CC3+ Geomorph Mapping

To take my mind off the day to day doldrum of work, home walk the dog, work, home walk the dog, and not being able to do much else I’ve started to get back into mapping with Profantay’s Campaign Cartographer 3+. I would like to be able to use all the Hex Geomorphs that I’ve designed along with some free style mapping that is not constrained within the seven or four hex boundaries (but still keeping them hex). The sheer number of outcomes for the Hex Geomorphs are staggering when you start to combine 3′, 6′, and 9′ passages and their connecting points on the face of the hex. So to help me organise a bit I started with the 6′ corridors using a style that mimics Ruins of the Undermountain which is one of my favourite Mega Dungeons of all time! I always liked the colour coded rooms of Core Room, Area of Interest, Teleport Area, etc.

This is not even half of what will eventually be all the 6′ connections.
The dungeon is all Geomorph while the cave is freestyle. The picture below was made from Room 1 of this map.

The great thing I find about using this old school style (is 1991 really old school?) is I can create them as symbols and just click, rotate, and place them where I want. Later when I have finished the set I can revisit it in a special saved version and then add walls. This way I will have Geomorph symbols in full texture that I can just place down and add dungeon dressing to later.

This dungeon room was transformed from Room #1 in the map above.
My template for making the 3′, 6′, and 9′ connections.

So I made three new layers called Template 3, Template 6, and Template 9 and froze them in CC3+. This way I can hide the layers I don’t need. As per usual the width of the horizontal corridors are slightly narrower than their vertical counterpart due to the 120° angle corners which makes the corridors interact at 30°

Single = 3′ with horizontal being roughly 2.61
Double = 6′ with horizontal being 5.21
Triple = 9′ With horizontal being roughly 7.8

There is no need to fill every bit of empty space

The map above was also made with a combination of free style and geomorphs. I would use this as a possible side encounter especially if I needed more time to finish the main scenario. Something like this can keep an adventure party busy and happy for an evening of gaming. Adding a series of portcullis down the 12′ corridor could give some tactical advantage/disadvantages and allow the thief like characters something to do.

I’ve been experimenting with different shapes of dungeons rather than the normal rectangular paper size.

Next is to create a new batch of symbols that adds more old school style of mapping.

Pyramid Magazine – DYI

I love the Pyramid Magazine and I’m still saddened that it is no longer published on a monthly basis in PDF. Pyramid Magazine in its third incarnation gave us ten years of monthly GURPS updates and ideas. I would like nothing better to have them all printed out and placed on my nerd shelf but the avearge cost of getting them printed as individual magazines from PoD (Print on Demand) services is about £7.50 a copy. With 122 issues of Pyramid I think £915 is a bit out of my price range. Now I could take some pdf editing software, split them up, combine them, remove the adverts and make say make 18-20 volumes and have them printed in a hardcover it would still probably cost me a couple hundred £££.

Good thing I’m an amature bookbinder then. However almost anyone can do this at home with just a few bits of equipment that won’t break the bank. Now a couple of years ago I purchased an EPSON Eco Tank ET-7750 inkjet printer. It was fairly expensive but they promised that the printer would consume less ink for the same quality. They were not lying. I’m still using the ink that came with the printer even after 3,403 colour prints and 378 black and white prints (many of these on A3 paper) I’m still using the ink that the printer came with.

I select some good quality A3 paper 297 x 420 mm (11.7 x 16.5 inches)

It is best if you print in pairs so choose two issues you want to have physical copies (I’ll explain why latter). I choose Pyramid #3/104 and #3/108 as they are both Dungeon Fantasy related. I then grabbed 20 sheets of A3 paper and opened up #3/104 in Adobe Reader DC. Then select Print and under Page Sizing & Handling choose Booklet. For this I did Both Sides, Binding: Left. Then I went into Properties and made sure the paper source was being selected from the Rear Tray and it was set for A3 paper. Then print!

Some ink must’ve gotten on the roller of the printer. This isn’t a big deal as I will be trimming the magazine to size.

Making sure you follow the instructions for flipping and possible rotating the paper correctly so both sides are printed properly you will want to remove the covers for each magazine and put them together with the insides facing each other. In other words pages 2 and 39 facing each other and the covers on the outside.

Then using an appropriate sized Laminator, A3 in this case, place the two covers together in the laminating sheet carefully and put it through the machine. The reason to do them in pairs is so you laminate both covers together. This way only the outside of the magazine is laminated.

The covers are laminated

After you have laminated the covers let it cool and start folding your A3 paper in half. Make sure you are folding them the right direction. I go from the inside to the outside so I fold page 20 in towards page 21, set it aside and do the next one. Place the previous sheet inside the new sheet until you have them all folded and placed together.

Once that is done you are going to want a very sharp utility blade and a long metal ruler. Trim the laminated cover to the paper only. Do not trim into the paper itself. Once you have done all four sides the pages will separated and you are left with the cover being laminated but pages 2 and 39 still just regular paper.

Very carefully fold the cover in half and place the proper stacks inside of the covers.

Next you are going to need a Long Armed Stapler. You can get them cheap on Amazon and ebay. Measure up the middle of the magazine and set the backstop gauge. Then being careful that you have it measured correctly place the magazine inside, cover up and staple the magazines three times. Once in the middle, then one at either end.

The next step is to trim the magazine to size. Now I have a Stack Cutter but this can be done with a long metal ruler and sharp utility knife. Start at the Fore Edge, the side opposite of the spine, and trim it. Now I trimmed mine by 14mm as I measured the head of the book to the chapter graphic which is roughly 14 to 15 mm. If you don’t have a stack cutter or guillotine then make many small shallow cuts. After the Fore Edge is cut then cut the Head and Tail of the magazine. You will not be able to cut through all of it in one go. Keep your hand steady and away from the blade. I was originally going to trim one of them by hand but it is currently 34° C (94° F) and I don’t want to be dripping sweat on the paper. It is only inkjet printed and not water resistant.

