Thursday, December 29, 2011

Small Map Roundup - 29 December

Back when I had more time to devote to this blog, one of my regular features was Map Roundups, wherein I would include links to all of the map related blog posts in our little corner of the blogosphere.

I truly miss doing the Roundups, because I know that I have missed out on a LOT of mapping goodness over the past several months.  In any event, I wanted to do a mini-Roundup today, because I came across two posts that really spoke to me.

The first comes to us from Telecanter, he of the Receding Rules.  He discusses the concept of a Pre-Mapped Dungeon, which are exactly what they sound like: Dungeons to be explored by a party of adventurers who are already in possession of a map of the dungeon.  I love this concept and think that a creative DM could come up with (not one but) several really interesting adventures with this is mind.  I wonder if a module has ever been published that employs this conceit.  (Anyone know?)  Maybe I need to write one...

The second comes to us from JDJarvis over at Aeons & Augauries.  He is discussing one method of mapping for megadungeons.  Basically (or at least the aspect that most speaks to me), he is saying that you could map a small collection of rooms--actually several small sections of rooms--and then link them in whatever manner you desire, i.e. as long as you track how each group of rooms links together, you don't need to produce a detailed 10'x10' gridded map connecting everything.  I immediately think back to a question that James over at Grognardia posted several weeks ago regarding the "ideal" way to include maps in his upcoming Dwimmermount product.  Several people described basically what JD is talking about.  (I think that he might have spoken up in the comments to that post.)  IF I were ever to publish a megadungeon, I think that this is how I would do it.  Map the small, interesting areas and let the connections between them be done randomly, via geomorphs, or on-the-fly by the DM.

And, yes, I would LOVE to publish a megadungeon someday.  If only...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Star Clans - A New Blog Worth Paying Attention To

Here's a new blog that might be interesting to people.  I'm not sure where it is headed, but I know the author really well.  He is a whiz at world creation, and I'm sure that this new project will produce lots of interesting material for use in your own campaign or just to get your creative juices flowing.

Sounds like it might be a science-fantasy setting, but perhaps not.  He's been known to include elements of science fiction into the origin and background of the setting that never actually make their way into the world that that players see.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gotta Love those Random Tables

Aeons & Augauries is one of my favorite old school blogs.  I absolutely love JDJarvis' work.  Recently, he has been posting a collection of random tables to help characterize various standard dungeon items (think statue, fountain, etc.).

Well, quickly glancing through those showed all sorts of goodness.  But then I thought, mmmmm, what else has he posted with the same label (random table) that might be of interest?  And this is what you find.

Pure win.

I wonder if he's ever thought about including all of those in a nice pdf...

Star Wars Goodness *or* Super Lazy Post

A link like this cannot be passed up: Star Wars scripts, many versions, all goodness.

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Old School" Products

Not really a frequenter of Dragonsfoot.  And, frankly, from what I've heard of the place, I don't want to be.

But this is some useful information.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Agree with Him

So I've been scarce around these parts lately.  Mostly due to the new job and the hours worked to get everything under control.

My posting has been pathetic.

And, unfortunately, it will remain so for the time being.  Any posting that I do will consist of linking to something interesting that I have seen on the interweb and then commenting on it.  Like this:


Today, I saw this that JB posted over at B/X Blackrazor.  I completely agree with everything that he says.

I think that most of the commenters to his post went off on various tangents about gaming, which movies they like, various opinions about GL, but his point that there is a massive universe with some cool "core" items that could be used in other stories is spot on.  Why don't authors of fiction mine those things for other adventures?

Damned if I know.

Friday, September 2, 2011

What is that?!

So while I was writing my last post earlier today, I glanced at the 'Stats' tab for this blog, and I noticed a huge spike in readership a few days ago.  I also noticed that most of the spike came from a website that I had never heard of before, by the name of Gothise.

Anybody know that this place is or what it is about?  I suppose that I could sign up for an account, and then I would see, but I am past the stage of signing up for every website out there just because.

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Star Wars Goodness in Buttercup Valley

I know that the past several months have seen very little activity at Carto Cacography.  I also know that what little activity there has been has not been original or, even, cartography related.  Interestingly enough (and NOT surprisingly), this has led to a drop in the number of followers that I have.  Unfortunately, the real world has conspired to drastically limit my free time, and while I usually have the time to read those blogs that interest me, I have not had the time to post my own material.  I wish I could say that that is going to change in the near future...

This is another post wherein I will direct you, inhabitant of the blogosphere, to something that I found and was really excited about.

