Saturday, December 25, 2010

D&D in the Spotlight

For a lot of people living in the UK, Jonathan Ross is kinda (great word, eh?) a big deal.  Television and radio personality, famous, wealthy, etc, etc.

His name is attached to a recent poll that was conducted in the UK regarding the 100 greatest 'toys' of all time.  Check out what made #3 on the list.  Nice.

Oh, and by the way, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Three Warriors

The second installment of my gaming archive.  Today, I thought that I would include three drawings.  When I drew them, the idea was that they were going to be carvings on a stone wall or engravings on metallic objects (either a shield, breastplate, or something else).

I don't remember if these were to depict specific people or what, but I do like how they look.  Hopefully, a few of you might as well.

Caped Viking.

Roman Centurion.

The Brute

And the last is my favorite.  I think that it was the last one that I drew.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Gaming Archive - 21 December

Jim Pacek over at Carjacked Seraphim (which by the way is one of my favorite blog names in all of the blogosphere--did he just make that up or did he steal if from somewhere?) recently posted about a Time Capsule of sorts, a drawer in a filing cabinet of his that contains years and years of gaming materials.

I think most of us can relate.

Anyway, I'm in the process of going through all of my old stuff, trying to sort the wheat from the chaff, and trying to decide what I really want and what can be gotten rid of.  In the process, of course, I am coming across all sorts of treasures of my own.  I'm going to start posting about them, and this is the first such post.

I have for you here a simple dungeon map (of course--how else would I start a new regulare feature?).  I drew it on some engineering graph paper--do you know the kind?  The front side is blank and the grid is on the back--a handy invention indeed.  Never used it for anything, and now that I've looked at it a bit, I realize that it isn't even finished.  Oh well.

I drew it in college during a time when I wasn't even gaming.

Map Roundup - xx December

Yet another map roundup. 

Jeff's Gameblog, 17 Dec: Some hex maps from the campaign of the Rients.

The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms, 17 Dec: A geomorph--everybody's doing it.

The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms, 17 Dec (#2): Two geomorphs--one of them fixed?

The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms, 18 Dec: The geomorph kick continues (False Well 2).

The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms, 19 Dec: A geomorph and a punch in the face!

Greyhawk Grognard, 18 Dec: World of Greyhawk maps done in Hexographer.  And since I was here, I figured that I research GG's archives.  Came up with the following two posts:

Greyhawk Grognard, 05 Jun: A Verbobonc wilderness map.

Greyhawk Grognard, 04 Jun: A Greyhawk wilderness map.

Carjacked Seraphim, 11 Dec - xx Dec: The Seraphim continues his series about his dungeon, The Evil Temple of Fraz-Urb'Luu.  The posts are here: 11 Dec12 Dec12 Dec (#2)13 Dec15 Dec15 Dec (#2).

JoetheLawyer's Wondrous Imaginings, 19 Dec: The title of this post is 'Hundreds of Free Authentic Maps of England, Scotland, and Wales, From the Middle Ages to the Present.'  Yeah, that pretty much explains it.

A character for every game, Maps: WOW!  Let me repeat that, in case you didn't hear me the first time: WOW! Thirty-five maps PLUS links to others, all hand-drawn, all beautiful.  THIS link is the reason that I do these map roundups.  So I don't have to link to every one of them, Dyson posted all of his maps in one post.  (Okay, his doing it didn't really have anything to do with me--but I can pretend it does, can't I?)

Planet Algol, 19 Dec : The title to this post is 'Megadungeon Maps (Spoilers!)'  How can I not link to it?  But then I realize that I haven't dug into the Algol archives for maps yet, so I do so, and that leads me to the following:

Planet Algol, 26 Aug: A cave map and some other things.

Planet Algol, 08 Aug: You know, this one looks familiar to me.  I might have linked to it in the past.  Anyway, a dungeon map.

Planet Algol, 03 Aug: Another dungeon map--this one does NOT look familiar to me.

Planet Algol, 14 Jul: There is actually no map in this post--but it talks about keying a hex map.  (Probably not the same as keying your car.)

Planet Algol, 01 May: Shrine of the Lavender Cocoon.

Planet Algol, 01 May (#2): Black Smoke Razor Labyrinth.

Planet Algol, 28 Mar: A dungeon in thirds.

Aeons & Augauries, 18 Dec: Hexagonal cave geomorphs, part 5.

Aeons & Augauries, 18 Dec (#2): Hexagonal cave geomorphs,  part 6.

Aeons & Augauries, 19 Dec (#1): Hexagonal cave geomorphs,     part 7.

Aeons & Augauries, 19 Dec (#2): Hexagonal cave geomorphs,   part 8.

Aeons & Augauries, 20 Dec: This man can make geomorphs.  Caves, part 9.

Aeons & Augauries, 20 Dec (#2): Here comes part 10, right at ya!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Portfolio: Small Dungeon

Here is another dungeon map, a small one with some more and different features.  Like some of my previous pieces, this actually came from somewhere in the blogosphere.  I just fixed it up and made it look at little better.

Hottest Blogs

Thank you to Cyclopeatron for his continued ranking of blogs.

I suppose that I am luke-warm?  Better than being cold.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Map Roundup - 18 December

(Do I need to make any comment before I start listing posts?  Or should I just shut up and get on with it?  Yeah, how about I do that.)
Aeons & Augauries, 08 Dec: Geomorphs built into hexes.  JD does not quit!

Aeons & Augauries, 08 Dec: Hex geomorphs, part deux.

Aeons & Augauries, 09 Dec: And if you needed it, some handy thoughts on using geomorphs yourself.

Aeons & Augauries, 16 Dec: Hexagonal cave geomorphs, part 1.

Aeons & Augauries, 17 Dec: Hexagonal cave geomorphs, part 2.

Aeons & Augauries, 17 Dec (#2): A dungeon-stocking challenge (in cave geomorph) with a tesseract.

Aeons & Augauries, 17 Dec (#3): Hexagonal cave geomorphs, part 3.

Aeons & Augauries, 17 Dec (#4): Hexagonal cave geomorphs, part 4

Forgotten Runes, 27 Nov: A 'concept sketch' of a city.  With dragons.

Forgotten Runes, 05 Dec: Plan of a longhouse.  Good for instilling a little historical accuracy in your game.

Forgotten Runes, 11 Dec: A map of a city above a dungeon.

Forgotten Runes, 11 Dec: Another map of a the city above the dungeon.
And there are other posts at Forgotten Runes.  I will link to them at some point...

Forgotten Runes, 17 Dec: A wilderness hex map at five miles per hex.

Forgotten Runes, 17 Dec (#2): It's almost like a map roundup of Forgotten Runes maps.

The Mule Abides, 08 Dec: Creating a sandbox on the fly, and some decent maps and talk of maps.

The Mule Abides, 10 Dec: A vast world, in watercolor.

The Mule Abides, 14 Dec: Wherein we continue from the prebious post by zooming in a bit.

The Mule Abides, 16 Dec: Finer and finer detail in a continuation from above.  Adding villages, castles, ruins, etc.

