Archive for August, 2015

A Voronoi Map (part 1)

August 26, 2015

voronoiCapture After the pentagonal tiling map was posted last week, there were a couple comments that discussed Voronoi diagrams as an alternative.  This illustration is an example.

It’s another kind of grid-making, although it doesn’t produce regular sized regions, like a tiling pattern does. Nonetheless, it could be used as another way of generating walls with irregular edges, good for caverns and caves, though my own preference would be to have something regular for an interior space such as a dungeon.

But a Voronoi diagram might be a good way of making a regional map, with different kinds of terrain.  So this is a documentation of the experiment.  I’m not sure where it’s headed, but I’ll post updates to it as it progresses.

IMAG1097 The first steps were making villages (where two points were close to one another) and towns (where there was a cluster with a center).  Town/cities are not just the center of the cluster, but also extend to all other immediately adjacent cells in the diagram.  Some coastline was also added at the top, as well.  This is all somewhat arbitrary, and I’m fairly sure I’m not following the rules with rigor.  But it does provide a way to make decisions, and it suggests differences in the landscape, unlike a blank page or any sort of regular grid would.

Next are some rivers, and a bit of shading to show the coastline more clearly.  Rivers always follow the edges, since they define a separation between two areas (except for the delta wetland of the left river at the coast, which becomes the whole area.  Areas around the towns were also shaded to highlight them a little more.

IMAG1098Roads sometimes follow edges, and serve as the boundary between two regions, but at other times, they go through the middle of a region.  Again, it’s arbitrary choices (and the beginnings of stories about places, potentially). A road going between two areas serves to define the division between them.  But a road that goes through the center of a region serves the region and is part of its character.

This is all rough diagramming at this point.  The final version, even if it is drawn on a copy of the Voronoi diagram, will start with a clean copy of the diagram.  But the rough version is fine for working things out.

IMAG1101

The most recent version has added some more roads, as well as adding some features.  Areas with a small region are likely a point of interest of one sort or another, so a couple of those have been marked with diamonds.  Some forested areas of woodland and some mountainous areas have been identified, as well.

The Dalrodey End

August 21, 2015

At the end of a branching of a natural cavern, suddenly there are straight tunnels hewn into the rock.  What had seemed like an unoccupied cave (other than some snakes and a few thousand bats) suddenly reveals itself as having once been a location with some habitation and a considerable effort to create a complex of rooms.

postmap22-224map

The project was obviously far enough along that its builders installed doors to close off a number of rooms.  But also, the complex clearly was not finished, since several hallways end with rough, unfinished ends where excavation was clearly continuing.

This is an older map that I had sitting for a while and which I just rediscovered.  Maybe I didn’t post it earlier because it wasn’t quite completed.  Rather than touching it up, I’m leaving it as is, at least for now.

As usual, feel free to use for any non-commercial purpose, or contact me if you’d like to use this on a commercial project.

Pentagonal Grid Sheet for Sharing

August 20, 2015

A lot of people were really interested in the Pentagonal Tiling Map posted earlier this week.  And a couple people have asked for a clean copy of the grid I used to make that map, so I have a JPG and a PDF version I’m making available.  I would be very interested in seeing any other examples anyone creates using these grids, and I’m especially interested in hearing about it if anyone actually uses the pentagon grid in a game.

type7tilingdiagramThat grid was made using the Type 7 tiling description (see illustration) from Convex Pentagons for Edge-to-Edge Tiling, I – a mathematical paper, but with useful diagrams of the then-known types of pentagonal tilings (14, at that time).  It’s a good resource for looking at the other types, in case you want to experiment with making your own.

For most, a JPG image is likely good enough for your purposes, and the image link at the bottom will probably be all that you need (click on it to go to the full size).  You’ll still have to scale it up to fit your paper size, but I think it should work reasonably well for that.  If you want the Letter size PDF file, you can download that, too.

