Exquisite Corpse 4 – final stretch

December 27, 2016

The latest Exquisite Corpse Dungeon is under final review by all the contributors, and tomorrow (12/28) should be the public unveiling of the whole thing.  Check back here for the update.

Anyone looking to print this out should be aware that the final version is 56 x 12 inches (that’s 1422 x 305 mm if you’re more metric minded)  We’ll try to have a smaller version available that won’t choke everyone’s bandwidth.



Hexes and Squares

December 22, 2016

There are two ways to grid a map for game play.  The Cartesian grid is very familiar, and easy to access, given our familiarity with graph paper.  But rules for movement are more complicated when figuring out diagonal moves on a rectilinear grid.  So, the other alternative, which was taken up by wargamers decades ago, was to use a hex grid.  Hexes are the other geometric figure that can tile the plane regularly.  And there are no issues with diagonal movement with a hex grid.




But I’ve been kicking around some other ideas  for a while.  One easy adaptation that is midway between hexes and a square grid is to stagger the grid cells.  A half-cell offset in the rows of squares gives you the same overall orientation and even tiling as a hex grid, but with fewer of the non-perpendicular lines that may be what makes hexes daunting for many people.

To make the lines more distinct and readable, this version turns an overlaid square grid at a 45 degree angle, so that the two grids are both readily identifiable without overlapping one another.

The scale for this is the smaller (hex-replacing) squares are 4′ on a side, so the larger, diagonal squares are then slightly more than 11′ on a side.  I think that’s workably close to a 10′ D&D dungeon square overlaid with a 1-figure sized space

Edit to add (12/22):  Of course, I am an idiot, and these should not be true squares in order to evenly match a hex grid.  But, for most purposes, I think it’s simpler and easier to do the basic running bond squares as “good enough.”

Edit to add (12/22): Stephan Beal followed up with this comment on G+

By sheer cosmic coincidence i stumbled across an article in Space Gamer Issue 30 this morning which places an exact year on the introduction of the hex in games:

>>>Hexes in wargames go back to 1952, when they were used in some of the government-sponsored “think tanks.” In commercial wargames, hexes were first used in 1961.<<<

Space Gamer issue 30, page 20:


Intersection Z

December 14, 2016


This is the last of this Cycle of the Intersection series.

Collection: Mapvember 2016

December 2, 2016

A number of map makers took on Miska Fredman’s challenge to create 30 maps in 30 days, with a list of elements or prompts for the series.  I managed to do 15, which is okay by me.

If you haven’t been following this on Google+, my set of maps are beneath the cut.  The whole thing might take a while to load, so be patient.

Definitely not going for a singular style or a common element in these.  Several are section maps, which seem to be popular.  A few are really simple quick-and-dirty sketches to get the idea down.  Others are a bit more refined.  I dropped some digital color into a couple to make them read better, but they’re all pretty straight from pen to post. Read the rest of this entry »

Intersection Y

November 30, 2016


This intersection incorporates a series of standing stones aligned in a line of rooms.  This progression could be extended in both directions to other parts of the dungeon.  These could be part of a larger magical system, perhaps working as a conduit to direct mysterious energies for some larger purpose.

DragonQuest – U-Con 2016 Recap

November 23, 2016

DragonQuest isn’t all dead. Recently, I ran two sessions of DQ at U-Con, and, in the end, both of them were full tables. I had seen that pre-registrations were surprisingly high, with 5 people for Friday and 3 for Saturday, which was pretty surprising in and of itself. But then, both nights, people were coming by to see if that relic from the ancient past was, in fact, what was going on at that table. (“You mean that old SPI game, DragonQuest? Really? That’s awesome!”)

The Friday night group was a couple grognards (my age or older) who knew the game, a couple guys who registered because they’d heard of the game but never played it, and a guy who saw we had an open seat at the table and was curious about the game. On Saturday, three of the 6 players from the first night were back: two guys who had pre-registered, plus one guy who had joined in who had his own event cancelled, so he came back and joined for a second night. The three new players were my pre-teen son, and two other players who had events that didn’t run and joined in. They were both experienced gamers, but had never played DQ before, so again, it was a mixed group.

Both sessions provided good opportunities to show off some of DQ’s special features. There were Grievous Injuries (in both directions), and other demonstrations of DQ as a system, and that was all good. One of the new players had a triumphant moment where his character landed a specific grievous injury against one of the attackers which was effectively a one-hit kill, and that really turned the tide for the group at that point.

