Author Archive for AJ Stone



19
Feb
13

Dyson Logos….WTF..!!!!!

    I want to congratulate Dyson for just going over One Million Hits!!! It sort of amazes him and he doesn’t quite understand why so many people keep checking out his stuff.  In his post about this cool milestone he says, and I quote:

“WTF people? Don’t you have anything better to do than look at someone’s characters for RPGs and a bunch of single-draft hand-drawn maps with no cool high tech work involved in them?

Hell, my maps don’t even include a grid!

Now you’ve gone and brought me over the one million hit mark. It’s almost like I should keep posting to this blog or something.”

   Here is my humble opinion as to why so many people keep checking in on what Dyson is doing. Simply put,  his work is honest!  There is an honest quality in Dyson’s work and maps, when I first came upon his blog a few years back, it was that honest quality that drew me in. His hand drawn maps, with that distinctive cross hatching style and no grid inspired me at the time. He had developed his own style and for me, after seeing it for the first time, it inspired me. It drew me in so much, that I felt a creative need to emulate it. It wasn’t that I ever wanted to copy his style, but seeing his stuff made me want to play with that type of map drawing. My geomorphs were all done in his style, but over time my style has evolved just a tiny bit.

   His maps are not simplistic, but there is a simple elegance to his style of mapping that makes his maps stand out. I won’t call it “art”, as I would never dream of calling  my maps “art”. Looking at Dyson’s maps though, you can see he has a keen eye for design and aesthetic, there is always a flow, along with good use of positive and negative space. Besides all that he pumps out new stuff, quality stuff  like a machine. It’s not just his maps either, some of his writing and ideas are very creative as well, very much outside the “Box” so to speak.

   In closing I want to say “Congratulations Dyson” for your 1 million hits thus far, but instead of saying WTF? (as in how can this be?) it should be more like WTF? (what took so long) …LOL. Keep up the amazing work Dyson!!!!!

01
Feb
13

Moleskin Maps….By Matt Jackson….

Moleskin Maps

    I have always been a big fan of Matt Jackson’s work, I finally got around to ordering and downloading his Moleskin Map series (I got all three volumes for just over 10 bucks!) One of the things Matt does best is keep it simple, so his maps are very easy to use from a gaming standpoint. Since they are only available as PDF’s you can easily print them out and write notes all over them for your games. 

Moleskin Maps Volume 1: There are 11 maps here each full page along with a “One Page Dungeon” style notes sheet with a smaller image of the map in the upper right hand corner. It would be easy to stock several these ahead of time and have them ready for unplanned encounters or scenarios should the need arise. Matt also has several outdoor encounter style maps of campsites, a farm type layout, a village etc. along with standard cavern and dungeon maps. The outdoor areas are something you don’t see a lot of from other mappers (Myself included) so they can come in quite handy.

Moleskin Maps Volume 2: Again there are 11 maps here, each with it’s encounter sheet as well. Most of these maps are caverns and lair maps. I love the waterfall included in the map on pages 5-6. The ruined tower linked with secret tunnels to underground caves (which themselves are linked only through secret tunnels) is another map I like.

Moleskin Maps Volume 3: Is my personal favorite of the set. There are only 10 maps in this set, but they are the best in the series. Here Matt switches to a more detailed style, there are a few simpler, smaller maps but most are larger, more complex dungeon sprawls. A lot more dungeon style maps with a mix of caverns. Lots more detail and unique angles and lines make this set of maps an absolute joy to look at.

If you struggle drawing maps, or need some maps to help create some random locations or encounters, these will help a lot. Volume 1 is $3.50, Volume 2 is $2.99 and Volume 3 is $2.99 which is reasonable to me. In my humble opinion of the entire set, Volume Three could easily be the best value. Then again Volume one has the campsites\outdoor encounter areas, hell just buy all three and be done with it…!!! Keep up the great work Matt!!!

31
Jan
13

….The Moldvay Experiment Part: 1….

   I created this map, keyed it and stocked it over a year ago. I read in a few different blogs about the little chart for stocking a dungeon in the Moldvay Basic Dungeons and Dragons red book on page B52. So I dug out my old copy of the book and looked it up. Back in the day, we played mostly a mish-mash of rules from the Holmes blue book and AD&D, I acquired the Moldvay books later on and probably mashed in a few rules from them as well.