The Mule Abides, 18 Dec: A little advertisement for a little dungeon art show--and it's from one of My Daily Read.
Huge Ruined Pile, 10 Dec: Here's a post about Risk Godstorm, a variant of one of my all-time favorite board games.  I've never actually played this variant, but the map looks cool.

Dungeons and Digressions, 10 Dec: The gnoll lair map from Keep on the Borderlands in notecard format.

In Places Deep, 10 Dec: A really good post about mapping.  Contains some good little advice for greating wilderness maps.

Carjacked Seraphim, 03 Dec - 10 Dec: The Seraphim ran a series of posts about a dungeon called The Evil Temple of Fraz-Urb'Luu that he created many moons ago.  Obviously, the temple map is what initially caught my eye about these posts, but I really enjoyed his recollections of actually running the adventure and his thoughts on dungeon design.  Here are the links in chronological order: 03 Dec04 Dec05 Dec06 Dec10 Dec.

Bugbears for Breakfast, Anytime: As long as his top banner is that sweet hex map, this (new to me) blog will always have a place in a map roundup.

BigDungeon, 05 Dec: This post shows five levels of a dungeon stacked on top of each other, first in 2D, and then in 3D.  Fantastic.

BigDungeon, 08 Dec: Dungeon mapping symbols.  Always useful.

And... I'm spent.  See you next time.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Portfolio: Two Houses (And a Contest)

Continuing with a portfolio of my maps, here are two more that I made.  As before, both of these maps may be familiar to people who inhabit our little corner of the blogosphere.  Also as before, PLEASE, PLEASE do NOT comment where either of these came from--part of the deal is that their identity remain a secret. Also, I do have the permission of the original map owners to post them here.

We have, first, a big house:

And now we have a slightly smaller house:

To be quite honest, the first map is a bit more obscure than the second (at least to my mind, you may disagree with me).  So to make things interesting, I shall propose a small contest.  If anyone can tell me IN AN EMAIL, NOT IN THE COMMENTS where the first map (top map, the big house) came from, I will give you a free copy of any two of the products on sale at my RPGNow store--you get to pick 'em!  My email address is  This contest shall remain open until midnight, Eastern Standard Time, Sunday night, December 19th.  I will read all emails that I receive with the subject line 'Map Contest' and the first person to correctly state where that map was originally found will win.  I will then contact that person by email on Monday to arrange prize delivery.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Portfolio: A Dungeon Map

In this post, I am going to do what I did as a youngster that would always annoy my older brother:  I am going to post an image of someone else's map.

Actually, it isn't quite someone else's map, it is actually my reproduction of a map that, in my opinion, is more aesthetically pleasing than the original.  I am posting it to show people what I can do.  Call it an entry in my cartographic portfolio, if you will.

This map is one that may be familiar to some people in our little corner of the hobby.  If you recognize it, please, PLEASE do not name it or where it came from.  I don't want to give anything away.  Lest anyone get their panties in a wad, I do have the permission of the original map's owner to post my version here.

It is, as I said above, a dungeon map:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Encouragement for rpg Blogging

Most of us had one: That person who introduced us to rpg's back when we were younger.  For me, that person was my older brother.  He owned the LBBs; he owned the AD&D books; he owned a bunch of modules; he owned a bunch of miniatures.  He taught me to play at a very young age--or maybe not, seven or eight I think.

Anyway, we were typing back and forth the other day at each other.  The conversations went basically like this:

Me:  You said that you were looking at some old notes and got excited again. Anything good?  How about you type up some of your old notes into a formal adventure, I draw the map, and we publish it? The Fantasy Cartographic could use some new products...

Him:  hhmm.... what say we publish a setting? We had started one several years ago.

Me:  Couple of thoughts:
- Settings are a dime a dozen. Unless it is a small area nicely detailed (a single island, single kingdom, single city), or a large area (typically nowadays mapped on a hex map) with numerous specific locations detailed in the text.
(Advantage of the small area is that it can easily be dropped into someone's existing campaign. Advantage of the large area is that any one of the specific locations that you choose to detail can, by itself, be dropped into an existing campaign.)
- Why not start with some thing easier--aka an adventure? (Easier in terms of length, complexity, just about everything I can think of.)
- How about start slow and (eventually) build up to a setting?

Him:  LOL... only because my mind doesn't work that way! I'll try to come up with an adventure, but don't expect anything soon... in a few weeks, though, I'll suddenly "remember" an adventure, along with an entire world. The difficulty isn't in the ideas, it's in the editing and pruning process.

When it comes to me, it's truly like remembering, bits and pieces, then whole swaths, then worlds. I've never written a novel, because it would come out more like an encyclopedia. Perhaps I could write a travelogue and have you map it... but I know that was done in Dragon years ago.

Me:  Well, if that's the case, why don't you start writing a blog with each post being about some aspect of one of the worlds? There are a great many such blogs with people just detailing their campaigns, and all the cool shit in them. They get widely read, too.

The advantage of that is that once you establish yourself in the blogosphere, you can THEN prune it into a nice, easily-digestible format and sell the setting. Since you're already known by your blog, you drastically up the sales that you will receive.

And if you don't want to start your own blog, you can guest-post on my blog.

Him:  I'd have to read some others to see how they're set up... any recommendations?

At which point I pointed him in the direction of some of the many blogs that lots of us enjoy that discuss all sorts of goodness.

But I would really like him to start a blog.  It could be incredible.  Anyone want to leave a comment for him to encourage him or otherwise comment on the blogging experience?  That would be nice.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Locales Redux

One of my intents in starting this blog was as a place to post maps that I had worked on.  I now realize that this blog is all about maps, but contains very few maps of its own--very few maps of my own.

I'm going to try to remedy that, and this will be the first post to do so.

What follows is a short bit of flavor text and then a series of maps.  This is something that I created about two years ago.  The text and maps describe the Rock at Morgus Cray, a location in my campaign world.  The Rock is a rocky peninsula that juts out from a coastline; it is surrounded by columns of stone that are slowly breaking off from the peninsula and crumbling into the sea due to the action of the surf.  A light house sits at its peak.

“The Rock at Morgus Cray was not remarkable in any way; it was like a dozen other peninsulas along the treacherous Iron Coast. But it was midway between Sempus Delve to the north and the wealthy port cities of the Sarsiss to the south.

I was a Mate to Shezzar KiNeel of the Strong Runner, when, on our fourth journey past the rock, we strayed too close. The Runner’s back was broken on the rocks, and she was sinking fast. Although not yet fully confident in the ways of the sea, I was smart, and observant. I made my way to KiNeel’s cabin as he was fighting to save his ship. There, I stole two rings. One, a Ring of the Scaly Deep, granted me waterbreath. The second afforded me protection against the cold waters. Old KiNeel at some point realized that he was going to loose his ship. He found me in his cabin, caught red-handed as it were, but he was too late. The rigors and cold water had taken their toll on him. As the Runner disintegrated on the rocks, I was the only to survive.

While the water and cold could not have killed me, the battering waves would have, if it weren’t for the existence of something that none of us were aware of--something that could not be seen from seaward. There was a channel through the rocks! I followed it, and it was then that I found it. The cavern!

