JP On Gaming

Thursday, May 9, 2024

What do I need to GM for FOE?

I've been asked this question a few times times over the years and think that a post here may help by tap the sign... (save myself from typing it over and over)

Material to bring

The following material is up to you to bring:
- Hard copies of your adventure (tablets are great but make sure you have a physical copy as a back up).
- Hard copy of the handouts (ideally 1 per table you will run). Giving the players something to look at/ play with gets them more involved in the game
- A physical Player's Handbook (if only to hand out at the table)
- A Monster Manual (some print out the monsters they will use to lighten their load)
- Dice
- Writing Implement
- Battle map & dry/wet erase
- Minis/Tokens (I do have minis for the iconics but can't provide for everyone). If you use Starbursts/ glass beads/ paper tokens/ wood tokens, all are fine. Other than the specials, doing it almost completely theater of the mind is fine too.
- Copies of the iconic sheet (FOE will have some, too)

At the Con

Here are things I ask of you on-site.
- Sleep. I need you on your A-game. I am trying to keep everyone's load as light as I can by assigning as few adventures as I can to people.
- Enthusiasm. I like to think our adventure are a fun experience and the GM is a big part of this.
- Be in the FOE room ahead of time because the goal is get you ready to roll on the hour, not 10-15 mins after the slot begins.
- For regular adventures, 5-10 mins is best to allow you to relax and set up
- For special adventure, be there 30 mins before so we can discuss and go over the adventure. Talk latest ideas, assign any special elements not yet assigned
- Wear a FOE shirt (smurf polo or black shirt)

What FOE provides

Goodies for you!
- A smurf outfit: Those are our blue polo shirts (now embroidered) with our logo. If you don't have one, JP should provide one for you at the con.
- All of the material above as a backup (I got you if you forgot something). Except sleep or a positive disposition
- PDF of the adventures
- PDF of the campaign settings (you are not expected to be a loremaster, but know at least the basics of it)
- Food: Okay this is sustenance food. I will have lunch meat, bread, cheese, and cookies. Plus more goodies are brought (Thanks Marissa for the coffee!)
- The FOE dice. Every year, FOE has a unique d6 made. GMs all get 1 as a thank you.
- Miniatures. I try to give you guys as many monster minis as I can physically print, paint, and carry. I cannot promise anything. Here as some examples from 2021

Unique FOE Stuff at the table

Some unique things we do.
- FOE Dice. Whenever a player rolls a natural '1' on a d20 and keeps the result, hand them a FOE Dice with the magic formula "Your dice suck, our don't."
- The Postal Card. FOE runs a not-organized play/organized play thing. We hand players a postcard that grants players goodies for each game they play with us. These are simple bennies like inspiration, an additional healing potion, or extra HP.
- Everything is linked together. Don't tell them how, let them figure it out... It's as if some crazy mastermind lost sleep over that...

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

[Four-Question Background] Example: Kassee Broon

Recently, I took part in my friend Randy-P's short-lived Star Wars D6 game. It had been so long since I played the game (did a little one-shot with the kids once) and looked forward to it. Unfortunately, the campaign ended too fast.

The campaign took place in the era of the Mandolorian/ Ahsoka.

Kassee Broon was a young jedi from Naboo: Female human, auburn hair, 20s, Junker's outfit

Her story was: Illegitimate daughter of a jedi master killed during the Rebellion. She was her father's padawan when he was killed. To avoid getting caught, she fled with her father's possessions, which included a holocron. She trained with the holocron (but no longer has it, she stashed it in a safe place).

Now the four questions I sent to Randy:
- Important NPC: My mother, current whereabouts unknown.
- Important Place: Ruined Jedi temple on Naboo where her father first trained her.
- Important Event: The Force warning her to flee for my life. She doesn't know from who or why.
- Unresolved Thread: Kassee feels through the Force that her father was set up and murdered and someone is after her.