   My intention was to create a random dungeon stocked randomly using only the red book basic rules, I was going to randomly generate the dungeon using the tables in the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, but quickly scraped that way of making a dungeon. Just too complex for my simple mind. I just started drawing out some random rooms, then began to stock them using nothing but charts in Moldvay’s Basic D&D book. I generated the contents of the rooms using just the “Stock the Dungeon” chart, since it was basically a first level dungeon, I used only the “Wandering Monsters Level 1″ chart on page B53, rolling a 20-sided dice to determine the monsters. If there were monsters, I used the “Treasure Types” chart on pages B45 and B46 to determine the treasures. Using treasure charts was something I almost never did in the old days. For specials, room traps and treasure traps, I just rolled on the appropriate lists on page B52. 

    I stayed faithful to the charts in the book, just rolling the dice and letting the results fall where they may. It was an enjoyable experience, taking those random rolls and coming up with descriptions for each room. It seemed like each time I rolled, my imagination went into overdrive to picture the scene. For example in room 5, I rolled up 7 Traders, looking at the L-shaped room I originally drew, I pictured it to be a blacksmith workshop, the traders were hiding in there, recovering from a previous encounter that did not go so well. I saw them as being lost in the dungeon and in their current condition, could be friend or foe to a party entering the room. A perfect little back story for some completely random rolls. I did deviate once from the charts, when I rolled up the wolves in room 8, I pictured the iron cage that they had somehow escaped from only to be trapped in the room itself. Since they had been trapped in this room for so long, I decided that the wolves needed something to eat to have survived that long in the room. So I added some giant rats and the rat tunnels for those poor trapped wolves.

   I left some open passages so I can come back and expand on this thing in a part 2, level 2 (or more). This was a fun experiment for me, I am glad to finally getting around to posting it. I hope you all enjoy it as well. Click on the map image for a complete 4 page PDF, which includes the map and all the room descriptions. Below the map image are the room descriptions as well. Peace Out!

Moldvay Experiment-Final

Room 1: “As you get to the bottom of the long winding stairs, the room opens up; the walls go up at least 30’ to the ceiling. The air is stale and quite still. A thick layer of dust covers everything. Something moves in the opposite corner of the room…”

Rock Python:

AC: 6

HD: 5

HP: 23

Damage: Bite 1-4 / Squeeze 2-8 / round

Move: 90’ (30’)

Save: F:3

Morale: 8

   In the room there is a heavy round wooden table with three creaky wooden chairs around it. In the corner are some wooden crates and barrels.

Crate 1: Rotten apples.

Crate 2: Moldy, crusty loaves of bread.

Crate 3: Empty.

Barrel 1: Old red wine, tastes like vinegar.

Barrel 2: Stagnant, putrid water.

Barrel 3: Oil soaked rags at the bottom.

(Useful for torches)

treasure: None

Room 2: “This smaller room has a low two foot high pool in the very center of the room. The pool is filled with a very clear sky blue liquid that sparkles from the light of your torches. At one end of the room is a rounded stone bench along the length of the wall, it is covered with ratty, dusty animal skins.”

   The liquid grants levitation to any who drink it. It can be stored and carried from the room, in small amounts. Upon returning to the room there is only a 20% chance the liquid will be in the pool.

Treasure: None

Room 3: “This room has a large chest covered in dust and cobwebs against the wall opposite of the door. There are also two human/humanoid skeletons along with their rusty weapons and armor lying on the dust-covered floor.”

   A pressure plate in the center 10’ floor section sets off a spring dart trap from the north wall, firing one dart for 1-4 points of damage. The chest contains 59 CP.

 Treasure: 59 CP

 Room 4: “Inside this dark and musty rooms a wooden table with two wood benches, one of which is overturned. There are also two barrels filled with brackish, stagnant water.”

 Barrel 1: Nothing

Barrel 2: 7 SP, 23 CP, under the sludge at the bottom of the barrel.

 Treasure: None (Other than what’s in Barrel 2)

Room 5: “The smell of smoke, coal and metal permeates this room. The light of your torches reveal work benches, stools and various tools scattered about. The room branches off to the left where you see an overturned table. A stern voice yells out, “Stop where ye stand, lest these arrows stick ye like a pig!”

    A large party of fur and pelt traders is holed up here, some badly wounded from a previous encounter. They entered the dungeon and can’t find their way back out. They are not looking for a fight, but will defend themselves if attacked or provoked. HP in parentheses are current HP. There are six human traders and one halfling trader.

