darkvalor took me to Millennium (local game store), picked up Ptolus: Monte Cook's City by the Spire. I have to say that this is something resembling awesome wrapped up in pure goodness. It's an incredibly detailed setting and the city itself is described to exacting detail. Of course, this is somewhat to be expected for the longest running third edition campaign. (He was using it for playtesting the rules after all, and is AFAIK still running it.)
I yipped about how cool it is to darkvalor as I was reading and, as these things tend to go, I am now running a Ptolus campaign. The party is a paladin, a ranger, a techologist (cleric with funny spell descriptions), and a zeroth level littorian. A littorian is a +1 level adjustment athropomorphic lion race, so to let btoblake play one, I gave her the hit points and gold from her intended first level (bard) but no special abilities, base attack, or saves. I've learned a few things from this:
First, it's possible to have a dramatic and interesting combat with first level characters. Party was up against a Rogue 1, Wolf, and a Warrior 2. The warrior was hidden up on a platform, the rogue tried to bluff his way out of it but failed. The party proceeded to wail through the rogue, kill the wolf, and chase the warrior around the werehouse. Pretty fun, and only dropped the Paladin who was (of course) leading the charge.
Second, having a statted out city makes all the difference. The cleric at the chapel had a name, the party wanted to find a cheaper tavern and there it was, complete with bartender and location. A huge city map included gives little details like where things are in relation to each other, what other things are near each other. It rocks. Really rocks.
The other really nifty thing I'm getting (has yet to arrive) is Rosetta Stone Japanese Level 1. Hopefully it'll get me understanding at least a little bit of Japanese. I'm not deluding myself into thinking I'll speak it fluently, but a little bit of understanding would be fun. So if you start seeing rōmaji, カタカナ, ひらがな, or 漢字 (katakana, hiragana, or kanji) on this journal, it's because I'm under the mistaken impression that I can write in japanese. (I cheated here and tested the results of using OS X's japanese input system against Wikipedia.)
Speaking of which, the japanese input system on OS X is somewhat odd. I type in rōmaji, it pulls up the kana (in katakana or hiragana, depending on what I have selected), and then space cycles through different versions of it. Distinctly odd, I think. And I wonder what the difference between the romaji and the US English inputs are.