As you can see, I could (and very well may) re-use Kassee in another campaign by changing setting-specific information. The game didn't run long enough for my thread to come into play but I thought it left quite a lot of room to rope that in the game.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

[Old Pro Tricks] Character Backgrounds: A fourth question!

If you watch D&D Youtubers or even many other bloggers, they tell GMs to have players write them extensive backgrounds. That sounds awesome but when I am given a four-page novella, I often go, "Huh... that's not quite how I figured things would go."

Katharan al-ZawreeSo you end up stimying the players' creativity with characters who know nothing of their background, have no family, and no love affairs. Other than ladies of ill-repute they don't care about.

If you have been around this blog long enough, you will notice I changed my mind multiple times. Like when I thought about a good background length (where I recommended keeping it short), and especially the One Person, One Place, One Event technique. Both of those emphasize simplicity and brevity. They serve to get both player and GM to discuss.

The 1P1P1E technique in particular makes for simple obvious hooks. Effectively, the player gives the GM three hooks and reason for your character to adventure.

As a forever GM, I like to have as few notes as possible. No (just) because I'm lazy, but especially so I can easily and quickly find this information when my players are in front of my without having to point to one players and go "Who's that NPCs of yours? Oh yeah, your dad!".

The fourth question, is Tell me one mystery/questions you'd like to see in the game.

Fine, fine, it's not a question.

Jim HawkinsIt's a thread I can weave into the narrative. This could be a monster, a magic item, or a mystery about the setting or the character's background. This allows me to weave or use some of these into the different adventures. Give the player a simple nod during the game.

So 2p1e1q (or Spleeq) is the new style of character backstory I use from here on.

The great thing about it is that it can be used with any game system and any type of game without difficulty. It's a simple, highly portable way to create ways to have your character tied into the world.

Monday, April 8, 2024

[Kinda Book Report] Essential Astonishing Ant-man 1

Well... Most Marvel comics of that period with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are usually pretty good. Then there is Ant-Man.

Hank Pym and (later in the story) Janet van Dyne can become small. Then later, Ant-Man becomes Giant-man as he can only become big. I don't know why they changed because Giant-Man is much crappier than Ant-Man.

These stories feel much more like the DC stories of the era than those of Marvel. Especially when you compare to Spider-man or Iron-man. In short, they are just so bland and forgettable. Ant-Man and Wasp are NOT characters who can hold a series by their own. They make great characters as part of the Avengers, but on their own... *yawn*

The art is fine and is perhaps the best thing about it. But the plots are simply not interesting. The villain uninspired. And the resolutions...

This book is a 2/5 and I'm generous. I was bored out of my mind.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

[After Action Report] MidSouthCon 2024

A little late for this one... Ahh life...

After a pause of one year, MidSouthCon returned, this time in a new location, in Olive Branch Mississippi. In case you don't know I have a total geek's dream of playing one game of either RPG, LARP, or miniature wargame in every state in the continental United States. Mississippi was one of the states I never been (much less played in).

Friday

Friday night, I had a panel about world building in fiction and gaming. Which was at 10pm. Perfect! As it allowed me to drive to Memphis, check in to the hotel, and the con...

One fun fact: After checking in, as we drove back to the con site, I swerved to avoid coming the wrong way on the road!!! I must have succeeded in my driving check because I am here, but ActionMan did not even wake up!

We sat down to a panel about horror tropes. Now I'm much more of an horror than ActionMan who seems more "fine" with it.

The panel was interesting and fun with a good flow with diverse influences and perspectives. One older lady was strongly on the fiction side of things and had absolutely fantastic stories to tell about meeting classical authors. I had published gaming material while the other two members were experienced GMs who ran events.

I used to stay away from these panels, but more and more I find myself drawn to them. Perhaps as a way to share experience.

ActionMan took a few pictures during the panel.

Saturday

Saturday, I offered one game, which would serve as the first playtest for Gencon. I ran the Olympia adventure Mud Slingers. Playtesting is absolutely fantastic because it gives me invaluable insight. I was worried the adventure would run quick, jokingly saying "we'll be done in 2 hours".

