JP On Gaming

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

[After Action Report] ICCC-V in Lebanon TN

The FOE display

This past Memorial Day weekend, ActionMan and I went to Lebanon, TN to participate in ICCC. A con that specialize in all things collectible: Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, etc. I am the worse collector of all for a number of reasons: don't have the patience or the interest to put into something like that. Oh and especially not the money. The last one especially.

No one I know was going but I was pretty excited to participate in another event in Middle Tennessee, one that is not far from here. I would get to play during the day and sleep in my own bed. So much win!

As this was not a gaming-focused con, I must admit, I had no expectation. Even going so far as to joke on the GM-chat that we would be running tables of GMs. The only way to know was to attend and see.


Since ActionMan only had to pick up his report card to pick up in the morning, he and I headed to the con a little early to get situated and set up. Good thing we did as we parked about as far as we could from our final destination and had to have everything searched by security then walk a long while to reach the Table top RPG room. It wasn't that far but when dragging books and gaming material, it weighed. But once we got there, we set up quickly and things were pretty good.

Then we waited for people to come in as we talked with people, meeting the other GMs and Dave the organizer.

I got to run a table of Ghosts of Kurogawa that evening, the introduction adventure that will appear in the Ozaka campaign setting. Since the con closed at 5pm, we had but one slot before we made our way back, stopping at our local Thai restaurant before heading home for the evening (where I worked on my Gencon adventures).

ActionMan and I in smurf uniforms
Running Ozaka 1
Running Ozaka 2


After a pit stop at the nearby McDonalds (I love egg McMuffins and McD's coffee), we returned to the con site, parked close to the game room, got set up again and waited for players

I had three players, including Jeff "Duck" Leason (more on him later). I was rather nervous, running a game with a celebrite, but once I started and got the jitters off, we all had a great time. I hoped he was interested in FOE's 5e content. I consider myself an old-school guy who plays new-school rules, so something of a mix of the two.

Since no one showed for the next slot, I asked ActionMan if he wanted to try Trevor's Drakkenheim game, which he joined and had a great time. He said it got hairy and difficult but he had a blast of it. I really like it when he gets to play with different GMs, in other settings, so he can appreciate the craft of GMing.

Later I joined Duck's 1e game. I don't think I played that since... 1998 (that would've been at the Université de Sherbrooke). That would be TWENTY FIVE YEARS! Twenty five years!Really? Man that does not make me feel any younger! I had a great time at the game with Jaredd (another GM). The rules are not as organized as I like as they feel a little TOO freeform but yet directed, 1e is NOT my game of choice but Duck is a great GM and just I appreciated the nonetheless and craziness of the situation. I enjoyed the game without worrying about the rules too much. Take that, rules lawyer JP!

During that time, ActionMan volunteered to GM the late slot, but no one showed up. So he drifted around and played in the Sabbacc game, where I could see he had a good time.

Another day in the book, we came back home for the evening.

JP adds drama
ActionMan playing Drakkenheim
At Duck's game
At Duck's game while Actionman eats


Sunday, we only planned on playing one game: Jaredd's GI Joe. game. After playing with and talking to him, I really wanted to try it. See how the game played.

Wacky. The adventure was nothing but a non-stop string of campy Saturday morning cartoon action. Because, you know, you carry a .50 caliber when hanging out in the hangar. Of course. ActionMan played Spirit (and his eagle Freedom), Dave played Shipwreck, and I played Scarlet. We fought the dreadnoks as they tried to steal a hi-tech car. But we protected it.


This game is much better than I expected it and the core book seems pretty complete, with many of the antagonists from Cobra. I am half tempted to see if I can pick it up at Gencon (and get it signed).

After that, we went through the sales section together where I kept pointing him "I had that" or "that was my brother's" to many Star Wars or GIJoe toys. He did not seem to care much. Our peregrination over, we headed back home and rested to get ready for our extended Monday game. The con was over for us.


Attendance to play games was hit or miss throughout the con. Maybe running different game? I will have to consider what I want to run. Definitely having terrain helped draw the eye and stoppersby.

- One great surprise was the presence of Jeff "Duck" Leason, who wrote the "Hidden Shrine of Tomoachan", one of the adventures that made me think of merging history and D&D. Throughout the weekend, he and I talked about gaming, writing, and adventures. He was super-kind and told stories of the early days of TSR/ D&D/ Gary Gygax. How Gary Gygax wanted certain rules to be versus how they were implemented. How he got to edit the first edition of the DMG. The kind of tales that today are passed down through the grapevine or twisted third- or fourth-hand recountings. I was really excited to hear these many stories. If I ever get to Lake Geneva, I will HAVE to stop by the Museum... As if I wasn't going to, but now ActionMan and I have an added reason!

- ActionMan and I had a great time. Both running (for me) and playing (for both). I already let it be known that I am willing to return to run games again next year.