I stayed there for three days, for I was afraid of the power of the waves. It was only hunger that drove me—drove me to explore the inner reaches of the cavern. In the darkness, I could only find my way by touch; I could make no fire. So I probed and climbed, and found a way out, up to the tower on the Rock.

The Seafarer’s Guild had built the string of lighted towers up and down the Iron Coast. The automaton left there should have been able to provide me with some food and water. And it did, as well as dutifully recording my presence in its log. But the tower had not been provisioned in many months, and the automaton did not have much to help me. It was then that I understood the waning power of the Seafarer’s Guild. And a plan began to form in my mind…”
-- Basid Wavern to a group of new “recruits”
-- Overheard and recorded by Amshir Dysa and later presented to the Council at Skror Ferry

Within days of making this report to the Council, Amshir Dysa was presented with the Black Sigil and thereafter slain. Several members of the Council attribute the veracity of the tale to the fact that Dysa was marked and then killed in Wavern’s typical style. Others, however, do not believe Wavern to be so strategically na├»ve as to blatantly order a revenge killing based on a report that would be difficult at the time, if not impossible, to verify.

The first map is of the entire peninsula including the lighthouse and surround ocean.  The ocean colors indicate depth contours while the lines on land indicate height contours above the water line.

 The black and white version of the above.

Focused on the end of the peninsula.

View of the cavern at sea level.  This map also shows that some of the columns have been hollowed out and are linked to the main cave by treacherous rope-and-plank bridges.

The second level of the sea caves.

So there you have it.  I would love for people to use this location in their own games.  If you do, please drop me a comment.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Map Roundup - 07 December

Here we go again.

Aeons & Augauries, 04 Dec:  A hex map of No Man's Land in the Great War.

Aeons & Augauries, 05 Dec: A continuation of the above--I feel bad for Paris.  (The city, not the character from mythology.)

Aeons & Augauries, 07 Dec: The geomorph train continues, this time with triangles sure to upset your mapping players.

Axe & Hammer, 05 Dec: Grendelwulf continues his series on Greyhawk with some beauties--world maps of various Greyhawks.  Really nice.

Robin D. Laws, 19 Nov: Sure, I've heard of Robin D. Laws, but I didn't know that he had a blog. I've certainly never visited it before now.  But, I'm there for five minutes, and I come across this post.  Lo-tech map that I really like.  Go figure.

Dungeons and Digressions, 06 Dec: Continuing the disection of the Caves of Chaos, ze bulette brings us the shunned cavern and minotaur caves.

Dungeons and Digressions, 07 Dec: Take some Caves of Chaos, mix them with Sketchup, and crank out a 3D view of the canyon.

A Palidin in Citadel, 06 Dec: A nice little location map--I really like its style.

From the Sorcerer's Skull, 22 Oct: I know that I've come across this blog before, but I'm not sure if I've referenced it in my map roundups before.  If not, shame on me!  I've found a wealth of mapping goodness and so I'm going to share it with you.  This post is about geography or not.  The following are in reverse chronological order:

From the Sorcerer's Skull, 23 Aug: Dungeons in America; this one in L.A.

From the Sorcerer's Skull, 20 Aug: A 'map' of the anatomy of a monster.  I really like this post, because I have often contemplated an adventure wherein the PCs are shrunken down to microscopic size and sent into a dragon, a la Fantastic Voyage.  I've drawn several sketches of dragon anatomy, but never got around to writing the actual adventure.

From the Sorcerer's Skull, 12 Aug: Fantasy maps in comics.  Nice.

From the Sorcerer's Skull, 25 Jun: Real world dungeon environments and maps.  While the maps are key here, the best thing about this post is that it shows that dungeons can be 'realistic' as an adventure setting.  I thumb my nose at all of those people who say dungeons are unrealistic!

From the Sorcerer's Skull, 20 Jun: A castle in America, and it is mapped!

From the Sorcerer's Skull, 26 May: I don't know Skartaris, but I sure like the map of it.

From the Sorcerer's Skull, 24 May: Another comic fantasy map.

From the Sorcerer's Skull, 21 May: Another American dungeon.  Not a great map, but definitely an interesting location.

From the Sorcerer's Skull, 16 May: More castleage in America.

From the Sorcerer's Skull, 02 May: A hand drawn D&D dungeon map from a long time ago.  It's always interesting to compare others' maps with my own from the early days so these types of posts are really enjoyable.

Some King's Kent, 07 Dec: A continued look at the megadungeon that made him famous.  This time it is two pits.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Knights & Knaves Alehouse is a handy place to hang around.  Their forums are home to many interesting discussions on all sorts of topics.  Although, if I am going to be honest, I most enjoy their Megadungeons! subforum.  These people are experts when it comes to megadungeons, both in discussion and in mapping:  Here is a map of the first level of a megadungeon.  And then glance, for instance, at this nice picture of a megadungeon map (level two of the previous).  To me, this is what 'mega' should mean when referring to a megadungeon.

So that's all for this edition.  I'm going to have to catalog all of the posts that I am linking to in these roundups, if only to ensure that I don't repeat in the future.  At the same time, I plan on going back to my earlier roundups and putting them into this format, if only to make my life easier when looking for things.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Questions of Legality and Recourse

So by no means do I fancy The Fantasy Cartographic anything more than a hobbyist venture.  As much as I would love to devote more time to my little rpg publishing experiment, family and career ensure that it will remain something to do on the side, something that, since I began, has made me only enough money to basically partake of this hobby for free.  For the foreseeable future, that will remain the case.

With that being said, I was over at the other day, and I ran across this.  For those of you who choose not to click, the link leads to a product page at RPGNow for a Pathfinder rpg supplement detailing a new character class called 'The Martialist Base Class' from a company called Little Red Goblin Games.

This caused me to raise my eyebrows a little bit, as I put out a product back in the summer of 2009 for 4E (which I realize most readers around here do not play) called Fantasy Class: Martialist and, before that, a free preview, called Fantasy Class Preview: The Martialist Heroic.  I was extremely proud of these products; not only do I believe that they are visually on par with a lot of the 'professional' products being produced, it was the one product to this day that I had an art budget for.  (For the record, I highly recommend VShane for your illustration needs.)

The Martialist class that I had developed was an unarmed fighter that was not a monk.  There is no mysticism or Eastern philosophy in its conception.

Anyway, I know that 'martialist' is not a common title.  Frankly, if the nice people at Little Red Goblin Games had read some of the reviews of my product, they might have chosen a different name for the class, as it wasn't much appreciated.  But what is the chance that those little goblins came up with the name on their own and also attached it to an unarmed combatant class?

So the questions are this:  Is there anything to do?  Should I just let it go?  Am I being a buffoon for even getting upset about this?

I think that the answers to these questions may be 'No', 'Yes', and 'Possibly', but I'm interested in hearing what others think.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Map Roundup - 04 December

It's that time again.

Axe & Hammer, 02 Dec: Greyhawk City, in multiple maps of varying quality.  If you like fantasy city maps, you should like this post.

Axe & Hammer, 28 Nov: Dungeons and E. Gary Gygax, and some nice maps, too.

Roles, Rules, and Rolls, 27 Nov: In which Roger discusses mapping woes, and asks about what type of mapping software to use.

