Showing posts with label Maps. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Maps. Show all posts

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Hex Redux

I have less than 2 months to get ready for my next campaign. That is judging by the countdown to the upper right. I cannot wait for these OSE books to come in. I am kind of at the whim of shipping. 

Thankfully, I have a bunch of set pieces ready to go. My main issue is organization. I pulled my hex tiles from of a pair of giant cardboard boxes, set them up, and then packed them away in a handful of clear plastic totes. 

As you can see to the right, they weren't very organized. Some of the smaller parts don't lend themselves to orderly packing. I haven't solved that problem yet but I will get to that someday, hopefully soon. 

I moved an extra table to the middle of the room so we have enough space to use them. Now in this demonstration, I set up as many tiles as I wanted. It was overkill and I wouldn't actually do that for gameplay. 

I have a nice wooden table with two leaves in it. The leaves allow my players some elbow room. I will have to get more chairs and maybe a rolling storage bin to help clear the clutter. 

One of the nice things about this set of tiles is the quick set up. Each piece has a slot for a biscuit cut into the edge. When wargaming, this feature is a must. Pushing figures and rulers around invariably shifts the tiles. 

Roleplaying games, not so much. A 2x2 or 3x3 section can be set up rapidly, usually while I am talking. The rough look makes the players to visualize the scenario from a homely display, with flaws and gaps filled in with imagination. Sometimes, when the players ask about certain flaws, I will pick their brains for what it could mean. 

My intention in using this sort of setup is to facilitate play, not create a complete world or map. I use some odd bits and pieces to display data. Blue paper is water, green cotton balls are trees, rocks... well, are rocks. 

I use a cord to mark out roads and paths. I can use a different color of cord for the path the players intend to take. This makes the situation interactive as the party can all work together to create the best plan. As more features become evident, I drop colored pieces of paper with notes. I have some colored plastic bits to highlight areas of note. We have cups of colored beads and blocks so players can drop things on the play surface for their own purposes. 

And of course, I can add in figures. 

Check out these images from around the table. 





At the end of the day, pack up easy. Before I clear up, I make sure to photograph the set up for my notes. 


As you can see a ridiculous amount of tiles fit in one small area of my basement, always ready to go. 

Once I start this campaign, I will keep you guys in the loop. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Tinkering Again With Artwork

I am getting ready to revamp my Kobold's Folly book. I plan to recreate it as a full scale module. The image at the right is how I originally envisioned the Folly. 

The Kobolds accessed the Folly from a cave system below. I find that the style of Worldographer is not up to the task and I am looking for an alternative style. It's wonderful for producing battle mats and large scale maps, but not so hot with cave systems. 


I'd like the base the system of caves on Carlsbad Caverns. I've been reviewing maps and brochures of the place for weeks. The cavern under the Folly is much smaller than Carlsbad Caverns. 

I've also been looking at the art in DMGR1 Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide. This book is one of my favorite's even though it's technically e2 D&D. At the time of e2's launch, I didn't realize that it was a revamped system and was using willy nilly in my AD&D campaigns. I love the isometic projections in this book and would probably want to copy that style. 

My inclination is to go hand drawn, but not really hand drawn. The above was an experiment with my Wacom Bamboo using Gimp. 

Next up is just penwork. 


This style isn't bad, but I'm not so sure about color. 

I'd like to match this style if I could. It's close to the style in the Sourcebook above, while not an exact match.  





Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Terminal Cone of Negative Energy - What I Thought Instead of What I Should Have Done

Yesterday I posted about creating a map with a download of the HPS Cartography Kit. I love Nate's artwork. Well, that didn't work for a variety of reasons that seem to limited to the six inches of space between my ears. 

Ooo... that looks nice! 
I meant the interface and the tiles, not my map.
The HPS Cartography Kit is meant for Hex Kit, not Inkwell Idea's Worldographer. I wasn't going to let that stop me, I could just edit... 400+, 500+, 600+ images so that they fit in Worldographer. Then I started messing around with Inkscape, not to edit pictures but to freehand a map. 

Yeah. No. 

