Why T’s mum is such a dreadful hypocrite

31 July, 2010

So, anyway.

I was eavesdropping again – a dirty habit, but I’m a bad person. T had once again effortlessly collected a claque of male admirers (and wasn’t the little gay guy snarky with envy!), and was drunkenly explaining to them what a hypocrite her mum was. Seems that her mum would never let her listen to that dreadful ungodly rock music when she was a teen, and yet it turns out her mum is a big fan of Meatloaf! Meatloaf, who released an album with “hell” in the title! “Hell”, I say!

Well, T, allow me to explain.

Have you ever burned yourself? On a stove, touching a hot car engine, brushing against a heater – have you ever received a burn? One that actually cooked the top layer of flesh, leaving a browny/grey mark? Just think for a moment about that.

Ok. Could you ever, ever, ever grab someone’s arm and plunge it into a chip fryer? Could you ever pour boiling fat on someone? Ever? Could you ever pour a pot of sizzling oil on a teenager? A 10-year old child? Could you hear their screams, see their face and scalp go crispy and burned, and then do it again to the next person in line?

No? Nether could I. I could never, never do a thing like that. No without going insane.

But Jesus can. And he will.

The bible clearly states that hell is not just “darkeness” or “separation from God”. It is being punished with fire. For ever and ever. And people don’t just wind up in hell of their own volition, as C.S.Lewis so unbiblically describes. They are bundled up like wood and tossed into the fire at the command of Jesus. It says so. In the bible. You know it does.

Any mum would do anything at all to keep her child from that. The dreadful, dreadful threat of it. The savagery. The unending cruelty of it. Always, for a believing christian, there’s that horrible reality. All you can do is try not to think about it. All you can do is hope that you have done your christianity correctly, that you are not one of the billions destined for the fire. That your kids are not.

It’s that ole cognitive dissonance again, causing the hypocrisy.

And yet …

God is good, right? He’s like the ultimate good-by-definition good. So you have to believe, then, that it’s good to throw the unbelievers into hell, to be burned and burned forever. It’s a good, and right, and proper, and correct and reasonable thing to do. It’s so right to do it, that only a bad person would suppose it was wrong.

(For this reason, one could argue that it is in itself morally wrong to believe in hell. Only a bad person could possibly imagine that the ultimate good would allow such a thing to exist, much less condemn people to it. If “by their fruits we know them”, then consider how many heretics and witches have been horribly tortured on the grounds that it might save their souls from the even worse torment in the afterlife.)

But the sins that you are notionally thrown in hell for – sassing your mum, listening to rock music – how could the possibly warrant such a thing? How could any act? When you look into it a bit further, you work out that the condemned-or-not decision doesn’t really have anything to do with the things you do: the things most people think of as sins. The atonement takes care of all that – forgiveness is as simple as asking for it. The only sin that God actually cares about is unbelief, and in the NT, unbelief is a deliberate choice. The real underlying issue is: whose side are you on? Are you with God, or against him? Do you obey god, or are you in rebellion? Where lies your allegiance?

That’s the real issue. I worked it out it back in the days when I believed, that that’s what it was really about. But I never took the next step. Allegiance. Rebellion. These are political terms. God is a king. And hell, therefore, is a political prison. A gulag, where king God sends the dissidents against his rule to be tortured. That’s what it’s about. It’s not so much the murderers who go to hell – a simple “sorry about the murders, God” takes care of that. It’s the scoffers and blasphemers.

But, God is our father, right? LOL. Every patriarchal despot that’s ever been has called himself a father to his people, including Papa Joe Stalin and Uncle Idi Amin. God is our “father” and wants our “love”, but what is it to love God? Jesus states it plainly: “if you love me, you will obey my commands.” And if you do not obey, then you do not love him, and if you do not love him, you are not his child, but his enemy. Everyone is one or the other.

And why does God fry his enemies in the fires of eternal hell? Because that’s just the kind of thing that Kings do. Remember who wrote this shit. The bottom of the pyramid back in the first century. People who lived under Herod. People who saw in the roman circuses what kings and kings of kings do.

