JP On Gaming

Monday, April 9, 2018

Greece trip in the works

With Conglomeration in the rearview mirror, now is the time for me to look forward to the next thing to for me to complete: Lexicon in Lexington KY. I submitted games there this year again. Unlike MidSouthCon and Conglomeration, Lexicon is a pure gaming convention. There will be a lot of board games and RPGs. I expect to play some Adventure League OR Shadowrun Missions as I will only have one free game slot to play... Maybe a second one on Friday evening. Maybe.

I will be running two Tyrants of Saggakar adventures, both from last year's Gencon (re-ran at MidSouthcon) but I will have a few other pocket adventures in case I need to make a quick-switch. No worries, I will be ready for it.

I am offering one new adventure, one written for our latest release: Gostor: Olympian, called "A Tyrant Lost". This adventure may be published or it just might be one of my pocket adventures, I have yet to decide. This is an adventure I am having so much fun writing it. Takes me back to my early teens when I would devour the books of mythology at my school's library, of times when I wanted to play RPGs set in that universe but not having any friends who would geek out with me on such topics.

A Tyrant Lost takes place not in Saggakar, not in Rhym, not in Akhamet either! Instead, it is located in a fictionalized version of Greece. I mean, where else would it make sense to set an adventure that feature the children of Olympus.

Now some of you may have learned that for the past two years, I have been taking online classes on a variety of subjects, one of them being about ancient Greek mythology. Well, one of the things we covered extensively were perhaps the two most famous poems in history: Homer's Illyad and odyssey. One of the things that stuck with me was the formula of the introduction to both of those poems.

I copied the introduction from the Samuel Butler translation available through the MIT classics (a great place to find reading material). The titles are links to the full text.

The Illyad

Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures, for so were the counsels of Jove fulfilled from the day on which the son of Atreus, king of men, and great Achilles, first fell out with one another.


The Odyssey

Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted; moreover he suffered much by sea while trying to save his own life and bring his men safely home; but do what he might he could not save his men, for they perished through their own sheer folly in eating the cattle of the Sun-god Hyperion; so the god prevented them from ever reaching home. Tell me, too, about all these things, O daughter of Jove, from whatsoever source you may know them.


You will notice that both begin in a very similar fashion, with an invocation to a divine being. In a sense, Homer sets the stage for what the story will talk about. This first verse gives a resume in a few words. The Illyad is about Achilles' wild mood swings and especially his anger and rage during the Trojan War; while the Odyssey relates the many episodes of Odysseus' travels after the war. Two very different epics, very similar formulaic beginnings.

So now for my homage to the great master himself... The adventure opens with the following verse (translated by me from Ancient Greek, of course)...

A Tyrant Lost

Tell us, O goddess, of the tale of [six] sons and daughters of Olympus whose fate was altered by a tiny babe, and of the fury of mighty Hera queen of the gods.

The [six] is to be replaced by the number of PCs. I will give you a short introduction to each of the characters another day. Right now, the muses have work for me to complete.

Oh yeah... I am not going anywhere. This was just the ultimate tease...

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Akhamet book cover WIP

Akhamet keeps moving forward... One of the (many) elements that is in the works, is the book cover. Zammy has been working on it.

The cover is a fight between three of the iconics and a massive sphinx.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Conglomeration 2018 AAR Part 2

This is part 2 of my Conglomeration 2018 AAR. Here is a link to Part 1 posted yesterday.

Sunday

This morning, I had little room to play here. It was time to check out, get the three kiddos ready, pack everything, feed them ANND get ready for an 8:30 game (after whining a lot to Derek, I got my start time moved up from 7:30)...

This was accomplished and that is when I realized how much three munchkins can eat. They wolfed down nearly all the McMuffins/McGriddles (for those who don't know they are McDonald's breakfast sandwiches) BEFORE I got to eat one. Now granted, I can survived for weeks on my accumulated reserved, but still I do want to have some food in the morning.

This morning was the Conglomeration Sunday morning special, a tradition going back three or four years. I use that time slot to run something special and new. Last year, I ran Black Sails, a pirate-themed adventure set in Rhym. Two years before, was the selection of ArchDespot Hellebora to the crown of Faremh.

This year was something new. As discussed in my previous teaser post (read all about it here), I prepared a big showcase piece of terrain to use.

What I did not tease was that one of my ideas for the adventure itself was that I planned to allow people to select any one of our nineteen iconics. You read this right: NINETEEN! Now there are seven for Saggakar, and six each for Rhym and Akhamet, complete with art and specially-made miniature. After selection, I had three Akhamet characters, one from Rhym, and one from Saggakar.

