Friday, April 17, 2015

The Sword Tomb - Sword & Wizardry Appreciation Day Map

In honor of the game that has brought me such joy, Swords & Wizardry (in all its versions), I am releasing this map into the wild with a CC Attribution license. You read that correct, so long as you say I drew it, you are is free to do with it as you please: release it in a free product, release it in a paid product, use it as toilet paper. If you want full resolution versions of the above map, please head over to my Patreon page (see the links below the image):

b&w version

sans border and stuffs

I hope you all have a great day and get some good gaming in.

Creative Commons License
The Sword Tomb by Matthew Jackson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Geomorphs strike back!

My buddy Joe Wetzel (Inkwell Ideas) is starting up a contest and as geomorphs were one of the ways I first burst on to the OSR mapping scene years ago I thought I would toss a little support his way and spread the word. I made a template (available here) so you can join in the fun and possibly win a set of Dungeonmorph Dice from Joe.

 Using my template I made a handful of geomorphs. Damn I love these things. If you use the template, be sure to let me know I would love to see anything you come up with.


Black and White (old school baby):

 You can learn more about the contest here:

These geomorphs were released as one of my Patreon maps, if you like what you see you can help support my mapping habit for just quarters a month. For more information and to see tons more maps, visit my Patreon page here.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Geomorphs! And contests!

My buddy +Joe Wetzel has an unhealthy love of Geomorphs. Back around 2009 he helped fuel a love of geormorphs that spread like wildfire among most of the mappers on Google+ at the time and now he is back with another idea, this time a contest. The winner gets those wonder Dungeonmorph Dice.

Check it out over on his blog:

In an effort to help people out I thought I would make a template for those that wanted something to help jump start the creation process. Here you go, I look forward to seeing all the geomorphs people create!
UPDATED! Now with full 300dpi resolution and transparent background.

Here is a link to download the PDF file for easy printing:

Here is a LibreOffice file format in case you want to mess with it any:

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Port of Merdunn

I spotted some cool maps of a game that went down at GaryCon last weekend. The game was ran over a massive port set piece with tons of docks, planks, boats and all kinds of nonsense that just seemed to me to be itching to have a massive chase scene play across it. Yesterday I was struggling for some inspiration when it hit me that I should turn those photos into a map, below are the results.

And a black and white version.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

UPF: Station 57

United Planetary Federation Station 57 is a asteroid-based remote viewing station. Established twenty-five years ago to keep a wary eye on Extra-Frontier Space, specifically Sathar controlled regions of Black Space. At times the small facility has housed Special Operations Tactics Squads of the Frontier Expeditionary Force as a base of operations.

The station is currently administered by Admiral Adamanteli. Such a high ranking UPF officer being posted to such a small facility has raised more than a few eyebrows within the rank and file. There are numerous hints that Station 57 is being used for secretive and dangerous missions deep in Sathar space. None of these rumors have been founded on fact and the UPF and the Admiral have remained tight-lipped on the operations and/or research being conducted at the facility.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Doomed City of Bethmoora

The city of Bethmoora and I have had a checkered past. I had originally thought of her years ago and given her another name. I did a little bit of work on her before I moved on to other things. I even ran a few game sessions set in her. Then I totally forgot about her.

 Last fall I picked her up again, fleshed her out some and came up with her new name. I even did up a one shot mini-zine and sent it out to a few unlucky folks. Well, I have stepped out of the GMs chair for a bit and I am thinking of running another game. Of course I start thinking of where to set the game and Bethmoora immediately comes to mind.

 The city of Bethmoora is called the Doomed City because everyone knows someday it will no longer exist. You see, it clings to the edge of a massive pit 5,000 feet across at it's widest point. How far down you ask? No one knows, the bottom is shrouded in smoke/fog and constantly moving shadows that weave in and out of recognizable shapes.

Thousands of men-at-arms and brave explorers have entered the pit and never returned. Some have, and they returned with wonders that made them famous, powerful and rich. This of course, draws more to her gaping mouth.

