2015-02-10 Gridmapper

Gridmapper is my take on Daniel R. Collins' original GridMapper 1.0.

My Gridmapper does the following:

  • the output is scalable vector graphics (SVG)
  • it’s free software (the SVG file contains all the Javascript necessary – just “Save as…”)
  • it’s portable (no Flash required, no Windows required)

Stuff that I’d still like to add:

  • gates (double width doors) ✓
  • secret doors ✓
  • concealed doors ✓
  • save as a local file, keeping all the changes ✓
  • correctly initialized when loading an existing file ✓
  • undo ✓
  • redo ✓
  • reset
  • labels or at least numbers ✓
  • correctly initialized when the URL contains some sort of encoded dungeon ✓
  • export as PNG (will require canvg?)

Alternatives: I recently saw a link to ANAmap. The interface is very similar, but the map itself looks much better. And it has more options. But it requires Flash and it isn’t Free Software.


Comments on 2015-02-10 Gridmapper

Awesome! I’m going to get a lot of use out of that. Thanks. :-)

What it really needs feature-wise is dungeon walls. Right now it can’t do two rooms beside each other or rooms within rooms so it can’t do maps like the Hero Quest map or super dense dungeons like those photos kicking around of Gygax running Castle Greyhawk.

It’s also on the small side. It could stand to have more squares. This is for “micro dungeons”.

But, and this might just be my browser because it’s pretty out of date, but I was able to draw squares down below the grey area! The grey mapping area has 20 rows, I was able to draw in the 10 rows below that. That helps with my “too small” problem but I assume it’s a bug! :)

– guest 2015-02-10 19:12 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Haha, right! Thanks for reporting the bug!

I guess what would be best is if you could just add new rows and columns… Pretty soon people will wonder about adding rows “right here” and columns “right here”… Yikes! For the moment, you can “Save as…” and edit the SVG file using a text editor. Find this section:

var Map = { width: 30, // how many columns
            height: 20, // how many rows

Adapt to taste! :)

I’ll think about the walls. Interesting idea.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-10 21:08 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Secret doors implemented.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-10 21:50 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Gates implemented.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-10 21:55 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Concealed doors implemented. And rotating the C by 180° doesn’t result in a rotated C but in a translated C. Yay me! :)

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-10 22:17 UTC

Hey thanks that tip about editing the height and width really did the trick! I’ve got another bug report for you though. :)

If you place stairs then delete them, you can’t place another set of stairs at that spot.

– guest 2015-02-11 03:47 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Thanks, fixed! :)

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-11 07:18 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Saving implemented. Unfortunately the script doesn’t correctly initialize itself upon loading such that anything you saved will remain read-only. Must add that to the todo list.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-11 08:33 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Undo implemented.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-11 11:12 UTC

Alex Schroeder
Redo implemented.

– Alex Schroeder 2015-02-11 13:39 UTC

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2015-02-07 Megadungeon Prep

When preparing bought adventures, there are a few things that usually need highlighting:

  1. Monsters need highlighting such that I can quickly answer questions such as “who would join the fight upon hearing the noise of combat?” and such that I can quickly resolve random encounters such as “pick a monster from a nearby room” and such that prisoners can provide can answer questions such as “who else lives here?”
  2. Entries and exits need highlighting such that I can quickly give answers if player characters interrogate prisoners.
  3. Treasure needs highlighting in case the characters get the ability to detect gold or gems, and also for prisoners to possibly provide answers to such questions.

Highlighting also keeps me busy as I read the text. After all, these texts are usually boring compared to people talking on the Internet. Highlighting helps me stay focused.

The wilderness map in the background has little stickers identifying ruins (other dungeons), lairs (sources of monters), resources (land to fight over), and settlements (the main city and a few towns) – as indicated by the An Echo Resounding procedure.

Tags. Colors. Use it.

Also note this post: 2013-12-13 Session Preparation Process.


Comments on 2015-02-07 Megadungeon Prep

Just a note to let you know, I saved this as a .pdf in my Megadungeon Folder to keep in mind when laying out Numenhalla.

