Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pointcrawl, pathcrawl, dungeon crawl

As I'm writing this, I have a small hexmap in front of me. It's a 30x30 hexmap, with a 12-mile scale. So, grab one yourself. Generate a random one if you must.

Done? Good.

Now, I believe you are familiar with the terms pointcrawl, pathcrawl and dungeon crawl. If not, click on the links I've provided. I'll wait.

Back? Fantastic.

Now generate a random dungeon. Any size will do, but use only 1 level (for now we won't need more than that).

But why do all this?

Let me explain. When you talk about a point/pathcrawl concept, you are saying the connections between important sites on your map are important--those connections are the corridors of your dungeon, and those sites are your rooms.--We'll merge this concept now.

So place your dungeon map over your wilderness hexmap. If you are using an image editor, you may use a multiply effect on the dungeon layer and lower the opacity a little. Now that's done you have a large dungeon over your wilderness.

Each room is now a site, an important landmark, a settlement, a lair, a ruin... Each corridor is now a path, a way to link those sites: roads, trails, landmark chains, river banks...

Then you will ask me: why this particular path goes north 20 miles and then returns south, just to link this two towns 5 miles apart? It's because:
-there's a ravine
-it's a route used by pilgrims and now it's considered good luck to follow it
-the contractor who built the route was earning his money based on the amount of paved miles
-all the above

Those little things give color to your world. Suddenly, a twisting path becomes part of the setting and all you needed was a dungeon map overlay. ;-)

PS: This also works if you use a Traveller Subsector Map Generator as an overlay.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The beauty of small maps

I like maps. No, I love them.

I love creating maps of imaginary lands, tracing the line of trees, thinking about the state of affairs of the people who live there...

Maps don't need to be pretty, though: they need to be understandable (is that a word?). So, if you show me a nice map in full color or some hexagonal tiles on a map, I'll be pleased anyway. Just give me some map scale to understand what's hapenning and I'm game.

During the last year or so, I began to focus on some areas of my maps. Yes, it's nice to know there's a whole new world off to the edge of a map, but look at what you have in your hands! Look at it. Picture how many wonderful adventures you could have there.

Of course you love Hyboria and that massive land to explore. Of course you think Toril or Oerth is fantastic (YMMV). But do you need all of those?

How much adventure can you find in a single city (Ptolus, I'm looking at you)? Or in a small area like Skyrim? Or in a trifecta of cities like San Andreas, San Fierro and Las Venturas? Or in Dracula's Castle?

Small maps have everything their bigger cousins have, but in detail. And this detail may give you lots and lots of choices in your game. You don't have to showcase your whole world, thinking about The City of the Week (like the Monster of the Week on saturday morning cartoons), as you can make that small world more alive to your players.

Yes, I still create large maps (ask my daughter), but nowadays I'm zooming in. There's beauty there you don't see easily in large maps.

Beauty that enhances any narrative.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Random notes on a random map

I was trying to find something in a pile of text files on my computer and then I've found this:

Mentioned Hexes:
0100 - The Circle of Stones atop the Montain
0102 - The Holy Temple of the Woods
0107 - The Ruins atop the Hill Mine
0204 - The Town plagued by the Undead
0208 - The Hamlet with vanishing women
0210 - The City
0309 - The Raubritter Ruined Stronghold
0403 - The Ruins of the Mountain Temple
0501 - The Rift of the Gargoyles by the Stone Altar on the Mountain
0504 - The Hamlet on the Woods
0601 - The Buried Pyramid
0602 - The Cursed Hamlet on the Woods
0607 - The Town
0702 - The Burial Chambers of the Dark Mummy Lord on the Ruined Monastery

0005 - The Ruined Keep
0305 - The Home Base Hamlet
0407 - The Watchtower
0410 - The Hamlet plagued by the Raubritter
0608 - The Ruins on the Plains
0705 - The Lair of the You Shall Not Pass creatures

-Priestess go from City (0210) to Hamlet (0504)
-Cleansing cerimony goes wrong and Priestess accepts her dark side - she's initiated (0403)
-Priestess becomes High Witch on Lesser Sabbat (0501)
-High Witch awakes Demonic Hamlet (0602)
-High Sabbat (0100)

Dark Mummy Lord
-Dead return to life due to broken seal (0204)
-Seal recovered on Forest Temple (0102) & Scroll of Undead Restoration stolen - only a copy is recovered
-"Test" of the Scroll on ruins (0403) during a cerimony
-Dark Mummy Lord awakes (0702) and is brought to the Pyramid (0601)
-Dark Mummy Lord's power arises (0601)

The Deros ("drow dwarves")
-Miners go from Town (0204) to Hamlet (0208)
-A special sacerdotal crafted crown with jewels is missing on Town (0607)
-Women disappear from Hamlet (0208)
-Gem merchant robbed on the road from Hamlet (0208) to City (0210), Raubritter at 0309 suspected -- gems turn people suggestive (minor Charm Person spell) when worn
-Deros x Underground_Creature War due to collapsed mine passage linking the two territories (0107)

I'm pretty sure everything above links to the map at the top of this post. Maybe I should give this another thought...