In Like Flynn, 24 Nov: This post doesn't contain a map but it talks about maps.  And megadungeons.  But mainly I'm linking to it here, because I agree with his views on these subjects.  I, too, believe that a megadungeon, played in the right way, can very easily be an enjoyably experience for 'modern' gamers who like a more cinematic experience in their gaming.

In Like Flynn, 28 Nov: A hex-based world map.  I really like this map, because it looks more 'realistic' than many world maps I see.  The geography, the order of the continents spread over the ocean, etc. all really speak to me.

Being an Online Dungeon Master, 03 Dec: This is a blog that I probably wouldn't have come across in my normal wanderings as it is mostly about 4E (which I have little interest in these days) but it contains some nice map-related posts, so I found myself poking around.  Following are some links to other posts from the blog.

Being an Online Dungeon Master, 02 Dec: A decent encounter map in a wilderness area.

Being an Online Dungeon Master, 28 Jun: The old manila folder with the hand drawn map!

Being an Online Dungeon Master, 'Maps' Category: This is a link to all of the blog's map posts.  Most have to do with online and computer mapping using specific software (Maptool), which really doesn't interest me.  Although it might interest you.

Book of Worlds, Argos Atlas: This link leads to a collection of hand drawn maps on Flickr posted by the author of The Book of Worlds, a new (to me) blog that I recently came across.  This blog is also going to appear in another post that I am working on.

Coutdown to Game Time: No, I haven't found any map-related posts on this new (again, to me) blog, but I found that Carto Cacography is listed on his 'Gratuitous Linkage' list and thought that that was pretty cool.  So I'm including a link to it here as a way of saying thanks.

The Hopeless Gamer, 03 Dec: A map of an adventure in 3D.  Something that I could never pull off...

I see Lead People, 03 Dec: Maybe I'm stretching a bit by including this link, but it kinda looks like a map.  And it's about a Navy...sorta.

Beyond the Black Gate: Lands of Lyrion Campaign Setting.  A 2 page pdf detailing a campaign setting and including a campaign map in hex.

Beyond the Black Gate: Lands of Lyrion Fan Map.  A very nice looking campaign map.

Another thing that I occassionally spend time doing is looking at the latest map-related offerings at (outside of my own).  Quite often, publishers will make available nice maps as part of their free previews (especially the free downloadable pdf previews).  From time to time, I will include links to those products that have a decent free maps associated with it.  Here is one I came across a few days ago:

Headless Hydra Games, Barrowdelve Map Pack.  I really like the map of the dungeon complex here.  I might steal it for my own gaming use.

Friday, December 3, 2010

"New" Product for Release

Several months ago, I wrote a post about three products that I have for sale at  The punchline of that post was me telling you not to purchase any of them.  And I was serious.  (Seriously.  Go read that post if you don't believe me.)

Basically, as discussed in an even earlier post, I feel that the price-to-quality ratio of those products is poor at their current price.  If you were to ask me today, I would still tell you not to purchase them.

In that same post, I explained why I felt that way, and then went on to tell you about a compilation of those three products, to be called Basic Maps.  The idea behind Basic Maps was to take the maps in those three products, make them a little prettier, then combine them into a single document, and put them back on sale at a much reduced price.  (At the same time, I will discontinue the sale of the original products.)

This post is to announce that I have finally completed that project.  Basic Maps is now on sale at RPGNow for $2.30.  It contains 39 maps that I feel are pretty spiffy.  (Or, at least spiffy enough to charge you just under six cents per map, which was the point of the earlier post.)  Hopefully, some of you will feel the same way.  Please go check it out.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sales Figures - For Another

My density knows no bounds.  I only just a few days ago realized that John Stater over at Land of Nod is pursuing the publishing thing in a big way.  Yes, I've come across his blog a few times, but for whatever reason have never spent much time there (Sorry, John!).  That's not to say that I wasn't impressed with his stuff--it's just that I always had other things to be reading.

Anyway, just a little while ago, he posted this.  (In case you didn't follow that link, it was a November Sales Report for his material.)  As someone who dabbles in the publishing side of things, I really appreciate his willingness to put out these numbers.  In my opinion, it would be fantastic if everyone who is putting out material, from those who are one step above amateurs to those who are one step below professionals, would publish their sales results.

A lot of the blogs that we are all familiar with are written by people who are also publishing material--seems to me they could all be making posts like this.  Obviously, there is nothing that says that they have to do so, and I understand that people value their privacy, etc, etc.  But I can't, for the life of me, come up with a good reason not to put out that information.

So, John, thanks for doing that.

If anyone is interested, here are his Sales Reports from the beginning:







I figured that I would also post my historical sales figures--if only to demonstrate how well John is doing for himself.

I posted the first of my own Sales Reports back in January.  You can read it here.

But it now seems that how ever dense I thought I was before completely missed the mark:  I posted an updated Sales Report in July.  You can read it here.  If you want to understand embarassment, read the first sentence of the July Sales Report, then read this current post again.

Um, yeah.  Sorry, John.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Map Roundup - 01 December

The latest installment of my map roundups.  I continue to be amazed at the brilliant mapping that is going on out there--from all over the blogosphere.  And I continue to find new blogs that excite and inspire me.  Enjoy.

In a Dark Cell, 10 Nov: A post about world (planetary) mapping with a hex map.

In a Dark Cell, 20 Nov: A continuation from the post above.

Some King's Kent, 25 Nov: Another look at his gigantic cavern system with MANY images.

Henchman Abuse, 16 Nov: A new blog (or at least new to me) with a conversion from a paper drawn map to a CC2 map.

Henchman Abuse, 20 Nov: The same map started in the previous post but with more work done to it.

Henchman Abuse, 25 Nov: Level 1 of a megadungeon map in the same style as the previous posts.  Can I say that I REALLY like the look of this map?  The layout is inspiring and, in my opinion, much better than a lot of maps that I've seen out there.  Really nice.

Henchman Abuse, 03 Oct: Somewhat out of chronological order, but this post contains the handdrawn map that became the megadungeon map in the previous post.  I really enjoy watching the progression of maps from initial design to completion so this was a fun one.

Henchman Abuse, 14 Sep: The first handdrawn map of the beginnings of a megadungeon project.

Fantastic Maps, 29 Nov: I am terribly frustrated that I only came across this blog recently.  It is the personal blog of Jon Roberts, whose work I first became acquainted with back when I had the time to spend hours at the Cartographer's Guild.  Jon is a class act and his cartography is amazing.

Sword & Shield, 27 Nov: Geomorphs seem to be all the rage these days.  This post is a little geomorphing action combined with a nice little format to create a small dungeon experience.

Forgotten Runes, 27 Nov: Rough, hand drawn, but evocative.  Lots of map posts on this blog.  I'll need to spend more time here...

Old School Heretic, 30 Nov: A nice collection of links to mapping related things.

BigDungeon, 7 July: Another blog that I just came across--this one sounds like it will be right up my alley.  It's initial post says this, "BigDungeon is going to be an ongoing development of a Big Dungeon (what the kids are calling a "MegaDungeon" lately) with maps and keys and all the assorted goodies..."  Anyway, the post that I've linked to has the startings of a dungeon map made with a hex map instead of the normal grid map.

