John-Michael Gariepy

Archive for the month “June, 2011”


[Fortuglio, if I’m allowed to sound snooty on my own blog, begins what I refer to as The Silver Age of John-Michael’s writing.  Back when I started doing security, I wrote a number of short stories and comic book scripts on my laptop.  I was pleased with Fortuglio and did what some would consider the “wrong thing to do”.  I posted it on my MySpace page.  You see, once I did that, I threw away first publishing rights to Fortuglio.  Now, anyone I presented this short story to could make a quick Google search, find it printed somewhere else, and toss my story in the trash pile.  Funny thing is, the laptop broke and my information was irretrevable.  I wish I did the wrong thing to all those stories.  Ah, well.

Oh, also, a word of warning.  This story is PG, as in Parental Guidance suggested.  There’s nothing that bad in it really, but it isn’t the sort of story I would tell a bunch of kids on their way to sunday school.  I’m just saying.]



      Beyond the doorway, rain crashed on a drenched brown tunic sprlayed about the head and hung across his body. A set of reigns lead from his hand to a horse who snorted at the indignity of hooves buried in mud.
      “Good evening, sir,” the stranger said. His voice struggled against the pounding of the rain. “My name is Gregori, and am a pilgrim traveling through your countryside.  I’m in need of a dry place to sleep, and perhaps some food? I have some money I can part to pay for my expenses.”
      Dobbins was annoyed. Helping pilgrims was not how he planned to spend his night. His back throbbed from scurrying about the farm, harvesting the last of the squash before the storm broke. He finished eating, he was tired, and could not read this man’s intentions for all the damned rain. Dobbins couldn’t turn this man away, though. He would suffer no end of bad luck if he did, and the man might catch his death from drowning in this weather. “Let’s put your horse up. The stable isn’t far from here.”
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The Adventurers!: Just how many priceless treasures are there in ancient temples anyhow?

...and what's with all these boulder traps?  It's like all the ancient civilizations got together for an ancient temple trapbuilding conference...


This review was originally posted at

The guys at AEG bill The Adventurers as the first 15 minutes of Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Arc. Instead of balancing an idol against a bag of sand, though, players ransack an ancient temple looting anything that’s not engulfed under waves of lava. The winner is the adventurer who escapes the ancient temple with the most valuable ‘museum exhibits’. Indiana Jones with three Sankara stones hidden in his shirt would curse Kali after he saw what his fellow ‘archaeologists’ were getting away with. Read more…

Tales of the Arabian Nights: In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Tales of Arabian Nights

[It’s not everyday that a game review article inspires you to write a book.  But this expiremental review not only felt good as a review, it felt like a good start to a story.  Now I’m 60,000 words into my book based on the little tale that interupts this review.  When I first started writing game reviews, it was for the sake of improving my own writing.  I hoped that my articles would help me write my book.  I never thought the two would be so intertwined…]

This review was originally posted at

raise be to Allah, the Beneficent King, the Creator of the Universe, who hath raised the heavens without pillars and spread out the earth as a bed. The games of former generations are a lesson to posterity; that a man may review the remarkable games that others have experienced, and be admonished. Extolled be the perfection of Him who has thus ordained that the history of former games be a lesson to those which follow. Such are The Tales of Arabian Nights, with its intriguing stories and clever gameplay. Read more…

Whack a Catgirl: The Zany, Madca- Oh God, I can’t do this…

[Like ‘Aquarius’, ‘Whack a Catgirl’ gave Guilt Free Games a lot of Google hits for things that had nothing to do with the game.  Unlike ‘Aquarius’, people weren’t innocently looking for pictures of David Hasselhoff in a speedo, staring into your soul.  They were looking for things that would make hardened life-sentence prisoners blush.  Still, if a pack of weirdos looking for prOn on the internets ended up reading my card game review, who am I to argue?]

This review was originally posted at

I mean, there are so many levels of nerdiness associated with this: The Japanese obsession with teenage girls, The American misunderstanding and glorification of everything Japanese, Furries, and let’s not forget that we’re still talking about a card game… heck, I’m writing a game REVIEW on the subject. My understanding of the Japanese language is limited, but I’m pretty sure that this is as ‘Otaku’ as it gets.*

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Battle Spirits

This review was originally posted at

Battle Spirits, the latest Collectible Card Game (CCG) by Bandai is beautiful. Face down, the cards look like an expensive set of playing cards. Flip the cards over and the card frames are intricate and lush. There’s some oddity about how the text boxes are spaced out, since many cards have a huge blank spot for a vanilla creature, then tiny flavor text… but at least the cards are uniform. When a card does have a lot of text, it fits without the text size shrinking. Read more…

Aquarius: Mystic Crystal Revelation! But is this the Mind’s True Liberation?

