Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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: (
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, 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.

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.)


Shadowed Map

January 1, 2016

When I found the original for this, at first I thought it was an unpublished map.  But, this is actually a variant on the map for the Dungeon of Corners from this past summer.  I just embellished this one by adding some thicker lines for a shadowed wall effect.postmap16-01a

City mapping image resource

November 30, 2015

Phonecam shot of a game board with an interesting graphic style for a city map.  (Triple bonus points if you know the game without Googling it.)


Could be a useful inspiration for a city map, with building blocks laid out but no individual building features detailed.  There are a few details, like a couple of public fountains, and some wooded/parklike areas noted, but it’s mostly just positive/negative space with buildings and streets and squares.

I’ve gone for a less Nolli-esque approach than this with my first map section for the Exquisite Corpse City, but to my mind, this is perfectly valid, as well.

Another Faceted Cavern

November 20, 2015

Been busy getting the Exquisite Corpse 3 -CITY off the ground, and just realized I didn’t have anything queued up for today.  I’ve had a pretty consistent run of Friday posts, but the last couple weeks have mostly been about the Exquisite Corpse Dungeon and CITY projects.


This is a section of cavern that has been made usable as a wizard’s laboratory complex by installing some doors at openings where they could be fitted, to create a few rooms and cordoned-off areas.  But not every area is completely sealed off, so some of the ‘experiments’ that are now on the loose may have a bit more range than expected.

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.

Exquisite Corpse City – Layout

November 12, 2015

This is the organization chart for the Exquisite Corpse City.  Starting section is the space numbered 1 at the center of the city.


Current turn will start with spaces numbered 2, so there are 4 sections for this, then 8 sections for band 3, and so forth.

You can sign up for a particular space if you think there’s one you really want to work on, or you can sign up for the list, and get assigned a section when your turn comes up.  Everyone will get randomized at first, and then once things get started, I’ll just add names to the list as people sign up

The Full Dungeon Burime

September 8, 2015

While things are winding up for the Exquisite Corpse Dungeon 2 (it’s down to the last handful of artists), the Dungeon Burime finished up last week.  You can now see it all, from top to bottom, at:

Out of the seven sections in that map, three were drawn by artists who are also contributors for the Exquisite Corpse Dungeon 2.  (Those being section 1 by Andrey Makarov and section 6 by Ivan Katyurgin, as well as my own in section 3.)

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.


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.

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


If you aren’t already on the list, to sign up to participate in ECD2, send your name to exquisitecorpse @ 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.


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.

Erbatax Temple

July 31, 2015

Erbatax Temple is carved into the rock of a cliffside, a couple hours dusty hike from the nearest village.  People used to live much closer to the temple long ago, but those settlements are gone.  The temple proper has always been open with a wide stair leading up into the hallway of columns and the interior chamber.  There is only a single side hall off the main chamber, and it is closed off by a stoutly built wooden door reinforced with iron banding.  If there is something on the other side of that door, it has probably been in there for a long time, judging by the layer of dust covering the floor.


I did the hatching and shading for this one a couple months back, I think, but it never got scanned.  So I had to print out the base drawing and do the hatching and shading on it again.  Fortunately, I enjoy doing the hatching, so it didn’t take a lot of time to get this done, and this time I remembered to scan it.

This is mostly a spiraling, one-way path.  There are some side rooms, but it doesn’t afford a lot of options, just press on or quit and go back.  That’s supposed to be water gushing out from the wall at the top, then following the stream down the page and disappearing into a small opening at the bottom of the page.  It read that way a little more clearly in the plain line drawing than it does with the shading on top of it.

There’s something about the juxtaposition of the rectilinear halls and rooms with the cavern section on the right side of the map that I really like in this one.

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.

First Pyramid Notes

May 23, 2015

Thor has been working on a variant of Pyramid, and that may be something we’ll be sharing soon. This is here to be an initial announcement and to keep a link for the source information.

