I’ve felt three of them in my lifetime. First, the 2011 Virginia earthquake: I had just returned from a summer in Korea and was staying with my family in the Maryland suburbs. My grandmother and I were the only ones home when the ground started shaking; it felt just like a passing train, so I didn’t really take note of it at first, until I remembered that there weren’t actually any train tracks nearby. I stumbled down the hall and asked my grandmother (in Croatian)–“is this an earthquake?” She nodded, not the least bit concerned–she’d been through many quakes in her long life and knew when to worry.

And then, last year, I was in Hiroshima on vacation when the 2016 Kyushu Earthquakes struck, waking me up two nights in a row in my hotel: first the largest foreshock, and then the 7.0 main quake, which to my inexperienced self felt massive (much bigger than the Virginia quake), but which still was weak enough where I was, more than a hundred miles away, to not do any damage.

(Nearer the epicenter, it was a different story, of course–damage in the Kumamoto area was fairly extensive, but Hiroshima was as close as I got.)

A few days later, I saw a solitary, elderly European tourist at Haneda Airport, carrying a gift bag from Kumamoto Castle. He must have had an unexpectedly interesting vacation.

The entire experience rendered the rest of my trip–stops in Yokohama and then Taipei–a little surreal; all the lost sleep left me in a near-fugue state. I need to get back to Taipei some day, in a better state of mind: I hardly remember what I did for my three days there.

I don’t have any particular motive for writing about this now, to be honest. I just couldn’t sleep last night, and the occasional rumble of passing trucks brought back memories.

Week 3: Atlas of the Inner Sea

Inner Sea Map (hand drawn) header

In a couple weeks I’ll be running a Dungeons & Dragons game for a group of my friends, for the first time in many (many) years. I’ve really missed the thrill of creating my own world and guiding a group of unsuspecting suckers intrepid adventurers through it, so, as my third Weekly Project, I’ve written a few pages about the campaign setting we’ll be playing in.

(To my players: there are no spoilers here, so it’s safe to read, but you’re under no obligation to do so! I’m just posting it for fun.)

Atlas of the Inner Sea v0.1 (PDF)

Map of the Inner Sea (PNG)

As usual for my weekly projects, this is all very rough–even more than usual in this case, since I don’t write much these days! Rather than creating a huge world, I focused on putting a lot of details into a relatively small region, and making every single point of interest unique and worth visiting. I tried to consider the history and languages of the various settlements–language in particular is something that largely gets ignored in D&D games, so I think it might be interesting to take it a little more seriously. All that said, I’m sure there are all manner of typos, internal inconsistencies, and other issues here. (And the hand-drawn map is pretty embarassing!)

It’s entirely possible that this new D&D game will just end up being a one-off, but I’m hoping it becomes a recurring campaign, so that we can all get to know the Inner Sea and its diverse and eccentric peoples together.

A couple side notes:

  • I picked up a bunch of the new Reaper Bones plastic miniatures for this game. I am in love with them. They’re every bit as detailed as traditional pewter minis but much cheaper and easier to work with. They even look better unpainted, to my eye–it’s a lot easier to see detail on the solid, matte white surface. This is nice because it’s highly unlikely I’ll have the time to paint any of them (although who knows; maybe I’ll make it a weekly project). I also bought some of the new official pre-painted D&D figures, but I wouldn’t recommend them. They’re ridiculously expensive and of mediocre quality.
  • I’m still reading through the new 5th edition D&D rules, but I’m pretty pleased with them so far. They seem to have entirely backed off from trying to emulate MMO conventions (one of the many unfortunate decisions they made in 4E), and seem to be emphasizing role-playing a lot more in this edition. There’s also a two-paragraph section on gender, encouraging players to experiment with their characters’ gender roles, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Unexpected and very cool. I may post more about my impressions of 5E once we’ve had a chance to play.