 7 Traders:

HD: 1

Move: Human 120’ (40’) Halfling 90’ (30’)

Save: F1

Morale: 7

 Maximus: AC: 6, HP: 7, Short Sword 1d6

Flavius: AC: 7, HP: 6 (4), Short Sword 1d6

Claudius: AC: 7, HP: 5 (3), Battle Axe 1d8

Marcus: AC: 7. HP: 4 (2), Spear 1d6

Octavius: AC: 7, HP: 4, Spear 1d6

Quintus: AC: 7, HP: 3, Mace 1d6

Bob (Halfling): AC: 7, HP: 1, Dagger 1d4

Treasure: 1 potion (Levitation), 1 potion (Growth), 1 gold bracer set with sapphires and garnets (800 GP), 1 mithril neckchain set with a large emerald and two smaller amethysts (700 GP), 95 SP, 19 CP.

 Room 6: “The ceiling in this room rises 30’ high, supported by 4 large stone columns. It is dusty and very cold in here.”

 This room is empty.

 Treasure: None

Room 7: “The only thing in this room is a waist-high, circular stone pedestal. An object rests on top of the pedestal sparkling in the torchlight.”

   On top of the pedestal is a fist sized clear gem (diamond). If it is picked up, a brilliant flash of light erupts from it blinding everyone in the room (Save vs. Spells) for 1d8 turns. The gem is actually an illusion cast on a fist sized rock. On top of the pedestal where the rock was is a small disc of metal set into the stone. If the metal disk is depressed, a secret compartment on the front side of the pedestal opens up, spilling out 400 SP. Roll immediately for wandering monsters.

 Treasure: 400 SP

 Trap 7a: “Torchlight down this corridor, reveals a dead-end.”

   A large stone block falls from the ceiling if anyone steps into the last 10’ section of the corridor. Any character in that section of corridor must (Save vs, Turned to Stone) or take 1d10 points of damage.

 Treasure: None

 Room 8: “Strong smells of musk, fur, urine & feces assault the senses when the door to this room is opened. To one side there is an opened iron-barred cage, with a humanoid skeleton in the corner. On the other side are puddles of water and small 2’ to 3’ skeletons of some kind. In the darkness ahead, low growling begins to start…”

 4 Wolves:

AC: 7

HD: 2+2

HP: 14, 11, 11, 8

Damage: Bite 1d6

Move: 180’ (60’)

Save: F:1

Morale: 8

    The wolves will fight only long enough to escape the room at the first opportunity. The skeleton in the iron-barred cage is human, his battle axe rusting by his side. The smaller skeletons are giant rats that the wolves caught and ate from the rat tunnel that opens into the room. The water puddles are from water trickling down the stone walls.

 Treasure: None

 Rat Tunnels 9: “A small 2’ to 3’ tunnel leads into darkness…”

     These tunnels are quite small, only 2’ to 3’ wide, opening occasionally into wider tunnels. A human trying to crawl through these tunnels will have a 10% chance of getting stuck per turn cumulative. IE: Turn 1: 10% chance, Turn 2: 20% chance. These tunnels are the lair of three giant rats.

3 Giant Rats:

AC: 7

HD: 1d4

HP: 3, 3, 2

Damage: 1d3 + Disease

Move: 120’ (40’)

Save: F:1

Morale: 8

 Treasure: In the cave marked x, buried in a hole.

A necklace set with emeralds (1200 GP), Fire opal encrusted dagger with a silver blade (400 GP).

 Room 10: “Once the secret door is discovered and opened, a swarm of angry, buzzing flying creatures try to attack, from the small 10’ x 10’ room.”

 9 Stirges:

AC: 7

HD: 1*

HP: 8, 7, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5, 5

Damage: 1d3 After a successful attack, attaches and sucks blood for 1-3 points of damage per round. Flying stirges gain +2 on first “to hit” roll due to speed.

Move: 30’ (10’) Flying 180’ (60’)

Save: F:2

Morale: 9

 Treasure: None

 Room 11: “In this small 10’ x 10’ room a grotesque demon face is carved into the stone wall. It is about two feet high, and is about-face hight from the floor on the wall opposite of the door. The mouth of the demon face is a dark opening, behind it’s wicked fangs.”

    If the demon face carving is touched, a stream of noxious purple gas billows forth from the mouth. Anyone in the room must (Save vs. Poison) or die.

 Treasure: None

29
Jan
13

Dyson’s Delves….The Book…!!!

Dyson's Delves

      I have been meaning to write-up a post on this, ever since I received my copy in the mail. I ordered the hard cover version, to support Dyson and I like a good hard cover book. What can I say, it was Dyson’s blog that inspired me to blog and map myself, so I really won’t review the book, as I would be too biased.  I will say, as a fan of Dyson’s considerable body of work, that I am very pleased to have been able to purchase all these maps in one quality volume. (Click on the cover image above to go to Lulu if your interested in buying the book.)

