April TTRPG Maker replies

May 7, 2018
I don’t have an essay for each of the questions, but for the #AprilTTRPGMaker questionnaire, I answered most of the questions for this hashtag.  
1. I’m Rodger Thorm – a pseudonymous identity for my RPG-related activities online. My RPG work is a side-line for me, which is why I use a pseudonym for the gaming stuff.
2. I’m in south-east Michigan, United States.
3. First came up with a set of house-rules, expansion for my DragonQuest campaign. Then started following sites like 20×20 Room and the like in the early 2000s. More recently, I’ve been most active on G+
4. Much of my work, particularly the commercial projects, has been for the SPI DragonQuest RPG. My group were early adopters (with a campaign that ran from 1981 through the mid 90s, and other iterations more sporadically since).
Also, I have done a bunch of map making and graphics. I do my own dungeon maps, and I’m interested in unusual kinds of maps and graphics, so I do experimental kinds of things from time to time. I also organized the Exquisite Corpse Dungeon project series.
5. As above, I’m a longtime fan of DragonQuest. At the time it came out, there were a lot of innovative elements that were very appealing, and we really took to it.
6. I haven’t played it in person to see how it actually works out, but, ever since I learned of it, I’m intrigued by the ‘Swordbearer’ rule for encumbrance that you can carry “10 things” at most.
7. Mostly, my workspace is wherever my computer is; it floats around as needed.
8. Routine? Ha!
9. Process? Double Ha!
10. Most recently, I really have enjoyed playing the board game Tokaido.
11. Antherwyck House Games: (antherwyck.com)
12. Antherwyck House is on DriveThru/RPGNow. I’ve run one crowdsourced project, but it’s mostly zero-time, zero-budget, and hope the right people happen to notice.
13. —
14. As with half of everyone else who loved DQ before SPI croaked, I’ve thought about a re-release of the DQ rules.
15. Would like to work more openly and iteratively, to get early feedback on direction and see what people are excited by.
16. Thor Hansen is a frequent collaborator. We have several “in-the-pipeline” projects we’ve spent time working at, and trying to get some of them pushed through to completion. Donn Stroud is working with us on a Fafhrd/Grey Mouser-inspired game. Stephen Peto is a fantastic designer who is able to channel the style of SPI’s maps nearly perfectly.
17. Love to hear about how people are using things that I’ve been a part of.
18. Elves and humans. A little bit Shakespeare, a little bit myth, a little bit Tolkien. Trying to come up with a game that deals with the different lives of two communities with different needs and different timeframes.
19. DragonQuest is the obvious answer.
20. Pen and paper; CAD; GIMP
21. Not enough, sad to say.
22. Notes and lists. Scribble down a few words that are meaningful, and then expand on it later.
23. The aforementioned collaborators, as well as everyone who has been willing to participate in the Exquisite Corpse projects.
24. Probably the biggest thing I’ve done has been organizing the Exquisite Corpse Dungeons, where a bunch of map-makers have collaborated to make some really great dungeons (and a city map, and currently working on an overland map). We did a print run of the first one for Mythoard, and I sell prints of a couple of them direct through the Antherwyck House Games site for folks who want a hardcopy.
25. —
26. At present, I blog at rthorm.wordpress.com, and I have a very underused Twitter @Antherwyck
27. —
28. I have two RPG podcasts I try to follow regularly: Drink Spin Run with Adam Muszkiewicz and Donn Stroud; and RPG Panelcast from Jason Pitre.
29. There is a very old DQ community on Yahoo Groups, spread across about 4 interlinked groups. Trying to build more of a DQ community on G+
30. Keep pushing, even if you’ve missed the deadline.  Keep going.  Persist.

Planetary Logbook

April 22, 2018

Some of you may be familiar with the Planetary Display Form, which has generally been the most popular item of mine on DriveThruRPG. Briefly, it is a one-page layout for mapping a planet’s surface on a flattened truncated icosahedron, the same geometric form used for soccer balls and geodesic domes. It has lines that approximately correspond to longitude and latitude, the same way that the overall figure approximately corresponds to a sphere. It seemed like a very cool thing from the outset, and I’m glad that a number of people have found it useful, as well.

Sample Planetary Display Logbook Page

Sample Planetary Display Logbook Page

But the 8-1/2″ x 11″ format always seemed a bit limited for something as extensive as a planet. So, I’ve had a couple ideas about how to have other options available. One idea is a poster-size print (maybe 24″x36″), and another is a log book that could be filled out to detail an entire planet.