So, back to DriveThruRPG for a copy of Hex Kit. It made the most sense. If I'm going to review HPS Cartography Kit in the near future, I should have the actual software which it was designed for, which means I need Hex Kit. Which has the side benefit is one more review I can do. 

If you had a lot of patience, you could totally free hand a map with just tiles. Or you could edit one type of tile for a completely different type of software. The problem is I'm adjusting my insulin levels since a near disaster the middle of 2020 and I am now made of frantic energy and not a drop of patience. 

Did I mention it's week 4 of 2021 and I'm on Week 8 of reviews? It's the drugs, I swear. 

Speaking of problems that I have, I have my own product called "Hex Pack", I am really glad I researched that name not at all and luckily missed naming it "Hex Kit" like I've been calling it in my head since it first popped into my mind. I launched my Hex Pack back in April of 2020, so you can see how some of these things can collide. 

Anyway, maximum effort! More speed! 

I usually drop little hints about what I intend to review, but I usually don't offer links to products I haven't used, read, reviewed, etc. because I don't know how they will turn out. The links to DriveThru and Inkwell Ideas are a pretty good hint as to what I think of these products already. 

I do have one other hint, I had the worst time trying to figure out how to launch Hex Kit in Linux. So I reached out to the author and they gave me the answer in a couple of minutes or hours. Frantic energy, no difference between minutes... hours to me right now. Anyway, it's easy. 

Oh, what the heck?

All you need to do is open Hex Kit. It's right there! 

Yeah, Linux Terminal foo is required. The actual command is: 


or ./Hex\ Kit

Hmm... when was the last time I used a front slash anywhere? Don't know, but I can already see it's going to become a habitual thing. 

I wanted to review Hex Kit first then HPS Cartography Kit second, but software has a learning curve that no amount of drugs will fix. I really want to do these now, but it may take until March 2021. 

I did want to share the output of just a few minutes/hours of tinkering got me. 


And of course, that also leads to the heavy handed hint that great products come from authors who have excellent customer service and responsiveness to the most random and frantic questions. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

What I Should Be Doing vs. What I Am Doing

Yeah, it's one of those days. I realized that I wrote enough reviews to take a long break, perhaps until March. I've a lot of things downloaded from DriveThruRPG and Amazon to read in order to do even more reviews. But instead, I find myself thinking about maps for my Peninsula of Plenty campaign. 

Yes, I'm going to get that back on the table. And I want a better map than this: 


Or this: 


Well, it's happening. And I'm making a better map. 

Recently, I downloaded Domain Building by Third Kingdom GamesSeafoot Games' The Abandoned City of Nexus 20x30 Battlemap, and reviewed both How to Hexcrawl and Hexcrawl Basics which all got the brain warmed up to the idea of maps and hexcrawling.

It only took a little more to get me moving. First, was a recollection of the Tabula Peutingeriana, a Roman schematic of the Empire's road system. It is not to scale, but it displays all of the major cities and roadways a traveller might need to cross the whole Empire from Britain to the edge of India. It's a parchment scroll, 21 feet long! Check out the link for the Wikipedia entry. It's amazing! The crazy thing is squashed and distorted yet still an accurate rendering of the roads. 

The second part of the push was a combination of a framed copy of Nate Treme's Moldy Unicorn plus a download of the HPS Cartography Kit I meant to review. Review, hell. I'm using and abusing it. I'm making a giant map of the Peninsula of Plenty in that same scale - 11 inches by 21 feet. One inch (or hex) is six miles, which translates to 1500  miles of roads and hexcrawling. 
 

I love the style of maps this hex pack creates. The pack is advertised as containing 400+ tiles, but it's more like 500 or 600. Go check it out. It's a steal. 

Update - Two new views of the work in progress.  




Friday, December 25, 2020

Mom, Dad... I'm in prison, and I don't like it.

This morning, I busted out some pens and graph paper to come up with the next scenario for my Star Wars campaign. This post is somewhat applicable for other campaign types, as you can grab the maps for just about anything. The links below go to the worldbuilding and character information about this campaign, in case this is the first you are hearing of it. 

In my worldbuilding post, I mentioned many names. Bergel was the Neimoidian viceroy in charge of the planet but he is playing a very sideways game of "not it". He knows the Empire or the Rebels will be paying him a visit very soon and he doesn't want to be the guy in charge when it happens. 