     A quick run-down of the book:

     Pages 1-3: Introduction and table of contents. My favorite part, “-thus you don’t have to write  in the volume itself if you don’t want to deface it. That said, I truly recommend defacing the volume yourself as you go as it makes for a truly unique book that has been customized to your campaign,…”

     Pages 4-59: Completely keyed and stocked dungeons that have been previously seen on Dyson’s blog. Dyson’s Delves levels 1-11, The Charmed Grotto, Ruins of the Gorgon, The Worm’s Gullet and Erdea Manor. I feel Erdea Manor is one of the most ambitious creations Dyson has churned out.

    Pages 60-149: A great collection of some of Dyson’s best maps, each with a lined blank page next to it for stoking it as you see fit. Like dyson said in the intro, “…I truly recommend defacing the volume yourself…” I think that is just what I will do with some of those maps and this book! It will be Dyson’s book personalized by me.

    Pages 150-155: The Twisted Halls of Mornard’s Revenge, this is an exclusive adventure found only in the hard cover version of the book. I have not read it yet, so I won’t comment on it. It does have a sweet map though.

    Pages 156-157: The Open Gaming License.

    Like I said, this is not a review, I am and always will be a big fan of Dyson’s work. I do not know if there are any of the hard copies left, it was limited to 100 copies I think.  If you haven’t bought a copy yet check it out, I think it sells as a  soft cover version and a PDF version. Now I’m going to go and scribble all over Dyson’s hard work…:)!!!

27
Jan
13

The Hidden Tomb of Slaggoth the Necromancer…

     The long lost Tomb of the evil necromancer Slaggoth, is buried deep with in a cavern complex. The caves have become the home of a trio of ogres and their band of goblin henchmen. The goblins guard the entrance by watching through a small crack in the rock above the entrance, alerting the other goblins when anyone approaches the entrance. The goblins will then unleash a small pack of wolves that they have chained in the front caves against the intruders. If the wolves are not enough to repel the intruders, the goblins will send a runner across the wooden rope bridge to the ogre lair to warn their masters and will use ambush and retreat tactics to slow down the intruders. In the ogre cave is a massive steel door that leads to the hidden tome of the evil Necromancer Slaggoth. They have never been able to breach the door, so the tomb has remained untouched. Rumors of a key to the steel door is hidden somewhere in the caves, but has yet to be found. What horrers lie within Slaggoth’s tomb? Who is brave enough or foolhardy enough to find out?

     This is another new map I drew over the last two days. Click on the imge for a full page PDF, as always enjoy.

Slaggoth Tomb

24
Jan
13

Cauldron Issue # 0…A pleasant surprise…!!!

  Cauldron #0 

  I ordered Cauldron Issue # 0 on-line, it’s Chris Brandon’s “Zine” to support his excellent “Hero’s and Other Worlds” rule set. It was less than seven bucks I think, and since I enjoy his work, it was a no-brainer for me to buy it the minute I found out about it.  It showed up in the mail shortly after I ordered it, it was slick and sweet. Physically its gorgeous, a digest size,  heavy stock, gloss cover and 34 pages of gaming awesomeness inside. Pages 1-3, cover page, table of contents, and introduction. Pages 33-34, Ad page for “Heros and Other Worlds” and links for support/blogs. The rest is all gaming content, except for pages 14 and 22, which like page 33 are ad pages for the game.

     Pages 4-8 comprise a stripped down, condensed version of the “Heros and Other Worlds” rule set that can be played for a test drive of his game without having to purchase the rules. It’s quite a concise breakdown of his game, if you try it out using these rules, chances are you will want to buy the full version. (I recommend you do, to help support a very talented and up and coming game designer!)

    Page 9 has 5 pre-generated characters, with full stats and equipment lists. They are useable for the adventures presented later in the zine. I am not sure that they are starting characters as they seem to have more equipment than I have been able to purchase when creating a character using the starting coin in the rules. But they are very complete and can be easily copied over to an index card for play. For what it’s worth, I like the fact that when you create a character using the rules, the prices of equipment vs. the amount of coin you start with very much limits what equipment/weapons you have access to as a starting character. It forces you to go out to explore and find some more coin, just to get the basic weapons and equipment you want, solid game design in my humble opinion.

    Pages 10-13 “Filthy Lucre” This looks like it will be a regular feature in the zine, a small scenario based on the idea that the PC’s are mercenary types, out to earn some cold hard coin. It is a wilderness adventure named “Blood Harvest” where PC’s are hired by the village of Bruen to bring in a bandit, dead or alive, who has been terrorizing the local farmers. There are also some wolves causing problems in the area and their pelts are worth some coin too. Like I said earlier, starting PC’s will want coin anyway they can get it, and this is a scenario where they can get some. No maps for this, but plenty of descriptions and stats a GM will need to play it out.