(Please note, this was a quick-and-dirty version I just banged out to give the idea a try. There was no cleanup, and I see a few errors that would need to be fixed before a final version, but this should be perfectly adequate for experimentation.)

I’m planning to explore some of the other tilings, so there may be better resources in the future, with a collection of more patterns to use.

pentagon7tilinggrid

Pentagonal Tiling Map

August 18, 2015

This past weekend, there was an interesting article I came across with a really interesting graphic.  The article was about a group of mathematicians who discovered a new kind of pentagon that will tile the plane.  Gamers are well acquainted with grids of regular polygons that tile the plane, squares and hexes being familiar to us all.

map816-pent

According to the article, there are now 15 different pentagonal tilings that can completely cover a plane.  (There are also Penrose tiles, something else that I am very intrigued by, but there are some differences with those.  The most fascinating thing is that it is an irregular tiling of the plane.  But also, it takes two different tiles, “kites” and “darts” (two different parallelograms) for the tiling, although interestingly, the patterns that are created in Penrose tiles are also pentagonally-based, with lots of 72 degree angles in the field.  But I digress.)

15pentagonal tilings

Some of these tilings are more suited to be a hatch pattern than a grid.  But others, like the one I’ve used, have a cell that is large enough to make a decent grid network, and it seemed worth exploring whether or not a dungeon could be drawn using one of those tilings as the grid.  And one of these patterns (top row, middle) is actually a hexagonal tiling, with each hex divided into three matching pentagons.

map816-pentgrayTo my mind, the experiment was a success.  There’s an irregular, organic quality to this map, but it is all straight lines (almost all the same length; 4 of the 5 sides of the pentagon in this tiling are equal) and a handful of repeated angles.

There’s also a version where I filled the dungeon floor with a light gray.  (I thought it might help increase the readability of the map, but it may not be everyone’s preference.

I’m not sure how it would play out to use this as the dungeon map for a game (but if you give it a try, I would love to hear about it).  You could certianly overlay a conventional grid over the top of this, and use it much like you’d use any other map with irregular walls that don’t conform to the grid.  But I think it would be even better to try it out with the pentagonal grid as the game grid.  (For facing, you could have one front facing side of the pentagon, two flanking sides, left and right, and then just two rear sides.)  Certainly some things might get awkward in places, but I think it would be a lot of fun.  You could use this as a map of a dungeon withing some powerful magical vortex, or on an alternate plane, where Euclidian geometry doesn’t work, and everything the players (and the characters) know is not quite what they thought it was.

I’ve got larger, high resolution versions of both of these; those will be Patreon offerings.

These maps are posted here to share, and as is typical for these, you can use it for any personal use, but please only share them with attribution {CC-BY-NC 2015 by Rodger Thorm}  If you have a project in mind that you’d like to use this (or one of my other maps) for, drop me a line.

[image credit for pentagonal tilings: Ed Pegg Jr/Wikimedia Commons via NPR]

The Armira Level

August 14, 2015

There are two circular shafts carved into the rock. The one on the left provides access towards higher levels, and both also lead deeper into lower levels.  The entire level is carved into dense, heavy rock with all kinds of striations and figures in the exposed stone.  The ceilings are arched vaults and domes, and the walls are even and regular, without any cracks or seams, except at the floor. Underfoot is an incongruous floor of fitted and tightly bedded pavers that fill this dungeon.  Doors are stout oak set into mortised recesses and swinging on hidden, pivoting hinge pins set in the floor and the header of each opening.

postmap22-807map-final

This map is more about graphic experimentation than the story and rationale for the dungeon itself.  The scan is grayscale, so that the pencil for the floor pattern would stay lighter.  Background pattern is from a whole selection of texture patterns I found recently that I’m trying for alternative hatches.  Everything is hand drawn, but it might work better if it was a pattern dropped into the background.

As usual, feel free to use for any non-commercial purpose, or contact me if you’d like to use this on a commercial project.

