Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ptolemaic Map of the Known World


The Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine has been photographing and scanning in a huge collection of maps that span several centuries. It’s an opportunity to see some wonderful and beautiful hand drawn maps from the past. Some of these could be useful for an RPG adventure.

This Ptolemaic map from around 127AD is a great example. It also calls into question whether or not ancient scholars understood that the earth was in fact round.


Creatio Universi, 1720. Engraving of the creation of the universe, the Earth surrounded by planetary orbits engraved by Fuesslinus who worked in Augsburg, Germany.



Monday, June 27, 2016

Beasties Review on The Other Side

A nice summary review of Beasties by Timothy Brannan on his blog The Other Side (which you absolutely should follow, I use the RSS feed and read it in Feedly like all the other old-school blogs I follow in order to keep up with the great content being generated out there).

My favorite quote from the review "It certainly punches above its weight class in terms of monsters and content." It is packed full of content in its only 84 pages.

http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2016/06/monstrous-monday-beasties-from-night.html

Friday, June 24, 2016

One Page Dungeon Compendium 2016

I picked up the new One Page Dungeon Compendium, and as always it is a visual and creative feast. Filled with interesting and creative maps, and chock full of great ideas for adventures and dungeon locales.

I couple of my favorites are The Quintessential Dungeon and The Sky-Blind Spire.

The Quintessential Dungeon is literally a dungeon filled with all the most overdone tropes and cliches' but all in good fun with a terrific fresh spin on it all. A magic mirror, a bottomless pit, a dragon lair that has no way it could get in or out, yet it all kinda works. It reminds me of the spirit of Tomb of Horrors and White Plume Mountain.

 The Sky-Blind Spire is a classic wizard's tower. The thing I like the most is how well done the map is, very legible, cool to look at, and several good ideas for rooms and adventuring spaces. A lot is packed into one page. Interestingly the room descriptions are listed in reverse numerical order. The hook, or one-super-cool-idea that makes this adventure stand out is that the entire dungeon is one big spell, but I'll let you find out for yourself what that means.

In some ways this is one of the most diverse selections of one-page dungeons yet. It has a lost dwarven city, a non-Euklidean dungeon, a planet, and many others. Best of all, its pay what you want so it won't break your budget. Check it out:

http://drivethrurpg.com/product/185277/One-Page-Dungeon-Compendium-2016-Edition

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Early D&D Was Rubbish

Early D&D was garbage, it was just a terrible game with too many rules. Runequest is so superior. According to this reviewer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdo5ErnXH3E

(I do agree with his analysis of 4th edition)

Update: I probably shouldn't have just posted this without any context or real commentary. Out of context, or with hindsight, early D&D's shortcomings are fairly easy to see and complain about. But, it was the first of its kind and forging new territory. It was such an innovative idea and full of so much potential no one could have imagined where it would all head. Since then the core ideas of D&D have fueled tabletop games, video games, and even collectable card games owe a great debt. I remember when the ideas of "class" and "level" were starting to seem quaint next to the newer generation of RPG's that had skills and more wide open character creation rules. Well, we've seen where all that has gone. Video games use classes and levels because it is a superior game mechanic. Runequest is a fine game for its day, but in the big picture really hasn't moved the needle much in terms of popular culture the way D&D did and continues to.

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Few Favorite Elmore Illustrations

In the early 80's TSR transitioned from using talented amateurs to hiring professional illustrators. One of the first was Larry Elmore, this marked a huge change in the overall look and feel of D&D products. I can't help but have a fondness for this art since it was when I was in high school and starting to take a serious interest in drawing and painting. These are some of my favorite illustrations by Larry Elmore.

This was the first piece of art by Elmore I had seen. What's not to love? Pig faced orcs! An epic encounter with a cavalier, and a dynamic composition. Ok, maybe those orcs do look a little like people in masks, but I still like this one.

Sometimes Elmore could really create an emotional scene:

For a time this was very much my mental image of what D&D was:

And I can't believe I just discovered this while looking up reference for this post. Larry Elmore illustrated the arcade cabinet of one of my favorite video games of all time. I should have recognized his style!