Archive for February, 2016

Two Views Mapping the Space

February 29, 2016

When I started on the recent military perspective map, I just threw blocks at it and let things go where they went.  There was not a planned organization or a backstory to drive it.  The result, so far, has been interesting, though perhaps difficult to read.  The pen shading test I did the other day was just to see if that might help it read better than it did initially.

But, in order to make it playable, I thought that a conventional, top-down style map would be useful for players and GMs to help keep track of where things are located.  These two maps are of the same space, then.  One is the perspective map that helps indicate the (many) different levels in this.  The other is the conventional plan view.


This is still work-in-progress, with more work (including the previously proposed shading ideas, and some coloration to aid in distinguishing levels) to come.  But this is far enough along now that it’s worth sharing at this point.

Grids & Guides Notebook Review

February 26, 2016

Grids&GuidesA few weeks ago, I got the new Princeton Press Grids & Guides notebook (the red cover was being promoted for Valentine’s Day).  And, though I didn’t initially get it with map-making specifically in mind, I think this might be of interest among my friends and fellow gaming map makers.  We probably are not the target market for this notebook, but it’s well suited for all kinds of creative inspiration.

The Grids & Guides notebook is a nicely made clothbound notebook with an assortment of different grid styles, as well as a few pages of information on various topics (the ‘Guides’ portion).  The notebook has 144 pages of nice quality off-white stock, and the size is 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″.

For those interested in alternative map styles, the Grids & Guides notebook offers a number of different grids, to add some variety and interest to your map making.  It’s not a stock notebook with all the pages gridded the same way. There are 8 patterns that are repeated throughout the notebook.  The Guides portion is several pages which serve as section breaks, each printed with information on topics such as knot-tying, musical scales, logic expressions, and geometry.

There are two versions of the Grids & Guides notebook.  The original one was the black cover, and the red cover is the new one.  There are differences in the guide topics and in the grids contained in each, although some are repeated in both versions.


The red notebook’s 8 different grids include regular squares in 3 different sizes.  Of these, the finest size has 1/16″ squares (and slightly darker 1/4″ and a heavier 1/2″ lines), the medium size is simple 1/8″ grid with a centered X/Y axis, and the largest uses 1/2″ squares which are keyed A-O across the top (long edge, at the gutter) and 1-10 down the side.  Other pages have a dot grid (with dots at 1/4″ spacing), as well as log-log, diamond (with 1/4″ squares as well as diagonals), an isometric grid with 4 lines per inch at 120 degree rotations, and a circle pattern grid made with overlapping 1″ circles at 1/2″ spacing plus 1″ grid lines.

The black notebook (which I’ve only seen online) has Cartesian grid, isometric grid, log-log plot, same as the red notebook.  The others found only in the black notebook are a ledger table, reticle grid (little crosses, rather than the dot grid), architectural plan grid (with double lines to alow for wall thicknesses), storyboard grid, and polar graph & unit circle.


Overall, the red notebook has a better set of grid choices, though the architectural grid would be nice, perhaps in place of the smallest of the three regular grids.  Maybe there will be other, future notebooks with other colors of covers and an even better mix of grids.  The only one I found to be really useless for my purposes is the log-log (though I decided it would be suitable for a pen test to see how drawing and writing are on the paper.


The paper is nice quality, with only a slight indication of show-through from the heavier pens.  It’s not really bleeding through, but it can be seen from the other size if you have a dark area filled in, or if you have heavier lines it may be noticable, but probably only if you look for it.  The printed grid lines are fairly fine in this notebook, and they should not be too much of a distraction.

I’m not sure if this will become a maps-only notebook for me, or if I will end up using it as an anything and everything kind of notebook.  I tend to be more of a single-page map maker, rather than using bound notebooks (though I do love bound notebooks for other things).  It’s generally easier to scan things from a single page.  But with the fun and creativity this notebook, don’t be surprised to see some maps from me in the future that are drawn from this notebook.

If you’re an Amazon customer and you’d like to support me by buying it from them, you can use these links for:
Grids & Guides (Red): A Notebook for Visual Thinkers (Grids and Guides)

or the black cover version, which is a couple bucks cheaper (at least at the time of posting):
Grids & Guides: A Notebook for Visual Thinkers

Intersection E

February 24, 2016


This is Intersection E from the intersections series.  Originally the idea for these was that they would be really quick maps (the first couple were only about an hour each to draw), and I’d post one a week, although I’m behind on that count.  But, if the Intersections are a year-long project, and I’m giving them letter names, then that would imply about one every other week, and I’m ahead of schedule in that case.

This set of passages comes to a common meeting chamber almost like wires to a chip.  There are four connections (one off each edge of the page), and the other two doors from the central meeting area just lead to simple rooms.