He set up the Tactical Droid, Green-5 as the pasty when whoever arrives has an obvious target to kill. He ordered the droid to protect the planet and Bergel charged him to work with the leadership of the planet. Additionally, Bergel has a Neimoidian bounty hunter, La'ow Houd keeping tabs on Green-5 and the leadership. His intention is to make sure that Green-5 puts up a bit of a fight, but not enough to get the planet glassed. Bergel is going to play the deposed leader card and say that Green-5 took over. 

Green-5 is pretty smart when it comes to tactics. He drew up a plan to kill everyone on the planet but since he's been ordered to work with the Lord and Lady of the planet this idea has been ditched. The Tankerenians are treating him like a living being which is causing him to wildy exceed his programing. He should have gone into safe mode a couple of times already but keeps lumbering on.  

In light of the riots and a party of unknown adventurers, he is in high threat mode. He has negotiated a plan to keep everyone safe. The Lord and Lady of Tankeren have granted him plot of land that contains a ruins. Green-5 started construction of a prison to incarcerate the rioters as he catches them. Currently, they are mostly held in place, which is very dangerous for his droids. They are not jailers or wardens. 

Bergel hates this idea. For one, the prison is far too close to the Capital making both a military target. Second, if anyone attacks the prison, it will be a bloodbath. This will cause the Tankerenians to fight with anyone that slaughters the prisoners. Bergel is an opportunist and has been exploiting the citizens, he doesn't mean to get them all kill or enslaved. This is exactly what will happen if the prison is completed. Someone will come to knock it out. 

Bergel is playing both sides. He set Green-5 on his course but also has La'ow Houd keeping eyes on him. La'ow has set his ship down near the prison site and has been evaluating the situation. He has a mandate to sabotage it any way he can. He doesn't have the means to destroy it himself, but he does know of a party of adventurers (click here for their character sheets) who might get the job done. In a perfect world, these adventures will do double duty: free the prisoners and destroy the facility. 

Last week, I posted some towers. I really liked these designs and incorporated them into the maps. When I drew them, I was thinking medieval towers but the slender design lends itself to sci-fi. 

The prison has 16 towers to jail prisoners. Green-5 is pretty sharp and he tried to eliminate as many problems with jailing people. Each tower is 6 levels or 22 meters high and 9 meters wide. They were carved right out of the local bedrock, so it should be impossible for prisoners to dig their way out. 

The bottom floor is the bathroom and showers. There are no windows on this floor. The next 4 floors are accommodations for the incarcerated. Each level does have a narrow slot window, but is far too small for an adult to crawl out of. The roof is for recreation. Prisoners are dropped off on the roof by a floating platform. There are no droid guards inside the towers.

The Tactical Droid has invented a variation of an oubliette, and the prisoners know it. Several smaller prisoners, mostly women and children have managed to get out of the towers and explore. They have not found a way to breach the walls, so they have not escaped. When they do figure out a way, they are going to destroy this place. This keeps the prisoners from fighting with each other. Wrecking this place is their game plan. 

I must apologize now for the orientation of the prison. The prison towers are on the south side of the map, which means that if I wish to continue this tour of the facilities, the maps will be upside down. 

South Ward (Prison Area)
In the map above, you can see the tower arrangements. The guns that point inwards are heavy stunners. The outward pointing guns are light and heavy weapons for taking down infantry and armor. The dotted lines are the gates. Imbedded in the ground are metal posts meant to stop vehicles while the gate doors slide sideways. They don't stop people, that's what the gates are for. At the bottom of the image are two ramps that lead to the fortress. 

As you can see from the arrangement, the towers block lines of fire. Green-5 believes that a force could come down the ramps and sweep up anyone trying to escape. He's never seen a prison riot before. 

The walls are hollow. There is a 1 meter wide and high tunnel through them, so Destroyer Droids can deploy from cover via secret openings. On the top towers of the prison side are two domes so that the Destroyer Droids can rally before rolling out into the yard. These tunnels are also how droids reach the weapon emplacements in the tower. 