The poster-size version would have to be sold and shipped directly from Antherwyck House Games, since OBS doesn’t have a capacity for producing anything of that size. It would be fairly easy, with our current printing access, to print these at that size, but they would need to be folded for economical shipping, or else we could roll them in mailing tubes, which should be more protective, but would also be more expensive for shipping.

But perhaps more usefully, we have a journal survey book in the works using the same elements.  This could allow for larger map size for each area. Each of the 32 sections (12 pentagons and 20 hexagons that make up the whole buckyball globe) has an individual page, and there will also be a copy of the overall planetary display form. So, this will probably be a 40-ish page book that should sell for about $5 from the OBS store (DriveThruRPG/RPG Now).

Once the logbook is available, we can then also offer custom covers for these. The interior pages will be same as the standard, but the cover would be customized for your individual campaign. This way, if you want to have eight planetary journals for a campaign, and you want to put together a series of planetbooks with your campaign’s Interstellar Travel Association Guides cover, we can create a custom cover for you, and then give you a custom version that you can get printed from OBS. (If you want each individual planet book to have its own cover, that would be another thing. The customization I’m thinking of is a standard cover for your all the logbooks in your game’s Star Service.) There would be a one-time fee to work out the custom cover (thinking $60 for the first one, and see if I need to bump it up or not), but then for printing, those will be priced pretty much at cost, so you can order copies as you need for less than the standard version.

It would also be fairly easy to put together an atlas version of the logbook, with spaces for several planets within a single book. If anyone is interested in that format, contact me directly. Right now, that’s not on my do-do list.

Open DQ Sections and Contents

March 4, 2018

This is the draft organization index and preliminary table of contents from the old Open DQ project.

Rules Categories

0    - License and Credits
1    - Introduction, How to Play the Game, Game Terms
2    - Characters and Character Generation
3    - Combat
4    - Magic
5    - Skills
6    - Monsters
7    - World and Adventure

Parenthetical numbers in the Table of Contents indicate the corresponding rule number in the SPI Second Edition version of the rules; AW = rules from Arcane Wisdom; PBA = rules from Poor Brendan’s Almanac. Note that the new numbering provided here is a draft version and is subject to further change and renumbering.

Subsection 100 of each rule section should be set aside for introduction, terminology, description, etc. x-100 should be section contents. x-120 should be term definitions.

Subsection 200 of each rule section should be the primary rules for the section.

Subsection 500 of each rule section should be specialty rules for the section (specific skills, magic colleges, etc).

Subsection 800 of each rule section should be secondary or optional rules for the section.

This is a preliminary draft and subject to almost certain revision.

