Sunday, July 24, 2016

[map] The Colossus of Angolomaigh

Created ages ago as a temple to a long forgotten god, this massive sculpture stands well over one hundred feet above the Fien Run River. Inside is a large complex with rooms for religious observance and running of the temple. The complete middle level is dedicated to mediation alongside the quickly flowing Stream of Dreams as it roars through the temple complex to spill out upon the Fien.
And of course, the black and white version for those real old schoolers:

Brought to your courtesy of my badass supporters over on Patreon. Their support and comments keeps me driving to create more maps for everyone to enjoy. If you want to become a badass support, click the image below!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

[map] Sorbek's Redoubt

Sorbek, the hard boiled and mean leader of a glog of bandits, moved into this small cave system a decade ago claiming they would only rest here for a few days. His 'boys' as he is fond of calling the glog, can be found raiding all along the River Purgatory and its tributaries. They enter the cave system only at night through a tight and hidden crevasse, navigating  in near darkness the twisting underground waterways until a secret turn off which leads to the Redoubt. In a decade no one has been able to follow them and locate their base and thus operating with impunity.
Sorbek keeps his band small, only adding to the ranks for short term attacks and then releasing the new men (usually dead into the river). He and his small band have amassed quite a large amount of treasure and are planning to retire 'after just one more raid' that never seems to satiate their desires.

I had a request over on Reddit to add numbers to the map, so here you go! If you make anything really cool using this, let me know.


Brought to your courtesy of my badass supporters over on Patreon. Their support and comments keeps me driving to create more maps for everyone to enjoy. If you want to become a badass support, click the image below!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

[book review] The Big Showdown (A Caleb York Western)

Yes, I am a sucker for a good western. I have always enjoyed a good western film and since Hollywood does not make them much any longer - and no, please do not tell me The Bone Tomahawk or The Hateful Eight were good westerns...I will shoot you myself - I have moved to reading them.

This is actually the second in a series based off the notes of author Mickey Spillane, yes, that Mickey, who entrusted his notes and characters to another of my favorite authors, Max Allan Collins. Collins is the author of the Quarry series which you need to read.

This was a very quick read, no doubt due to Mr Collins' excellent writing. I enjoyed this book, keeping in mind what it is: A solid western.

That said, I clearly could feel Spillane's hands all over this one. Yes it was a western, with many of the usual tropes but it was also something much more like a Hammer novel with some detective work and a solid mystery in need of solving. The characters are pretty straight forward and realistic, even York's amazing gun work seems plausible. The wrapping up of the mystery seemed a little rushed but honestly this was ok because the story cycled through nicely to its conclusion.

York is tough, much like Hammer, but in a more realistic way. Compared to Det. Hammer, York seemed to have genuine doubt about situations and a little more nervous about coming out on the other side ok. He took stock in the situation, added an ally or two when needed and carefully planned his actions. Hammer seems to just wander in, confident that he is untouchable.

All in all, I recommend this. If you enjoy westerns, or even a little mystery, I would think you would enjoy this. I am hoping Collins finds these books successful and continues the series in the future.

Monday, July 11, 2016

[book review] Sharp Ends

This is the first Abercrombie book I have read, I wanted to see if I liked his writing before diving into a 500+ plus page novel. Take this review as a person who is not a gushing fan. I am glad I picked this up at the library, it did not disappoint.

I am fan of what is considered 'Men's Adventure' books, gritty, bloody, and violent stories told from the pulp days. That said, I feel this is a fantasy version of many of those books. If you have read any of Max Allen Collins "Quarry" series, that seems like a solid pairing to this. In any case, I highly recommend this book.

I know there are bits of these stories that deal with characters from the trilogy and clearly some of it is missed upon by me. For example, everyone and their mother loves Glockta Glokta but honestly the first story did little for me. It was good, but I have no connection to this character, whatever was awesome about seeing him in glory days went directly over my head.

A handful of the stories are interesting but just snapshots of life in the nasty, horrible place, much dealing with what seems to be an ever-present war that wages throughout this world. Good, but not great, and nothing to write home about. I am assuming some of these are stories to flesh out characters found in the other novels set in this world, so that could have made their impact more profound.

