I bought and played fourth edition because I had money and that's what they had. I had never played D&D before and had no-one to teach me so I had to learn from the 4th Ed Players Handbook.
This is a bit like learning to play the Guitar by reading a biography of Eric Clapton. A bad biography.
Actually I don't think the people who made 4th Ed actually really want anyone playing their game. Not deep down within themselves, or in the forgotten spaces of their thought. They believe they do but I felt the whiff of a kind of strange mind-scattered corporate double-think I have smelled many times before. I'd write about it but that wouldn't be useful and this blog is meant to be useful things.
So I went from there to Lamentations Of The Flame Princess which is about as far from 4th Ed as you can get. James Raggi had a lot of things to say in his game. I'll speak about one of them. Recorded Time.
You count the minutes in the dungeon so you know when the light runs out, and if the torch is black and dead then the players cannot see. And that's that. They are lost. In 4th Ed an adventuring kit packed with glow rods and lamp oil is bought for you and that game specifically says that most underground spaces are kept well lit by the inhabitants, or convenient phosphorescent fungi.
So we go from a dungeon lit like American Television to one with a hungry darkness. And from dramatic time to a cold measurement.
Like a lot of Raggi's advice I was both attracted to and repelled by this. His slightly aggressive puritanism is like a sharp block in the road of fun. It challenges but the challenge suggests a promise, that the road is deeper and longer if you get past.
Or maybe that's bullshit and there is no road.
I wanted to keep time in the dungeon but that is boring so I renamed the Hours.
In Balach the Hours live. Each individual segment of the day has a quiet thought, a mind and a relationship with the other Hours. As each hour passes, somewhere in Balach, they duel in physical form. One hour will die and pass on, the other will live for sixty minutes and rule in the spaces between moments. Always the same way.
Unless you meet them by chance. And change the result.
If you can befriend an Hour, you can also become the enemy of one. So time can have both personality and politics.
The Hours have names, eventually I plan to give them Stats.
00.00 Lady Midnight
01.00 The Hour of Thieves
02.00 The Hour of the Grinding Gear
03.00 The Ice-Touched Hour
04.00 The Hour of the Wolf
05.00 The Inverse Prison Hour
07.00 The hour Clothed in Grey and Gold
08.00 The Hour of the Crystal View
09.00 The Hour of Surrender
10.00 The Thief Hour (Not the Hour of Thieves)
11.00 Hour of The Bees
12.00 Emperor Noon, The Crowned Hour
13.00 The Hour of Little Dogs
14.00 The Many Petalled Flower Hour
15.00 Hour of the Tethered Shade
16.00 Hour of the Burning Sea
17.00 The Rat Hour
18.00 The Heart Bit Hour
19.00 The Repeated Hour
20.00 Sun's Death
21.00 The Hour Torn
22.00 (No Known Name, possibly deceased.)
23.00 The Fallen Hour