Table of Contents

0    - License and Credits
0-100 License
1    - Introduction, How to Play the Game, Game Terms
1-110 Introduction
1-120 Game Terms
1-200 How to Play the Game
1-220 General Course of Events (1)
1-250 Requirements for Play (2)
2    - Characters and Character Generation
2-120 Description of Characteristics (3)
2-200 Effects of Characteristics (4)
2-300 Characteristic Generation (5)
2-400 Character Background
2-420 Birthrights (6)
2-450 Aspects (7)
2-470 Heritage (8)
2-500 Creating Experienced Characters
2-550 NPCs
2-600 Character Maintenance
2-620 Recuperation and Upkeep (85)
2-650 Fatigue Loss and Recovery (82)
2-700 Experience 
2-710 How Experience Is Gained (86)
2-750 How Experience Is Used (87)
3    - Combat
3-120 Combat Terminology (9)
3-130 Combat Equipment (10)
3-150 Preparation for Combat (11)
3-200 Combat Sequence (12)
3-220 Actions of Engaged Figures (13)
3-250 Actions of Non Engaged Figures (14)
3-280 Action Choice Restrictions (15)
3-300 Attacking (16)
3-330 Resolving Attempted Attacks (17)
3-350 Damage (18)
3-360 The Effects of Damage (19)
3-370 Fire
3-380 Infection (24)
3-400 Unarmed Combat (21)
3-430 Natural Weapons
3-450 Martial Arts
3-500 Weapons List (20)
3-600 Multi-Hex Creatures (22)
3-700 Special Combat
3-710 Mounted Combat (23)
4    - Magic
4-120 Definition of Magical Terms (25)
4-130 How Magic Works (26)
4-150 The Colleges of Magic (34)
4-180 Magic Conventions (35)
4-200 How to Cast Spells (27)
4-205 Quickcasting (PBA-106
4-220 Restrictions on Magic (29)
4-250 Counterspells and Resisting Spells (31)
4-300 Incorporating Magic into Combat (33)
4-330 The Effects of Spells (28)
4-370 Backfire from Spells and Rituals (30)
4-400 Universal Magical Abilities
4-420 Special Magical Preparations (32)
4-430 Ritual of Planar Travel (PBA-109
4-440 Consequences (84)
4-480 Cantrips (PBA-108
4-500 Thaumaturgies
4-510 The College of Ensorcelments and Enchantments (36)
4-520 The College of Sorceries of the Mind (37)
4-530 The College of Illusions (38)
4-540 The College of Naming Incantations (39)
4-550 The College of Shaping Magics (AW-91
4-600 Elementals
4-610 The College of Air Magics (40)
4-620 The College of Water Magics (41)
4-630 The College of Fire Magics (42)
4-640 The College of Earth Magics (43)
4-650 The College of Celestial Magics (44)
4-660 College of Time Magics (PBA-110
4-700 Entities
4-710 The College of Necromantic Conjurations (45)
4-720 The College of Black Magics (46)
4-730 The College of Greater Summonings (47)
4-740 The College of Lesser Summonings (AW-89
4-750 The College of Rune Magics (AW-90
4-760 College of Witchcraft (PBA-109
5    - Skills
5-250 Acquiring and Using Skills (48)
5-300 Languages (49)
5-400 Adventure Abilities
5-420 Horesemanship
5-460 Swimming
5-470 Stealth
5-500 Alchemist (50)
5-510 Assassin (51)
5-520 Astrologer (52)
5-530 Beast Master (53)
5-540 Courtesan (54)
5-545 Diplomat (PBA-112
5-550 Healer (55)
5-555 Herbalist (PBA-113
5-557 Hunter (PBA-114
5-560 Mechanician (56)
5-570 Merchant (57)
5-580 Military Scientist (58)
5-590 Navigator (59)
5-600 Ranger (60)
5-610 Spy and 
5-620 Thief (61)
5-630 Troubadour (62)
5-800 Minor Skills (PBA-111
6    - Monsters
7    - World and Adventure
7-180 Game Conventions (78)
7-200 The Adventure Sequence (80)
7-220 Preparation for Adventure (77)
7-230 Organizing a Party (79)
7-300 Adventure Actions (83)
7-400 Monetary Matters (81)
7-420 Extended Merchant Tables (PBA-122
7-430 Horse Trading (PBA-121
7-440 Alchemical and Herbal Shopkeeping (PBA-116
7-470 Building Costs (PBA-118
7-480 Peasants and Labor (PBA-119
7-485 Farming (PBA-120
7-600 Guide to Magical Rocks, Stones and Gems (AW-93
7-650 Guide to Herbal Lore (AW-94

The Open DQ That Is Already Done

March 3, 2018

There’s a significant followup to my recent thoughts about an open source DragonQuest that needs to be pointed out.

The Seagate Adventurer’s Guild is the largest group of DragonQuest players, with a long-running, interlocked campaign with multiple GMs.  And they’ve been playing for over 30 years.  I had known that they had a draft set of rules incorporating their house rules, but it’s been a few years since I checked in on their site.  I had known about this version several years ago, but they had asked to have it pulled from the Yahoo DQ group files.  Than, Mike Davey reminded me about them in response to my last post, so I went and checked out their version of the DragonQuest rules.

In a word, wow!

Frankly, they’ve already done much of the work I was talking about.  It’s a complete document; almost 150 pages.  The Seagate rules are “copylefted under the GNU Public License, version 2.0,” so this is already an open-source version of the DQ rules.

These rules aren’t a straight one-to-one corresponding set.  There are some sections that are not included, like any creatures, or the lists of Greater Summoning demons.  And there are also many new additions, including several new Skills and new Colleges of Magic.  Elements are reorganized, though there’s a generally similar order of character creation, combat, magic, and skills.  All in all, I think a DQ player or GM could pick it up and start using it fairly readily.

This really changes the scope of next steps.  What I had originally planned, once there was a base draft in place, was a reorganization of the rules to allow for revisions and substitutions.  The numbering system of the DQ rules doesn’t work well if you want to add a new Skill or a new College; there are no open spaces.  But if the rule numbering was more like a library card-catalog system, then it would be easy to keep all the related stuff organized together in the same section.  All the character-related stuff could be section 100, combat section 200, and so on and so forth.

