Free Map Rejects

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

Normally Monday is our day for maps, but today I want to discuss the dark side of Cartography.  A sad secret that every map maker knows is that not every map that is started is finished.  Inevitably you get to a point where you just give up on a map for one reason or another, chalk it up to a loss, and move on to your next project.  Trying to do a free map every week kind of presses me for time so I'm always hesitant to drop a project mid way though, but it has definitely happened. 

Here are three of those stories.

Root Wyrm

When I started making maps I love Satellite Style mapping.  Those of you unfamiliar with the term need only go to Google Maps and click Satellite Map to see what I mean.  However, the more I made those maps the more I felt that less is more.  I found more and more than I enjoyed looking at old maps where you got a sense that all the information wasn't necessarily correct.  At a certain point I all but gave up on the style and moved on to a more antiquated look.

A couple of weeks ago I decided I would try to get back to my roots and create a map in Satellite style for a change of pace.  I just figured I just right back into it figuring that it was like riding a bike.  It wasn't.  I had a lot of trouble with the map and things got irritating quickly.  Finishing the map became a lot like trying to slay a Dragon; a fun challenge but not always worth what it costs you.  In the end I gave up on it and moved onto other projects, but you can have a look at where I was when I finished.

A Hex on You!

I've been messing around with Hexes a lot lately.  I've found them to be both useful and a fun change of pace from a standard square grid.  I was looking at some Hexographer maps and wondered if I couldn't do the same thing in Photoshop with more detail and in a globe form.  

To make a long story short I did get the map going.  I got a hex map into globe form and was well on my way to a fairly interesting map when my power went out.  Save early and often, folks, or suffer similar heartbreak.  After cursing my computer, power company, and own foolishness I had to walk away.  I did have an early and more or less blank version of the map which I will share with you.

Ah, Frack It!

Campaign Cartographer is a pretty popular program among Gamer cartographers and for good reason.  It is a powerful program that can do a number of cool things and certainly is a boon to anyone who can't draw particularly well.  Profantasy, the company that produces CC also makes another program that I've actually come to like better called Fractal Terrain.  The reason for that is because I can do a lot of CC things in Photoshop or Illustrator, but I can't do what FT does.  

Anyway I took one of the maps I had generated in FT and was determined to improve on it using Photoshop.  The map I made was pretty massive so I just focuses in on one area, a large lake, and started creating the massive watershed that flowed into the lake.  I was at it for a while, but had seemingly no end of problems with this map.  Eventually I cursed and just gave up in frustration.  

Beautiful A Song of Ice & Fire Miniatures

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

Check out these pictures of these beautifully sculpted and fully painted miniatures.   In order they are Varys, Bron, Benjen Stark and Maester Luwin.  All of these are from Dark Sword Miniatures A Song of Ice and Fire line and are available on their website.

Mercenary Company Map

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

I've been having a really hard time with the map I've been making for a mercenary campaign I've been designing.  I posted a previous version and have since updated the map by making a number of changes.

Check it out.  Feedback is welcome as always.

Free Map Mondays - And Now For Something Completely Different

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

When it comes to our weekly free maps I try to make them as generic as possible, but they usually have a decidedly fantasy-esc feel.  This isn't much of a surprise as it is my favorite genre, but I love Sci-Fi as well and as I promised a little while ago, Sci-Fi fans are not forgotten here.

This is the first shot I've taken with something like this and I went about things a bit differently.  For starters I reused a map that I made previously, specifically this one.  I messed around with it a bit, made it look like the burnt out husk of a world that had endured a nuclear holocaust.

Here is the end result.

No Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition at Gen Con?

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , ,

I've really grown to love Call of Cthulhu.  I enjoy the game more than enough to buy the core rulebook from Chaosium.  I held off from buying the 6th edition rulebook because back in February word spread that there would be a 7th Edition which would be available at Gen Con this year. 

According to what I've been reading lately it seems that that will no longer be the case.  Rumors say that 7th Edition will be pushed back to 2012, but that there will be an Anniversary Edition available.  To celebrate 30 years of Call of Cthulhu Chaosium has decided to release a hard cover 320 page leather bound book... but with the 6th edition rules.  