If it was the early 80s, I probably would’ve sold a few people on the game. But, especially for the people dropping in, it was only a one-off experience for them. But that’s okay. And it still shows that DQ can stand its own (and maybe is worth a reboot or some OSR spinoff of its own).

I was hoping to try out a bit of the Wilderness adventure (at least a couple of the plot points) with the one group, but the setup and the group getting somewhat entangled in doing some stuff in the coastal town, and then a combat encounter took the remainder of the time.

Even though each was just a four hour session, in both cases I felt like they were turning into a group I would’ve gladly continued a campaign with. I suppose that’s the downside of a game at a Con; you don’t have the ongoing campaign. There was also a fair amount of off-topic table banter, which seemed like a good thing, to me, and I didn’t worry about that too much. It helped bring these people together and have a bit of a common bond, and in the end, everyone seemed to have had a good time. And that, to my mind, is the best part of it all.

Intersection X

November 16, 2016

Or, ‘A Stream Runs Through It…


Sometimes, the connection is something other than a door and a hallway; sometimes, ya gotta take the plunge.

Two wide corridors running roughly in parallel to each other, and the only connection between the two is through a watery channel cutting across both passages.

Intersection W

November 2, 2016


Walls in this are rougher than some of the other ones in the series.  One large corridor has a series of piers or columns in the middle (or those could alternately be read as pools, or boulders, or other features, I suppose)

Note about Poor Brendan’s Almanac

November 1, 2016

It was just pointed out that there’s a table missing from the edition of Poor Brendan’s Almanac on DriveThruRPG et al.  We’ll get that corrected and updated as soon as we can.  They push out notifications when things people have bought are updated on their servers, so those of you with copies of this edition should get that notification.

Since some of the Wilderness backers are also getting copies of PBA, it’s on the list, too.  But, for the moment, the focus is on wrapping up the Wilderness adventure.

The Wilderness of Ordurak

October 26, 2016

Here’s something that has been a long time coming; the cover for the “Wilderness of Ordurak” adventure with art by Nate Marcel (and a few interior illustrations by him, as well).  This is an adventure written for use with DragonQuest, but, it should be adaptable to other games.


The original backers have gotten proof copies to look over.  There are some known issues, so there’s a little editing and revision work to be done, yet.  But this is finally just about complete.

The original crowd-supported project proposal was for a 16-page adventure.  This is presently clocking in at 54 pages (including the cover), plus there is a 12″ x 18″ region map.

Some people who missed the original crowd funding period have asked about getting in on this project.  It looks like IndieGoGo added a feature called InDemand that “lets anyone back you after your crowdfunding campaign is over.”  However, I haven’t been able to enable that feature on the site.

But, if anyone is still interested in getting in as a supporter at one of the Mercenary levels, let me know, and I will set up a selection at the Antherwyck House store to make those options available.  There is not a good way to extend any of the Adventurer or Hero levels at this point, since those were options that involved input in deciding the content of the adventure.

We’ll have more information about this adventure as it gets into production.

Deck of Maps and Intersections

October 21, 2016

There are only a few more Intersection maps from my Intersections series remaining to be posted.  I’ve been thinking about doing something to collect the entire set and make it available in some kind of print form.  Making a book would be obvious, but also not terribly unique, so I was casting around for other ideas, and landed on the idea of a set of cards.

What I’m proposing is a deck of 26 cards, with the complete Intersection series on one side, and a set of semi-geomorphic dungeons on the other side.  The two wouldn’t really relate to each other directly.  The Intersections themselves don’t line up in any way, and the idea behind them was for them to be small snippets; places where other, larger things were coming together.  But the obverse set would be designed to be able to be put together to make a larger, interconnected dungeon.


The idea here is not that any combination will work equally.  Instead, there are different patterns for the cards, but with enough commonality that they can be combined in a lot of interesting ways.  The test image shows a number of these cards laid out together.  The notches represent the locations where connections extend off the card.  So, you can see, there are different arrangements on different cards, and not every card neatly lines up with its neighbors.  But this creates some possibilities for longer corridors and for larger rooms.

So, what I’m wondering is, if there would be much interest in something like this?  The Intersections are complete; it would be a matter of getting the semi-geomorphs drawn. There are lots of maps and map makers out there.  What would make you consider spending a few bucks on a set of these cards?

Intersection V

October 19, 2016


Two large corridors

Dwarven Chambers

October 16, 2016

Work in progress for a project.  The chambers and the hex grid (yes, it’s a DragonQuest project, so it’s on a hex grid) are done on computer, but then the hatching in the solid areas is all done by hand.  I think the combination of the two is working pretty well, here.

