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How to create your own RPG maps?

This is going to be a links post rather than a detailed explanation. The reason being is that there are a lot of good explanations already out there. There are a lot of programs on the internet you can create rpg maps with, I'm just going to talk the ones I've used.

Lets start with the easiest

Pyromancers

http://pyromancers.com/dungeon-painter-online/


This is a flashed based website embedded tool that allows you to draw grid based dungeon maps. Its wiziwig, just click on the style of tile you want, select rectange, eclipse, custom polygon etc and draw some shapes. Its a very quick and easy way of producing room/dungeon layouts. The end result isn't very graphically distinct and creating unconventional shapes can be a bit of a pain but it works. You can export your creations as image files.

I used Pyromancers quite a bit at first, as it was a very easy way to create excessively large dungeon maps.


http://www.hexographer.com/

Hexographer comes with a free ware version, downloa…

Point to Point roleplay mapping

Other than AFS magazine, Chris over at the Hill Cantons blog is a big proponent of point to point rpg maps.

http://hillcantons.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/pointcrawl-series-index.html

Another point to point map I created was for a climbing session. There is a 'flare' at the top of a column in the great cave that switches on and off irregularly. The players are sent to fix it. At the top if an ancient structure / device that is essentially a light house. A lot of the adventure involves climbing the column and choosing different paths up it.



Makes more sense to use point to point for such a map. Hexes give granularity but sometimes it's too much. Some modern games like Dungeonworld recommend point to point maps / flowchart campaign structures. This got me wondering a bit. There are a lot of forum threads along the lines of; How do I actually run an rpg session? Part of the cause of these threads is in my view the move of rpgs away from something simulated and structured to someth…

Hand drawn style maps

Working on a new session/mini campaign for Hyperborea. I am creating a hand drawn style map for it. This cartographers guild post is a great help http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=10655. 
Here is the progress so far.



The Season of the Wolf.

The concept is to bring together a number of ideas that have been kicking around in my mind. I intend to create a point to point style map and have the world simulated to a limited degree. Normally in rpgs stuff happens when NPCs show up, otherwise it does not. I plan on putting a time track into the game and having the werewolfs that the players are hunting move around and do things through time. Depending on how much time the players loiter things might happen ahead of them.


A lot of the inspiration for this has come out of AFS magazine. http://hallsoftizunthane.blogspot.co.uk/

Issue 3 (i think) talks about using point to point maps over hexes, Issue 6 includes a new huntsman class and a great adventure by Joseph Salvador set ar…

Posts I blog in other places November 2014 Edition

I generally keep this blog for RPG and more complex war game material. I post more regular board gaming type content over @ Fortress Ameritrash.com.

Here are some links to some recent produce review type posts for Brass by Martin Wallace, and Storm Over Dien Bien Phu from MMP

Brass: http://fortressat.com/blogs-by-members/4784

Storm Over DBP: http://fortressat.com/blogs-by-members/4786

There are other posts on my members blog over there, some of them interesting, some of them with terrible English.

Somme 1918, a review of sorts

I've turned a corner of sorts with hex and counter war games, and probably war games in general.


I can no longer be bothered to learn new rulesets. Or at least not rule sets of more than a few pages. Its probably unfortunate then that I tried to have a look at WW1 wargaming through the lens of Somme 1918 from Nuts publishing.

WW1 games were long thought to be dull grind fests much like the years 1915-1917 were. Many deaths, few gains, valuable for historical insight but little else. My limited experience of Somme 1918 is similar to this. I say limited because i packed it in after slightly under 1 turn (turns can have three mini turns within them), so take what I say with a dose of salt.




Somme 1918 is a two counter sheet game, so not that bad. But, it took me about 2 hours after I had punched and clipped them to sort them. It is normal in wargames for a counter to have information on what army or formation it belongs too as well as its actual unit designation. Not here. I had to go th…

The Operational Combat Series!

I've been in a war game mood lately. Not really done a great deal of RPG or regular board game. The urge to push counters across hexes is too strong.


Having made a trade for Reluctant Enemies, the new Operational Combat Series title, I've taken the plunge and learnt OCS.

It wasn't as hard as I expected.

Heres a link to the playlist of videos I made on it;

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLOxW5J6nEiueeqLZUYQ5ek4395qFfL-jk

The quality of the videos is a bit ropey early on. I had to learn the ropes with the camera, focusing and lighting etc.

heres a later video that is a little better;


I don't cover everything in these vids, and there might be some rules mistakes, but they are enough to help anyone understand OCS and get playing.

The Korean War by Victory Games is Awesome

I've played two slightly truncated games of the Korean War recently and it has quickly become my favourite hex and counter game.