If you think you can trim it before folding and stapling them together think again. When you fold stacks of paper in a booklet like this you get what is called Page Drift. So the pages in the centre stick out farther than the ones wrapped on the outside. After you fold and staple the magazine then you cut it so the edges are flush.

I placed 2mm card under the vice not only to protect the cover but to offset the swell of the spine. This will give a cleaner cut.
I only had heavy laminate, I think this would have been better with the thinner 80 micron laminate.

That is all there is to it. The printing took the longest time out of the entire process. Now I have two Pyramid magazines with a heavy laminated cover to use during gaming sessions. Or that is once this bloody pandemic is over and I can game in person again. This technique can be used for adventure modules as well as the new 10 page pdf bundles that SJG just released via Kickstarter. But I wouldn’t do this for anything over 50 pages, 60 might be a stretch. The more the pages the more page drift you will get and the harder it will be to staple through the book.

If you don’t have access to large paper and laminator you can do this on regular paper such as letter or A4, it is still readable, but just half the size

I hope this has been informative for you. If you have any questions please leave a comment. I do have plans on showing you how to print and bind your own GURPS books into either softcover or hardcover volumes in the future.

Dungeon Fantasy Planner Review

I went ahead to purchased the PoD GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Planner from Amazon for the express reason of writing a review. I’ve been fairly negative of SJG in the past few years with the lack of GURPS support (compared to previous years of releases) so I figured I’d put my money where my mouth is and purchase both the pdf and a physical copy of the book. I was going to show photographs of my filled out book but as my adventure with my group has been delayed I didn’t want to show spoilers or wait another few weeks to publish this post. So I wont’ be including those. I may update the post once they have gone through the adventure.

Physical review

As I have stated in a few previous posts the Amazon PoD (Print on Demand) is much better than it was with the release of the first DFRPG (Dungeon Fantasy Role Playing Game) Companion 1. I’m almost tempted to purchase another Companion 1 to see if there is a difference in quality. For the purpose of the physical makeup of the book I would like the reader to know that I have had some professional training in traditional bookbinding for a few years (although all my courses have been put on hold due to the pandemic). To start out with my PoD was printed in Great Britain. It may vary in North America or where ever you are able to get your PoD from.

There is a crease that is 7mm from the spine. You should gently fold the cover over from the crease before opening the spine. Do this for the front and back cover. Then carefully open the book and turn the pages not from the spine but from the crease in the cover. This will ensure a longer life to your perfect bound book as it will put less stress on the adhesive spine.

Before creasing the cover
After creasing the cover

What is a perfect bound book?  A book binding in which a layer of adhesive holds the pages and cover together. I detest the term Perfect Bound as it is far from perfect. However perfect bound books do have a place on the market as they are cheap and fast to produce. The quality can range from horrible, as in it might last a couple of months. Or a proper hot melt adhesive that can take a bit of abuse.

Perfect bound book is loose sheets of paper bound together by adhesives. Normally with commercial grade hot melt, not to be mistaken with hot glue.

The book is sized so it will fit inside your Dungeon Fantasy RPG box or on the shelf with your other DFRPG books including the Nordland Sagas. I personally appreciate the consistency. The cover is cardstock (soft cover) with a full colour cover that is consistent with GURPS 4e cover design. Again something that I appreciate. I might have a touch of OCD but then don’t we all in some way! You all have to have the light switches facing the same direction in your house don’t you?

The paper is approximately 90 gsm and takes both Graphite Pencil, Coloured Pencil, and ballpoint ben (bic) very well. Markers, artist pens, and such do tend to bleed through a bit.

Overall Design and Layout

The interior of the book is black and white with a few grey-scale pictures recycled from previous DFRPG books. This pictures are used to fill some blank areas and chosen well. Newly commissioned art would have driven the price of the book up. It consists of 48 pages of printed material and two blank sheets at the end which can be used anyway you would like. Now as for the Black and White. Take a look at the original Room Map page and what I propose be a change.

Original Page for hand drawing your maps
Proposed changes to the Hex Grid map with light grey grid.

All the dark black writing lines and grids makes it difficult to see and read properly (at least for myself) unless you’re using a blue ballpoint pen. It is a minor issue but since they were able to print in grayscale for the images I would assume they could print grey for some of the lines as well. I do not know if this would have increased the book price as my experience is in binding books traditionally not printing books.

Adventure Overview

On page 2 and 3 is the overall Dungeon map followed by a Planning Form. The form is consistent with all SJG (Steve Jackson Games) forms whether spells and traps, or world building. Again I like the consistency in design. Book name and page numbers are given to help aid you in filling out the information. This is very good for new players and old. I myself am back from a hiatus of playing GURPS and I found this useful not only in reminding me where to find the information but also helping me write down little details I might have forgotten when writing my adventure digitally in Microsoft OneNote as I usually do.

Rooms & History of the Adventure

Page 4 is like a table of content for the 16 rooms that you can fit in this planner. Something I might not have thought of if I’m honest with myself. While the opposite page 5 is an overall history of the dungeon/adventure. Space is given for the Creator, original purpose, Current over (nice), and Important NPC’s. At the bottom of this page is an image from the SJG Cardboard Heroes Dragons. It is nice to have imagery to break up the monotony of text but I feel this space could have been better used with more lines for text. Just my personal preference.

Room/Encounter Description Page

Don’t expect enough room for three page descriptions. This is a single page with 1/3 given to Appearance/Description and the rest for details such as Encounter type, features, obstacles, etc. I wouldn’t call it sparse. I would call it efficient and just enough. Especially as they place the page numbers in Exploits to look up the rules. These two pages go from pages 6 & 7 until 36 & 37.

Supporting information and cast of characters

Pages 38-40 are Wandering Monsters and Random tables. Very useful!

Pages 41-43 are monster sheets. Either copy over monsters from Monsters 1 and Monsters 2 or create your own original monsters.

Pages 44 & 45 are dedicated to Trap forms

46+ is for notes.

PDF Version

There have been many complaints that the pdf version is not form fillable. Personally I understand the frustration. However at $2.95 USD I think expecting a fillable form on the pdf is a bit much to ask. You can get free pdf software which will allow you to edit and make the DF Planner a form filled pdf yourself. The advantages to just the pdf over print is you can add extra pages yourself for a larger adventure then just 16 Rooms/Encounters.