But it took a solid 4h to complete. On-time!

Shocked ActionMan
Action shot Action shot

After finishing my game, I joined a Delta Green adventure. ActionMan went to play a Pathfinder/ TV cartoon game. Unfortunately, the adventure ran too long and the final confrontation was handwaved. Too bad because the plot was pretty horrific. The theme was perhaps overly sexual for a public game, but the GM did a good job.

The premise, of us having to go into a place during a snowstorm, really added to the urgency and made the situation very interesting. I may very well steal that hook but I will use a different denouement.

After a quick walk to the nearby Taco Bell, we sat to play a Savage World game. ActionMan's first attempt with SW. The adventure could have been run using Mothership or another similar system. It was effectively a re-inventing of Jonh Carpenter's 'The Thing', a film both of us enjoy. We did fine and managed to survive, even if the world is doomed because we consistently failed perception-based checks...

Sunday

After breakfast at Waffle House, we returned to the con shortly before 9am. There was something rather odd about the almost empty halls.

We both thought it felt like the Backrooms. (If you don't know what the Backrooms are, look at Kane Pixel's work on Youtube, I also wrote an adventure using them called Cthulhu Modern: Beyond the Door). Empty hotel halls feel blank and devoid of anything. Yeah, we cringed and had a fun time laughing (nervously) about it.

Since the only event going on was the Anime showcase, we went there. What sucked was that the feed cut every 30-45 seconds with a big clunk sound and the screen going dark. We chuckled but after a short time, it lost its interest and we left.

We split and I went to attend a panel about "Valuing your books" I expected this would be about pricing books, but no. The lady talked about getting books priced and evaluated. It really made me think of "The Ninth Gate" movie with Johnny Depp. Interesting to know and something I may used in an adventure later.

Meanwhile, ActionMan hit the board game room and played games.

I attended another this time about Drafting Military SciFi. I'm no military man myself but it was the panel I was most interested in. A pilot, a marine, and a navyman... It was interesting and gave me a few things to think about for SpaceFOE.

Next I gave my final panel, this one about improvisation and how to use and leverage. Again, the panel was interesting because I was the D&D guy while the others favored more freeform storytelling systems and/or LARPs. The difference in experiences added to the discussion, highlighting the difference (why system is important) and the similarities in techniques, styles, and tricks used regardless of the system.

I had a blast but it was time to drive back home.

Conclusions

This was the first time under the new administration and overall, I thought it was a pretty good one. There were a few bumps in the road, but I think these issues will be resolved next year. We still had a good time and definitely plan on going back next year.
- Attendance Low: Perhaps it was the new layout but it seemed like the attendance was lighter. I believe this was linked to the skip of a year.
- Nice venue: The new venue was comfortable and nice. My main issue is that everything is on different floors so things seemed quite separated.
- Good to be back! Both ActionMan and I enjoyed going back to the Memphis area.

I said it multiple times but I always believe Midsouthcon to be the official kick off of the con season that peaks at Gencon. It allowed me to test an adventure.

We'll be back in Memphis next year!

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Tau Stealth Suits

These tau stealth suits I got from a miniature trading event at the Game Keep. They were printed using a transparent resin, perfect for these guys. However, leaving them unpainted is not something I can do...

So I used a number of ink-like techniques to make one unit in blue and one in green and painted the based to match the color.

The result is unique among the minis I painted. I have no use for them so they will likely end up on Ebay.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

[Titan Week] Clod Kings

To close off Clod week on the blog... More clods!

These clod kings are massive and sit on a throne carried by other clods! Ain't that just the sweetest thing?? Kings are not rulers as much as the mouthpiece for the other clods.

And for those wondering... the green clod is a special clod. He is the jade knight, a hero of his people.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

[Titan Week] Earth Clod Artillery

When you are immortal and made of mud, what do you use for ammunition? More clods, of course!!!

This large elemental can throw clods. It has one in hand ready to fire!