There is a thin trail that winds downward into the pit or you can pay one of the elevators to lower you to certain levels. Be careful how far you go, the dangers are ever more vile, twisted and hungry the deeper into the pit you venture. There are numerous locales set in the pit from the Gold Mines of Mograd to the twisting tunnels of the Hall of the Svirfneblin to the deadly homes of the kobold mines.

 Not only are their dangers below, but the city itself is a sweltering pot of vile scum the likes most will never see. Due to the sheer number of transient people that travel through the city one can never be sure who they will come across or if they are friend or foe. Open practice of magic is forbidden (though few follow this 'law'), the law being put into effect after a large portion of the city collapsed during a magical battle. Today a large wedge-shaped gap runs the middle of the city, remnants of that fateful battle.

A few questions I have been asked:
Is the wedge that section in the bottom centre of the map?
The wedge that fell into the pit is actually the entire section that is missing if you drew a straight line from the 'castle' to the smaller fort on the left. That entire area down from that line to the bottom of the crevasse is what fell, at the time that was one half of the city that suddenly disappeared.

Is the "lake" shore actually this pit, and the docks the elevators? If so, why build fortress walls facing the pit?
The 'inner city', the oldest portion, has always had a fortress walls surrounding it because things come OUT of the pit as well as go IN. I did not go into the details but things crawling out of the pit are actually fairly common. This was meant as a quick intro to the city. Yes the 'docks' are the elevator systems that lower people and supplies into the pit as well as raise material out of it. Three hundred feet below the surface is a mine that produces gold, diamonds and other valuable ore. This mine was the reason the first elevator was built.

Or at least, why build thick, reinforced ones?
The city is regularly attacked by things from the pit. Also things crawl out of the pit and wander around to the unwalled side (remember the pit is 5,000 across in some places so the top rim is is roughly three miles in length). Thus you might also note the city has begun building additional towers and a wall is planned to stretch around the entire thing eventually (work has started on the eastern, rim side, you can see the construction working there. Men who serve in a group called The Hundred Page man the towers protecting the town and patrol the streets. It is their job to protect the citizens, the homes and businesses of the people, the Governor and the Princess (who lives in the inner ward of the castle. If you look very close in the wedge, on the east side, you will see a small platform and the path that leads down into the pit. There have been many cases where having that wall above the platform has been beneficial to the survival of the city.

Do the adventurers stay, or leave?
Of course some stay, some become extremely wealthy and settle down, maybe open businesses. Some of course do not and take their riches home with them to wherever they are from.

Are there any rich noblemen?
Of course! Who do you think own all the homes and business in the Outer Ward? It is by far the safest part of town. Bethmoora has considerably less nobles than one might normally find in a town of this size due to the dangers but many have come to oversee business interests. One particular pastime of many of the nobles in town is sponsoring adventuring parties to venture into the pit.

Where's the temples?
There are at least six large churches/temples in the city. I plan on fleshing these out as time goes on. Notable churches are: 
o  The large rectangular building in the western most portion of the town along the main road.
o  Some of the larger buildings in the main portion of town are also temples.
o  In the Outer Ward (the large walled portion of town) that large rectangular building jutting out over the rim? That is the main church in town and also contains the holy remains of the patron Saint of the town, Saint Harould the Defender. He stood his ground in the early days of the town and sacrificed himself so the royal family could escape a pack of Expliant Hounds that breached the wall at this location. Today a massive Gothic styled church stands jutting from the wall and overlooking the edge of the cliff. The church was built to withstand attacks made upon its walls and to this day the shrine of the saint has never been breached.

Seems rather a large city built solely upon the economy of adventuring, especially when few return.
I said thousands enter and some return.  ;-) There are people entering and returning from the pit daily, numerous adventuring parties have made an entire career out of exploring the depths. Additionally, many of the nobles regularly sponsor parties to explore the pit (and receiving a good percentage of the earning from such ventures). The mysterious artifacts, treasure
Also the pit is not the only business in town. The large mine (there are actually two large mines but that is a story for another day) in the pit brings back a good deal of gold, diamonds and high quality ore. This ore has become a valuable trade in the town as well, with smelters taking up shop and highly regarded dwarven master craftsmen setting up shop to take advantage of the mine's prosperity. 

