JP On Gaming

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Dragonlance: First Thoughts

In case you have not seen it, WotC has given us a trailer for their new Dragonlance campaign setting for 5e. I've stated on this blog about my love for that setting and even if it is not really "realistic," it is fun to play in. I failed miserably at my last attempt to run the Classics with it (see this post here and part 2) The different races and classes you could play made for something different than "straight Tolkien port." The gully dwarves are funny. The elves ridiculously isolationist. The Irda are cool. Even the 3.x version that allowed draconians was fine.

Except kenders.

I hate kenders.

So... Looking at the trailer, I struggled to find Dragonlance in there. It LOOKS like it. I am very wary of what I saw for the following reasons.

- I could not find any of the CORE element that made Dragonlance unique: the clear-cut struggle between good and evil. A struggle that is mirrored "As above so below," as the gods themselves fight each other. Dragonlance is NOT a setting where you deal with many shades of grey. There are many other settings for that. Evil is so clear and power that without heroes who rise to the occasion, the world will be plunged into eternal darkness. The "we fight for each other" is well and good but does not provide a sense of anything unique; it is generic D&D at its best.

- Dragonlance has known heroes who are part of its draw. None of these characters appear here. They are just missing. Nowhere to be found. Who are these new characters? What's unique about them? How do they align with the classics? Everyone has a favorite in the Innfellows (I'm partial to Goldmoon), or one of the villains: Kitiara, Soth, Raistlin, or even Toade! It's like having a Batman movie with no Batman, no Robin, and no Bruce Wayne... I fear that the classic characters were omitted to avoid paying anything to Hickman and Weiss.

- The draconians are only in the background. They should be front and center! They are this world's unique and premiere monster PCs will engage with throughout their careers. I want to see them do something cool.

This trailer has not won me over, but neither did it turn me away. I'm curious to see what the final book will contain and whether it has any value to me. I can't put a Fry meme saying "Shut up and take my money" with this one.

Not just yet.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

FOE Gencon 2022 Lineup (many links)

Finally, FOE events for Gencon are approved! This means 27 total events spanning ten slots! My appeal has put me in touch with a couple of new GMs (for FOE) and that really alleviated my worries.

This year, there will be 9 unique events, a First One Special, two Akhamet adventure, four Olympia special, and an overall finale. I provided links to the events. They will become available when Gencon open them up next week on May 1st.

First One Special

Legacies: Back Door To Hades Sometimes you must break dozens of eggs to conquer a world. A two-round event for evil characters. An 11th-level adventure set in Greece-inspired Olympia. Part 0 of Tartarus Rampant.
- Thursday 8-18


Legacies: Dead and Buried Some secret lie under the desert for good reasons. A 3rd-level adventure set in Egypt-inspired Akhamet. Part 1 of Dark Tide.
- Thursday 8-13 and 13-18
- Friday 8-13 and 13-18
- Saturday 8-13 and 13-18

Legacies: Out of the Deep Multitable battle interactive. Test your mettle against the best in Akhamet. More may be tested before the end. A 3rd-level adventure set in Egypt-inspired Akhamet. Part 2 of Dark Tide.
- Thursday 19-00


Legacies: The Marauding Titan Monsters roam wild across Olympia. As a hero, you are called to help protect the people from these menaces. A 3rd-level adventure set in Greece-inspired Olympia. Part 1 of Tartarus Rampant.
- Thursday 8-13 and 13-18
- Friday 8-13 and 13-18
- Saturday 8-13 and 13-18

Legacies: Best Served Cold Monsters roam wild across Olympia. Someone is responsible and you must uncover their identity and make them pay. A 3rd-level adventure set in Greece-inspired Olympia. Part 2 of Tartarus Rampant.
- Thursday 8-13 and 13-18
- Friday 8-13 and 13-18
- Saturday 8-13 and 13-18