Updates for mid-May 2015

May 12, 2015

Updates on a number of different projects including the Exquisite Corpse Dungeon, Blank Cards and Un-Furnished Dungeons, and The Wilderness Adventure and DragonQuest.  And, maybe fittingly, this is the 100th post for this blog, too.


Discussing Science Fiction Game Cards

May 2, 2015

This past week, Dyson Logos posted a really great image for a 3×5 Index Card Magic Item Certificate, and there was some discussion on G+ about getting them printed for use in a game.  I haven’t seen anything further about that idea from Dyson, yet.

Also, in that discussion, Jay Exonauts expressed interest in a scifi version, and a couple others said they would be interested in buying something like that (either the fantasy version of a scifi version). That seemed like something that Antherwyck House could produce and sell, and after a little checking I think we could offer a deck of 50 for around $5 as a POD offering (plus shipping, of course).

Because these are intended to be written on, I’m looking at these as simple black and white images, although they could be colored in some fashion or other (full color art; accent colors; colored backs and black & white fronts).  So before delving too far into the project, I’d like to get some feedback about people’s interest in something like this.  If you are interested in

I’ve put together a quick set of options for the backs of the cards (which might also be usable in their own right, if you like hex maps).  The finished cards would be 2.5″ x 3.5″ (standard poker/playing-card size), but would have rounded corners (rather than the simple rectangles shown here).  They could either be full bleed, with the images going all the way to the edge of the card, or they could have a border.  A couple examples of each are included.


If you’re interested in these, let me know what you think about these options for card backs. Would you want them all to be identical, or would you want to see a mix of a few different backs in the deck?

Likewise, for the fronts, do you want to see a set of all the same cards, or do you want a couple different options to be included (whether that’s different styles of art for them, or just printed in a few different colors)?

Feedback here is, of course, very much appreciated. If you really want your vote to count, consider supporting my Patreon (which hasn’t really formally launched, as yet, but you can get in on the absolute ground floor if you think this is something you’d like to see).

Exquisite Corpse Dungeon Update – Final Week

April 27, 2015

This is the final week for the Exquisite Corpse Dungeon, and participant #10 (of 12) is working on their section. If that comes back fairly soon, and the remaining two participants can be pretty quick with their turnaround, we should be ready to wrap things up close to the end of the month.

Although I haven’t begun work on regularizing everything to put it all together, I’ve sort of laid things out to get a sense of how things look so far, and it’s pretty cool how well everything is going.

Originally, this was just a goofy idea I put out there. I didn’t even know if anyone else would want to contribute to it. If I got 3 or 4 participants, I thought I’d be really happy (many of the surrealist EQ drawings were done on sheets of paper that were folded into thirds); and 6 was maybe the outside of how many people I thought might take part. So the participation has been pretty remarkable.

There has been some discussion about ways of doing the next one already; I’m a little bit floored by that. It’s impressive that this would grab people so immediately that there would be discussion of a ‘next one’ so soon.

It’s likely going to take a little while to put it all together once it all gets in, and maybe also during that time, there can be some further discussion about how the next one should go.

And the whole thing will be posted here, as soon as the last piece is turned in and the whole thing can be assembled together. If you’d like to get word about it as soon as it is completed, or want to find out about future Exquisite Corpse projects, as well as getting word about other projects for Antherwyck House Games, sign up for my Tiny Letter newsletter.

Making a Fundraiser Work

February 2, 2012

There is a good discussion about many of the finer points of setting up a project with IndieGoGo or Kickstarter on; it’ll probably spill past this point as the discussion continues, but I just came in on the thread a couple pages back, so this will put you in the middle of the part I’ve been in on.

I wanted to repeat my comments here that I posted there (as well as keep an anchor to go back later):

In response to the suggestion from another commenter that you should open your project to non-domestic supporters, I completely agree.  For DragonQuest, which has a big international audience, being readily accessible outside the US was important, and it’s paid off. More than a third of the contributions (in total dollar value) to the Wilderness project to date are from outside the US, coming from 3 different countries, so far.