I hope this answers some questions that many seem to be having!

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Shallow Crypt of Sohm

Another snow day today and I just could not get in the mood to work on the big project I am in the middle of. So I bought Conan the Barbarian on Google Play and watched it. As always, good stuff. Arnold is Conan to me, I grew up on the film and not the books.

 Then the wife came home and watched the news. I hate the news, always bad news, negative and gloomy. So I sat at my desk and drew another map. So here you go, you guys benefit with another map. Thanks to +Jon Marr for the name!


Black & white...

And some texture...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Tomb of Galandrixil - fixed

I posted this map a bit ago and, as +Erik Tenkar pointed out, I put an "S" on there. Tonight I finally got around to fixing it so it was correctly labeled.

The. Is. Only. One. Land.     ;-)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Simple, not boring OR Matt rambles before bed....

I am merely passing along words of wisdom here. My friend +James Spahn wrote up something yesterday that eloquently says something I have felt and tried to express in the past, only he does it much better than I. Go ahead and read it, I'll wait.

The bit that hits it out of the ballpark is this little gem:

The thing that bothers me the most about this guy is the fact that he feels like he needs rules to make a unique character. A heavy armored knight and a light-footed swashbuckler can both be fighters. An arcane scholar from a magic college and a tribal witch doctor can both be wizards. The lack of rules can be a huge strength in making a unique character - but this guy just seems to see the classes as cookie cutter.
This is why I love the OSR and especially games like S&W:WhiteBox and Pits & Perils. You can say you are a fighter but then play the character as a ranger, a pirate, a barbarian, a paladin, a knight, a lord....hell, the options are limited by one tiny thing. Your IMAGINATION

Why do you feel you need a rule that allows you to do some special feat? You want to track that goblin tribe that raided the quaint little town? Ask the GM. A good GM will say "Give me a check" or "Explain to me what you are doing" or even "Sure, you can follow them, are you going alone?" A bad GM (we have all seen them right?) will say NO, you do not have that ability, you are a fighter, not a ranger. Fuck him, go find another game.

Not convinced? 

I was chatting with James, he's a likable guy and right now the *Godfather of WhiteBox* right now, so that makes him my-favorite-guy at the moment. He says this:

I cast "Mount" in the middle of a bar brawl, which summoned a donkey for an hour. An angry Donkey in the middle of a bar brawl is a great equalizer.
Ever think of doing that? Taking a completely non-combat spell and turning it into likely the most powerful tool his party had at the moment. It might have turned the table for his group. I would certainly give him an Awesome Point for that. You see, the rules might have simply said "Summons a domestic animal for x number of hours" but James did something here, something the rules cannot teach you, and something that makes role-playing far better than video games in my book - he used his brain. His simple little wizard, helpless with his measly mount spell, was able to become a major force in this encounter because he used his brain. He did not rely on a feat or power to turn the tide of the situation. Or tell him what he could and could not do.

I can see you are still thinking about that feat you get at 3rd level, try this little bit of inspired role-playing:

Cast light on some rube warrior's sword, "I have enchanted your blade. Should you draw blood from my friends or I with that blade, the light shall flicker and burn you until your eyes burst from your skull in a tiny shower of sparks."
Where in the rules does it even suggest this? Where in the rules does it tell a GM how to handle this? It does not. Not one bit of ounce of the rules explain how to handle this. This is called CREATIVITY.

Try it. You just mind find that simple character you wrote down is a doorway to possibilities unhindered by a set of feats that tell you exactly what you can do.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bloodnut Pass unleashed!

It's alive! I just dropped my first adventure for the wonderful Pits & Perils RPG. You can check it out here:

Be warned, this one is nasty, gritty, bloody and contains foul language, a terrible piece of indie-inspired cartography, and some explicit subject matter. Don't let the kids read this one!

If you have never heard of Pits & Perils, you can check it out here: