Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Ziggurat of el-Muqawar

The Ziggurat  of el-Muqawar is a large man-made structure with sides that stretch skyward 100 feet. Long stairs on the north and south side take pilgrims to the top (or at least it did back in the days). Atop the structure is a wide dias with four massive pillars that reach yet another sixty feet upwards. In the middle is a pool of cool holy water meant for pilgrims to cleanse themselves.
Inside the ziggurat is a small burial area with an included false burial chamber, the Everclear Pool of Te'Quiar, the Tree of Neverdeath with it's enchanted sap, and even deeper is the Marinar Yacht and the actual undisturbed burial chamber of el-Muqawar.

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I've had some people ask why they should back me on Patreon if I share maps here on the blog for free and everyone can access so I thought I should share a few things with you. Probably the biggest reason is that the maps posted to my Patreon page are much higher resolution than you see here on the blog (I shrink them down to fit the blog's width). Here is an example, to see the full effect you will need to click on the image:

On the left is the image I post to the blog at 100%, on the right the image I post to Patreon. Full 300dpi, 3300 × 4200 pixels or 11"x14". It's massive and fit for printing at your local print shop. If you tried to print the smaller image off the website you could but if you blew it up to use with minis or on a VTT it would become pixelated. You could use it but it just would not be as pretty.

The second, I occasionally release additional PDF material, either compilations of maps, or short adventures. My Patreon supporters get these for free while I tend to put them up on RPGNow for a small fee.

Third, well, your patronage keeps me motivated to continue drawing up maps for the RPG world to use in their adventures. I regularly hear from people who have used my maps in their games and it always brings a smile to my face knowing that I helped someone else bring their world to life.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How I created a magic book

One of my players discovered a book and I decided to be nice and allow it to offer some magical spells for him. I looked (admittedly briefly) online for a generator, but I could not find one I liked. So in true grognard fashion, I came up with my own way. Rather quickly too. So this might now work exactly for everyone.

Step One - Determine the number of pages

I wanted it to be a short so I rolled a d8 and a d10, getting a 5 and a 9, so 59 pages long. I could have easily made it shorter or longer simply by manipulating the dice rolled. I felt 01 through 80 was a pretty good number for a small tome found by a first through second level party of adventurers.

Step Two - The beginning of the book

No book jumps right into the spells, mages are an egotistical bunch of a-holes, so likely their writing would show signs of this as well. I made a quick decision to roll a d12 for each 'section' of the book, I figure 12 pages of a digest sized book is about right for a spell. So I roll for the first couple of sections (I threw together off the top of my head): Introduction, Author's Biography, and a discourse on Magic Theory. I think I drew on the horrible books in academia to get those, but you could throw in some other things like a dedication, history, maybe a family tree. Grab a book from your book shelf and flip through a couple and see what sort of things authors throw in the front of their books.

For each of these sections I rolled a d12, getting 5 pages of introduction, 3 pages of author biography (apparently this guy did not have much to say about himself), and 11 pages on magical theory. Already wasted 19 pages on crap my player will not care about but will make the book feel more 'real' or whole. Good job GM.

Step Three - Spells and such

Next we need to start getting the spells figured out. Now, one could just roll a d6 and say there are that many spells but that is boring. So I look for a random table I like and find none. I searched maybe ten minutes. Frustrated, I give up on a random table but instead find a list that I might be able to use:
http://www.dxcontent.com/5e_RandomSpellTables.html#WizardSection

If you are like me, you will see a pattern here. There are seven tables across there if you count the Cantrips. I decided I wanted Cantrips and only up to level 5 spells...boy that sounds like a damn d6 roll (1=Cantrip, 2=1st level, etc). This is perfect! I roll to determine the level, roll on the spell table, then roll my trusty d12 for page count. The first spell I get is Web, a simple spell that takes 11 pages! Hmmm, that seems like a lot of pages, so I dig into that "mages have egos" thing and decide the author rambles along and discusses the origin of the spell. He likes to write I guess.