-C 2015-02-09 09:04 UTC

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2015-02-06 New Campaign

Harald is leaving and his two Mystara campaigns are closing down. I’ll be taking up referee duties and I’ll be running the Castle of the Mad Archmage. I want to run a real megadungeon! All my campaigns go through the classic Basic/Expert phases: The first few levels my players explore the nearby dungeons but soon enough they start exploring the wilderness, meddle in local government, find portals and powerful planejumping magic and end up doing Planescape stuff. This time I announced that I’d be interested in running a megadungeon (one player to another player: “like Diablo!”) and so I started looking at my collection:

  • Stonehell was deemed too simple
  • Rappan Athuk had beautiful illustrations and was well liked
  • Darkness Beneath got people interested because multiple authors means a lot of variation; I think it lost out in the end because I said I liked the upper levels very much but couldn’t say much about the lower levels
  • Castle Whiterock was looking good except I said I would have to “convert” stuff from D&D 3.5 to classic D&D; people didn’t want to add to my workload, I think
  • Castle of the Mad Archmage was picked because I said it was going to be a funhouse dungeon

I recommend the author’s blog, Greyhawk Grognard, and his megadungeon posts in particular.

So, the megadungeon as a campaign tent-pole is what I’ll be using. And, as Joseph says, players are “just as free to poke around in the local town or city, hie off into the wilderness, or explore smaller dungeons”.

I quickly whipped up a random wilderness using my Text Mapper using the Gnomeyland Map Icons by Gregory B. MacKenzie. This is what it looks like:
My Regional Map.

I posted it on a new campaign wiki called Greyheim.

I spent a bit more time detailing the city:
The surroundings of Greyheim.

I used An Echo Resounding to add some extra ruins, lairs, towns and resources in the map. Who knows, maybe these will come in handy—here I’m hoping that this kind of preparation will allow me to improvise. Elves acting like jerks? They must be in league with Aredhel. That kind of thing.

I printed the map out and used little color stickers to mark the locations in questions. I don’t need to add it all to the map just yet.

I also printed twenty random level 1 characters using my Halberds n’ Helmets Character Generator. My plan is to run this a bit like a funnel: These are the twenty characters available, pick some, go. Your replacement characters and henchmen will all come from the same pile.


Comments on 2015-02-06 New Campaign

If it’s of interest Barrowmaze Complete will be available shortly.

– greg 2015-02-06 20:04 UTC

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2015-01-16 Underwater Adventures

Related: Mazirian's Garden: Simple Underwater Rules.

For my campaign, I’ll be using the following rules under water:

  • Movement: everybody swims at half speed
  • Swimming: wearing armor makes you sink; getting back up will require ropes, air-filled wineskins or the like
  • Drowning: save vs. death every round or faint; reviving is possible within the next 10 rounds
  • Speaking: depends on the secondary abilities granted by your water breathing spell (see blow); if none indicated, no speaking; you can cry at-will
  • Magic: water breathing spells have language specific side effects
    • breath of whales by Lady Gerdana changes your speech to whale songs and allows you to understand whale songs
    • grows of gills as granted by Tsathoggua changes your speech to the silent speech of fishes and allows you to understand fish
  • Elements: magic involving elemental enegies have the obvious effects:
    • water elementals can effectively fly and move at full speed
    • air elementals helplessly rise to the surface; no problem outside the water
    • earth elementals helplessly sink to the bottom; no problem when on the floor
    • fire elementals are quenched (and disappear); fireball, flaming hands and the like affect the area around the caster including the caster for full damage
    • electricity spreads like fire in air; lightning bolt, shocking grasp and the like affect the area around the caster including the caster for full damage
  • Weapons: only weapons that can be used when stabbing are effective under water
    • obvious weapons are spears, tridents
    • this includes daggers, swords, halberds, and the staff
    • this excludes axes, hammers, picks, maces, morningstars, whips
    • this excludes all ranged weapons
    • the only exception is a modern speargun (range 10 ft.)
  • Items: no potions, scrolls, books, maps
  • Light: no torches, lanterns – it will have to be light (rarely) and continual light (probably the standard?)


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2015-01-11 Player Types

Yesterday, a former player asked me on Facebook: “Hey, what did you think of me, when I was a player in your game? How obnoxious was I on a scale from zero to unbearable? What did you like about my game, what didn’t you like?”