[Aquarius may be my article with the most posts at Guilt Free Games, but that has less to do with the expertise of my writing and more to do with Jeffrey Norman Borbeau’s decision to slap a picture of David Hasselhoff in speedos at the end of the article.  We also got two hits on GFG one day from people Googling “Free pictures of David Hasselhoff”.  I can only hope that was one person who liked the article and that was the only way they could find it again…]

This review was originally posted at

Looney Labs is redistributing Aquarius, and Guilt Free Games got our hands on a demo copy, so I decided to give free loving a try. The rest of the players pushed me back in my chair, dumped a cold glass of water on my head, and insisted that we should play Aquarius instead. Grumbling, I put my shirt back on and shuffled the cards.

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Bang!: Shoot first, Ask questions, Then shoot again!

[Bang! was my first review for Guilt Free Games, so it seems appropriate for it to be my second post, after the introduction, for my blog.  Don’t worry, I’ve got some new stuff on the dock, you’ll just have to wait a couple days while I finalize it. 

This article also had an embarassing coincidence associated with it.  It was the first article I submitted to Dave and Josh at GFG, and after I had submitted it, I found out that Dave had also written his own review of Bang! and was submitting it that week.  What a lesson to learn about communication, huh?  While I hate the line “Great minds think alike”, I must admit, some concepts just seem to be in the air.  I don’t think I ever played a game of Bang! with Dave, but we were playing it at the time for the Myriad Games podcast.  Did someone happen to mention the game at Myriad and that got him thinking about it?  I don’t know.  I do know that this would not be the first time that Josh, Dave and I would have overlapping ideas for what to submit.  You would think I’d know better by now, but halfway through writing my article on Dungeon Mastering a horror game, Josh submits an article on exactly that. 

All of this turned out fine, though.  I’ve slowly been rewriting my article to be about horror campaigns, instead of a single adventure for Halloween.  It also seems that Dave has a different focus than I do. The two Bang! articles have no overlap, so we just posted them one on top of the other.]

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Games and Writing (or possibly, the introduction to the blog)

I play a lot of games. The Myriad Games podcast has me learning at least one new game a week, sometimes more. I sit down with a group of peers and discuss what I like about such and such game, gaming in general, and what talking points we should discuss in the podcast. Then, we dissect the game in question, a process that takes about an hour and a half and is edited down to about 45 minutes. I also write the occasional article about games, head a Thursday night casual Magic: the Gathering league and play extra games with friends on occasion. I feel comfortable saying that I’m a game reviewer.

I’m also a writer, but I’m less comfortable calling myself that. I’ve written a pile of poetry, three comic book scripts and a handfull of short stories. I wrote half a book, decided I didn’t like it and started writing another book, which I’m about 60,000 words into and, I guess we can count a couple years worth of Creative Writing major and the fact that I’ve read a lot of books on writing. But, really, the only thing that gives me any confidence and allows me to feel okay calling myself a writer is the twenty or so articles about gaming that I’ve written for that are also in syndication at I mean, people have read those things. I’ve got the statistics.

This is my attempt to reconcile these two things in my life. As I get further and further into my novel, I’m beginning to see that the pile of words in my wordprossor will coalesce into a book some day. On the day that I go to see a publisher to show him my pile of words, I’d love to say that I’m a well respected blogger with web presence, and point to this website. But, if all I talk about is my writing, it would feel like a sham; A bit of circular logic where the guy who has not proven his chops talks about how much he knows about writing.

(This is where I need to apologize to a lot of people. Because I know there are many people like me in this predicament, and they are proud to consider themselves writers, even if they have yet to be published in the medium of their liking. I’m hard on myself, but I don’t mean to be hard on you. When I say that I am lucky that I have something that I can write about that ties both writing and games together because ‘otherwise, I’d feel like a sham’, I’m admitting my own hang ups, not criticizing you. As far as I’m concerned, you could be jotting ideas on napkins, and if you do it often, you’re a writer. When I turn the camera on myself, though, I become very critical. It’s flaw, I know. Please forgive me.)

Anyhow, what this convoluted introduction is here to explain is that I plan on using this blog to feature my writings on gaming, and to use my experience as a game reviewer to help our further understanding in the field of writing. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.

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