Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Village of Prolge


(Above) The Boneswall rises up from the mirror-like surface of Goodswell lake in the view from the walls of Prolge. The range's cliff walls and steep mountains make passage difficult, if not impossible. The highest peaks have persistent snow drifts and some of the valleys are covered in deep snow until mid-summer.


Far to the north of the civilized lands lies the frontier of the kingdom. This sparsely populated region is home to all manner of wild creatures, some never seen before by the scholars of the kingdom. Most knowledge of the region has been lost to history. What is known is can be gleaned from what has been explored and the returned treasures.

In the last three decades, settlers have begun slowly moving into the area, mostly kingdom humans and elves with a smattering of the other races of men. Small villages, some barely more than outposts, are scattered throughout the wooded, rolling hills, a day or two ride from each other. A large, mirror-like body of water called Goodswell is nestled in a valley, the Boneswall Mountains form a perilous and unexplored wall to the west. To the east are unexplored, thick forests and squatting atop a small hill on the south shore, lies the outpost known as Prolge.

The small grouping of buildings is Under threat from vicious beasts and shadowy horrors that regularly emerge from the mountains and forest. The villagers have put their faith in their leader, Mayor Boonswain Everyll, who claims to use knowledge of druidic magics to keep the village safe from the monstrous dangers. The last six months have been relatively quiet with only occasional attacks on the village wall. Valuable goods have begun to flow from the immediate area surrounding the walls. A small militia has formed, called the Greenguard strives to protect the interests of the village from harm. The villagers want to protect their homes from prying eyes, but this grows ever more difficult as the village’s prosperity increases.

Sharp stakes line the thick timber walls that encircle the village of Prolge. Compared to the ancient trees of the forest to the east and the looming mountains to the west, the village seems small and precariously at risk of destruction. The houses are tightly clustered together as if in fear of what lies beyond the walls. The sturdy village gates are never left unguarded or open, with at least two members of the Greenguard are always on watch. At least half the guard towers are manned at all times, armed with spears, torches, and large horns to sound an emergency.

While Prolge is more of a fortification than a settlement, things are slowly beginning to change. Freshly cut tree stumps and plowed fields surrounding the village indicated prosperity may have finally struck the village despite the ever-present dangers. The trading post is stocked with goods derived from the forest’s bounty and from merchants that occasionally appear at the gate.

POPULATION 91 (41 humans, 22 elves, 18 half-elves, 6 dwarves, & 4 halflings) LANGUAGES Common, Elven RESOURCES & INDUSTRY Herbal potions, farming, and logging WEATHER cool rainy (75%) during the day, cold and windy at night MAYOR Boonswain Everyll

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Prolge and environs


Prolge is a small village that sits on the shore of a large freshwater lake, far north in the frontier. Goodswell lake is large, fifteen to almost twenty miles across in some locations. Depth is unknown. The cold to frigid water is mostly unexplored after a tale of a fisherman who was attacked by some tentacled creature from the deep black water. Today no one ventures out onto the black, glassy surface and the boats lie rotting on the sandy beach north of Prolge.

To the west, and curving along to the northeast, lies the imposing and vast Boneswall, a young and sharply shaped mountain range. While little is known about this area it has been explored recently enough to know the region is filled with ruins and caverns. However, the area is extremely dangerous and few have ventured into this mountainous region.

To the east is an untamed forest wilderness. Rumors abound of an ancient city, lost to time and the forest, now overgrown with trees and weeds. Some claim to have seen it, some claim to have entered the ruins, and yet, no evidence has yet surfaced from these rumored locations. Large, dark shadows roam the forest at night and strange howls emanate from the green depths.

The party, consisting of Brother Menno Walther, Hagar Tryvald, and Raider, entered the small village of Prolge after serving as guards on a small caravan. Menno once lived here but it has been years, having left to learn more about his deity and the world. Now, all three have come here in search of their fortunes.

Next time, we explore the village of Prolge...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

If you were to follow that river....