A tricky question. I don’t like to tell people about my judgmental opinions, and I don’t like the tense follow-up discussion. But at the same time, an answer must exist out there, somewhere.

Your Obnoxiousness
1Have we met before? I didn’t even notice you were there.
2You must have been a casual player, always going along with whatever other people proposed.
3I remember you. Good times!
4I loved those crazy ideas you injected into that campaign. Always full of surprises, pushing us all.
5You pushed us out of our comfort zone, and I think I learned a lot.
6I still remember those long emails you sent between games. You were really into it, right?
7Oh man, D&D 3.5 and all those splat books. I remember your long emails with questions about prestige classes and feats. These days I play classic D&D, phew!
8Haha, I still remember when you said something was gay and I called you out on that. Or other casual, careless instances of homophobia, misogyny, racism, islamophobia.
9You were really into the rules as written. I remember long discussions about the rules at the table.
10That awkward silence after some of the things you said. You said it was all in-character but I think some of us at the table felt really uncomfortable.
11Oh wow, that éclat at the table, shouting and announcing that you were done and you were no longer playing? We still don’t understand how we all ended up there.

Don’t turn it up to eleven. I think I’ve had all kinds of players from 2 to 11.

There’s a special thing about people that are socially awkward in subtle ways. Their jokes aren’t funny. The references they make are too nerdy. They don’t have a feel for the ebb and flow of conversation and attention, so they’ll butt in when somebody else is talking, or continue talking when the referee is wanting to push the story on, or argue for a detail nobody cares about. I always feel a bit guilty about these situations. Is it me? Are my friends and I a clique imposing our unspoken standards on strangers, effectively ostracizing some people out of a careless, unconscious cruelty?

I don’t feel comfortable posting this, because of the implied negativity. Then again, I’m trying to turn this around into something might help me talk about it.

Tags: RSS

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2015-01-08 The Passage of Time

Some interesting links I saw in recent days regarding “YOU CAN NOT HAVE A MEANINGFUL CAMPAIGN IF STRICT TIME RECORDS ARE NOT KEPT” (AD&D 1st ed DMG, page 37).

  • Timeliness is next to Godliness. Meaning is created by actions having consequences follow in time. You need a definition for how time flows in your campaign for this unfold.
  • Time, Resources & Everything. The difference between the Gygaxian Model mentioned above and the Bergsonian Model. The Bergsonian model is where some unit like a turn or a round is just the opportunity for certain things to happen. The exact length of time doesn’t matter.
  • Hazard System v0.2. Like the Bergsonian Model mentioned above, but adding a procedure: Certain turns carry a risk: Roll 1d6 and complications happens on a 1, complications announce themselves on a 2, recovery will be made more difficult on a 3.
  • Torchbearer impressions. A game that is all about resource management and the grind. I didn’t like it when we tried it.

Tags: RSS

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2015-01-06 Text Mapper at Work

Today I saw a post by Jeremy Friesen where he used Text Mapper to produce a beautiful map. Beautiful colors! I found it hard to believe that he had used my icons.


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2015-01-06 B⧸X D&D

I posted this before, on Google+, but in the long term, keeping a copy on the blog makes better sense.

If you ever wanted to print B/X D&D in a single volume hardcover, this is how you would do it. As always, the expensive part will be shipping (to Switzerland at least). Here are the numbers for two hardcover copies, sent to Switzerland, including the discount for creators.

2 × $14.61
Subtotal $29.22
Discounts $5.84
Shipping $10.78
Tax $0.00
Total $34.16

How To

You get the two PDFs and merge them, deleting the pages you don’t want, rearranging some, etc. I did this using Preview on a Mac, but CutePDF might do this for Windows, for example. Mine had 132 pages in the end. Don’t forget to replace the index with the combined index. I forgot this, unfortunately. Then you create a private Lulu project and upload both this PDF and the cover image, and order a copy for yourself. Copyright law prevents you from making this project available to others, unfortunately.

If Lulu says it can’t work with the PDF, then you need to remove the protection (curse you, DRM!). I found the simplest solution to be a “print to PDF” step. Just make sure you get the paper size right. I used “US Letter” size and no scaling. This resulted in some area along the edge of the page being cut. This included the watermark, which I thought was great. 😊



Comments on 2015-01-06 B⧸X D&D

joseph browning on G+: “Just got a message that through January 8, you can get 25% off all Lulu print books and calendars with code FLASHY15.”

