Archive for January, 2015

Morocco/Spain diary: Day 18

Sunday, 25 January, 2015

Tuesday, 30 September, 2014, 10:20

We are just finishing off our late breakfast in the hotel buffet. We decided to sleep in and eat late because the museums we want to visit this morning don’t open until 10:00. The breakfast buffet here is huge, with dozens of different types of meats and cheeses and pastries, as well as several types of both cakes and biscuits. There are churros and hot chocolate (to which you can add star anise or lemon slices or chunks of cinnamon bark), pancakes, frittatas, fried eggs, multiple different types of sausage, bacon, several bowls of fresh diced fruit, lots of different types of bread and bread rolls, five types of cereal (including muesli for the first time on the entire trip), five types of fruit juice, mineral water both con gas and sin gas, a coffee machine which makes seven different types of coffee at the touch of a button, and even a bottle of opened red wine. It’s enormous and would be very tempting, but at this time of the morning I really just want muesli and fruit.


We are taking a drink break at the cafe El Picadero on Plaza San Pedro Nolasco. M. tried to order a cappuccino but they didn’t make those, so she got caffe con leche. I tried to ask for an orange juice, but ended up with a fizzy orange soda. (I asked for “juego“, which I thought was “juice”, but looking it up I see that actually means “game”, so who knows what the waitress thought I was asking for.) After finishing the drinks we’ll order some sandwiches for a very late lunch.

Roman theatre stage
Roman Theatre of Caesaraugusta.


Awesomely average

Thursday, 15 January, 2015

I am starting up a new Dungeons & Dragons campaign using the new 5th edition rules. I’m going to run a group of friends through the first published adventure for the new rules – Hoard of the Dragon Queen.

Accordingly, the players need to generate 1st level characters. I’ve decided to use the random method of stat generation, which is rolling 4d6 and adding the best 3 dice together to form six ability scores, followed by the player assigning them to the ability scores any way they want. As a fallback, if the whims of Fate hand a player horrid bad luck and a hand of awful scores, they can choose to take the default score set listed in the book (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) instead of the rolls. I still kind of like the slight uncertainty of randomness, but this method at least removes the chance of being stuck with an unfun set of scores.

Anyway, today several of the players rolled their stats. Mostly they were a decent spread of scores. But one player managed to roll: 12, 12, 12, 11, 12, 12.

Now, adventurers are above average individuals, and the best 3 of 4d6 method is designed to generate above average scores. Average is nominally the result of a straight 3d6, which has an average score of 10.5. So five 12s and an 11 is actually above average in every single ability score.

While the player was lamenting his luck and trying to decide whether or not to fall back to the default score set, another player came up with the following backstory:

You come from a small village. While growing up, you realised that you were naturally better at everything than anyone else in your village! You were stronger, faster, more athletic, healthier, smarter, wiser, and everyone loved you. Any task you tried your hand at, you quickly mastered and could outperform your teacher. So, you decided you were made to be… an adventurer!

And so you left your little village and went out into the world to seek your fortune. You are supremely confident in your skills. After all, you can fight, you can cast spells, you can sneak and pick pockets, you can do healing – all better than anyone in your home village! So when you joined an adventuring band, you decided that any task that came up was your responsibility. Need someone to sneak around and scout the enemy – you! Be in the front row to protect the weaker fighters – you! Parley with hostile humanoids – you! You are keen and bright-eyed, and eager to volunteer for any and every job the adventuring group needs!

We all ended up laughing so much that I think the player is probably going to keep his very slightly above average scores, and turn it into a roleplaying windfall.

Morocco/Spain diary: Day 17

Wednesday, 14 January, 2015

Monday, 29 September, 2014. 09:52

We are waiting in Atocha Station in Madrid for our train to Zaragoza, which departs at 10:30. We got up at 07:30 to shower and then have breakfast in the hotel, before packing our bags and checking out. Today I tried the sunflowers seeds sprinkled over my cereal, only to discover too late that they had been salted! So I had to stir the salty seeds through the strawberry yoghurt to mask the saltiness.

We paid for the breakfasts as we checked out, then walked out into the cool morning air. It was a shirt walk to the Opera Metro station, where we caught the lift from the plaza down to the station, to avoid carrying our luggage down the stairs. We caught a train to Sol, and switched lines to get the train to Atocha Renfe, right below the long distance train station. Once here, we used a lift again and then went through baggage control, where they x-ray all luggage going on to a train. We are now sitting in an airport-style departure lounge area, with the platforms visible below us through glass walls. There are a lot of people waiting here; I presume many of them will be on our train, which goes to Barcelona, although we get off midway, at Zaragoza.

15:11. Hotel Catalonia El Pilar, Zaragoza.

We have arrived in Zaragoza and are taking a short break in our hotel room, since everything around here seems to be closed from 14:00 until either 16:00 or 17:00, including all the museums and cathedrals and other stuff we might want to see. We were silly and had lunch early, at about 13:30, when we should have been sightseeing and then taking a two hour lunch from 14:00!

Hotel Catalonia El Pilar, Zaragoza
View from our room at Hotel Catalonia El Pilar.


Morocco/Spain diary: Day 16

Monday, 5 January, 2015

Sunday, 28 September, 2014. 09:26

The yoghurt here is not as good as it was in Morocco. We’re having breakfast at the hotel buffet, which costs 7.95 euro. It’s an extensive buffet with eggs, sausages, bacon, lots of bread and bread rolls, croissants, pastries, cereal, yoghurt, cakes, Spanish omelette, cheese (Edam, Brie, and a fresh white cheese), cold meats, fresh fruit, juices, dried fruit, a bowl of sunflower seeds, and more.


We are sitting at a place called La Vinoteca, in Plaza de Santa Ana, a small square in front of the Teatro Español. We have just ordered some patatas bravas and albondigas to eat with some glasses of Alfar red wine from Rioja. The sun is starting to go down and the day is very pleasant with plenty of activity in the square in front of us.

Plaza de Santa Ana
Relaxing in Plaza de Santa Ana at the end of the day.