Where most people seem to have a plethora of spare time during the pandemic I’ve been the opposite. I don’t have time for large and grand so here are some tiny dungeons that can be placed into any setting. The stairs could lead to a cellar in a castle, basement of a temple, a hollow tree in the cursed forest, or just a part of a sub-level of a mega dungeon!
In GURPS 1 hex = 3′. When printed for tactical combat 1 hex is 1″. Between the different Types of hexes I chose a 7 hex system (7″) because that was the largest hex tile I could fit on both A4 and US letter paper. It also has a full hex in the center, middle edge and corners.So I wanted to come up with a unit of measurement where as you zoom out each hex would represent a series of 7. However I’m not that great at naming. I want more than just made up words for each unit of measurement. Have a look at Musings on DragonQuest: Mapping as he came up with the same conclusion as I did. However he used logic where I used trial and error. Logic is a bit more efficient.
- 1/2 hex = 1.5′ or 1 pic
- 1 hex = 3′ or 1 step (1:1 Ratio)
- 1 hex = 21′ or 1 Rope (1:7 Ratio) also 1 Battle Tile
- 1 hex = 147′ or 1 Slingshot (1:49 Ratio) maximum distance of a sling used more for skirmish maps
- 1 hex = 1,029′ or Bowshot (1:343 Ratio) Overview of an area like village or small town
- 1 hex = 7,203′ or Mile (1.3 mi/2.1 km) (1:2,401 Ratio) Used for surrounding areas around a town.Possible for very large cities.
- 1 hex = 50,421′ or Rast (9.5 mi/15 km) (1:7,203 Ratio) appropriate distance to ride a horse at a trot before rest. Regional maps for shires, baronies, etc.
- 1 hex = 352,947′ or 3 Cycles (67 mi/107 km) (1:50,421 Ratio) 1 Cycle is a days walk. Maps of countries.
- 1 hex = 2,470,629′ or 20 cycles (467 mi/753 km) (1:352,947 Ratio) World Maps
I’m still not sold on the names of the units and they would probably be different for underground exploration. Any suggestions would be welcome.
The whole point of this is to map consecutively. That way like Google Maps you could theoretically zoom in one layer after another until you get down to the individual battle maps. The names could just be Hex 1, Hex 2, etc. and it is more for convenience of the cartographer/GM then anything the players HAVE to use.
Anyways that is my musing for a 12 hour work shift with nothing to do at all!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 44 & 45 are dedicated to Trap forms
46+ is for notes.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m currently doing more craft related stuff for DFRPG/DF than I am actually playing. The troubles with living in a University City is the transient population and most of my players have moved away. My new job only gives me 1 full weekend off a month, 1 Saturday, and 1 Sunday. So at best I could get in two games a month which would be great. However I’d have to find a group that will commit to those days. I’d also would rather play in person rather than via a host client like Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds.
I’m contemplating if I should purchase commercially designed dungeons for 3D printing, free dungeons from Thingiverse, or have a crack at designing my own. The last option would take years to accomplish. There are plenty of beautiful Gloomhaven tiles out there but they are 1.5″ and not 1″ hexes and that is a deal breaker with me. I have considered printing the Hex Geomorph dungeons in 15mm scale but you lose a lot of detail and at that point I should just stick with the magnetic tiles.
Some options I’m looking at is Game Decor which has some very nice and affordable designs for sale. They also have a few different styles so you can theme your dungeons. “DungeonWorks uses the InfinityLock system for superior customization, connection, and efficiency. DragonLock and OpenLock are compatible with the InfinityLock system via free adapter clips.”
Fat Dragon Games has moved away from paper terrain into 3D printed terrain. FDG uses the “DragonLock” to keep the tiles together. Nice models and support from the owner.
Printable Scenery has a huge set of terrain and it all uses the Open Lock system. I don’t know if Open Lock is compatible with DragonLock
Rocket Pig Games has some interesting dungeons but it uses a completely non compatible style of connecting the tiles which makes it unattractive. They are also more expensive than the previous three.
Open Forge is compatible with Dragon Bite, Open Lock, and Infinity Lock. It is also Free on Thingiverse! I just wish he would clean up his prints for the photographs.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that if it isn’t “Lock” compatible then it isn’t worth the effort no matter how affordable, or how amazing it looks. I will also have to resign myself to square tiles and use the GURPS Range Ruler during play. However I will not stop the Hex Dungeons and maybe someday I will learn how to 3D model enough to design my own HexCrawl 3D models. I also wonder about the wall height and how that works together.
I found some A4 magnetic glossy sheets for inkjet printers. I wanted to see if i could print out the Battle Tiles at 2 inches vertical hexes. This way it can be a ‘mini map’ during play and I can pull out the appropriate 7 inch Battle Tiles during combat or special situations like trying to find traps and secret doors.
Testing them out on my metal filing cabinet. I have a white board that we have used in the past for gaming and will be using that set on the table during play.
I am really pleased at the print quality that my Epson EcoTank ET-7750 was able to produce on these glossy magnetic sheets. The stairs, doors, pits, and traps are a pain to cut out but they do stick to the top of the tiles allowing me to add features to the dungeon as well!
They cut better with a scissors then they did with the hobby knife. Now when we play I can place down the tiles as they explore the dungeons and they are just fun to play with on their own.
I’m working on a series of short encounters that can be strung together into a campaign. Each encounter will include 3-7 Battle Tiles and possibly miniatures. The first part takes place in Lizard Man infested swamps. I’ve still have some work to do on the layers and sheet effects but these first attempts should give a general idea of what they will look like. Now for the lizard men.
I’m hoping to get them printed on high quality gloss photo paper then mount them on 2mm greyboard so they will fit into the Black Hex Bases properly. It is to bad that Character Artist does not provide the backs to the mini’s.
I’m currently working on the caves and I’m not satisfied with how they currently look.
The problem is where the floor meets the walls. Bevel won’t work because it is lighted. So one Bevel will be darker than the other and then they cave walls won’t match when you rotate them. Because it is six sides I can’t really do multiple walls and change the lighting dynamics. Not only does that require an extreme amount of work (like crazy amount) it still will be a problem with some of the cavern options.
This is kind of what it is gong to look like. Mind you I’ve added no detailing to the cave floor. My focus is on the wall effects. I want to offer the same background texture as the dungeon Battle Tiles that way they will match seamlessly. I will make transition tiles as well.
As for professionally getting these printed I think I’m going to make them into A1 or A0 posters and hand cut and mount them myself.
After a years wait I finally received my Dungeon Fantasy RPG Powered by GURPS today! To say the least I’m very excited to be giving this a go! I’m home with a flu bug so I will have plenty of time to go through all the books. I’m very impressed with the GM Screen and very glad I shelled out the extra money for it.
I’m wishing now I would have had the money to stretch to the Dungeon Fantasy Companion: A single printed volume containing the content of all the stretch goal PDFs unlocked at the end of the campaign. I have the pdf’s of Dungeon 2, Magic Items, and Traps, so I’m not missing out on the material. I might get them printed via Lulu later.
Well I’m looking forward to playing but I’m going to have to find a new group as everyone from my old group has moved out of the country. I hope it wasn’t something I said.