I'm really torn here.  On the one hand I'd like to get the new rules (though with CoC there are very few changes between editions), but on the other hand I really like well made hard cover books and am willing to pay extra for quality.  Those who aren't interested in paying a premium probably won't be interested as this book costs $64.95.

I think this is all going to come down to whether the book is available at Gen Con or not.  I'm going to want to get myself something cool at the Con, and a leather bound Call of Cthulhu book certainly qualifies. 

The Avengers Gets a Second Villain

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

This according to Latino Review.  Major spoilers... be warned!

Here's hoping that the Avengers doesn't suffer from having too many villains without focusing on any of them.  That seems to be one of the major pitfalls of making a comic book movie.  There is this desire to cram in extra characters, especially villains, and no one get's ample screen time and the movie sucks.  

Still, in Joss Whedon I trust.  I fully expect (and hope) that he succeeds and the movie is good. 

The Best Worst Movie: Troll 2

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , ,

When I was a young lad I saw a terrible movie called Troll 2.  I didn't really understand a lot of what was going on, but I figured that was because I was a kid.  It wasn't until years later when I saw it again that I realized the reason I didn't understand what was going on was because the movie was fricken insanely bad.  It is so bad that there is a documentary about how bad the movie is. 

In the most recent episode of Half in the Bag, Red Letter Media did a review of both Troll 2 and the Documentary about it.  Check it out!

(Note: Like most Red Letter Media productions this is NSFW due to language)

Paizo Picks Up Wizards of the Coast's Slack

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , , , ,

A while back Wizards of the Coast decided to discontinue production on their line of pre-painted plastic miniatures.  A lot of people, including me, were disappointed at this.  Though I don't play 4e, their minis were still really cool, durable, and best of all painted (I can't paint a mini to save my life!).  

I just received word that Paizo has teamed with WizKids have teamed up to fill the void.  This is good news, and not just for fans of Pathfinder.  This is good news for everyone who likes to use miniatures in their games but can't paint, likes cheap minis, and doesn't want to worry about damaging a fragile pewter figure.  T

he teamup is also something to be excited about.  Paizo has been offering quality products for a few years now and has built up quite a reputation in the gaming community.  Most people know WizKids for their miniature games like HeroClix and Mage Knight.  With the two working together this line seems destined to be a quality product.

The new miniatures will be available fourth quarter of this year. 

Today is Geek Pride Day

Posted by Labyrinthian

These days every group of people seems to get a month or at least a day to celebrate what makes them different.  Today is Geek Pride Day, a day for Geeks to celebrate all things... uh Geeky.   May 25th is chosen as the special day because it marks the day that the first Star Wars film was released back in 1977.  So wave your Geek Flag today (It's also Towel Day) and do something awesome to celebrate. 

First Look At Bane From New Batman Movie

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

Here is a first look at Thomas Hardy depicting Bane in the new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.  Also the Official site for the movie is up, but it just has some ominous chanting. 

Free Map Monday - New Free Continent Map

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

Another great blank map that is free for your personal use.  This is another free continent map and this one is devoid of city/town markers, mountains, forests, or anything else which leaves you free to add anything you want to the map with ease. 


D&D Lair Assault: 4th Edition Takes Final Step to Becoming a Board Game

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , , ,

"The D&D Lair Assault program is designed for players looking for more complex, strategic, and highly tactical challenges. The D&D Lair Assault program is tailored to groups of players who enjoy solving tactical puzzles, optimizing characters, and using rules to their advantage. Each D&D Lair Assault challenge features complex encounters prepared in advance by the Dungeon Master.  Players are then pitted against their DM in an attempt to solve highly customized and creative challenges."

That is from here.  I found out about it at Geek Related.  Here is the official Wizards of the Coast announcement from a few days ago. 

I almost wish I hadn't read any of it.  There is so much to be disturbed about in the above statement that I won't even go into it.  I will say that I don't understand the people at WotC that are currently in charge of Dungeons & Dragons.  On the one hand they almost acknowledge that 4e is going in the wrong direction and attempt to right the course by releasing Essential.  Then on the other hand they go and release their ridiculous collectible cards and now they are doing this. 

