NOTE: This style of Dice Drop mapping idea is all over the place on the interwebs. I am not sure of finding the inventor, so if you know please advise and I will link/credit.

This is a system for creating a map and a guide to a Hamlet or Village in your OSR campaign setting. It is designed on the premise that most small habitations are located near the intersection of a road and a river/body of water. Feel free to substitute the River for a lake shore or sea shore, if it fits your current campaign location better.

Sketch of the old city of York, England

By E. Ridsdale Tate (1862-1922) – http://www.yorkcastle.com/pages/pictures.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11966319

After you have run through the process once, you will have a good idea of how you can tweak further additional villages for your needs. The map position of the various locations are dependent on the positions of the River and the Keep.

The second design assumption is the village started out as a smaller settlement, a small Motte-and-Bailey style Keep with a palisade or wall around it. The Keep is assumed to be constructed on the highest point of land overlooking the intersection of the River and the Main Road. You can, of course, adjust the size and shape of this ‘original’ settlement as you see fit.

The scale I used for the example is one inch : 1,000 feet. Feel free to increase or decrease as appropriate for the size of your village.

Sample Dice Drop Map

I used dot grid paper…

The circles on the map represent where the dice fell. The fractions indicate the score of the die and the type of die, for example Mill 3/10 indicates a d10 with a score of three. Not sure yet what I’ll be doing with the scores, but I tracked them just in case.

Sample Dice Drop Map

Start with a blank sheet of plain paper, using pencil, as it may be necessary to move some locations after the process of assigning is complete:

  1. Draw a line (straight or slightly curving) from top-to-bottom or side to side, this will be the Road.
  2. Draw a line that crosses the road, essentially at a right angle, this will be the River.
  3. To locate the Keep, measuring from the bottom-right corner, choose a spot 1/3 width to the left and 1/3 up the length of the sheet. This is the location of the Keep. Draw a two inch radius circle around the Keep, this is the location of “the old wall” around the original stronghold. There will be a street that pretty much follows the exterior of the wall (or where the wall used to be, if it’s been demolished or re-used). Again, feel free to ‘fudge’ this location and size of circle (or even a rectangle shape) if you need to.
  4. Drop six dice, d4 through d20, in the middle of the paper. Where each of these dice land will be a Location in the village.
      1. The die closest to the river is the Mill. Draw a small box there.
      2. The die closest to the Bridge is the Business District. Draw a rough square shape about 2 inches on a side, around the Business District die, with two sides being the road and the river. Again, make this larger or smaller, as you see fit, and decide if it describes an open space for an open-air market or a neighborhood of commercial establishments.
      3. The die closest to the Keep is the Temple. If this die is not inside the circle of the old wall, move it there, just inside the wall.
      4. The next-closest die to the keep is the “axis” of the original stronghold. Draw a line between the Keep and this die, extending until it hits the Wall street. This is the location of the Old Gate, and the current Village Watch Barracks/Armory.
      5. Then draw a line through the Keep at right angles to this line, from one side of the circle to the other. These are the original “Main Streets” of the old stronghold. They should have Historic names, relating to the founding of the village/stronghold.
      6. Of the remaining two dice, the one that is farthest from the Keep is the abode of a Hedge Wizard/Wise Woman/Good Witch or Warlock.
      7. The final die is the location of the Blacksmith.
  1. Roll 2d6 on the map. If the result is doubles, roll again. Draw a line across the map between these two dice, basically separating the map into two halves. The Half with the higher scoring die is the “Upscale” part of town, this die marks the location of the fancy, upper-class inn. The other, lower-scoring die marks the location of the shabby, lower-class inn. Roll more dice if you have a larger village and want more inns.
  2. Draw a street from the Mill to the main road
  3. Draw a street from the blacksmith to the main road and to the river
  4. Draw streets from the Inns to the main road
  5. Fill in blocks of housing, creating meandering streets and alleys. These blocks should be denser in the Down-scale side of town, with smaller individual units; larger blocks with lower density in the Up-scale side of town, with larger individual units. The areas inside the circle, around the Keep, should be the densest.

To flesh out the character of the various landmarks and important locations, turn to p. 101 in the AD&D DMG. These tables will give the primary, driving characteristics of the proprietors or leading figures in each location.

  • Mill – Roll on the Honesty table
  • Temple – Roll on the Piety and Materialism tables
  • Barracks/Armory – Roll on the Disposition and Morals tables
  • Hedge Wizard – Roll on the Intellect and Collections tables. Roll d4+1 for the Magic-User’s Level.
  • Blacksmith – Roll on the Disposition and Energy tables
  • Upscale Inn – Roll on the Morals and Thrift tables
  • Downscale Inn – Roll on the Nature, Piety, Interests tables

Business District – the types of goods and their quality will vary as to the needs of your campaign and location in your setting. Are the prices higher or lower than average (as per the rulebook)? Modify prices by +/- d3x10%

Roll on the Honesty table separately for each vendor.