Latest map I put up on Patreon today. A big thanks to those folks supporting me over there.

If you are interested, this map connects to the previous map I posted on Patreon as well, so it looks like this:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Going back to...

...old school. For my last map for the month I had to go back to the old style and back to the dungeon. Just something about going back to the old ways that feels right.  +Gothridge Manor  and +Luka Rejec  made suggestions for rooms so I tossed those onto the map. Hope you guys approve.

Last weekend I started running a Golden Age pulp scifi game using White Star/Dare the Stars! and it really, really made me want to run a dungeon crawl using WhiteBox. Part of this is how much I like the system but also just how easy it is to plan and run games using it. Today over lunch I wrote out and planned the next adventure for the WS/DtS! game. I wrote it out completely over my 30 minute lunch, including writing up the stats for two creatures, for a three hour session. Comparing this to my 5e Curse of Strahd game, well, there simply is no comparison.

Anyway, back to the map. If you like my maps, consider tossing a buck my way over on Patreon. I would appreciate it and your support will ensure I keep making maps for another 30 years. ;-)


Monday, May 29, 2017

Space Hulk

I have recently began creating a series of maps that connect together to form a much larger space station. Right now I am focusing on a few pieces that run along a massive and lengthy corridor.

Each section of this is a single map, 3300 x 4200 pixels at 300dpi and fits on an 11x14 piece of paper if you were inclined to print them out and connect them. Right now there are only three maps but so far I have had a good response to these and will likely do more in the near future. Below I have taken these three maps, flipped them, then connected them to show what they might look like in use. If this sounds like something you would like to see more of, come join us over on Patreon.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Scifi again: Outpost Tereshkova

I wanted to combine some elements of scifi along with a traditional 'dungeon' because, let's face it, rummaging around dungeons in the dark chasing bugs is fun as hell.

Ways I see it, this is a small outpost, just starting to be dug out, perhaps in an effort to hide them from the Empire, and part of the tunnel system collapsed.  Maybe a last, desperate communication was sent and then the outpost went dark.

What happened? Sounds like a job for your little crew of ne'er-do-wells.

And the black and white version:


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Andreapov Station, scifi themed map

Did a little bit of work on a scifi map today, it's been a while since I did a scifi themed map so I was working out some old kinks and remembering how I drew them.

If you enjoy my maps and want even better, larger versions, consider backing me over on Patreon. Every little bit helps keep me making maps and improving. Hope you all had a great weekend!

I typically produce at least two versions of every map, one in full color and one in black and white for those following along at home that like to print out copies for their table.


And of course, the black and white version:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The (not so) scary Death House

I'm currently running a group through the Curse of Strahd, which I recommend btw, and I found one area particularly bored because it is filled with a bunch of empty rooms. Hardly a description at all, just an empty room...BORING!

So yesterday I crowdsourced ideas to make it better.  Below is the result, click the image and it will load a PDF off Google Drive. Thirty ideas or items to freshen up your rooms, and ten ideas on making the room itself memorable. Two pages, a bucket of blood, and hopefully something to put a little spook into your game.

Special thanks to the following people on Google+ who contributed to, or inspired, the lists above:  Michael Curtis, John W. Sheldon, Dan Quilty, Mark Hunt, Benjamin Feehan, Luka Rejec, AJ Fritz, Tim Shorts, John Hattan, Goblins Henchman, steve christensen, V.A., and Chris C.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Lady Naerwals Tomb (Maze Rats)


This last week I ran a game using the Maze Rats system and I really enjoyed the game. Mechanics disappeared and the game and story just happened. However, it got me thinking.

"What did a Maze Rats adventure look like?"

I did not know, so I set out to make one. Plus, I needed to make a map as I had not in almost two weeks. Here is the result, a quick little adventure that could probably eat up an evening of gaming. Some of the monsters are deadly, and if they are not, just add another one, or worse, double their Health score. That'll make players think twice before running headlong into combat.