Link: Seagate DQ Rules Edition 2.0.1




DragonQuest rules outline

February 26, 2018

For years, for decades, really, I have thought about a re-published version of the DragonQuest rules.  Like many other DQ players, it seems so wrong to me that this game should not be available.  DragonQuest still does some wonderful things, but it’s largely forgotten since it’s been almost 40 years since it was published, and SPI didn’t last long enough even to get the first rule supplement to market (though copies of the pre-publication rules are floating around).

So now, I’ve started the outline for a new, open-source re-write of the rules.

The DragonQuest rules outline is (mostly) just the framework of the rules – the first sentence after the rule number in a simple text file.  A couple extra bits were left in for reference in a couple places, but it’s pretty much just the 87 rules of the game.  No formulas, no charts, no numbers, so it’s not playable in this form.  But it distills the rules down to an essence that can be reviewed and then rewritten as a starting point for an open DragonQuest.

This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to do something along these lines.  In the past, I wanted to be very open and egalitarian and encourage everyone to contribute to it, instead of writing *my* version of DragonQuest that everyone else would pick apart.  But that never really got going. So I’m approaching it differently.  This time, I’m starting the project as my own project.  I’m going to try to be pretty open about the process, and feedback from the broader DragonQuest and gaming and OSR communities is going to be important to make this work.  But I’m not going to wait on it.  This version of an open set of DragonQuest rules is going to start from this outline, and move along at whatever rate I’m able to work on it.  There will be updates from time to time to show what has been done and have a chance for input from others.

Since Antherwyck House is producing DragonQuest adventures and materials, getting a version of the rules out there only makes sense.  Right now, it’s my intent to have an open-source core ruleset available for free, and then a more complete, detailed set of rules that we’ll publish in a more polished format with art.

This should not be my project alone, and anyone else with an interest in DragonQuest is welcomed to participate.  This is going to be open-source, so as soon as there is a full, working draft available, that will be shared and posted under a Creative Commons license.

The first step is going to be a revision of the old DQOS framework to allow for new rules to be fit in.

Link: DragonQuest rules outline

Newslettering (the End of Tiny Letter)

January 3, 2018

A copy of this was sent out to our TinyLetter subscribers first.

We’ve used Tiny Letter for the occasional newsletter for Antherwyck House Games, but apparently Tiny Letter is going to be going away (it’s getting folded into MailChimp). I am not going to follow along. I’ve had to wrangle MailChimp for other things, and it’s awkward and more burdensome than it’s worth. Maybe there are people who love it and have it worked out. I’m not willing to devote the cycles to that. So we’re going to need to work out what we do henceforth.

If you were a Tiny Letter subscriber, or if you’re interested in being in getting periodic updates on our projects, let us know you’re interested, and how you’d like to be informed. Maybe we’ll end up setting up a listserv once again, and perhaps even have a revival of the old DragonQuest Newsletter.

Blogging fell off toward the end of 2017 (but then, it was 2017, so what else would you expect?). For now, I think I’ll try to be a bit more regular about the posting on the blog. If you were really locked in on the Tiny Letter we sent out (and I really appreciate those of you who were subscribed to it), we didn’t have many of them, and I’m sorry that you’ll have to move to a different system.

There are some social media, but that doesn’t work for all people. My main social media point of contact is Google Plus (G+).  I do use Facebook within some limits. I actively dislike the platform, but I recognize that it’s where a lot of people are, and where they connect. So that account is principally for announcements; if you want to have a conversation (which I’d welcome), either G+ or email are better. We’re also on Twitter (@antherwyck), but again, it’s not a place that’s a focus.

At one point, I was going to try out Patreon, but, last month, they effectively set the platform on fire. They said that small-scale creators (like Antherwyck House) are not what they wanted to focus on. If there were suddenly 100,000 people who wanted to give me 5 bucks a month to work on DragonQuest and other game-related stuff, I’d be happy to embrace that transformation. But I have no illusions that anything of that sort is around the corner. We might try something out when another system comes along, but I don’t think there’s enough of an audience for regular Patreon-type support.

The goal for 2018 is to have a more regular schedule of posting and publication. Whatever form it takes, I’d like to be able to send push notifications to those who are interested. Whether that’s an email, or an announcement on Twitter/FB/G+/your favorite service, or some other form, what would work best for you?

DragonQuest in 2018

January 2, 2018

It seems that, almost every year, around the holidays and the end of the year, there is an uptick in interest and activity about #DragonQuest (and other old games, as well). We’ve seen some of that already, during the break, and we’re going to add to it this year with some DQ news from Antherwyck House Games for the coming year.