It’s a very, very old idea, of course. A patriarch back in the early OT wanted a lot of sons, because sons are what you need to fight the sons of the guy living at the other end of the valley, sons are what you need in order to steal his sheep. Kids were disposable – things you had, things you owned. Look at the attitude to kids in the book of Job. God punishes Job by wiping out his children, and that’s ok. At the end of the book, they get replaced with some more. Fungible. And no mention of the couple of dozen wives that bore these kids, either. Only the patriarch actually matters.

It goes back further, to Genesis 1, where the spirits (the word is “Elohim”, it’s plural and it means “spirits”) the spirits created the world and what was in it, and then each spirit created a race of men, each in his own image and likeness. Jehovah owned Adam like a patriarch owns his livestock, his wives, his sons – because Jehovah was Adam’s father. He made him. That’s why Adam had a duty of obedience. That what jave Jehovah the right to punish him in his body. Even to kill. Read the story of Abraham and Isaac: there’s not a hint of a whisper of the notion that Isaac’s life was not Abraham’s to give.

It’s this same authority, then, that a king claims when he calls himself his people’s “father”. It’s this that is the real meaning of God’s fatherhood of his people. A duty to obey. Or be punished. A billion dollars worth of cathedrals, of crosses and robes, millenia of fire and savagery, of wars, of inquisitions and burnings, all because God has the right to hurt us. He made us. He is our father. And when we disobey him, it makes him so angry.

Finally: did it ever strike you how horrible heaven is? Mark Twain put it best:

Consider the deafening hurricane of sound — millions and millions of voices screaming at once and millions and millions of harps gritting their teeth at the same time! I ask you: is it hideous, is it odious, is it horrible?

Consider further: it is a praise service; a service of compliment, of flattery, of adulation! Do you ask who it is that is willing to endure this strange compliment, this insane compliment; and who not only endures it, but likes it, enjoys it, requires if, commands it? Hold your breath!

It is God! This race’s god, I mean. He sits on his throne, attended by his four and twenty elders and some other dignitaries pertaining to his court, and looks out over his miles and miles of tempestuous worshipers, and smiles, and purrs, and nods his satisfaction northward, eastward, southward; as quaint and nave a spectacle as has yet been imagined in this universe, I take it.

It is easy to see that the inventor of the heavens did not originate the idea, but copied it from the show-ceremonies of some sorry little sovereign State up in the back settlements of the Orient somewhere.

Could you handle it? After living – or trying to live – a productive, useful life here on earth, learning, working, building your skills; would you want to do nothing but tell God just how awesome he is forever? The floor is made of gold that is as transparent as glass, and looking down through it you can see the torments of the damned. But you are safe and happy, because you have been made sinlessly perfect, and it doesn’t bother you a bit. Look! Down there! There is your child, your mother, your lover – wailing in pain. They didn’t repent properly, didn’t believe exactly the right doctrines, “lost their faith” towards the end, maybe even took the mark ‘o the beast™ so they could work and feed their families. And so they are condemned. But you are ok – you feel nothing for them. All the tears have been wiped from your eyes, you have your crown, and a white stone with your name on it. Anyway: there’s nothing you can do for them now – God just isn’t forgiving people anymore.

Think about the songs we used to sing: “Holy holy holy is the lamb, worthy to be praised!” forever and ever. What sort of person whats to hear that? What sort of person wants to be flattered by his inferiors over and over, unendingly for eternity? What sort of person creates the greatest created beings, the cherubim of the throne – 12 miles tall and fire-breathing awesome, so that their entire job and purpose in life is to cover their eyes and cry holy? Why: the same sort of person as throws anyone who won’t do it into an eternal lake of fire! A middle eastern petty despot. A Herod. A Saddam Hussein. That’s the kind of person the God of the bible is.

And some people want a personal relationship with him.