BigDungeon, 1 Sept: Another post from BigDungeon--the style that he intends to use for all of his mapping.  Unfortunately, this is the most recent post, so I hope that this project is still going.  (Quick aside: Wouldn't 'BigDungeon' be a great name for a professional wrestler?)

Aeons & Augauries, 28 Nov: A nice how-to regarding his geomorphs, if you need that sort of thing.  This post is also handy because it includes links to all of the other blogs who are creating similar (and compatible) geomorphs.

Aeons & Aurgauries, 30 Nov: Link to a google doc that contains all of the (literally hundreds) of geomorphs that he has created over the last few weeks.  Can I say that JDJarvis is a dungeon geomorphing maniac?  I do want to add that I was going to include links to all of his posts, but when I saw this document that includes all of that good stuff, I decided not to.

I have to admit that I am starting to find keeping up with this stuff difficult.  I know that there are posts out there that I missed in this roundup.  I know that because I read them, and now can't find them.  Shame on me for not keeping better notes.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Map Roundup - 24 November

I'm not sure what is going on...  Perhaps there are more fish in the sea; perhaps I am just casting my net further; perhaps the fish just want to be caught.  Whatever it is, the last ten days have been amazing for mapping related posts throughout the blogosphere.  This is the biggest map roundup to date, and these are all quality posts.


Dungeons and Digressions, 11 Nov: Caves of Chaos, minidungeons, and index cards.  A nice little post with a good downloadable resource.

Dungeons and Digressions, 12 Nov: The orc lairs from the Caves of Chaos, similar to the post above.

Dungeons and Digressions, 18 Nov: The kobold lair from the Caves of Chaos.

Dungeons and Digressions, 20 Nov: The bugbear lair from the Caves of Chaos.

Jeff's Gameblog, 09 Nov: Maps of Britain--gaming maps that is.

Some King's Kent, 20 Nov: The title of this post is "PDF Zoomable-Scrollable Megadungeon Maps".  That pretty much fully explains it.

A Character For Every Game, 19 Nov: A Friday map posting...

Risus Monkey, 19 Nov: Number 99 in a long series of geomorphs.

In Like Flynn, 20 Nov: A campaign world map in hex.  Also, includes a link to an image of a 'real' world map from ages past.

Stonewerks, 19 Nov: A new blog that I only (just now!) stumbled across.  This is the most recent post, but just about everything at this blog is maptastic.  I've only just begun perusing his older offerings.  Much to do...

A Palidin in Citadel, 21 Nov: Maps of medieval castles and links to others.

Greyhawk Grognard, 21 Nov: The City of Greyhawk, in map form.

Telecanter's Receding Rules, 24 Nov: Musings on the map of an island.  Contains both an old nautical chart of a real island and then the Google Earth image.

Beyond the Black Gate, 24 Nov: A very useful collection of links for mapping.  Might as well save this to your favorites--great post.

Aeons & Augauries, 24 Nov: 55 dungeon geomorphs plus links to other places.
Aeons & Augauries, 24 Nov: Another 55 dungeon geomorphs.

Aeons & Augauries, 24 Nov: If the first 110 geomorphs were not enough, here are an additional 44.

Typically, these map roundups contain maps from the blogosphere, although I'm thinking of expanding that to include any good fantasy maps that I come across.  Here you will find some little maps of a fictional town called Adelfarn.  Also from that page, you will find lots of interesting material detailing that little town.  If you like little towns, it might be worth a read.

That's all for now.  Until next time, good mapping!


So my post here proves that sometimes I can be completely oblivious.  Because, as a matter of fact, Cyclopeatron already updated the listing of OSR blogs in not one post but TWO.

This one shows the latest rankings, by follower, of the OSR blogs.  (Yes... see his post for some caveats on that.)

This one shows the rankings as a delta of followers from one month to the next.  Nice.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Sometimes it's the little things that bring a smile to your face.  Today, I received my 40th follower.  Thanks, imredave, for being that guy.

Of course, what this really means is that I have become a Thinker.  That's a good thing, right?  Too bad there isn't a title for doodler or random-little-map-drawer--because that is probably more appropriate than 'Thinker'.

All of which reminds me of this nice post from Cyclopeatron from back in September.  I wonder how that list would look if redone today?  It doesn't really make a hill of beans, but it is interesting to watch trends and changes over time.

The Hidden Way

The Hidden Way seems like it is an interesting collection of links and other material for use by rpg'ers.  I recommend that you take a look at it.

Especially handy is the link under Settings, entitled World Building.  Lot of useful stuff there.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Calific? You better believe it!

This seems like an exciting development.  As a fan of the science-fantasy genre, I am really looking forward to see how all this turns out.  Good luck to them!

And Russ Nicholson is one of my favorite artists from the early days.  He alone is worth whatever price they're going to charge.  (Well, within reason...)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Magazines for Give-Away

As a member of the US Armed Forces, I am expected to pick up everything and move myself every two to three years.  With one exception, I have not lived anywhere for longer than three years in the last fourteen, and in some cases, I lived someplace for as little as three months.

I enjoy this lifestyle.  I get to move alot; I get to see new places; I get to experience new people and things.  Luckily, my wife also enjoys the lifestyle.  Just as important, my kids seem okay with it.

One aspect of this lifestyle is that I get to sort through all of my belongings every few years.  (For someone with packrat tendencies, this is a good thing.)  To be honest, nothing forces me to look through my stuff, but when you watch a mountain of boxes being packed onto a moving truck and then unpacked a few weeks (or months) later every few years, you get the idea that that mountain should occasionally be downsized.

Today, as I was looking through boxes, I came across a stash of Dragon magazines that I completely forget that I owned.  In the same box, I also came across some classic Golden Age D&D modules.  Ka-ching!

But now we get to the meat of this post:  I also came across a vast quantity of old magazines that I have no desire to own anymore.  Having had subscriptions to many, I am now at a loss for what to do with them.  Frankly, just chucking them in the trash (or recycling bin) seems like a colossal waste.  In some cases, I've been holding on to them and carrything them around for 20+ years.

I have a fairly large collection of OMNI magazine, described on its wikipedia page as follows: "OMNI was launched by Kathy Keeton, long-time companion and later wife of Penthouse magazine publisher Bob Guccione, who described the magazine in its first issue as "an original if not controversial mixture of science fact, fiction, fantasy and the paranormal."

I also have a large collections of Family Computing magazine (and its later incarnations, "Family & Home Office Computing" and "Home Office Computing").  If you were into computers in the 1980's, you might remember this little gem.

(Not really science fiction, fantasy, or geek related, but I also have a massive collection of Boy's Life magazine, if anyone is interested.  Any Boy Scouts out there feeling a bit nostalgic?  Huh?)

All of the issues that I have are from the late 1970's through the early 1990's.

So, here is the question: What should I do with these?

I have some ideas, but here is my offer:  I will give them away to anyone who wants them from me, for free.  The only thing that you'll have to pay for is the postage.  If anyone is interested in them, please let me know.  Also, for those of you who have blogs of your own, please throw up a quick post and advertise this.  I don't want to dump them in the trash, but that is where they will end up sometime before Christmas.