Now, about a third of the stories have two characters weaving through them. Shev and Javre, and they are simply fantastic. That's them over on the left. One of the stories is available online for free here: http://www.tor.com/2016/01/12/twos-company-joe-abercrombie/ However, I almost recommend getting the book and reading it as this is not the first story with Shev and Javre in the book and you might miss out on some of the fun getting to know them as their story progresses through the book.

I loved every single one of the stories and enjoyed their silly banter as they struggle to survive this hellish place and we pick up bits and pieces from their past and the events between each of the stories (some are set more than a decade apart). I actually reread the Two’s Company story because it was that good. I would like an entire novel with these two characters please. Remind me somewhat of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser but women and my are they hilarious. Probably one of the best character pairings I have read in a long while.

Good stuff, and it did it's job, I immediately went and picked up The Blade Itself, the first book in his trilogy. I guess that means I liked it.

Upcoming maps

A sneak peek at some maps I am working on for my supporters over on Patreon, thought you might like to see.

First up is a map based on a real thing I have seen for years on the internet and intended to map but just never seemed to get around to it. People seem to be liking my 'more developed' maps I have been doing lately with side views or images attached and I came across the real thing again today. This will probably be completed later in the month and be up on Patreon.

The next map is one I have been working on off and on over the last week. I have always liked the idea of secret pirate treasure coves like the one seen in the first Pirates of the Caribbean film. A pirate hideout hidden away from the world via passage through a flooded cavern is just magical. This one will likely be up first to Patreon, maybe later this week.

If you like these maps and want to have the full size versions I post on Patreon, consider backing me. Most maps are posted as 11"x14" at 300dpi and would be suitable for printing at your local printer. If you are interested, drop by https://www.patreon.com/msjackson for more details.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

[map] King Tower

So in my random wanderings tonight I came across an image that inspired this map, mostly in the form of the dwarven tower. You can see the image that inspired this map here: http://leadpeople.blogspot.com/2010/05/old-school-maps-3.html

It never occurred to me previously but why are dwarves always deep below ground?  What if the dwarven king wanted to meet with the other races? Invite them into his kingdom? Nay! Meet them at his summer cottage!  ;-)

This is a small complex, perfect for a king and his immediate guard, the rest of his forces would camp below in the elements - they are tough fellas, right?

The complex has a private room for the king, a 'throne room' for really putting on a show when he needs to, a temple because you can never pray enough when in enemy lands, a ready room for the guards to hang out which is close to the front door and meeting room if needed, a 'grand' meeting hall, kitchen and barracks space for his guards. Also....the first time I can remember...I put a shitter in there.

When ya gotta go, ya gotta go, amirite?


Brought to your courtesy of my badass supporters over on Patreon. Their support and comments keeps me driving to create more maps for everyone to enjoy. If you want to become a badass support, click the image below!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

[map] The Gaol of Kilmanhard

This secret jail serves the kingdom as a place to hide away a few of their most dangerous state criminals. The same trusted guards, said to have been hand selected by the king himself,  have provided security at the jail for the last decade. In the last two decades only a single prisoner has escaped, the notorious anti-state sympathizer Ante Devlin who later, as readers will no doubt remember, helped to form the militant group Devlin's Devils.

I've had this map floating around in my notebook and just came across it again today.

Brought to your courtesy of my badass supporters over on Patreon. Their support and comments keeps me driving to create more maps for everyone to enjoy. If you want to become a badass supporter, click the image below!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Easy skill or ability checks

* image selected simply based on my love of halflings

A recent discussion over on the Basic Fantasy RPG forums got me thinking about ability checks (you can go read it here http://goo.gl/2rLYuG ).

In BFRPG many of your basic checks are resolved using a single d6: opening doors, checking for secret doors, etc.

BFRPG follows along in this manner with trap detection as well:

And yet again with secret doors. You seeing a pattern here?