- Much to my surprise, the Star Wars game that was offered did not go off. I expected it to be filled all the time but I did not see any game happen. Still I appreciate that there were many different games.

From a FOE aspect:

- This convention cemented that the iconic characters are pretty solid. I may change the race of the wujen to something that is not human, to make him more exciting but the character works we

- Also, the intro adventure does get people excited for the coming of Ozaka. I can't wait to put the final notes in that book.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

[Kinda Book Review] The Saracen Storm by JM Nunez

A random, impulse buy led me to check out this book on Amazon. I was not looking for anything in particular but I thought this covered a topic I did not know much about: The period of Post-Roman Spain.

This book is historical fiction in that it takes elements of the story we know and adds just enough to it to make it into something plausible.

Here, we have the story of Pelayo, bastard son of the Duke of Asturias. The plot weaves itself in a realistic way. One part that really felt forced was the women's escape from the Muslims, but it did not detract from the overall. It felt a little Hollywood-y, but fine.

I must say that I enjoyed this as what I see it: a gateway into doing some more research. The characters are interesting and realistic, with everyone seeing themselves as "the good guy."

The battle scenes are described well, from the perspective of a person who is present - so it is chaotic and unclear.

Now, having done some extra research, the events presented in the good as though they would happen within a few months-to-a-year took a decade. Small notch as a history nerd. However, not knowing that going in, I won't ding it.

How do I rate this? A 4 seems high but a three is definitely low. So I will settle on 3.5, which rounds out to 4/5. Generous but I can live with that.

Monday, May 8, 2023

[Kinda Book Review] The Empires of Ancient Persia

Or its full name: The Empires of Ancient Persia: The History and Legacy of the Achaemenids, Parthians, and Sassanids in Antiquity by Charles River Edition.

I was interested in reading more about the three major Persian dynasties: The Achaemenids, the Parthians, and the Sassanids. Having studied their opponents: The Greek/Macedonians, the Romans, and the Byzantines, it is always interesting to read more about what happened. Understand both sides of conflicts allows for a more complete picture of what happened.

It's not just the war, but the social and religious aspects clarify what happened.

Well... This book is a good primer. It presents all of the above.

So why am I not excited?

This book is dense, heavy and without headers. It is illustrated with Wikipedia images that are effective but their main goal is to break the blocks of text.

The topics are approached but only skimmed before moving forward.

It's just... dense. Very much like a paper designed to remind people who already knew about the topic. Or a school/ college paper.

How do I score this? ... How indeed. I was not bored but I was not excited reading it either. It was 2/5, I did not find what I was looking for. Had I have no idea about the topic, I might have scored it higher, but not much. So dense, heavy, and definitely not entertaining.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

[Spoilerless Review] Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie

This past weekend, I took ActionMan to see the Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie. The previous one(s) were... unfulfilling. I had little expectations. The trailers looked interesting and of quality, I thought "this could have half a chance!"

Then the OGL situation... I mean really WotC? Did you wanted to tank the movie? (Yes).

I knew I wanted to go see the movie. I didn't want to boycott it, but instead, as a form of protest, I delayed my attendance until I could see it at our local second-chance cinema. You may say this is just arguing semantics, but it made me feel good and right.

Things I enjoyed in the movie:
- The form of the story: How the party comes together while the plot advances.
- The introduction: Quickly we get in the action, giving us the background of the story at a pretty fast pace.
- The characters: The main cast is definitely like many D&D parties I know and play with.
- The look: Things looked good. Neverwinter resembles the Neverwinter we see in games.
- The lore: It felt interesting and well-woven into the story. Elements of the red wizards are dropped at the moment we need them.
- "The Cameo": You know who I'm talking 'bout.
- The cast looked the part and were entertaining in their role.

Things I disliked
- The marketing: again instead of focusing on the good elements, they again went to score woke point with Twitter. Please stop doing that. 1- You can never please Twitter. 2- You piss off your paying fans. 3- It is NOT uniting.
- Okay I could nitpick a number of "the game is not like that" but the one thing that really irked me was that the bard had no abilities once combat started. Chris Pine's bard should've had some magic to something more than just be a scoundrel. Nitpicking. I enjoyed his portrayal.
- Another nitpick: no cleric? At no point do any of the heroes call for healing... A cleric could've served well. Don't want to have a healer, then have a war cleric or a shaman.

Okay, I really enjoyed this movie. Much more than I thought going in. Sure, I can go through a bunch of nitpicks, but I had a good time. I laughed. I worried. I anticipated.

In short, I was entertained and that was really all I wanted. They provided that to me at a time when most movies have me not bothering to go see them or wait until they come to "regular" TV.

I will give this movie a 4/5. It is not a great movie, but it did what I wanted: have someone tell of their D&D game and their characters for two hours. That and I liked it better than most 3s I have rated.