I am a Star Wars fan.  This link will take you to a bunch of behind-the-scenes photos from Return of the Jedi.  I really dig this stuff, and I hope that you do as well.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Production Diary for "The Hobbit"!!!

This may be more of interest to people interested in movie making, but there are certainly bits of fantasy in this 10+ minute video.  It is a video design-diary by Peter Jackson about teh current state of the movie version of "The Hobbit".

Take a look.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Purple Worm Graveyard - Soon!

Over at Year of the Dungeon, Tony Dowler has (almost) made a very exciting announcement.

Okay, so why do I find this announcement exciting?  I did the layout work for Tony's nifty little adventure, and I am pretty pleased with my work.  Better yet, it was a paid gig.  Most importantly, he was pleased with my work.  (That is, unless he is the nicest man on the planet and didn't tell me how he really felt about it.)

I already have in my possession a complimentary hardcopy of the module, and I think that it came out very nicely.  The adventure itself is a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Not D&D --- Harrison Ford

As soon as I watched the first clip from this post, I knew that I had to link to it.  Sorry--not at all D&D or even rpg related, but I am a huge Harrison Ford fan, so this was a no-brainer for me.

Enjoy these interview clips.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Been a Long Time, so Roll a D6

I've been gone from these parts for a long time now.  I'm hoping to slip back in and start posting soon.

Came across this and had to link to it.  If only so I won't forget about it.

And thanks to joethelawyer for posting it first.

Monday, April 25, 2011

$$ $$ $$

It is a topic that many people love to discuss--sometimes related to their desires to make money in our little hobby.

I recently ran across two short articles by Monte Cook regarding the topic.  (I know that, to some, he is the devil, but I typically find his thoughts to be insightful and interesting.)

Here he writes about the highest paid authors in 2010.

Here he talks about rpg designers and money.

I do have to admit, however, that when he discusses money, I am left with the feeling that his words would be more meaningful if he would inform us of how well he does in his writing.  Obviously, well.  But numbers would be interesting.  I realize that it is personal, and that it is truly none of my business, but it would be informative nonetheless.

I also know that the vast majority of people in this world (that I have ever met) do not like to discuss money issues--at least their own personal money issues.  I suppose it makes people uncomfortable.  Emotions get involved, etc, etc.  I, on the other hand, don't feel that way.

To be fair, as an officer in the US Navy, my pay is fully public knowledge.  With a few pieces of information, such as where I live, how long I've been in the services, etc., any one of you could google some numbers and determine EXACTLY what the Navy pays me.  I guess in a way, that is liberating.

But I would still be interested in knowing what Monte Cook makes in a given year.


This post is also a little experiment to determine if the title leads to increased traffic over my typical posts.  Apologies if my experiment offends.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Perhaps Worth a Look

So I found myself over at Goodman Games' website, at this page specifically, and they've put up three "design diaries" about their new Dungeon Crawl Classics rpg.  I'm not sure if people have already been talking about it, because I've been pretty scarce around these parts lately, but I found what details they've released to be pretty intriguing.

Here are links to the design diaries:

General thoughts on the game.
Appendix N in 'modern' gaming format.
Magic Use.

I really, really like their ideas for magic use.  I like the fact that they are purposefully making spellcasting more unpredictable.  That is the way it should be.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Are These Design Principles Relevant?

Jeff over at the Bottom Feeder continues to impress me with his observations and wisdom.  In this post, he reviews Minecraft, a computer game that, frankly, I know nothing about.  (Although after reading his review and the comments following, it sounds like a game any D&D player could love.)

But better than just reviewing it (which would be not very helpful, because he makes it clear very early that he likes it), he offers some thoughts on why it has been successful.  The question now becomes, could those aspects of Minecraft that Jeff thinks makes it a good game be applied to pen-and-paper adventure design?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Zombie Fungus - FOR REAL?!

Yes.  This will be the last one, for tonight at least.

The video here is one of the creepiest things I've seen in a long time, especially toward the end when you are confronted with the sight of corpse after corpse while listening to strange children's-music-box music and the voice of that British guy whose name I cannot remember.

And for this, I have to thank joethelawyer.

Perhaps the best part is right at the end when the narrator says, "But these attacks do have a positive effect on the jungle's diversity, since parasites like these stop any one group of animal from getting the upper hand.  The more numerous a species becomes, the more likely it will be attacked by its nemesis, a cordyceps fungus."

Perhaps that species is humanity?!?


Gaming Economics

To continue the trend from the previous post, I'd like to thank the Greyhawk Grognard for this little post regarding the costs of rpgs.  In his post, he discusses the cost of 1E core rules in their day and compares them to the cost of 4E core rules today.