If anyone is interested, please drop a comment below, or send me an email at

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Treasure Junk (Part 2)

Here, I introduced you to the Chinese treasure junk, massive ships that existed in the 15th century AD.  This post is a continuation of that one.

One of the reasons that I like the idea of a big ship is that it makes a bigger location to explore. I like location based adventures: I am a fan of dungeons; I am a fan of megadungeons. While no ship could be a megadungeon, it could make a very nice sized dungeon.

Previously, with my belief that the biggest ships of the day were perhaps 100x35 ft (and with 2-3 decks (levels) at most), I didn’t feel that there was enough room for exploration. Even when some of my PCs bought a ship for nautical exploration, and I was able to draw a floor plan for it, I was underwhelmed by the result.

BUT, when you have a ship that is 450x175 ft (and with 4-5 decks), you are looking at a large area to explore, as big if not bigger than the largest ‘published’ dungeons out there.

Here are some other possibilities for adventuring in such massive ships.

What if the ship moved while the PCs were exploring it? Say, for instance, a large, seemingly-abandoned ship appears on the coast of the realm where the PCs are based. The PCs find themselves sent out to explore it (pick your hook). They sail out (or fly out, or row out) and enter the vessel. After some exploration, they decide that they need to return to their home base for resupply, healing, etc. But as they exit the ship, they realize that it is no longer located where they entered it: Perhaps it has only moved some distance down the coast that they are familiar with; perhaps it is sitting off a coast that they do not recognize; perhaps it is in the open ocean with no means for the PCs to return home. [While the last might be a form of railroading, at least it is more believable than some other methods of doing so.]

Let’s say that you are not a fan of location-based adventures. Use it as you would a small town or a fort, where the social interactions, the conducting of daily business, etc become the fodder for interesting adventures. A ship of the size that I am referring to could quite possibly be larger than the smaller villages that occur in many of our games. All of those “village life” adventures could occur on a location that moves, en mass, from place to place.

And I will probably develop that idea further in the next post…

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Treasure Junk

Have you ever heard of these?  Even better, go watch the 1-2 minute video to be found here.  Wow--that blows my mind.  Can you even imagine that?

So why are those ships a big deal?  I've spoken earlier of my interest in naval campaigns, i.e. whole campaigns centered around exploration of seas and oceans.  (A fantastic Greek Isles would make an amazing campaign--obviously!)  But I've always felt that such a campaign would seem 'small' in some way--typically as a result of the small size of the vessels of the day.

Most D&D campaigns that I know of exist in that pseudo-historical period between 1000 and 1450 AD or so.  And to my knowledge, before coming across the above, most common sea going vessels were shorter than 100 feet long and 30-35 feet wide.  While I could easily imagine larger and even much larger ships in my fantasy settings, they didn't seem realistic (used in the loosest sense of the word) enough to warrant existence.

I realize that the entire above paragraph might rub some people the wrong way.  (It's fantasy for goodness sake!)  But I have always felt that some level of reality or at least verisimilitude was appropriate.  Now that I know that wooden ships as long as 450 feet and almost 180 feet wide actually existed in the world in that time frame, I feel freed to include them in a campaign.  Of course, the possibilities are endless.

But that is a topic for another time...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Map Roundup - 14 November

Another map roundup.  This one covers ground stretching back quite a ways.  As I find it, I will catalog it.

Aeons & Augauries, 10 Nov: As long as JD Jarvis is going to keep posting maps from his playing past, I'm going to keep linking to them in these roundups.  Especially when they are as awesome as this little, hand-drawn castle map.

Swords & Dorkery, 04 Nov: This post proves that sometimes you really have to work to get to the map.  This is a post that includes the write-up for a small dungeon that it links to.  The map, which is actually located on a Dragonsfoot forum posting, is of a small copper mine.  It is hand drawn and has a nice 3D layout.  Not a traditional "gridded" map, but a very nice one.

Some King's Kent, 14 Nov: A blog of which I've only just become aware.  I'm linking to this post first, because it was the first that I came across, but I'm going to include others following in their chronological order.  This one is about maps and megadungeons.  What more can you ask for?

Some King's Kent, 19 Dec 2009: I like these cavern systems mainly because they look more "natural" than what one typically finds in gaming today.  I also like the brief history of the caverns.

Some King's Kent, 18 Feb: It is Europe, but then, it really isn't.  It might be better!  And I really dig the black map with colored features.  Bravo!

Wheel of Samsara, 07 October: A nice meditation on mapping in games and possible different styles than what we (here in D&D land) might be used to.  It even includes an image of that awesome boardgame from TSR.

Wheel of Samsara, 07 October: As a three-year resident of London, I enjoyed this post.  And it makes some good points, too.

Savage Swords of Athanor, 11 October: Taking the challenge offered up at the Wheel, here comes an original map in the style discussed just above.

Wheel of Samsara, 12 Nov: Lanhkmar and geomorphs.  Amen.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mertwig's Maze

Does anybody (besides myself) remember this game?

Now I realize that no serious gamer would have played this little gem when there was real D&D to be played, but I have to admit that I wasn't always a very serious gamer.

I didn't even own it; my cousins from Michigan owned it.  I only saw them once a year or so, so there was a period of 2-3 years when I hoped that they would bring it each time that they came to my place--in addition to all of the normal gaming material.

Cheesy?  Yes.  Corny?  Yes.  Childish?  More than a little.  But I LOVED it.

Frankly, sadly, I don't even remember that much about the game, other than that you had to travel around and overcome a bunch of different obstacles in order to win.

It was always good for an hour or so of light hearted enjoyment.  And it is the perfect game to play with some little ones.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Map Roundup - 07 November

I am going to continue doing these little map roundups, because I found them to be pretty useful to me.  I like looking at maps, reading about maps, seeing things related to maps, etc. so I started doing them as a way to keep track of things that I saw that I liked.  Unfortunately, I'm not so happy with how they are working out.

When I first started, I would write a small blurb, sometimes just a single sentence that cryptically explained the link.  Over time, the amount of "commentary" that I attached to the posts increased, because the bare-bones approach just wasn't working for me.  Afterall, if these are going to be useful (at least to me) by allowing me to review old roundups looking for something, I needed to include more information.

I have now come to the conclusion that they still lack enough detail.  So from now on, I am going to include the name of the blog and its posting date for each entry on these roundups.  What good are they if I can't quickly look at a post and find what I am looking for?

So, in the new format:

Aeons & Augauries, 04 Nov: An old, hand-drawn map and accompanying adventure by JD Jarvis.  I love looking at older homegrown material.  Perhaps I need to pull out some of my own then scan and post it.

Huge Ruined Pile, 04 Nov: Some maps of Scott's (I believe borrowed) game world of Thool, and lot's of good information from his previous campaigns.

Newbie DM, 06 Nov: A home-made map by the Newbie, it is his personal world.  Also nice because he links to the Cartographer's Guild--one of my favorite websites of all time.

Rather short, I know.  Hopefully, the next one will be more substantial.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gods, Demigods, or Godlings

Over the past few days, there have been some posts about gods in gaming worlds.  Here Scott listed descriptions for a bunch of gods in his game world.  On the same day, that guy over at Planet Algol had this to say on the subject.