The Command Section

The command area is much more reasonably designed. On the right bottom corner is the barracks area. Since only droids are station here, not much room is needed to store them. The towers along the perimeter have heavy weapons. The box like structures are missile launchers, however, they lob missiles upward. They cannot target anything inside the perimeter, not even the prison area. 

In the courtyard on the left are several faint pencil lines to mark where ships should land. This is also where the hovering platform is stored. These are not permanent marks and are moved, added and removed as needed. The faint pencil work at the top of the image is a duplication of the prison area so I can match the two halves of the map together. 

For the next session, La'ow will alert the players to the problem the prison represents to the people of this planet. He will be helpful, but not really helpful. The players will arrive before the entire structure is complete, they will see how the towers are constructed and gain useful recon information before making their assault. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Towers - Tiny Maps

I started drawing a few towers this week. They came out pretty well.

The first is a 35 foot tall tower, meant to be placed on exterior wall. The exterior is on the left and the interior of the walls is to the right. The first floor has no windows, just a door. The door opens inward while a pair of barred doors open outward. 

I haven't filled in the walls because I don't know what pattern I want to use. The walls are tapered from bottom to top so this is not a good design against siege engines. The bottom might hold, but the top could be collapsed by catapults. 

I drew no interior designs, not even stairs, so I can adapt them for different purposes. 

The next tower is 55 feet tall. Again the walls are tapered. This design is basically the same as the tower above, except the barred doors open inwards.

I like the details on the doorway at ground level, except I made a mistake. The scale in the profile view is one square equals 10 feet, while the side view is one square equals 5. The door is a massive 10 feet wide. As you can see from the tiny doodle on the upper right, I tried to fix that by making the door multifunction with two sally doors.

Additionally, I didn't like the way the windows looked. I changed styles and neither one looks very good. Plus, with the tower being so tall, there has to be a way to reach the walls. 

That won't do, so I decided to redraw it.  
In my third iteration, I came up with some ideas I liked such as the door leading to the top of the walls on the 4th level. I forgot to fix the door on the first level. Actually, this is the point where I realized the door was so big. I added some arrow loops next to the ground floor door. 

I think that I can fix the door digitally, but maybe I'll just redraw that level or the whole tower tonight. 

I really like this design and I'll use it to work up some designs in both Inkscape and Worldographer. 





Monday, December 14, 2020

Testing New Tech with Sketches

I bought a new phone, a Moto G Stylus and new Kindle Fire then started working at a place where neither are allowed. That's ok, it gives me time to draw. 

The first image was a warm up for pen work. Just some designs. Perhaps, they are windows, dias* or portals. (* I'm not sure if the plural is "dia", "dias" or "diases".) 
The next two pictures are of towers. Each tower is drawn in profile and then top down. The profile is 1 square equals 10 feet while the overhead view is in 5 feet per square. 
i didn't like how the arrow slits looked and completely forgot the side door. 
These towers are strange because the exterior of the castle is to left and there is no windows on the ground floor. I need to draw in stairs next. I love the detail on the doors. There is a main door plus two gates to bar it from opening. In this rendition, the fifth floor has no windows at all. 

Both need a top floor.

Anyway, it's late at night. That might explain the strange pink cast to the images. I didn't use a flash.  

Monday, November 30, 2020

City of Nexus Map Bundle Review

Title: City of Nexus
Author: Seafoot Games  (Luke Seefuss and Rianna Stahl)
Rule Set: Any
Year: 2019
Pages: 5 pdfs, 15 pages each, plus 15 .jpg images. 
Rating: ★★★★★

Since this pandemic thing kicked off, I've been looking at Seafoot Games' City of Nexus bundle. It's been on the hot list for most, if not all of 2020. 

These sort of products give me fits for reviewing. How do I show an image without giving the milk away for free? Well, I'm gonna do my best by showing part of the title page of one of the five books included with set. 


It's impressive. Imagine this image with 300 px detail and multiply by five products. 

The books are nicely designed, with several pages dedicated to the Artist's Patreon following. The next ten pages include a 8.5" by 11" overview map, with nine pages dedicate to sections of the map. In this format, I advise printing one sided pages on photo paper. Every image has a grid for your figures, tokens or models. It's is wonderful with the right paper.

