Friday, January 29, 2010

Interesting Places: An Update

The series is underway and I am quite pleased with the direction it is taking. The write-ups have been slowly taking on a life of their own. Places once nameless are now beginning to take form. I plan to continue posting these maps, but intend to tie them together with more details. As always, you are free to disregard everything and just use the map. It's really just about the map; everything else is just icing on the cake.

Sometime in the future I will post a map that ties together all of these disparate places. At that time I will unveil a little more of the overall view of this land. Skeletal in nature, it will provide a nice backdrop against which you may leverage any number of sword & sorcery actions. In truth, it doesn't matter what game system you use. You could play Gamma World here just as easily as D&D. You could do weirder. I for one intend to set a Traveller S-type scout ship down on the surface at some point.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Character Portrait: Yazmine

Check out the portrait Kevin Mayle did of Z's character, Yazmine. She's the World of Yezmyr's first elf and magic-user. Kevin worked from a description provided by Z. He did an amazing job of interpreting her wishes, from her head piece right down to the skull buckles on her boots. She looks pretty bad ass, no?

You might recall a previous post where Z's penchant for magical pink glitter and evil flying unicorns was revealed. Lo and behold, if Kevin painted it, it must be true! Z asked especially for "snort mist" to make the flying unicorn appear malevolent. I think it works.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Interesting Places: Howling Wolf Pass

North of the Esvarian Escarpment and across the windswept Rhor Uplands lie the Witchfire Mountains. Their snowy peaks are said to be impenetrable, the province of yeti and other fell creatures. This is not the case, however, for there is Howling Wolf Pass: a solitary route that leads through the mountains to the Sunken Lands, beyond. The pass cuts across the mountains at their narrowest point, between two impossibly huge peaks. Known as the Fangs of Yilthak, these sharp peaks cast a long shadow over the pass.

Those traveling this route would do well to take care, for the going is both treacherous and steep. Travelers will be under constant threat of attack, as there is a seemingly endless supply of savage hillmen and wolves in these lonesome peaks. Accordingly, a series of fortified watch towers has been constructed along the route to protect the vital caravans that travel to and from the Sunken Lands. Garrisoned by stalwart soldiers, these towers provide some recompense from the savagery of the region. Alas, not all towers are manned year round, especially during the long winter months. Worse still, it is during these times that the pass frequently becomes impassable due to heavy snowfall.

The Fine Print: I am sharing this map under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. If you follow that link you will be able to read about the conditions that apply to this work. In a nutshell: (a) you can't use it commercially, (b) you must attribute it to me, and (c) you must share any derivative works that you create.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Quote for Today's Game

"The human thirst for self torture."
– E. A. Poe

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

20 Encounters with Men of Yezmyr

If you've been wondering where the new posts are, well, I've been busy writing—but not blog posts! <grin/> Good posting intentions aside, I don't have any exciting new content for the blog at the moment. To keep you tide over, here's something I posted over on Fin's ODD74 a couple of weeks ago: 20 Encounters with Men of Yezmyr. (Regrets if you've already seen it.)

The story is that these encounters were diced up from my new Random Men Encounter Charts. I developed these tables for my science-fantasy setting. Rolling these encounters up and sharing them constitutes play testing of a sort... In any case, I was pleasantly surprised by the encounters. I hope you enjoy them, too.

A horde of chaotic High Men infected with the plague is rampaging through the area. They were driven from their city because they are sick and contagious. Wracked with fever, they are maniacs to a man and not rational.

A band of neutral Low Men on a pilgrimage to a far city in quest of unusual medicines. They have a number of heretical prisoners in tow with them. They plan to sell these heretics into slavery at their destination in order to fund the purchase of the required medicines.

A large band of lawful Chitinous Men have fallen on hard times. No one believes in them, so no further funding for their expeditions is forthcoming. They have resorted to thievery in order to acquire funding. They will find the Vortex Manipulator in those ruins if it's the last thing they do!