So how to get all these nice people together in one place and get them to do something? Using the artifice of the Mist, the PCs woke up "somewhere" and each found on their person a note telling them they were on a quest to find something. Each world had something different they were secretly looking for. How these will affect the storyline of their world? You will have to wait and play some more.

Followed exploration and combat with various creatures, traps, and devious schemes. I think the whole story worked well enough, bringing together elements from all three of FOE's settings.

I have to declare myself extremely satisfied with the game. It went much smoother than I expected. One thing I notice is that 5e allows you to run more encounters than Pathfinder in the same amount of time, while keeping the feeling of something epic. Proof is, there were at least 10 combats in a 5ish hour game (we were interrupted a lot with checkouts and con-events). Since it was a dungeoncrawl, that was fine.

The game over, we left and returned to Nashville. I will say that I was tired. Speedway coffee helped me make the trip back as ActionMan did not see I-65 at all (we have it's a 180 miles or so on it). He did wake up on the final leg, on I-24. Jojo slept a little too.

The Review

Just for fun, I went back and reviewed my highlights and evaluations of the 2014, 2016, and 2017 conventions, looking for trends on how things are going.

What I will post here seems to continue some of the trends I found in previous years.

The Good

Smoothness of operation As a GM, all I had to do was show up, set up and run my games. That is always something I appreciate. This year, the guys did something new I though went really well: they had binders with the games inside, separate by game type, and day. So all the Saturday stuff was in one binder, then you chose to go to Pathfinder/Starfinder, 5e, Shadowrun, Cthulhu, etc.. That was absolutely great. It was simple and everyone could find what they want. It did create something of a choke point, but people were cool and after a few moments, you could sign up. Nice one!

Con Suite Now I know I ranted a lot about this one over the years, esp comparing it to MidSouthCon. MSC is still better. However, they now moved the suite to a room up in the hotel tower. Good: more room for people (the suite is big) and food is readily available. Both good things. On the down side, it is still far from where the con happens and requires an elevator trip. But, after griping about it for years, I have to put this in the good because of its improved state.

None of this would happen without the many Players (as I spent my time in the gaming section...) who attended and participated. I met a lot of new people I look forward to seeing again. Ah yes, some older ones too! Having young children with me and playing with them always makes me a little nervous because some people are less welcoming. Not the case here. I said it before (and in previous reviews) but you guys in Kentucky are great, and you proved my statement.

This year, I noticed there were quite a few other local GMs and game designers, include one guy whose name escapes me has a game called 3rd Age that seemed pretty interesting. I didn't get to play, but a lot of people did and they seemed to have a great time of it. Archie ran more of his stuff, he really likes non-traditional characters.

It seemed to me that the attendance was up for the con. At least in the gaming room and that was great to see. The place had a nice vibe from Friday night to Sunday.

The Bad

I griped about this one for a while... Firm RPG slots should be defined and adhered to by all GMs. As it was most RPGs were on one schedule: 9-2, 2-6, 7-12 (IIRC) but there were a few who were on odd schedules with games starting at 10-3, 5-9 9-1... Tightening would ensure everyone could have a game. Now I lucked out and had full or almost-full tables each slot.

One of the issue this created was that some players would come in and bounce during the game. That annoys me greatly.

The GM badge system is still a tad wonky, but I know the guys are working to improve it, so I'll put it here until it can become one of the strong point.

Conclusion

Conglomeration is one of those conventions I enjoy. It is one of those events where organized play is not present. I knew there would be no Pathfinder Society, but I was somewhat surprised not to see any Adventure League.

It was an opportunity to meet and catch up with old faces: JD, Archie, Jeff-D, Derek-M, Chuck, Derek-M, Sage, Jake, Randy-P, to name but a few and many more I forget. I missed Allison-R and Karen-J but that is the crazy wackiness of a con.

I'm pretty sure you can guess but YES, I am planning to come back to Conglomeration 2019 with my cohort of monsters.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Conglomeration 2018 AAR Part 1

Louisville, KY. My own small piece of Americana... I do own a small plot of land in that town... And it is one of the cities that really grabbed me. I always said good things about the people of Kentucky, from their welcome to their acceptance and encouragements, I will always have a small piece of bluegrass growing on top of my heart. They're great. Kentucky folk, you stay awesome.

