Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Austmann's Lodge

Merry Christmas to everyone. I had just finished watching the latest episode of "Vikings" so I must have had that on my mind but as I sat down to draw this the other day my mind was on a frozen land, covered in snow, surrounded by tall peaks. The crackle of a fire warming the hall, the smell of dinner roasting over the fire, and the sound friends, brothers and sisters enjoying a cold wintery evening together in a small Austmann's lodge.

Behold a lodge fit for a true Austmann, even comes with an overlarge bed to ensure you and a couple (or three) of your favorite ladies can have an enjoyable evening together, an entryway with a table for leaving your weapons, and a common area for the lords' men as well as a table and 'throne' for the lord to impress any visiting persons.

And the black and white version.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Charlotte from the #DailyAdventure

I have been running a zork-style game over on Google+ for a few weeks now and during the telling of the story I find myself referencing places and later having to explain this is more detail. So naturally I thought I should create a map. For those following along with the game, I will post another version of the map with a legend detailing out the places mentioned in the game at a later time.

Colorized version.

And the black and white version, this one seems more fitting for the game as it takes place in winter with snow on the ground.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I'm blue...

I was playing around in GIMP a little today and I figured out an easy as snot way to make my maps blue while still retaining some of the fill shading in there. Takes me all of three minutes to do this. I am pretty happy with the results.

I also did one with a grid for those who like that sort of thing.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

[map] Inktober, pt 3

Yep, a little behind, but hey that's me. A couple more maps from my inktober series last month.

The Worried Whortle is a small inn suitable for dropping just about anywhere in your campaign. A cozy tavern area with four (perfect for your adventuring party!) beds upstairs for a snug night of sleep. Olaf has reported things crawling out of the cooking pit in the kitchen and is willing to offer up a free night's sleep - dinner and spirits included! - for those willing to enter the pit and find out what is going on.

The Arch is a simple stone archway, guarded by a Pale Rob monk who resides in the small cave at the back of the chamber. The empty space between the stones that form the archway is a portal, bit not one that goes anywhere. This one is exit only and the Pale Monk named Gul'estavre ensures that this portal remains open for use by those who wish to come into this world.

Drop a buck a month and get access to as many as 3-5 new high-resolution maps per month. Maps are provided in various color schemes and at 300dpi, 11x14 image files suitable for printing. Are you ready to become a patron supporter?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

How to go from paper to digital, or, How I make maps

I was recently asked about my process, the way in which I clean my maps. So I will go through the process as much as I am able here. I am starting with a completed piece and simply going over the computer part of the process.

1) Scan your piece and open in am art program, here I am using GIMP because it is awesome.

2) Next I clean it up a little, reducing the image to just the parts you want to use. In this case I have removed the extra parts of my Moleskine journal I draw in so that all that remains are the actual drawing parts. I also rotate the image to how it will appear in the final map.

3) Next I copy the image over to Inkscape, I just use ctrl+c and ctrl+v because I am old school and know all those keyboard shortcuts. Once the piece is in Inkscape, I select "Trace to Bitmap" under Paths in the menu bar.

3.5) Next I change the settings to how they appear here. I up the Threshold slightly and check the remove background. It took me a while to mess around get these settings but this is where I like them.

4) Copy the resulting image back into GIMP. What you should get is a pure black and white version of your image. I am aware there are other ways to accomplish this same feat using filters and whatnot but I have been using this process for about two years now and I am an old grognard. I like this method.
Now, if you look close you will see that some spots that were faint in the original piece look pretty crappy after the Inckscape processing, look at the OCT 8 "Rock" for reference. This I will need to go over in GIMP slightly with the pen tool to fix. Sometimes I will also reproduce the layer and merge it on itself, effectively making the ink thinker/stronger.

5) Next up I use the "Color to Alpha" tool under the Color menu to produce a black only image, allowing me to color on new layers beneath it and not fear ruining the black map layer.

6) The resulting image should look something like this. Here I have pasted it into my 'stock' background that I put all my maps into.

7) The next step is the tedious, but more artistic, of the steps. Coloring. I create new layers such as 'walls', 'floors', etc and color using a brush I made and simply go about coloring the various aspects of the map.

I hope you like this and find it useful. It really is quite an easy process to get your drawn image into GIMP and ready for coloring. If you end up using this process please share it with me, I would love to see what others create using this simple process.

Drop a buck a month and get access to as many as 3-5 new high-resolution maps per month. Maps are provided in various color schemes and at 300dpi, 11x14 image files suitable for printing. Are you ready to become a patron supporter?