But I suspect that was not what the artist intended you to do. Each of the five maps has 3 jpeg files in 300px, 72px and one 300px poster size. The first two are perfect for virtual table tops and the choice of resolution is there to meet your needs. Sometimes, you don't want to pull up a massive file. 

These maps are battlemats for you to populate. They are extraordinarily detailed with beautiful set pieces, all obviously designed for each map in question. You could either ignore them or write them into your game. The set is ruleset agnostic for ease of use in any type of campaign. They are obviously medieval looking, but that's what 99% of OSR use. 

Back to "massive". The last jpeg for each map is a mighty poster 33" by 23" with a nice white border. It's perfect for framing as art OR to print off and cover with glass for your physical tabletop. Did I mention you get 5 of them? 

The price is great. It's CyberModay today, so I am not sure if there is a sale on right now, but at triple the price this is an excellent set. An easy 5 star product. 

Click the link to order. 

Hottest New Book
City of Nexus | 20x30 Battlemaps [BUNDLE]
City of Nexus | 20x30 Battlemaps [BUNDLE]

Friday, November 6, 2020

Rough Cut - Beacon Harbour

 I inserted my new longboat like houses and roughed out the walls. The tower evolved a bit but I like it. 

Not bad for a quick map in Worldographer. What I do not like is the sharp lines around the cobbles and dirt areas. I'll have to fix that. I also have an issue where the edges of the boat houses are too light. It gives them a "glow" that I don't like. 


The area has morphed into something living from such a simple pencil drawing. Oddly, I noticed that I accidentally changed the name from Banner Harbour to Beacon Harbour. I kind of like the new name. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Inside Out Fortification

This month, I am doing castles as the theme of my Inktober sketches. I've always been amused by the bit in So Long and Thanks for All the Fish where Wonko the Sane builds the Asylum, an inside out building to contain the world gone mad. 

This is probably my first contact with this concept of an inside out structure. 

However, real life shows that Wonko the Sane's Asylum isn't nuts. Apparently Julius Caesar did this in his siege craft. In a particularly interesting conflict, Caesar attacked fortification of Alesia. 

Muriel Gottrop in December 2004 from Wikipedia

The Gallic leader, Vercingetorix took refuge in the oppidum (an Iron Age Fortified town) with his 80,000 men. Caesar decided it was more prudent to siege the town rather than storm it. However, this required building a 10 mile long wall around Alesia. It wasn't perfect, but it was effective. 

When the Gallic relief force showed up, Caesar built a second wall around his own forces and the Roman's world collapsed into a one half mile strip of land between his walls.  

As the siege progressed, Vercingetorix turned out many of the civilians in the hopes that they would be captured by the Romans and fed. Caesar refused this option and didn't attempt to capture or kill any of them. A siege requires people to consume the food, so in turning them away, he didn't weaken his own position by wasting energy on killing or capturing them. As you can see from the map, neither of Caesar's walls were perfect and probably some people simply walked away. 

The Romans never broke into the walls of Alesia, but Vercingetorix was forced to surrender. He and the chieftains were killed and the Roman Legions took 40,000 captives as slaves. 

Most of this account was written by Caesar himself, so many of the numbers are probably inflated. It is fairly reasonable to assume that Caesar reported accurate numbers for his own forces but magnified the Gallic forces to look better. He said that there were 80,000 following Vercingetorix and the Gallic relief force numbered 250,000. This is pretty unlikely. 

But what we can take from this is, Caesar only took half of the people involved captive as slaves and he literally built 2 walls at least 10 miles long. 

From the prospective of gaming, we can see that a lot of historical figures do incredible things while not resorting to a scorched earth policy or glassing event. Caesar really played himself as a benevolent leader and ran a policy of forgiving his enemies. This probably explains why Vercingetorix surrendered himself. Either he though that was the best option for his followers to survive and there was a slight chance he, himself, would survive. Many of Caesar opponents killed themselves to spite him when they lost. 

These sorts of examples highlight why people surrender in battles and I would totally make that concept a thing in my games if it ever came to the party surrendering. I posted about that almost a year ago. If more games incorporated an honor mechanic, it would probably happen more often. 

