As you can clearly see, this blog has not had much attention over the past few years, after a great run!
It hasn’t been forgotten, but the focus has been elsewhere. With my children busy with exams and growing up (they’re about to start their 3rd and 1st years at University), role-playing time has been unusual.
During this time, I have probably spent more time on my other hobby (which is also my career…), software development. In hobby terms, my interest in programming centres around technology for RPG, as readers of this blog will know from the regular column RPG Tech Talk, and in particular the concept of an open ecosystem of RPG tools that one could select and use inter-operably.
Unfortunately, despite some of the fantastic tools that have come on the market over the last few years (e.g. Roll20, World Anvil, Foundry VTT to name but a few …), I still don’t quite see this happening as I’d love to see…
So I’ve decided to take the plunge and see what I can do about this … or at least put some things out there that help the community.
As a first step I have created a new software brand, Tolrendor Software (I think you can see where that comes from…) and a new blog to chart my journey:
I hope you’ll join me … and in the mean-time this blog is going to get some much-needed attention as well!
I love mapping! There’s nothing better than creating a fun and interesting battle-map…
Mapping is hard … it takes a lot of time and effort to produce even one battle-map, let alone enough maps for a whole adventure.
Which is why I want to call out out what I think is one of the best Patreon sites out there: Heroic Maps….
For $5 a month, you get the following:
- A 20 by 20/30 (5′ grid) detailed battle map – Map of the Month
- An alternate version of the MOTM
- A third map, voted on by patrons
- An adventure supplement for the MOTM.
- Regular discounts for Heroic Maps publications on their DrivethruRPG store
I’ve been subscribed for a few months (since April), and have also purchased a number of back-catalogue items. The quality is fantastic, and I can honestly say I’m now thinking of my adventures in terms of ‘how can I use last month’s map’, rather than ‘what map do I need to create’ … I may never design another battle map 🙂
It’s been a long time … dust has settled …
As is obvious, it’s 18 months since the last post on this blog. Pretty much dead then? The honest answer is that at times I pretty much thought so. Due to 2 years of A-levels and GCSE exams in the house, no D&D was being played, and quite frankly, motivation for any sort of writing, or mapping, or gaming, just wasn’t there.
So much so that although I subscribed to the 2016 Cartographer’s Annual from Profantasy.com, which I’ve blogged about many times, even doing a whole year of monthly maps in 2013, I recently discovered that I’d never even downloaded an issue! Whenever I had some time (rare…) and thought about doing some writing, I just couldn’t get going … I can’t realistically blame the lack of playing, as I’ve had many periods in my life where no gaming was happening, but it had never stopped me creating before!
So what now? Well, it’s summer 2017, and the kid’s exams are well and truly over, results are in (all good!) … and we’ve even played a few sessions of D&D! Does that mean my enthusiasm is back? Well, whilst I’ve enjoyed the sessions, it’s still a struggle getting going again, but as the title of this post suggests, just maybe …
I’m not promising much here, but I’d like to think it’s time to get the broom out …
It seems an age since I really got my teeth stuck into a proper map e.g. one which wasn’t just a quick CC3 hack to print out a scale battle-map.
For my ‘Amber Pendant‘ solo campaign with my son, I needed to start detailing the northern borderlands of the Kingdom of Norbaer, as his character would be travelling through this region on his quest. In Tolrendor, this area is just to the south of the Nentir Vale (where my ‘Amber Tower‘ campaign is taking place) from the 4E source-books.
I decided to use the ‘Mike Schley Overland‘ style, which comes with CC3+ Beta, the new version of Profantasy‘s premier map-making program. Although I’ve had this installed for some time, I’ve hardly touched it, so that was a good incentive as well.
CC3+ was great to use: much faster than its predecessor, and very able to cope with leaving sheet effects turned on the whole time, as promised! In CC3, doing this was usually a recipe for white screens and frequent crashes. I also really liked the tool prompts displayed with the cursor, so you weren’t continually looking to the bottom of the screen for options.
Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the results, and here I am also very pleased with this style; in fact it may just have got to the top of the list of my preferred styles for area maps. Nice soft colours with excellent blending and effects, great bitmap symbols, and especially, gorgeous forests combining the simplicity of drawing tools with symbol fills.
Here it is:
A really fun encounter in my ‘solo’ campaign session with my son today. His character, with a few accomplices, is travelling down-river on a merchant’s barge in pursuit of some nefarious folk who have stolen an ancient artefact known only as the ‘Amber Pendant’.
Travelling down river … by barge … 🙂
Sounds ripe for a bit of rip-roaring action on the water! After a couple of days of watching the riverbanks, it was time for some fun. The afore-mentioned nefarious folk were not about to let the pursuit continue without some sort of complication … which came in the form of some goblin war-canoes (brim full of feisty goblins of course):
A shout-out to Heroic Maps for some (slightly doctored) really great battle-maps. I printed these out in sections so that the river could ‘flow’ as the combat progressed and the barges and canoes travelled in the current…
We had to stop at this point, but there is lots more to come just downstream … beware hazards ahead …
Note that this is me bowing to the inevitable and going back to physical maps and figures at the table after my experiments with alternate technology solutions.
And yes, it was lots of fun 😉
A long time ago, I started ‘The Havenscoast Project‘, an attempt to bring my ancient game-notes from the ’80s forward into ‘modern’ D&D terms, and to publish them on this blog. At the time, I was using 4E D&D. Although I managed to publish a few maps and notes, this had rather faded away.
One of the key ‘hobby’ goals of my sabbatical leave was to kickstart this effort, although the project has now morphed into 13th Age, in line with the new campaign I recently started in the Havenscoast.
The target is to finish (at least) a draft of a complete ‘Havenscoast Gazetteer’, approximately 50k words/100 pages. Assembling all the work I had done already got me to about 4k words, so there’s plenty left to do!
Along the way, I’ll be sharing a few snippets. The first is shown below, another of the Icons of the setting: The Sea-Lord of Mirranor.
As an aside, owing to a recent post on Richard Green’s Parsantium blog, mentioning that he had his latest writing project set-up in Scrivener, I decided to check this tool out. I had heard of it before, but never really looked into it … now I have, and it’s really good (Thanks Richard!). I have my outline set-up in the app, and off I go:
I may well cover this app in a bit more detail in an RPG Tech Talk post, as it has some really great features!