Saturn Brilliant

For at least a few more weeks, I'm not going to be able to post regularly or with anything that requires much effort on my part.  What that means is that what little posting there is will probably be things of which I want to save a record.

This video is one such thing.  Absolutely amazing, in my opinion.

Many thanks to Trollsmyth for linking to it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The D&D Article at Salon

I don't know if people have linked to this yet or not, because I've been away from the blogosphere for almost two weeks now.  (Busy at work in general, and focusing on that BIG project that is due the first week of April.)  It's nice to see D&D once again rearing its head in the mainstream media--especially when it is in a positive light.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Beach Creatures

I'm always looking for real world sources of inspiration for my gaming.  I like this video.

Friday, February 18, 2011

pdf Pricing - Yeah

I'm going to have to agree with what he said.  I just don't see a pdf as being worth that price, any pdf.

Because it is a topic that interests me a lot, I thought that I would link to several posts that Tenkar has written over at his tavern.  First, he starts with some general questions pertaining to the pricing of pdfs.  I think that the questions he poses are all valid.  Unforunately for the erstwhile publisher, the answers to those questions vary across the buying public.  Valid questions that might be impossible to answer, unless one does market research, which by its very nature  is not done by publishers in our little corner.  Too expensive.

Later, Tenkar discusses the pricing of the Castle Keeper's Guide and what he might have charged for it.  Thanks, Tenkar!

I should say that in both cases, the comments are just as interesting as Tenkar's initial thoughts.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Game Design Wisdom (Not from Me)

Jeff Vogel, over at the Bottom Feeder, writes this about game design.  He isn't a pen-and-paper rpg guy but an indie computer rpg designer.  I've linked to him before, because I think his insights are pertinent to our corner of the gaming world as well as his own.

As I think about his post more, I realize that his point is relevant to a 4E D&D experience moreso than it is to any old school fun.  4E has minions, monsters that will perish with one hit.  Is there a place in old school gaming for such a concept?  I think that there might be.


Interesting (to me at least) is the fact that one of the posts wherein I did link to him (this one, if you are interested) happens to have the most page views of any post in the history of this blog--almost double the number of page views of the number two post.  I wonder why that is...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Campaign Concept: "Seven"

I find inspiration for gaming just about everywhere I turn.

You might think that I am proposing a campaign concept from the movie "Seven" starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, which is, of course, based on the concept of the Seven Deadly Sins.  I suppose that there is a campaign idea in there somewhere, but that's not where this comes from.

Take a read of the following.  I think that there is plenty here for inspiration.

And I saw an angel come down unto me
In her hand she holds the very key
Words of compassion, words of peace
And in the distance an army's marching feet
But behold, we will watch them fall

And we lay down on the sand of the sea
And before us animosity will stand and decree
That we speak not of love only blasphemy
And in the distance, six others will curse me

And we will see a plague and a river of blood
And every evil soul will surely die in spite of
Their seven tears, but do not fear
for in the distance, twelve souls from now
You and me will still be here - we will still be here

There will be a new city with streets of gold
The young so educated they never grow old
And a, there will be no death for with every breath
The voice of many colors sings a song
That's so bold
Sing it while we watch them fall

All seven and we'll watch them fall
They stand in the way of love
And we will smoke them all
With an intellect and a savoir-faire
No one in the whole universe
Will ever compare
I am yours now and you are mine
And together we'll love through
All space and time, so don't cry
One day all seven will die

More than likely, you recognize that the above are lyrics to a song, even if you do not particularly care for it or the artist.  But that really doesn't matter, because there is plenty here for a campaign.

Angels carrying keys, armies, blasphemy, plague, rivers of blood, a new city with streets of gold, young so educated they never grow old.  Who or what are the Seven?  Are they good?  Are they evil?

And whether or not you like the song or video apart from the lyrics, I find both also to be inspirational.  The tone is generally Middle Eastern to me, with a little horror thrown in (background music), and his outfit is something that I can imagine a desert mystic assassin wearing as he approaches his quarry before silently slitting its throat.

Maybe I should just stick to maps, but, to me, this song drips with inspiration.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Real Life's Twists

There are a few people with whom I spent the majority of my gaming time with.  One is my older brother, who I have written about before.

Another is my childhood best friend.  I haven't seen him in years, but we do keep in sporadic contact.  And that is a shame, because when I think of D&D, I think of him.  Well, a little over two years ago, he, a very physically fit guy in his mid-thirties, had a heart attack and almost died.

It's strange to me to even write the above sentence.

He has come through it and is doing well.  Yes, there are a variety of minor and not-so-minor complications, but he is working, living, and getting on.