Station X

August 11, 2015

This started out as a hand drawn map, but it really seemed to be something that needed a more hard line presentation, so this is a map done on computer.

postmap21-StationX

One of the things this became about was the idea of layering two levels in a single map, and I think it works reasonably well for that.  But I’d be interested in getting other perspectives, whether it reads as clearly for you, or does it need some further coding to make the two layers more clearly distinct from each other?

This map probably works best as an undersea base, or maybe a space station or moon base.  It’s definitely more science fiction themed than many of the other things I’ve done recently, but sometimes the break is good.  And, if you’ve come here because you really need a fantasy dungeon, you could probably even adapt this for that, as well.

As usual, feel free to use for any non-commercial purpose, or contact me if you’d like to use this on a commercial project.

A section from the Dungeon Burime

August 7, 2015

Not long after the Exquisite Corpse Dungeon wrapped up, I got a couple of pings on the blog being reposted on a Russian language site.  It became (somewhat) clear (thanks to Google Translate) that a group coordinated by Andrey Makarov was putting together their own version of the Exquisite Corpse dungeon to make a “Cartographic Flashmob.”

p3_burime_rodger_thorm_final (1)

Unlike the Exquisite Corpse, where everything was kept under wraps until the whole thing was completed, the Dungeon Burime has periodic reveals as it goes along.  So although it is still going on, my section has been posted already, and I think it’s okay for me to share this with you.

Doing a section rather than a plan view was an interesting change of pace.  I’ve done a couple of section geomorphs for Dave’s Mapper, but I haven’t been especially thrilled with the results.  This was big enough to give me some room to work with, and I think I’m happier with this than any other dungeon sections I’ve drawn, so far.

Exquisite Corpse Dungeon 2

August 3, 2015

[Note: This article has been repeatedly edited]

There seems to be general disinterest in the added elements I had proposed (that’s why I made that earlier note just preliminary). So we’ll dispense with the extra notes and color, and stick to a simple draw the map program, like before.

There’s a strong component in favor of having more room, but also a couple people who wanted to stick to the same size as before. I think there’s something very comfortable about the 30 x 12 size, so I’m going to propose that anyone who wants more space, let me know, and you can do a DOUBLE entry (30 x 24).  Kevin Campbell is going to make left and right versions of his base grid which everyone can use.  I’ll post that to the G+ group.

Kevin Campbell was also the first to ask to do one of the starting sections, so he’s going to be kicking things off. As soon as he is done, there will be two more to get underway.

If there is a window of time when you are going to be unavailable, let me know, and I’ll try to keep you out of the mix at that time, in order to keep things moving.

Current participant list (will be updated as we go along) italics=currently drawing bold=completed:

  • Kevin Campbell – starter
  • Rodger Thorm
  • Scott Aleric
  • Nate McD
  • Billy Longino
  • David Millar – merger
  • George Gilliam
  • Andrey Makarov
  • Jens Larsen
  • Dyson Logos
  • Benjamin Wenham
  • Matt Bonhoff
  • Andrew Durston
  • Aly B
  • Billiam Babble
  • Franky Borny
  • Josephe Vandel
  • L’Uomo Macchina
  • Matt Widmann
  • Mike Davey
  • Patrick Usher
  • Radek G
  • Sarah Richardson
  • Marc Majcher
  • Ivan Katjurgin
  • Jef Wilkins

Process:

If you aren’t already on the list, to sign up to participate in ECD2, send your name to exquisitecorpse @ antherwyck.com with any schedule notes (when you may not be available, so we can keep the process moving along and work around vacations).

To keep it speedy, there will be two tracks of maps going at the same time (left and right side) and maps coming from the bottom going up, and maps from the top going down. So there will be four sections under way at any time, which should make things go faster.