I also understand that Kickstarter is less easy for non-US supporters, which is one of the reasons I went with IndieGoGo, though it sounds like IndieGoGo has some other drawbacks.

It was also suggested that you have separate domestic and international perks. Mine won’t be too expensive to ship, and I think international shipping looks to be less of a premium than what I originally thought it might be. If you have a strong international appeal and the perk levels warrant it, you might consider eating or splitting the international shipping costs, to make it more appealing. I haven’t officially announced it, yet, but I’m contemplating splitting the international shipping upcharge with my supporters.

Whimsy Cards

December 9, 2009

Whimsy Cards were originally included as a part of Ars Magica.  They were intended to make the story more interesting (or make the PC’s lives more difficult!).

A list of all the whimsy card contents follows:

Abrupt Change of Events
Suddenly things are not happening the way they were a moment ago. Alliances switch, secrets are revealed, and new information surfaces.
Added Animosity
The ill-will between characters grows past current levels. This animosity can be openly expressed or harbored secretly in the heart.
Bad Tidings
Someone gets bad news. It might affect play or it might be news of distant and still important events.
Bizarre Coincidence
Two or more things come together against incredible odds. Old friends (and enemies) run into you in the supermarket, you just happen to have the rare item you need in your closet, etc.
Change of Heart
A character’s feelings change and alter a decision. Pirates spare prisoners and hassled innkeepers decide to make room for you after all.
Double Jeopardy
Failure carries a double penalty. It could mean the normal penalty doubled, but it could also mean a penalty in addition to the normal one.
Draw a Blank
Emotional Release
Strong emotions are let out. What are the emotions, and what triggers their sudden eruption? Is it a healthy release or a wild tempest?
Someone covets something that another person has. The envy could be expressed as an outright attempt to get the object of desire or something more subtle.
Erratic Behavior
Someone or something exhibits wild, unexpected behavior. Could be party members, enemies, mounts, spells, or equipment.
Error of Judgment
Someone’s better judgment fails. The trouble that ensues depends on the specific error that is made.
Extreme Caution
Someone exercises extreme caution. Is the caution necessary, or is it exaggerated? What is the disadvantage from using so much caution?
Desire for wealth diverts a character from normal activity. The object of this desire can be specific (e.g. a certain necklace) or general (e.g. gold!).
Horrible Failure
What was a simple failure becomes a disaster. Attempts to persuade people backfire, arrows strike the wrong targets, and the wrong demons get conjured.
Inopportune Arrival
Someone or something shows up to the chagrin or disadvantage of someone. Unwelcome relatives and hated enemies are possibilities.
Internal Conflict
Conflicts arise within a person or within a group. How did these conflicts come about? How can they be resolved? Are they hidden? Poorly hidden?
The green-eyed monster rears its ugly head. How does the jealousy show itself?
Delight floods a character, making the world seem beautiful. What brings about this wonderful feeling?
Lasting Impression
An impression is made, or an old one is reborn. Emotional experiences return to a character affecting actions or something happens that will leave an impression for years (e.g. a scar).
Wrath rises in a character toward someone or something. Even if the anger can be held in check, it will affect the person’s behavior.
Misguided Love
Love affects a character in ways others fail to approve of. The character seems out of control. (To the lover of course, the love is true and wonderful; to others, it is misguided.)
Misplaced Trust
Undeserved trust is or has been placed in someone or something. “Faithful” hirelings desert, “sturdy” ropes break, and politicians are believed.
Moral Dilemma
A character is faced with a moral question. What should the character do? What are the personality traits or personal values that make the decision to difficult?
New Role
You take over another character, either of a player or of the gamemaster. The original owner can ask for it back and veto your actions while you have the new role.
Ominous Omen
Something suggests future evil, an event that portends calamity, misfortune, or death. The players might not understand the significance of the omen.
Parting of Ways
People or things go their separate ways. The parting can be happy or sorrowful, anticipated or sudden. Depending on the circumstances, those who part might meet again.
Personality Clash
The personalities of two characters come into conflict. The cause of the clash and the gravity are up to you. How could the conflict be resolved?
Sympathetic sorrow for another person affects a character’s actions. This pity might provoke action or merely set a mood.
Pivotal Decision
Someone is faced with a decision that will affect something dramatically. A potential ally chooses sides, or a leader chooses a plan of action.
Second Chance
Someone gets a second chance. Maybe that bullet missed the heart after all, or maybe the character realizes something that allows a second skill attempt. You must give the reason.
Someone is very lazy. Guards become lax, squires neglect their duties, and bartenders give you slow service.
Something Missing
Something that should be here is not. The seriousness of the lack depends on what is missing. It could be your sword or a friend you were supposed to meet.
Special Circumstances
Unusual conditions change the normal course of events for good or ill. The circumstances can be personal, such as character’s mood, impersonal, such as the weather.
Spectacular Success
What was a normal success becomes spectacular. Those rare, unexplainable feats are now possible. The gamemaster must watch this card because it is easy to abuse.
Sudden Reversion
Suddenly someone or something reverts to the way it used to be. People revert to earlier patterns of behavior and problems go back to the way they were at the beginning.
Tables Turn
Something in the situation reverses, an advantage turns in to a disadvantage, a disadvantage turns into an advantage. It is a surprise to all.
Things Are Not As They Seem
Characters have been deceived, perhaps without malicious intent. The truth need not be known now. A good card for a secret note to the GM.
Trade Places
You take over the role of another character and the player who was running that character takes yours. Either of you can end the trade at any time.
Turn for the Worse
Things were going well, but suddenly something comes up that changes things for the worse. What is the change? How can those affected overcome the new problem?
Ulterior Motive
A character has motives besides those that are already known, and the ulterior motive can conflict with the surface motive. A good Whimsy for a secret note to the gamemaster.
Unexpected Aid
Much to your surprise, aid shows up. Aid could be anything from fog that helps you sneak into an enemy camp to the arrival of the cavalry. But does this aid have a price?
Unexplained Consequence
Someone’s actions have results that were not, perhaps could not have been, foreseen. The result can be good or bad, minor or extreme.
Unexplained Event
Something happens. You don’t know why.
Vivid Detail
Break into the storyline to describe something in detail so the whole group can share the image. You cannot directly change the course of events, but you might inspire the GM.