Overall thoughts

I originally purchased the planner solely for writing a review on it and to support my favorite game system. However it actually showed something to myself in the process of using it. First off that I’ve become too reliant on word processors and apps to run and plan my games. Secondly I really enjoyed hand drawing my maps and writing down my details. Less so writing down my details but that is because my handwriting has gotten rubbish over the last 20 years. Thirdly I now have something tangible that I helped create that won’t suffer internet connection problems or hard drive crashes.And fourthly I actually retained more of the information that I physically wrote down more than I do typing.

So is the physical planner worth the £7.31 PoD price tag? Yes and No is the only answer I can give you. Yes in that I personally enjoyed physically working on it. No in that a 48 room adventure would cost you £21.93 to write in. It is a fine balance. I do not for an instant regret purchasing the PoD. However given my skill level I can manipulate the pdf to add extra pages, renumber the pages, change it to a form fillable if needed, change the lines and grid to light grey, print it on short grained A3 paper, paginate it myself in to proper sections, sew and bind it into a hard cover book. And that might make a great multiple blog post project!

Hopefully once my party finishes this adventure I can share interior photos of my book. So I hope my review has been helpful!

GM’s Books, Aids, and Resources

Whether you are just starting, just getting back in after a long hiatus, or an experienced Game Master with twenty plus years under your belt of weekly gaming it is alway good to scrape a bit of rust off and polish up some ideas. I’m going to look at some of the websites and books I use to give me some inspiration and that push I often need when I feel burnt out.

It is painfully obvious that I’m not adept at writing or reviews. It is my hope to introduce the reader to resources they may not have come across before or remind them of stuff they may even have collecting dust in the back of their collection.

Print and PDF

GURPS for Dummies

Made for 4th edition GURPS this book might make getting into GURPS much easier. I often loan out my copy to a player if they are having issues with the bulk of text and information from GURPS Characters. I really must get this on pdf as my physical copy is getting pretty battered. Like any of the books in the “For Dummies” range it breaks things down in a simple to follow explanation that just wouldn’t work for any RPG rule book as it just isn’t cost effective. This is a very good resource for new players and GM’s alike. Pages 207-370 is all about running your own GURPS game and creating your own world.

How to be a GURPS GM

Although GURPS specific I would recommend any GM to read this as it offers plenty of advice that is integral to any role playing system. You might consider this an advanced version of “GURPS for Dummies”. EXTREMELY USEFUL is the best way to describe this book. I’m currently coming off of a six year hiatus of playing GURPS and I was shocked at how many rules and bits I had forgotten about just as a player. Sure the core rules were there but I was fuzzy on some of the optional stuff. How to be a GURPS GM is certainly giving me that, “Oh Yeah! I remember that!” moments. I’m currently a player in one game, and GM in four. As a player it is Dungeon Fantasy RPG, as GM it is DFRPG x2, DF, and Monster Hunters. Now although the DFRPG and DF are similar, my players in each group are vastly different. One group is hardcore combat and munchkin, where as the other group enjoys detailed roleplaying and social interactions. They have been known to go out of there way to avoid combat. How to be a GURPS GM certainly has helped dealing with these two different play styles (personally I’m in the middle spectrum between the two).

I still have a lot of refining to do so I often go back to How to be a GURPS GM for ideas and guidance.

Robin’s Laws of Good Gamemastering

Available from Warehouse 23 in softcover and pdf I suggest reading this after reading How to be a GURPS GM. This book assumes you already have some experience and is there to hone your edge. Once sharpened you will be able to trim the fat from your games and your GM style of play. Robin’s Laws is not GURPS specific and I really recommend everyone having a copy of it.

Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide

The Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide and Wilderness Survival Guide were written in 1986 for first edition AD&D. Although the rules concerning gaming are meant for 1E AD&D there is still plenty of advice and ideas between the covers. The first chapter “Overview” in each book are particularly useful for new game masters. The chapter on “The Underground Environment” in DSG gives plenty of ideas of the constant dangers the players need to be aware of other than the denizens that inhabit the underground. Air quality, cave-ins, choke points, and how water plays a big part underground. Properly used these suggestions will lend a new level of realism to your encounters.

The chapter “Improving Play” I would rate as a must read for any GMs planning an extensive underground adventure. This covers how to prepare for a dungeon exploration from equipment, information gathering, the use of beasts of burden, mapping, speed playing, etc.

For myself the information on “The Underground Environment” has been instrumental in shaping my current campaign world which takes place completely underground. This covers cultures, Geography in three dimensions, and the nature of living underground. Brilliant stuff.

These 1E books can be purchased in pdf format from Wizards of the Coast official DriveThruRPG website

Pyramid Magazine

Pyramid Magazine has been around since 1993 and started off as an actual magazine (do any of you still remember those?) In 1998 it transformed itself into an online version with an article every week and finally it’s third and final transformation into a monthly pdf in 2008 until it was canceled in 2018. I still weep for the loss of the monthly Pyramid pdf. It is a fountain of information and new ideas and gave me a continuous supply of all things GURPS. You can still purchase the pdf’s from Warehouse 23.

Veins of the Earth by Patrick Stuart

A few blogs raved about Veins of the Earth by Patrick Stuart. It is expensive to get a physical copy at around £30-£50. It is for the Lamentations of the Flame Princess game but had people boasting about it’s uses for playing underground settings. The A5 book is lovely and there is some very useful ideas in the books but ultimately it is very specific for a style of gaming and system. I wouldn’t recommend it as a casual read as it is twice as expensive as The Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide at DriveThru RPG and provides little extra in my opinion. I would like to add that there are a lot of monsters and cultures within Veins of the Earth that might interest some people, but again they are very specific to that game system and, for me at least, didn’t offer anything that I would consider using.

I had a personal issue with the scribbly art and mapping style as well as my misunderstanding from some reviews on what was offered in the book so I might be negatively biased about my dislike of the book.

