December 26th, 2008

Persephone is the Reason for the Season


Very nice weather outside, a warm 60 or so.

Christmas has been survived. Mom brought Grandma over, who doddled around making strange vague mumbling noises. It's been a rough year for her, just not a lot left :(

Told Mom that I would go to Christmas Eve service with her, *if* it was at my church. This worked, and the service was a good UU message ("the birth of the sacred can happen within us all," with a Jungian review of the characters in the Nativity story as internal psychological forces. Unfortunately, the UU hymnal is rampant with hymn-fuckery--while I appreciate the desire to retain some of the "Great Hymns of the Church" in a more PC fashion, it's particuarly jarring when they change the words of Christmas carols. So kind of a mixed service for high church mom, but she seemed to enjoy it.

Christmas breakfast and the opening of presents...LOTS of DVDs changed hands! My biggest gift-purchase was the moonstone-encrusted "Tales of Beedle the Bard" for mom. It was a good fairy-princess present and she reacted appropriately, but I don't think I would have done that had I realized my job would evaporate. Le sigh. But it's really pretty!

Breakfast and presents stretched on until 2:00 or so, when we ran home (it was kind of abrupt, "sorry to get presents and run," but there was a lot of cleanup and cooking still to do.) I made some sweet potato balls with pecan-praline sauce (a little too much orange, but otherwise, quite tasty and oh-so-sweet!), grilled a turkey which came out PERFECTLY, even the drumsticks stayed on when I flipped it into its final carving pan, and put together some pumpkin creme brulee for afters. Dinner was very nice, everything was just about perfect, and cosey--just mom, sister, Whines and me.

Altogether, nearly perfect Christmas, probably as close to perfect as is achievable with alzhiemers, rampant unemployment, a low-lying cloud of household drama in our den, and a family who can't schedule to save their lives. So, a very, very good Christmas. I think the next few weeks are going to be a little off-balance, so I'm glad for a happy island, and leftover grilled turkey.
Gamer Geek

Manual of the Planes--

Whines picked me up a copy of the new 4.0 Manual of the Planes. It was great! Not quite as complicated as the original MOP from 1st ed, but a more rewarding read than the 3.5 edition, which was all number-crunchy but without a lot of location color. Not quite as hawt as Planescape, but what could be?

A few nice surprises--a four-page writeup of Sigil, the home city of Planescape. That was neat, it's only gotten a paragraph or two in recent supplements. A major fact error (that in the previous edition, no-one knew where Sigil was located, which wasn't true--it was demonstrably at the center of the universe).

Secondly, in the list of vehicles that one can use to traipse around the planes, is a class of vehicle called "Spelljammers" :) Neat!

A third interesting bit is that the Shadowfell strongly mimics early Ravenloft, with discrete realms that dark powers have complete control over, but are imprisoned within. Interesting. Particularly since Setting Book Ravenloft is pretty early in the release schedule, though presumably after Eberron and DRagonlance.

A lot of old gods from previous editions get mentioned, and the abyss looks like a fun, fun place to adventure in. I do hope for a follow-up with more details.

One thing I miss is the orderly layout of the elemental planes, which really hasn't existed for a good long time (the original Monster Manual had an obsessive-compulsively complex planar layout, which I lurved). 4.0 gets pretty far away from the "Wheel" structure. Having, say, the Elemental Plane of Water, the Quasi-elemental plane of Minerals, etc, as discrete adventuring environments was kind of neat, but the new arrangement has its own charms.

Interesting note--the paradises and hells have shrunk dramatically. The Nine Mountains of Paradise or whatever are a mid-sized state, about 700 miles long and a few hundred miles across. Pandemonium is only a good 30 miles wide. Weird decision. Even the Nine Hells are finite, though they're an earth-sized planet, so not such a big deal...there are almost no truly infinite realms. The Abyss is finite, but v-e-r-y large. Presumably, the Shadowfell and Feywild are only about as large as the earth is. The only really infinite spaces are the Prime Material Plane, the Elemental Chaos, and the Astral...everything

So, generally, one of the best books about the planes that D&D has ever released, very colorful. Maaybe a little light on crunchy mechanics, but not intolerably so.