JP On Gaming

Saturday, July 29, 2023

[Kinda Book Review] Murena Tomes 1-3

CoverDecades ago, I purchased the first three volumes of the Bande Dessinée "Murena" by Dufaux & Delaby. It is the story of Nero, starting during the reign of emperor Claudius.

The first tome is about Nero's mother Agrippina and her machinations to ensure her son's rise to power over Claudius' own son, Britannicus.

The second tome is about Nero installing himself in power and again Agrippina's machinations to ensure that.

Tome 3 sees Nero realizes his mother's treachery.

The story is just brutal with people getting killed by stabbing, weapons, poison, or the arena. It is all there. The glory of Rome at its finest.

Page in LatinThe story is solid historical fiction based on the writings of period authors. The art is top notch.

There is one element that keeps appearing: statues of the god Mercury that keeps popping up, and listening or somehow helping Nero. I wonder if it is a representation of mental illness on Nero's part or the gods themselves. This mystery is really awesome.

For a rating, I have to give it a 5/5, the plot, the art, everything comes together. I cannot recommend it enough.

PS: I created this one post because I will be reviewing later tomes shortly!

Friday, July 28, 2023

JP's Notes for the Gencon FOE GMs

This is a checklist to all the FOE GMs, but it is likely to be good for all GMs. Many of these points are likely to make you roll your eyes, but you don't want me to say "I told you so." Because I will. And wag my finger.

- Make sure you have your adventures ready and printed (I recommend not counting on your tablet/phone). Paper is king and never has a loss of power.

- Be ready You will never be as ready as you want. Read the adventure, understand what we are trying to do, ask questions.

- Use your time FOE uses 5h slots BUT this gives you a buffer to finish. People have games that will start after you are done. The area is massive so allow them time to travel. Ideally 30mins. By the same token, the adventures should not last two hours because they zipped through.

- Work with the players Players have wildly differing skill levels with the rules and use their creativity in interesting and fun ways. Work with them to craft an awesome experience. FOE values this experience over everything else.

- Always ask who is new Ask which player is new to the game and get them the easiest characters (typically the rogue or fighter, don't give them the druid!)

- Be fair, not nice Challenge your players with the adventure. No one likes a cakewalk and being coddled by the GM is one of my major gaming turn off. That said, help newer players with tactics, rolls, etc.

- Sleep Seriously. Sleep as much as you can. I recommend avoiding late nights and midnight madness events.

- If you have any issues, get me/JP I am there for you guys.

- Have Fun You are here to play as well. Enjoy running the games.

If you run one of the specials, I have a special additional request:

- Please show up 20-30 minutes early since these events require cohesion, I like to have a GM meeting ahead of time. Make sure we all know what to do, go over the adventure and trade last-minutes ideas. Many great changes/ twists were generated on the fly during those meetings.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

[July 3rd] UK1 - Beyond the Crystal Cave 1e to 5e AAR

Before I go any further on this, let me give HUGE thanks to ActionMan, Chad, Dennis, Jesse, Justin, and Justus for participating in this event. It was a great way to spend my post-July 1st (Canada Day) and pre-July 4th. You guys really made this event memorable.

On July 3rd, I brought together a small group of players at my home, most of whom I never met before. And ActionMan.


To run an adventure set in Ozaka, and iron out the few issues with the character sheets and find out how the iconics would play in a setting different than a "regular" convention environment.

I chose a classic 1e adventure, UK1 Beyond the Crystal Cave. As the number indicates, this adventure was written in the UK. If you have never player any of their modules, they had a VERY different vibe than the Gygax-created adventure, with a different mixture of whimsical and grounded fantasy. It is odd to describe, but in many way, the adventures suit my style and preferences a lot more. This one is a strange sandbox and it is likely to play VERY differently from play-through to play-through.

Although there is a 5e-port available on DM's Guild, I chose to do the conversion myself and it worked out fine. I spent a few hours adding some notes. I have no intention of selling my port as I'm sure the existing one is decent.

So what happened?

Ozaka on DrivethruRPGSent by Lord Azaki to investigate the appearance of a strange grey bubble where a hill used to be present, the party explored the homonymous Crystal Cave and the odd garden beyond. Of course, since I had to add some tie-in with the First Ones, because they are just so fun and exciting to run.

Now, I will be honest and say that this adventure contains a bit of a "gotcha" at the end (depending on the PCs' actions), which normally irks me because they rob players of some agency. This one though, does it in a way that is interesting and that creates more role-playing opportunities, leading the character to more adventure, more discoveries. So I have to say that I quite like

It has a charm all its own and I encourage you to try this one if you have a chance. I was so pleased with it, I think I may try to run more of that series but adapted to 5e.

The adaptation to Ozaka gave it a different spin a "regular" game setting would not have had.

If I have to give a rating to this adventure, I'll give it a 4/5 as written.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Mission accomplished! Ready for Gencon!

After a LOT of procrastinating and fighting writer's block, I finally completed functional versions of EVERYTHING for Gencon. That is six unique adventures, including four specials...

Why did it take so long to complete?