The works of Philip Reed:

Philip Reed has been producing game aids for decades. Recently he has been flooding Kickstarter with his “Dozen Rumors” series, Delayed Blast Gamemaster, Dungeon Encounters, Fantasy City Sites and Scenes, amongst many others. If you have missed the Kickstarters there is nothing to worry about. They are available at DriveThruRPG under Philip Reed Games and some are available as Print on Demand from Amazon of which I have mentioned in this previous post.

The Dungeoneer’s Field Guide to Hazards (2004) by Philip Reed is an excellent read. Although not intended for GURPS specifically it does contain over fifty pages of hazards you could encounter in a dungeon. It certainly will add a bit of spice to my encounters! Ideas are provided for the quality of air, to the fungus that grows underground, to the frailty of underground complexes that are not maintained.

Raging Swan Press

Although Raging Swan Press does offer many PDF’s for sale I generally use their website for their “20 Things” series and free guides. They offer an array of Gaming Neutral as well as Pathfinder, OSR, and 5e. They are worth checking out.

DMGR1 Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide (2e)
DMGR5 Creative Campaigning (2e)

Although I no longer own these books I do remember the Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide as well as the Creative Campaigning to be particularly helpful at times.

Grimtooth’s Trap series

Who doesn’t know about Grimtooth’s Traps? A series of generic game aids from the 80’s to help Game Masters slaughter their players in many horrendous and ingenious ways! Thankfully they are available from DriveThruRPG

Citybook series

Also from Flying Buffalo games is the Citybook series I-VII. Might seem dated by some but I still enjoy them.

Websites

Sad to say that while going through my links folder I had to delete over ten addresses that are no longer with us. Many have deleted their web pages and switched to a Patreon system as well, that’s really not my type of thing so I won’t be listing those here. This is probably the reason why I’ve been going old school and buying books or printing pdf’s to have them bound.

Creighton Broadhurst is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and publishes lots of good information for GM’s

Dungeon Fantastic is the blog from GURPS writer Peter V. Dell’Orto filled with lots of good information

GURPS Day Feed Hosted by Gaming Ballistic this site links all GURPS blogs (this one included) into a daily feed so you can find out when something new comes up!

GURPS Repository A website with a lot of fan based monsters, spells and conversions.

The Mook.net Combat Examples: I often have new players look over Warren Wilson’s website for some great examples for GURPS 4e combat.

Sean Punch’s Journal for all the latest GURPS news.

Stuff I’ve not yet gotten/read but might do

I certainly can not recommend any of the following as I have yet to purchase them but they are currently in my saved shopping cart for when I have that extra bit of cash and don’t mind splurging on something that sounds cool but might not be useful (like Veins of the Earth was to me).

Through Dungeons Deep: A Fantasy Gamers’ Handbook by Robert Plamondon. Review for this book is mixed. Many saying the information is outdated for older playstyles from the 70’s and early 80’s but as that is when I started RPG’s it might still be of use to me.

Lairs, Dens and Burrows: Short adventures for Four Against Darkness, for Characters of Any Level by Andrea Sfiligoi. Some good reviews on Amazon PoD. Andrea Sfiligoi has a good amount of Solo adventure books that could be used for inspiration.

The Book of Random Tables by Matt Davids. Available in print or Kindle versions this is a series of books with mixed reviews.

Megadungeon Design: Overland Mapping

If you read the multitude of blogs out there Campaigns rarely last for more than a year or two before either the players get bored or the GM gets burnout. My last attempt at a Megadungeon was to convert Dungeon Crawl Classic #51 Castle Whiterock and that lasted for two levels before the group disbanded due to some moving away, others not able to schedule game time in due to real life commitments. This hasn’t stopped me from wanting to run an epic megadungeon game which is why I’ve been slowly coming up with a fantasy setting that takes place completely underground.

Planning my Megadungeon

If my Megadungeon is endless then I should make some kind of “overland” map to get an idea of where the players may be heading so I know what lies ahead (or below). I first got the idea of using a Transit Style map for a quick abstract guide back in 2010 with Profantasy Softwares May 2010 Annual “Abstract Maps”. I was pretty pleased with myself until I realised that Gary Gygax had done almost the same thing in 1978 (two years before I discovered D&D) with Dungeon Module D1 Descent Into the Depths of the Earth.

Dungeon Module D1 Descent Into the Depths of the Earth.
London Transit Map

Gygax came up with an easy system, much like a transit map, of showing the players where they were in relation to where they have been, albeit in an abstract form. This frees up the GM from having to make miles of rooms and corridors that will never get explored. Each “transit line” would represent the main route, whether it is a long winding cavern, a massively wide corridor, or a tiny one yard wide passage. Along the indicated route you have marker points that represent either encounter points, Burrows (Residential Towns), or large campaign size dungeon. This doesn’t mean that there is nothing between point A and point B. It just means the players will not be mapping and exploring those points at this time.

Now on a transit map, which now has a pretty standardised look worldwide thanks to Harry Beck’s 1933 London Underground Map, each rail line as a designated colour. However I’m not making a rail system I’m designing a Megadungeon! So I propose to make an elevation colour meter to give a sense of what level the routes are. I may make an isometric map once I get enough points created

A very quick mock up of how the line colour represents that it is on a different level.
The beginning of the Campaign Region map (work in progress)
This map is the players map and shows only areas that will be known to them. Hidden is the extensive version but I don’t want them seeing those yet.

As you can see from the maps above the region map will represent eight levels. Now the colour of which it intersects with a Burrow can indicate how many levels it has. Take Silkdown. It has a Level 1 and 2 major route. So it would be safe to say that it has at least two levels, although this is not always the case. Following the Level 2 route from Silkdown it suddenly raises from level 2 to level 6. This could indicate an elevator, stairs, shaft, or a sloped raise from 2-6 without any exits between the other levels. I will be including some dashed and dotted routes to indicate lesser used to secret routes.