Why do I write about this, today?  A lot of people at various blogs have posted about the "forefathers" of gaming, the men whose writing inspired the hobby that we all love, and how the world would be a very different place were it not for them.  That is obviously all true, and we owe a debt of gratitude to those authors, early gamers, etc.  But we also owe a debt to those who brought us individually into the hobby, who make up large portions of our personal gaming histories, and who continue to inspire us in simple and sometimes profound ways.

My friend started a blog awhile ago, that he occassionally posts to.  I only recently became aware of it.  If you have a moment, go check it out.  Help me thank him for the hours of joy that gaming with him gave me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

He Did It Just Like He Said He Would

I wrote a little about treasure junks (gigantic, wooden-hulled Chinese ships) back here.  In the comments of that post, Joe Browning mentioned an adventure that he was putting out that took place on what is basically a treasure junk.  That adventure, entitled The Frozen Wave Satsuma, can be found here for sale at RPGNow.

I haven't purchased it yet, but I will be.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I've been away for the past week or so.  Not away away, but not having the time to post here.  A couple of things have jogged me back:

1. Got a nice email from my best friend from the olden days that reminded me just how much fun we had playing D&D when we were younger.  Ah, memories.

2. There's this little thing about "three-hour islands" that I've heard about.  As a lover of maritime campaigns, this really speaks to me.  I need to draw one up!  But not today...

One of the reasons that I haven't found the time to post is that the results of the big sporting event that occurred this past Sunday evening were not to my liking.  Not one bit.  I'm still trying to come to grips with it all.  But let's face it: Life must go on.  There are an ever expanding number of maps that need to be perused.  I better get on it (in addition to drawing an island).

Monday, January 31, 2011

Fantasy Mapping from outside of Our Little Corner

I was recently pointed to a site that contains a multitude of really nice cartography--of a certain style.  It reminds me a lot of Tony Dowler's work.

As far as I can tell, the artist has no connection to D&D whatsoever, which in my mind makes it even cooler.

It is called the The Interimaginational Institute for Fantastical Exploration and Cartography.  A bit long-winded, I suppose, but who cares?  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Awesome Cave

As several other (real world) projects are taking up my time right now, I might have to back off of my Map Roundups for a few weeks.  That probably upsets me more than it does you, but taking the time to wander far and wide over the blogosphere looking for map-related posts does take a little more time than I have available right now.

But I did come across a nice post this morning that I HAD to link to.  Thanks to Trey over at The Sorcerer's Skull for posting this about some caves in Viet Nam and Mexico.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Campaign Concept: Afloat in the Fleet (Part 1)

Back here and continuing here, I wrote about Chinese treasure junks, massive ships from the fifteenth century (Good article here.), and how their existence gave me some ideas for roleplaying. Another good article is here, but I’ll just include the relevant portion:
Expedition of Zheng He
The largest junks ever built were possibly those of Admiral Zheng He, for his expeditions in the Indian Ocean. According to Chinese sources, the fleet for He's 1405 expedition comprised nearly 30,000 sailors and over 300 ships at its height.

The dimensions of Zheng He's ships according to ancient Chinese chronicles are disputed by modern scholars (see below):

• "Treasure ships", used by the commander of the fleet and his deputies (Nine-masted junks, claimed by the Ming Shi to be about 420 feet long and 180 feet wide).

• "Horse ships", carrying tribute goods and repair material for the fleet (Eight-masted junks, about 340 feet long and 140 feet wide)

• "Supply ships", containing food-staple for the crew (Seven-masted junks, about 260 feet long and 115 feet wide).

• "Troop transports" (Six-masted junks, about 220 feet long and 83 feet wide).

• "Fuchuan warships" (Five-masted junks, about 165 feet long).

• "Patrol boats" (Eight-oared, about 120 feet long).

• "Water tankers", with 1 month's supply of fresh water.

Some recent research suggests that the actual length of the biggest treasure ships may have been between 390–408 feet (119–124 m) long and 160–166 feet (49–51 m) width, while others estimate them to be 200–250 feet (61–76 m) in length.
When I read the above, numerous ideas spring to mind. Just to simplify, say that you have a fleet of large ships, two to three hundred of them with a total manpower of twenty to thirty thousand people. What could you do with that?  Here are a bunch of possibilities that come to my mind.

