Thursday, December 30, 2010

Filling the sandbox

When it comes to designing a game setting I've always wondered how much to put in one area. How many dungeons should be a days ride from The Constipated Hobbit Inn? How many ancient alien complexes should be a short jump away from that Class K space station? There seen to be different approaches to question, with some gamers cramming lots of hot-spots into a map, with others spreading them out over a larger area.

The former style is clearly at work in the late Dave Hargrave's legendary (notorious?) Arduin campaign setting. Take a look at this map from one of the grimoires and you'll see that despite being just a small corner of the world it's bursting with dungeons.

In fact, all of the published Arduin dungeons are on that map. They're all within spitting distance of one another. A somewhat similar approach is evident in Jeff Rients' excellent comedic Encounter Critical module, Asteroid 1618. Jeff mapped out the Vanth sub-sector of space Traveller fashion.  Along with the planet Vanth it includes Gamma (Gamma World), the spaceship Warden (Metamorphosis Alpha), Orezius (Uresia), Mythika (Mazes & Minotaurs) and more.

Even given that this is something of a tongue-in-cheek game, that's a lot of adventure locales in one small sub-sector.

The other approach is the one taken by the Judge's Guild in their classic Wilderlands of High Fantasy setting. This involved maps covering near-continental swaths of land and the dungeons and adventure modules that were published to tie into it were spread out over vast distances. A similar approach seems to be evident in Christopher B.'s Dark World, where you have a large area mapped out where the dungeons will be spread around.

So which approach do you use? Do you put all the interesting thing within easy reach of each other? Do you disperse them, placing them far apart and setting the stage for epic voyages?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The earliest T& T map

I'm a little behind the curve on this, but the Troll God has been posting some of his early fantasy maps on his blog.

The earliest Tunnels and Trolls map

Before I ever had an inkling that my life would be bound up with imaginary characters delving imaginary dungeons in imaginary lands, I was trying to write fantasy is a mode that mixed the styles of Robert E. Howard and Lord Dunsany. Fantasy places shoud have great evocative names. If you study this map you will find the city of Khosht, a place of ruins called Khazan-Tharothat, and other names that might sound familiar to T & T players. Wherever you see the little hammer/pickaxe symbols was a stronghold of the Dwarves. The Elves, of course lived in the forests. And Men lived in the cities. I wasn’t gaming yet, but my inner dream cartography was beginning to take shape.

I drew this map after writing my first Howard-esque swords and sorcery story called “Some Legends Should Remain Forgotten".

This is not only an interesting glimpse into Ken's raw imagination but these maps could easily be used as adventure locales in a game. Besides, what gamer worth their salt hasn't scribbled out some fantasy lands of their own? I just wish mine were as interesting as these.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dune redesign

Over in the BoardGameGeek fora there's a really cool project underway. Gamer Ilya Baranovsky has started doing an excellent redesign of the graphics of the classic Avalon Hill game Dune.

While I usually prefer boargames that involve hexes and dice, this game is one of the exceptions and this new art makes it even more appealing. I'm really looking forward to the finished project.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Steranko characters

Courtesy of Golden Age Comic Book Stories here are some amazing space opera characters drawn by the legendary Jim Steranko. Just add stats and go!