A large noble hunting expedition comprised of lawful Chitinous Men and their mercenaries. They are hunting the most dangerous game: criminals released from captivity into the wild. This hunt is a part of their city's yearly religious festival.

A small party of lawful Chitinous Men and their slaves. These highwaymen are the bored sons of noblemen, out in the world, engaged in the adventure of holding wayfarers up.

A small party of chaotic Earth Men. They are scavenging ruins with murderous intent. Somewhere within the rubble is the thief that stole their map!

A single Low Man in possession of a slave girl of high descent. He is a dervish on a religious mission: he is to smuggle the slave girl back into the city states of the noble savages. She is to be the central figure in a secret sacrificial ceremony, long since outlawed.

A large band of neutral Chitinous Men and their henchmen. They have all recently become infected with the beserking virus and will attack at the slightest provocation. They are seeking out a sorcerer who might be able to reverse the blood disease that is affecting them.

A small party of chaotic Earth Men slavers. They, along with their treacherous hirelings, are driving a bunch of slaves across the trackless wastes to the next city state in hopes of turning some coin.

A small party of lawful Chitinous Men is passing by. They are returning from the far city states where they acquired a number of new slaves. Unfortunately, these slaves are afflicted with the dread beserking virus. For whatever reason, they have chosen this moment to attack!

A band of neutral Low Men pilgrims attended to by their apprentices. They have left their monastery in search of adventure. They are headed towards the far wastes.

A large band of neutral Chitinous Men sorcerers are roving the lands in search of certain rare crystals that dot the landscape. These crystals form in the dark, twilight hours, only to shatter in the dawning sunlight. As such, the sorcerers are in a hurry.

A small party of chaotic Chitinous Men. These are slavers and they, along with their henchmen, are hunting for new slaves to capture and sell. Those who are weak, unarmed, or outnumbered had better watch out!

A medium-sized band of chaotic Low Men and their apprentices. Infected to a man with the berserking virus, they are likely to go mad with battle lust at the sight of interlopers.

A large party of neutral Low Men traveling with a number of men-at-arms. They are hunting the landscape for the various hallucinogenic plants they require for their yearly religious ceremonies.

A band of neutral Earth Men buccaneers traveling with a large number of pack bearers. They are headed into the city states in order to fence their spoils.

A small party of chaotic Earth Men pirates. Armed to the teeth and mounted on vulture dogs, they will attack, swooping down on any and all. They are after healing medicines to help their wounded comrades.

A band of chaotic High Men, cultists of the Eyeless Gods. They are traveling with a number of their apprentices to one of the far cities in order to acquire drugs for their obscene ceremonies.

A band of neutral mutant savages traveling with a number of psydogs. They are insane from spending too much time in the forbidden badlands and will attack any who happen to cross their path.

A small party of chaotic Chitinous Men scavenging a ruinous pile for rare crystals and minerals. They have a small number of prisoners bound at their camp, destined for eventual sale on the slave market.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cartographic Inspiration

B1 In Search of the Unknown was the first D&D map I ever saw. I still love that adventure to this day. Mike Carr exploited an incredible number of design tricks in creating the levels that make up Quasqueton. I find those maps inspirational to this day. As good as they are, however, I have always longed for more.

Beyond B1, I find maps from the following TSR modules to be inspirational for various reasons: C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, D2 Shrine of the Kuo-Toa, G1 Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, G2 The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King, and S1 Tomb of Horrors. In addition to modules, I still look at the Dungeon Geomorphs from time to time. As a matter of fact, I stared long and hard at them prior to drawing the maps for Pied Piper Publishing's DUNGEON SETS. Those geomorphs are crazy hectic and illustrate a lot of the dungeon design mores of their time.

Judges Guild appeared on the scene around the same time I got into TSR. Now I was never a Wilderlands person, but I do fondly remember pouring over the maps from Tegel Manor. The mansion was tremendous, but it was the dungeons that really fueled my imagination… Although I thought that the dungeon levels were too few (still think that), I found them awesome to behold. The claustrophobic tunnels winding throughout Level 1 and the intricate arrangement of rooms and passages on Levels 3 and 4 are equally inspiring. I continue to love the hatching style that was employed on these maps.

