Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Year of the Dungeon Compilation

Hey, everybody. 
As I mentioned back here, I offered to help out Tony Dowler with some small projects of his.

Why don't you go take a look?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy Saint George's Day

I was sitting at my desk at work this morning, and my coworker looked over at me and said, "Hey, Happy Saint George's Day."  He then sat up and looked around at all of the others in the office and frowned a bit, as if to say, "You'd never guess it by looking at this lot."  He was commenting on his opinion that on the United Kingdom's National Day, not a single person seemed to recognize it in any way.

I know in general terms the story of Saint George, but I wanted to read a little more, so I went to Google it.  (I hope that my boss doesn't read this blog.)  And what did I see but this:

Turns out that google.co.uk is using the above as their banner for the day.  I could be wrong, but I think that that is the most fantasy-oriented google banner I've ever seen.

So then I did go to the page that I linked-to above.  I thought it was an interesting read, although, being an encyclopedia, wikipedia did down play the fantastical elements of the story.  Oh well.

In closing, I would offer the following to any British readers (and all those others who have some connection to old George) who wander past:

Happy Saint George's Day!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Map Roundup - 22 April

Time for another roundup of maps that I've come across wandering the halls of the blogosphere over the past few days.  I enjoy doing these, for my own benefit and for anyone who might find these posts useful, but part of me thinks that instead of rounding up maps, I should spend more time creating them.

* Sigh *

Here's a map of a sea.

And here's a campaign map that Jeff Rients will be using.

Here is the campaign map for the Newbie.

Over at Blood of Prokopius, Fr Dave presents a very interesting take on a dungeon built from geomorphs.  I really like this idea.  Can you imagine the fits your players would have exploring this constantly evolving dungeon?  Epic.

The guys over at the Mule Abides posted this and then this.

Here is a very nice series of campaign mapping tutorials from the Warlock's Homebrew: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.  The Warlock recently hit 100 blog posts, so congratulations to him!  And since you've stopped in to sample some of his mapping brew, you may as well sample some of his drawings.  (No--not maps, but nice on the eyes regardless.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Egypt and Fantasy - Under the Sun

As a fan of ancient Egypt, I was blown away by this blog post from a blog that I've not read before just now.  First, a ton of real-world goodness for the student of that sandy land.  Then it gets even better with a description of a fantasy world based upon ancient Egypt with evocative writing, fascinating imagery, nice vocabulary, and general mythological goodness.  I'm going to have to watch this one.  Bravo!

Friday, April 16, 2010

In Praise of Crabmen

Jeff Rients, who looks like this and who writes this and who really loves this guy, has been running a three part series on monsters that were considered but did not make it into the Fiend Folio, that incredible monster bestiary from UK TSR back in the early days.  You can read them in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

I, for one, fall on the side of those gamers who love the FF.  I think that it is a useful work, although even I admit that some of the creatures therein leave a little to be desired.  I think the reason that I like the book so much is due to the fact that there are some "classics" in it--some monsters that I couldn't do without, those that just scream 'D&D' at me.  I admit that there are several who have no place in D&D, but the ones that do, really, really do.  The other aspect of the FF that I really like is the art.  The artists who did the illustrations for the FF definitely had their own style, and it is a style that I very much enjoy.  That is why I have immensely enjoyed Jeff's series--more fantastic illustrations in that style.  (Since they never did make it into an official product, I may take them for my personal use,)

At the end of his Part 2, Jeff makes the comment, "Tomorrow I'll share one more load of monsters the editors slighted to include crabmen."  I realize that Jeff isn't the only person in the gaming world who can't find time for the crab man.  Perhaps I am unique, but (and here is the crux of this post) I rather like crabmen.  I think that they definitely have a place in D&D.

First, I must point out that someone must have really liked them.  I know that because not only did they receive a 1/3 page write-up and illustration (shown below), they also received a full page illustration just before the write-up (further below).

To be frank, while I did just say that I really enjoyed the illustrations in the FF, this full page of the crab men just really doesn't do it for me.  Their heads are a little too big.  And, speaking of their heads, not very crab- like.  I have wondered if that is why people don't have much love for them.  Is it because they look, well... cheesy?

