Thursday, November 22, 2012


To bring about the unity of azure sea and steely sky:
Distill patina of the ages from your horses,
The amber tears that the ghetto and casinos cry,
And trace the inkstains of your canal courses.

The feet of beggars and the dukes in motion,
The steps from churches to the water worn,
Your songs and echoes carry dust to ocean,
And all of us who bear your candle mourn.

The rolling rumbling rhythm of your bells,
The sketches of the sun and shadows,
Transform the streets into the alphabet of spells,
La Serenissima - our mother and our gallows.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Back in the saddle

Today I DM'd my third ever 4th edition D&D game. I have been very skeptical and critical of 4th edition in the past, but I admit that I only ran premade adventures whose quality was subpar, and my knowledge of the rules was sketchy. This time around I decided to do write an original adventure, do a bit of prep, and take advantage of what 4th edition does best: combat, easy encounter and monster creation, and more combat. It took me perhaps half an hour to an hour to grok how combat and non-combat encounters are created, and what is considered a balanced encounter in 4th edition. Another 10 minutes was spent figuring out how advancing monsters and stacking templates work. Then I was off to the races. As is typical for my games, I follow The Lazy Man's Guide to GMing. I had a loose plot in mind, a few names for the npcs, and a rough map and flowchart. Those took about 15 minutes to come up with. The bulk of the time was spent creating the solo boss, which was a breeze thanks to online NPC generators, the easy template and level advancement rules in 4e, and lack of need to stat out the equipment of the boss. That took about 30 minutes, most of which was consumed by Google searches and writing. Perhaps another 20-30 minutes was spent flipping through different monster manuals to populate the remainder of the adventure. So in total perhaps I spent two to two and a half hours on prep, and an hour of that was just learning new systems and locating where all the relevant rules are - something I won't need to do for next time. The session was very fun, and I think going with a James Bond/The Laundry Files super-spies meet techno-thrillers meet supernatural horror meet fantasy feel paid off, although it featured more combat encounters than I'm usually used to. I'm actually excited for more 4e now!