This past weekend was Conglomeration 2018 now at the Crown Plaza by the airport. It is a place I went to for Imaginareum before, a site that is welcoming and comfortable. I prefer it to the Ramada inn on the east side (and closer to my own tiny piece of Kentucky...)

This year, I waffled about going due to a number of factors. However, talking to my good friend Derek-R, who once again took the reigns of gaming with Chuck, I allowed myself to be convinced. Okay it was not exactly a hard sell, but still. The con coincided with the kids' spring break. So I would be able to get there on Friday earlier, run on Saturday and Sunday morning, and be back home in time for my wife's awesome Easter ham. GREAT!

As the event drew closer, I contacted one of Jojo's friends in Louisville and invited her to attend the con, allowing the two girls time to hang out together. ActionMan who is more into gaming would play RPGs with me, all except one slot: the Lost Pyramid of Neferheket, which he play-tested (with Jojo). For that slot, I contacted my buddy Randy-P who was running Pathfinder games. I opted to let Jojo and Aubrie self-organize after pointing them to a few places they could do things.

Friday

The con officially started with a family lunch at our local Indian buffet. We are all big fan of Indian food, and the buffet allows everyone to eat what they want or try some new stuff. Filled with delicious food, we got on I-65... just in time to get stuck in traffic. Sheesh... just like in 2016.

We got to the con around 5pm, checked in to our hotel, and spent the evening bouncing around. I walked around talking to people, listening to games, and just soaking up the con's vibe. While fun and distracting, I grew more and more restless with the desire to get it started, to GM something. Good vibe, hall filled with people.

I went to my room, poked some files here and there as the kids snored to my left and right.

Saturday

Morning. Shower. Breakfast.

We headed to the car and rolled out all my gaming material to the gaming room. I was glad to see all my games had at least enough names to go off. Great!

The first game what my latest adventure, Come to the Hills set in Rhym. My players, including ActionMan, Jojo, and Aubrie, really loved the game.

The second game was set in Saggakar, Exalted Pains. This adventure was inspired by an adventure I wrote for Living Greyhawk. The Saggakar redux adds a lot of new elements, so it's not just a simple port. The move to 5e allowed me to add more combats and a few surprises. I think the last time I ran it was back in 2003, so few people may have recollections about the original.

The evening was the first public running of the Lost Pyramid of Neferheket. This was the first time running Akhamet in public. I was worried about this first public display. There are so many things to worry about: avoid info-dump, focus on what is important for the game, how will the races be accepted, what was missed, and so on.

Things went very well. I have a few things I want to alter to the iconics, but nothing particularly massive. That adventure is pretty cool and it provides a surprising amount of versatility for the PCs to decide what they want to do.

Running this, I forgot about the kids. ActionMan went and completed his Pathfinder game with Randy. The girls headed to Artemis: the star ship simulation, a place they spent a lot of time in. I sent them a text to go to bed and they went.

Tomorrow, the story of Sunday and the good, the bad and the conclusion...

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Gostor: Olympians for 5th edition released!

I love Greek Mythology. The stories have entertained me since before I first read Clash of the Titans (yes, I read the novelization before I saw the original movie). Fun tales of heroes, misbehaving gods, magic items, and bands of warrior traveling to the ends of the world.

My eldest daughter has been taken with the same stories through some of the plentiful young adult literature that is available these days. She too is taken by the variety and imagination in the stories.

These two loves led me to the creation of this new book. I decided to build this new race. Over the course of creation, I came up with the basis of a race that allowed players to be children of the gods. The more I worked and designed it, the more obvious it became that I really needed to think of them as an umbrella race, that each god had to provide different powers.

For the original product, I opted to provide the children and favored of twelve of the main gods of Olympus (I replaced Hestia with Hades). So you can have a full party of Olympians and all of them be quite different.

So now I am very happy to announce the release of Gostor: Olympians, also available through RPGNow, and soon, through the Open Gaming Store (the current link points to all Gostor Products on OGS).

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Creating a special adventure: Terrain and all

Way back when, I submitted a blurb for a half-formed idea to Derek at Conglomeration Gaming HQ. Now you might be wondering "JP, why would you send something you did not really know what to do?"

A-ha! My young padawan, allow me to provide you some insight into the crazy world of writing and organized play management...

I am the lucky owner and leader of a campaign whose main draw is that players get to decide where things go. While I do have some idea on where things are going, I never know too far in advance. But that is not new...

Adrift on the Sea of Fate, the Conglomeration special is... well... special! I had a basic idea/gimmick with a very loose plot idea. Aka: "I would like to have an adventure where the players can pick any of our iconics OR bring their own characters and explore something together." Generic? Then I had a few things I wanted to add to it: monsters, twists, surprises. But nothing that was clear or set in stone.