One possibility is that the fleet of ships is controlled by a maritime power in your world in order to (pick the goal).  Perhaps it is conquest of surrounding dominions or perhaps it is exploration.  Regardless, the fleet is military in nature.  The PCs are mercenaries in the employ of the government, either in possession of their own ship or based on one of the many barracks ships that are accompanying the expedition.  Or maybe they are spies of a competing power, trying to thwart the aims of the fleet.  This idea could work for any level of PCs.  Low level PCs could interact with the common soldiers (or marines--seaborne infantry), the masters of the smaller ships, and the daily "normal" happenings throughout the fleet.  High level PCs could interact with the Admirals in charge of the fleet and the governing council.

Adventures could be event-based based upon the politics and situations that the PCs find themselves in as part of this massive fleet.  Adventures could also be location-based as the fleet visits various strange locales and the PCs have to explore the lands or islands that the fleet encounters. 

Another possibility is that the fleet of ships is not attached to any land power, but is, in fact, its own political entity.  A literal floating city made up of numerous ships, housing all of the normal functions of a city, but in a collection of moving vessels whose position changes relative to all of the others over time and whose makeup changes as some ships (or groups of ships) leave the main body and others return to it over time.  It would obviously include (much) smaller vessels that taxi passengers between the larger ones.

If one accepts the literal floating city as a campaign idea, what is the nature of that city's voyages?  What are their origins?
- Perhaps it just voyages from place to place with no discernable rhyme or reason (at least to the commoner aboard one of its many vessels).  The PCs would just be along for the ride, and their adventures are determined merely upon the circumstances of the cruise.
- Perhaps the leadership of the city are searching for a particular place, object, or person.  The PCs are actively involved in the search, whether as mercenaries or otherwise.  Or perhaps they don't give a hoot about the overall reasons for the voyage and are out for themselves.
- Perhaps the city voyages to discover its past.  How many science-fictions stories are about humans in space trying to find the mythical 'Earth'?  Translate that idea to fantasy and an ocean voyage, and it works as well.

I'm sure there are other ways that this basic idea could be used in a campaign.  If you can think of any, I'd love to hear of them.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Map Roundup - 21 January

If there is one thing that doing these roundups continually proves to me it is that there are so many blogs out there doing interesting, and often amazing, things.  One of the things that I love most about the blogosphere is that I can click on a link and then from there follow another one and then another one and then find myself someplace that I've never been before and reading or looking at something that I never otherwise would have.

I have a lot of fun putting these things together; I hope that you enjoy reading them.

Axe & Hammer, 17 Jan: In our last map roundup we had several 'one-hour dungeon' posts.  This one is a half-hour dungeon post. 

Axe & Hammer, 18 Jan: This is that same dungeon starting to be turned into a 'one-shot' adventure.

Axe & Hammer, 19 Jan: The one-shot commenced above taken a little further...

Quickly, Quietly, Carefully, 19 Jan: Another take on the 'one-hour' dungeon.

Quickly, Quietly, Carefully, 20 Jan: Another one hour dungeon.  I like this one better than his first above.

Aeons & Augauries, 20 Jan: A hand drawn dungeon map.

Sickly Purple Death Ray, 19 Jan: A map of caves.  I love maps.  Of caves.  I love this cave.

Sickly Purple Death Ray, 05 Jan: A map of a sunken temple.  Nice old school look to it as well.

And then I take a look at the archives at SPDR and realize that there are a whole lot of maps there that I absolutely dig.  Which really shouldn't be a surprise considering who it is that writes the SPDR blog.  So now I'm going to have to delve into them.  BUT I don't have time to link to them all here; perhaps I'll do that in a future roundup.

Sorcerer Under Mountain, 20 Dec: A nice little hand drawn map of a continent, The Continent of Terror!

Gnumerous Gnomes, 31 Dec : A tiny write-up of a city, Sparrowton, but placed on a nice looking hex map.  This is a new blog to me, but I've come across several map-related posts.  Here goes:

Gnumerous Gnomes, 05 Dec: A write-up of the nation of Anders, and a nice hex map to illustrate.

Gnumerous Gnomes, 05 Dec (#2): A write-up of the nation of the Steampine Dwarves, and the obligatory hex map.

Tower of the Archmage, 21 Jan: Another one-hour map, hand drawn.  Everybody's doing it.

A character for every game, 21 Jan: Hand drawn map of The Lost Crypts.  This guy can map!

A character for every game, 14 Jan: Hand drawn map of Peridane's Tomb.

The Alexandrian, 19 Jan: A really nice post containing a map (linked) and a detailed discussion of playing in a megadungeon and his thoughts on DMing it.  A new blog to me, but if the quality of the posts continues to be at this level, I can see myself spending a lot of time here.

The Alexandrian, Halls of the Mad Mage: A one-page pdf detailing a relatively small dungeon.  I've linked to it, because I like the clean, simple look of the included map.

