July 15th, 2002



Last Thursday's D&D game went a bit better, IMHO.

I did manage to at least start out with some description (though I lost it quickly as we went into combat). This helped set the mood a bit, and I noticed that people were speaking in character much more than usual.

The combat itself was pretty fun. The barbarian bugbear managed to impress them with how much damage it was able to soak up. They still ended up taking almost no damage that they couldn't heal the next day, but at least they got scratched. (Note to self: if having only one encounter per game day, the EL needs to be a couple of levels above the party to be interesting.)

Unfortunately, I don't seem yet to have created an atmosphere of urgency. In particular, the party is currently going through a prolonged and tedious process of figuring out how to transport their mounts across the shattered bridge, despite the fact that they've concluded that the Duke they're trying to rescue is in trouble.

I guess I'll try to remind them of the urgency when they recap next, and warn them that this may not be a prudent use of their time. And if they don't make it in time... well, it seems like a waste of a good duke, but I'd do it to make a point.


We saw the live-action Scooby-Doo movie on Saturday afternoon.

I had figured that my expectations were low enough that I wouldn't be disappointed. But it turned out that there was one way to disappoint me that I hadn't thought of:

I'm not quite sure how to phrase this, but I was disappointed because the movie was laughing at the Scooby-Doo tropes, instead of having fun in the Scooby-Doo tropes. Some examples of what I mean: the episode of Johnny Bravo that parodied Scooby-Doo was an example of laughing at the pattern; A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, on the other hand, was an example of playing within the pattern (and turning all the knobs up to 11 for maximum silliness).

This distinction explains a lot of the things I found disappointing with the movie. For example, I didn't like the portrayal of Freddie as a smug, self-centered git; I didn't feel that was true to the source text. Even though I laughed at the fart jokes, I didn't feel that they were faithful to my understanding of the characters.

The climactic revelation of Don Knotts the villain was totally fitting in a parody, but also not appropriate for playing within the tropes.

It did do a good job of being a parody, though. Sarah Michelle-Gellar's horndog leer was particularly fabulous. And I liked the references to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Night of the Living Dead, and other references.

In conclusion: it was fine. I don't feel a need to see it again.

Guys and Dolls

We saw Guys and Dolls on Sunday afternoon. (We managed to get our tickets very cheaply--we paid only $18 for both tickets together.)

I liked the show. It reminded me of Perry Mason books, with the general setting of guys wearing suits, and torch singers in clubs.

My favorite line was Sky Masterson's (and I can't quite remember it): "Someday, somebody is going to show you a sealed deck of cards--straight from the factory--and bet you that he can make the Jack of Spades jump up and spit apple cider in your ear. Don't take that bet, or you're going to end up with an earful of cider."

I didn't quite like the ending; I wanted to see some evidence of the women changing to match the men. But they wouldn't really fit into that gambling world; I couldn't think of any resolution that would fit into the setting of that story.

I feel like reading some Damon Runyon now.

(It turned out that all our Sunday dinner guests had other obligations, so Sunday dinner didn't happen. But that was okay, because we weren't surprised by it. We grilled some steaks and had a nice evening together.)

I Hate You, Milkman Fit-To-Page

So, drooling over the MasterMaze pieces has been inspiring me to work on Dirt Cheep Dungeons. My ideal would be to have enough pieces that I could quickly assemble dungeon rooms during play.

But just assembling walls and floor pieces isn't all that interesting, so I decided to try an interesting piece: the Grand Staircase.

I assemble all the pieces over the course of a few hours. And then, as I started to fit the stairs to the wall piece they're going on, I discovered that the two pieces are not on the same scale. Bleah!

The problem was that I had accidentally left the 'fit to page' option checked when I printed out some of the pieces, and they were printed at 92% of their proper size. Bleah bleah bleah.

Lori persuaded me that the right thing to do was to print out other pieces in the same smaller scale, so that I wouldn't have to redo all the work. This is the correct thing--I probably won't get much opportunity to use the Grand Staircase, and when it does come up, I can persuade my players to ignore the discrepancy in scale.

But I was very put out.

(Final result: the Grand Staircase looks very nice, but I look at it and see all the little signs of things being slightly off and not quite exactly matching. Oh well.)