– Alex Schroeder 2015-01-06 14:47 UTC

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2014-12-31 My RPG Year

The end of the year is always a good opportunity to look over the year’s posts—RPG posts, to be exact.

I worked on my Halberds & Helmets Character Generator and added random faces from books in the public domain. It was a few hours of boring work but it seemed easier than writing a face generating web service. I’m still planning to do that, though!

I also worked on my German house rule document which I called—you guessed it—Hellebarden & Helme. All this stuff is also available from GitHub.

This was the year where my classic, open ended campaign (the one I started in 2010) started drifting into diceless territory. The reaction roll ended up growing in importance as players gained levels. I wrote about it in my No Dice post. Later I read Peter Fröhlich’s blog post Riffing on 2d6: Reaction Rolls and started to doubt my decision to add more elements to my reaction roll table. And to be honest my referee screen still has the old table on it.

Since Apocalypse World introduced me to a particular structure of writing 2d6 tables, I’ve proposed two house rules using it: Magic Research and Chase Rule.

I really liked this advice for first time referees by Greg MacKenzie.

I stopped running my Pendragon campaign.

My favorite role-playing game that isn’t classic D&D continues to be Lady Blackbird. Such sweetness, whenever I run it a local convention.

This year I stopped running the One Page Dungeon Contest and felt much better than in 2013!

And with that, here’s to the blogs, conversations with strangers on the Internet, and freedom, justice and peace for us all.


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2014-12-17 Reincarnation

Reincarnation in the #Narcosmos of Rafael Chandler, started on Google+, roll 1d12:

  1. you are reborn as a plasmoid on a world where life is just developing; if you play your cards right, you will turn into a god on this world
  2. you are reborn as your mother, carrying yourself within yourself, knowing it, but never allowed to speak of this or you will break yourself; now you know why she looked at you that way
  3. you are reborn as a child of a close friend of yours; as you learn to speak, you try and tell her all you know and prove your identity by telling your mother things she would never have shared with her child; there is an estrangement
  4. you are reborn; you don’t understand; there is pain, and hunger, feeding and frantic mating, licking and raising of pups, pain and lots of running; you love to run
  5. you are reborn as the child of a stowaway on a slow ship; you spend years playing hide and seek with your mother between those container towers; scavenging, sleeping, disabling ship security piece by piece, expanding your territory slowly over the years
  6. you are reborn, changed, augmented; your spirit arms can touch other people; your third eyes sees clearly; sex, prayer, talk, sleep, it’s all a glorious vision of life; start a cult, for your vision is true
  7. you are born like everybody else; your link to the past was cut, and it is only in drunken stupor and when waking up after surgery that you catch glimpses of your glorious other lives; oh, what you could have been! what you could have done! if only circumstances had been different
  8. you are born into somebody else’s body; their spirit it weak and you don’t want to die; your experience is showing: slowly you build a cage around their spirit; blocking it off, taking over, taking control, living a new life, drink from this fortuitous cup once more! sometimes you can hear it scream and cry in the back of your mind and you know, you must never let it out, ever
  9. you are born free of your previous shackles; you realize that you have always belonged to the star people; travellers, gazers, warriors, parasites; this new host body will do and in time you will get back to those friends that pulled that prank on you; fuck that previous life you led, like a piece of flesh!
  10. you are reborn into a better life; happiness is there if you will only reach out for it; abandon the false temptations of decadent society around you; you see through the illusion and are destined for a life of a simple hermit, content and free of strife
  11. you are reborn back into the Schicksalsgenossenschaft of old; all the people around you are friends from previous lives; you have all helped each other out, again and again, and you know it, and they know it; this is going to be glorious
  12. that was it! you have passed the last test, broken through, there are no more obstacles for you; will you enter nirvana and be free of suffering forever, or will you return in order to help others? If so, choose where your help is needed the most and go. Thank you! Thank you.

Feel free to expand and share. :)

One entry inspired by Star Vampire from Le Chaudron Chromatique.


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