I continue in this method, determine spell, determine page count, etc. Mentally, I sort of decided that 1 spell level should be about 1 or 2 pages so when the page count gets really high, I add a little flavor in to explain why a simple spell takes up so much space in the book. Doing this will add some depth to the book and make it unique, especially if you can add a little bit of the creator's character in there. If you wanted...you could even take this a step further and add a few sentence each spell. Maybe the author just loves his Phantom Steed spell and likes to create unicorns that shoot rainbows out it's butt. Maybe he likes to create camels because it reminds him of home. Maybe he has a quick concoction that helps remove the stickiness the Web spell leaves behind. Anyway, use as you like but I guarantee your players will dig any extra effort at thrusting some character into these entries.

I keep an eye on the page count until I get down to 9 pages left and as luck would have it, I roll the d12 again and get the result of the last spell taking 9 pages. Perfect.

Step Four - A silly name

I can't really help you much on this one. I just came up with a silly, ego-ish type name that sounded like some self-important mage might name his book.

My randomly generated magical tome

Here is the tome I created for my player. At some level I like to be more exacting in the spells I throw at my players to find, but then again I also like letting fate to decide what spells they get and then let the players be creative in figuring out ways to surprise me. Makes being the GM more fun. Below is the mysterious mage's tome that my player found.

“Delimar’s Exposition on Mystical Machinations
59 pages total

5 pages of introduction, quite boring and due

3 pages of the author’s biography

11 pages of discussion on magical theory

11 pages, Web spell, a drawn out discussion on the origin of the spell

6 pages, Phantom Steed spell

12 pages, Friends cantrip, another long detailed story of the many uses of of the cantrip

2 pages, Identify spell

9 pages, Earthen Grasp spell

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Vengeance of Chartaqi Surakhani

Latest map, and likely to be part of issue #4 of The Ten Foot Pole. In living color:

Black and white

And blue

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Coming soonish....

Let me just say first, I am slow, and prone to switching project frequently, but this is the working cover for my next BIG project:


So, with that out of the way, I am working towards doing something I said I would do about two years ago and never followed through. I am going through all my maps and cataloging them, meta tags, date released, if it was licensed, if there are multiple version, and the back up location. It is a slow process but I have nearly completed 2016. I expect to go slower the farther back I go.

The end goal is two-fold. I have had many people ask about licensing my maps and the first thing they always ask is "Do you have a gallery?" No, I never have, unless you count my blog or Patron stream. So this will give me some place to point them to so they can get a rough idea of my backlog and a quick view of any map they might be interested in.

The second goal, and this is probably more interesting to you, is that I plan on finally working on my Cartographic Review. A sort of journal of my maps. I have done small projects like this previously with a handful of maps but this will take every map released for the quarter and put it in a PDF. I am still working out the details of how each will be presented. Some people have asked for just the maps, no favor text or blank lines for you to write in your own adventures, I personally favor the blank lines so the book is a living book that GMs might actually use. Others want just a book full of pretty maps to gaze upon. Which do you prefer?

My goal is to start way back and work forward, releasing a quarter every so often as I complete the quarter. All my Patreon supporters will receive these for free as a thank you for supporting me. Everyone else will be able to pick these up for a small fee at their favorite RPG PDF store. I am tentatively planning to release each full year as a POD through either Amazon and/or Lulu (course, I still have to figure that out, so don't hold your breath).

So today I worked on the cover. You can see it below. I designed it to be reminiscent of the old pulp magazine covers and to look different that the clone-a-copy gaming products we tend to see. It is supposed to look used, abused, and possibly ever cared by brave explorers as they enter the dark dungeons in hopes of treasure.

So, coming soon. Hopefully more sooner than later.  Stay tuned.  :-)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The first map I posted to Patreon

Over three years ago now, and rediscovered as I was going through my maps and cataloging them in a database. I thought perhaps I should blow the dust off and rework the map more in fitting with my current mapping style.


Black and white

And the blue version:

Monday, January 30, 2017

A busy day downtown

I decided to try my hand at another town map, this time focusing on just a small portion, and applying some of the latest coloring and shadowing techniques I have been using lately. Below is the result.  If you dig my maps, please consider becoming a patron of map making efforts. Patrons get full-sized mega versions of all the maps with occasional extras.

Full color w/shadowing

Black & white w/shadowing

And the old style blue