When you have completed the Generation Program, lay a sheet of graph- or dot-grid paper over the draft and copy. I usually use a scale of 1”= 1,000 feet.

Please let me know if you have any Comments or Questions below. I’m thinking about using a system like this for other types of maps as well, such as simple Dungeons, Caves, underground Strongholds or Lairs. So stay tuned.

I am working on a Grimdark version of the old World of Greyhawk setting, and have been doing lots of reading for background and thematic material. I definitely want to include a Horror element, by adding some fun stuff from the Cthulhu Mythos of HP Lovecraft and Robert E Howard.

Horrific Elder Gods, Nameless Cults, unspeakable rituals, foul summonings.

All of these are part and parcel of the Old School Fantasy literature. I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate a mechanic to cover this. I played a Call of Cthulhu game this month at a Con, and the Sanity rules didn’t really grab me. In particular, during the climactic battle at the end of the scenario, my character suffered a rather large loss of Sanity all at once, for viewing a horrific creature. The GM rolled some dice and simply stated that I had lost 11 points of Sanity, and that I was now catatonic and curled up in the fetal position.

This seemed like a little much, as the point loss was just shy of 25% oo my starting Sanity score, and there was no save. I guess it just felt abrupt.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on various OSR rulesets, which often describe the effects of madness or insanity, but don’t really have a way of showing how one gets there.

So here is a first-pass at a rule for Sanity and Madness in the OSR. My #Gamowrimo contribution for 2019.

A Possible Sanity Mechanic

Sanity should be a reflection of maturity, mental and emotional stability, strength of character and force of personality. Therefore I think (WIS +CHA)/2 would be a good starting point for a Sanity Score. As a PC progresses in level there should be a way to increase this score, similar to Hit Points, say +1d4 or 1d6 per level.

Events that affect one’s sanity in a negative way might include:

  • Critical wounds (effect of Shock) -1 Sanity
  • Spell failure -2 Sanity
  • Summoning/Encountering a creature from another dimension -2 Sanity
  • Encounter with a creature that causes Fear or Terror -3 or -4 Sanity
  • Other events or encounters determined by the DM (death of a loved one or other trauma, etc.) -x

A PC can attempt to “pull himself together” from a Sanity-loss event after a short rest and a CHA check at -4. Otherwise Sanity points are regained at the rate of 1 point per long rest.

If, during the course of an adventure, a PC loses Sanity points that take them down to 1/2 of their ORIGINAL Sanity score, there is a 50% chance the loss of 1 point of Sanity will be permanent. A Restoration spell can restore all lost Sanity points, except for any permanently lost.

Effects of Insanity

Sanity loss should have an effect on a PC, beginning with a mild psychological effect, becoming greater with continued Sanity point losses, until eventually the PC succumbs to Catatonia and perhaps, permanent madness. I submit two thresholds for Saving Throw checks, once at 1/3 current maximum and another when the Sanity score reaches 2.

When a PC’s Sanity Score is reduced to 1/3 of its current maximum they will need to make a Save vs Death or become afflicted with a mild effect, as per the AD&D DMG, p. 83. Roll 1d6:

  • 1 – Dipsomania
  • 2 – Kleptomania
  • 3 – Pathological Liar
  • 4 – Monomania
  • 5 – Schizoid
  • 6 – Dementia Praecox

The PC will need to continue to make Save vs Death for each additional Sanity point lost after reaching this threshold, until an effect takes hold, or they reach the final threshold.

At a Sanity score of 2 the PC will need to make a Save vs Death or succumb to Suicidal Mania (AD&D DMG p. 84)

If a PC’s Sanity score reaches 1 or 0 there will be another Save vs Death or be struck with Catatonia. There is an 80% chance that there will be a permanent loss of 2 Sanity points. A successful Save vs Death means the permanent loss of 1 Sanity point.

If a PC manages to be reduced to 0 Sanity points, yet makes all saves to avoid a psychotic event, the PC will automatically experience a full-blown case of Paranoia (AD&D DMG p. 84). This Paranoia will persist until the PC’s Sanity score is restored to its maximum, and ANY loss of Sanity during this recovery process will trigger a Save vs Death or provoke a state of Catatonia until full recovery is made.

Please share your thoughts in the Comments. Criticism, ideas, suggestions are most welcome.

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After a 25-year absence from the RPG world, I am coming back to find it has changed sooooo much!

And not at all.