The same style can be seen in the maps of Castle Blackmoor, re-rendered for inclusion in the First Fantasy Campaign from 1980. Dave Arneson's designs are interesting. In particular, Level 5 opened up the possibilities of really crazy big levels—something which I have only experimented with in private.

Also worthy of inclusion are the maps from the early Middle Earth releases from Iron Crown Enterprises. Released in the early 1980s, these maps have proven to be very inspirational to me. I'm not speaking of the amazing color wilderness maps by Pete Fenlon. While works of art, to be sure, it is the black & white maps by Terry K. Amthor that have left their mark upon me. In particular, maps from Angmar, The Court of Ardor, and Moria all deeply influenced me. Even today I detect his influence in my maps. You know what? I'd have it no other way!

Other maps that I have seen over the years include various levels from both Castles Greyhawk and El Raja Key, all drawn by RJK, as well as facsimiles of various maps by EGG from the ill-fated Castle Zagyg line. As someone who "grew up on modules" (for better or for worse), it has been extremely satisfying to see and be influenced by these old works. The reason being that they simply don't resemble modules in the slightest.

In closing, I have to give my final nod to Tékumel and its vast underworlds. What can I say of these? Amazingly huge, that's what. I've seen a part of the Jakallan Underworld and all I can say is that it is an impressive maze, punctuated throughout by strange chambers and richly evil temples. This place is incredibly detailed. Alas, I've never seen a key for this, and the details I do have remain sketchy at best, so I can only imagine the myriad horrors that dwell within this dim place. (Actually, not having the key makes this map fragment that much more cool!)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

World of Yezmyr House Rules

The World of Yezmyr is my nontraditional fantasy campaign world. Right now we are playing in the world's grim sword & sorcery past. The world has multiple futures, however, and they touch on both SF and science-fantasy. (I posted about the genesis of the science-fantasy setting last year.) The world is a custom creation, although it is clearly influenced by things that I like.

We are playing a modified 1974 D&D. We use all of Supplement I and select rules cherry picked from Supplements II and III. We are not using Supplement IV, as I have written my own in similar style. (I posted descriptions of the Pantheon of Yezmyr last Sunday—how apropos.) Moreover, I have back ported all my favorite monsters from the Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, and Monster Manual II. In addition, I've added a bunch of my own devising. (One can never have enough monsters.) In the end, I suppose you could say that we are playing proto-AD&D.

The D&D rules as presented cover the majority of our needs. From combat to advancement, it's all there—and if it's not, we either role play it out or house rule it. We don't have a lot of house rules, though. After almost a year of play we only have nine:
  1. Ability scores are rolled the best 3 out of 4d6 and scores are arranged to taste.
  2. There are no illusionists, rangers, or druids.
  3. Characters get their full die of h.p. at 1st level.
  4. There are no alignment languages.
  5. Everyone picks a patron deity.
  6. Clerics don't need spellbooks; they pray for their spells.
  7. A spellcaster who is hit prior to getting a spell off loses the spell.
  8. To acquire new spells, magic-users must find scrolls, spellbooks, or a friendly higher-level caster who will let them copy spells.
  9. Characters are dead at 0 h.p.
I don't want to overdo it with house rules. I don't want us to get to a point where we find ourselves trapped in a baroque prison of our own construction. To that end, we've kept the house rules to a minimum and it's worked out well thus far.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Interesting Places: Chapel of Ghouls

Situated on the eastern edge of the dusty desert steppes are the remains of an old chapel. Constructed in centuries past by an unknown sect of men, it stands today in abject ruin. Well off the beaten track traveled by desert caravans, the ruin is scarcely known. All the better, for the place is unwholesome. An unbearable stench hangs over the ruin and its nights are pierced by wild, inhuman screams.