I kicked the can around, going through a bunch of stories I felt were just too boring or repetitive, things I wrote before and that did not excite me very much. For a special, it has to kick some major butt and be exciting. If I can't be excited about it myself... then how will others like it?

The final clincher came as I was reading an old adventure (inspired by something I read in an old issue of the French magazine "Casus Belli"). Somehow that adventure hit every point I wanted and provided me with a framework. Awesome. So I began to write more ideas and develop the plot.

It should come as no surprise that some of the highlights of the CB adventure were ripped out in favor of other elements (remember my original list?). And the adventure was born, for real.

But it would not be a special without... well something special! Having two girl scouts at home, there were many, and I mean A LOT, of GS cookie boxes in the garage. So I wondered... What could I do with them? 1+1= Awesome! A few hours of gluing, drawing, and painting my right hand (I'm left-handed) and now I had a true special...

I spent this past Sunday writing and filling out all the rooms in the dungeons with combat, traps, and non-combat encounters.

I learned a few things:
- I was able to build this all for less than 5$ (and most of that was a 4$ gray primer can)
- Sharpies do not like primer-soaked paper
- Paint is great on primer-soaked paper
- Painting stuff is fun (yes, I know)

The result is an interesting story, mixed with a massive tower that should provide good (or nightmarish) memories to all those involved.

I am glad to say that I was able to provide something that could be meaningful to all three settings, while providing the political scheming so common in every FOE products.

So there you go... Another FOE special ready to roll out into production.

Oh yes, this one will be played only once (and count)... at Conglomeration this coming weekend in Louisville, KY. Come on by for a full weekend of FOE action. The adventure may see repeat performance, but those will not be counted for plot advancement.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Weekend in Rokugan 2018 AAR

One week following MidSouthCon was Weekend in Rokugan held in St Louis, MO. This event dedicated to the Legend of the Five Rings game system is one that I look forward to more and more. With Arcanicon's demise, I seem to have fewer and fewer playing opportunity to play those systems I like. The classic AEG game is one I appreciate very much. It was the game I met the gang in Dublin.

WiR is the one convention this year I intend to only PLAY something other than D&D and I look forward to it with growing anticipation.

After a fruitful and rather successful morning of coding learning new tricks with C# and .Net Core, it was time to hit the road. The trip itself was uneventful other than an odd jam at the Pilot gas station in Paducah KY where most of the pumps were blocked and people just left their cars there. For extended periods, enough to create traffic. I jumped to the Marathon next door, filled up, used the facilities, and bought me some candy and a coffee to go while the line barely moved.

I got into Chesterfield (the exact location of the event) around 4:30. With the next slot beginning at 7PM, I drove to my hotel (across the Interstate) and was able to set up, plugged in the laptop, and took a short nap before game time.

The first event was really interesting: two cranes, two scorpions, and a phoenix... Four shugenja and a single bushi! We managed to talk our way through this one. The scorpion Intimidated some guys while I was able to use my pretty crane flowery language to convince others.

I think this may have been the first time I played with Ken-W. Played-played that is, as he GM'd Arcanis for me many times in the past. He and I have similar yet very different characters: from the same school but the similarities pretty much end there.

Stopped for a meal of junk food, then off to sleep.

The morning game, I sat with Ken again! This time we were three Asahina-trained cranes shugenjas! (along with a crab, a mantis and a scorpion). This one was more challenging for our party and ended up having a lot more action, including an somewhat epic battle at the end. Where I spent my time trying to limit the amount of damage our group took against a very tough opponent. It was fun.

As we finished with almost two hours to spare, I drove to Smashburger. I really enjoy they burgers and had a mammoth made for lunch. No fries, no drink, only the burger. While in that little mall, I saw a Games Workshop store. Now I do not think I entered a GW store since the early days of my stay in Louisville, where the GW was around the corner from our house.

To his credit, the guy there was really good and friendly and just pushy enough not to be annoying and to want me to come by his store to learn more. "Lucky" for me, I don't live in the area. One of the things we discussed is that I dislike the sculpting of their miniatures with the many pieces of flair all over them and how they do not encourage me to convert such models. After all, cutting a 2$ is a no-brainer, but when a mini costs you 5 or more dollars, you'd better be DANG sure you can succeed in what you plan to do...