Turns out that Planet Algol was the last blog that I read on my trip through the blogosphere last night, so as I lay down to my night's rest, my mind immediately started racing with ideas for "little" gods for a game world.  Then I started thinking, maybe I could write up a little project like that...

Anyway, I present one of them for you here, with others to follow in the coming days:

(Also known as He Who Bleeds)
(Also known as Rent-by-Daggers)

Chadek-Hadek always appears as a man, seemingly pummeled by a long and harsh existence.  He walks with a limp; his cheeks, covered with salt-and-pepper stubble, are scarred from countless battles; his right arm shows the remains of several tattoos that appear as if he has tried to remove them--they are no longer legible as anything other than smears and random lines.  He wears trousers and a thick woolen cloak.  Beneath his cloak, he wears no shirt, and his chest and stomach are (except when he makes the effort to hide them) bare.  Most shockingly, three daggers, buried to their hilts, penetrate his chest and abdomen; the wounds ooze and bleed, and thick and dark scabs surround them.

Chadek-Hadek is often prayed to by those who have suffered great wounds but who are too poor seek the assistance of the local temple or healers or, for whatever reason, are desperate for help.  They would have to be, because the help that he offers is often exactly the opposite.  If he appears to one who prays to him, he will typically examine the wounded individual and pass judgment.  No one knows (or at least, no one is telling, and he certainly does not) the scale by which he judges someone, but upon making his decision, he pulls one of the three daggers from his body and strikes the wounded supplicant.  The act of pulling the dagger from his own body is obviously agonizing, as he grits his teeth, shudders at the pain, and typically does not handle it well.

Depending on the dagger that he draws, the effect of his attack varies:

The dagger that is buried just above his left hip will cause 1d6 hp of damage to the individual.  (Obviously, quite possibly enough to kill the average 0-level person.)  If the individual survives the strike, they will sink into a coma for 1d20 hours.  When they awake, they will be completely healed of all damage, however, their hit point total will permanently decrease by one.  (If the individual had only one to begin with, the drop will not occur.)

The dagger that is buried in his abdomen just beneath his right rib cage will cause 1d6 hp of damage to the individual.  If the individual survives the strike, they will sink into a coma for 1d10 hours.  When they awake, they will be completely healed of all damage, and their hit point total will permanently increase by 1d4+1 hit points.

The dagger that is buried between two ribs on his left side will inflict one hp damage.  If the individual survives the strike, they will sink into a coma for 1d4 days.  When they awake, they will experience a change described as follows.  To determine the effect, the DM shall roll 2d6.  The first die will determine which character attribute is affected (STR, INT, CON, WIS, DEX, CHA).  The second die will determine how that attribute is permanently changed (+3, +2, +1, -1, -2, -3).

Chadek-Hadek will only "treat" someone one time in that person's life.  If he is prayed to in order to benefit someone that he has already treated and he chooses to appear, his reaction is often violent and random, quite often including attacks against whomever else is around.  Of course, if the person is lucky, He Who Bleeds just won't appear.

If he is encountered when he was not prayed-to, he will typically appear impatient and anxious to be on his way to somewhere.  If combat with him should ensue, he will attack with only his fists--thick fingered and with bulbous knuckles.  He can strike twice each round, and his fists do 1d4 damage each.


During a break from typing that, I came across this post from James over at Grognardia.  Sounds like his little project is going to be pretty nice.

And it also sounds like he has beaten me to the punch.  Perhaps my little project will go by the wayside, and I could contribute to his.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Map Roundup - 03 November

There were times in the past where it would take me days to find enough map-related posts to actually post a map roundup.  Well, the below crop of mapping goodness comes to you from one single foray into the blogosphere.  At first I thought that was a good thing.  Now all I think it means is that I've missed a lot of good stuff floating out there.

This post would deserve mention in a map roundup merely because it contains an image of a map.  But it is a map of one of the best kinds--that taken from an adventure: an old D&D module, and one of my faves.  Lots of good things can be said about the module, but this post says them so I'll not belabor the point.  Enjoy!

Not a post about maps per se, but when I look at the first image, I see what could be a map.  It is a map that depicts a place that I would definitely enjoy adventuring in.  How could that place not be fun to explore?!

Here are two posts from the abiding mule that really got my juices flowing.  The first mainly because it contains a map that I really dig.  But it is actually the second that I found very interesting.  The discussion was interesting between the various 'participants.'  Even better were some of the links that led to other nice mappy things.

This post contains a map made pre-D&D, by the author's father no less.  How awesome is that?

Until next time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Now THAT'S a Vampire

In addition to enjoying rpgs, I'm also a big movie fan.  More than that, I like reading about them.  One of my favorite internet sites is Ain't It Cool News.

I was about to turn off the computer when I came across this little gem.  Ignore all of the commentary if you choose, but take a look at that picture.  SURELY, there is some roleplaying inspiration in that photo!

Map Roundup - 27 October 2010

It has been a LONG while since I've done one of these, and I know that I have missed a lot of wonderful map-related posts out their in the blogosphere.  I am going to try to rectify that.

First, let's start with a post from the Greyhawk Grognard about some City of Greyhawk maps.  I really like the look of these.  Simple, black and white line drawn--right up my alley.  And here, he talks about a game called Tactics II, which I admit to having never heard of.  BUT the post does include numerous photos of a map of that game. 

Zak S is working on a new project and has started doing maps for them.  Here are two posts with some nice maps included: One and Two.  Better yet, he then goes on, in this post, to describe why he thinks maps like these are useful.  He doesn't say anything that hasn't been said before elsewhere, but his points remain valid.

A decent map will show the relationships (whether spacial or temporal) between locations in an adventure.  A better map will describe the relationships between locations.  The best maps will show those relationships as a baseline and include other information to make using them even easier!

Grognardia has a post about maps, specifically maps that may or may not have been created by Dr. J. Eric Holmes.  My only wish is that the maps be larger for actual viewing.  Oh well...


And now for something completely NOT about maps.  This really great blog has just come across my radar screen, and I really dig it.  I think that I'll be spending some time there, perusing the images.  Really cool!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

High Level Adventures

As seems often to be the case these days (and for very good reasons) Grognardia posted a question about the existence of high level modules (within a review of a low-level module) which led to posts and discussions all over this corner of the blogosphere.

Two posts which really interested me came from The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms.  The first is his brief reply to the Grognardia post.  The second, which is more interesting to me, discusses the idea of creating "modular modules for deeper level dungeons"--basically a dungeon level or sublevel that you could stick in your own dungeon.  I only saw this post thing morning, but it struck me because that very idea occupied my final gaming thoughts of last evening.

I really think that there is a lot of merit to this idea, especially for people who play in megadungeons.  If it truly is a megadungeon, then it stands to reason that there are areas that only get stumbed across recently--even if the players have traversed a certain area many times before.

I see a lot of advantages to this for the high level module designer:

1. There needn't be a plot hook of any kind other than, "And at the end of the passageway, you see a low archway surrounding by glowing runes in the ancient Glybdenarion script."  Or something like that...