Maps will have connections to the opposite side, as well as to the sections above and below.  Maps drawn for the left column should also have connections to the right side, and maps for the right column should have connections to the left.  Copies of the last row or the last column (one row or column only) of each participant’s map will be passed to the next participant for reference and coordinating the connections to their map.

If you have a preference for which quadrant you want to be in (top, bottom, left, right) note that as well, and we’ll try to accommodate that as much as possible.  Otherwise, it’ll be the random roll for who gets plucked out of the pool next, which seemed to work pretty well on the first one.

Two people will need to volunteer to be the Mergers, who will be the last two contributors.  They will get connections from both top and bottom, and one of those will also have to get a connection from the other side. They will each get to name the starting sections (top and bottom) for their half. They will also get to choose between the two proposed names for their section from the two sections they are connecting (or they can find a way to use both if they like).

As much as possible, it would be good to try to have a 4-5 day turnaround when your turn comes up.  Since a lot of people (including me) have vacations scheduled in the next month, if there are times when you’re not available, let us know that so we can keep things moving, and we’ll schedule around you as best we can.

Requirements:

Size: 30 x 12 grid.  DOUBLE section option (30 x 24) for those who would like to have more room. All maps should be at a scale of 10 foot squares (each square is 10′ x 10′).

When you turn in your dungeon section, please also include a list of the squares (reading left to right, or top to bottom for verticals) where you have connections to the next section (e.g. 5, 11-13, 17, 19). That way the next mapper has a more exact layout to work from. Whether or not you draw your own map on a grid, you need to provide a grid on any connecting sides of your section, to aid the next mapper in connecting their map in.

As was the case for the first ECD, all sections should be Creative Commons licensed CC-BY-SA 4.

Balance, adjustment, and refining:

The first Exquisite Corpse Dungeon was a single pass, with no editing or adjustments after the segments were turned in. However, there were some irregularities and discrepancies in the maps. While those discontinuities are not out of character for an artistic Exquisite Corpse, the desire to be able to use the ECD map as a coordinated mega dungeon makes it worthwhile to allow any pair of adjacent map makers to go back and refine the connection between their two segments. There will also be a round of cleanup, editing, and adjustment before the final version is published, although everyone participating is encouraged to make their map as close to finished as possible.

(Preliminary) Exquisite Corpse Dungeon 2

August 1, 2015

Please see the updated post for Exquisite Corpse Dungeon 2 participation and information.


Trivia: If the squares were all 10′ x 10′, the first Exquisite Corpse Dungeon would be almost exactly 10 acres in area (that’s 4 hectares, for those of you preferring your measurements in metric).
A couple people wanted to see some description along with the maps in the first Exquisite Corpse Dungeon, and that seems like a good idea. But it’s hard to do descriptions in the spirit of Exqisite Corpse, especially after the map has been revealed.  So, rather than giving full descriptions of all of the contents of the dungeon, each participant will contribute a couple elements to be used by other mappers, and they will also name the section following theirs.  Each section will have a name (which will be supplied by the previous section’s mapper), a room or feature, an inhabitant, and a treasure chosen (or randomly selected) from the list provided by other participants (details below).

To keep it speedy, there will be two tracks of maps going at the same time (left and right side) and maps coming from the bottom going up, and maps from the top going down. So there will be four sections under way at any time, which should make things go faster.

Two people will need to volunteer to be the Mergers, who will be the last two contributors.  They will get connections from both top and bottom, and one of those will also have to get a connection from the other side. They will each get to name the starting sections (top and bottom) for their half. They will also get to choose between the two proposed names for their section from the two sections they are connecting (or they can find a way to use both if they like).

As much as possible, it would be good to try to have a 4-5 day turnaround when your turn comes up.  Since a lot of people (including me) have vacations scheduled in the next month, if there are times when you’re not available, let us know that so we can keep things moving, and we’ll schedule around you as best we can.