I’ve kept a hexagon grid system on the regional map so that I might scale in to more detailed areas (see image below) I will also be able to link up other regional maps in the future to this one thus increasing the size of the dungeon. Whatever scale I end up with will be in some way able to scale perfectly with my 7″ modular tiles so I can make some modular dungeon on the quick and slot them in.

Just an example of how I might use the regional map grid to scale in more detailed areas. Actual scale is still being worked on.

Encounter Areas

Encounter areas can be anything from a point of interest, to something special about the passage, to a small series of rooms, to a full blown dungeon area. Again this is a concept utilized by Gary Gygax in 1978. I like this idea as it allows the players to travel farther afield without having to map out the entire four day journey which would bore even the most OCD of gaming mappers.

D3: Vault of the Drow by Gary Gygax, TSR, 1978

Another way of showing depth and scope, other than 3D modeling everything or isomorphic mapping, is to use a 2D side view. About ten years ago this became quite the craze kicked off by Stonewerks’s and Dyson. It became so popular that Profantasy even made a mapping anual for vertical dungeons in 2011. My first introduction to a vertical dungeon map was in 1981 with the vertical map in the D&D Basic book. I stared at this picture constantly and tried my hand at drawing my own.

1981 D&D Basic Rulebook
Stonewerks Vertical Geomorphs.
Dyson’s Vertical Morphology

Honorable Mentions

I should point out that there is Node Based mapping for megadungeons.

Melan on the Darkshire .net has a useful linear approach to mapping.

The Angry GM uses an encounter overlay based map, but different then the transit style. It certainly has its merits but I don’t think this would work for my own particular style.

I’m finding out that there are many ways to create an “overland dungeon” map, There isn’t a right or wrong way. Had I the skill or the time to learn I’d quite like to make a big old 3D render, but that isn’t practical. So for now I will stick with the abstract transit style map and use some vertical dungeons for a quick overview of larger areas that don’t need to be fully explored. No adventuring party walks into a small town and immediately starts to survey the entire place. They go to the inn and the shops and the rest of it is just decoration.

I hope you found this an interesting read, if you have any suggestions please make a comment!

Inspirational Links

Dungeon Fantastic
Greyhawks Underdark
Raging Swan
Grognardia
Dyson Logos
Stonewerks
Angry GM







Steve Jackson Games’ GURPS 2020 PDF Challenge

The Steve Jackson Games’ GURPS 2020 PDF Challenge is live! The first stretch goal unlocked not shortly after! 12 pdf challenge. For a minimum of $3.00 USD you can get up to 12, ten page pdf’s for GURPS! I’ll attempt to edit the blog entry as it progresses.

UPDATE: All 12 pdf’s unlocked! 2,781 backers pledged $57,663 to help bring this project to life.

GURPS Action 6 – Tricked Out Rides: This 10-page PDF, written by Sean Punch, is a quick-and-dirty toolkit for adventures where sports cars pack more gadgetry than fighter jets, and miniguns fit behind headlights!

GURPS Hot Spots: The Incense Trail: Adventure and intrigue are on the Incense Trail, one of the earliest trade routes between disparate civilizations. Hostile terrain, magnificent treasures, political plots, and more await those who venture across the Arabian Peninsula.

Template Toolkit 3: Starship Crew: This PDF offers a set of character templates consistent with how space opera and soft sci-fi depict voyages to the stars, with roles spanning command, helm, ops, tactical, engineering, medical, science, and security, plus staff to look after cargo and passengers.

Dungeon Fantasy Adventure 3: Deep Night and the Star: This stand-alone adventure features the background, maps, and new monsters needed to bring it to life. It’s designed to scale for any number of GURPS Dungeon Fantasy heroes, ranging in ability from standard adventurers to more-seasoned heroes.

How to Be a GURPS GM: Ritual Path Magic offers tips and tricks,points out pitfalls, and provides new mechanics to handle trouble situations.

GURPS Steampunk Adventure: The Broken Clockwork World: This campaign setting presents a GURPS Steampunk framework featuring cross-world travelers in a world where reality is falling apart. Can the heroes escape, thrive, or even put things right?

Reign of Steel Read the Sky: The tiny Welsh village of Tenby has dropped out of vidcom contact. Two teams were sent to investigate; neither has returned. Time to send in the SAS!

GURPS Monster Hunters Encounters 1: GURPS Monster Hunters champions are among the best in the world at what they do…but there’s always more that needs doing. GURPS Monster Hunters Encounters 1 presents two encounters ready to use in any Monster Hunters campaign.

GURPS Action 7: Mercenaries: GURPS Action 7 provides players with guidelines and a new lens for creating mercenary PCs. It offers GMs advice and tables for setting up mercenary adventures and campaigns.

Boardroom and Curia: Tomorrow Rides: Tomorrow Rides presents the background, history, and stats for this organization. It also includes quick-and-easy rules for how to modify GURPS vehicles to reflect the quirky offerings of Tomorrow Rides.

GURPS Horror: Beyond the Pale: Beyond the Pale is a GURPS Horror adventure for four to six seasoned 150- to 200-point characters.

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 21: Megadungeons: GURPS Dungeon Fantasy provides extensive resources for “Old School” hack ‘n’ slash gaming, but one thing has been missing up until now: support for dungeons big enough to be the location of an entire campaign. For dungeons with dozens of levels and hundreds of rooms. For megadungeons.

GURPS News

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/warehouse23/steve-jackson-games-gurps-2020-pdf-challenge

So probably not news to everyone but a new KickStarter for SJG is coming up and this one is GURPS related. ” Can we unlock all twelve PDFs before the clock runs out? ” So we have the titles to four of them and I’m excited about the Aciton 6: Tricked out Rides for my Monster Hunters game and How to be a GURPS GM Ritual Path Magic for my fantasy settings. Will there be a Dungeon Fantasy or DFRPG pdf in that lot? I dont’ know yet. This is to be a short run KickStarter so make sure you subscribe for an update when it launches!

Edit 28/06/2020

News from Dungeon Fantastic including the titles for the first 6 of 12 pdf’s!