    Pages 15-18 “Belief and Believers” looks to be another regular feature focusing on the spiritual realm, religion pantheons, etc. “Veneration of the Ancients” has some fun stuff in it, its a generic way of worshipping the dead, both in good and bad ways. The Bone Collectors and the Black Hands are more than worth the price of admission.

    Pages 19-20 “Faculties and Staff” another regular feature, presents new magic, sorcerers, wizards etc. “The grimoire of Shadows” is described in this issue. An ancient book of spells with many missing pages. The search for these missing pages has given rise to the Council of Shadows, and those who seek such knowledge are called Seekers of Shadows. In just two single digest size pages, Chris manages to create epic campaign ideas! Six new “Shadow” spells are included in this section. Fantastic stuff for just two pages!

    Page 21 “Tooth & Claw” yet another regular feature, highlights a new monster or monsters? Presented are “Frost Walkers” Undead cold themed zombies…..whats not to love about these guys!

    Pages 23-29 “Rising of the Wickerman” an adventure for 4 to 6 characters. I grinned from ear to ear when I saw this, this is a “Pocket Full of Peril” adventure that Chris had created a while back ago based on one of my vertical style maps. It was an awesome concept then, and it still is, ported over to his new rule set. I am biased as he used one of my maps, but even so, I felt so honored to see one of my maps in such a well produced zine. I did not know he chose my map to use and publish, so this was an amazingly, wonderful surprise for me. (Like I said I am biased..:) I remember when Chris turned that map into the original “Pocket Full of Peril”. He took that map and created something from it that was much better than anything I ever envisioned as I was drawing it.

    On a more personal note:  This is one of the things that I enjoy so much about blogging in the OSR blog-o-sphere. I am always amazed when anyone choses to use one of my maps, and makes it so much more than I ever imagined. Everything I post here on this blog is free to be used by anyone, because there are so many of you out there that can create such cool new things from my simple drawings. All I ask for is credit for the image (Which Chris in Cauldron # 0 gave me way more credit than he needed to, and I appreciate that)

    Finishing this out now, I am looking forward to “Cauldron # 1″ Chris does incredible work, he is a machine the way he turns out new stuff, I am in awe of how he manages to do it. Like Dyson Logos, he is a workhorse. I suggest you watch this guy as he keeps moving forward, he does high quality game design with a passion. If I was as dedicated to creating new game materials as Chris is, I’d have a 1000 maps on this blog by now!

    If you haven’t picked up a copy of “Heros and Other Worlds” yet, grab a copy of this zine. It’s a little cheaper, it gives a stripped down, yet very playable version of the rules, pre-generated PC’s and some adventures to get you started…..a bargain at any price!

Quick Update: As I was writing this post last night, I forgot to mention pages 30-32 , Chris presents some guidelines for converting character stats for his rule set.

23
Jan
13

The Hall of Orrin Darkshroud….

     Above the forest of Merewood, rises a single mountain, the rocky rugged slopes of Raven’s Roost.  A path snakes its way up the mountain, winding its way through the steep cliffs and jagged outcrops ending at a large ledge overlooking Merewood. It is here that the Sorcerer Orrin Darkshroud carved out his fortress, a refuge from his dark past. Over the years, strange phantasms and screams of the damned emanated from the lofty hights of his fortress. Last year however the fortress became silent, a dark, menacing presence high above the forest of Merewood.

    Here is a new map I drew the other day, I feel that the cliffs (IE: the shading I did) kind of got away from me in the process. Just doesn’t quite feel very balanced to me.  I also drew this one with no graph paper, trying to be a little looser in style.  Anyway, for the most part its alright, so I am posting it here for your enjoyment.  Click on the image for a full page PDF.

The Hall of Orrin Darkshroud




Dyson’s Delves

Heros and Other Worlds

Dungeonmorph

About this blog

    This blog came into being after I discovered the OSR blog scene. I was inspired by Dyson Logos and his blog, specifically his geomorph project. Check out his awesome work: "Dyson's Dodecahedron" The style and the simple elegance of his 10 x 10 squares put me on a mapping roll. I have blatently (...and respectfully) emulated his style and now have pages upon pages of geomorphs. Along with more location specific maps in that same style.

   My intent for this blog is for it to be more than just maps and geomorphs. However, for now, I'm just enjoying this burst of creativity inspired by Dyson and the entire OSR community.

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