Friday, February 25, 2011

Dungeon World

Hey, this is old news, but here goes anyway?

Remember Apocalypse D&D? That's my Apocalypse World hacked version of OD&D, designed to be played with whatever version of the OD&D rules you happen to have lying around. We played it a lot at Go Play NW last year. It was fun!

Sage LaTorra grabbed the thing and is turning it into a fully fledged game called Dungeon World. It has a complete OD&D aesthetic with some rules streamlining along the lines of Apocalypse World. It's pretty awesome and well worth checking out.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Entrance to The of Harrow Esklepius

The Harrow of Aklepius is a tomb complex of rather mundane appearance, partially rubble-choked, a half-days hike from Yakboar. The principle hazard is the so-called Harrowing, which manifests as a growing sense of dread and finally terror capable of paralzying interlopers and sending them fleeing for the light. A curious presence haunts the place, constantly stirring the dust into eddies and streams. The local kids make a game of seeing how far into the Harrow they can get before the fear drives them forth. A few adventurers have gone further into the complex, but so far no one has emerged with any appreciable treasure. Nevertheless, local legend places a significant horde just around the corner of the deepest hall yet mapped.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How Very Curious

Is that even a microdungeon? I'm not entirely sure. What is a dungeon except a map of certain threats, moods, places, and creatures?

Enough philosophy. A friend of mine asked me to make a squid-flavored dungeon for a biking friend of theirs. This isn't the dungeon that she finally accepted, but I do like this one anyway.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Minecraft as Existentialist Drama

Fear and Gaming: Being and Nothingness and “Minecraft”


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Actual Play Maps and Outsider Art

Shout out to PlaGMaDA,the gallery of D&D play artifacts for getting mention on Boing Boing this morning!

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Entrance to Dunstone

The Hallowed Hall of Dunstone lies under Wiltork Hill, guarded by the village of Gabboro. Dunstone is not so much a dungeon as a hill carved into the shape of a city. It's residents are long gone, but the place seems to have an un-natural attraction for wild beasts, solitary ogres, and especially bats. Dunstone artifacts, especially procelain and metalwork, fetch a high price, but the inner halls, where the best finds are made, are dangerous and unstable.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Flying Ships and Still no Elves

Running Talislanta is a continual ambition of mine, but it's kind of hard to get a group together for this old-school classic. Tal is weird old-school at its best, but its strangeness and the vast amount of canon material work against it when trying to sell it to a crowd not already familiar with it.

Talislanta is kind of like Firefly or Star Trek, except instead of space, the PCs tool around a fantasy world in a flying ship. And it's not a D&D fantasy world with Orcs and Elves and a grand battle between Good and Evil; instead its a patchwork world of strange cultures, weird magics, and unfamiliar dangers.

One thing Tal really has going for it is archetypes. To make characters you basically point the players to the section of the rules with the character archetypes and say "OK, which of these people looks interesting to you?

Printing out a copy of the archetypes is definitely required. Luckily the PDFs of the Talislanta rules are available for free! The biggest problem is that there are so damn many archetypes. Limiting it to one region is probably a good idea.

The mass of canon material can also be a barrier. In last night's game John and I (the two players who know Tal) started riffing on canon material and confusing the hell out of everyone else. In my game I start right off the bat by ditching all the canon, then pulling out bits and pieces to reincorporate and twist as I see fit. Until it comes up in play, it's not binding, and I let the players run with it when they start making up their own background stuff. This definitely enhances the game. It means I've got an open-ended fantasy world, but I've still got some 500 pages worth of crazy setting material to draw on. Like if I want shadow wizards riding bat mantas to dive out of the cloud layer and attack, I've got that in my back pocket.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The world is packed full of secret and cursed places. The world is packed full of secret and cursed people.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Don Kenn and the Awesome of Post-It Notes

Don Kenn makes fabulous drawings on Post-It Notes. I mean it’s really fabulous stuff with monsters and places, and barely-hinted characters. It’s kind of like Edward Gorey and the Monster Manual and some other stuff thrown in.

There are these pictures of these horrible monstrosities just on the verge of devouring, cursing, or carrying away the hapless human denizens of Kenn’s world.

His technique is gorgeous. The gesture of the drawings is perfect. But what really gets me is the subtle way in which each picture shows something happening. It’s kind of subtle at first, but it’s never just a picture of some monster, next to some thing. It’s a monster reacting to that thing, with an expression that might be ravenous, but might be something else, like sorrow, or longing, or dread. Each picture sets up a relationship and a story.

I love this stuff. I just had to say that. Go check out his blog for more!

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Friday, February 11, 2011

November Compilation

Thanks to the fine work of Nick at The Fantasy Cartographic, we have another dungeon map compilation! Check it out in the sidebar to the right!

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Entrance to Omlek's Hall

Omlek's Hall is a considerable delve generally declared to be a Dwarven City, though a brief exploration will dispell this myth, for the doorways are tall and narrow, and the ornamentation is rather un-Dwarfish. Only its upper levels have been explored, and its original builders are a mystery. The only known entrance is a narrow window in a cliff face. Bandits sometimes use the upper halls as a base, but the narrow entrance means that only lightly armored or small size persons can easily enter and exit.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Bone Hall

I always loved the Magic Card "Throne of Bone". Opportunities for juvenile humor aside, it conjured up images of twisted horrors entombed in deep dungeons for heroes to excavate and destroy.

The Bone Hall and environs are home to a terrifying aberration of wraith, the Marrow Spirit. Marrow Spirits inhabit the bones of their former bodies and ambush travellers seeking to exact revenge for their own lonely, desolate death. Normally the wraiths are tied to their remains, inhabiting the bones themselves, dormant until a victim approaches. In the Bone Hall, however, they become truly fearsome, able to pass through the bones walls at will, and quickly move to any part of the dungeon, ambushing adventurers from behind. They also work with the other denizens of the dungeon, coordinating their attacks in return for the promise that the killing blow will be theirs.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Waking up Again...

I'm slowly coming out of hibernation again, and making plans for the new year. New Years is kind of a big deal. If you're going to do anything interesting with your year, now is a good time to think about it.

So what's up for this blog in the new year?

  • More Microdungeons: I'm not done making these little things, not remotely. There will be a new microdungeon every week, maybe two.

  • Other Art: And I've been drawing some new and weird art, so I'll be posting some of that.

  • Old School Gaming Stuff: because old-school is awesome.

  • Another art show: Cafe Verite in the Madrona neighborhood, June-July 2011! This show won't be explicitly dungeon themed, but there will be fantasy maps aplently.

  • Writing projects: The Purple Worm Graveyard, a Labyrinth Lord Adventure; and a sequel to How to Host a Dungeon

  • Mercantile projects: And I have some commercial projects, including an Etsy store to sell some art and prints. I'm very happy to have a decent career that means I don't have to rely on art to pay my bills. However, when I can make a few bucks at art, that means less financial pressure, and more time for interesting projects. So a big part of my plans for this year is to spend less time working and more time drawing.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

We're on for 2011!

So every year I help run this local gaming convention, Go Play NW. Well, we've finally got our dates and venue lined up for this year! We're getting together July 8-10 at the Seattle Center. There's going to be a ton of indie gaming, and plenty of old-school gaming too!