(If the content of this post bothers you but you still want to be able to pretend that you believe in the God of the bible, why not consider universalism?)
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Guild of the Golden Scorpion

29 July, 2010


Our half of the Good Games Friday game is, well, a little down on numbers. At least it was last week. Maybe it’s permanent, I don’t know. Jamie (the DM) has indicated that he will become more active and we will perhaps be having less guest DMming, which has disrupted storyline a bit. I think the DM’s are still disappointed that the grand Green Crane experiment has devolved into just a couple of ordinary dnd weekly games.

This week, one of our players decided to try a CE character. I … I have a variety of things that I am not writing down nor am going to. We are not from NIDA, so roleplaying doesn’t really happen. We play our characters the way we do because that is how we want to play. Like religion, character alignment is mainly an excuse to behave as you wish, particularly when you pick one because it suits you.

Forgive the tone of this entry. My heart is heavy within me today, and I wonder for the future of our guild, even though by all appearances we have had great success.

Our escort mission is complete. Mikhail of house Cannith is back home in Fairhaven, safe and sound and on time. Milord Schwarzenegger was gracious and has granted our guild a charter to operate.

We decided to reward ourselves with some gold from the treasury. Five hundred each – an enormous sum to most, but not so much so to the various vendors of magic. We rewarded our new members the same as our veterans, as is right. One of them, Azureus, was very keen to get a battle horse. It seems that in a previous life he has had trouble with his mount bolting. A battle horse, though, is not something you simply purchase. Nevertheless, I accompanied him to the local milita compound where at least he could get some advice on the matter.

There was … there was something of a difficulty at the door, as I identified myself as being affiliated with the guild of the Green Crane. All of whom are wanted criminals now, as after our guild split the other members fired our guildhouse, which had been made an orphanage. I covered up as well as I could, and smoothed things over. I all but lied to the guards. Bitter that I must hide, and dissemble, and be ashamed of an association, a name, a sign of which I had so hoped I could one day be proud. Now my sign is no longer a noble bird of luck and good hope, but a gilded poisonous insect. All that sustains me is that despair is as great a sin as dishonour.

The stablemaster explained to Azureus that battlehorses are not simply bought. Nevertheless, a stroke of luck. She had a half-trained horse that had been rejected for want of size. The colt was something of a runt, but with all the spirit one would expect of the breed. In truth, a perfect mount for an fighter who does not use heavy armour. I advised Azureus that he would not find a better deal than “Stampy” for 200 gold (and suggested that he mention tack), and left, for I had asked at the militia after an honest merchant who could outfit our company.

At the chandler – a halfling whose name I do not recall at present – I commissioned a dozen or so simple tabards with insignia, or possibly a basic sash. Gesh was not keen on the idea – the Green Crane has made him cynical of the very idea of openly affiliating with a group. Perhaps he is right, perhaps everyone is snickering behind their hands at me. Nevertheless, we have premises, we have a charter, we have a name and a bank account, and even if our president is lying under an ale barrel as I write this by the scales of the platinum one we’ll wear a basic bloody insignia or admit we are simply a pack of bandits.

I also commissioned a [belt, gloves, or something] for myself, which I hope will come in handy and serve better than anything from Honest Abdul’s.


Our shopping done, we headed back to our hall via a more direct route than the road. We were shortly to find why the road took such a broad detour about this particular part of the world. Some strange elemental creatures of rock emerged from the hills about us, and attacked. We defeated them, and one of them had some sort of amulet. Gesh put it on, and ran into a cave in the nearby hill.

We followed. We caught up with Gesh in a worked room of some kind. He was clearly under some sort of magical compulsion and said that he “needed to be here”. A difficult and dangerous situation. Azureus attempted to snatch the amulet off him, and Gesh – of course, as you would expect by someone under a geas – defended himself with some violence. Azureus chose to attack in reply, using his powers to do so. Perhaps it is fortunate that we were assailed by creatures of elemental air.

I have not the heart to describe the rest of our adventure in that cave complex. There were elementals. We defeated them. We squabbled over loot, and at the centre of these squabbles was always Azureus, literally diving for the amulets that these elementals occasionally dropped. Even our other new member was disturbed. Finally we reached a chamber, a tomb which Vandigan told us was properly blessed. Azureus simply violated the grave. Tore it open. Inside was nothing, just an old corpse.