Congratulations Wizards of the Coast you are now managing to piss off and alienate even the 4e crowd.  Maybe they figured they had pissed off fans of every other edition so they might as well go for the complete set.  Not all of those who play 4th edition are pissed of course, some really like the sound of this.  But is it really a good idea to fracture your market yet again?  It just doesn't seem like good business sense to me, but then again neither did refusing to sell old school PDFs.  

Arming A Knight of Plate Armor

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

Arming a Knight in Plate Armor was quite a task.  It took time, and required some outside help in the form of the Knight's Squire.  Take a look at this video of the steps the squire had to go through to get the Knight suited up and ready for battle!

The Spider and Little Finger

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

Darksword has some new miniatures coming out in their A Song of Ice & Fire line.  The first is for Varys, also known the Spider, and the other is Lord Petyr Baelish, also known as Little Finger.  As usual the sculpts for these miniatures look amazing. 

For those new to the series and were introduced through the HBO show you may notice that there are substantial differences.  That is because these are sculpted based on the books and not the show, because of  the contract Dark Sword has to produce them.  Still, you will notice plenty of similarities.  They are based on the same characters after all. 



This Map is Kicking My Ass

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

I've taken a couple of stabs at creating a map for the Mercenary Campaign I've been working on on and off.  Each version seemed to be worse than the last, but I got off to a promising start with a new version but as I said in the tittle, this map has been really kicking my ass.  I scrapped everything down to the base land layer twice and I've gone back and forth on everything from color to labeling.  This is what I have to show for it:

The map depicts an empire modeled after the Holy Roman Empire.  The names are lifted from various maps of Germany. 

There's still something about this map that is bugging me, but I can't quite put my finger on it. 

Interactive Game of Thrones Map

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

There are several great maps depicting the lands from Game of Thrones.  Of the many versions Tear's map of Westeros is probably my favorite, but now there is a new version being used to help promote the show.  It is an interactive map that allows you to scroll around Westeros, click on the important locations, and get some info about them and who lives there.  The only downside (for those who can't read it) is that it is in spanish.  Still, it's pretty cool and you should definetly check it out

Coaching Dungeons & Dragons

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , ,

I stopped by Wondrous Imaginings yesterday and was rewarded with one of the funniest things I have seen in quite some time.  Dungeon Bastard did a PSA about Bill Cavalier, Adventure Coach.  I could take the time to describe it to you, but I just don't have the heart to ruin it for you!

Check it out...

Sci-Fi Fans, You Are Not Forgotten

Posted by Labyrinthian

When it comes to gaming my preference has, in the past, been to play D&D all the time.  Fantasy is by far my favorite genre so when I think about gaming my first thought always goes along those lines, a Dungeons and Dragons type Fantasy game.  As I was reviewing the maps that I have done in the free maps section I noticed an overwhelming number of them were done with fantasy gaming in mind.  Well I can tell you Sci-Fi fans that you are not forgotten.  In the coming weeks I'll be doing a Sci-Fi map.  It may not be next Monday as I've already started on that map, but the following Monday seems likely. 

Stay tuned! 

Monday Maps - Free Continent Map

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

After last week's alternate history map I figured we should get back to free maps for you the faithful reader to place in your games.  So I present to you a new map, which would work great for a fantasy game.  It has towns, towers, castles, roads, trees, and hills all of which are just waiting for you to put a name to.  What exciting adventures await your players in these locations?  I don't know... I just make the maps; you make the adventure! 

As always the map is free for your personal use.  Feel free to comment or email your thoughts, requests, or how you have put the map to good use.


Lead Your Players Not Into Temptation

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , , ,

I've been thinking recently that I'd love for a way to tie religion into the Alignment system in my Caliburn setting. The battle between law and chaos in the wake of the King's death is a large setting wide conflict, but on a smaller and more personal scale it is the battle between good and evil that plays a much more important role. Obviously no one, in the real world or a fictional setting, is perfect.  We each have our vices and our virtues.  To emphasis this fact, and to track each for the PCs, I've made a Temptation Mat.

