it fun to run games after they premiered. That is a fun adventure that really presents Kreon. After the game, I stayed and chatted with friends, shout-out to Phil whom I haven't seen since... well... last Draconis!

Saturday, I joined a panel that can best be described as "A Belgian, a Frenchman, a Quebecois, and a Swiss talk about RPGs" We had a great discussion comparing how RPGs functioned in our respective nations. So many similarities despite the differences. The discussion is currently on the Festival Draconis YouTube (check it out here). If you never heard the different accents, it is very entertaining. Robin's Belgian accept, Frank and Sylvain's French accent, and my own Montreal accent contrast sharply in a discussion that was lively and ultimately too short. I felt we could have continued going for hours.

Then came my second panel on officially published campaigns, those large-scale adventures published by Chaosium, Paizo, or WotC. I got to speak about the Masks of Nyarlathotep, a campaign I was lucky enough torun three times. Shout-out to any of my players who may read this. I did not go easy on you and you guy persevered. Well done. (The list is too long to put here). Again this discussion could have gone on for a very long time. You can see it on YouTube.

After that, I joined an in-progress Adventure League game, where I got to play with Francois-L. It was fun to sit on the same side of the screen for once! Having survived and found a treasure - of sorts. It was an adventure taken from the Candlekeep Mysteries. I wanted to play a few of them before decided whether I wanted to run more of them.

For the evening, I was scheduled to run again but had no players. So I jumped into a game of Awfully Cheerful Engine/ACE playing a comedy cop-duo. This was a very odd game where I was a wizard-cop. What we ended up playing was a buddy-cop movie mixed with bad Harry Potter references. My character was an old cop two days from retirement who wanted to enjoy a good cup of coffee. In the end, during the thick of the action, I managed to find new coffee and donuts and not spill anything even when I confronted the head of the Monkey Mafia... It was funny. The system is very light and simple. Perfect for a game of beer-and-pretzel.

Sunday came too early once again... That day was all-play. First another Adventure League where I got to play Igor, Master Strahd's beloved henchman.

For the afternoon, I decided to try Elestria, which is Sylvain's game (I spoke with him in my multi-country chat). The talk made me curious enough to want to give it a go. It is a fantasy game with a lot of unique elements. Element is a correct pun. Characters have strong ties to the elements and can do really over-the-top things by manipulating them. I was an air elemental and could do illusions and the like. It was fun and the story very out there and exciting.

If I have one criticism is that the richness of the universe borders on overwhelming. But I had a great deal of fun.

The final slot of the weekend was one I greatly anticipated: a Victorian-era Call of Cthulhu set in Paris... Oh the excitement. Well... things did not go as well as I wanted. When playing CoC. PLEASE DON'T GO CALLING THE COPS. Our adventure was cut short by one player who couldn't understand that and could not understand to let the other players do their thing, without dragging a dozen NPCs with us.

Too bad, I was really looking forward to it and it put a damper on the weekend a little. However, Maxwell's plot was solid, well-crafted, and interesting. One thing I really thought was unique was that his plot did not end with the destruction of the world or the complete sanity loss of everyone.

Then I participated in the closing ceremonies which is also available on Youtube. There I was joined by many with whom I played with either during the convention, previously or both (shout-out to Francois-L, Marc, Bruno, Phil, and Stephanie). I allowed me to calm down and decompress.

A big thank you to the crew. I really hope to be able to attend in person next time - or participate in the on-line component. Great time.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Blitzbowl Mini-Review

For Christmas, I bought and painted a full set of BlitzBowl for ActionMan and I.

Blood bowl? No. BlitzBowl. BlitzBowl is a trimmed down version of the classic game available only at Barnes and Noble, one of which happens to be nearby! I always wanted to play BloodBowl with ActionMan but wondered about the many rules.

This iteration is fast-paced and very involved, where you are constantly cycling players in and out of the field. Hogging the ball leads to more balls getting generated. So you are always playing offense AND defense at the same time as you run across the field looking to score. You can score many times in a turn. This is just a game of madness.

I painted the teams and the plastic tokens.The colors I chose are the Montreal Canadiens (humans) and the Quebec Nordiques (dwarves).

The box comes with cards to build teams using any of the classic teams: skaven, orks, goblins, elves, etc. You can even make halflings teams! I was happily surprised by it. It is very fast-paced and chaotic. I really enjoyed it. I don't think ActionMan nerdgasm'd as much as I was but that may be because he used the dwarves. We will have to play again.

I will rate this game a 4/5, because ActionMan's lack of enthusiasm. For 50$, you get two teams of 6, tokens, cards, dice, and two pitches. It's a pretty nice package, just like GW used to be able to put together in the days of old. And everything in the box fits into it, no need for carrying trays.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

[Kinda Book Report] Bloody Rose by Nicolas Eames

So way back when there was traveling in 2018 if I recall. I was on my way out of Nashville airport when I realized there were but a few pages left on my current book. So I headed to the airport bookstore-ish and began searching for something. I had a few selection criteria:
- Nothing in an obvious series.
- Something historical or fantasy

Bloody Rose filled both criteria. So I paid for it and was on my way. It took me three years to finish this book because I forgot it my computer bag. Moved. Then found it recently so I decided to finish it.

I could not get into this world because it just made no sense. Imagine adventurers forming bands and traveling like rock stars, fighting monsters in arenas for money in a world where the monsters are confined to a section of the world. Prescient races that can never be hit in combat. Tour managers. Bards who don't participate but tell the stories of arena fights.

Said like that, it doesn't sound too bad.

Then you add the predictable weak love side-plots. The never-ending cursing and swearing.

Although the characters in the band start off pretty interesting with flaws, hidden motives, and unique abilities. In the end, their challenges are dealt with rather simply and without any real challenge. The drug-addicted Rose just says no to her drug of choice and she wins! The haunted ink-witch releases the tattoos of her nightmare, passes out and WINS! The bard does not stay a bard. AND WINS! Inter-species racism is mentioned, but no NPC ever challenges anyone about the group traveling with "monsters"... WIN!

And my favorite. They show up in a town and everyone obey them because... reasons. WIN!

There clearly is the spark of something nice here, but any hard questions or working through anything is just skimmed over and eventually avoided.

I would be remiss no to mention the cover. That art style is odd but really does it for me. I am a big fan of it and it represent the main characters very well. The cover is a big win.

2/5 without batting an eye. A 1/5 would be too harsh because there is something there that could've been. The characters - as presented originally - are the highlight. But from there it just goes downhill.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

[Kinda Book Review] Essential IronMan 3

I've really been enjoying reading old comics and their Essentials line in particular. Iron Man is a character I read early on in my youth and liked the character. I will admit Tony Stark's many problems were well above my head but he fought interesting villains, had cool cars, and hung out with lovely ladies... what's not to like?

Having read Essential #4 and 5 in the past, this took me back. I admit that it was fine. Not great. Not bad. Fine. No big story really jumping out at me. It was... okay.

Making my rating a 3/5 pretty easy. Average.