Brooding megaliths guard the approach to the chapel. Standing askew, they lend an otherworldly air to the place. Among the stones are a number of cairns. At their center is a large statue. Ostensibly a man praying to the heavens, the statue has been worn down and pitted by the harsh desert winds.

The walls of the ruin are windswept and riddled with holes, and the roof has collapsed. The great statue that stood next to the porch is now a jumble of rock. Narrow slits peer out from the remains of the chapel’s singular tower. Only the lower level still stands, the upper floors having collapsed long ago. Choked with rubble, the place hides a secret trapdoor beneath the paving stones of its ancient floor.

Within the chapel, broken statues line the nave, defaced by countless claw marks. Of the altar, there is no trace, but amidst the rubble of the chancel is a yawning black pit. Deeply gouged steps descend into the darkness. Who or what dwells in the depths beneath this accursed place?

The Fine Print: I am sharing this map under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. If you follow that link you will be able to read about the conditions that apply to this work. In a nutshell: (a) you can't use it commercially, (b) you must attribute it to me, and (c) you must share any derivative works that you create.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Gods of Yezmyr

Copyright © 2010, Ramsey Dow. All Rights Reserved.

The religions of Yezmyr are varied and strange. Weird cults worship obscene gods while high priests enact ancient rituals deep within their vast temples. Spiritual battles are commonplace as the forces of law, neutrality, and chaos struggle for superiority. Mortals are but pawns in these eternal games of conflict. This is how it has always been.

Xagyr/YaggLawful Goddess of Light/God of Life
Ruler of light and life—and the spiritual leader of the gods of law—this deity is worshiped in both its female and male aspects. She is known as Xagyr (Zah-GEER, the Light) on the continent of Azea. On Anhara, he is Yagg (YOG, the Life). Although this deity takes no physical form, its worshipers present it as a perfectly formed human being. Her symbol is the ray of eternal light, his an endless circle representing the continuity of life. Xagyr/Yagg represents a duality: she/he can be nurturing, generative, and benevolent or she/he can be aggrieved, possessive, and devouring.

Jyall PaquusLawful God of War
Favored by warriors and berserkers, Jyall Paquus (JIE-all Pah-COUS) prefers worshipers who deign to cleanse themselves after battle. He takes one of three forms: the powerful authority before the battle, the berserker mad with lust during the battle, and the Crow after the battle has been fought. Different sects focus on different aspects, but all worship the same deity. His symbol is alternately a helm (authority), a bloody axe (battle lust), or a black crow. The latter is frequently depicted plucking an eyeball from the grim eye socket of a corpse.

Jwas MedarLawful God of Magic
The god of magic, elvenkind, and lawful dragons, Jwas Medar (JWOSS Med-harr) is worshipped in two forms: a cosmically beautiful elf and a snake-headed dragon. His symbol is Zeroun (Tseh-ROON), the sorcerous moon of Yezmyr. Seen only through the haze of one's pineal gland, Jwas Medar is the Prince of Mysteries.

Vass TehmerNeutral God of Nature
Worshiped by farmers and hunters alike, Vass Tehmer (VAHSS Tim-err) is the Lord of the Forests and protector of the natural realm. He wards the fields against wild incursions from nature and protects the wild plants and animals that are important to hunters. He is the patron of hobbits and personifies male beauty.

Edde WoenorgNeutral God of Fertility
The god of fertility, Edde Woenorg (Edda WOE-norg) is a cosmic hermaphrodite. Although possessed of all genders, none is preferred over any of the others. It is likely that this god will shift gender from moment to moment. It is equally likely that this god will be copulating with itself while interacting with you. Such is the nature of Edde Woenorg. This god is known as Omurbek (Om-UR-beck) in Anhara. This deity uses as its symbol any of the various sexual organs.

Berrn KottuzNeutral God of Mischief (The Trickster)
The offspring of titans, Berrn Kottuz (BAIRN Kott-huz) is the god of tricksters, dwarfs, and giants, alike. He is a shape shifter, assuming any form he desires at will. Berrn Kottuz controls the crossroads. He allows the crossing of bad luck, deliberate destruction, misfortune, and injustice. It is prophesied that Berrn Kottuz will, through his mischievous and malicious tricks, bring about the downfall and ultimate destruction of the pantheon of Yezmyr.