This is kind of a rough draft of the Seraphist version (A religion that blends of several real world faiths and includes many Judeo-Christian beliefs and values) which pits the Seven Deadly Sins against the Seven Heavenly Virtues on a sliding scale.  At the beginning of the game each player will be given thirty five points that they are allowed to assign to one of the seven scales.  Since the starting point for each scale is the -5 spot you could either start with a totally blank slate (all Zeros) or you can have some virtues and some vices. 

During play the scales with shift depending upon the actions of the character.  If a character murdered someone who slighted him his Patience/Wrath would slide a point toward the Wrath side.  If a character gave a poor stranded man his horse his Charity/Greed would slide a point toward Charity.  Only significant events or a multitude of smaller events would result in a shift. 

George R. R. Martin Interview

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

Here is a quick two part interview with George Martin.  In the interview George discusses how he got started writing, how he interacts with fans, his thoughts on the translation of his work to the small screen, and of course about deadlines and his upcoming book A Dance With Dragons.  


New D&D Song: Roll A D6

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

There are a number of songs that deal with RPGs and Dungeons and Dragons specifically, but I think I can say with confidence that this one is pretty unique.  This video has some pretty impressive production values and special effects.  It certainly wins the award for the most use of auto-tune on vocals.   To be fair to those who made the video, the reason for all the auto-tune is because it is a parody of the song Like A G6 by Far East Movement.

I think we can all agree that Roll A D6 is a huge improvement. 

Monday Map - Alternate History

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

This week we're doing something a little different.  Instead of a free blank map I'm presenting an alternate history map that I made.  It depicts the division of the United States of America into several smaller nations.  I just did the map for fun and as a bit of an experiment.  I took some things learned here and applied them to next weeks map, which will be another free blank map for those of you who are interested, and it is already starting to look good. 

So enjoy this map and stay tuned for another great one next week! 

Sansa and the Iron Throne

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

Here is a sneak peak at a scene from Episode Four of Game of Thrones which airs this Sunday.  It shows Sansa and Septa Mordane entering the Throne Room, looking at the Iron Throne, and discussing Sansa's future children.

I Love You GenCon. Please Stop Hitting Me.

Posted by Mike Provencher II in ,

As some of you may know, this year marks the second time our gaming group, The Viking National Guard, will be attending GenCon. In fact, last year was the first time any of us had ever made the trip to attend the convention, and we all had a blast. Labyrinthian has talked about some of the things that we did or saw last year, and if you stick around for long enough, eventually we’ll start telling you about the Lost GenCon Tales. But despite the great times I had last year, there was a darker side to the trip. Something that happened over a month before the actual trip that managed to cast a shadow over the entire ordeal: I never got my badge.

If you've never been to GenCon, the way registration works is that you order your badge sometime before May. You can get a couple bucks off if you do so in January, but I think last year we didn’t actually register for our badges until March. Sometime at the end of April or the very beginning of May you can start buying your tickets for the events you’d like to attend, be they seminars, table-top games, board games, or a number of other offerings. They start sending out badges in June and continue to send them out until mid-July. Last year I happen to know that they sent out the last shipment of badges on July 15th, because when I sent an e-mail to their customer service department on July 19th, that was the response I got. When I still hadn’t received my badge on July 24th, I sent them another e-mail, and was told that I had opted for USPS delivery, and since the USPS doesn’t offer tracking numbers on packages sent through them, there was nothing they could do about tracking the shipment, so they have to assume that everything they sent out was received successfully. They pointed out that since the badges aren’t personalized, any badge they print out will be active, and this prevents people from getting multiple badges sent to them and bringing their friends for free. They went on to say that I could buy a brand new badge for another $80 when I get to the Con, but there was nothing else they could do for me.