Got back in time for a fun afternoon with more shugenja madness. Three shugenja, one unicorn courtier, one monk and a phoenix bushi. When combat started, the poor enemies were splattered. The Ide and I aced the talking parts and the monk did all the monk stuff.

I took another nap before the final slot of the event. The 1-hour refreshed me and I was ready to go for the whole evening. It was the court larp event. Now I must say that I do not particularly enjoy those events. Most of the time, I figure my character is too weak to be consulted.

This time around, however, they did something I really enjoyed: in addition to the court plot, there was a plot running through the adventure where we felt something was wrong. With the help of Jeffrey-M (whose Isawa shugenja is a frequent companion of mine), we used the divination skill to help us along and discover many things. I spoke with the Emerald Champion and kept him and my clan abreast of everything I discovered and received a cool reward for it: his notice.

This side-plot to me, was the highlight of the event. It gave me a reason to approach some of the NPCs and interact with them, but also made us shugenja have to focus and discover something about what happened that made me feel like a shugenja, like a priest. Big kudos to the admin team on that, it made my weekend.

The rest of the larp went pretty much as expected: I participated in some events: Origami and Performing but did not win. I had fun and that was most important.

Home to snore.

My weekend in St Louis would not be complete without sitting down for what is becoming a tradition: breakfast at Gingham's in St Charles with Philip and Rachel, who this year were joined by Wesley. We talked gaming for hours. It was awesome. The food was awesome and I did not have to eat again until I got home some five hours later.

Yes, I plan to attend WiR again next year. Yes, I will play more Heroes of Rokugan at Gencon. I can't wait.

Monday, March 19, 2018

MidsouthCon 2018 AAR

The weekend started on Friday. I left work early, using the opportunity to get some work done on the car (a much-needed tune-up). Then I waited for ActionMan's return from school to leave.

Three o'clock and we loaded the car with gaming material we had already prepared and stacked by the door. Then on the road to Memphis, TN! West on I-840, then I-40 and finally I-240 brought us to the Hyatt in Germantown. It was 6pm and both of us were hungry. On a whim, I opted to stop at the Hyatt, get signed up and make use of the con suite (which is well-stocked and conveniently located).

ActionMan and I munched before we mustered ourselves at a table of "Hammer and Anvil", adventure for the Adventure League. I played with the folks of FORGE in Memphis before and I have a high opinion of them: the quality of their GMs and their players. Our GM Daniel did not disappoint and our wacky band of adventurers made it way through. A lot of fun. The game over, we hoped in the car, checked into our hotel and slept.

That's where I discovered things about the Boy...
- He is a blanket hog
- He rolls to the middle of the bed
- He flails

After a rather exhausting night, we had a quick breakfast and went to set up. I must say that I really love having someone to help setting up. ActionMan is really excited and energized about playing some Saggakar, with his anuka fighter, Zombie-Slinger.

I ran the two adventures from Gencon: The Sorrowful Lady for the morning slot. It is a strange fantasy adventure where the forest comes alive yet has the dark touch that Tyrants of Saggakar is known for. We had a really fun group. Including Addison-M who really liked the setting, more later. Every time I run that adventure, I am reminded how crazy it is and the odd madness of it makes it worth so much more... It works. It really works as something different and run, which is one of the things I always wanted to do with my adventures: make them different in their own way. It is close to Jen's House of Mirrors as a fun adventure. Classic in its own right.

Coming back from getting lunch (Panda Express), we stopped at the foam sword fighting in the meadow. Needless to say, ActionMan really loved getting into it. After fifteen or so minutes of fighting with me and with other kids, he came back and provided me with some pointers on how to fight with a sword... "Never go full offense or full defense if you want to win." My son.

For the afternoon, we took part in the multi-table epic adventure Drums of the Dead a really challenging and fun adventure that has a lot of different elements for characters to shine. I have really been enjoying AL epics because of the challenge and the odd elements that happens in them. So never "really" know what will happen and there are twists and turns during the game. Not just combat means other aspects of your character can be used.

Our table was solid, with the four basic: heavy tank, healer, wizard, and me. I played Local Boy Mik, who is a drunken redneck walking around with a jug of moonshine. He is based on a mix of Cletus from The Simpsons with Tickle from Moonshiners, and so many other bad stereotypes of southern people (Deliverance anyone?). He is hilarious in his over-the-topness which makes everyone chuckles constantly, with his "have a shot o'shine" that serves as a somatic component to every one of his spells. Plus, as a Local Boy, he has family everywhere! (He is a Folk Hero). ActionMan played Sir Patrik, the dependable half-orc paladin. He really was one of the MVPs of our table by beating up on stuff that tried to beat us to a pulp.