Antherwyck House Games was founded to produce additional materials for DragonQuest. There are other gaming projects we’re also involved in, but DQ was the founding impetus, and it’s something we’ll always be involved in. We’ve developed several titles for DragonQuest, and here is a rundown of those projects:

  • The Sentinel Chapel
  • The Wilderness of Ordurak
  • The Water Works
  • Poor Brendan’s Almanac
  • Ordurak Gazetteer

* Almost six years ago, what was then called just “Wilderness of A–, a DragonQuest Adventure” crowdfunding project started. (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-wilderness-of-a-a-dragonquest-adventure#/) At the time, the last published item for use with the DragonQuest role-playing game was “The Shattered Statue” which was published by TSR in 1987. The whole process went through fits and starts, like many first-time crowdfunded projects. But ultimately, the adventure was completed and delivered to supporters earlier in 2017. When the project was launched, it was with the promise that the supporters would “get an electronic copy of the finished adventure, and will have it at least 6 months before the adventure is released in other formats.” That period has now passed, and “The Wilderness of Ordurak” will soon be available from DriveThruRPG and its sister sites.

* “The Sentinel Chapel” was meant to be a small capsule adventure, something akin to ‘House of Kurin,’ ‘Treasure of Socantri,’ or ‘Camp of Alla-Akabar.’ It started when I came across a map by Eneko Menica, which struck me as a great map for a DQ adventure as soon as I saw it, and the adventure was written from that inspiration. It’s been reviewed and playtested by a couple of loyal regulars, and I also got to run it as an event at a convention (UCon, near Detroit, in November).
The PDF version of this will be available from DriveThruRPG/RPGNow in January. As soon as print proofs are ready and approved (hopefully also by the end of January, as well), then we’ll have the print version available for those of you who would like to have it in print. (If you want the print version, but also want to get it right away, we’ll have a deal for you to get the PDF right away, and then get the print version once it’s available.)

* Our first title, The Water Works, has been available for several years.  There is an implied series of sequels to the “works” adventures (Earth Works, Gas Works, Fire Works) that has always been in the back of my head. This could be a direction for the next adventure we produce.

* The rules supplement, Poor Brendan’s Almanac has some revisions and clarifications needed, and that revision is targeted for beginning of Spring 2018.

* Separately, we’re planning to make the map of the Wilderness region into its own product and available as a separate release (The Ordurak Gazetteer). It will be much more akin to the Frontiers of Alusia, with a gazetteer to provide details about the region. Only some areas are detailed in the Wilderness adventure, and this will provide added information about the remaining areas.


This leaves the question of what the next DragonQuest project should be. Another adventure is certainly a possibility. Or there could be other things that get developed. Some of the final decision comes down to what seems inspiring and interesting; but another part of it is what people are interested in seeing.

The DragonQuest community has been online since the mid 90s. Originally, it was an email mailing list, then migrated to Yahoo and Yahoo groups for a while. More recently, it’s been on Google Plus and Facebook. (And if you have some other gatherings of DQ players you’re aware of, let me know about those, too.)

At this point, for most people, DragonQuest is a legacy curiousity. But there is still interest in it, and the name is recognized, despite it being out-of-print for decades. Many people had heard of it, but because it was never as widely available as other games, there are lots of people who know of it but haven’t played it. (The group who played in the Sentinel Chapel adventure at the recent UCon were a group who had played together for many years, but had never played DQ, and were interested in checking it out.)

With a recognized name and history, and with the interest in Old School games, there is an ongoing interest in seeing a revival or a reboot of DQ. Ever since the collapse of SPI in 1982, there has been a lingering interest in acquiring the rights, or republishing, or reviving DQ.

If there was going to be a new release of DragonQuest, what form should it take? Should it be a close 1:1 retro-clone of the original game? Or should it be an adaptation of the game that takes it in a new direction?

When I talked to Gerry Klug a couple years ago, he was talking about adapting DragonQuest to a D20 system. D20 is a hugely widespread game system, and the potential attractiveness to people who already know and understand basic D20 mechanics and can tie in with the huge library of available materials.

For me, the things that were always most appealing about DragonQuest were the things that differentiated it from D&D. That characters were fragile, rather than becoming invulnerable machines, led to a gaming style where character interaction came to the fore. Characters could also be any combination of roles. You weren’t locked into a set of abilities and excluded from others. Your character could carry a sword *and* use magic.