GURPS Action 6: Tricked-Out Rides
GURPS Hot Spots: The Incense Trail
GURPS How to Be a GURPS GM: Ritual Path Magic
GURPS Steampunk Setting: The Broken Clockwork World
GURPS Action 7: Mercenaries
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 21: Megadungeons

Look that the sixth title! Dungeon Fantasy 21: Megadungeons!! I’m really looking forward to this one!

GURPS ON DEMAND

Despite my constant bitching and moaning they still have not added UK or CA links for their print on demand, but that aside there are eight DFRPG titles and plenty of regular GURPS titles like Psionic Powers which I missed out on back in the day. These are all soft cover but the PoD is much better than it was originally so I’m not as hesitant to purchase them now.

GURPS Combat Cards in Print coming as well. I’m pretty excited to see those! They are only available for pre-order for those that backed the t-shirt KickStarter and only for the U.S. but once all the backers get their shirts they will be made available on Warehouse 23! So that is very cool! Something I’ve been asking for for over five years!

EDIT June 26th 2020

Literally a day after posting this blog, Gaming Ballistic reports on some additional information pertaining to this post.

I plan on doing a review of Dungeon Fantasy Planner in the next month or so depending on how much time I have to hand draw and write in this planner. I went ahead and purchased the pdf and a PoD copy from Amazon. Anything to support GURPS Dungeon Fantasy and DFRPG!

Dungeon Crafter’s Sketch Book

Philip Reed is known for his works with Steve Jackson Games, however he has been doing a rapid fire of Kickstarters (28 in total so far) campaigns of useful RPG tools such as; The Book of Unusual Potions, for use with Fantasy RPGs , Delayed Blast Gamemaster, Dungeon Challenge Cards – For use with many tabletop RPGs. and most recently Dungeon Crafter’s Sketch Book – Square and Hex Editions. I naturally backed this for the Hex edition. Although shipping is not available outside of North America he has made physical copies available through Amazon Print on Demand.

My PoD copy from Amazon

The PoD for the UK is perfect bound with good quality paper. I was pleasantly impressed! I’ve been in a mood to hand draw my maps lately and as primarily a GURPS player I’m happy to do all of it on hex paper. Each hex is 7mm with a thicker outline of a hex flower. I love the sketchy hand drawn style of the hex grid which really adds to the aesthetic of a hand drawn map.

First material test Calligraphy pens and ink

I tried several media types on the paper. The first was calligraphy pen and ink. The ink was barely visible on the back side of the page.

Second media type, drawing pens.

I then tried using my artist drawing pens ranging from 005 to 08. This bled through just slightly on the backside but nothing too distressing. I did put a couple of dots from Sharpe pens but they bled heavily through the paper so they are not ideal at all.

The 08 to 02 bled through not so much the 01 or 005 pen size.
Using a larger scale
Pen and Coloured pencil

Coloured pencils work very well and I will now probable use my Calligraphy pens and the coloured pencils when using the book.

You can purchase the pdf’s from DriveThruRPG

Or order a physical copy from Amazon.

In search of adventure!

As mentioned in a previous post (read it here) I’ve been playing a weekly game of Dungeon Fantasy RPG powered by GURPS using Roll20 to get together as we are dealing with the lockdown here in the UK. It has been an amazing experience mostly because I’ve not actually played GURPS as a player in so many years. It is also nice to have new players and seeing the widely different play styles. Alex, who plays Grobar the Holy Warrior, is a fountain of knowledge and experience on GURPS. I don’t play regularly enough these days and I can certainly say I’ve forgotten more than I knew about the rules over the last fifthteen years. Alex has been a real boon to the party as he makes tactical and rule options for our characters, but in a helpful way not in a rules lawyer kind of way. Ricardo’s character Saskar doesn’t hit as hard as Grobar or Zelenka but his DX is higher and is able to get those rapid strikes “TO THE FACE” (as he shouts) with moderate accuracy. He is also our source of comedy and keeps us laughing with his rapid fire memes on the discord channel. Filipe was playing Roland the mage but commitments has taken him out of the game for what we hope is only a short time. All brought together through Gus, our GM, whos descriptions of our scene draws life to the game. I haven’t had this much fun in years!

getting ready for some online gaming!

Paragons of the Six Divines

Gus told me to design my own religion for the game so I came up with the “Paragons of the Six Divines”. It is a holy order of six immortals who where said to once be mortals themselves, found immortality and through cultivation and their own pure deeds ascended to godhood. As such they don’t appeal to the common man who need gods of agriculture, the forge, war, and other aspects of the mortal realms. The Paragons of the Six Divines are a symbol of what man can achieve through selfless acts of kindness, sacrifice, honor, and truthfulness. What many find unattainable or unwilling to endure. Their order is best known for their charitable institutions; hospitals, schools, and orphanages. These can be found throughout the lands and open to anyone, something that has caused friction with some local customs or laws. However most kingdoms have not only grown accustomed to their services but heavily rely on them which affords the order some grace. Most monks, nuns, and clerics of the Six were residents of the orphanages and grew up within the faith.

Paragons of the Six Divines

Honor – To do what is morally right. Represented by the God Conlaoch

Courage – strength in the face of pain or grief. Represented by the Goddess Parthenia

Magnanimity – generosity. Represented by the goddess Rione

Patience – acceptance of problems and suffering. Represented by the God Vivasat

Justice – just behaviour or treatment. Represented by the God Bran

Truthfulness– the fact of being realistic or true to life; realism. Represented by the Goddess Erosi

Paragons of the Six Divines are extremely popular with orders chivalry. Those that can become living representations of the six can ascend to Sainthood and become Demi-Gods. They are highly respected but few have what it takes to follow their strict regime. Because of this the God Vivasat is the most popular out of the six although each deity has an equal standing in the pantheon. Anyone is welcome to worship although they are more popular with Humans, Elves, some Dwarves, and a few Gnomes. 

Setting the scene

This is where I bore everyone about the back story and adventures of my character. We started out at 150 points rather than the standard 250 points. This is about four sessions worth of info so I certainly understand the TLDR people.