Occasionally, you are offered a simple choice. We ejected Azureus from the guild then and there. It was the right thing to do. But I’ll beg your pardon as I sit here, writing this journal, fully in my cups. Perhaps tomorrow will be brighter.


Kingmaker

29 July, 2010

Damn, I’ve left this too long. I only half-remember last week’s game. I’ll do the best I can.

Michael,

It’s ok, I am alive. And a little drunk, to tell the truth, but save enough here at the trading post. I’ll continue from where I left off.

We scouted the bandits and found a lookout post up in the trees with some archers. So we decided that Rainor and I would attack that as a distraction or something, and then the rest of us would attack. Well, to cut a long story short we attacked it, and they raised the alarm, and then I think everyone else attacked the main camp but I don’t know much about what wen on there. We (Rainor and I) basically tried to hide in the trees and take shots at the archers in the lookout. At one point I created a little audible figment – some other archers in some greenery where we wern’t – and that distracted one of them. I also used that little blinding flash thing, which worked rather well. But essentially all that happened was we shot them, they shot us, and eventually we killed them first. It’s all rather nasty and horrible really.

After the archers in the lookout were dead, we came out into the open and shot a few of the bandits on the other side of the creek, which I hope helped out the rest of our party a bit. But I think they were doing fine.

Anyway, we questioned a couple of prisoners. The leader was (is) a nasty bit of work, but our paladin insists that all bandits must be given a chance to repent. Our stick fighter added her to his little army, and maintained that that’s repentance enough. I think we should have just hanged them, but really I don’t care all that much. He kept scacles on her though, which was sensible. The other survivor we let go, with a letter for Oleg explaining that we let him go. He took to his heels, I can tell you.

The really interesting thing is that these bandits are actually working for someone called “The Stag Lord”, or someone. Seems to me that if this stag lord rules these lands, then the swordmasters of Restov are not really pacifying some wild uninhabited land, but are in fact engaging in a war to annexe someone else’s territory. But what do I know about politics?

What I was mainly interested in was in transporting the loot. If we have gone to the trouble of “dispersing” this band of “bandits”, then leaving the loot lying about the place was just a waste. The prisoner told us that the wagon came regularly, that there was a password, and a few other items about this stag lord. I insisted that we had to get this wagon to transport back the loot, so that’s what we did. We set up our ambush in open grassland to the south, cunningly deploying a mounted halberdeer that could be seen for miles in any direction.

It was a quick fight. I got in close and Color Sprayed the horse and its drivers, and they were out for the count. While it was down, I hobbled it. Everyone else was busy fighting, but someone has to keep an eye on business. Not much else happened. We took the cart back to the bandit camp, loaded the loot onto it, and headed back to Olegs.

Well! He’s doing well for himself! The post is aive of activity. There was some nonsense at the gate from the new guards, but dealt with fairly quickly. Some of the loot was some very, very nice liquor destined for the Stag Lord. We gave it to Oleg in exchange for – I don’t know – him agreeing to think we are fine and trustworthy people. I snagged a bottle of it, and that accounts for the state in which I write this.

But there was other loot, furs and some gold. We have sold the sellable goods to Oleg (no doubt at a ruinous discount) and ordered in some supplies from civilisation. I have ordered a [magic item of some sort] and looking forward to getting it.

Haven’t disgraced the name of elvenkind so far, if anyone cares.

Till next time,
Your sister in exile,
Seldrynn.


Proving Grounds – Trav

29 July, 2010

Our first week of proving grounds. Our guest DM was Travis, who built a level 1 adventure.

The plot was, goblins attack your wagon. While you are fighting, the other goblins come and grab the shit. You go into the goblin hole to go get it back.

The adventure was four encounters: the attack on the caravan, an ambush on the way to the goblin cave, the first cave with pillars, and the final cave with a couple of BBEGs and waves of goblins coming in from outside.

