Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Just something maybe

Lao sits before a large, unrolled parchment. It cascades down into his lap and onto the floor. In his hand he holds a brush. Simple. Wooden. It has been dabbed in enough ink that it runs to the tip in a bulb and threatens to fall. But Lao dabs with precision. It will not fall. His hand does not tremble. His eyes stay down. Ears up. He’s waiting. A booming voice will come from the stone chute above him. He doesn’t know when and that is why he waits. Lao is very patient.
              His mind, though trained in meditative emptiness, flutters. The ink is black. The parchment is a sunburnt yellow. All manner of shapes and figures could fill this singular parchment. Lao imagines these things. A bird nabbing a worm. Two children laying in tall grass. The sky. Though he imagines them, he has never seen them before. He imagines the sky as the biggest parchment, and all of everything is just ink drawn on it by someone much larger than he.
              Lao chuckles to himself when he imagines a giant version of himself drawing on the sky. He thinks that it would look similar to regular-him drawing on the parchment before him. He wonders if there is a tiny-him inside the parchment, waiting to draw on a tiny-parchment. This makes him shiver.
              The room around him is stone and sand. Stacks of rolled parchments, as long as Lao is tall, cramp him in and make the air smell of an old book. Lao has never smelled an old book. Nor a new book. Nor a flower, or a wet dog. He has only smelt himself in various stages of discomfort, and he has smelt the years as they exist in all things around him, and are always aging and dying. He wishes he had not smelt death, but her frequent visits break even the deepest of meditation.
              (the last time death came, she came on the back of a giant that had blackened skin of ash, and bones that made home for all manner of vermin which poked their heads out and gnarled spit. She had her bag of games and she offered to play with each of the monks, going one-by-one down the halls, knocking on the steel doors with her pudgy knuckles. The ones who wished not to play closed their eyes and put their heads in the left corner of the room, imagining that no two walls ever met, and that with enough will one could fall away between them. Those who answered the knock got to choose their game. Those who wanted to play but did not answer the door had a game put upon them. Lao had his head in the corner and listened to the knocks in his hall. He fell asleep there and had violent nightmares that he had to be shaken from. He confessed them to a cleric from an upper floor and was met with punishment.)

              Lao could not remember the nightmares as images, only as pain in his soul. So he focused on the brush.

(got stuck on something so I had to write)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Publication Diary (1/25/2017)

I worked on the stat blocks of all the new monsters/characters in the adventure. They're as good as I want them to be. Going really basic so it's easy to use in any system. I want to add in three things though: wants, hates, Avalon.

Wants would encompass things that can be done for them, or that can make them like you. Say if the Dream Merchant wants something to help him sleep and you have that thing, he'd answer questions and help you out.

Hates would encompass things that would make them hostile or make them just not want to help you. Say, if Raven hates Orcs and you're a half-orc, she'd be more likely to lie to you about where things are. 

Avalon would just be how the monster/character knows or interacts with the Nymph. Sephalophagus would have "forever and hopelessly in love, though he regrets his choice of undeath".

These things would give the DM easy ways to establish NPCs, plus it gives focus to each NPC instead of just giving them stats. 

I also got replies form both of the artists I messaged. One of them is out. Just the way they talked about it really turned me off. But the other seems really promising. And their schedule is as busy as mine so they're fine with waiting for a bit before any work is actually paid for and done. 

I need to start filling out the hexes. 

I hate to say it but I'm feeling a little off about the project. Is it good enough? Is the idea even fun? I mean, I think the Nymph is interesting, but I don't know. Anyone who sees her falls in love. What if players are just like "Okay...now what?". 

The whole set up is that the players know this Nymph is there. So they know what they're getting in to. But what if they just don't want to do it? I don't know. 

D&D always falls to the back burner after classes start. 

I wish I knew what it took to publish something. People say it's easy but it's like...where do I start? If I get the product done do I just upload it? How do you get the word out? No one knows about this blog.

I'm gonna key a few hexes now. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Planescape Maps

Planescape is cool. Never ran it or felt particular urge to, but the idea behind it is worth thinking about. 

I found these maps that are begging me to rename, key, and use in my own world. Maybe they can inspire you. 