The whole thing will be included in the Wilderness of Ordurak adventure, which is being wrapped up now, and, for the time being, the complete version of it will only be included in there.


Intersection U

October 5, 2016


This is another one of the series that is pretty stylistically removed from most of the others.  It is meant to be a set of tunnels that connect across a small canyon opening, along with a couple of passages that connect to that canyon.  There are two levels to the map, and the lower level is indicated by dashed lines.  Several rooms are beneath the floor of the canyon.

Stream Crossing – hex map

September 30, 2016

This is a fairly simple hex map showing a path and a stream crossing with some stepping stones.  The other elements are intended to be the trunks of trees, but they may not read that way, since there are no branches or leaves.  But that’s what those other bits are meant to be.


The scenario envisioned for this map to be used with was an ambush by a couple of archers who are working in conjunction with a nixie/water sprite.  Most of the water is too deep (more than waist deep) to be able to be easily forded, other than near the rocks at the crossing, so a fight on both sides of the water will be a lot of ranged combat (and the tree trunks as cover then become a significant element).

I’m not a regular (or, at this point, even a sporadic) VTT user, so I don’t know if this is workable/usable for that sort of thing.  Let me know if you use this in something like that, and let me know how well it works.

The original was drawn in pen on a hex page, so the hexes are integral to this image, and not something that could be turned off.  But if you’re playing a game that uses a hex grid for tactical display, then give this a shot.

“Imaginary Worlds” – Podcast about Fantasy Maps

September 22, 2016

If you aren’t already a follower of the “Imaginary Worlds” podcast, let me recommend it to you.  And no better place to start than the most recent episode: Fantasy Maps.

J.R.R. Tolkien spent decades mapping out Middle-earth on graph paper because everything had to be invented from scratch (and given a name.) Many of his maps weren’t even published until after he died, but today’s fantasy cartographers owe a great debt to his work. They also have a post-modern understanding that to create a believable fantasy map, they have to sow doubt in the minds of readers whether we should trust the mapmakers.

Let me also point out, however, if you’re already a deep map-geek like I am (and I suspect the group of people who read and follow this blog skews pretty strongly in that direction), this program isn’t full of ground-breaking, new information.  But, on the other hand, if you’re in that category, you probably haven’t reached your limit on the topic, so I’m guessing you’ll find it interesting, too.  It’s less than 20 minutes long.


Intersection T

September 21, 2016


Unplanned, I swear, but the idea for this map, without thinking about where it was going to fall in the series, was to end each of the passageways and have a decision.  There are just four passages in this map, one leading off each side.  And each one terminates and becomes a T-intersection.  Some of the rooms off those T intersections connect to other rooms, and it all gets mixed together as usual.

Intersection S

September 7, 2016


Another tangled set of passages and spaces with a large central meeting space.

There will be a complete A to Z series of these (which falls superbly well into a bi-weekly posting sequence over the course of a year).  Only the last couple maps still need to be drawn; there are a few more that will be queued up shortly.

Two things to think about related to these maps, now.  First, is making some kind of compilation of all of them, and doing it in a way that would be useful and valuable.  It can easily be combined into an ebook of PDFs.  I could add a grid, or hexes, if that kind of management would make it more usable for GMs.  Or I could provide some descriptions and backstory and inhabitants for each one, but these are meant to be intersections, not destinations, nor points of interest on their own.  If you’d be interested in supporting this and having a Codex of Intersections, let me know how you’d like to see it extended.

The second question, even though it’s still summer, is to start thinking about what the next series should be.  By the time I hit intersection Z, I think I’ll be ready to be done with intersections for a while.  But maybe not.  Again, I’m open to suggestions and other ideas for the next series to start on.


Exquisite Corpse 4 Dungeon – Schedule

August 25, 2016

This is the assignment grid for the Exquisite Corpse 4 Dungeon (previously posted on G+ but easier to track and update here) [last edit 12/22]

5U – +Billy Longino
4U – +Kosmic
3U – +Tony Obert
2U – +Jens Larsen
1U – +Kevin Campbell
start – – – – –
1D – +David Millar
2D – +Paul Baldowski
3D – +Andrew Durston
4D – +Ivan Katyurgin
5D – +Nate McD
6D – +Christian Kessler
7D –  +Scott Aleric

Benched  X +Andrey Makarov  X +Vandel J. Arden X – +Patrick Usher

Intersection R

August 24, 2016


And, sometimes things just need to be triangular.