This is a mid 1980s design out of Victory Games an off shoot of the dying (or dead I forget which by this date) SPI games but based in New York under the Umbrella of Avalon Hill. It'd designed by Joe Balkoski and covers the first 12 months of the war, which is where all the action was in history, at the divisional and regimental scale. Each turn lasts a month and you have 12 turns taking around an hour each. It has two medium sized paper hex maps that put together will fill a typical dining room table. As it is a divisional scale game (to non war gamers that means most units represent a full division of an army which is a lot of dudes), you don't have that many counters, which means no big counter stats and not too much time sorting them out at the start of play. This scores big points in my book.






Yesterday I played the Communists and my friend, Da…

Learning to map part 2

My world building with Gimp continues. I've had a couple of cracks at putting together a city map and now having something that will probably get into my campaign. It is still a work in progress but it at least looks interesting. The concept is to have a city built on the back of a giant crab. This has some novelty to it, evokes the weird fantasy vibe im shooting for and allows for lots of interesting rationals in the world detail. For instance the city has a massive rain collection system to generate the needed water.





To put this together I got a photo of some spiny species of crab, used the magic wand to select everything non crab in the image and remove it. I then dragged the contrast way up and darkened the crab to get a silhouette of the crab. I then used the path tool to design in the roads and then the buildings. I added in some of the spines in grey as these will be hollowed out to form some of the bigger buildings in the city.
The background is a bit nuts, and whilst I do l…

There will be Blood! Blood and Roses and SPQR in Review

I think I remember Martin Wallace once criticizing war games, in particular battle based ones, for giving the players, commanders, too much control over the chaos that ensues. It was probably on a podcast, I forget which.

Whilst I can definitely see where Wallace is coming from, having played two of Richard Berg’s battle field war games I can say that not all war games fit this mold.
Blood and Roses covers seven battles in the English Wars of the Roses, a medieval dynastic study between two noble families. SPQR Deluxe has a ton of scenarios most involving the early Roman republic and its conflicts with it's ancient world rivals.
Foolish Lancastrian mounted knights charge the Yorkist lines only to find out what longbows can do.


I’m posting about both together because the two games have a lot of mechanical similarities. In each you will pull out a map sheet, arrange maybe 20-100 counters per side with some deployment decisions, then start activating and swinging your masses of spears a…

Learning to Map

Making good maps is an easy way for someone with little to know art talent like me to make ones adventures look good, and perhaps even publishable (Will send some to fanzines at some point). 
I've been steadily learning the ropes with GIMP.


This is a bath house I'm constructing for my current Astonishing Swords and Sorcerers of Hyperborea game. I need to create a good pattern fill for the pools, and probably design some more objects to give the map a more populated feel but the structure is there. I very loosely model it on some historical floor plans;



Cyberpunk 2020 Retrospective / Review

One of the committee at my gaming group is clearing out some old games from the cupboard, he gave me one of the copies of Cyberpunk 2020, so I decided to throw together a one shot and run it.


Here's the ground floor map of a down market retail hall I created. There were two other floors. I've been having a lot of fun with gimp lately.


Cyberpunk 2020 definitely brings the 'Punk' aspect out better than any other games, or even films in the genre I've encountered (Gurps Cyberpunk, Deus Ex, etc). If you read the books (which in my experience of RPG players very few read anything other than Game of Thrones), you'll find the protagonists are often petty criminals, down and outs and those on the slide. CP 2020 really nails this, its about survival on the ruthless streets more than high tech espionage. Neuromancer and When Gravity Fails both have heavily flawed low life leads (both great books). Stylistically it bleeds its age. Tech has wires and grunge, and characters…

OSR FANZINES! In Review

With the rise of the Old School Renaissance (OSR) has come the rise of Fanzines and Magazines. I've had a read of Fight On!, Gygax Magazine, Footprints, & Magazine, Nod Magazine, Knockspell, Crawl!, AFS, and Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad. In this post I’m going to give a quick run down and critique of each of these.
Fight On!; I start with Fight On! because its my favourite and I think probably the best. Edited by IG with the help of Calithena and others, this fanzine gives you between typically 80 and 130 pages devoted to Old School roleplaying mostly focused on D&D Basic and OSR games that use a similar rule set.  About 70% of the content is material such as dungeons, cities, monsters or adventure hooks you can drop straight into your game.  Of particular note is the material from Gabor Lux who writes these vivid heavily appendix N adventures. There are on running features such as community mega dungeon that is added to with each issue. The other 30% or so is opinion articles an…

A Netrunner Cube Draft; A recipe

Ingredients;

4 netrunner starter sets (randomly generated using a program called netseal;http://www.runners-net.com/)

4 proteus boosters (also generated using netseal)

A ton of netrunner cards with which to assemble the generated sets from.


