Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How many Monster Manuals do you need?

I was preparing an adventure and wanted approximately a CR7 giant crab.  You would think that with three Monster Manuals, I would have just what I needed.  Think again. 

Fortunately for me, I have taken to heart advice given by others over the years and I can look past the flavor text in the MMs.  Do not get me wrong, I like the flavor text, and it is valuable.  However with three Monster Manuals I probably have all the monster stats I will every need.  (sorry publishers. though I am open to your marketing wiles - go ahead and sell me a bestiary for which I cannot live without possessing).

Quick scan through the books.... looking for a CR7 creature with two attacks (claws) and decent AC (hard shell)... ah there it is: Umber Hulk.

A few changes to be made: remove the confusing gaze, increase the natural AC, reduce the burrow speed, add some damage resistance against cutting/stabbing weapons (DR bludgeoning) and presto we have a giant green crab.  The DM adds his own flavor text and we are off and running with about 5 minutes work.

I especially like creating new monsters with new descriptions that are exactly the same as monster stats in one of the Monster Manuals just to mess with the players who think that memorizing the Monster Manual is a fair and helpful thing that players should do.  It irritates me that characters who have never seen a monster before are able to share helpful advice on how to slay this mystical beast before them.  I guess that is my version of the Gary's Nilbog to confound players.  Heh.

What do you say?  DM's do you struggle with finding new monsters?  Do you recycle stats?  Are you satisfied with a small number of Monster Manuals?  Players how do you feel about the DM's constant quest to come up with new monters?  Do you like it or are your frustrated that your long hours reading bestiaries go unrewarded?  Do your recognized when you have been Nilbogged?

Monday, March 29, 2010

A perfect ale for adventuring, Gulden Draak

Once again I have a birthday and my friends and family gift me with alcohol.  I cannot bear to let them down, so dutifully I consume them one by one....

Tonight's brew is Gulden Draak (golden dragon in Dutch).  This is another complex brew reviewed by a guy whose palate and nose are just good enough to recognize a fine brew, but not schooled enough to do a professional review.  So enjoy the yeoman's ride and be jealous I am the one drinking the ale.

This is a dark Belgian ale with a high alcohol content, 10.5%.  The first challenge is a brew that is designed to hold up and balance with the higher alcohol level; passed.  It poured a coppery brown color with a nice, long lasting head.  There was a complex mixture of flavors including dark fruits, brown sugars, and some spices that I could not quite put my finger on but come to be expected by in the Belgian ales.  The flavor of toffee hung in there after the sip and there was little bitter aftertaste.  The mouth feel was pleasant, not too much carbonation.  With more sips there was the taste of some candy, and despite the sweetness had a dry finish.  Other flavors that were just beyond my identifying danced on the tongue while drinking.

Since this was a gift, I cannot comment on the cost.  I would certainly drink it again if presented, but not too many at one sitting.  The high alcohol content will put you back on your ass in no time.  This is a very nice ale, one you will be pleased to enjoy given the chance.  It would be the perfect ending to a successful adventure.  Thanks to my lovely wife for feeding my beer and blog habit.  


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Does it really taste different in Ireland?

Yes, I am referring to iconic Guinness stout.  A common assertion is that it tastes better in Ireland.  Is it true?

In my own experience with Guinness in the U.S, I can say that Guinness on tap is superior to Guinness in the bottles or cans with the magic widget.  That should really surprise no one.  Comparing Guinness on tap here vs. on tap in Ireland is a much more difficult proposition to those with limited means.  So I can only rely on my quite subjective memory.

I do believe there is a difference, though I think it is a subtle one.  I am skeptical of those that say they like Guinness in Ireland but do not like it on tap in the U.S.  For me there is not a huge difference, but a just noticeable one.  I like to drink the renowned beverage both here in the colonies and back in the mother country.  So what is it exactly that could be different?

It's in the water.  You know, I have experienced a difference in taste with American beers made in different locations.  The water does make a difference in the final taste. 

A good pour makes a good pint.  It is definitely a point of pride in a real Irish pub to pour the dark elixir properly.  Enough said.

The ambiance makes it so.  Does it taste better in a crowded Irish pub with the sounds of The Rose of Tralee sung unaccompanied by instruments by a local tenor?  Does it taste better matched with the hearty comfort food that fills your belly after a long wet day in the Irish chill?  With the smell of drying wool sweaters around a turf fire?  Yes. Yes. Yes.

I cannot put my finger on it for certain, but I do know there is a difference.  What I have observed is the lack of residue rings up the glass here in the States.  In Ireland the head leaves a noticeable ring around every at rest point after a tasty swallow.  What causes that and what does it mean?  I am without a clue, but it is some evidence that there is, in fact, some difference.  Post away if you can explain it.

Either way, I will enjoy it.  I had a glass tonight, and unfortunately it was only from a widget bearing bottle.  It was still good.  And echoes of The Rose of Tralee rise pleasantly from my memories of the pubs of Ireland.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Creation myth discussion on ENWorld

The earlier blog post sparked a thread at ENWorld.

Here is the link if you are curious or want to join in.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Jack Kerouac, again.

I was in Toronto last week on business.  I went out to dinner with an associate from one of our vendors.  We went to Joey's (which I am told started in Calgary as Joey Tomatoes or something like that).  There my associate asked for a particular waiter that had served his table a few weeks earlier.  Turns out the waiter and my associate are both from Calgary.

We chatted with the waiter, who was about college age, for a few minutes.  I mentioned I was from New England.  The waiter mentioned his upcoming trip to Boston to visit a friend in school, and to enjoy the area steeped in history of famous people and especially Jack Kerouac.  So we chatted about Jack's home town of Lowell, and how after many years I just recently read 'On the Road', and told my story about Astro's (see previous blog post).

Curious how connections happen, is it not?
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