The emphasis on developing skills provided a background that implied a different setting and time period. Less fantastical in some ways, perhaps, and closer to a Renaissance setting, with organizations (like an Adventurer’s Guild) and the beginnings of formalized knowledge, with Colleges of Magic.

The Open DQ Rules has been a slow-moving group with the idea of re-writing (and maybe revising) the DragonQuest rules so that there is a freely distributable set of rules available. But this seems to be an effort without enough energy behind it to make any significant progress.

For the past couple years, I’ve been thinking about a revised, simplified set of DQ rules. My last regular DragonQuest campaign dissolved, in part, because the rule complexity got in the way of playing the game. Since we were only playing occasionally, the constant need to fiddle with the numbers got in the way of playing. And we realized that, most of the time, those little bits of difference didn’t really matter. My current thought is to take the basic structures of DQ and adapt them to a D10 system. In some instances, where the greater precision was needed, it would be easy to fall back to the D100 percentile system. But for faster moving things, in many cases, a D10 resolution would be enough. This could be a DQ-Lite that could draw more people in (as any new release of a game system would do) and connect more people to DragonQuest.


And, along those lines, there’s other old school game news on other fronts. Most interestingly, there was the good news on Boxing Day that Steve Jackson Games has re-acquired the rights to all of his works for The Fantasy Trip (TFT): Melee, Wizard, etc. They’ve been held by Metagaming (which has been effectively defunct for many years), so it’s all been out of print. SJG doesn’t know yet what they are going to be doing with them, but it seems like this will be a good thing for old school games in general.


Like with DQ, the online groups that have supported it for many years have been an important part of keeping it alive. TFT could be seen as a kind of DQ Lite, as well. There are many similarities between the two games, and possibly some synergy that could come from this.

Further Inktober wrap-up

October 31, 2017

As with many others, Inktober participation started with the best of intentions and a streak of several days.  Then, a couple days slipped by because Real Life sometimes has to have priority.  And then, with a bunch of missing days, some scattered gap fills were added.  But the waning days of the month didn’t allow enough time to get them all caught up.

So this is the last of my Inktober set.  There are gaps, yes.  I didn’t complete the full set.  But I’ve developed another kind of sketch that I can add to my repertoire.  Some things don’t work exceptionally well in these; I’ve got some thoughts about how to refine these.  That makes this a productive exercise.

The remainder:





More Inktober pieces

October 29, 2017

Still trying to keep with the section view approach for Inktober.  The first third done this way, so I think it’s been successful.








Inktober and other thoughts

October 7, 2017

I’m going to try to participate in Inktober this year.  There’s a set of prompts for each day, and the idea is to do a drawing each day, inspired by the prompts.  I won’t do daily posts here (go over to G+ and follow me there for that).

I seem to have fallen into a theme, at least for this week, doing vignette dungeon sections.  A couple of these are traps; others might just be perils or points of interest.  I’m not sure if this will carry through all of Inktober, but I’m intrigued to try now.

The first few of these were done with just a single, medium thickness pen.  For the last couple, I was also using a fine line Micron, as well.  I did some computer shading in the first one, and then I remembered that it’s INK-tober.  I’m not going to delete that one, but I’m going to keep to just the pens for the rest of these.








The quote from Leiber doesn’t have anything to do with this, other than just coinciding in time.  I’m reading some Fafhrd and Gray Mouser, and came across this line this weekend, and wanted to write it down somewhere.

Every geas is lifted at last, every self-set rule repealed. Otherwise orderliness in life becomes a limitation to growth; discipline, chains; integrity, bondage and evil-doing.”  — Fritz Leiber, “Swords Against Death” p 7

Exquisite Corpse 5 (Overland hex map)

August 13, 2017

We’ve already had some discussion and started things off over on the G+ Exquisite Corpse community
(https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/108245358165736516269) for the next Exquisite Corpse.  This one will be an overland map with 5- or 6-mile hexes.  To make it work with the rest of my production workflow to put it all together, each participant will work with a rectangular area (see below) that will map into a hex grid layout.

This project is open to all participants.  Contact me on Google+ (preferred) https://plus.google.com/u/0/112759340492106094051 or email rodger@antherwyck.com.  Although G+ is great for the discussion, we’ll probably need to use emails to share the final files back and forth.

