What’s in a blog name?

I might shut down this blog. The reason? Its name.

This blog, as many of you imagine, got its name out of a Gygax+Kuntz module called “Lost Cavern of Tsojcanth” and a bit of wordplay. I enjoyed running the module for my now-completed Greyhawk20 campaign so much that I started using Tsojcanth as online handle about 8-10 years ago.

Nowadays I feel like I should stop using it: not only because of the 3E re-adaptation of the module, but because legally it doesn’t belong to me, which leads to a vague feeling of anxiety (here used in a quasi-kierkegårdian sense) whenever I type it.

So, as soon as I’ll come up with a decent name and make up my mind the blog provider, I’ll stop writing here and go somewhere else.

Castello Sforzesco, the Castle of Milan. And a bunch of Medieval Art

As I’m visiting my parents I took my camera and went to Milan to take a few hundred pics of a bunch of pretty buildings.

The plan has been foiled by Milan’s Castello Sforzesco: less than halfway through the castle and its museums both battery and memory card gave up, fully spent. Pictures are mostly of the castle itself and of the Museum of Ancient and Medieval Art, so I guess you fine people can find some kind of use for them. Click here for them pictures.

This is a secondary entrance…

An enigmatic coat of arms…

An automaton…

How to draw awesome 3D dungeons from geomorphs

This is overdue…

A few months ago I played a bit with some geomorphs and cape up with an awesome 3D map thingie. But never told anyone how. Now it’s time: that post generates more traffic by itself than the next two pages of this blog, so I think that the technique is worth sharing, and I want to fuel the fires of next year’s One Page Dungeon Contest. ;)

Back to the ’90s! I did 5 years of drafting classes between middle school and high school, most of the time spent doing projections of models. Back in the day it was all H3 and HB pencils, compass, straight edge and squares, and my AD&D game-mastering was horrifyingly bad. Drafting since then got much easier due to cheap computers, but sadly my refereeing skills didn’t keep up with it.

Ok, I started to ramble like an old man. The point is that I learnt how to do a bunch of projections back then and I used almost the same techniques now to draw Axos’s Dungeon. The following images explain how to easily project vertical and horizontal geomorphs so they can be tiled (easily as there are more complex and artsy ways to do it but I can’t be bother to tutorize them as I’m starting to suffer from image manipulation allergy, hence unfixed typos in the tutorial). Go to Wikipedia to get more clues, and sorry in advance if the projection is not isometric (it’s actually dimetric, but it doesn’t need to be isometric, the projection police won’t come to round you up anyway). After the projections are created I suggest to save each variation (two for each vertical and horizontal tile, four if you count the mirrors) if you plan to use them more than once. The geomorphs below are from Dyson Logos.

Tessellate at will ;)

There are less easy but possibly more interesting and surely less sane ways to do the same:

  • If you know OpenGL, just texture tiles on cubes on screen.
  • If you are good at papercraft, make geomorphic dice, then take a picture of the assembled result.

A Fantasy Game: not a retroclone

In the past few months I’ve been playing with my little homebrew game, “A Fantasy Game” (AFG). AFG is a non-retroclone I wrote after feeling not completely satisfied about “Adventurers: Armed & Dangerous” and “SWOZT&M”, my two unreleased, unfinished retroclones.

EDIT: download an early draft here.

It all started when Sham posted rules on Experience by Plundering and Accomplishments and Art of Delving:  these mechanics are very important in A Fantasy Game. Then, as I ran more and more playtest sessions, the game incorporated elements inspired from very bright designs such as Roger the GS’s One-Page, ZZarchov’s Neoclassic Geek Revival [1], Delta’s Book of War [2], Steve Jackson’s GURPS.

Earlier on I decided that the game was not going to be a retroclone, and to drop the SRD: the Vancian system was ditched after a long bibliographic survey, long pondering and a talk with Roger; the class system has been replaced with what I wrote for Breed of Darkness MUD (if you happen to remember it, it was 13 years ago), which nowadays seems similar to multiclassing for d20 (without some of its fastidious problems) or disciplines from World of Darkness; clerics are gone, replaced by a more meaningful approach to worship; armour reduces damage; the only dice used are six-siders. It’s still statistic compatible with most old school fantasy adventure games and retroclones, meaning you can yank gaming material  from the past 38 years of our hobby and run them with no need to change anything.

Playtesting continues, while a partial version was released to a few selected individuals for feedback (I’m sure I forgot about somebody, so don’t take it personally). A teaser will be available very soon.

[1]: Disclaimer: I proofread Neoclassical Geek Revival and received a free copy. My opinion? Neoclassic Geek Revival is WIN! Buy a copy! The ruleset is a big funhouse of game mechanics that makes perfect sense together, in addition are presented in a way easy so you can pick’n’mix’n’bolt’em together to either create a new system or modify an existing one. And they are all good and sound. The book itself is extremely pretty, hardbound in faux leather with gilded title and printed on linen paper: it will not only outlive your RPG collection but also you and probably the building and neighborhood you live in. It’s a labour of love. TL:DR? BUY NOW!

[2]: Disclaimer: I proofread and tested Book of War and received a free copy. My opinion? Book of War is the miniature game that Old School fantasy games always badly needed to resolve mass battles. It’s fun, quick, easy to learn, full of interesting decisions. I wish I had it when my players had characters in command of armies, and it’s also really good and fun for skirmishes and man-vs-man melee (I’m one of the people Delta mentions using BoW for playing “some games of man-to-man D&D … using this cut-down d6 system, with good results”. Its math is sound and it’s compatible with all D&D retroclones. TL:DR? BUY NOW!