Greyhawk Grognard, 06 Sep (2010): I don't know if I've linked to this post before or not--I can't remember and haven't taken the time to research it.  Anyway, a poster sized map of the Castle of the Mad Archmage--in old school cyan blue!

Telecanter's Receding Rules, 21 Jan: A map in this post, but the main draw is not the map--it is the content.  Telecanter expresses the desire for a "How to Host an Empire" similar to Tony Dowler's "How to Host a Dungeon" that would serve as "an abstract, generative system for developing world history".  This is actually a FABULOUS idea and something that my older brother and I have often considered.  Our original idea grew from the tables in AD&D's Oriental Adventures to determine events in a realm over time.  It is something that I would love to work on.  Perhaps some day...

Forgotten Runes, 15 Jan: Mapping the world in hexes.  Good post.  And I really dig the background on this blog.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I'll take a stab at it

So lot's of people have been posting 'One-Hour' Dungeons.  Dungeons that they sat down and drew in one hour.

And I decided that I would take a stab at it.  After all, I love maps, right?

So I gathered all of my supplies: a black Pilot G-1 0.7mm gel pen, a Fine Point black Sharpie, a straight edge, and a sheet of graph paper.  I had (so I thought) set aside one hour of time in which to draw.  Conditions were perfect.

Conditions were perfect.  (Inside joke--anyone know 'Flight of the Concordes'?)

That is, except for the sleeping baby in the other room.  But she was going to sleep for a lot longer than the one hour that I needed, right?

I sat down to start and this is what I came up with in 43 minutes.

(Why did I stop at 43 minutes?  Well, the sleeping baby woke up and started to cry.  Stop, calm the baby, scan the above picture, and put it away.  I put it away, because I felt that it would be inappropriate to look at it until I was ready to finish it.  (It's a one-hour dungeon isn't it?)  Several hours later, I pull it out and draw for the last 17 minutes.)

Here is the finished dungeon:

Overall, I gotta say that I am happy with it.  I really like how it looks visually--aesthetically.  It's also a lot better than I thought that it would turn out considering it is all in ink--no way to make changes, erase, or revise.  Definitely not the normal way to draw a dungeon.  From a dungeon design standpoint, however, I don't really think that it is that good.  I don't particularly like the layout of it all that much.  And frankly, I think that the ample use of caverns was a cop-out.  They are much easier (for me) to draw when hurrying.

One last thought.  In this case, I didn't really have an idea of a 'backstory' for the dungeon.  I just sat down and started drawing, stream of consciousness.  I wonder if it would have turned out any differently if I had any ideas about it before I started.  Something to think about for in the future.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Map Roundup - 19 January

Time for another roundup.

Aeons & Augauries, 13 Jan: A hex map in 3D.  Pretty nifty.

Aeons & Augauries, 14 Jan: More cool 3D hex mapping.

Planet Algol, 16 Jan: A dungeon map in one hour.  Really nice idea, and some thing that I'll have to try sometime soon.

Aeons & Augauries, 17 Jan: A one-hour dungeon map inspired by the above post, this one using Adobe Illustrator.

Aeons & Augauries, 17 Jan (#2): Another one-hour dungeon, this time build with geomorphs. 

Aeons & Augauries, 17 Jan (#3): Yet another one-hour dungeon, this time hand drawn.

I See Lead People, 15 Jan : Three "quick and dirty" city-section maps.  I like these for their simple style.  They're nice to look at.

And now I'll delve into the map archives at I See Lead People as I don't believe that I've linked to this blog before:

I See Lead People, 09 Nov (2010): A really nice hand-drawn, black and white, hex map of a large region.  I really like this map.  It's of a place called Elwyren.

I See Lead People, 23 May (2010): Some fantastic maps from the old Imagine Magazine.  A castle, dwarven complex, an inn, and a temple.

I See Lead People, 22 May (2010): More of the above from Imagine.

I See Lead People, 22 May (2010) (Again): Still more.

Old 4 Eyes Den, 10 Jan: I love wandering across new blogs for the first time.  Here's a new one (to me).  The post has a map of a little dungeon called "The Training Dungeon" and a playing session recap.

Old School Heretic, 15 Jan: No maps visible in this post, but about maps nonetheless.  Node maps, even.

The Mule Abides, 18 Jan: A cool map of NYC, and the announcement of an art show in NY about fantasy mapping.

The Mule Abides, 11 Jan: A post entitled "The Post Where I Give You Awesome Map Graphics."  And IT ROCKS!  Especially if you like trying to create outdoor regional maps on your computer.