Legacies: Hexcrawling the Cyclopeans You are called upon to locate items that may secure them again. Ongoing multi-part hexcrawl. A 3rd-level adventure set in Greece-inspired Olympia. Part 3[A-D] of Tartarus Rampant.
- Friday 8-13 and 13-18
- Saturday 8-13 and 13-18

Legacies: Mitenian Coronation Multitable interactive event. After a year without a King, Mitenia must chose a new ruler. A 3rd-level adventure set in Greece-inspired Olympia. Part 4 of Tartarus Rampant.
- Friday 19-00

Legacies: Mitenian War Multitable interactive event. War brews on Mitenia, which side will you choose? A 3rd-level adventure set in Greece-inspired Olympia. Part 5 of Tartarus Rampant.
- Saturday 19-00


Legacies:Reforging the seal Multitable event. Sunday Finale Conclusion of both Dark Tide and Tartarus Rampant. A 3rd-level adventure.
- Sunday 8-13

As you can guess I've been blasting page after page of material for these adventures.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

[Doctor Who] Legend of the Sea Devils Review

Well the "Easter" special has come and gone. I was excited for this one. The return of classic monsters. Pirates. Doctor-13 is about to bite the bullet. A bed showrunner about to leave...

Well... In short, the episode was bland and boring. A lot a don't show but tell. Blah Blah Blah! Omg! A woman pirate! Blah Blah Blah. Blah Blah Blah.

Yaz looks as much of a dead fish as ever. No emotion, a confused look with her mouth agape. As terrible as ever.

The Doctor hints at a love affair with her, but clearly neither actor wants to touch the other. These scenes are just awkward, long, and simply seem forced. If this plot point was not shoehorned previously, the relation may have grown into something interesting, with both characters playing off their uncertainty, their doubts.

BUT NO. This forced plot is set amid another massive cast who each fight to participate in the plot. The Pirate Queen, her comic love-interest who should get vengeance upon her, Dead-Fish Yaz, Random-NPC-we-dont-care-about, the Doctor, and Dan. And the sea devils who are around for the better part of 5 seconds. "Oh no! the Sea Devils" and then they are gone. To make it even stupider (at least someone mentions it- reshoot I'm sure), the Pirate Queen HAS NO CREW!

So... the reason for all this craziness is because the Pirate Queen's crew was gone and she needed to pay someone for their return. Now if you do a quick search of Zheng Yi Sao, her life is SUPER EXCITING! With fleets of pirates raiding the Chinese, Portuguese, and British. She would make a great antagonist. But no. Here we have a woman who is good because she is a woman. She could easily just leave and be fine. Another waste.

Now Dan is once again, the only one who seems to enjoy what is happening and do useful things. However, I thought that him killing a half-dozen sea devils in one go. Without anyone saying anything about it afterwards (other than "Cool! Nice!") felt oddly out of place for the show... It's just out of place. Another cop out to explain how a random Liverpool-joe takes out creatures trained to fight for years.

Again, the plot ends up with a situation where either the Doctor or Yaz must sacrifice themselves to defeat the Sea Devils. BUT NO. Random-NPC-we-dont-care-about swoops in at the last moment and saves them. Again, both gals IMMEDIATELY agree and leave.

Truth be told, I fell asleep twice during the second half of the story as I just could not remain focused on what was happening. Rewind. Restart. Forward.

This story was... forgivable. There is no substance there. Now in fairness, it had the potential to be a great adventure but it should've been a two-parter. With the Doctor facing the Pirate Queen in part one (remember the part where I said she fought the Brits?). Perhaps as she and the ship where the Doctor is engage in a race to get to safety as they are pursued by the sea serpent. Let the situation develop. Give the NPCs time to speak build her up. Not simply go "Pirate Queen OMG!" and then we accept her as the bestest evar!

Then part two, the current episode would work because now we know, understand and have a reason to care for the NPCs and the Pirate Queen and give us more impetous to care.

But no. Chibnall can't write action that is not spoken. He can't be bothered to give us a story inspired by a real historical event. He can't give us a story where people have normal feelings. Where they interact with each other normally.

