CHTHONOTRON – a pictorial example

Chthonic Codex: Mysteries & Mystagogues features CHTHONOTRON, which is a pointcrawl generator for the Hypogea. Follow it and you have a serviceable campaign map for you Chthonic Codex campaign, or any similar mythic-caverns-underworld-crazy place with rivers and weird stuff.

So, this is the end result: a map showing canyons in blue, big caves are thick black, narrow caves are fine black. The marks are explained later2014-06-08 17.05.56How did I get there?

Repeatedly tossing 5 dice on the map and tracing a line through them. Starting with the first river:
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Then the second river, flowing into the first. That die went exactly on the other river randomly, when rivers intersect I recommend making them flow into each other, despite theoretically being able to flow over each other, being underground and stuff.2014-06-08 16.06.01And then repeatedly for the caves. First cave, that leads off map because one of the dice went off map:

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Then second cave and third cave.

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And so on. Then I thickened the first caves (they be biiig caves), added more caves, thickened the rivers.

Then I added marks to show distances: but since in this setting you usually walk everywhere, they are marked in time instead of distance. And since I wanted finer granularity in some places, I used marks of different colours: the distance between two black marks is 1 hour, between a green and a black or two greens is 20 minutes. This different granularity is not in the book but it’s a very tiny yet useful hack.

The next step is to populate the caves with the Chthonic Contents section of CHTHONOTRON. I’ll leave that up for later, in another post.


Almanack of Peris and Environs: map and crowdsourcing.

Not much is known about the village of Peris, but we have a map of its environs.


Thing is, I wanted to exercise a bit my drawing. But since I’ve finished it it, I’d like to put it to good use. So it would be cool if you dear reader sent me:

  • monsters
  • locales
  • classes
  • object
  • dungeons
  • local foods and drinks
  • whatnots
  • maybe even a full setting.

Then it will all be mashed up and published as the Almanack of Peris and Environs, “soon” to be published by your truly, containing the edited, collected submissions.

Of all the submissions I’ll choose the two best (aided by Chris, pizza and beer), give them 30$ of credit toward stuff I publish and publish them completely.

Better scan to follow up soon: it’s drawn on an A1 sheet, and I have only an A4 scanner…

On Shared Fictions Seams: grab Galastanen City and put it in your setting

This is an evocative map of the City of Galastanen.

It’s vaguely resemblant of M.C. Escher early works.

Things have a reason. Often the reason is given by the reader.


Put it in your campaign.

Put it in all your campaigns.

Stepping through the Lion Gate brings you to Galastanen.

Out of the gate lie many worlds.

Stepping out of the Lion Gate, going home is mostly guaranteed.

Unless you’re following someone else.

Because Galastanen exists in a seam of sorts.

It’s where all the universes were folded and quilted.

If such a concept could be called “where”.

Ignore the incoherent hydrography: Galastanen does not care for your Euclidean space. Water gets there from a mountaintop glacier in another world.

Western League – Lake End Map

If you follow me on Google Plus you might have noticed some hand-drawn maps of a town.

Lake End is the starting town of my Western League campaign. All post-2008 campaigns in the Six Cities Settings have started from here, while before they started from Unis, an independent trading city a few hundred miles due south. Years of adventures made this little town more and more detailed, but all the previous mapping attempts have been functional but horrible to look at and ultimately forgettable.

The map was drawn with a 0.5mm rotring pen on lined paper. Lines help a lot for architectural-y axonometry drawing if you keep the rules vertical. In caser you wonder, they can be ‘shopped out easily.

I’m not an artist and I’m pants at drawing, so it’s far from being good. But since people asked me to share it, it’s here for grabs.

The coastline and hinterland are not finished because, well, you might want to place the town somewhere else without a really productive and chaotic lumber and woodworking industry.

As (almost) always, it’s licenced with a Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

3D dungeons & graph paper

3D Dungeon maps are AWESOME. Warren at War in a Box saw the 3d map, the One Page Dungeon, the tutorial and decided to further promote messing up with players’ attempts at mapping and exploration. He created some 3d dungeon graph papers that
are very, very interesting. If you people though need something a bit more generic you can download isomorphic graph paper simply by googling it. A solid one comes from Incompetech and is free.

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!