Zelenka Dagian (meaning Fresh Dawn) is a Half-Ogre who’s human mother died giving birth to an ugly half-breed. She died at one of the charity hospitals of Paragons of the Six Divines. Zelenka’s childhood was not without strife, despite being members of the Six the monks were very cruel to Zelenka and many of the other children were encouraged to leave him alone and if they were mean to him the monks would look the other way. They would also “punish his inherent wickedness” at the smallest infraction of the rules. Many would expect such a child to grow up as wickedly as he was treated, and that might have been the case if it wasn’t for the Abbot Svoboda of the monastery and Kateřina Dvořák the Cleric of the county. They taught Zelenka to read the true meaning of the scriptures, how the care for others through sacrifice, being patient and accepting, how truth starts within oneself and in doing so brings honor and justice to the world.

The bishop himself, Casimir Sedlák, was well pleased with Zelenka’s progress, “Although a bit dim he would make a proud member of our Holy Order” The bishop fully intended for Zelenka to be added to the ranks of Holy Warriors. At sixteen Zelenka was already six foot and a naturally built warrior. Instead of a cleric’s staff he was taught the polearm by sergeant Borek Mazal, now retired but famed for his Poleaxe squad “Deliverance of Mercy” or just “Mercy” for short. At the battle of Passhead Valley Sgt. Mazal commanded 20 pikeman and held off a hoard of 70 goblins long enough for the village to be evacuated. In reality it was thirty but the story keeps growing.

Zelenka had no interest in causing harm to others if he could avoid it and wanted nothing more than to stay in the cloister on a sunny day with a book or scroll, or to work in the hospital tending the sick and wounded. The Bishop persisted that his place was with the warriors and so his training in arms and armour continued. When Zelenka finished his studies at the age of twenty it became apparent to everyone, including the Bishop, that Zelenka had an aptitude for not only healing but a strong connection with the Paragons of the Six Divines (I increased his Power Investiture) compared to the other deacons. Although gentle, honest, and true to his studies Zelenka didn’t have the mental capabilities as the other deacons (IQ 11 instead of 14-15) but was nonetheless ordained a Cleric of the Six.

Upon receiving his new status he was given a gift from his mentors. A fine silver plated, dwarven made Bec de corbin (thus reducing the penalty of not being able to parry after an attack), and a suit of leather armor.

Two months after being ordained Zelenka received a dream message about a monk of the Six who always kept himself in a deep cowl and never showed his face. Zelenka was tasked with finding his resting place and bringing the monks remains back to the monastery. After spending weeks in study he finally found enough clues that Zelenka was positive of the monks locations. He appealed to his superiors to get him funding to retrieve the remains but he was denied. Zelenka wrote to the Bishop himself but was dismissed as “An overactive imagination induced by the stress passing the seminary and now lack of direction and focus.” Zelenka was then tasked with hospital duty for the next several weeks to focus on those with real needs.

After one long day of healing Zelenka returned to his straw pallet, exhausted and fatigued. Rolling on his side and about to blow out his candle he spies a letter on the floor. In his exhaustion he did not see it upon entering his room. Curiosity got his groaning body out of bed and opened the letter. It was from an unnamed benefactor who was not only going to fund his expedition but was able to get him a signed letter from the Bishop allowing him to proceed with his quest! ” goddess Rione be praised”

Long story short he met Rowan the Mage and Saskar the Knight (Horseman from the North) and hired them to accompany him on the week long journey into wild country. Once a price was agreed upon Zelenka purchased the needed supplies and a pack donkey to carry it all. The trip out was uneventful, but did give the three newbie heroes time to get to know each other. Their weariness of a six foot, eight inch tall Half-Ogre soon gave way to his honest and kind nature.

They reached the area and scouted it out. The visions led Zelenka to believe they needed to go into the mines but it was getting late and they decided to scout out the ruined town nearby first and make camp. That night they were ambushed by the Undead, two of us being prone and Saskar on watch. Long story short we got our buttocks handed to us with everyone taking damage and Rowan being knocked unconscious. I failed to heal anyone in the party but myself, so as a Cleric I realise the fault was not with me, not with the dice, but obviously my companions were not pure at heart so my Gods refused to heal them. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

We rested for a day do to our injuries and fortified our little encampment as best we could. Once we are healed up with take to the mines. We agreed to take donkey with us as we didn’t want to leave him to be victim to the undead in the ruined town. Heading into the mine we notice that there are rooms, crypts, a chapel all carved out as well. Showing that this was once a very thriving mining town! I ask that we go to the Chapel first and I see a altar to the Paragons of the Six Divines with two suits of plate armor on either side of it. When we step in the suits come alive and take an attack stance then start to move toward us!

Zelenka shows no fear, for these are certainly constructs to protect against the unfaithful! Taking his holy symbol he fearlessly (yes I made my roll) walks to the animated armor and recites his prayers. The suits at that point stop all hostilities and collapse in a heap. One of the suits chest plate and lower legs will just fit Zelenka, but the arms, shoulders and upper legs are too small. Zelenka takes one of the shields from the holy armor and straps it to his back. He feels he should learn the shield sometime in the future (or if I can get my ST to 18 I can use the Bec de corbin with one hand!). Zelenka spends some time at the altar praying before heading to the crypts.

We head into the crypts and disturb some kind of creature that is unknown to any of us. Zelenka casts Sense Evil while Saskar and Rowan prepare for battle. The creature is truly evil and severely damages Saskar! Zelenka uses Turning to keep the monster at bay while Rowan and Saskar dispatch it!

Foul undead creature!
Zelenka casts Banish! Get behind me foul creature!

Down it’s putrid hole in the ground filled with rubbish and rot Zelenka uncovers a Vellum Scroll in an older dialect. There is some kind of prophecy written on it. When Zelenka reads some of it an ArchAngel appears before Zelenka (and Zelenka only, maybe he is dilusional? Nah.) and tells him of the prophecy and charges Zelenka with a holy mission! During his trance like state the head of Donkey comes flying into the room. and we are beset on by a Minotaur and a Giant!