Android Netrunner now dominates the 'hotness' column on Boardgamegeek.com, and seems like its going to be a permanent fixture. I have about 800 netrunner cards, mostly acquired in one trade a couple of years ago for a copy of Core Worlds. The question in my mind for a while has been, should I flog off the whole set and buy into the new version? I prefer the early 90s campy cgi art and I'm tight fisted so I figured I'd try and breath some life into my cards by building a cube.


What is a cube? For the uninformed, in collectable card games (Magic the Gathering) you can play what is called a draft. This is when you all buy a bunch of sealed booster decks, open them, and then pass them around in a circle. Each player takes a card from e…

Mutant Future RPG, and thoughts on retroclones

I've started GMing a campaign using Mutant Future by Goblinoid games. My campaigns usually only last 2-6 sessions and we are now two sessions in. I've seen many of the games mechanics in action and feel comfortable committing my thoughts on the game to the screen.

I say I am using Mutant Future rather than running or playing it, because like many older school RPGs experiences and interpretations of the rules of the game will vary widely from group to group. Equally interpretations of the game setting can vary a lot. I'm not really that into the Fallout, Mad Max, dudes with sharp bits of metal and tentacles protruding from their bodies type of post destruction world. I either like the very grungy A Roadside Picnic, Stalker, or Metro 2033 type world with grimy guys climbing around in rain coats and cheap anti radiation suits with sawn off shotties, or a more low fantasy approach like Nausicaa Valley of the Wind (A great Manga/Anime). For this game I decided to set it in a mo…

Paranoia RPG

We had whats called the GIAG this weekend, or the Give It A Go. In this case people were giving roleplaying games ago. I prepped and ran a game of Paranoia. I picked up a copy of Paranoia 1st ed of Ebay about a year ago and had been looking for an opportunity to inflict it on the unsuspecting ever since.

Welcome Trouble Shooter!

Your Loyal Service to Computer will be rewarded!

Remember Traitors are everywhere!

Paranoia is a comedic sci fi roleplaying game that puts the players in position of being police grunts in a cold war totalitarian society that lives in a huge underground complex governed by an insane computer.

Conceptually this is an easy game to run. Each player is a member of a secret society and a mutant, both of which are treasonous to Friend Computer (the GM). The players must work together to complete a mission, in this case restore power to the Marine Facility, whilst hunting for traitors (each other). What results is lots of, well paranoia, followed by mindless violence…

Imperium:GDW

No post for a month, then three in one night!

Its 1977, Marc Miller has just released the Sci Fi RPG Traveller, which will set the standard for all Sci Fi games to follow, and GDW, the company Marc works for release Imperium. A board war game in the Traveller universe. I picked this up of a guy in the next city from mine for 5 wigwams. Deal since this sucker normally goes for at least four times that on ebay.


Its a pretty mint game too. This is a space opera board game, and its very asymmetrical. One side is the Terrans, the earthlings, the future us. The other is the Imperium, a massive conglomerate of alien races. The Terrans are the upstarts rebelling against the Imperium, and the much embattled Imperial regional governor has to put down this insurrection. This is one thing you get from older games that seem less common in the new, genuine imagination. I like Twilight Imperium as much as the next nerd but the back story for that game is very old hat compared with Chadwick and Mille…

Bloody Hell: Operation Goodwood

Well the blogging schedule I had convinced myself i was going to keep hasn't worked out. Too much thesis writing...

I've had a slightly turbulent relationship with hex and counter war games. I've played several of the simpler ones; A Victory Denied (MMP), Hells Gate (VPG), Nuklear Winter 68 (LnL), Arnhem (SPI), and one a little more complex, It Never Snows (MMP). Of these games only It Never Snows really impressed me, and thats a sprawling monster that takes 17 hours to play and really at least 4 players (http://www.shutupandsitdown.com/blog/post/review-it-never-snows/).

Most of these games I found to be a combination of the fiddliness of hex and counter war games, and a little too simplistic in terms of the strategy they offered to be worth the effort. Bloody Hell: Operations Goodwood and Spring bucks this trend.

This game is a two player Hex and Counter simulation of the British and Commonwealth forces fighting the Germans in Normandy in WW2. For those of you with some h…

Burning Wheel and the transition between Mid and New School games.

I spent some of my time on NYE this year playing the much belated second session of  Burning Wheel RPG campaign I've prepared. I only have two players, which is rather atypical for a Fantasy Swords and Sorcery style rpg, but with Burning Wheel this works quite well. Burning Wheel is a game where the relationships and development of the characters in narrative rather than statistical terms is the focus of the game. The key system that makes this game exceptional, and very innovative back in 2002, is its beliefs, traits, instincts method of defining characters. Really since DnD player characters in rpgs have been primarily defined by numbers as far as the game rules are concerned. The innovation Burning Wheel brought in was to have the player define a belief, or goal that defines their character, and then more detailed character traits and reactionary instincts to go with it. To give an example, one of my players has a squire character that is masquerading as a knight. So within th…