Links – Sept 2009

September 21, 2009

Recent links to articles and items of interest that have been collected.

MouseGuard RPG review

Song of Ice and Fire RPG site (Green Ronin)

Costikyan’s Play This Thing blog

The Game Crafter – Cafe Press for games

Online (remote) gaming tools

June 16, 2006

JohnC has supplied some info on tools for playing RPGs and tabletop games over the ‘net.

I found this and I am going to try and make it work with a friend who
lives in Kentucky
Here’s another online game tool. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s probably PC only, so Thor and Pete are out of luck.

On Capering

April 26, 2006

Here's a test post to try out the WordPress blogging.

 At first  glance it looks pretty cool and workable.  It also looks to be very configurable (almost dangerously so) and I'm sure there will be learning curve.  It does look like it will support multiple owners/posters, so a collaborative blog should be possible here.

 The main point of this was going to be to collect all the discussion about Heist/Caper games from the listserv, so I'll include that here as well. (more…)


October 21, 2005

Here’s an extremely good, short article about game design.

The final line:

And telling people, Do whatever you want! is (almost always) extremely
unhelpful. Too many choices is no choice at all.

Shouldn’t there be goals in games? Have we gotten too far away from that, that there are no new metrics to use to benchmark progress in a game? D&D had experience points, and you knew how well you were doing by your XP total, or by the level of your character. Not that these are absolute goals, but they serve to indicate how well you are doing.

On the other hand, do we need to have artificical and external rewards? Can’t the realization of in-game goals serve as the best metric for success?