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

[Titan Week] Clod rolling ball

Clods rolling balls coming at you at top speed. I said these guys were cute and flavorful. Not just fun to paint but awesome to create a stat block for them too!

Monday, March 11, 2024

[Titan Week] Earth Clod soldiers

I happened on these little guys on Thingiverse while looking for proxy models to use as titans. I fell in love with goofiness and charm of the little guys, called clods.

They look like lumps of clay with some wearing armor and others carrying random weapons. There are more clods coming. I may have gone overboard, but they are just so cute....

Saturday, March 9, 2024

All-Girl Space Regiment

A regiment of female soldiers with Cadian-adjacent colors. I painted these girls for SpaceFOE or One-Page Rules (I don't have enough characters for another Imperial Guard 40k Army).

All of them are 3d-printed models.

Friday, March 8, 2024

[Terrain] Little Rural Temple: Scratch-Built Temple for DND

This is a temple built in Greek style using caryatid columns in the shape of women. Could be Aphrodite, Hera, Athena, or even Artemis.

I built this one as a way to try out various techniques and materials. The result is more effective than I believed.

The columns and the altar were 3d printed while the rest was built using popsicle sticks and with the rook made of cardboard from a frozen pizza box.

It was great to get back into scratch-building things again.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

[Terrain] Statues of Neptune/ Poseidon

These statues of Neptune/ Poseidon are based on a statue on the east coast of the US. I thought they would make great focal points and were painted to go with the rest of the ship graveyard.

I printed them before painting.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Sailing Ships of Olympia: Scratch-Built Ship for D&D

I built three ships in one Sunfay afternoon using cardboard and a variety of other materials I had on hand. These include popsicle and candy sticks. I did not set out to make them overly different but each has its own charm.

The masts were added later. Why? Because I was building to a general idea and I only thought of adding masts after all was done. Magnets to the rescue!

One of them has the Victory of Sam thrice as a its prow decoration.

My goal with these ships was more to focus on the gaming functionality that the accuracy

But JP, what about the prow ram, I know you will ask. Simply these are not warships but trading vessels.

They will be used in the Gencon special named Re-leash the Kraken.


Tuesday, March 5, 2024

[Kinda Book Review] Colossus: Stone and Steel

I looked at this book for a while before pulling the trigger on it. It is set in 66AD at the outset of the Judea Rebellion against Rome. The story has, as its protagonists, twin Jewish stone carving brothers, Judah and Asher, caught in the chaos.

It focuses on the opening parts of the rebellion and the early Jewish triumphs. The book presents the usual Romans: Vespasian and his son Titus. But also (Flavius) Josephus, who wrote The Wars of the Jews. A large part of the story is the siege of Jotapata where the Romans besieged the jews.

This book is well-written and I want to continue reading the next volumes in the series.

As a rating, I will settle on a 4/5 as I tore through the pages, wondering what was going to happen next.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Yearly Retrospective 2023

Another year has ended and we are now in 2024. This one is late but better late than never!

Personal and Family Life

- My eldest daughter graduated from high school and she is off to the next step of her journey.

- I still work and enjoy working at 247 Sports/ CBS Sports.

- The passing of my good friend and FOE author JD Conrad. I took the opportunity to add some Rhym to our Gencon Specials as a thank you and farewell. Farewell my friend, keep that new adventure ready.

World Events

- The Continuation of the Russia-Ukraine War. For God's sakes people, enough of this mindless dying. Ukraine is done. Let's find a way to end this madness. The great defenders are dying for what will become useless soil. Stop it.

- The Gaza War. Again, that one group does something wrong does not allow another to go ape-shit. Let's work at a lasting peace. But our leaders don't seem to give a crap about that either.

Trips

2023 was a pretty tame year when it came to traveling. We spent most of our year at home. This year, we were lucky enough to have people come visit US at our new house in TN. It was great to see all those faces.

- The biggest trip of the year was our daughter Jojo leaving for Canada.