One further tieback to game is my frustration of the lack of realistic scales for fortifications. Alesia was not a particularly massive fortified position, but if Caesar stood back a couple of miles, it's far larger than what is shown in modules like Keep on the Borderlands. My players in our B2 sessions were completely stymied by the huge area and I figure the area represented on the map is too small by a good margin. 

I'll be posting maps and drawings of my ideas soon. Stay tuned. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

Thank You for Making The Hex Pack My Most Popular Product!

Wow! I can believe all the interest in this Hex Pack. 



I like hex paper, but it's kind of a pain in the butt. A full page of hexes boggles the eyes and really isn't a full page unless you mess with the hex size. You need to go smaller than a page to get a manageable workspace. I jumped into Worldographer and knocked something together:

Hexes... like so. 
As I was doing this, I hopped over to Steamtunnel's The Hydra's Grotto to read up on 6 mile hexes. It really is the best size for hexes. Don't trust me, click that link to see all the mathy wonders that can be done with a 6 mile hex.

As I was working, I eliminated all of the stuff that bothers me. Text on the page, hex numbers, etc. I ended up doing 9 different styles: red, grey and black lines then dotted, dashed, solid lines. Once I was done, I threw them in a template. Since I was working from the ground up, I made a set of templates for 8.5 by 11 and A4.


A little consumer copy later, and I had my next DrivethruRPG document. This thing is PWYW, with a suggested price of $0.99. It's available via the Creative Commons 4.0, share and share alike with attribution for private and commercial use.

I honestly didn't know what to do with the price. For home use, there are 9 zillion websites you can download templates from for free. The main difference on this product is, there is a booklet for 8.5x11 and A4 pages, plus a file with just the hex in JPG and PNG at 1400x1299 pixels. Ninety-nine cents is probably too much for home use, but far too little for commercial use.

I don't know... I'm just hanging it here for all of you. I'm going back to my game now.

Enjoy!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

And another thing... 6 Mile Hex pack.

Edit 5-29-2020 - Wow! The response to this tiny pack of Hex Paper has been outstanding! Thank you so much. 


I am hooked on Gemstone IV, a MUD. Yeah, I know it's 2020 but damn am I addicted. Anyway, being a MUD, you have to make your own maps. Other people have happily charted all the lands but I find that most fonts and images are far too small for me to read without my glasses. Ah, the joys of being a gamer for X decades.

I make my own maps which are much larger than normal so I can read them without my glasses. Here is an example, all maps print on a 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper:

Standard Marshkeep Map My Map, Part 1 My Map, Part 2


As I do these things, sometimes I notice that the person that created the area was working on grid paper. The other day, I noticed someone must have used hex paper, because the small size and the arrangement of rooms. Hex paper can produce tighter maps as opposed to grids.

I like hex paper, but it's kind of a pain in the butt. A full page of hexes boggles the eyes and really isn't a full page unless you mess with the hex size. You need to go smaller than a page to get a manageable workspace. I jumped into Worldographer and knocked something together:

Hexes... like so. 
As I was doing this, I hopped over to Steamtunnel's The Hydra's Grotto to read up on 6 mile hexes. It really is the best size for hexes. Don't trust me, click that link to see all the mathy wonders that can be done with a 6 mile hex.

As I was working, I eliminated all of the stuff that bothers me. Text on the page, hex numbers, etc. I ended up doing 9 different styles: red, grey and black lines then dotted, dashed, solid lines. Once I was done, I threw them in a template. Since I was working from the ground up, I made a set of templates for 8.5 by 11 and A4.


A little consumer copy later, and I had my next DrivethruRPG document. This thing is PWYW, with a suggested price of $0.99. It's available via the Creative Commons 4.0, share and share alike with attribution for private and commercial use.

I honestly didn't know what to do with the price. For home use, there are 9 zillion websites you can download templates from for free. The main difference on this product is, there is a booklet for 8.5x11 and A4 pages, plus a file with just the hex in JPG and PNG at 1400x1299 pixels. Ninety-nine cents is probably too much for home use, but far too little for commercial use.

I don't know... I'm just hanging it here for all of you. I'm going back to my game now.

Enjoy!

Here is a link to go play GSIV. It's free to play or you can purchase a subscription.