I’m attacking the darkness!

(Yeah, that’s right. Not a word on Watchmen. Everyone else has already commented, and it’s too late by now.)

Busybusybusy. I’ve been stuck late at work a lot of late. Not ’til the deep of night or anything, but with the TTC, it adds up. And when I’m not at work, I’ve been (over)preparing for my first crack at GMing a game in person. I’ll be running D&D, 3.5 Ed.. My players are all roleplaying n00bs – Jon, my fellow-poster at this blog; JL, and DG. Gonna run ’em through a couple of classic, old modules, which more experienced players might already know.

I’m developing a sweet – and hopefully effective – gaming setup. I have a nice broad, slightly low IKEA coffee table, 36″ by 48″, with a shelf underneath. I’ve got an end-table nearby for GM notes, the laptop, tokens, etc..

I picked up two battle-grid mats, each 20″ by 30″, which should do nicely. I picked up a variety of glass beads, polished stones, and mosaic tiles at the dollar store, for us as monsters and whatnot. I’m still looking for appropriate markers for the mats – wet-erase, black, chisel-tipped. All the wet-erase markers I’ve found have either (1) been in kids’ rainbow-packs, or (2) been astonishingly expensive. I did hit on what seems an effective contingency plan, though – while I was at the dollar store, I found they sold little ingots of coloured glass in quantity, and in a test run those did nicely to represent dungeon walls.

Speaking of test run: I had Jon run his PC through a sample dungeon (generated by the invaluable Demonweb random dungeon generator), and it went well. He showed the good sense not to antagonize a Deep Gnome for no reason, and the similarly good sense to flee like a little girl from a dire rat that had taken off half his health with a single bite.

I’ll post some pictures of the whole setup once I’ve got a game session in full swing, so you can see the full effect.

My brother’s comment, on discovering this blog, was “I came to the conclusion that somehow you have raised your level of weirdness over the past few years. I thought for sure you had peaked out at around age 17. I was wrong.” Win.

It’s Hardcore History

The biggest win of the podcast Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is the flavour.

Most episodes range from 30 minutes up to an hour or more. They generally involve Dan, alone at the mic, talking about some particularly interesting historical time and place – Europe during the Black Death, or the Mediterranean just after Alexander the Great died, or the Assyrian Empire before and after its fall. He just did a three-episode telling of the Punic Wars.

I find this material a goldmine for creative inspiration. If I’m creating an Evil Empire, I’ll listen to Episode 17 again, “Judgment at Nineveh”, about the Assyrian Empire, and their long succession of ruthless, brutal Emperors, and the direct, to-the-hilt brutality they used to keep their provinces in line. If I’m writing about barbarins and horse archers, I’ll listen to Episode 12, “Steppe Stories”.

He doesn’t promise scholarly rigor. Quite the contrary, he cheerfully refers to himself as a “history fan”, rather than a “historian” or any such. He speculates, and he repeats anecdotes of questionable provenance, all for the sake of a good story. He always does a fantastic job of setting the scene, of putting you into the time and place he’s discussing.