- Both parents and my sisters came from Canada for Jojo's graduation

Publishing/ FOE

This was a relatively tame year as far as publishing goes. I spent a lot of time on Chaos Tide Rising, which I decided not to publish, and coming up with the Ozaka Campaign Setting.

Amazon Releases
- Ozaka Campaign Setting inspired by Medieval Japan

DM's Guild Releases
- Drow of the Demonweb a product to help GMs create or expand drow-themed encounters.

DriveThruRPG Releases
- Ozaka Campaign Setting inspired by Medieval Japan

This year, many FOE products reached Best-Seller tiers. This is a great honor and sign that you guys enjoy and appreciate FOE products, and a great motivation to keep writing and creating more and better products.

Bestseller Milestones: Electrum
- Curse of Strahd II: Griffon Hill Manor
- Rahadin: Dread Knight of Ravenloft
- Ravenloft: Apple of a Mother's Eye

Bestseller Milestones: Silver
- Rhym Campaign Setting

Bestseller Milestones: Copper
- Graz'zt's Entourage Demonic goodies for the GM.

RPGing/ GMing

Akhamet Cover

I ran a hexcral for my home Ozaka group. It thought me much about this medium and let me know that I REALLY like running those. We played one month in-game for about eight months of real-time. If you know me, such a type of campaigns is so completely out of my personal comfort zone and usual style. Loved it.

I ran and completed "Tides of Chaos" but decided not to publish the campaign because it would requires too much material to be added to make it. I figure 400+ pages of material and on DM's Guild, the time and monetary investment. Still we got some good memories.

I played some "Monster of the Week" and had a good time. Thanks to my GM, Sarah.

I joined a local Westmarch-style campaign at the local Murfreesboro, TN. Here are a few action shots from games I ran there.

Conventions/ Special Games

2023, I returned
- Festival Draconis Online
- Huntsville Comic and Pop Culture Expo Huntsville, AL
- ICCC-V Lebanon, TN
- Gencon Indianapolis, IN (6 parts)
- FOE Day at the TEC Murfreesboro, TN

Blog

- I put up a variety of articles, mostly FOE-related, kinda book reports, and miniatures.

- I finished the year with 109 blog posts this year, a pace I rather like.

Other Media

I am one of the players in Die Inspired Season 1.

I participated in a discussion with DMPaulG on his Twitch/YouTube about my work with the Moonshae Isles

Books

Different things to read thing year. Again a variety of things, from fiction to comics. Looking at this list now, I found that the amount of books I read to be somewhat less than in previous years. Perhaps because of my great tired state. Damn you old(er) age!

Non-Fiction
- The Empires of Ancient Persia

Fiction
- Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn
- The Noise of War by Vernon B Davis
- Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
- Saracen Storm by JM Nunez
- Ulrich by James Walker
- Sixteen Ways to defend a walled city by KJ Parker

Comics
- Essential Hulk Vol 5 by Marvel Comics
- Essential Thor Vol 7 by Marvel Comics
- Essential Spider-man Vol 3 by Marvel Comics
- Murena Tomes 1-3 by Dufaux/Delaby
- Murena Tome 4: Ceux Qui Vont Mourir by Dufaux/Delaby
- Rat Queens vol 1: Sass and Sorcery

RPG and games Mini-Reviews

Posting some initial thoughts about new games I tried this year.
- Mothership RPG Survival Horror Sci-fi

TV and Film Reviews

I did not review anything.

This new season of Doctor Woke is not on TV and I won't pay for it.

Miniature Painting

For most of this year, I painted sporadically. Most of the painted characters were for tabletop gaming. Throughout the summer, I painted many models as GM gifts for Gencon.
- SpaceFoe characters

So with all this, I wish you all a very happy new year.

JP

Friday, January 12, 2024

[Terrain] Ancient Ship Graveyard

During the Christmas holidays, I began working on something for Gencon... It is an ancient ship's graveyard inspired by the remains of ships at Purton in England. These remains jut out of the ground.

What will I use them for? I won't reveal too much but one of the Gencon adventure has a working title of "Re-leash the Kraken"...