One of my happy little revelations during yesterday’s write-in, was when, while doing some character-building for the heroes of my novel, The Dragonslayers, I finally started to really *get* the Parcel System, one of the DM tools in Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve found a great deal of difficulty in explaining the system to friends who I played Third Edition with, even though the system is quite simple. The revelation wasn’t related to making the system simpler to explain, though, it was a different revelation.

It’s hard to explain, but it had to do with sorting the treasure received by character, and it was like the whole thing unfolded in my head in a way that made sense visually — I mean, mentally — but that I would have to draw and use visual aids to make sense of to anyone I described it to. It started with breaking down an individual party into the characters’ primary roles, and determining treasure according to a set of priorities. Strikers tend to receive weapons, leaders and defenders get armor. Controllers get toys.

The revelation came as I was rapidly switching back and forth between my novel, a spreadsheet of my novel’s characters and their primary attributes (physical description, personality and attitude, personal history, notable equipment, enemies, signature attacks, etc.), and the D&D Online Compendium. It occurred to me that I’d reached a point where I instinctively knew how to filter the magic items to get what I was looking for, and I started arraying equipment and treasure across several levels simultaneously.

I’m starting to dream in post-it notes, spreadsheets, and search filters. It’s WEIRD.