I am SO glad his tenure is ending. Like most other plots, this was a wasted opportunity to do something interesting with a rather unique historical figure. Nope.

I would give this two snoozes but that's not the scale. Frankly, it was not great. It was forgettable and I see no reason to rewatch this episode. I will score this a 2/5 for the wasted potential of the timeframe, the character, and the villains.

Monday, April 18, 2022

[Old Pro Trick] Character Background: One Person, One Place, One Event Examples

Part 1

Here are some examples of One Person, One Place, One Event stolen from my own characters and those of others.

Example 1

I was raised as a monk in a mountain retreat (place) by an old and mysterious master (person) until someone set fire to the monastery.

So here, as a GM, I have a mysterious monk and I have an arsonist. Plus I have a number of threads: where are the monks now? why was the monastery where it is? why is the master mysterious?

Example 2

Son of innkeepers, I always wanted to get my mother's (person) approval. So when approached by a retired pirate about a lost treasure (event), I went to look for it (place).

As GM, I have a family with an inn, I have a treasure somewhere, I get other pirates. And threads: why did the pirate retire without the treasure? Is the treasure real? what is the story of the treasure? what does it contain?

Example 3

Coming from a distant land (place), I got drunk (event, repeated) and woke up on a ship that dropped me here. The only person I met who understood my language was the harbormaster (person).

As a GM, I get a distant land with a sea route to [here]. I have a character who does stupid things while drunk, repeatedly. And I have a harbormaster who speaks many languages. And this leads me to: what other mischief did the character do before? did he insult someone in his homeland?

Example 4

I got into a spat with my father (event, person) who threw me out. So I left town and I have been trying to get my application to the temple approved.

As a GM, I get an antagonist father as a mini-boss/distant threat, where are the character's friends? what was the argument about? are the friends employed by the father? why is the temple delaying?

Example 5 (an odd example)

I was sold by my parents (event) to a traveling musician (person) and I dream of returning to the family farm (place).

As a GM, this one is complex, but I can nonetheless get a number of things. Why was the character sold? why would the musician agree to such a deal? what is so unique and different about the farm?

This is very intertwined and leaves very little to interact with the outside world. The place is more of a motivation than a place. I would encourage the player to change that. I might replace the place with a location in town, perhaps the church or school where the character went. With a church or school, the GM can draw characters such as "Oh! Don't you remember me? I went to the Church of [...] also! I saw you there."

Example 6

I was sold into slavery (event) by my jealous sisters (persons). I became the swordmaster at the house of my new master (place).

As a GM, I get two evil sisters. I know I said to target ONE person, but a pair of sisters is close enough. Why was the character sold into slavery? where is the new house? what did the rest of the family do/say about the disappearance? Why does the new master need a swordmaster?

Sunday, April 17, 2022

[Old Pro Trick] Character Background: One Person, One Place, One Event

Wow! It's been a while since I made one of these posts... Here goes.

I've been recently called upon to help work on a number of characters and I was asked for guidelines. Since many were new players, I wanted to give them a solid foundation through which they could create their characters, even if they did not know the setting very well.

I paced a little before arriving to this "three elements background" which definitely fits for any RPG, any setting, and any character. It boils down to: One Person, One Place, and One Event.

One Person, One Place, One Event

In short, give your GM a rough outline of what you want, something that allow him to include you into the story while keeping things maleable. Keep yourself open to the GM's ideas about the character. He may have a character who could fit the description perfectly. Or he might change the context a little, instead of a human, the NPC is an elf.

One Person means giving the GM one NPC that is important to YOU. This could be an ally, a relative, a villain, or your master. Whenever the GM pulls out this NPC from his bag of tricks, your character should be driven to action. Don't over-specify who that person is, or how they are.

I mean if it is the wizard who trained you... then you that NPC is likely to be... a wizard.

One Place is a location that is important to you. Don't specify the name, but keep it to a generic location, such as your home village, a castle, a church, or a ship. This gives flexibility and allows for some adjustment. Maybe your village is not on top of the highest mountain, but isolated in the hills. Or is a fishing village.