Some things have changed, Wizards of the Coast did something amazing. I thought they would ruin D&D when they bought TSR. (And I may have been right, depending on whom you talk to!) But they created the OGL and opened the Old School game for fans and hobbyists to take on and make their own visions. Some of these visions are out of this world. Amazing.

Creative. Ground-breaking. Yes, even after 30-some years, new things are being developed and explored.

So I am going to make a new Faerie Realm. For starters it’ll just be for my players in the Grimdark Greyhawk campaign. I’d love to make it into a Product, we shall see.

Research Materials

The original, classical versions of Fairy Tales, as complied by the Brothers Grimm, shall be a starting point for this Faerie Project.

Faeries should be Alien, Mysterious, Selfish to the point of Maliciousness. They drive hard bargains and they keep their word, no matter who gets hurt. Or dies.

They are just so Magical, so different. Encounters with them should be rare, on the Faeries’ terms, and not to be taken lightly.

A Brief History

There are no Elves. Not in Grimdark Greyhawk. They have all fled. Perhaps to Tolkien’s Grey Havens, perhaps to another dimension or Outer Plane of their liking. Soon after the Cataclysm, when the Great Winter fell upon Oerth, the Elves departed for greener pastures. Devastated and weakened by the effects of the Cataclysm, the Elves were unable to thwart or resist the power of the Ashen Worm. All of their treasures they took with them. The Art. The Music. Their Weapons and their Magick. Leaving behind only ruins.

The loss of magic was a great blow to those Left Behind, as so much of the pre-Cataclysm civilization depended on it. Anyone or anything with any magical power was captured and enslaved, to be exploited in the new wars for survival.

Thus were the Fae creatures driven off, forced to retreat to their sanctuaries and, eventually, to attempt to tear loose their magical realm from that of Men and the other mortals. The wars for survival and the migrations that followed pushed the mortal races to the brink of extinction. In fact, there were those that did not survive to see the new Springtime of the world. The Fae creatures that survived became monstrous parodies of themselves. Some, like Dragons and Unicorns, were hunted to extinction for their magical powers and essences. The stories of the Fae became legendary, even Mythical, ghostly remnants of a soon-to-be forgotten age.

In the centuries that followed, the mortal races have clawed back from the brink. They have re-learned some of the ways of magic and re-discovered some of the secrets of the universe. But things will never be the same, new bonds must be forged, new alliances created and new pacts to be sworn.

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Oh my goodness, it has been a while.

Been busy with life. Life.

As of today I am feeling healthy and rested and ready to get back to doing some of the things that have brought me such joy in the past.

I have a big miniature project lined up for 2020, details to follow, but it’s going to be big. And Cool.

I’m also going to be working on a new vision of the old World of Greyhawk Dungeons & Dragons setting. I hope to be able to DM some games and bring a lot of that coolness to you as well. Check it out here, at Grimdark Greyhawk.

I plan to continue working on Pulp Alley stuff (I had a nice chat with Dave about working on a Cthulhu expansion and Josh and I have been threatening to do a Pirate expansion for years) as well as Mordheim2020.

Some Blogs I have been Reading

Check out these really cool D&D blogs. Some of these have been going for years, and the ideas are brilliant!

Gaming

I got to do some gaming in Vermont recently, as I was able to return to Carnage Con for the first time in three years. Got to see some old friends and learn some new things.


As each piece is prepared, I’ll let you know. Until then, be excellent to one another!

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It has been a loooong time since I have done much, hobby related, mainly because I have not done any gaming or . I have had some health issues that kept from blogging. Among other things.

This blog and my entire Hobby has suffered, and for that I apologize. I will be much more diligent in the future to keep you all posted on what I am up to, hobbywise, with pics of WIP minis, game AARs, and scenarios for your edification.

Anyhoo, Carnage 22 is going to be special, mainly because I have not been gaming or doing anything #hobby in a couple of years.

Lately, though, I have been painting, mostly for Pulp Alley and Blood and Plunder. I’ll be sharing the pics below. Other upcoming posts will include more info on the games, the minis, and background fluff on what is happening. Especially for the two scenarios I’ll be running at the convention.

 

Back in the day we had the DMG. What a glorious tome of magical information for a young person!

On page 94 Gary Gygax shared with us a Sample Dungeon. A map with tunnels and corridors and a cave and 37 other rooms to explore. Unfortunately the “Monastery Cellar and Secret Crypts” were only detailed as far as Room 3…

In my group, all middle school, then high school boys (it was the early ’80s, none of the girls we knew wanted anything to do with this, except my little sister…) with plenty of time on our hands, we took turns filling in the remaining rooms of the dungeon and playing through them.

I thought it might be fun to do it again. To describe and populate the Sample Dungeon with the benefit of being 35 years older, having read lots more books and seen more movies.