Perhaps a better crab man would have been centaur-like.  Perhaps similar to the drider of the MM2--you know, the half-drow, half spider creature.  Perhaps a human torso on a crab's eight legs may have worked better for people?  Throw in some pincers and crab antennae, and it sounds like a winner to me!

I guess another reason that I like them is that I always wanted to run an aquatic campaign, or at least one that features exploration of the deep sea depths.  In the MM, you have giant crabs, giant crayfish, dragon turtles, eels, aquatic elves, eyes of the deep (underwater beholder, mmmmm), hippocampus (underwater horse), ixitxachitl (I can't pronounce it, but intelligent, evil rays--how sweet are they?), lampreys (underwater leaches), locathah, mermen, morkoth (crazy, hypnotic underwater demon-thingies), nixies, nymphs, giant octopi, portugese men-o-war, other rays, sahuagin (the standard in underwater evil: shark men), sea hags, giant sea horses, sea lions, sharks (of course), sea snakes, giant squid, strangle weed, tritons, giant sea turtles, and whales.  Of the intelligent races, you have aquatic elves, ixitxachitl, locathah, mermen, nixies, and sahaguin.  That list doesn't include the MM2 or the other aquatic creatures/races in the FF itself (Kuo-toa, I'm looking at you.).  I definitely think that there is room for crabmen.  I would go so far as to say that they are required.

The final reason that I really like them is that I love hanging out at the ocean, playing in the surf, building sand castles.  Where is the danger?  Sahaguin, you say.  But, they can get old after awhile--just like drow have been over-exposed to the point of no longer feeling very special.  There needs to be some other hazards near the ocean.  Crabmen!

I imagine crabmen living in massive sand castles.  Obviously, the best are the drippy kind:

Mazelike tunnels burrowed through that thing rising up at the edge of a shallow sea.  Adventuring goodness!

Perhaps I am alone in my love of the crabman, although I believe that there are others out there who share my feelings--even if they are embarrassed to admit it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Drawings and Dungeons and Bears - Oh My!

I recently stumbled across Drawings & Dungeons and am pleasantly surprised to say that I really like his artwork.  As I have a few projects in the cooker that will at some point require some illustrations, I think that employing his services would fit nicely into my plans.

I'm also going to add him to My Daily Read.  Speaking of which, as my Read gets larger each day, I find myself spending more and more time reading blogs and "keeping up" with the latest goings-on than in working on my own material.  It can be a dangerous trap to fall into.  Especially when I find myself at say Lamentations of the Flame Princess, which is on the Read, and then hopping down his 'Other Stuffies to Read' and spending another 30-45 minutes reading a lot of those blog posts and then finding more to read from those that he lists.  I could read fantasy blogs all day--which I suppose is a sorry commentary on myself, but what can I say?

I think that like many of us, I own more gaming material than I have actually used in play.  I have read and linked to gaming blogs containing more material than I could probably use.  And yet I keep doing it.  I keep buying, albeit in low numbers, and I keep reading.  What gives?   Aaaahhhh!  What gives?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Be a Tourist and be Inspired

As I stated previously, I am an American living in the UK and trying to take full advantage of all of the tourist possibilities out there--here and on the continent.  It helps that my wife and kids are into castles and ruins and other old things--all perfect for inspiration for fantasy roleplaying.

We have a tendency to spend the money on the 'official guidebook' at every tourist destination that we visit.  One of the things that I love about most of the guidebooks is the maps that they contain.  There is so much in the real world that can be translated directly to a D&D setting.  Occasionally, I'm going to post here some of the maps that I've come across in my touring.  These will be maps that I found particularly inspiring or maps of places that were inspiring, even if the map itself might not have been.

The first for today was both.  The map could come right out of an adventure module and wandering the halls shown on the map was a real treat.  The map is of Diocletian's Palace--a Roman Emperor who build a palace in Split, Croatia.  Fantastic place to visit--highly recommended.  Below the map is the text that was associated with it.

The next item for today is the map of the National Gallery in London.  The Gallery itself was a nice afternoon, basically lots of rooms holding lots of old paintings.  Don't get me wrong, some of the paintings were incredible, but the building itself didn't have the same inspirational quality that Diocletian's Palace did.  But what I did like was the map itself.  Here it is:

I have a lot of these things lying around.  I'll probably pull some more and post them.  Hopefully, they'll be as inspirational to you as they have been to me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Another Roundup of Maps

Here is a section of a world map.  Nice, especially if you like hex maps.