Saturday, October 15, 2016

[map] Inktober, pt 2

More fleshed out maps from the inktober series.

And the black and white version

Drop a buck a month and get access to as many as 3-5 new high-resolution maps per month. Maps are provided in various color schemes and at 300dpi, 11x14 image files suitable for printing. Are you ready to become a patron supporter?

Friday, October 14, 2016

[map] Inktober, pt 1

I decided to throw my inktober musings into GIMP and clean them up a little. Here is the first one:

And black and white version

Drop a buck a month and get access to as many as 3-5 new high-resolution maps per month. Maps are provided in various color schemes and at 300dpi, 11x14 image files suitable for printing. Are you ready to become a patron supporter?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

[map] The Cactus Bar

+Luka Rejec posted some very cool images as part of his new Patreon page and I was inspired to draw something that might fit his image. Not sure if it compares or not but here you go. You can see the post that inspired this map here:

And the black and white version:

Drop a buck a month and get access to as many as 3-5 new high-resolution maps per month. Maps are provided in various color schemes and at 300dpi, 11x14 image files suitable for printing. Are you ready to become a patron supporter?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Rosataen Emperor's Retreat

Along the banks of the Great Tullurian River a small cavern opens up into the Rosataen Emperor's secret retreat. Magics hide the opening to the cavern, making it appear to be nothing more than a sheer cliff face along the river's bank.

Inside are apartments for the Emperor and his guests, an area to dine and a continual river of water that enables the party to float along the calm waters and relax. Gems, tiles, paints, and carvings are used in massive artwork that lines the walls along this river. Faint light spells, which can be attuned to the Emperor's mood in intensity and color, suspended from the ceiling far above provide the entire cavern with soft ambient light. A full kitchen keeps the guests well-fed while ample storage provides a never-ending flow of wine, fruits, and meats.

The long room along the worker's corridor is the barracks utilized by the Emperor's guard when he is in residence and can accommodate nearly thirty-five men in it's specially constructed bunks which stretch to the ceiling in sets of five atop each other. It is tight but there are rarely that many men here at any one time, patrols, guard duty and such occupying most of their time.

When the Emperor was younger the cavern was the site of numerous week long parties and celebrations with young beauties, drugs, midgets, and untold wonderful oddities. Now that the Emperor has matured into his elder years he comes to remember, relax, and rest. Assassins have attempted to breach the securities and harm the Emperor, but so far none have been successful.

Supporters over on Patreon also received a four page PDF write up of this location, with more details about Kreel, his past and the effect it had on the Tart, details on the caverns connected to the cellar, and possible adventure hooks and seeds. Drop a buck a month and get access to the PDF as well as 3-5 new high-resolution maps per month. Maps are provided in various color schemes and at 300dpi, 11x14 image files suitable for printing. Are you ready to become a patron supporter?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

[map] The Headless Tart

If you are asked while in the city of Bethmoora for an excellent tavern, those with the penchant for mischief will likely direct you to The Headless Tart. From the quaint and unspectacular outside, this  one-story building looks to be nothing exceptional, but does hold the appearance of being well-kept and friendly.

The front room is warm and cozy, three massive oak tables, a single round table, and huge bar occupy the high-beamed ceiling. A large fireplace keeps the room warm from the corner even in the coldest months. A large kitchen with a well-stocked storeroom keeps the brew flowing and the meals coming. In the back are two smaller, private rooms for when your gathering requires privacy.

The current proprietor of the Tart is S. Caleb Kreel, a meaty  and tallish merry fellow with a wild shock and a bushy beard of the reddest color. Kreel is friendly, but always wary of those he does not know. Once they are well known to him, visitors to the Tart will discover him to the best of friends, one of the rare, honest businessmen in Bethmoora.

Kreel is typically found with his large leather apron and a mug or five on his arm. He hides a large knife beneath his apron and knows how to solidly use it in a scuffle, though he prefers not to. He likes things light and friendly and when he sees things are going south you can guarantee he will begin tossing up free (or discounted) drinks and break into one of the local tavern songs. His deep, roaring voice causes most to stop arguing and join in the jovial drinking songs.

Supporters over on Patreon also received a four page PDF write up of this location, with more details about Kreel, his past and the effect it had on the Tart, details on the caverns connected to the cellar, and possible adventure hooks and seeds. Drop a buck a month and get access to the PDF as well as 3-5 new high-resolution maps per month. Maps are provided in various color schemes and at 300dpi, 11x14 image files suitable for printing. Are you ready to become a patron supporter?