Flush with victory, we returned to the other room where I ran House Cleaning, an adventure very different from the previous one. At the same time more political and more combat-intensive, it make for a fun evening. With that, Zombie-Slinger has out-leveled the band and would be level 6.

The morning I planned to run a Rhym adventure. Joining ActionMan was a family of three. The sails were hoisted and Black Sails was played. There were many distractions but we had a blast. Black Sails is the perfect Sunday morning adventure: simple in concept, with deceptive undercurrents.

Plus, Pirates. I mean. Yarrr.

 

On the way back home, ActionMan asked me when I would write and run "Tier 2" Saggakar adventures so he can play more Zombie-Slinger. He is getting to enjoy that character quite a lot. He was tired but very much excited about the con and looks forward to the next one he is attending: Conglomeration in Louisville at the end of the month.

As for me, MidSouthCon is easily my favorite con in Tennessee. It has a pool of great players, great GMs, and everything is close by: the con suite, the vendor hall, the art hall, pro-row (to get stuff signed and the like), and even food location (though you need a car for that one). It really sets its own standard and hits all of my buttons for what makes a good con. I strongly recommend it to everyone and to other con organizers. The team is responsive and I got emails the day of every event I was running (I knew of them, but I thought that was cool). Their sign-up board are clearly visible and accessible by being in the hall on folding walls. The con suite is always loaded with food and convenient (you can run to get food between your own round of initiative).

It brings in people from far and wide: I played with folks from Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee (Memphis, Chattanooga, and Nashville), and a few guys from Arkansas. This melting pot of people brings to the table many different gaming style that makes games fun and every table its own mini-event. Not unlike Gencon or Origins (though on a MUCH smaller scale).

I mention Addison earlier, we are working on a few things together. I won't provide you with details right now, but there will be some

 

Yes, I plan to attend MidSouthCon again next year and bring more material from the FOEniverse...

I'm coming back next year! Not just me, but ActionMan wants to come back as well!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

[Old-Pro Tips] Explain it all vs Say nothing

I have been and played with many GMs. Some good, some bad, some okay, but they all fit into one of these two categories: The Explain-it-All and the Say-Nothing. These types are not static as GMs go from one extreme to the other...

I found it really hard to find a middle ground between these two extremes. Let's examine both before we try to rationalize.

Explain it All

Someone who is Explain-It-All, cannot stop himself from telling you all the wonderful thing an adventure contains. All the intricacies the players missed, read into, skimmed, ignored, or decided against. When the adventure is over and you step away from the game table, you know everything there is about it.

People who do that are often excited and enamored with the adventure that they want to showcase it all, make sure the players understand its awesomeness.

Say Nothing

The Say-Nothing is the GM who at the end of the adventure closes the book, smiles and says "see you next time". He is a bank vault about what you missed or ignored in his work.

What you experienced is all there is.

The Say-Nothing GM can also be very excited about the adventure, but his excitement lies in the surprise of the follow-up. That time when he slaps you with "that NPC you completely forgot about who now seeks revenge..."

Who am I?

Adventure writers and GMs are an odd bunch. Differently odd. Opposite odd in many ways. Adventure writers have to be Explain It All while GMs should be Say Nothing. Why? Because their goals are different.

The writer HAS to put everything in his product so the GM can make correct rulings and understand what is going on and focusing only on the absolute essentials. That is one of the reason that playing with the author is so great: because you learn all the secrets behind the adventure, some of the secret bolts the "random" GM has little way of knowing.

As a GM (of other people's stuff), I lean towards the Say-Nothing type, letting the game be the source of record. However as an author, I want to get people excited about all the possible secret links they did not experience in the adventure.

Which is best?

That is the big question. I do not think there is anything wrong with either of these styles or approach. What type of game I play - and run - impacts my personal taste both as a player and as a GM.

As I play a lot of organized play games, I like knowing what elements our table missed as the GM is rarely in charge of what comes next and important plot elements may be needed to understand what is happening next. So, Explain-it-All. Now I no longer run organized play from others, so this one for me is only on the player side.

In the few home games I play, I prefer the Say-Nothing approach so the GM can pick and choose threads he will expand upon going forward.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Old FOE favorite now on DM's Guild

Revisiting old works is something that is always interesting to do. Adventures I once thought was very interesting and well-written just read odd and awkward years later. I mean, I remembered them as well-thought out now feel empty and full of strange references that make the narrative heavy or are simply not needed.