One Event means you get to decide one thing that happened in the world. The less you know about it, the more localized it should be. Perhaps your parents were killed, or you found a shiny magical object.

The one thing to avoid here is to have the event remove the person and place from the game. Basically don't have you person be your father and your event the murder of your father. Or your special place is a castle and your event the castle vanishing in another dimension. The event should be linked to the other two, perhaps clarifying the relation to the person or giving a short history of the place.

The result should fit in one or two sentences that you can easily use. Then, as you grow and the campaign advances, you will expand and explore that background.

The goal is to help the GM tell a better story and for you to feel more invested in the adventure.

See Examples in follow-up post.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Crocodile Games Rock: A Shout-out

In case you don't know, I've been a HUGE fan of Crocodile Games for well over a decade now. From the moment I saw them at Genghis Con in 2007 or 2008 (can't remember, it was before the blog!) and I bought two armies from them (the Basti and the Sebekites (which I still have scattered in my stash))

When I started working on Akhamet, I won't lie and say that having miniatures that could be used to represent characters and enemies was a huge factor in helping me come up with the idea and develop the setting. Plus, I mean... their sculpts are fantastic and super easy to paint, even for someone of simple skills, like myself. Without having to do too many conversions...#Winning.

So on to the reason for this post...

Back at Gencon 2019, I purchased a number of models from Crocodile Games. They included 4 Tethru (Thoth-headed people), which all of us know appear in the Akhamet Player's Guide.

Coming home, I put the models on my stash and left them there for a few months. It was October when I decided to open them, build them and paint them.

Imagine my deception when I realized none of the heads were there! Now I saw the heads, and the lady showed them to me when we packaged them. So they must've fallen! I had four headless models!

Since I had no reason to hurry, I resolved to contact them closer to Gencon 2020 and get the heads there...


Gencon 2020...

I hoped to see them at the show in 2021, but they weren't present.

I despaired and moved on... Until a few days ago, I contacted them again. Before I was able to ask them, if they could bring the heads at Gencon, Fitz offered to send them to me by mail! I was impressed and happy!

Earlier this week, I received an enveloppe from CG. I placed it on top of my painting table and left it there while I continued my week. Then last night, as I needed to get away from the computer, I decided to open my mailed minis and revel in the awesome.

I opened the package and saw there was a model in there... WTF? I asked myself. A Basti gamer! They got me right! And the four heads! They sent me a free model too! Great service!

I built them up and am currently waiting for the primer to dry! (That and finishing my work day). I had to write this because I was pleasantly surprised and super happy.

You know who will not be happy about this?

My wallet in the Crocodile Games booth at Gencon...


I'll leave you with just a few more CG minis I painted before... Just 'cuz.

Monday, April 11, 2022

[Die Inspired] A Wild and Crazy Ride

A few weeks ago, I saw posts on a local D&D group on Facebook about this thing called "Die Inspired". Details were sketchy but they presented their product as something akin to Critical Roll.

Now full disclosure, I have *never* watched a full episode of CR. I heard great thing about it, but watching actual play is frankly, not my thing. I will participate in streamed game, such as the one I did for over a year with Francois-L on his YouTube, JDRd30. But watching requires too much concentration on my part.

So. In short, not my thing.

At first, I was gonna pass. An event on a Saturday is premium time. Then JP2 sent me a message about him going. Looking at the schedule, I have nothing special for that day, so I sent my name too.

As the day of the event approached, I kept seeing warning signs. There seemed to be an awful lot of people playing. I'm talking over a dozen. If you know me, you'll know I do not play games of seven or more. They just aren't fun.

As I peeked over the flapping doors of the Game Keep at setup in the back and saw the number of people in there... I thought about doing a 180 and just head on home. But no, I said to myself. You drove all this way. You wanted to play with JP2. Just see how it goes.

The event is well-organized, Brandi and the folks at the Keep helped make this go off without a hitch. It was pretty seemless, some waiting, but nothing terrible.