And the black and white version:

Friday, September 16, 2016

[map] The Keltovian Material Reclamation Centre (The Dumping Grounds)

I'm currently reading a great book where a covert government agency that monitors and keeps an alien (or demon - the lines are a little fuzzy here) incursion hidden from the public. One of the coolest scene locations is a large cargo yard where the agency keeps various dangerous artifacts and oozes and gore collected from the outsider's secretions, body parts, and other horrors the public should never know about.

I thought it would be a great location for a modern adventure or even a 1920's Cthulhu. How knows exactly what is kept in all those containers as they are processed, categorized and eventually shipped out to various long-term storage facilities across the country.

Roll a d12 to see what is discovered inside a container:
1) Unapproachable Stone of Msgrotto, held in a magnetic field
2) Necromintal Secretions of the Black Kuraen, 27 tons
3) The August Handmaidens of Bovinal  Preins, partial
4) Yoth Mammon's Perenitus (including all seven limbs)
5) The Speaking Head of Councillor Singh of Dreemdor
6) A Kaxeos of Odanrot and his slaves
7) The Weird Tree of Choltenham, trunk and seven branches
8) Diluted Shrolliek Plasma, 30,000 gallons
9) Uncountable Boulders of the Broken Drollmuth Troll
10) The Pine Bark of the Dark Immovable Grug
11) Venislarnian Toenails, 1,273,873,182 pieces
12)  Yen-Morgantus, 1/4 brain

If you enjoy my maps, consider dropping a buck or two to support my monthly map addiction, check out all the maps over at Patreon:

Sunday, September 11, 2016

[map] Lord Findildor's Pleasure Palace

Lord Findildor created his underground pleasure palace a decade ago and it has served the most distinguished (and wealthy) clientele. With private rooms, a large and mysterious master suite  (sorry, details of the contents of that room are hard to come by, so I was forced to leave the room empty on the map), peaceful gardens filled with trees, a theater, massive tapestries, an elegantly designed restaurant with a plane-wide famous menu and chef, a secluded mineral water hot tub, and ladies to fill your every desire.

Most people visit and stay for an extended period of time rather than a single day and so the Palace is set up to offer multiple activities to entertain patrons and people - beautiful escorts at their side - swimming, sailing on a small boat, diving from the waterfall, enjoying a play or poetry, indulging in a feast...or whatever they can dream of. Findildor is rumored to be a wizard of respectable power. It is said that nothing is too outlandish for him to bring to life.

Just getting into Lord Findildor's place is a challenge as one must be invited as there are just two ways into the place: teleportation portals (one for staff and one for clients).  Even then, you will need to pass through security, back ground checks, and, of course, the large membership fee. They say it is totally worth it.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

[map] The Marinerargonaut's Rest

High in the Tenderfoot Mountains rests a small outcropping of rock with a dark opening that leads into the rock. Inside lies the The Marinerargonaut's Rest and the mystery of it's odd location has served two purposes for hundreds of years:
1) People have forgotten about it, believing it to be nothing more than a myth
2) No one believes it could be located high in the mountains, and thus have not searched for it's fabled riches there

The truth is this memorial hall to the mariners of ages past was built on the coast of an ancient and long gone realm. Cataclysmic upheaval and the freezing of the South Polar Ducal Bay* in 846 have caused the land to rise in this region just as the water level dropped. The result? Now the Rest lies hundred of feet above sea level in a high valley.

Excellent dwarven workmanship has resulted in the Rest being preserved in excellent condition but this also means the defenses put in place are also working properly - the place is said to be infested with traps and other nastiness such as statues the guard, at least a pair of Water Spirits, and the worst of all, the Yacht of Eligurgle. The yacht is said to be capable of transporting those mounted upon it's golden decks to places limited only by their minds.

Black and white version.

* See the Weginulk Historical Bibilography's entry on the Incident at the Pole with the Ice Ifrit

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

[map] Adventurers, adventuring!

I started a few weeks ago working on a few maps to go along with the excellent artwork by Jonny Gray over on Google+, you can see his fantastic piece here (I just realized that he shared his map privately so unless you are in his circles, you will not be able to see his wonderful artwork, my apologies):

This is the first of three maps I plan to draw, each connecting and creating a larger, 'mega-dungeon' to go along with his artwork.

If you like my maps, please consider supporting me over on Patreon. Every dime goes towards supporting my map making and encourages me to continue making more. Thank you to all my current supporters.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ten Minute Writing Challenge #TMWC

I am going to go ahead and kick this off. I have always wanted to write, and I have done so at various times, but I lack follow through and the discipline to continue this for any length of time. I feel peer pressure is a strong motivating force, so I call on you to help me. And perhaps I can return the favor.