With the advent of the DMsGuild, I am looking at adventures I wrote that could be updated to 5e and give them a new life. I have been digging in my old vault of material from Living Greyhawk, Living Forgotten Realms (yes, yes, I know it feels dirty but some of the adventures for the Moonshae Isles had good stories), and even some of my early Pathfinder stuff I did back in 2012.

This means stripping off all the intellectual property from them, giving them a new treatment so they are tighter and cleaner, but keep the underlying story that made them fun in the first place. 5th Edition makes it really easy to update material to it. I also found that it allows for more combats and encounters than previous encounters did.

These adventures will roll out over the next few months as I finish them, making them fully compatible with Legacies, and giving them new life. I hope to run them again, and could very well make surprise appearances at a local event run by yours truly...

Without further ado... I am proud to announce the release of Need of the Many by star author Jen McTeague, now on DM's Guild

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Conglomeration Louisville Update(s)

Just to let you know that we are on the program for Conglomeration in just over a month. Here is the link if you want to pre-register for games.

Also I remind you of the special promo code that takes 5$ off your registration! Here is the Registration link on Eventbright.

I am running one adventure in Rhym (Come to the hills), one in Saggakar (Exalted Pains), and one in Akhamet: the intro "Lost Pyramid of Neferheket". All three are well into their writing as I am now in the "manic writer touch-up stuff again and again phase". The kids play-tested the first draft of the Lost Pyramid... Unlike adult they all want to open stuff and play with whatever items they see and find... I enjoyed myself. Very much so.

I am now working on a special "Anything goes" type adventure for Sunday morning... The idea is there and all that's left is to execute the writing. As I do not plan to publish that, the writing is a lot looser. Read: hello spelling mistakes! (worse than usual)

As an added surprise, JD is also running a Rhym Legacies adventure featuring a new, unique cast of characters. Check out what he teased on his blog: Here

I am looking forward to seeing everyone and premiere new adventures. And a new setting (Akhamet world premiere).

Thursday, February 22, 2018

[Rant] System is irrelevant for RPG?

This is one of the endless conflict. And one that came to the forefront of my thoughts after I posted my review of Starfinder. A review that ignited the passions of many. Mostly along the expected lines: lovers of Pathfinder and its haters.

One of my issues with it was that the game felt heavy, sluggish and slow. I do not see high flying action coming through the game.

So many said "System is irrelevant". It is true that you can role-play with any game system. Heck have you ever seen gamers playing Monopoly? Yeah... Role-playing breaks out as you have to fork your cash... Or you take your friends' money.

Is it role-play? Yes. Is it a great part of the game? Oh yeah. Does the system matter? No. Therefore system is irrelevant, right?

Well no. Because the game does not support or encourage you doing anything off script. Can you do? Sure.

System is not irrelevant. It is important in how you get to do what you want. To keep to the sci-fi theme, I will use two franchises: Star Wars and Star Trek.

Star Wars is about action and adventure. The specifics of how technology works is secondary. That the characters understand it is a given. Star Trek is about exploration, engineering and science. Where you go is secondary to how you get there.

A game system that focuses on the minute details of how the technology works would greatly favor Star Trek, while one that focuses on action is better suited for Star Wars. A system like Savage Worlds that is very good on action is great for Star Wars. A system more focused on details, like Starfinder or Basic Role-play (BRP). Can these three games support doing either? Yes. However, you are not playing to their strength.

Is it wrong to do that? No, of course not. These are games and as long as every one at the table has fun and enjoys the adventures played is the important.

Does system force you into a pigeonhole and defines what you have to play? Yes and no. Yes because the rules make certain things easier and cleaner. No because your campaign is yours and the bigger systems at least support most things from combat to social to investigation.

I always like to understand the game rules and adapt my style of play to the game. Yes you can investigate the world of Cthulhu using D&D or Savage Worlds but using a more granular and deadlier system like BRP.

One story I tell to people is the following: when we come up to a band of twenty goblins...

Playing D&D: I charge into the lot and  emerge bloody but victorious standing over the pile of my enemies.

Playing WHFRP: I wait for half to leave. Then wait some more. Then keep staying hidden until we out number them two-to-one before we charge in and win.

Same situation. Different expected result. Different play tactics.

Therefore, I cannot say that system is meaningless. It is important. I would agree to "Setting over system", but not to "System is irrelevant".

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Many Secrets of Tothet Island Released

Legacies has now been run by FOE for five years. FIVE years! Time flies. During this time, FOE has grown and grown, with many product released all the time.