Signup:

When you sign up to participate in ECD2, you also need to provide the following things, which will get added into the mix as we go. These will be assigned to another participant to be incorporated into their map section in some way:

  • – A description of a room or a distinctive feature found in another section of the dungeon.  Don’t get overly specific or detailed with this.  It should just be a sentence (maybe two, if you can’t help yourself)
  • – An inhabitant (either a singular monster or a type of creature) found in another section of the dungeon.  Keep it descriptive and general.  Don’t provide a stat block or anything that is really system specific.  Give a sentence or two to describe the creature(s)
  • – A treasure or some special aspect found in another section of the dungeon.  This again should be something vague and generalized, rather than statted out and with full particulars.  A simple description

To sign up to participate in ECD2, send your name to exquisitecorpse @ antherwyck.com with any schedule notes and the descriptive elements (room or feature; inhabitant; and treasure or highlight).

If you have a preference for which quadrant you want to be in (top, bottom, left, right) note that as well, and we’ll try to accommodate that as much as possible.  Otherwise, it’ll be the random roll for who gets plucked out of the pool next, which seemed to work pretty well on the first one.

(Note: if this runs into September, which could very likely happen, there are a few days I’m going to be out of touch and unavailable to keep things rolling.)

Map segment requirements:

Size: TBD, pending vote. All maps should be at a scale of 10 foot squares (each square is 10′ x 10′).

Each section will have a name (supplied by the previous section’s mapper), a room or feature, an inhabitant, and a treasure chosen (or randomly selected) from the list provided by other participants.  Along with these features, a short descriptive paragraph can be included.  But remember to keep it brief and avoid references to specific game systems.  Remember , this is still primarily a mapping project.

When you turn in your dungeon section, please also include a list of the squares (reading left to right, or top to bottom for verticals) where you have connections to the next section (e.g. 5, 11-13, 17, 19). That way the next mapper has a more exact layout to work from. Whether or not you draw your own map on a grid, you need to provide a grid on any connecting sides of your section, to aid the next mapper in connecting their map in.

Each map section should also be turned in with a name for the next section of the map. (Preferably something evocative that the next person can use for some inspiration for their section, without getting too detailed.  But something a bit more than “The Tomb of Fred.”)  Perhaps a MadLibs format of ” __(kind of structure)__ of the __(adjective)__  __(noun)__” {kinds of structures being things like tombs, temples, caverns, caves, etc.}

As was the case for the first ECD, all sections should be Creative Commons licensed CC-BY-SA 4.

Balance, adjustment, and refining:

The first Exquisite Corpse Dungeon was a single pass, with no editing or adjustments after the segments were turned in. However, there were some irregularities and discrepancies in the maps. While those discontinuities are not out of character for an artistic Exquisite Corpse, the desire to be able to use the ECD map as a coordinated mega dungeon makes it worthwhile to allow any pair of adjacent map makers to go back and refine the connection between their two segments. There will also be a round of cleanup, editing, and adjustment before the final version is published, although everyone participating is encouraged to make their map as close to finished as possible.

Printing, distribution, and prizes:

The first Exquisite Corpse Dungeon started off just as a thing to do to build some connections among dungeon map makers. There were no plans to do anything with it beyond just having some fun and showing it off to everyone as a sampler of our work. Then, as it was wrapping up, I came across Jarrod Shaw’s Mythoard, and we quickly arranged for a printed copy of ECD to go out in the June Mythoard. Jarrod paid me for these, but with the costs of printing and shipping, plus transaction fees, and the time we put into folding nearly 200 copies, it’s not a profit-making project.

For the second Exquisite Corpse Dungeon, I’m going to try to get Jarrod to contribute one or two Digital Mythoards as prizes for a couple contributors as decided by group vote after the project is completed. I am also going to see if Jarrod is interested in having the completed Exquisite Corpse Dungeon 2 as part of a future digital Mythoard. I may also print a few copies of the finished map and make those available through Antherwyck House Games, but at this time I don’t plan on doing a print run for this one.