Erool'tsuChaotic God of Darkness and Death
The spiritual leader of the gods of chaos, Erool'tsu (Erool TSOO) is the god of darkness and death. In Azea, this god is worshiped as a purely spiritual being: there is no male or female, but only the stench of death in darkness eternal. In Anhara, this god is worshiped in its female aspect, Khorazma (Khor-AHZ-mah), a fifteen foot tall, hairless, ebon-skinned female with three breasts. This god counts among its worshipers the death cults of men and humanoids, as well as chaotic dragons. The skull is this deity's favored symbol, and it is not uncommon to see worms emerging from its eye sockets.

BabbdelwosChaotic God of Madness and the Sea
Formed when the sacs of the primeval octopus burst, Babbdelwos (BAB-del-wohss) is the god of madness and the sea. He rules fish and all the creatures of the sea from his manse within the Further Depths. His echo reaches as far as the sea's infinite caress. His messenger is the sea serpent Orthanc, who is both unknown and unknowable. (It is said that to see Orthanc is to invite dementia.) His symbol is the conch, and sometimes the tentacle.

Raan VenedosChaotic God of Disease
Ruling from the Foetid Pits of Asherak, deep within the Nullity, Raan Venedos (RAHN Venneh-dose) is the supreme lord of all that is sickly and diseased. A cohort of the most powerful plague demons, each more horrid than the last, attends him constantly. He loves nothing more than casting wave after wave of sickness upon the living, reveling in their decay. His symbol is the paramecium.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dice Rolling and Death

Excitement was in the air this evening as we had a new player at the table—and by new player, I mean someone who has never played before. Lured in by her boyfriend (the party's trusty(?) thief), J. rolled up an elven magic-user, a popular combination for new players in this campaign. (For point of reference, Z also plays an elven magic-user.) With this addition of fresh blood, the group now consists of seven players, represented by eight player characters and a henchman. Joining the fray this evening:
  • Yazmine, elven magic-user
  • Candela Shadowslayer, human cleric
  • Bemt the Cringer, human cleric
  • Drawde, human assassin
  • Trebor Yenoomi, human fighting-man
  • Datos, elven thief
  • Plume, elven magic-user
  • Kalton, human paladin
  • Manny the Tragic, human fighting-man (henchman)
The party had discovered a treasure map in their most recent adventure. Today, that map was deciphered and the tomb was achieved. The surface ruins were explored and a certain patch of deadly weed, interspersed with skeletons, was put to the torch. I then got to enjoy one of those moments where the players freak out a little bit due to the atmosphere. After much excited talk, they got their act together and descended into the dungeon, proper.

It's been a while since we last got together to play, so everyone was a little rusty. I solved that problem by running a combat right away. Our intrepid heroes were beset upon by a trio of giant scorpions. Blows were exchanged until ultimately all of the scorpions lay dead and twitching. Alas, Manny the Tragic was stung through and through. He failed his saving throw, turned purple, and shortly keeled over dead. Our new player asked, "Do we hold a funeral?" In unison, the other players were like, "Naah." I couldn't help but chuckle.

The adventurers delved deeper, poking and prodding the ruin as they went. Strange glyphs were deciphered, bas-reliefs were examined, and warnings went unheeded. Ultimately, a nasty combination of traps was triggered. No one died, but the clerics did wind up using all of their cure light wounds spells. I couldn't complain.

By the time we broke, the players had made good progress into the dungeon. The place feels unique and the players seem to have enjoyed themselves. I'm happy with the level of intensity of the encounters and traps thus far. Best of all, my deadliness as a DM continues with yet another death. (I believe there have been only 2 or 3 sessions so far where someone didn't die.) What can I say? Our group digs peril.