Moving more into the world of 5th edition, I revisited some old favorites to update and make them into 5th edition adventures. This is one such adventure that has a great hook and development that makes it exciting and challenging to play. Straight up combat is not always the only way to go, in fact here it is likely to get you killed. But do not think there are no combat here... quite the opposite.

The Many Secrets of Tothet Island is an adventure that will take your characters from first level to 4th level.

- As a boon for the GM, the adventure is full of loose ends that can be explored by the party upon conclusion of this adventure.

- Included is a LR to allow your character to use as a starter character for Legacies Organized Play Campaign

You can get this awesome adventure through DrivethruRpg, RPGNow.com.

Edit: Removed DM's Guild link

[Campaign Report] The Awakening... the finale

After months of trying to get people together, we finally got together (most of us) for the finale of the many one-shot campaign started back in September. Today was the final of this storyline.

After the last two sessions where the party cleared out WrathKeep, now occupied by the barbarian army. And discovered some of the enemy army's secret, such as how they recognized each other. They were given a great honor by Lady Kotina, High Priestess of the Law. Because the party voted against her in a previous gathering, she gave them the great honor of standing in the front lines, outside the city walls.

Facing them were artillery made of ogres with over-sized slings. With those, they fired at the walls. Not very precise but eventually effective.

Having cleared the ogres, they rushed back into town where they realized the enemy had burrowed into town as the veterans all ran out to take out the ogres, the enemy troops were bypassing their defenses. Bands of drakonians and barbarians in orange body paint were attacking the town: setting fires and destroying what they could.

After a lull in the fighting, both sides reorganized. The barbarians made a big push against the cathedral of the Law, where the slaves of House Katel gathered and where the priests animated zombies and sent them on rampage against the enemy. Here, a large red dragon is sucking power out a power stone, only to be stopped by Keevin (ActionMan) who disrupted whatever he was doing. As the dragon was unable to control the ritual, it keep bleeding necrotic energy that nearly killed the brave Keevin, who saved at the last moment by the brave action of Togg who batted away the hand of the dragon, allowing the dragon to escape, over-charged with the necrotic energy it sought to control.

In the final act, the PCs infiltrated the keep itself, finding out their compatriot Belladonus/a faked his death in the great hall. Giving a rough idea of the situation above: his brother, Lord Zarzal was locked in battle with a mighty dragon. He told them that they could use the Miststone, a portal they used to travel "somewhere" before. They do not remember where they went, but their mission there was clearly unsuccessful... All they had to do was hit the Miststone with a bead he gave them.

Running up, Togg the hareen went to pick up the stone while the others went up-top to appraise of the situation... Yeah... They regretted it and a lot of quality clothing were soiled (except the Sad Willow darkling who did not bat an eye upon seeing the beast).

The dragon did not care for the presence or actions of the PCs until the combatants noticed the Miststone was there and Lord Zarzal called "You fools! Why did you bring it here! That's what it came here for!" Group facepalm. On its next action, the dragon moved and took the stone. Followed by a throw of the bead using mage hand...

POOF! Everyone within 30 feet of the dragon, including the dragon itself, were swallowed by the Mists. Only Om-za, the kynean sorcerer stood up to find himself alone on the roof. He avoided being swallowed by the Mists.

The dragon gone, its army lost cohesion and though it would ravage the countryside, it was no longer the threat it once had. Lady Kotina, High Priestess of the Law, took command of House Katel and restored order in Katelkeep.

In the end, only the following party members have their whereabouts still known: Belladonus/a the haver-bard, Hyree the amazon ranger, and Om-za the kynean sorcerer. The rest are lost to the Mists...

The story for another time as they say...

Note to my players I did not tell you about this during or after the game, but I will count the result of the many mini-campaigns as binding for the Tyrants of Saggakar. Therefore, your actions will be written in an upcoming sourcebook for the campaign (which you will all receive a copy when I am done with it).

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

[Rhym] Lord of the desert released

One of the things I love about Rhym is that it allows me to write adventures I cannot in Saggakar. This includes desert-based adventure such as this one.

Following the success of Black Sails, I was inspired to write a follow-up adventure. This adventure picks up where Black Sails leaves off, but they can be enjoyed independently. Leaving pirates, ships, and naval puns behind for the heat of the desert, in an adventure that harks to old classics adventures.

This 5e adventure premiered at Imaginarium 2017.

You can get it through DriveThru RPG or RPGNow.