More Hand Drafted Patterns

February 23, 2016

This is not as extensive as the geologic one, but is certainly another nice set of hand drafted patterns.  This is also the kind of thing that I loved in drawings I found in books; materials keys that explained a building section or a diagram.  And this is also part of the inspiration for the kinds of maps and dungeons I’m drawing now.


The website where I found this has both a smaller- and a larger-size version of this image.  {NOTE: The site is a part of the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, and they claim a copyright on this material, though they do have an educational use permission (ClipArt ETC Free Classroom License).

I think my use here qualifies (though maybe only marginally) as educational, since I’m trying to show you all this style of drawing materials.  If this post gets taken down in the future, though, that’ll most likely be the source of the problem.}  There are a lot of other clip art pieces in their collection, which might be inspirational to you, as well.  And I’d be certain to avoid using anything you find there commercially, even if I am dubious about the solidity of their copyright claim on works over 100 years old.

Works in Progress

February 19, 2016

Here are updates on several different things for the past couple weeks, including a work-in-progress map, the Exquisite Corpse CITY project, and a couple of DragonQuest-related items.

The map is a progress shot of another “military perspective” map.  This was trying out a shading (using a gel ballpoint pen; not how the finished version will be done. This was just testing on a photocopy of the map).  The colored shading seems to help with reading it more clearly (and shadows on the ground may help, as well).  I’m thinking about also making a simple, standard overhead view map of this same complex, to make it easier for a GM to make notes and keep track of where the characters and the opposition are.

progress2 draft

Would this be good as a future Un-Furnished Dungeon? Or, the second map could be a Patreon supporter premium, if I got that up and running.  (Some other thoughts on Patreon below.)

The Exquisite Corpse City project is still under way, and we seem to be making a little progress.  I’ve handed off sections to a couple more people this weekend, and the number of available slots will keep increasing as more pieces are done and the city grows, and there are more edges to add on to.  I’ve posted a glimpse of the 3/4 completed city center, to give a sense of the variety of styles that are going to be in this from the outset.  For those of you who aren’t following the Exquisite Corpse CITY Google Group, here this is:


I really like the very different styles that are in this already.

The start was slow, because there are only 4 sides to the initial starting square.  With 3 of those sides now extended, there are now 5 openings, and another 3 will come open when that 4th side is done.  And as some of those get finished, even more openings become available.

This Exquisite Corpse is a little more difficult to manage, since part of the process is to have each artist go back and add in some buildings in their style to the section that they built from, so the seams in the city should be a bit less straight line.  That requires everyone to work on top of everyone else’s drawings, so that is causing more complication, but I think it’ll turn out well in the end.

The DragonQuest adventure (Wilderness of Ordurak) was subject of some recent discussion on the DragonQuest RPG group.  We are really hoping that it is going to be done in the next couple months, along with the revised version of The Water Works adventure and the Poor Brendan’s Almanac supplement.

If Patreon had been around a few years ago, that would’ve been a much better model to work from.  And, I’ve been thinking about starting a Patreon for the maps I’ve been making, although there are many other gaming map makers out there, and I’m not sure if there would be interest in supporting my work.  (If you would seriously be interested, though, let me know.  If there are at least a few potential supporters, I’d be more tempted to start something like that up.)

The other thing that would make a lot of sense as a Patreon project would be a re-write of the DragonQuest rules (aka Open DQ).  This is an idea that’s been kicking around, though without much interest behind it, for quite a while.  Like other OSR retro-clones, it would be a compatible re-write of the rules to duplicate the functionality of the original SPI game, but with new (and in some cases updated) re-writing so that it was not just a transcription of the existing rules.  Each new rule section completed could be an individual goal in the Patreon system, and delivering one or two a month might be reasonable, and no one would be paying anything until something was delivered each time.

Finishing the Wilderness… is the first task.  But after that, is there more support for a DQ-oriented Patreon, or for a mapping-oriented one?



Intersection D

February 17, 2016


The initial idea for Intersection D was to make it a nexus between three different pairs of passageways.  These could be three different underground systems, or just a common meeting area within a single, larger complex.

The ritual nature of the central meeting area suggests a possibility of it being a common meeting point for the three areas, where some sort of group activity might be carried out.  The nearby chambers off each set of paths could serve as waiting areas for members of each of the different regional factions, and the side chambers of the meeting nexus itself (leading off from the central room to the lower left) might be for some group purpose at these gatherings.

Intersection C

February 10, 2016


This is another in the current series of smaller maps for connecting dungeons or staging encounters.

This one also incorporates some level changes (with the south and west passageways being higher, and the north and east being lower than the rest of this intersection area), so it could be used to go from one level to the next, as well as just for connecting between other sections.  (And, I suppose, if you don’t want to bother with the level changes, it would be easy enough just to ignore them and use this as a flat connector between sections.)


Intersection B

February 5, 2016


Another entry from the occasional series of smaller maps for connecting dungeons or staging encounters.

These are each about 1 hour to produce.

Antherwyck House Games Newsletter subscribers got this one in advance