I can't wait for us to get together again. I'm really interested in seeing how the further challenges of this ancient ruin are addressed by the players. They play smart, and that keeps me on my toes. I've never had so much fun running games! But best of all, our new player seems to have genuinely enjoyed herself. Awesome.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Adventure Inspiration

Sometimes I get stumped for creative ideas. Usually that means I am not reading enough. The obvious solution, therefore, is to go read a book! Alas, sometimes life gets in the way, preventing proper reading time. When that happens I turn to my "secret" source for zany inspiration: Pravda.

Yes, you read that right: Pravda. The Russian newspaper. It has wonderfully wacky articles in its science section, filed away under the mysteries category. There's almost always something weird in there that inspires an adventure. It's kinda like the tabloids, but better.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Z's Descent Into Dungeons & Dragons

Z's comment about the Something Awful spoof of Dungeon Module S3 got me to thinking about how I turned her into a D&D player. Yes, it's true. Before me, Z didn't play D&D.

Initially, I talked about D&D to her a lot. She would listen patiently and then tell me that she didn't have a clue what I was talking about. You know, "Blah blah hit points blahbity blah blah." This continued for some months. "I don't get it," she would always say.

Eventually, I broke down and bought her Confessions of a Part-time Sorceress: A Girl's Guide to the D&D Game. I read it aloud to her over a couple of nights. (The book is focused on 3rd ed. and we're a 1974 D&D household, so I needed to be able to edit appropriately.) This book really helped nail some of the basic concepts for Z. The fact that she found a set of pink glittery dice to play with didn't hurt, either. Next thing you know, she's blogging about getting ready to play D&D! (Want to know the funny part? She lost readers as a result of that post! Hahahaha.)

So eventually, we get everyone over and I spun up World of Yezmyr for the very first time. The group had a good mix: some seasoned players, one who had never played, and a couple that haven't played since college. Just because I like it, I decided that they all met up in a tavern. Secretly, I was hoping for an all-out bar brawl. Instead, we got some choice role-playing action. Unfortunately, Z was not prepared for this and had a secret little internal panic attack. She had always said she didn't want to have to do what she calls medieval speak. In fact, that was the closer. I promised Z she wouldn't have to do any Renaissance Faire type crap. She basically stayed quiet during the whole episode. Luckily, things progressed quickly and the party headed out into the wilderness. I could swear she was having fun later when she cast magic missile at that giant ant! Her competitive streak had come out.

One day, months later, she cornered me and informed me that demi-human level limits were the suck and that they weren't fair and that she would like to advance beyond 8th level, pretty please. Holy cow! I had created a monster! I was like, "Ummm, no." Dagger eyes.

Now, even later, Z is an integral part of the gaming group. She's got a firm grasp of strategy and tactics and is a very smart player. I'm impressed that she's doing so well and still having fun. One thing she laughs about a lot is how she is continually amazed at some of the stupidity that goes on at our table. Here's Z, in her own words, to tell you about the Bugbear poop incident. Yes, you read that correctly. Bugbear poop.

The first to declare that they should look through the poop was Trebor. I and others were like, "No way, dude!" Trebor carried on that there may be treasure in the poop. Kalton agreed, "Yes, sometimes there are jewels in poop." I was disgusted by all the crazy boys I have to play with. I kept telling them how friggin' nuts they were. But the thought of treasure started to give the rest a fever. A fever that would not be shaken within Trebor, making him NEED to check that poop. I declared that I didn't want to have to pay to resurrect his ass again, and having a charmed bugbear within my control said, "FINE! You want to check the friggin' poop, let's sacrifice the bugbear, then you will see that you need to listen to me. Yesmar would not put anything good in poop, I'm just saying. Just like you guys always fall for the dang scantily clad chick chained up. Yo! I'm not trying to get killed, suckas!"