Details and Particulars

Each contributor’s field will be a rectangle that includes most of a hex, plus a little bit of two adjacent hexes. These will be about 5-1/4″ wide x 6″ high. Finished pieces should be 300 dpi (1558 x 1800 px). If grid is not included in the final art, clearly identify where openings are so next person can make reasonable connections. If the final scan is oversized, provide clear crop marks.

Going westward, the extra part outside the hex (520 x 900 px) will be the baton. For north and southward, a narrow bit (we’ll figure a reasonable width) of the existing map will be the baton.

Hex scale is assumed to be a 5-6 mile hex.

Blank Template Link

If you have difficulty downloading, send me your email address, and I can email this to you, as well.

Also note: I’ll be overlaying a hex grid over the finished assembled map, so don’t worry too much about including it if it presents a difficulty, but do try to give me a cue at least where the hex corners should be.

Other Notes

With the original (surrealist) Exquisite Corpses, there is a certain desire for absurdity and discontinuity.  So don’t get too concerned about having it “work” with the adjacent spaces.  There’s nothing wrong if some parts are a bit odd and don’t seem to match up.


============ (to be updated periodically) ============ (last update 8/13)
Current assignments:
N1 +Andrew Durston
SW1 +Patrick Usher

Pending participants:
+Tony Obert
+Paul Baldowski
+Jim Magnusson
+Gennifer Bone

Possibly interested:
+Christopher Weeks
+Tom Stephens

later participants:
+David Millar
+Scott Aleric

MonkeyBlood castle video

July 17, 2017


Video was not something I ever expected to be posting on this blog, but here we are.

For those that don’t want the backstory, here’s the link:

(Since this is only a basic account, I’m not able to post video here directly.  So it’s on a Google Drive link.)

This whole thing started when Glynn Seal at MonkeyBlood Design posted a work-in-progress map on Google+.  I saw that and immediately thought it looked like something that would be good to turn into a model in SketchUp.

I took a copy of the map and did some preliminary tweaking (since it wasn’t a flat scan) to rotate and bend it so I could use it as a base drawing to work from.  Then I pulled it into SketchUp and started messing around to see if I could turn something decent out of it without having to labor at it for huge amounts of time.  And, for a quick project, I think it’s turned out well enough.

Calling it video is a little much.  It’s just animating going from one scene to the next from a handful of picked scenes.  But it’s not something I’ve done before, so it’s pretty cool to see it flying around on a model I built.

The model itself, it must be said, is very much a Potemkin village.  I would have taken much longer and tried much harder to separate layers and work with pieces and make it more adaptable and usable if I was trying to make something really usable out of this.   As it is, it’s just a tissue of surfaces, with all kinds of brokenness lying right underneath. But for just some experimentation, it’s adequate for the task, and it makes a decent (and even flashy) presentation.


All of the materials textures are just straight out-of-the-box from SketchUp.  Again, that’s not wanting to put lots of time into it, but just trying to get a reasonably serviceable thing to see how easily it could be built.


This also posits a second level for Glynn’s original map.  So, even if the players have seen the inspiration map, there’s still lots of opportunity to do other things that they won’t know about.  Anyone making use of that map for an adventure now has another visual aid to show the players to give them a sense of the location and the exterior.



Updated Portfolio

July 9, 2017

In response to a recent request for my portfolio, I realized that what I currently had available was not very up-to-date.  In a way, the whole Antherwyck House blog is a portfolio.  But for a more curated and limited presentation, my new portfolio page is here:


The kinds of things I’m most interested in are the kinds of things that you’ve seen me posting already – odd geometries, section dungeons, isometrics, and other things dealing with somewhat unusual display of information.

As I say on the page, “I am aware of small budgets and I’m willing to work with you to try to make things work out.  I’m not going to give it away (and “for the exposure” doesn’t fly), but we can see if there’s a way to work with you, even if it’s a modest budget for a small project.  I’m a gamer, too, so don’t be afraid to reach out to discuss a project or an idea.”

Notes on DragonQuest Titles

May 28, 2017

Feedback on The Wilderness of Ordurak has been pretty positive.  The most recent comment, from today: “At a first glance, the module looks fantastic, a very “authentic” feeling I think.”  Trying to match the SPI look was always a part of the intent, and it’s gratifying that backers of the project appreciate that about the adventure and the map.

A couple playtesters have looked at The Sentinel Chapel and given some initial feedback.  I’ve got a few more things to do for it, based on that feedback.  It was originally aimed at being a “capsule adventure,” like some other DQ titles; something maybe a little less fleshed out.  It was originally aimed at being 4 pages, but then I played with some SketchUp modeling, and I wanted to include that, and the descriptions grew, and now it’s pushing past the 8 page mark, and I have some further information to fill in.

