One other thing that we have had a great deal of fun doing in the last couple of sessions of 4e is playing 'lets mine classic cinema for scenes'. I think every game does it at one point in time or another - there were certainly a number of Two Towers moments in our Crescent Sea game.
In the current game we did the Chewbacca Move, we did more than a little Fellowship of the Ring including just about every key scene from Moria except 'Tsk! Fool of a Dragonborn!'. We did a bit more Star Wars Princess Leia rescue as well and as Ian pointed out in his blog, Earthome, the first citadel of the dwarves was more than a little Emerald City. Oh and we even squuezed in the Klingon Court from Star Trek: Undiscovered Country as well! And we usually have a little Rocky moment or two.
Now, we have played games before where this sort of thing has happened - I'm thinking specifically about Pulsars and Privateers although the entire run of Buffy could well have been one extended exercise in this. I don't think they worked as well as these have and here is my theory why - in this current game we have established the game world, its ethos and our personalities BEFORE we have done this stuff. Therefore the background of the scenes seems to be superfluous to the actual execution.
For me that was most obvious during my character-defining 'None Shall Pass' moment. I didn't see Gandalf on the bridge against the Balrog. I saw Morn, all dodgy ragged plate, massive shield, bronzed granite sledgehammer, bald head and almost manic attitude - the skull of a dragon as one shoulderpad and the skull of a god as the other - standing, ranting and taunting the swirling giant black chaos beast and the baying pack of beastmen behind it. I saw him bringing the hammer down and channelling the power of the Earth Titan to bring the ancient structure tumbling down. I saw that adrenaline moving on to deal with the stubborn dwarven guards that blocked their way and then him praying and centering himself.
Fuck Gandalf. That was my Paladin of Freedom doing his bit!
The thing is, those amazing mental images would not have been possible without the context of the cinema shots that we were emulating. They provided that mental backdrop for the scene. Without them, it would have been something totally different.