Now, I understand that they don’t want people to get into the Con for free. I can respect any decision that’s made for business reasons, but the fact of the matter is that this still doesn't excuse shitty business practices. Because I’m not the first person this happened to this year, and, in fact, it’s something that’s been happening for years. Years. If this was an unavoidable situation, I wouldn’t be angry about it, but it’s not. After finding out about the situation, I figured out a solution in about thirty-six seconds. Because the USPS actually DOES offer tracking number, it just costs $.75 per package. I’m going to say that again in a different way, just so everyone can be sure they read it correctly. The USPS will give you a tracking number for your package if you give them seventy-five cents. I had to pay over 100 times that amount just because GenCon couldn’t pony up three freaking quarters to make sure nobody has this problem!? And you know what? I’m more than willing to accept the cost of my badge going up a buck just to avoid the one in a thousand chance this doesn’t happen to me again, and I’m willing to bet just about everyone else feels the same.

By this point, you’re probably wondering why it took me almost a full year to complain about this. And that’s a valid question, but the truth is that I really did have a blast last year. I got to hang out with some of my close friends for a few days away from the daily grind, I got to meet some cool people, play some cool games, and just had the best vacation of my life. I was pissed going into the Con, but coming out I was more than willing to let the whole thing slide. So what happened between then and now to bring all of my bad feelings back to the surface? GenCon Event Registration 2011. Every year on the same day, thousands of people log onto the GenCon servers at the same to register for events. The way it worked last year was that everyone could manually register for each event individually, and if you could get your tickets into your shopping cart first, those tickets were reserved for you until you checked out. So if someone was running a Ghostbusters d6 game (a game that’s very underrated, but also extremely rare to find someone actually running), the person who got the tickets was the person who managed to get to them first. Kind of like shopping on Black Friday, only instead of 100 units of one item, there are often only six.

This year things worked a little differently. Instead of registering manually, you built up a “Wish List” containing all of the events you’d like to attend. When you set up your list you did so in order of priority, so the first item on your list was the event you most wanted to attend. It seemed like a great system until registration opened at noon this last Sunday. Our group had a meeting on Friday night that lasted almost six hours, figuring out how our Wish List should look, and when it was finally set up in a way that everyone was happy with we nominated The Professor to be the one to process it on Sunday. There was a grayed out box that said “process list” under our Wish List, and all he had to do was press that button at exactly 12 p.m. on Sunday morning. The problem came about when he actually pushed the button, because despite the fact that it was exactly noon when he set our Wish List to processing he was greeted with a message saying our list was 1269th in line. At first I assumed that they were going to go through and process the highest priority on each person’s list one by one before going back to the beginning and doing the same with the second highest item, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, they processed #1’s entire list before moving on to #2, then #3, then #4, and so on, until they got to all of the lists in the queue. I’ve heard that there were over 3000 lists in the queue at one point, but all I know for sure is that of all the events we tried to sign up for, we got almost none of them, and only one that was in our top ten. There was a guy on the GenCon forums who said out of the 50 events he signed up for, he only got into three.

Our group is having an emergency meeting tomorrow afternoon to try and figure out a way to patch up what was looking like an amazing trip, but why is it even necessary? We didn’t get into all of the events we wanted to last year, but at least we were able to get into the ones that we really wanted. I’ve heard people say that this year’s system was less stressful, and I can see how that’s true. Last year was a frantic dash around the site, trying to gobble up tickets to the events that we wanted, and this year we just let the system do the work for us. But I would much rather take the semi-stressful, completely frantic hour from last year over the less stressful, anger inducing experience from this year. As someone on the GenCon forum put it, “The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.”

The truth of the matter is that we’re still going to have a great time this year. Because in the end, the fun of GenCon is in the experience and memories, and everything else are just details. But as fun as the event itself is, should I be forced to get this angry and disappointed every year? I guess all I can do is fall back on the old proverb: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times? I’m going to Origins.”

Free Map Mondays... On Tuesday

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , ,


Our weekly free map is usually posted on Monday, hence the name Monday Maps, but unfortunately I didn't finish it in time to have up yesterday.  On the bright side it's finished now and even looks pretty good.

This map depicts a lone continent or island (scale bar left off).  Like all of our Free Maps this map is totally free for your personal use.  No labels have been added, so you are clear to add your own with all your own carefully crafted names for towns, castles, or whatever else you can imagine. 

Enjoy and sorry for the delay!