I really enjoyed the game. I am a player at heart, not a DM. I played well and the scenario gave me a chance to try out a wizard, which character worked really well and I was very pleased with. What I want in a DM is turns that move ahead briskly and rules calls that are not egregiously bad. So Trav’s DMming rules-wise was perfectly fine as far as I am concerned – it didn’t get in the way. There’s nothing worse than a ref that kills play, and Trav did not do that. We did not have extended rules discussions, and even though we did four fairly big encounters, we finished the night not excessively late. Trav definitely enabled the game to happen, and pulled of a fairly ambitious mini-adventure.

We really only isolated a couple of areas where we thought Trav could improve.

We survived the adventure with no fatalities, but only because we are awesome. We did feel that a less experienced group of players would not have managed as well. It’s difficult to get balance right – we are all still learning the game system, really. So that’s mostly cool. He did as well as I could have done, there, if not better.

Trav is a competitive guy (shit hot Magic player), and I expected that he would take a DM vs Party attitude. To a great degree he managed to pull his horns in. DMming will actually do that, because killing the party is a matter of saying “a rogue god pops out of the ground and smites you”. So it becomes no fun do do. Trav’s goblins, however, did use metagame information here and there – targeting the healer. But substantially he didn’t and played them straight. So – not a full-on killer DM, but with a couple of impulses in that direction that could be worked on.

Although the understanding was that we would not be doing role-playing so much, we would have liked just a little more story. Why did we care about the contents of the wagon, enough to risk our lives in a goblin cave? During the final encounter, extra waves of goblins came in. It felt like Trav was just throwing them in. That was not the case, but even without role-playing, an in-story excuse is as easy as “you hear someone beating a complex rhythm on what sounds like a hollow log”. Ok, cool, the goblins from the other caves and warrens are taking a moment to get here.

Oh, and Trav screwed up the first encounter, allowing us to move the wagon forward to a point where it was unlikely that the goblins could actually have stolen the gear. Ooops 🙂 .

Still, we all felt that Trav did well.


Kingmaker

21 July, 2010

Michael,

This is just a short note in case these bandits kill me and they recover my body. No, I am not captured, no need to panic. I think I should start from where I left off last time.

After getting the goblin-ear bounty, we (that is to say, the group of people I am with) decided to go shopping and to head out within a few days. Annuals can be terribly hasty about things – we would plan things out for a while, but I suppose they know they don’t have all that much time.

I spent a day or two tracking down some spells that might be useful – this little spell that does the job of a watchdog, the spell of comprehension of languages (a fascinating divination), one or two others. I prepared a few scrolls for contingencies – you know, spells that you might want to cast in a pinch but that you don’t want to go to the trouble of preparing. Oh, and I bought a secondhand wand of “Grease” – a little conjuration that is handier than you might think at first.

I’m not sure what everyone else did, although I do know that the fighter with this long stick with a blade on the end – it’s not a spear, I think it’s a farm implement that’s been turned into a weapon – anyway, he decided to acquire a personal army of five by the simple dint of paying them. I think he’s terribly vain. But it’s nice to have some spare eyes and ears keeping watch, even if they are not particularly acute.


Our first port of call was this fortified trading post – “Oleg’s”. I hadn’t heard of it before – it’s right at the southern border of the settled lands, and our charter from the swordlords uses it as a reference point.

Well, Oleg was being blackmailed by a group of bandits and he seemed to think that we had been sent to help him. I suppose that’s what we are here to do – deal with bandits and reopen trade – so that’s all right then. Our stick fighter wanted to ambush the bandits – to have his men close the gates behind them so as to trap them inside. Besides that we didn’t really have any strategy. He was very unimpressed by the state of the defences – four wooden towers with a broken siege engine at the top of each.

Anyway, the bandits rode into the fort, bold as you please, and the damned paladin strides out to challenge them. So much for surprise. We attacked, and the bandits threw a flask of alchemical fire into the stable. Well at least they carry out their threats. The bright idea of trapping the bandidts inside was the worst possible thing we could have done. Serves us right for not asking Oleg in more detail what the bandits had threatened to do.

