Hypothesis 69 redux: Axo’s Dungeon for One Page Dungeon Competition 2012

Last year I put together an epic map from Dyson and Stonewerks geomorphs. It got quite a lot of traffic, arrived on reddit and as people thought it was the bee’s knees I followed up with a tutorial to build more of the same.

Comes the OPDC 2012 and I decide that i have to submit something. Gotten the permissions from both the awesome geomorpher dudes I start to play with it and…

Well, did I mention I’m a freelancer? Got swamped with work. That’s my excuse for not winning OPDC this year. :)

Here’s the baby as a small image:

And as a proper-sized PDF:

Many thanks to both Dyson and Stonewerks for the support.

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.

Quick map: Dwaven Outpost

Well, the the title of the post says it all: I was sitting all bored at the university occupation/squat and started doodling maps. I just had the stuff out and decided to share. Not as cool as Dyson’s but you might be interested. Also I don’t have fancy photoshops skillz as it’s early in the morning so image quality is teh suck.

Dwarven Outpost is meant to be a small dwarven/drow/trollish/duergar/svartalfar outpost/colony/sublevel.

Entrance is from the east, leads to a room with arrowslits and a trapped, locked door, then to a short corridor blocked by a portcullis. Pit traps before and after portcullis, then another trapped, locked door. It opens on the guardpost with annexed guard room on the west. Forges on the south, temple west, library northeast, workshops and living quarters north, with private rooms clustering around workshops. Northwest is supposed to be some kind of military highquarter, with stairs downwards to cisterns and underground river. Plenty of secret doors allow extensive freedom of movement and deep-strike ability in case of siege.

Strategic note: in case your players want to go rampage on the occupiers and invade try to leave a front less protected, letting some weak isolated defenders fall back, then surround the attacker via secret passages or other means. Sometimes it works, sometimes not, but it’s always great fun trying to outmaneuver anyone with steel-clad dwarves.

The Chemistry of Dungeons, or: help me I need dungeons and I just have an old organic chemistry book. Also, writing to Gary.

I’m going to write possibly the nerdiest post ever.

Suppose your players left the village of Somewhere Away and decided to pursue the Dodgy Villager That Secretly Is A Pawn Of The Villain: you need a dungeon where the DVTSIAPOTV and his boss can meet.

And you just have a chemistry book: opening the book for inspiration, you see  meaningless chemichy blabber about lignin. Wood and paper are made of this stuff. What if you could turn all that drivel that allows us to keep our lifestyles possible in a fantastic adventuring locale? Behold lignin:

Instant Dungeon! And a big one!

First of all, the theme: lignin is about wood or paper, so it could be something like a dungeon full of constructs and animated objects, or full of books, or a library, or a magical miniature castle made of paper that you can enter if you touch, or a network of treehouses.

Now, what do you do with this map? how do you read it?


And requires zero knowledge of chemistry:

  • the lines (bonds) that links atoms above are CORRIDORS: 3 in 10 are either hidden, closed by a locked door, closed by a door. To determine which room has the key, roll a dice on the map and that’s the room: It can be either hidden or held by a monster (50%).
  • C means CARBON and Carbons are rooms with four exits, or CROSSROADS. Roll content as per empty room. You should also come up with a small random monster table adequate to the location (6 entries are good, too many seem really random and nonspecific).
  • O means OXYGEN or OBSTACLE. It can be a room with some nastyness: usually to stop intruders; traps, guardian monsters, locked door, trapped locked room with monsters, or simply a cave in that makes the passage unsuitable. Oxygens have 2 exits, like a passage. If an oxygen is lonely next to a carbon you have a DOUBLE BOND (described later).
  • H means HYDROGEN, and hydrogens are room with a single exit. They contain stuff and nasties.
  • N means NITROGEN and also NETWORK: the (usually three) rooms connected to it form some kind of small cluster of logically connected rooms, like a guardpost with barracks, studio, den or apartment. Dress accordingly, and use for important stuff peculiar to the dungeon.
  • DOUBLE BONDS happen when you count the exits between rooms and some are missing, while in some graphs are displayed as a double line. Two distinct passages link the two rooms, usually one of them is secret/locked/hidden/trapped, or one of the two rooms is split into two parts by a chasm, bars or whatever you prefer. See it as an occasion for interesting tactical choices in combat or exploration. Also, read MinnenRatta’s comment below.
  • If you have other letters, throw in random stuff according to the atom, or not if you can’t be bothered: it’s just there to kickstart your imagination and its deconstruction it’s only for your benefit. If you see strange lines connecting stuff, treat as special/trapped/secret passages. If you see, like in the picture below,  three/four lines connecting, it’s a CARBON/CROSSROAD. If there’s a bend that bend is a carbon crossroad that has two hydrogen rooms next to it (unless double bounds are present, reducing the number of hydrogen/rooms adjacent). The bit to the right is a long corridor with 10 rooms spread between the two sides, and a room at the end. I guess the below dungeon is good for a drug smuggling hideout.

