Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Artistic Inspiration

One of the non-rpg websites that I frequent on a daily basis is io9.com.  There is always something interesting there, and its updated throughout the day (and night).  This week, I am going to link to some articles there that really caught my eye.  Today will be the first in at least four such posts.

This article presents a bunch of fantastic art by ten different artists, many of whom also have deviantart pages.  Plenty of material here for rpg inspiration.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

New Blog and Great Post

So I have accepted the fact that I am basically failing as a blogger.  I can't think of the last time that I posted something original or my own.

But that's okay, because I'm using the blog to record things that I don't want to lose.

Today, I came across a blog that is new to me: Elfmaids & Octopi.  I'm really digging reading through it.  The author has a sensibility that is "different" enough to make reading a lot of fun.  Even better for OSR-types is the large number of random tables that inhabit the blog.  Massive tables.  Numerous d100 tables.  Many smaller ones.  It is fantastic.

Here is a post that I REALLY like: Psychonian Citadels.  The top illustration is evocative.  Within seconds of looking at the picture and then scanning down through the many tables beneath it, I realized that a huge citadel (skyscraper, arcology, whatever you want to call it...) would make an incredible megadungeon.

There's really not enough time in the world...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Legacy

I don't have the mental power (or time) right now to post anything significant about this article, but I wanted to link to it, because I feel that the points raised by the author are worth remembering in ANY situation.

He, obviously, was writing about sports, but the same points apply to "which game/edition is the best?" questions and any of the myriad other little issues that we debate endlessly.

Nicely written and something that we would all do well to remember.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Beat me to the Punch!

For a long time, I've wanted to post a Work-in-Progress of a map.  I thought that it would be cool to show how I go about drawing my maps.  Then I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if I posted a series of maps that showed the evolution of a cave or dungeon?"  NOT a Work-in-Progress but the actual expansion of a cave system, dungeon, or dwarfhold over time?

I think that that would be really cool.  Haven't done it yet, but I'm going to try to do it one of these days.

But back to the Work-in-Progress idea: Because I haven't done it, of course, others have beaten me to the punch.  Slightly annoying, but then again, it was by two mappers out there who I am sure you are all aware of.  And I can't be upset, because I hold both of them in high regard: Matt Jackson and Dyson Logos.  (Of course, I just realized that the link to Dyson is just his Google+ page so if you want to see specifically what I am referring to, look for 29 Jan 2014 and what he posted at 3:35pm.)

I really dig both of those.  A lot.

A long time ago, there were a lot of people posting One Hour Dungeons.  You know-- post a picture on your blog of a dungeon that you drew in one hour or less.  A lot of people did it, and it was a lot of fun to see what people were up to.

Perhaps with matt and dyson leading the way, there could be a new event where people post WIPs of the maps that they are working on.  It would be great if they were animated, like those above, but it would be cool even if they were a series of pictures.

I'll try to see what I can come up with over the next few days.

Anyone else up for it?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Subterranean Battlemaps: A "New" Product and a Business Recap

The Fantasy Cartographic's "newest" product went live on RPGNow.com yesterday: Subterranean Battlemaps.

Except, well, it isn't really new.  All of its contents were available before.

Let me step back.

Do you ever have that feeling, as you try to work your way through various projects, that the one or two old ones that you never finished have come back to haunt you?  That exact thing happened to me earlier this week.

If you have spent any time in these parts at all, you probably have picked up on the fact that I sell a few minor wares over at RPGNow.  Admittedly, they are minor.  At one time, I had grand aspirations of putting out lots and lots of material.  Not to make a lot of money (because the chances of that are slim to none), but to just do it.  To satisfy that little itch that so many in the OSR have of putting material out there.

Those aspirations ran into life.  And just like my blogging has not been as prolific as I would like, the output of the The Fantasy Cartographic has been (to me, at least) disappointing.

Way back in November 2007, I released my first product, Locales, Volume 1.  I'm still a big fan of that one, and I think it holds up--especially for us OSR types.

