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 fantasy.cartographic@gmail.com.

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.