Lady Naerwals Tomb (PDF) is available here (most likely till toss up on RPGNow at some point):
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BxNLRuUwmjklR3Y4U0tOVzczMWc

Let me know what you think, and especially if you run a game using it. I am curious how well this translates into an easy to run session of Maze Rats.

EDIT -  Sheesh! I just realized I never described what a Salapus was!
Sala(mander) + (octo)pus  It appears with the body of a salamander with the head being a (entire body) octopus, with long tentacles. Drat! I even drew a terrible picture.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Twelve things I wish I had known before running games


A few other bloggers started this (here and here) I changed it up because I have been running games now for about 33 years now and I can barely remember when I was 12.

In no particular order - and I am not sure these are even good, just the first that came to mind - here is my list. I would say this is what I strive towards, as I bet I rarely follow all these ideas but I would like to.

  1. Read all the game systems you can find - you can learn a great many things from reading how others accomplish things.
  2. Do not read other games, this will only lead to more tinkering and you will forever be writing and rewriting house rules or, God forbid, your own gaming heartbreaker. You will spend more time tinkering than playing.
  3. Listen to the players at the table, let them talk among themselves and never, ever forbid it. They will give you tons of ideas to riff off of that never occurred to you and this will only make your game better. Those four or five folks sitting at your table are just as creative as you, plus, hell, four brains are better than one, they will have great and whimsical ideas that will only add to your game.
  4. The game is about problem solving, not combat. Always presents problems for the players to overcome through creative problem solving (not through dice). Especially for younger players this will create a strong pull towards the game. Requiring the player to use their brain instead of dice mechanics to resolve situations and problems is inherently engaging.
  5. Do not be afraid to fudge things behind the screen in the name of making the game better, sometimes killing the party's fighter in an amazing bit of sacrifice-to-save-the-world can be the most amazing and memorable thing ever. Also, that nutty, crazy idea the player had that somehow completely destroys Strahd in one round despite what the die mechanics say can really make an outstanding and memorable scene that players will talk about for years.
  6. Never map out things in details, think in terms of generalities with only a general outline of what you want to happen. Spending too much time planning and then having it derailed (see #6) will exhaust you and make running a game a chore and no longer fun.
  7. Nothing survives contact with the players. Nothing. Be prepared for the unexpected and never be deadset on your idea coming to fruition. 
  8. While OSR character death can be interesting, give players a chance to breath life into a character.  Long-played characters can be amazingly fulfilling and make a player want to come back for more.
  9. Not everything needs to be explained, let some of the mysteries lie. These are powerful tools to use later, come back to them and the connection will breath life into your game.
  10. Treat monsters as NPCs and not cannon fodder. If an interesting thing happens during an encounter, toss in a quick detail - maybe this particular goblin gets a scar across his cheek. Have him come back six sessions later with a large friend, looking for vengeance, when the players least expect it. #MonsterLivesMatter
  11. Treat NPCs as characters, give them a few sentences of background, dreams, wishes, etc. Give them a unique quirk (a twitch, accent, a scar, a favorite drink or food, maybe a particularly unique tobacco they smoke) that will help define the character for the players. Obviously, do not do this for all of them, but the ones you want to showcase, perhaps one or two a session.
  12. Random Tables can be great but use in moderation, they can add fresh life into a vanilla world but they can also induce chaos. Also, making your own random tables - particular to your gaming world - can really be fun and less chaotic.
Bonus thoughts:
  • Describe scenes in generalities and let the players dig for details, this will produce a more interactive game world where the players feel engaging and involved.
  • Read published adventures but never run them as is, read them and make them your own. This will make the world yours and unique to you.

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.

- o - 
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

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

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Isla Bonita

I loved the previous map I drew so much, I made a sister island for it. 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.

I also made a few variations, I really dig the newsprint style filters.

And of course, the OSR style black & white.

And who can forget the true-OSR blue?



Saturday, January 14, 2017