The story grew and fleshed itself out as I was writing, and it really does need another pass to bring it together.  Some of the comments pointed out to me that it was much more of a first draft than I liked.

And, as much of a map maker as I am, even though I’m using someone else’s map for the adventure proper, it really could use a regional map, so I’m going to do that for it, as well.

Those still reviewing and playtesting I haven’t heard from yet, I’d really like to get your comments, too.



Map with two backgrounds

May 21, 2017

This is another map with one of the two new fountain pens I recently added.  This is still something of a pen test, but a larger area, and enough to be considered as a small dungeon map in its own right.

It’s the first fountain pen I’ve had that has a bladder converter, rather than a piston.  Maybe I’ll change my mind over time (and there is something to be said for the quickness of the bladder over the piston), but I overall, I like the piston style better.  I also have some blue cartridges I’m trying out in another fountain pen.  They are certainly convenient, but I also like to use some bottle ink colors, and those tend to be nicer than the basic colors in cartridges.

In retrospect, for this map, it might’ve been better to have the steps continuing downward in the darker background hatching, and kept the lighter fill pattern for the higher parts.  Sometimes I include the doors and sometimes I don’t indicate anything; this map is one of the latter.

I assume someone who wants to use one of these will add in doors where they think they are needed.  There hasn’t been any strong feedback about it one way of the other, so I’ll continue with the mix.




New Pen test map

May 11, 2017

Here’s a quick, small map that was a first test of a new fountain pen.  Pretty happy with this (the pen, that is, not the map; the map is just a doodle on a 3×5 card).

I haven’t been posting maps as much as I had been, so it’s good to have something, even if it’s just a quick, little throwaway.

The pen is one of two new fountain pens I got this week. I’ll probably do a bit of a writeup about both of them in the near future.

Isohedral Tiling

May 6, 2017

I don’t recall anymore what path I was wandering when I came across this, but it falls in the ‘different tilings’ category which seems to be an onging interest of mine.  It’s really a 3 piece pattern of a hex grid.

Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Isohedral_tiling_p6-11.png

And here’s my cleaner version of this tiling.  With more of pattern visible, you can more readily see the hex pattern made up of these triplets.

It’s not really anything that’s going to be transformative, but it may be useful as a different way of looking at a grid and of having a different graphic presentation.

Seeking Playtesters for Antherwyck House

April 24, 2017

There are a couple projects underway for Antherwyck House right now, and we’d like to find a few playtesters for these things.

If you follow Thor Hansen on G+, you have already seen a bit of the art he’s gotten from Ed Heil for a game he is leading titled The Spires.  It’s still in its rough, early phases, and it may be a while before we’re ready to have others take a look at it, but gathering some people who are interested in the concept and are willing to give good feedback will help with developing this.

My next project is another DragonQuest adventure, one much smaller than “The Wilderness of Ordurak.”  (You also might’ve seen this post a few weeks ago.)  It’s coming in at around 8 pages right now; a capsule adventure along the lines of “The House of Kurin” or “The Treasure of Socranti.”  I’d like to find at least two different groups to playtest it: one a group of DragonQuest players who can evaluate it as a DQ adventure; the other a group playing something else (an OSR clone, D&D of one flavor or another, etc.) to see how readily it can adapt to another ruleset.  I think it’s mostly map and setting, and choosing some other stats for the encounters from your own favorite flavor should help make this more widely usable.  (And if I need to provide stats that adapt to other games, I’ll know I need to do that.)

If you’re interested in either of these, drop one of us a line (presuming you’re one of the folks who already knows how and where to get in touch on G+) or leave a note in the comments here.

Wilderness Deliveries

April 10, 2017

“It arrived today and they look GREAT!”

A couple of people have now let us know that their copies of The Wilderness of Ordurak adventure have arrived, so it’s starting to get out there.  If you’re one of the supporters, you should probably be receiving it the near future.

International deliveries are going to take a little longer, but hopefully you’ll have them in a week or so.

A box full of Wildernesses

March 30, 2017

[Edit to add: the maps arrived tonight.  See below.]

There’s a real joy in getting a fat box from Lightning Source (the printer for OBS/DriveThru/etc.)  These are the fulfillment copies of The Wilderness of Ordurak, and these will get packaged up and mailed out to backers and supporters of the project very soon.

We’re still waiting for the maps (which are printed at a different facility than the books, so have to be shipped separately).