Like previous years, Gencon forms a mini-campaign and playing all the elements lets players experience the full story. While at the same time, keeping them introductory. By introductory, I meant if a players who never heard or played any FOE product, just shows up, they should be able to understand and be productive in the adventure. Not because they understand or know everything about the setting, but because the situation leads them to be able to take part in the decision. It is a style of writing I developped over the year. Something I call the "Jim Shooter Effect."

The final adventure I had to complete, Sunday Morning's Dousing Fire with Blood, had me stuck in a flat final encounter. You know the kind that went "Bad Guys here, PCs here, now fight." I needed them to have something MORE, a dynamic element that force the PCs to think a little.

A fun story... As I wrote the plots, I came up to a point where I had to make a change in the order of the specials. The elements no longer made sense. In short, I had to move the adventure originally scheduled for Thursday, The Sinking of Bastis, was moved to Saturday night, bumping the other two one night earlier.

Why? As I kept working on the stories, "Sinking" clearly became a better culmination of the story whereas the other two added to the myth and explained and made the situation clearer. Ah, the joys of writing and creating...

FOE is nearly sold out (as of this writing, there are 2 tickets available for Sunday morning's special).
- Akhamet
- Olympia
- Ozaka
- Specials

Now... Writing over, it is time to start looking at the next idea and projects...

Monday, July 10, 2023

[Release] Ozaka Campaign Setting Released

Finally, after months of writing and play-testing, almost two years in fact! I have been working on this one effectively since the days of confinement. I had a very basic map, some basic ideas.

Some of the constraints I wanted:
- Japanese folklore should be prevalent but not be a course of Japanese history
- It had to fit and work together with Akhamet and Olympia, serve as a complement to those t
- I wanted the First Ones involved somehow, but not directly present
- I did not want a reskinning of Legend of the Five Rings
- I wanted to focus on an era that was more in-line with most of the samurai movies: the early Sengoku Jidai of the 12-15th centuries where bushido existed but was not as codified as it would be later, during the Tokugawa era.

So what is Ozaka?

Ozaka is a place in none of the other campaign setting, and in all of them. It is hidden beyond endless storms.

Once in Ozaka, the veil beyond the worlds is weak. Creatures from other planes can cross here easier.

This made the wilderness areas dangerous and traveled only by heavily armed and forces (such as armies, caravans, and adventurers) or swift-moving messengers (mounted couriers)

How is the game changed?

One thing I decided to add was the social caste, as a way to add flair. There are three castes: the samurai (nobility), the heimin (freemen), and the eta (foreigners, slaves, and those whose jobs are loud, dirty or smelly). These groups rarely socialize in polite society.

Members of low-castes respond with whatever they believe the samurai wants to hear, and most importantly, never say 'no' but come up with excuses as to why they cannot accomplish the story. "I would sama, but my wife is sick and I feel the same sickness coming over me." And members of higher castes tend to ignore or assume lower castes are telling them what they want to her.

However, since the wilderness is dangerous, the social restrictions are relaxed while outside the boundaries of cities. Adventurers therefore, are known to mingle with those of different castes - while they are "out there." Adventurers develop bonds of friendship and often ignore these strictures.

What is in the book?

Ozaka is the biggest book FOE produced to this day, clocking at over 200 pages. There are tons of new rule items, character options, new monsters, etc.

- Seven new character races, from the spidery Kumojin to the giant Akai-Oni or the fox spirit Kitsune.

- Two new classes to expand play: the courtier (ambassadors and diplomat) and the shugenja (mage-priest keeping the kami quiet).

- New archetypes for almost every class: cleric domains, the geisha, the shinobi, mystical tattoos, new spells, and a family history generator.

- How to use different social castes in your game.

- The religion of Ozaka, led by Lady Amaterasu and the Thousand Gods.

- Ten fully-statted NPCs to serve as mentors or opponents.

- Over thirty new monsters.

Ozaka is now available on DriveThru RPG.

If you want a hardcopy, you can get one on

Monday, July 3, 2023

Curse of Strahd II Reaches Electrum

I am overjoyed to announced that Curse of Strahd II: Griffon Hill Manor has been certified an electrum best seller on the DM's Guild (it has been a few days but I just noticed it today).

If you don't know, I came up with the concept while running Curse of Strahd (and being confined). I remembered playing that adventure immediately following I6 Ravenloft and it stuck with me.

Having ActionMan at my table and a great group, I sat down to write this tale. Having the original opened all the time, I tried to make sense out of that adventure. Now, no disrespect on the original but it is just unplayable. I believe it was overly ambitious for its page count - a restriction I did not have. Using the source material, Curse of Strahd II: Griffon Hill Manor distills the essence of the original into something playable.

This is one to play with a soundtrack from classic Hammer films. Peter Cushing. Christopher Lee.

It currently holds a rating of 5/5 stars.

Well if you want to run something different or continue your Curse of Strahd campaign, Curse of Strahd II: Griffon Hill Manor is it.

It also part of the FOE Ravenloft bundle and the Complete Adventure bundle at a big discount.

So for making this adventure reach this massive milestone, a HUGE thank you everyone.