Here is a nice version of the Caves of Chaos.

Here is one map which is part of a whole collection.  I really like these--basically a bunch of geomorphs.  Something for me to try my hand at, perhaps?

And for a collection of discussions regarding mapping, I offer this, this, this, and this.  I'll not offer any editorial on these discussions other than to say I think that his thoughts are common to many of us.  I enjoyed reading them.

Here is an old post about a map.  A hex map--in a novel.  How cool is that?

And although I personally don't review mapping products (yet), here are a few posts reviewing some: This one, and this one, and this one.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


No, not plots of land.  And not plots to attempt to foil.  Merely, story plots: Newbie had a nice little post about them.  I thought that it was a nice little synopsis, and something to keep in mind.  Take a read.  I recommend it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fantasy Maps Galore!!

A blog that is new to me, but it had a hand-drawn map with a short little story.  Nice.  Then a little more digging yields yet another map.

And here is another blog that is new to me, with still another map, and many more.  And, frankly, that place has got to go on My Daily Read.  As soon as this post is published...

And how can I not link to a post that has the title, "More Maps!"Here is the first.


With a moment to ponder before I hit 'publish' on this bad boy, I realize that perhaps I should start a round-up of all posts having to do with maps on some kind of regular basis.  Because I do love 'em.  Perhaps with such a round-up, I can list for you everything having a map in a given week.  Mmmmm...

Playing D&D 101

If this doesn't make you laugh, you don't really play roleplaying games.  Or, at least, you certainly don't play them the way that you should.

And when you are done reading that one, you might as well then take a look at this, if you are interested in game design.  Okay, I know: It is only tangentially related to game design, but some of the points that he makes easily apply to house ruling your favorite rpg or designing your own.

Have I told you that I am so glad that that guy is a part of My Daily Read?

Drawing Maps the Sketchup Way

Well, several days ago, the bat posted about his experiences using Google sketchup to draw the Tomb of Horrors.  I saw the post but quickly forget where I saw it.  Thank you, reader Staples, for telling me where it was.  By the way, it was here.

The crazy thing was that at least two other bloggers also posted about the Tomb of Horrors on that day, and unlike as often happens, it didn't seem that their posts were related thematically in any way--other than by topic.  Mmmmmm.

Of course, the above is only one example of what can be done with Sketchup.  Here is a castle.  And here is something else.  Actually, there are lots of them over here--you just have to spend a little time looking.  I've not taken the time to play around with it, but from what I've gathered, it's fairy easy to learn, and, while not super-powerful, is powerful enough for any amateur or even semi-professional 3D mapping,

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Long Hiatus and Hard-Boiled Dragon Eggs

I disappeared for a bit due to going on a brief holiday with the family and the distinct lack of internet access in many of the places that we stayed.  And I have to say that it was actually kind of nice to not have the internet calling to me incessantly.  It does that to you, right?  Because that is what is seems to do: Call my name, day and night, every waking moment--except when I am watching a TiVo'd episode of Lost...  or American Idol.

Anyway, now that I am back at home, I will try to fix my currently-nonfunctioning desktop computer.  Once that gets up, I can post a few Megadungeon Monday pieces, get some of the other work that I have sitting on that hard drive, and get back to more regular posting.

I have a question, if anyone can help me.  While staying mostly away from the internet for the past week-and-a-half, I did sneak in once or twice.  Someone had a nice post about using Google Sketchup to create a 3D map of the Tomb of Horrors.  Does anyone know who that was?  I'd like to read it once more and probably link to it.  Thanks.

Of course, today being Easter, I had a few themed ideas that I wanted to post about.  But it is past my beddy-bye time.  I'll try to post something Easter-related tomorrow.  Hard-boiled dragon eggs, anyone?

Micro-Mega - Interesting Idea

I was initially drawn to this by its title.  Then I decided that I loved the photo that he used in the post--is that place fantastic or what?!  Then I actually read it, and felt that he had some interesting ideas.  Anyway, I offer it to you for your reading enjoyment.

Interesting Discussion on the OSR

Take a look at this if you haven't already seen it.  Nice little post and some good discussion following.