4e Talk at DnD Experience

Critical hits got a press pass to the D&D 4e seminar at the D&D Experience con. His quick notes hit a lot of high points and nail down a lot of specifics. It sounds like there’s still a lot of… “we’ll think about it” for something launching so soon, but we’ll see what comes of it.

[This post, links off to the various 4e coverage at DnD Experience]

Everything that follows is from the first link.

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Code of Conduct and Rules of Conflict

Code of Conduct and Rules of Conflict are Kristine Smith’s first two books about Jani Kilian.

The worlds revealed in the book are interesting– a strong earth trying to keep its colonies held tight, with a fascinating alien race, the Idomeni. The book builds a feeling of claustrophobia, with the characters confined by Chicago’s winter.

There is a lot of small technology– particularly in relation to paper, which is high tech/confidential encrypted, etc. The bigger technology stays largely off screen; shooters function mostly as pistols, ships don’t get described in much detail. It’s a good setting for an investigative mystery, with a lot less tech description and obsession than is common in SF.


Voices is Ursula LeGuin’s sequel to Gifts. It’s an excellent sequel, set many years later. She does a great job of building a convincing occupied city, filled with resentments and unease. The characters all ring true; Memer and Galamand and the oracle house are detailed additions to the world, as is the whole city of Ansul. Gry and Orrec have matured and changed since the last book, but remain at their core the same people.

If you liked Gifts, read Voices.

Viligant, Men of Iron, and Gifts

Vigilant, by James Alan Gardner, is a solid book in the Expendables universe. While it’s not the strongest book, it does have enjoyable mysteries and plotting, and a solid viewpoint character (Faye).

Men of Iron, by Howard Pyle is about a fictional struggle in early 15th century England. The book does a good job of hewing to the viewpoints of the era; unlike most of today’s fantasy, the characters have viewpoints appropriate to the era. Despite stilted speech and some interesting authorial choices as to which parts of the story he’d tell, it was a good read. (Discussion about it will start up soon in CVGamer’s bookcase.)

Ursula LeGuin’s Gifts is a good book, and a strong start on a series. It’s in the Young Adult section, but is as interesting and complex as most of her stories. The tale of Orrec and Gry growing up as landholder’s children in a fantastic Scotland analogue is light on action and long on solid, believable thought.

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Talky and scientific characters in SotC fights

These mailing list posts about Spirit are pretty inspiring for non-traditional fights. Every Skill Is Useful In Combat (Was: Re: manging significant ability discrepancies within the party). Fred Hicks writes:

Skills really break down into three types: talky, thinky, and fighty.

Fighty, you’re already set in a fight. So let’s move on to “talky”.

In my opinion, in SOTC, the most powerful skill is Rapport. It’s vastly flexible, and unless your character is gagged, you can always use it. Combine it with the Blather stunt and you can pretty much /paralyze/ opponents during a fight — or at least leave them too confused to decide to attack /you/ — by creatively running your mouth.

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While I don’t have the same bad experiences with cross gender play, I do have concerns about shallowly portraying women.

Firefly fanfic

Newwark, NJ: City creation example for Dresden Files

LeGuin: Staying awake: Notes on the alleged decline of reading

Chimera Creative

Books to investigate: Thomas Ligotti: Noctuary, Songs of a Dead Dreamer

specialty cooking stuff

Interesting blogs to check out, like I am Trex.

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A More Perfect Constitution and Swords of Riverside

A More Perfect Constitution, by Larry J. Sabato, is an interesting look at the constitution. He suggests that our reverence for the founding fathers has delayed much needed upkeep to the constitution. He has several proposals (23 or so) to address various issues, like the permanent campaign, Iowa and New Hampshire’s outsized role in the primaries, etc. The issues are good ones; almost everything he mentions does seem to be a problem, though I don’t agree with all of his solutions. His website related to the idea of calling a second constitutional convention, is amoreperfectconstitution.com.

Swords of Riverside by Ellen Kushner is an omnibus with two previous books and a few related short stories collected. The first book, Swordspoint, reveals an interesting culture. The relationship between Alec and St Viter is the heart of the first book; they each reveal themselves with interesting edges as the book progresses. Alec’s “secret family” is adequately telegraphed and works fine for the story. The intrigue among the nobles is properly off camera most of the time. The minor view points are less grabby but still work.

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