So, they fired the stable. The horses panicked and bolted – Dobbin too, the ungrateful nag. They trampled some of the bandits and one of us too and escaped down the road. One or two of the bandits got away, unfortunately. We had to track them down or they’d just come back and burn the trading post some more.

So we put out the fire – good job Oleg wasn’t hurt – and followed them. And Dobbin.


Well, a few miles south we saw a group of Kobolds and we decided to ask them about the bandits. Because, well – it’s couldn’t hurt. We may have to clean them out of the area too, but it would be best if everyone could just get along. Rainor approached them. The plan was that he would grab one, the others would scatter, and then we’d threaten question it.

Unfortuantely, these kobolds were turnip-farmers. Yes, by that I mean the sweet turnips and it’s pretty clear that they were addicts. One of them was particularly savage and more than a little mad. When Rainor grabbed one of them, instead of scattering they attacked. A tricky situation to manage when you are trying to get on their good side. I ran up yelling “Don’t kill!” (they speak draconic, you know, so all that dreary study has been of some use) so that after we had beaten them they would know that we were not necessarily here to kill them.

We were in no danger whatever, really, but I thought it best to Colour Spray the lot of them. It knocked out Rainor as well as two of the kobolds, which was a calculated risk – I had waited for the slower fighters to get close enough to the fight that he would not be in any danger. Well, I misjudged and one of the little bastards tried to jut his throat and I owe Rainor an apology. The fighters finally lumbered up and brained the thing.

Well, we tied ’em up and decided to play it tough (Koblds don’t really respond to anything else) and so we did the thing that guarantees cooperation from any addict. We threatened their turnips.

They knew (or at least claimed to know) where the bandits camped. We left behind the mad one and the one with the rather nasty head injury (he deserved worse) and went to find ourselves some bandits.


I think Rainor is an elf – someone might have mentioned it. I’ll write this as though he is.

Our guides led us south, which seemed probably about right. We had to camp overnight, and the Kobolds didn’t like the idea at all. And rightly so. At about midnight we were attacked by one of those marsupial tigers (you know the ones?). I wasn’t going to be able to sleep through it (the little witch must be deaf – she’ll be nice and rested and able to prepare spells tomorrow) so the night’s meditation was lost anyway, so I tried to light up the area a little.

The thing went straight for one of the kobolds and killed it more or less straight away. We killed the tiger, but it was too late. The other kobold was distraught (“I known him since he was an egg!” etc etc) so we buried the body and planted a turnip on top.

Later than night, Rainor toed me in the ribs. Noises in the dark. Well, there was no point waking up a human (they are blind at night) so we went to have a look. I’m not sure where the woodsman is from – I suppose I could ask – but it’s nice to have another of the folk in the group. I think the spell-casting girl has a little elven as well. In any case, we are both able to walk about without kicking up a dreadful boat-footed clatter.

Another tiger had found the grave and dug up the kobold and was happily munching on it. We watched for a while, and it noticed us, but it was calm. Eventually it finished and did an enormous shit in the hole and left. Rainor and I filled in the grave again and planted another turnip on top. In the morning, the other kobold came out to pay his final respects. “Don’t worry”, we told him, “he’s in a better place now.”


And here we are. It seems that the kobolds knew what they were talking about after all. We have sighted the bandit camp and will attack in the morning. I couldn’t prepare spells, but I have my bow and dagger and they will have to do.

In hopes that I shall be able to write again,
Your Sister in exile
Seldrynn.


Guild of the Golden Scorpion

21 July, 2010

A short engagement today. Our patron has resumed his archaeological efforts. His offsider – Sanjay – directed us to investigate a certain hole in the ground. We were to recover something or other, but Sanjay was unable to tell us what the object might be, saving that it was “shiny”.

Well enough. As we approached the entrance, a few undead emerged from the ground: skeletons and something more dangerous. We dispatched them without great difficulty and – importantly – without Sanjay getting killed.

