Friday, July 30, 2010

Badass Mapmakers Wanted

I've been listening to a lot of new music lately.

I know, I know...what the hell does that have to do with ANYthing, JB? Is this going to devolve into another anti-war, anti-4th edition, let's all study astrology and become socialists -type rant?

Bear with me, folks.

I've been listening to a lot of new music lately. Well, new to my IPod anyway. A little Black Sabbath (Mob Rules and Master of Reality...I love you, Sweet Leaf!), a little Merciful Fate (Melissa), a little Metal Church (actually, haven't really found my groove with this one), Ratt (Out of the Cellar), some Def Lepard (Pyromania...that cassette I still have), and a LOT of Wolfmother. Plus an assortment of others including Dio, Zeppelin, and old Crue.

Let me just wax a bit on Wolfmother for the moment. My buddy sent me this CD three or four years back and I promptly lost it (I do that sometimes) before I'd even listened to it. He re-burned it for me after I begged him, having heard good things about the album from a co-worker about the 1st album (prior to the band's line-up change). I have NOT been disappointed...this is the kind of psychedelic weird-ass rock music I need MORE of in my life.

It may be that I'm more of a "hard rock" guy than a metal head...the guitar isn't nearly as important to me as good vocals and a strong drum line. But what the hell do you call a band that includes a jazz flute solo in one of its tracks? And still somehow manages to rock? I don't even know.

This morning I was reading grumpy Ryan talk about what he wants in an RPG. I feel his pain. Sometimes I feel this way about music...I try listening to the local rock station for NEW music that's good, and everything not written by a band that's been around since the 70s or 80s sounds like crap more often than not. Personally, I was starting to worry that I was getting too old. I can remember my father complaining in the 80s how they didn't make good music anymore (regarding the pop music of the time, he probably had a good point...they made "Oldies stations" for guys like my Dad), and thinking he was stuck in the past; maybe I was undergoing this same transformation? That I am just so STUCK, that I am unable to recognize good music when I hear it?

But then I hear an album like Wolfmother that totally kicks ass, and I feel frigging redeemed. It's not ME...there are exceptions playing Grammy-worthy rock music. There just isn't enough of it out there (hmm...come to think of it, I really dug that Avenged Sevenfold track, too, but then I always liked Mike Patton and the singer reminded me of him).

Today, I was down at the local game shop, hawking my wares and is my want, I made a quick perusal of everything on the shelf, new and used. And after looking around I had the realization: I do not want to play ANYthing here. Nothing. At all.

What I WANT to play is my own damn game. But even if my game was available for purchase, it's got no support. I looked through Gary's small retro-clone section, and while there's plenty of adventures for OSRIC and Pathfinder, there was nothing adventure-wise for Labyrinth Lord. Or B/X.

And that's the thing about listening to new music. Good music. Psychedelic music. Inspiring music. It makes me want to write adventures. Not just adventures...adventure modules. I've had three or four new ideas just listening to Wolfmother alone. I've been jotting down notes here and there as they've come up, but what I really want to do is get to writing.

'Cause if WotC/Hasbro is intent on selling the Arneson & Gygax & Moldvay legacy down the river, turning a game of imagination and exploration into a combat board game, a table-top CRPG...well, we've got to fight back. And we've got to have weapons with which to fight back.

I'm not saying I want to have a "living campaign" or return to tournament scoring or anything like that. I don't want to force ANYONE to follow MY campaign world. When I was a kid, my best friend and co-DM Jocelyn owned the Mentzer's BECI (for whatever reason, we never picked up the M) AND the World of Greyhawk. Our (AD&D1E) campaign started in Threshold...even though our characters had relations in Willip or grew up on the streets of the Free City. It was a friggin' mish-mash that would mix in a bunch of our own adventures with classic TSR modules.

That's the thing about modules: they are modular. Or they should be: you should be able to drop them into any campaign with only minor adjustment needed. They should be useful in any person's campaign, whether you prefer Krynn, the Forgotten Realms, or some homebrew-type.

Regardless of the campaign, though, we (we meaning "players of Old School fantasy RPGs") can have a shared experience, despite the fact we are separated by state lines or oceans, without the need to be part of a "living campaign." People who played in the original Tomb of Horrors, can swap war stories with each other based on the shared experience...likewise with those who tried to beard Lolth in her lair or discover the mystery behind the monsters infesting the Barrier Peaks.

Here's my dream: organization is required. Coordination is required. Adventure modules ARE required. But we can start a new wave of gaming, REAL RPG gaming with a little effort.

Right now, though, I don't have the weapons...I don't have the adventure(s). I've got some ideas. I've even got some stuff written up. But this self-publishing thing can be a bitch...trying to put out a quality product all on your lonesome can take a long-ass time. If I'd had to do my own art for the B/X Companion, it would have sat on my computer hard drive for a long, loooooong-ass time.

Visual illustration is NOT my forte. Map-drawing is not my strength. I know there are some folks out there who are great at this...I'm looking for collaborators. I'd like to invite anyone interested in working with me on an adventure module or two to drop me an email of interest.

Once we've got the product, then we can organize the revolution. Let's rock this thing.
; )


  1. I recommend asking around at the Cartographer's guild ( They are mostly hobbyist mapmakers, but some are quite talented. Good luck!

  2. @ Deinol: Right on! Thanks!

  3. Good point on The Cartographer's Guild. I used torstan's Creating an old-school map in Gimp tutorial (found at the following link

    and was able to make an Old-School Blue 25 x 25 map in less than 1/2 an hour. That's following along directly with the tutorial. I didn't learn how to make circle rooms, though I haven't tried.

  4. Hmm...
    what the hell do you call a band that includes a jazz flute solo in one of its tracks?
    I would call them "Jethro Tull".

  5. I'd be happy to help work on some adventures for B/X or LL. I'm not much of a mapper, but I'd happily throw in on some writing. I'm also a reasonable editor. Drop me a line.

    @ Talysman: You beat me to it!

  6. Happy to help w/ any cartography or illo needs you have. Drop me an email and I'll send you a few samples

  7. @ Jasper: Thanks for the input...BTW, I love the beagle!

    @ Taly: Ah, yes...JT.

    @ Bob: You and a couple others. I will keep you in the loop! Thanks.

    @ Professor V: Same deal...I'll let you know, and I'd love to see samples!

    : )

  8. Have you ever listened to Clutch? They are a powerful, Zeppeliny hard-rock/metal band with a weird stream of consciousness lyrical sensibility that I think is D&D friendly.

    You could base a campaign idea on this one song : "In The Wake Of the Swollen Goat"

    No sleep 'til 36th level. Heaviest riff ever.

    "Guild of Mute Assassins"
    The lyrics include the word "censers."

    Pretty much about the minotaur.

    "Release The Kraken"
    He just literally starts recounting the plot of 'Clash of the Titans."

  9. @ Cole: Thanks, man! I'll be sure to check 'em out. Or I'll recommend 'em to my buddy, the Doctor. He's my music guru!
    ; )

  10. I would love to get in on this if you are still planning on making this project a reality. I use AutoCAD in my profession as a surveyor but I can easily enough learn a different program. Please let me know if I can still be a part of this and if you are still getting it going.