In fact, it might be fun to do as a group! I’ve made a PDF of the map, and a picture, as well as the description of the first three rooms.

This is all there is!

Your assignment, if you choose to take it, is to finish the dungeon with an introduction as to why it is there and why the PC’s are starting on the steps down to Room One (or wherever you decide they need to start).

  • No additional maps allowed.
  • Ingress/Egress to the surface only at area 1 (areas 2 and 39, optional).
  • The underground stream from area 2 may lead outside, or it may lead to another dungeon level.
  • Area 30 leads to another dungeon level (“the caverns”) which we will explore later.
  • The pit at area 18 can be a trap or an elevator, leading to another dungeon level, if you wish (again, to be explored later).
  • Dungeon Accessories, such as tapestries, statues, chests, bunks, cabinets, etc. may be added where needed for the descriptions.

Populate the dungeon with tricks and traps, monsters, NPCs…whatever suits your fancy. Then send it as a word document to me at [[email address]].

I’ll put them all together, bundle them up into one big PDF and share it here on the blog. Be sure to grab the link to this post and send it to your friends, the more the merrier!

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Oh my goodness, it has been a while. 2018 was a pretty rugged year for me, in many ways, with a real impact on my hobby activities and blogging. 2019 is a new start.

I already have three minis finished this year:

Reaper Bones for Cthulhu in Casablanca

These are Reaper Bones minis. I like them, but I have a couple of issues: They are very tall, 32mm scale. Only the Pulp Era Professor (right) has the kind of crisp detail that make painting fun and, frankly, easier. The other two have very superficial details, the Frank Buck mini (center) doesn’t have any sculpted eyes. I spent an hour trying to paint them in and it just didn’t work…

Blood and Plunder

Most of my painting projects for the first part of 2019 will be creating a Dutch force for the Blood and Plunder game system. I participated in two Kickstarter programs and have a considerable collection of these minis. I have also made a (moderately binding) resolution to paint all the minis in my possession before I buy any new ones.

Blood & Plunder minis in storage

(Note: most of my hobby collection is still in storage, so there are currently less than 70 minis in the house)

The Blood and Plunder minis are cast in metal, with an average amount of flash and mold lines. For the most part, details are good, but none of the minis are sculpted with eyes. Just a sharply concave depression in the face. My Twitter peeps suggested stating with the eyes, painting them in first, then painting the flesh color around them. For my first attempt at this technique I think they came out pretty good.

I am starting with 15 minis, a Legendary Leader, Piet Heyn; 8 Soldaten, regular soldiers; 4 militie artillerie, cannon crew; and two pack mules (from WhizKids).

Works in progress.

Piet Heyn Blood and Plunder

Dutch Soldaten for Blood and Plunder
#WIP Blood and plunder Militie Artillerie
#WIP Blood and plunder pack mules from WhizKids

The Blood and Plunder minis are available from Firelock Games (who are also launching a new Age of Sail mini game). I have a couple of ships, and lots more figures to work on. Stay tuned.

As always, C&C welcome.

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Jordan Peterson is all over my Social Media lately. The first time I saw him, he was being interviewed by a very aggressive talking head that insisted on putting words in his mouth. He calmy and patiently refuted her again and again.

So I took a look at his YouTube channel, he has a ton of info there, and came across this gem.

You can’t change the whole world, but you can change yourself and make your world better.

It’s worth the five minutes.

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I’ve decided to create a new feature on this blog, especially for when I don’t have anything to say (LOL). Called Gaming Community, it will be sharing some content from other creators that you may find useful in your own gaming.

I love fluff.

Not the marshmallow kind, but the kind of story or narrative that drives a game, where the backstory of the scenario is more important (to me, and, ideally to my opponent) than “winning” the game.

I’d like to share a video with you, it’s not about miniatures, but it is about an interesting tool for making any kind of game more interesting – creating a mythology.

From Terminally Nerdy:

I’ve been doing some of this for the Yangzee City Campaign, and will definitely be doing more!

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Since I have decided to get serious about this blog again, I’ve updated the WIP page:

Since we recently moved to Charleston SC, our household is still in storage, until we find a place to stay “permanently”. We took a short-term lease on an apartment north of Charleston, but the location is not ideal. Now that I have found a job we’ll start looking for someplace closer to both of our places of work.

As for painting projects, I picked up a box of Death Guard Chaos Space Marines to work on while we wait.
I’ve also started working on a memoir about my time in the hospitality biz. This will see monthly updates on the blog, in draft form.

I have not accomplished very much in the way of the writing project, but I will share what I have done in February.

I’m also going to write some more background for the Yangzee City Campaign, and start some work on terrain and miniatures for the Lost World of Lemuria. With a little luck, and some hard work, I’ll have made some progress by June.

Stay tuned!