The idea is simple: Allocate ten whole minutes every day, Monday through Saturday, to writing something. Anything counts (except emails). Fiction, poems, diaries, etc. Pick a location and time that you have to yourself that allows you to focus your attention on writing. Do not think too hard on this. Get a pen, some paper (or go digital if you wish), set a timer, and simply write. Do not think too hard on editing or sentence structure, the goal is simply putting words on paper - not making it pretty. That is what editing and copy editing is for. Let me say that again -
Our Goal Is To Put Words On Paper.

The Rules:
  • Write for ten minutes per day, Monday - Saturday for the entire month of September.
  • You can write more if you wish, but ten minutes is the goal.
  • No editing allowed. Just write.
  • If you miss a day, no big deal, just move on to the next day and
  • Encourage, don’t critique others' works. Critiques are only allowed if the author explicitly asks you to do so.
  • Writing blog posts counts as writing, but email does not.
  • The only prize is your own pride in completing the challenge.

The Why:
Now, the question is why am I doing this? I want to create a HABIT of writing and I have discovered a few things on blogs that are supposed to help with this:
1) Pick a location conducive to writing. It can be anywhere but you need to be comfortable. The idea is that this location is YOURS and no one else's spot. Think of where you would feel calm and at ease, excited even, about putting pen to paper. 
2) Find a time that works. This time needs to be your time alone, with no interruptions that can distract you for just ten minutes. This can be night or day but think about a time that you have a moment alone to yourself so you can focus on writing. 
3) Determine a reasonable goal. I am taking care of this for you by selecting ten minutes. If we are successful at ten minutes, maybe next month we will add some time and see if we can grow into more developed and thoughtful authors!

How this will work:
I am planning on making a post in the evening before I head to bed, around 10pm central US time. This will be an image, phrase, seed words, or something that will hopefully act as a catalyst to creation for you. I call these Story Seeds and will hopefully serve as an inspiration for you. You DO NOT have to use these if you already have something you want to write about.

You can write anywhere you want and there is no requirement to post your work online for others to see, we hope you do, but it is not necessary. However, to participate I would ask you to reply with a comment to THAT POST on the blog that you were successful. If you post your work online and wish to share, please include a link to your work.

Example Story Seeds
I will likely be using Rory's Story Cubes for some of the days, an example is below. You can use all of the cubes, some, or even none of them. Whatever causes you to be inspired.

I may use photos which (hopefully) provide a story seed to encourage you to come up with a story idea quickly. 

I will also likely use Story Seeds (my term for words that cause inspiration to fire). These can be short phrases or simply words. The same rules for Rory's Cubes is applicable here: use some, all, or none of the words. Examples might be:

So, now that I have laid it all out, who is with me? And if you are late to the party, no worries! Jump in whenever! Starting the 31st of August, I will post the following day's Story Seeds for the following day.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

[prose] Guns in the Night

I found myself with a few minutes yesterday afternoon while I waited for an appointment. I wrote it in a Moleskine the old fashioned way, with a pen. Quickly tonight I copied it over to the blog. It is presented with errors and as written. Ended up at roughly 1000 words.

William struggled with the rope binding his wrists. He grimaced as the old frayed rope bit into his flesh. He twisted and pulled again, but to no avail.

“Anders,” the tall man yelled at the smaller man. “Make sure he cannot get free.”

“Yeah, awlsright,” he grumbled in his southern draw. “Yain’t got to yell.”

The tall man removed his hat and wiped his brow, gazing out from his hiding spot between the two buildings. From his vantage, he could easily see across the clear and rolling hills out to the horizon. He figured this allowed clear sight out to a few minutes - enough to give him a warning if anyone dared approach. He replaced his hat and squinted, eyes searching empty darkness.

“Ya, the binds are tight boss,” the said as he pulled and yanked on the ropes behind William. As he neared William his rotten teeth produced a nauseating odor and William had to turn his head. “He ain’t going nowheres.”

“Good,” he did not turn to face the shorter fellow but pointed out across the road to a building on the far side. “Now climb up to that loft across the street. And Anders, take the rifle.”

“Got it boss,” he scurried off, one hand on the rifle and the other holding up his too large pants. “I’ll kept an eye out toos! Don’cha be worried!”