  • To finish, sprinkle secret doors that link more or less remote areas of the dungeon. And pick a number of exits.
  • Of course you might expand the meanings above to elements of the same groups. Halogens such as Fluorine and Clorine are EXTREMELY NASTY ROOMS, chalcogens like Oxygen ans Sulfur are obstacles and so on.

DONE. Ok, my nerd club membership has been renewed for the next 15 years or so.

And now the occasional tiny letter to Gary.

Hello Gary,

I know you’re dead and you can’t read me me. Also I guess you can’t read wordpress. I guess this makes me look a bit stupid, or romantic. Well, I wanted to thank you post mortem for having published my favourite game. I never met you and I can’t say much about you, but thanks for having given me such an empowering hobby.

That’s it. Ok, enough time spent writing to corpses buried thousands of miles away. Back to science!

69: Random Unsubstatiated Hypothesis

A floor plan demonstrates the organizational logic of a building; a section embodies its emotional experience.

Mattew Frederick, 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School

Yep I know dungeon geomorphs dice came out already, but a webapp that mashes up side cuts and planimetries would be awesome. As I’m a lazy-thing, enjoy the photoshop I should have done a long while ago using Stonewerks’s & Dyson’s geomorphs… as they are awesome and must be used to build cool stuff.

By the way, I finally wrote a really easy tutorial on how to modify geomorphs to build maps like this.

Yep that’s an isometric axonometric projection. Yep it looks a bit off, and my photoshopping skills are not that good so you can see seams. But it’s late and wanted to share. Feel free to populate, mash it up and use it for anything: leave a comment or a message and I’ll put a linky thing to your content if you want. :)

If I’ll ever do this again, I’ll just write a batch transformer for the tiles…

UPDATE: Qubish polished the map and numbered the rooms on his blog “Of Dice and Djinn“.

UPDATE: grab the one page dungeon: Axo’s Dungeon!

North of the Wall. Also, Imperial Badassery

The reason for the lack of posting in the last few days is that I’m currently in Britain having fun with the locals. Yesterday we drove from Manchester to Glasgow and stopped to visit Hadrian’s Wall.
Seeing the wall provoked a number of thoughs, such as:

  • invading a place and cutting it halfway with a stone wall 7 feel thick and a few meter high and protecting it with a stupid numbers of watchtowers will be from now on my own metric of Imperial Badassery.
  • it takes an implausible amount of stone to build something like this.
  • sure lots of workers must have died to build it. Badass-o-meter off the scale.
  • romans made AMAZING mortar. How it sustained 2000 years of horrible Cumbrian/Northumberlandish weather is impressive.
  • sure Caledonia (Scotland nowadays) must have been really inhospitable to Romans to wall it off and not bothering to conquer it (ok, Antonine’s wall was built later and further up north because apparently they had afterthoughts about Lothian, the Borders and Inverclyde. Antonine never went up there, and if he did he wouldn’t have bothered)
  • I expected to see “ROMANES EUNT DOMVS” written on it. My expectations not being met, I resisted and managed not to vandalize it.

Pretty pictures once I get back to the continent…