In 2008, I released the following products:

Hand Drawn Maps, Volume One.
Caverns, Tunnels, and Caves, Volume One.
Caverns, Tunnels, and Caves, Volume Two.
Caverns, Tunnels, and Caves: Battlemaps One
Caverns, Tunnels, and Caves: Battlemaps Two
Caverns, Tunnels, and Caves: Battlemaps Three

These were all collections of maps, some made by me and others drawn by a very talented artist called Terrain Monkey.

The 'Battlemaps' products took the maps from the two 'Caverns, Tunnels, and Caves' products and expanded them into one-inch per square "battlemaps" specifically for use with miniatures.  [That was back during the 4E days, and I thought that I'd jump on that band wagon a little.]

2009 became the '4E Year' for The Fantasy Cartographic.  In February, I released a product called Power Cards: Secrets of Necromancy.  These cards were in support of Zodiac Gods Publishing's Secrets of Necromancy, a 4E sourcebook that presented an alternate character class for 4E, the Necromancer.  [Just in case ZGP is not familiar to you, it is Tori Bergquist's company, he of Realms of Chirak fame.]

Working on that product was a warm-up of sorts for me.  Later in 2009, I released Fantasy Class: Martialist, a 4E sourcebook of my own detailing a new character class. [I've been meaning to write a post on that product for some time now and my thoughts on 4E.  One more thing to add to the list...]  A topic that I will touch on in that post is that the Martialist didn't do that well.  As I read the reviews for it, I realized that my take on the class wasn't compatible with the 'standard' 4E default of super-heroic characters.  I did things in the design of that product that, in hindsight, are much more in keeping with the style of D&D that I grew up with.  Oh well.

I rounded out 2009 with two re-packagings: I created Bundles on RPGNow, lumping together the two Caverns, Tunnels, and Caves products into one and dropping their price and lumping together the three battlemaps products into one and dropping their price.  In the case of the three battlemaps products, I realized that they were woefully overpriced.  In both cases, the bundles were a way to group like products together and increase their value.

All told, the battlemaps dropped from over $25 to $9 when I bundled them.  (There's a lesson in there.)

2010 continued this trend.  I released Basic Maps, which combined the contents from the Caverns, Tunnels, Caves bundle and Hand Drawn Maps into one product.

So that now brings me back to the point that this post started with: Subterranean Battlemaps.  Just as Basic Maps was a compilation of previous products, Subterranean Battlemaps is a compilation of the previously bundled battlemap products.  And while the bundle sold for $9, this new compilation product will sell for $2.50.  Here is the description for the product: 

Subterranean Battlemaps is a compilation of three previous releases from The Fantasy Cartographic: Caverns, Tunnels, and Caves: Battlemaps 1, 2, and 3. 

Most recently sold as a Bundle, those products are no longer available in that format or separately here at RPGNow.



Frankly, when sold separately and then as a Bundle, these products were overpriced.  Their new pricing as a compilation now is much more reasonable.

For what you are paying, Subterranean Battlemaps is actually a steal!!  It contains:



 • Maps for fifteen different subterranean locations.

 • 295 pages of one-inch scale battlemaps for those same fifteen locations.

 • Black-and-white maps that are easy on your printer!



These maps are for use with 4E or any other rpg that requires the use of miniatures.

I don't think that many of you will buy this.  While I think that it is a useful product for those of us who play with miniatures, I would be surprised if it was a big seller (define that how you will).  Ultimately, I released this product, because it has been a little nagging itch in my head for years now.  I knew that its predecessors were overpriced; I knew that I wanted to fix that; and now I think I have.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

D&D (40!) and WoW

It struck me that a few days ago was D&D's supposed-"40th" birthday.  It struck me for a couple of reasons:

1. I've been playing the game for 34 of those years--perhaps 35.  And I know that I've been watching others play it for a year or two longer than that.  [That was the advantage of having older brothers back in the seventies.]