The tall man spit at William boots. Without turning to face William he said “And you, you keep your mouth shut. I don’t want you spooking the natives.” To emphasis his point, his pistol appeared and pointed at William’s face, just an inch between the barrel and his nose.

“You got it mister,” William spoke through his dry, chapped lips. “Not a word from me, but..”

The tall man spun to face him, dropping to a squat so he faced eye to eye with the seated William. His dark eyes were hidden in shadows and it gave him an eerie look. “Look. I drug you here to protect you. You seem insistent on ignoring that fact. Without me you would be dead right now.”

William’ mouth opened but the tall man cut him off first. “Shut it.”

He withdrew a small radio from his pocket, hit a button. A faint beep was heard and William could just pick up the voice on the other end of the line. “Go.”

“Miller, I have William holed up in Old Gulch, six miles north of the incident. Outnumbered by the hostiles and with minimal armament. Request immediate extraction.” He spoke in a hushed tone with quick bursts of information. He did not move.

The voice on the radio uttered a simple “Understood” and was silent.

The tall man stood and performed a quick search of the empty hills. Finding nothing, he looked back at William. His eyes said disappointment and urgency.

“Extraction unavailable at this time, recommend team relocates to grid…”

The tall man raised the radio to his mouth, visibly shaking in anger. “What don’t you get? There is NO fucking team! It is just Anders and I…and this…this civilian! We are fucked unless you get us out of here pronto!”

Only silence answered him. He shook the radio, raising it behind him to smash it at his feet. The sound of crunching wood across the street stopped him.

William spun to get a vantage on the source just in time to see Anders smash through the wooden walls of the barn across the street. The wood shattered and was tossed through the air by the force of Anders body. Anders flew in an arch and crashed to the ground with a bloody snapping sound.

Something moved behind the barn and William strained to see through the darkness. A massive amorphous blob rose behind the barn, easily reaching fifty into the heavens. From each side of the creature, wavering tentacles writhed and twisted. Atop the thing’s head, if it could be said that it actually had a head, was a bulbous mass of yellow eyeballs, hundreds of them, quickly darting this way and that.

William immediately pissed himself.

“Meadows,” the radio suddenly squawked.  “Libra Six has authorized extraction. Two clicks north from your current position. Envoy en route.”

“Finally!” His smiling eyes turn to William and his hand reached inside his coat, producing a large knife.

William eyes somehow grew even larger, he gasped. He began to squirm and shuffle away from the tall man. “What are you going to do? With that?”

“Shut your mouth and come here,” the tall man stepped towards William and grasped for the bound man’s hands. “Stop wiggling damn it, I am going to cut you free.” He grabbed out quickly and with a lighting-fast twitch of his wrist William’s ropes were slashed.

William sat there, surprise covering his face.

The tall man broke the silence. “Look, the trucks will come from that direction,” he pointed behind William, a dirt road was faintly visible through the black. He shoved a small metal box into William’s hands, a simple grey box about the size of a deck of cards. “Run like your life depends on it, run like hell, and don’t look back. Only one of us is going to make it out of here. Get that to Miller, he’ll know what to do.”

William rose and stood, barely aware of his sudden change of events. He opened his mouth to speak but nothing came.

“No need for thanks yous and such,” the tall man dipped his hat and gave a slight nod. “Name is Meadows. Now get out of here, that beast is not going to wait around.”

“Thank you,” William sputtered.

Meadows pulled out a second pistol and gave a slight grin. “Just tell that bastard Miller that I went out with both my guns blazing like a devil.” And then he turned and ran into the street, both pistols spitting fire at the unnamable bulbous mass.

William turned and ran. The last thing he heard was Meadow hollering a rebel yell over a blood-curdling growl of the alien creature.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Bullet Journal hacks

A neat little layout I discovered online (originally spotted here Instagram photo), I like the cleanliness but solid design behind the layout. I would likely have to tweak this some as there is not a huge amount of space for tasks but I could easily see this working for a Weekly Overview. I especially like that is clearly displays the day of the week along with the date.

Another great idea she had was the task tracker layout below. It takes mere seconds to whip up the chart for this and it easily allows you to capture a numerical value of your task. She had Water, Steps, and Sleep on her page but I could see you using this for word count in writing as well.

Another system that I came across which I find intriguing but I am not sold on yet is the Time Ladder. Here you write out all your tasks along this ladder drawn on the page. You then map out the ones with certain times (such as appointments, thing you know will happen at particular times) and then as time permits you map out when you accomplish other tasks or plan when you will accomplish them. When the day gets complicated it seems to become a bit too messy for me. I do find it interesting though.