Sure enough, my bugbear was burrowed through by rot grubs. Plus, guess what? NO TREASURE and now no more bugbear at our disposal. Trebor was totally in awe and thanked me for having the wits to keep him out of the poop. Meanwhile Yesmar was just totally amazed that the insignificant poop had caused such chaos and hilarity. It still gets Trebor a healthy reminder from me when he tries to rush into certain death. [tisk]

Ahhh yes, the continual maiden trickery I pull. When will my friends learn not to attempt to rescue the scantily clad chick chained to the wall? Ummmm, never! Hahahaha. (Last time she turned into a Huecuva.)

Anyway, Z's been playing for about eight months now and her character is on the cusp of 6th level. She's well into it and I think that's great. She continually comes up with good plans at the table. She does want some strange things, however. You know, stuff like magical pink glitter and evil flying unicorns and continually insists that her stiletto boots are a weapon. I suppose I'll cave in at some point, but you can bet these game creations will have interesting side effects. We shall see.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Interesting Places: Caves of Madness

In the spirit of tackling my resolutions head on, I present to you the latest in my Interesting Places series: the Caves of Madness.

Amidst the rocky uplands, north of the steppes, can be found the Caves of Madness. Six blackened mouths yawn against the backdrop of the windswept southern escarpment. Just outside, a trio of grotesque statues perch upon a rocky terrace, casting their baleful gaze across the approach. The statues appear to be demons of some sort, but it is hard to say, for they have been disfigured by the winds of countless years. The vaults concealed within are said to cause madness to those foolish enough to venture within. It is just a legend, though, as none who have ventured forth have ever returned!

None but you know why the caves are said to induce madness. Perhaps the passages have been warped by the strong phantasmagorical magic of an alien wizard. Alternately, the presence of the rare radioisotope YZ-23 in the caves might be the cause. Perhaps it is all a lie—a ruse perpetrated by the cannibalistic death cult that uses the caves for their own sick purposes. Regardless, your players should be afraid of what lurks within.

The Fine Print: I am sharing this map under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. If you follow that link you will be able to read about the conditions that apply to this work. In a nutshell: (a) you can't use it commercially, (b) you must attribute it to me, and (c) you must share any derivative works that you create.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


For the curious, the first review of the work I did for Pied Piper Publishing has been posted over at The Acaeum. Guy Fullerton's two-post review starts around post #17 in the thread. Just so you know, things like paper weight, etc., were out of my control. The design of the levels, however, is all me. If you have any questions as to why something is designed the way it is, feel free to leave a comment or send an email.

I'll update this post in the future when I discover more reviews out there. (And if you see any, kindly send a link my way. My email address is visible in my profile.)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Belated New Year...

The new year is upon us, and none too soon, I say! The year end has been hectic around here and I'm glad to see it go. I'm looking forward to meeting 2010 head on. I've got a bunch of goals that I would like to to see through to completion.

First, I want to grow this blog. It's new and I've been slow at making posts. I'm looking to pick up the pace in 2010 with some new series, especially a couple involving new maps that I've been working on. I'm excited about the possibilities...

I've been doing a lot of reading lately, but I want to do more. I'm setting a personal goal of reading 100 books in 2010. Although I don't have a list compiled as yet, I do know that A.E. Van Vogt, Cormac McCarthy, Gene Wolfe, and Robert E. Howard figure prominently in this pile.

Going hand in hand with more reading is more writing. I've got a number of projects in development at the moment. I'm going to complete them and get them out into the world in 2010. The first one is slated for play test later this month.

Speaking of play testing, I would be remiss if I didn't mention my D&D campaign. The World of Yezmyr, just shy of a year old, has been limping along sadly for the past couple of months due to other projects taking priority. So it gives me great pleasure to bring it fully back into the fold...

The crew's got some play testing on the horizon. I can't wait to see how it goes!

And speaking of playing, I'd like to actually do some! I don't get a chance to play all that often. Usually when I do, it's a pick up game at some nameless con somewhere—and I don't manage to get out to cons all that often. So imagine my surprise at getting an invite to the table at Planet Algol. Very cool! I'll definitely be making the drive up to Vancouver in the future.

So here's to 2010!