Each of these could be gonzo dungeons.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Publication Diary (1/23/17)

So I'm going to publish a professional-looking adventure/setting/thing this year. Not sure when it'll be done. But I'm doing it. And because I have no idea how to do it (any of it, except the writing part) I'm going to blog about it, so that hopefully anyone who sees this who has ideas (which is all of you) can get the courage and the push to publish your own things.

So I wrote a sandbox hexcrawl last summer. I did it really fast because my party was about to dive into this new region (Avalon's Retreat, see the last post to see where it falls on the map), and because of that (and because I'm a terrible editor) it's pretty shit. Rereading it there were a few points of awesome that I'm taking as inspiration for what I want the entire product to be. Those were these:





Those aren't the only things, but they were ones that made me say "there's still something here". And you can probably see that these things still need work. So yeah. That's what I'm doing.

I got some work done today. I finished my outline (subject to change):


I also populated my word document with the outline and all the expanded shit (like monster names, hex numbers, etc.), so that I can just go in and type without having to worry about formatting.

Then I went and remade the map. Here's the original:

1/2 of this map is not even used. The gray area (the Orc Badlands, which have moved in the world map) and the weird trees on the top left (the Hollow Mire, which also moved) are not detailed. Also there's a lack of a "key" and also a lack of numbers for the hexes.

Here's what the new map looks like:

Huge difference.

It also shows the philosophy I'm going for with this whole product; everything should do as much as possible. Negative space used sparingly or for effect. Charts on same page they'll be needed, but also repeating information, so each hex will have the stats for the monster, but the stats will also be in the "Monsters" section.

After doing this I contacted two artists that I've been following asking them about prices for artwork. I'm hoping to do artwork for the locations and monsters, but with my minimal, college-drained money, we'll see.

I'm about to go check out Lulu.com and see what self publishing is all about. I've never really done it before. I want this product to be an actual book. PDF is cool, but I want to get something in print.

I'll repeat: I have no idea what I'm doing. My hope with these blog posts is that it'll be a learning experience for me and for anyone who reads it. Maybe it's not as hard as it seems? Maybe it's super hard? Who knows...

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Inside the Giant's Eye (My Map)

This is a work in progress.  Names may change. Land masses may change. I'll do posts detailing all these locations as they are explored. So far the Everwood and the Dread Lands have been in my campaigns. The rest is all just ideas.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inside the Giant's Eye

So I'm working on my world. It's called "Inside the Giant's Eye". And I've had a breakthrough because of this interesting artist.

These are my elves:




















And I don't mean that they are inspired by them. I mean that they look just like this. Elves come from the Cursed Woods and they are cursed. They cannot leave. Well, I mean, they can, they just don't want to.

They are black and white. They are thin and spindley. They have black pits for eyes. They move like they are in water and they have no space in their void-like mind for emotions.

You tell them the dead are coming (which they do quite often) and they'll say "Quite". You tell them that you've slain the jabberwocky and they might say "Really? You must be very proud".

I also think that Elves are the most direct descendants of the giants (which are not to be confused with D&D giants), meaning that a normal human would stand to about here:

So...there's that.

P.S. This guy's name is Hogan McLaughlin, and he's on deviantart.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sandbox Needs/Wants

So I'm sort of obsessed with the idea of Tower Girls. The game itself is fetishized to a cringey degree, but the idea behind it is interesting; There is a powerful dragon and he has trapped 10 princesses in towers around his land.

Simple. Cliche some might say. But I like it and it's for an equally simple reason; There is plot here. In a sandbox world it can be easy to just assume the players will find joy on their own. That might be true. But even in an episodic show there is an through-line, or, something that ties it together. In D&D the through-line is the world that the sandbox (or episodic journey) takes place.

In Tower Girls the world is set up: there are 10 towers (which equates to 10 dungeons full of loot), with 10 princesses (which creates 10 quests with further implication, each one can be planted in different areas of the map and each one can create complications and interesting decisions for the players), and a dragon (which gives the players a BBEG or possible quest giver if they're going the evil route).

If you take that and add in the standard affair of side quests, dungeons, wilderness exploration, a scavenger hunt quest, and whatever-the-hell-else you want, you have a sandbox jam-packed with adventure.

I've been struggling with whether I should map my world or not, because it's definitely not done. I have a few areas (like the Everwood, Aberdeen, Ogura) but I don't know if that's all there is. But I think I can start mapping specific areas and then link them together later.

I don't think I can type anymore. I just feel exhausted.