Bits & Bobs

14 Jan

Bits & Bobs, surprisingly not a new retro-clone!

It’s been a stream of consciousness day, so this post is going to ramble more than a little.  With apologies to The Rambling Roleplayer.

You’ve been warned.

I was looking for the source of an old Roger Raupp illustration that caught my fancy and it turned out to be from a story in Dragon magazine, issue #54.  The article’s title is “Ruins: Rotted & Risky – but Rewarding”.  I ended up reading it through.

I found the article to be quite good.  It discusses the similarities and differences between using surface ruins and underground dungeons as adventuring locals, a topic that has been on my mind off and on for several months.  There are some wonderful examples of doing this kind of adventure, certainly in the source literature.  Conan, Elric and their ilk spent more time in lost cities than subterranean vaults.  Module I1, Dwellers in the Forbidden City is an all time classic adventure that is almost entirely set in a lost city.  A more contemporary example would be found at the Dreams in the Lich House blog, where the author’s Black City campaign has combined an extensive alien ruined city over top of a vast underground complex.

Our own Google+ hangout game recently had our party encounter the ruins of the City of Gygaxia!


Back on topic, the article included a nice collection of tips for designing ruins, including tables for seeding monster lairs in the abandoned structures.  It’s quite a good article and worth a read.  My arsenal of DM’s design tools is pretty extensive at this point, but this fills a design niche I hadn’t given much thought to.

The result of this was that I finally revisited an idea that’s been rolling around in my head for a long time.  I love dungeons and some of my favorites are lost dwarven cities.  Give me a site where the dwarves delved too deeply and too greedily and I’m a happy gamer.  To that end I’ve been doodling with such a city off and on.

Taking cues from Moria, I envision this city as having once been a center of commerce and passage between realms on opposite sides of a mountain range.  Borrowing from Erebor and Dale, outside one of the city gates is a ruined city.    The article prompted me to pull out my sketch pad and start working up a rough draft of the city map.

This in turn reminded me of an app for my iPhone that I recently picked up.

I did warn you that this post was going to wander.

I have an extensive collection of materials, some of which I’d like to be able to scan in for online use, but much of it is in books that don’t easily fit on my little desktop scanner.  I also love to make maps, which I still prefer to draw by hand.  I’ve had some fun with mapping on the iPad, but I still prefer a good pencil and pad.  However, I have little practice scanning them in and cleaning them up.

Scanner Pro by Readdle aims to help me fix that by turning my iPhone into a handheld scanner.  The software has several features that set it above just taking pictures.  It has an auto-detect for the borders of your subject, saving the effort of cropping the image.  It takes images in color, grey scale, or high contrast black and white, which is good for line art.  You can adjust the contrast and brightness of the image on the fly, and you can save the file as either a .jpg or a .pdf.  The latter when combined with the multi-page feature allows you to make a multi-page .pdf file from your phone.  From there you can email it or upload it through a variety of means.

Below are examples of my city-in-progress, both in grey scale and contrast formats.  I need more practice holding my phone horizontally and the grey scale image has some shadows, but I decided to leave the flaws in.  Like the subject, using the software is a work in progress.

Click to see larger versions of the images:


All in all, not too bad.  The drawing is straight #2 pencil with no inking.  Considering that, I’m pleased with how well the software picked up the details.  The contrast version also completely removed the shadow. The only adjustments I made to the pictures were the built-in contrast and brightness settings.

It also allowed me to capture a digital image of one of my favorite illustrations from any game book.  This is a straight shot with no cropping using the contrast settings.


Scanner Pro shows promise and I’ll be playing around with it more.  Not to mention developing my adventure setting.

Thank you for taking this wander through my thoughts.  And hey, this is my 100th post!  I’ve had a great deal of fun since I started this weblog and look forward to the next 100.

Until next time, happy gaming!

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Posted by on January 14, 2014 in Dungeon Design, Gaming, Maps


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