Heck! They had food while we waited. So was it REALLY a wait?

Short interviews about us, our character, time playing RPGs, then we got seated ready to go.

I will not (NDA-cannot) explain what the game is about. The game had sixteen players all in it at the same time! There was a good rhythm overall and the plot was very much problem-solving. Death came fast, quick, furious, and generally funny! People bouncing off others, attack with masts, crit attack with barrels, force cauterizing wounds...

Or in my case, taking the stash of rhum!

Oh wait! I did not introduce my character to you (with the art of the inimitable British Shark). I played Figjam "Jim" Hawkins, the lovable halfling ship's cook who was down on his luck after his previous expedition did not turn out how he thought...

Jim is a bard who inspire other by offering them double portions of rhum or food!

In the end, I survived the event (with many rolls too close for comfort) and JP2 did not (his valiant efforts made him the first casualty). One player, who was drunken Friar kept calling me "child," which led to my shouts of "Clerics and Children first!" And I think I will be invited to the next one as our numbers keep dwindling I assume.

If you ask me what it was like, I will say... "The D&D version of Squid Games" as a gross simplification.

It was mad, it was fast, and it was fun. It was a very different way to play D&D. With the smiles and positive reactions all around, I expect there will be MORE participants in the event. So more craziness!

As for the shenanigans that Jim go into? It should be edited into a series and formatted for your viewing pleasure on their social media/ YouTube in the coming months. They will have hours of footage, over fifteen players per ship... That's a lot but I think an ambitious project can yield ambitious result. Go for it.

Go check them out, their website is currently pretty bare but should fill up.

Also a big thanks to The Game Keep for hosting, allowing this madness to happen.

I will post updates as they become available.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

[Kinda Book Report] Captain America Essentials #2

Another pickup from last year's Free Comic Book Day and one I was pretty excited to read. Cap is an interesting character, and his movie portrayal by Chris Evans was really good. I was curious about some of the early (60s) stories about him.

Well... This is a mixed bag.

The villains are great: the Red Skull is just as dastardly and evil, Batroc and the Swordsman are interesting, Modoc and AIM are serious antagonists, and Hydra. Oh a favorite of mine in early Marvel: the Cosmic Cube! Give the Cube to the Red Skull and get a number of body swap stories with Cap and the Skull! Delightful.

The NPC crew is detailed: Sharon Carter the SHIELD agent/love interest is more than a damsel in distress, Nick Fury is cool, Rick Jones is interesting as a sidekick, doning Bucky's outfit (alas for a too-short period but the potential for a great duo was there), and the stand out: the introduction of the Falcon.

The biggest gem is Cap's own inner demons as he wrestles with being an anachronism. Is he a symbol of times passed? How can he live and protect his loved ones when everyone knows who he is?

All this should make for a great comic, right? Right?

Well not really. The stories touch on subject but over-simplify all the answers. One story of racism mixed with the mafia (maggia), the Falcon being wanted stood out and had me on the edge of my seat. But the ending was a let down. It solved nothing, offered no potential solution, and except proving Falcon innocent accomplishes little. Unlike the X-men stories later everything here is fairly shallow.

Next the art is not great. Oh it is very dynamic, but often, I had to make two and three passes to guess which position Cap was in.

I will settle on a 2.5/5 rounded out to a 3/5 for this one. It has so much going for it, but fails to really live up to the overall hype. This solo run is not great, and I think Cap shines more when he is parto of a team - such as the Avengers than in solo issues.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Splinterverse presents Shugenja

Once again, Splinterverse reviews Shugenja and presents it. I really dig his format, it is simple, no frills, and elegant. AKA "Why didn't I think of it myself..." The unfortunate thing is that I found quite a few products I got for myself.

Check out the episode on YouTube.

You can also get Shugenja: Voice of the Elemental Kami on the DM's Guild.

BTW, it is pronounced Shu-(Hard G)Gen-Dja.

Thanks Splinterverse!