The Mule Abides, 21 Dec: This is actually part 5 of a series of posts on creating a sandbox campaign map.  Parts 1 - 4 were posted on Dec 8, 10, 14, and 16 and can be found here.

The Mule Abides, 25 Dec: Part 6 of the series mentioned just above.  Really nice work here.

Fantastic Maps, 15 Jan: A nice color map from Jon Roberts, cartographer extraordinaire.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Map Roundup -- 13 January

I know that I missed a bunch of map-related posts over the holidays.  I'm also continuing to realize just how many great gaming blogs there are out there.  Anyway, here is the first map roundup of the new year.  Enjoy.

Havards Blackmoor Blog, 10 Jan: A post containing a map of Castle Blackmoor and links to a nifty little project--for those of you who dig Blackmoor.

Of course, old Havard has many map-related posts in his archives, so I'll link to them here (in chronological order):

Havards Blackmoor Blog, Oct 06 (2009): A B&W map whose style I enjoy and a link to an interesting theory regarding the history of Blackmoor maps.

Havards Blackmoor Blog, 21 Dec (2009): A very nice map of Blackmoor during the Age of the Wolf, which, if you are fan of Blackmoor, you will understand.

Havards Blackmoor Blog, 05 Apr (2010): A color hex map of a region of Blackmoor by one Dave L.

Havards Blackmoor Blog, 08 Apr (2010): More Blackmoor maps by Dave L.

The Tao of D&D, 20 Dec: I know that Alexis over at Tao has been working a wiki based on his campaign world and including maps and such.  I have been remiss in not linking to any of his stuff before now, but here goes.  He talks a little about and links to some of those maps in this post.

The Tao of D&D, 03 Jan: A really old real-world map and some maps from Alexis' world.

The Tao of D&D, 10 Jan: Maps from the 3rd updated a bit.

Lost Papers of Tsojcanth, 10 Jan : A link to some town maps and a link to some of Dyson's maps.

Aeons & Augauries, 10 Jan: A sketched campaign map in black and white.

Dreams in the Lich house, 12 Jan: A nice hex map of a Gothic Greyhawk.  But even better, I like the idea that he proposes in this post.  It is something that closely matches some of my own thinking.  I definitely see the topic for a post of my own here.

The Book of Worlds, 03 Jan: Harald, the writer of this blog, complimented me in the comments section to one of my posts recently, which led me to jump over to his blog.  Some really great stuff in it, and I've only read those posts visible from the front page.  This post includes a map of New York City, but even better, it links to an article and pictures about urban spelunking.  Awesome topic!

The Book of Worlds, 28 Oct (2010): I'm doing a little digging into Harald's past posts, looking at his Realms of Argos.  What I like about his blog is that he uses photos of real world things to depict gaming locales and objects.  His descriptions are also fantastic.  This is a handdrawn map of his island of Cora.

The Book of Worlds, 22 Oct (2010) : Another high quality post.  This regards the Kingdom of Pendrell.

The Book of Worlds, Atlas of Argos: Harald also has a flickr page where he houses some of his maps.  Nice.

The Book of Worlds, 06 July (2010): No maps in this post, but a Metaphysical Topography of his world.  (Basically, a map in words.)

Tower of the Archmage, 09 Jan: The title of this post is 'Megadungeon Map - Level 3.'  It REQUIRES that I link to it.  And it's a sweet looking map as well.

Tower of the Archmage, 12 Jan: Maps of outerspace are cool.  Especially when they look as nice as this one.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Argh! OGRE!

I have been scratching my head for about five weeks now, trying to remember the name of the armored warfare game where one side is played by many small units in battle against a single, large tank.  Turns out--it's name is OGRE.  Thanks to James M for posting about it.

My cousins owned it when I was a wee lad, and we played it several times.  I really enjoyed that game.

Recently, when it popped into my head, I immediately thought of a game idea that, to me at least, is very similar.  My idea is a small, hex based game where one player plays an assortment of footmen, soldiers, archers, etc. and heroes (slightly stronger versions of the previous) [the conventional vehicles, artillery, and troops of OGRE] and the other player plays a single dragon [the gigantic, artificially intelligent tanks in OGRE].

It would be a point-buy game where the one player can "purchase" whatever assortment of combatants he chooses while the dragon character purchases abilities for the dragon or characteristics of his lair (terrain obstacles that benefit him).  Combat then goes down, and the winner wins.

(For all I know, this idea has already been done.  I don't know of it if it has, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least.  So if there is such a game in existence already, would someone please tell me?)

Assuming it hasn't been done, it is an idea that I would pursue if only I had the time to devote to it...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Terrible Admission

This post is going to be an admission, but before I get to that, I have two points to make.