2. If that is too simplistic, there could be a plot hook that draws characters into a region of the dungeon where they have not ventured before or a region that they thought had already been cleared of "interesting" things.  (In my personal opinion, a well-run megadungeon would never get cleared, as new monsters would move in to replace those vanquished, but it does make sense to me that the characters might believe that the 'cool stuff' had all been looted.)

3. Such a high level adventure benefits from all of the widely-acknowledged design benefits of dungeons--they limit choice (to some extent) and provide a self-contained playing environment where (most) of the variables can easily be controlled.

I think that this third advantage is the idea's biggest.  As has been commented about many times, high level adventures are difficult to do well, because many campaigns reach a point where politics play a role or events leading to a possible 'endgame' are occuring.  Inserting a random quest into a smoothly running plot can be jarring or perhaps just not interesting to the characters or the DM.  But inserting a dungeon level into a dungeon that is actively being explored is seamless.

Last night, I found myself thinking about dungeon levels that would be unique or interesting to high level characters that could easily be inserted into an existing dungeon.  Lots of ideas...  Now if I could just carve out some time and write one or two of them.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sweet Art

Thank you to Thomas Denmark of OEF for highlighting this little treat.  I have never heard of Down in the Dungeon before, but the art is fantastic.  Everyone who plays the older editions needs to see this work.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Can List Them with the Best of 'Em!

Is there any point to discussing this phenomena?  I think that there is, but just can't seem to get my thoughts in order enough to do so.

I think somewhere it started with computer games, then someone decided to try it with boardgames, someone else said rpgs, then someone said games--of any kind.  Well, I'm going to expand the reach of mine, to not only include specific titles but more general games.  If that doesn't explain it adequately, you'll see what I mean when you look below.

Yes, you know what I am talking about: 15 Games in 15 Minutes.  Everybody and their Grandmother has done this now.  Well, now everybody and their grandmother and ME!

I'm listing these in the order that they come to me.  Theoretically, that implies some level of importance in my life, or gaming existence.  Or perhaps all that it really implies is some strange train of associations.  Let's see where it takes us, shall we?

1. AD&D - It's basically required, isn't it?
2. Risk - Almost another requirement.
3. Monopoly
4. Atari 2600: Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark - I never got into Adventure, but this one had some puzzles, some task resolution, and a bit of a plot.  I gotta say that I was damn proud the first time that I uncovered that Ark.
5. Atari 2600: Yar's Revenge - A CLASSIC!
6. Atari 2600: Demon Attack - A better and more advanced version of Space Invaders.
7. Atari 5200: Space Dungeon - Come on--a megadungeon in space!  And I never got close to completing all 99 levels.
8. Atari 5200: Dreadnaught Factor - A single fighter against massive starships bristling with weaponry.  Nice!
9. X-Wing (For PC) - This game single-handedly destroyed any chance of success at my finals first semester of my freshman year in college.
10. Axis & Allies - Wasn't introduced to it until college, but came to love it.
11. Payday, the boardgame - The thing that I remember most is its funky art, but I played a lot of it.
12. Life, the boardgame - Blue peg in a green little car.
13. Spades - Cause of many academic problems later in college.
14. Blackjack - Sit me at a table with a pile of plastic in front of me and time ceases to have meaning.
15. Pictionary - Say what you will about this one, but I've had tons of great fun with this.

After having typed that, I'm not sure how one led to the next, necessarily.  But at the very least, this little exercise has prompted all sorts of great memories.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wierd Fantasy and Bards

So I received in the mail a few weeks ago my (two, ha ha ha) copies of James Raggi's Wierd Fantasy Roleplaying.  I'm not going to provide you with a review of it, because, frankly there are a ton of them out there already.  I'm fairly certain that googling it would yield you a bunch of results.  Suffice it to say that I agree with most of the 'good' reviews that you have probably read of it.  (I may get around to posting more thoughts on it at some point, but none of my thoughts strike me today as so original that I need to type them.)

But what I have realized is that I want to produce gaming material for this game.  Of course, compatibility would be there, but his game has enough of its own personality that trying to write material for it would be a fun and interesting challenge.  Some of the material has been bubbling in my consciousness for quite some time and hasn't been inspired directly by his work, but other material is a direct result of reading WF.

Case in point: I commented here that I would love to write a bard class for his game.  Reading the majority of the other comments to that post indicate that most people don't care for the bard.  I don't really care for the AD&D bard (the version with which I am most familiar) but surely a class that relies on charisma can be of value in the 'wierd' world.

But how do you make the new class distinctive enough and wierd enough to fit into that game?  If you own the game, you understand that James worked very hard to make each class unique/useful/interesting (from a game mechanic perspective) in its own way: Only fighters get better at fighting.  Halflings have great saving throws.  Magic-users cast spells.  Etc.  What aspect of the bard do you formalize in a game mechanic to make it worth existing as a class?

Someone in the comments to that post said that, in their game, they added a few skills to the specialist skills list that matched their conception of the 'bard', thereby making the bard merely a specialist who allocated his points toward those skills.  That is one way to do it.  I had actually been thinking of also making the bard similar to the specialist, but instead coming up with several different skills that only the bard has access to.  Problem with that is you might then introduce new rules to account for or make use of those skills.  Not necessarily a big deal, but I don't want to start writing new rules for WF.

Perhaps a combination of spell-like abilities governed by a skill system similiar to the specialists'?  Or is that more of what I just said I didn't want to do?

Back to the earlier question of what does the class do in the game: Perhaps he makes his allies better and his enemies weaker, during combat or elsewhere, through wit, song, special abilities.  Does there need to be a wierd twist?  Not sure.

(Apologies for the stream of consciousness writing--sometimes I have to follow it to where it takes me.)

Case in point #2:  I like so-called 'Vancian magic' as much as the next old time D&D player, but how can it be made (beyond interesting spell descriptions) wierder?  And if not wierd for the DM, at least for the players.  I have some ideas.

There are other cases.  Things that have been sitting on the shelf waiting for a reason to make an appearance.  Perhaps WF provides the catalyst to get them rolling.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Two Takes

So, as I commented earlier, I am going to try to get back to posting a little more often.

I wanted to start by linking to two blogs, both of whom appear on My Daily Read, who have interestingly divergent views on a third blog article from several weeks ago.  It is fairly common for people in our little niche to comment on similar things, but I don't think I've ever seen a case before where two blogs that I follow but who do NOT exist in our little niche comment on something.

So for me, that was pretty cool.

Okay, so you can read this to see what people are taking about.  Then you can go here to see what James Raggi has to say about it.  Okay, he didn't say much, but his point is pretty clear.  Then you can go here to see what Jeff Vogel (of Spiderweb Software) thought about it as well.

For me personally, I'm not sure which side I fall out on.  I think my views are closer to Vogel's.  Of course, in the case of both blogs, there is great wisdom to be found in the comments following.

After considering it for awhile, I have come to this conclusion:  Ultimately, the kids like things that are similiar to what they are familiar with--at least in terms of what they are or are not able to do in a certain situation, i.e. a kid will like computer games that generally give them the amount of personal choice and options (or more) that they are used to.  If personal choice and options are less than what they are used to, other factors in play have to be amazing enough to overcome this.