The hole proved to be some 20 or so foot deep. Not a bottomless pit, but not an easy leap either. At the bottom was a largish worked chamber with water of unknown depth in depressions in the floor.

We were addressed by some sort of spirit or ghost, who asked us to “free us”. It faded away without telling us any more, and more undead attacked us – skeletons, a “wight” (whatever that might be), and something summoned by the wight – a ghost or some kind of shade.

We fought the creatures. We still do not fight as a unit, and rely on individual battle prowess. Nevertheless, after a more difficult battle we defeated these.

As the shade dissolved, something rose from the central water-filled pit: some sort of primal creature of wind and lightning.

I had just the mini for it at home, but did not bring it this week

This thing proved most dangerous, and as we fought the chamber began to fill with water, becoming chest deep after less than a minute. There were calls to escape out the shaft to the surface, but the water did not completely fill the chamber and began to drain away – I think as we began to prevail against the creature.

After defeating this final beast, we recovered a necklace of unknown power. which – as per the terms of our contract – we surrendered to Sanjay. He paid us each a welcome and generous bounty for the item’s recovery. After a short discussion, we decided that these moneys were not contract income and need not be split with the guild. In any case: the treasury is in good shape at present, so it is less of an issue.

The spirit did not address us again. I hope that she has found peace.


Dungeon Delve

19 July, 2010

This will be a short post.

Tonight I ran the first mini-adventure from Dungeon Delve. The book contains mini-adventures from level 1 through 30. Terry and I will alternate running games, so he is DMming next fortnight. Next week, I think Travis is doing something.

The game went pretty well. The level 1 adventure is a bit of a walkover for experienced players, so I added a couple of genre-specific bonus monsters: a pair of Guard Drakes up top, and a pair of Spitting Drakes in the third encounter, scaled down to level 1 by the rules.

The guard drakes helped keep the party away from the slingers. Without them, there was only a bunch of minions to do the job, and the party would simply have gone straight though them. It worked well – the party spent turns on them rather than taking out the ranged guys first.

The spitting drakes added a much-needed range attack to the final encounter. The encounter was a standoff, with the party in the corridor and the kobolds in the room. Without the drakes’ ranged attacks, the party would have stayed in the corridor until the Cloud of Daggers forced the kobolds to enter the corridor one by one and get creamed.

As it turned out, the encounters were correctly tough for a mini-adventure with disposable characters. All the party survived until the third encounter, and two survived that. They took out the wyrmling, after which the sole remaining kobold ran for it.

I … I fudged a couple of dice rolls to avoid an early TPK. If no-one noticed, then mission accomplished. 🙂 I also used identical figurines marked with numbers to conceal which of the kobolds were non-minions. At one point, a player targeted Orange 7 (the minion) rather than Orange 8 (the non-minion) with an encounter power because he had lost track of which kobold was which. Again: mission accomplished – the chaos of battle effectively simulated. (he missed anyway, but that’s not the point).

So, what did I learn? Well … it was a reminder of just how much work running a game is, even when 90% of it is done for you. The main issue is how slowly the game runs, and a big cause of that is the number of seconds that it takes me to locate basic stats – defenses and attack bonuses. Each time I’m scanning the stat block, finding the correct spot. Part of it is simply how fine the print is – I’m beginning to get longsighted. Reading glasses soon.

Meh. It’s all good so far.

ps: I also had a chance to show the guys how I like to manage initiative. My battlemat has the numbers 25-1 in permanent marker written down a couple of the edges. I just have someone put the character (or for delve, player) initial against their initiative, and you can just read off the round. Red for monsters, blue for players. If someone delays then you just put an asterisk next to their initials. When they want to take their turn, the initials get wiped and redrawn at their new point. I use a couple of sheets of good clear vinyl (from Clark Rubber) over the top of a grid. Using a couple of small sheets rather than one big one gives you a fair bit of flexibility – the vinyl kind of sticks together. Whiteboard marker does not work – you must use water-soluble overhead transparency marker. Only hassle is that if you use a cloth to erase, you get ink all over your hands. But on the whole, it was well received I think.