First, I typically don’t get too worked up by what I read in the blogosphere. You occasionally come across vitriol and bitterness in flame-wars and such, and my response is to usually laugh at that stuff. Yes, hurtful things occasionally get said. Yes, some people reveal themselves to be total pricks. But most of it just rolls off—at least for me personally.

Secondly, I know that some people really DO NOT like what he has to say. There is a vocal minority that seems to really resent his opinions and believes that he is a pompous A-hole. I am NOT one of those people. Typically, I am in agreement with James M on what he says; Grognardia is a site that I visit without fail. But his point here is one that I do not agree with.

So here it is:

My Terrible Admission

Currently, I am not playing any rpgs. In fact, I haven’t played any in years.

There, I said it.


I don’t have the time. With a career, three small children, and a wife who has interests of her own, I cannot support the time expenditure required. Does that mean that I should just hang up this blogging thing?

For me, I blog (and try to be involved in this online community) specifically because I don’t have time to play. Of the two, blogging takes up less time than playing would. If I made the decision to play, I certainly couldn’t play and blog at the same time. It would be impossible.

I am envious of those of you who play—more envious of you who write amazing blogs and still have time to play. But that is just not going to be me anytime soon.

Needless to say, I disagree with James’ assertion that people who write about playing should be playing as a prerequisite to writing about it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

To Win Boriscalion

Back in the late eighties and early nineties, I was trying to get myself published in Dungeon magazine. I sent them several query letters, most of which were politely declined with their standard rejection letter. Then, finally, after six or eight attempts, they sent me the "your idea sounds intriguing, why don't you send us a completed manuscript" letter.

The adventure was called "To Win Boriscalion". It was a single player vs. DM adventure for a 1st - 3rd level fighter. A fairly straightforward dungeon crawl, the fighter was to enter an abandoned keep and search for any treasure he might find. The big treasure was "Boriscalion", a magical sword with orc-slaying powers. The idea was that it would be the first magical sword the PC would obtain. Basic concept I know, but I thought that it worked.

I thought that until I received the rejection letter from Dungeon--signed by none other than Wolfgang Baur.  The points that they raise are valid, although with a little tweaking they could be fixed.  The reason that I didn't fix them is that, at the time, Dungeon was no longer looking for AD&D adventures.

For posterity's sake, here is the rejection letter that they sent me:

And since this is a blog mainly about mapping, here are the maps that I submitted with the manuscript.

Perhaps I'll take the time to rewrite "To Win Boriscalion" and offer it as a free download--or maybe even as a product for sale.  Yet one more example of "If I only had more time..."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

One Year

So 2011 is off to a slow start--for this blog.  But I can at least say that it is now One Year Old!!

A year and a day or two.  It all started here.


What is it about people that makes us want to commemorate essentially pointless dates?

Friday, January 7, 2011

"Our EPT?"

Interesting post from the Windy City Wiz, but I'm wondering if I agree with him.

I think that there are new and original things being done that haven't been done before.  The Wiz claims that Raggi is an ass but respects him for what he is doing with his products.

How about Al's Warriors of the Red Planet?  (Yes, I know I linked to the blog, but, in case you are not aware, that blog is supporting a game that Al will be releasing (hopefully) this spring.)

I know that there are others out there, and a few are mentioned in the comments following the Wiz's post.

My feeling is that there is a lot of stuff going on that is interesting.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Yes, it has been for several days now.  Crazy, how that works.

But since the last time that I posted (over a week ago), Christmas came and went, New Years came and went, and my latest birthday came and went.  Yup, a year older.

During that time, I checked out of the blogosphere almost completely.  Not only that, I was on my computer only a little bit each day.  AND there were days when I didn't check my email at all.

Usually, when I sit down to write a post, I do so after reading throughout the blogosphere.  I get good ideas; I get inspired; I find good maps.  I haven't done that today.  I'm assuming that there were a lot of 'resolutions' posts from various bloggers about the new year, so I'm going to offer some of my own:

- The Fantasy Cartographic will release at least two new products this year for sale.

- I'm going to jump on the geomorph bandwagon and begin posting geomorphs here on the blog in the same format as Dyson Logos, Risus Monkey, and Stonewerks.

- I'm going to work on updating 'My Daily Read' (which you'll find if you look to your right) so that it actually again matches the blogs that I follow on a daily basis--and includes ones that actualy post with some regularity.

- I'm going to work on a few other writing projects, that have been sitting on the backburner for WAY too long.

And that wraps up my first post of 2011.  A few more days will mark the One Year Anniversary of this place.  Perhaps some sort of retrospective is in order.  Then again, perhaps not.