2. Just a few weeks prior to that, I myself turned 40.  I guess the good part about that is that it makes me sound a lot older than I feel.

3. Although I've actively gamed a lot less than many people here in the blogosphere during those 34 years, D&D has still been a HUGE part of my life and my mindset.  It impacts the way I think about many things.  I think that I would be a very different person without it, which leads right to...

4. As has been repeated over and over many, many times, the world would be a drastically different place if it weren't for D&D.  And when I say that, I don't think that I am being hyperbolic in the least.  SO MUCH of D&D has filtered into the popular culture, from themes and ideas, to gaming mechanics.  People who haven't played or who aren't familiar with D&D have NO IDEA how their lives are impacted on a daily basis by this little game that Gary and Dave devised 40 years ago.  It's incredible.

I had been thinking all of this for the past several days and then I saw this: World of Warcraft's First Decade.

To be fair, I have never played World of Warcraft (WoW).  I haven't played a (real) computer game since my freshman year of college.  (Which was a self-defense mechanism to make sure that I actually made it through college.  I could, even now, very easily disappear into a computer game and not escape for years.)

The facts and figures presented by that infographic (love that word) are pretty impressive, pretty amazing.  But what strikes me is that WoW exists only because D&D came before it, only because the people that made it were trying to create a D&D-like world and experience for computers.  I don't want to get into the merits of computer versus tabletop games or anything along those lines, but for those who prefer the computer experience, isn't it good for them that D&D had existed so that their computer fun could spring from it?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Word (And Language!) Generator

Here's a resource that I have a feeling that I will make extensive use of.

A Word Generator.  I've spent that last (too many) minutes playing around with it, and I'm impressed.  It's definitely a step up from some of the random word generators that I've come across.

But that's not all.

I really, really like the Language Generator that is associated with it.  I haven't had a chance to fully test it out, but I'm looking forward to doing so.  If it functions as advertised, I think that it will prove to be very useful indeed.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why Publish? That's Why!

The Digital Orc wrote a nice long piece about publishing gaming material.  I really enjoyed his take on it.

He talks about why he publishes (four reasons), he talks about inspiration, he talks about his personal process, and then he wraps with a description of his current projects.

I wish that I was as prolific as he is...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Map Roundup - 13 December 2013

A long time ago, I tried to do Map Roundups as often as I could.  It was my mission to provide to you, my kindly readers, a roundup of all the cool mapping posts in the OSR blogosphere.  Life got hectic, and I fell off the task.

Tonight I came across two blog posts that required that I do a map roundup.

Both come to us from Arkhein at Rather Gamey.

The first is, from 10 December 2013, is about star maps.  I love astronomy so I really enjoyed this post.

The second, from 14 November 2013, has floor plans of a place called Bear Wood Manor.  Never heard of it.  But the maps are divine!

But since I've started, I might as well post links to some other map-related goodness that I came across this evening.

From Alexis over at Tao yesterday is this map of the top of his world.  Literally.

I recently came across a blog that I promised to myself that I would include the next time I did a roundup.  It is the blog for Anna B Meyer, Map Maker.  Everything about this blog is superb.  And if you are a fan of Greyhawk, it's even better.

Our last stop will take us to the Rusty Battle Axe.  You have to love the Montporte Dungeon, if only because it looks like it is going to be a megadungeon.  I love 'em--you know I do.  Just take a look at those maps.  Brilliant.  Level 1 especially.

...

That was fun.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.  Until next time...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Smaug...

Sometimes I post things to this blog just to make sure that I don't forget them.

This may be a case in point.

I like this essay on the importance of Smaug, dragon of 'The Hobbit'.  I have to admit that I have never approached any of Tolkien's writings from an academic perspective.  I've read most of them; I've enjoyed all that I have read.  But I've never studied them in any substantive way.  Reading the essay, with its many references to books and articles of people who have, makes me think that perhaps I should.

If only life wasn't so busy...