We chose our tactics better than our first battle with the Skeletons and dispatched the pair although we took considerable damage. Saskar, who took a liking to donkey, kills the Giant in a revenge fueled rage.

R.I.P. Donkey

We didn’t get enough time to lick our wounds as the commotion brings in a stranger to investigate the noise. Enter Grobar the Holy Warrior on a quest to put the undead where they belong! Back in the ground. What better way of doing that than his very effective Combat Shovel (DF Adventures page 102)! After some time to size each other up we decide its in our best interests to align ourselves and clear out this undead and monster infestation. It doesn’t take long either before we are set upon by more skeletons!

Grobar looks a bit like this but skinny

Pushing forward through the skeletons we are ambushed by evil dwarves with crossbows. They really beat the crap out of us. However we were able to rally ourselves at the last minute, Rowan gets knocked unconscious again, Grobar scrambles up the cliff face to take out the Dwarven crossbowmen and Zelenka grabs Saskar and throws him like a sack of rice up over the cliff face. The pair of them easily dispatch the crossbowman (crossbowdwarves?) and the evil cleric dwarf gets away by escaping down a deep pit.

What do you get when you have a Knight, a Holy Warrior, a Wizard, and a Cleric? Four characters who step on every trap!

Mind you I’m writing this weeks after all the events of several gaming sessions and I can’t seem to find many posts with battle pics for the next part. However we find the tomb of the Hooded Monk and the sanctity of his tomb is AMAZING for my cleric! We get attacked by Drow and Drider but with Zelenka able to regain his fatigue almost instantly they were not as serious of a threat as I think they would have been away from the are of high sanctity! Thank goodness for Contingency Casting (DFA20) as well!

Ricardo captures Zelenka’s battle prowess in these memes LOL!
Zelenka fails his fright checks! Earth Elementals are scary!
More fun memes from Ricardo!

Our next threat is an Earth Elemental and Zelenka freezes in combat! It is up to the rest of the group to dispatch the rocky creature! Its at this point that Rowan leaves the group as Filipe has real world obligations to attend to. We hope to see him back soon!

Dynamic lighting now used!
More comedy by Ricardo. Fork in the Road!

Gus starts experimenting with dynamic lighting and it certainly adds a new element to the game! Because of my nightvision 3 I can see farther than the other players and it was very immersive having them ask, “What do your elf eyes see Legolas?” Well more damn Skeletons that is for sure.

Dark dungeon with skeletons! Loving it!

During this battle our rolls were spot on, some of us still took damage but Zelenka was able to dispatch three of them! Not single handedly of course. Saskar and Grobar soften them up. Sometimes going last isn’t a bad thing! “One of the skeletons drop an unholy mace. We left it where it laid, mostly because when Saskar tried to lift it he could not budge it. Not nasty enough to lift the unholy mjolnir!

We’re so tactical we weaponized tardiness

Ricardo
Thank the divine there was only one and he didn’t cut anyone!

Our next victim, um I mean opponent is a Bleeder. We were honestly extremely lucky with the dice! It didn’t inflict any damage to us otherwise we might have been in some trouble! Also there was only one and not a Bleeder horde!

Bone Golem are nasty!

Our last session and final creature was a Bone Golem! That thing messed us up for sure! Zelenka failed his fright check, and his Willpower rolls and was out of action for four full rounds! During that time Grobar and Saskar inflicted considerable damage on the beast but both ended up getting stabbed and injected with venom. Grobar was knocked out and Saskar could barely stand. Finally the sight of his dying companions snapped Zelenka out of his shock and he used Contingency “Awaken” Both make their HT rolls and are up and ready for more! With that we dispatched the Golem and collapse into a weary heap to rest and heal.

Zelenka was late again to the battle but to quote Ricardo again

We’re so tactical we weaponized tardiness

Ricardo
Alex gets into the spirit of posting memes on discord!He titles this one “Saskar vs. Bone Golem”! LOL

Inspiration Pad Pro 3

I thought I wrote about NBOS Software‘s Inspiration Pad Pro in the past btu I can’t seem to find it. Between 2013 – 2016 I was writing GURPS Random generators with IPP. I don’t know what kind of code they use for it as I’m not a programmer, but there is instructions and you can get it for Windows, and Android.

IPP lets you code random encounters, treasure, or if you are really ambitious complete NPC’s. I have played around with it starting out with just skeleton guard encounter. I didn’t want every Skeleton to be a carbon copy so the stats might vary by one or two points. This affects weapon damage and Willpower checks just like normal as I was able to code it all properly.

Want a random race but with Dungeon Fantasy Knight template? No problem. Again slight variation on the stats to make them more random then static. There are still a few code errors in this one but to be fair it has 76 races from GURPS Fantasy, Dungeon Fantasy, Banestorm, etc. and 88 Templates from the same books. A bit over ambitious I will admit.

Having some success at two random drop down boxes I tried doing one with three! This was for my GURPS Fallout campaign I ran. Drop down box options are Race, Occupation, and Difficulty Level. However with some help from the NBOS Forums I was able to add in HP trackers as well. This way when I printed them out I just needed to tick the boxes as they took damage. Also colour coded for Reeling, collapse, death checks.

Having a bit of success with that I coded up some Dungeon Fantasy Goblinkin (not DFRPG). Choosing from Gobiln, Orc, Hobgoblin, and Half-Ork. Occupation of Normal, Guard, Archer, Spearman. And finally a difficulty level of None, Stunted, Irritable, Veteran, Enforcer, Savage, and Boss. Again I have a few coding errors in this as it was never finished (Orcs seem to be suffering some stat loss somewhere). However with a bit of work it could easily be perfected, also it was a copy paste from the Fallout so there are some remnants from that such as the Larvae Spit and the Flight option. Opps.

Inspiration Pad Pro is a useful tool depending on how much work you want to put into it. It has been awhile since I coded anything for it so I will have to relearn much of it. It’s not perfect, it doesn’t deal well with negative numbers well. Not for the subtracting but for showing a – symbol in the results

It can be used for random loot, magic items, encounters, not just NPC’s and monsters.