Now in all these examples someone with a high ability score gets a modifier, but the user entr0py posited the idea of instead giving the player additional dice to roll. So you would need to roll a "6" on a d6, but if you received a +1 modifier due to a high ability score you get to roll 2d6 and try to get a single "6". I think the number play out close enough in probability to make this a viable comparison. Please note I am not a math guy, in fact I hate math, so I did a few quick Google searches and called it quits. Probabilities appeared pretty close - not perfect - which I am ok with, this is a game and not rocket science.

I am split on the whole natural ability and experience battle. I think natural ability is great...to a point, but in the end experience wins the day. Maybe it is because I am old. So I like the idea that experience counts for something. So following along with entr0py's idea, what if we gave additional die on rolls based on levels? It makes abilities important but also makes gaining levels important as well.

Let's say that for every 3 levels you get an additional die when performing actions that logically your character would have experience with over their adventuring career. For those who think every 3 levels is too quick, use ever 5 levels or every 6. My campaigns seem to putter out around 5th or 6th level so I do not think every 3 levels is too fast. Your mileage might vary. GMs could easily add or remove a die to control the difficulty of the situation, I would say never dropping below d6.

I think if you have added backgrounds (see http://basicfantasy.org/download.cgi/BF-Background-Skills-r1.pdf ) or simply had players come with a biography for their characters, this could be used as a guide as well. Character's background says his parents were fishermen? Give that guy an extra die on any check involving the ocean, boats, or fishing.

For example-
Wulfgar is running from skeletons and comes across massive boulders blocking his way. The player wants to move a few boulders out of his way to allow Wulfgar to escape certain death. Wulfgar gets the standard 6 on a d6 for this check. His high Strength gives him an additional die, so he can roll 2d6. Wulfgar is also 3rd level the GM deems that feats of strength would be par for the course for a Fighter and provides the player with an additional d6. Wulfgar's player now gets 3d6 to attempt to get a single 6.

I think you could even replace Thieving skills with it. Another "homebrewing thieving skills" example-
Kenric attempts to pick a lock. He gets the base d6 roll, needing a 6 to be successful. As a GM I would argue that picking a lock "fits" within the scope of his class so I offer him another die, now he rolls 2d6, still needing just a single 6 to succeed. The player notes that he has a +1 for his high Dexterity score. He now has 3d6 to roll and get a single 6.

Cleric is digging through ancient texts to try to find an obscure prayer to help combat some evil creature terrorizing his town?
Heimlich wants to find an obscure passage in the church's library. He gets the normal d6, but his exceptional Wisdom gives him an two dice. He now rolls 3d6 on his check.

This process might not be perfect but I think it provides a viable method of utilizing natural ability AND experience is a super fast method that a GM can easily manage at the table without comparing tables and charts.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

[map] The Tree Fort

Over on G+ yesterday I asked for some suggestions for maps and +Evan Edwards mentioned huge trees, "A tower without being yet another tower" or somesuch. I had a little time today in between some work and visiting with family that is staying with us this weekend.
And the black and white version:

Brought to your courtesy of my badass supporters over on Patreon. Their support and comments keeps me driving to create more maps for everyone to enjoy. If you want to become a badass support, click the image below!



Friday, July 1, 2016

[map] The Trenches

Today is the anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme and I wanted to do something a little in remembrance. While no where near accurate, the slaughter that would happen if one attempted to traverse No Man's Land in the middle is likely quite apparent.

In a single day more than 57,000 soldiers from the British Commonwealth were lost in the first offensive along. Over the course of the five month battle nearly 800,000 allied troops were lost. Think about that for a moment. Five months, 800,000 men gone.

For more information on the the Battle of the Somme, check out this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ab653F-fze0


A sincere thank you goes out to all those who have volunteered to fight for their country and to preserve their way of life.

If you dig my maps and would like to help support my continued effort to create cool places for your players to die, consider dropping me a quarter or two over on Patreon. All maps posted on my blog are one-third the size of the original maps posted to my supporters on Patreon. Maps on Patreon are typically 11"x14" and 250dpi, suitable for printing pretty darn large maps.