Friday, December 20, 2013

Wilds - Downtime

I haven't posted anything new from my Labyrinth Lord PBEM Wilds game in a while, because we're on a bit of a break. With the holidays approaching participation was down, and a couple players have lost interest in continuing. Right now the plan is to pick back up after January 1 and see where we stand.

As for Locky and Mordikarr, the PCs of those who have bowed out, well, I expect they'll end up something like this...

We just passed turn 100 in the game, which means 50+ weeks of two per week turns. That's a long time to play at the glacial pace of PBEM, so some losses are not surprising. We'll have to see if we have enough momentum / interest to keep going, or if we'll move on to something new.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Minecraft: The New Era - Walls and Traps

A few more days have passed (OK, several more days), and there is progress! Last time I mentioned finding a spider spawner in my mine. I've now turned that into an infinite string supply, which means I can finally get some sleep! If you're unfamiliar with Minecraft, string combines into wool, and wool and wood combine to make a bed. A bed lets you sleep through the night, skipping past a lot of cowering in the dark or fighting monsters.
Home Ugly Home

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Minecraft: The New Era - A Few Days Later

Some time has passed, work has been done, and improvements made. Nothing spectacular yet, but my little desert base is starting to take shape. I've spent several days in and around my original mine, finishing off the greenhouse, starting some security measures, and doing some harvesting and digging.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Minecraft: The New Era - Decisions (Day Eight / Nine)

After a night of mining, that extended into the morning of day eight, I've come to a decision: I'll make this desert wasteland a solid base of operations. I've already started a mine shaft, there's ocean right outside the door, and trees that are close enough to harvest. With that in mind, I spent the day, poking around the area right next to my base, discovering a tiny patch of grass, which yielded one wheat seed; a small partially underground pool, which I'll turn into my indoor fishing pond; and a variety of dead shrubs, which are useless.
Indoor Fishing is the Future!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Minecraft: The New Era - Day Six & Seven

After a couple false starts, getting lost in the desert, dying to a zombie horde, things are looking up! I spent the night doing some minor mining and found a couple nice pockets of iron, so I have some raw materials to work with now. My little hovel on the beach is nothing special, but it'll serve for now.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Minecraft: The New Era - Day Three-Five (Ah, Death!)

Yep, it only took three days to die. After spending the night in the village I stumbled over, I ran outside a bit too quickly for someone with one life left. A skeleton put an end to me, and we know what that means... respawn!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Minecraft: The New Era (Day Two)

Another day, another aaah, run away! After spending the night huddled in my little hole in the wall, I ran outside, hoping to find something useful. Instead I found several zombies, a giant spider, and a couple creepers. I managed to defeat the horde and gained a bit of string and some rotten meat for my troubles. At least I won't die of starvation.

PBE Games - Catching Up

I failed Marketing 101 last week, because I didn't announce the new stuff. Here's the list from this week and last:

I'm working on rounding out the terrain-based tables over the holidays. Mountains and hills are done, with arctic, wetlands, and jungle in the works. I also have two dungeon-based One Pages plus the next three Dungeons in Blue Small Dungeons almost ready to roll out.

Lastly, I'm working on a quick set of Dungeons in Blue tiles that are simple corridors and intersections. One of my customers noted a distinct lack of plain connections, so I thought I'd pull together a quick set to fill the void. This should be done later today.

Edit: aaaand done! Corridors and Intersections is now available as pay what you want.

That's it for today. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Minecraft: The New Era (Day One)

I haven't played Minecraft in quite a while. I went through a period of messing with mods, including some huge mod-packs full of technology and such, but got tired of keeping them up to date with core changes. Since things have changed a lot since the last time I really delved into the game, I decided to start from scratch with a vanilla world and check out what's new. Day one begins...

The Wilds - The Trail Goes Cold

Last time the party was quasi-pursuing a group of troglodytes through the dungeon, hoping to finish off the pack before the creatures set an ambush or doubled back. The group got sidetracked when they rescued a human... slave? prisoner? food-source? from a pit in one of the nearby chambers. Carrying on...

Friday, December 6, 2013

Firefall - Battleframe Progression

I got tired of digging through the wiki for this stuff, so... tables!

Note that this information is now completely out of date. Retained for posterity.

Frame Constraint Resource Item 1x45 Accord Merit Point 3x10 Accord Merit Point
Accord Assault Methine Assault Accumulators Weapons Grade Crystite Hardened CPU
Firecat Nitrine Firecat Thermocouples Tactical Firmware Milspec Actuator
Tigerclaw Octine Tigerclaw Transducers Weapons Grade Crystite Classified Energizer
Accord Biotech Xenografts Biotech Nano-Manipulators Tactical Firmware Hardened CPU
Dragonfly Biopolymer Dragonfly Bio-Diffusors Weapons Grade Crystite Milspec Actuator
Recluse Petrochemical Recluse Nano-Toxins Tactical Firmware Classified Energizer
Accord Dreadnaught Ceramics Dreadnaught Dampeners Weapons Grade Crystite Hardened CPU
Arsenal Radine Arsenal Magnetic Accelerators Weapon Grade Crystite Classified Energizers
Mammoth Silicate Mammoth ArcNodes Weapon Grade Crystite Classified Energizers
Rhino Carbon Rhino Energizers Tactical Firmware Milspec Actuator
Accord Engineer Toxins Engineer Arrays Tactical Firmware Hardened CPU
Bastion Regenics Bastion Dielectrics Weapons Grade Crystite Milspec Actuator
Electron Anabolics Electron Accelerators Tactical Firmware Classified Energizer
Accord Recon Iron Recon SIN Configuration Module Weapons Grade Crystite Hardened CPU
Nighthawk Copper Nighthawk Target Acquisition Unit Weapons Grade Crystite Classified Energizer
Raptor Aluminum Raptor Electroconductors Tactical Firmware Milspec Actuator

Item Thump Dump Copacabana Trans-Hub Command Sunken Harbor
Classified Energizer x x x
Hardened CPU x x
Milspec Actuator x x x
Tactical Firmware x x
Weapon Grade Crystite x x

Wilds - Follow that Trog!

Last post the party was finishing off several trogs in a brief battle. Some of the party had spotted more creatures fleeing the scene, and the group was slightly split by room configuration. What could possibly go wrong?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

PBE Games - New Releases

New Dungeons in Blue geomorphs. Lots of new geomorphs. Here's the list:

  • Set G - Twelve tiles in assorted sizes.
  • Set H - Nine 100x100 foot tiles.
  • Set I - Twenty tiles, 50x50 foot and 50x100 foot.
  • Triple Pack Three - All the above in a discounted bundle.

Here are a few preview images at one-third scale:
Set G

Set H

Set I

The Master List has also been updated to include all available Dungeons in Blue products.

That's it! This is probably the last post until next week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. My Wilds game is on hold, and I'll be in food coma anyhow. Enjoy the holiday if you celebrate it!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Wilds - Aggressive Exploration

Last turn the party found a room with a weird mechanism and a couple levers inside, this turn they move on to some more aggressive door-bashing, with the usual results. What follows is actually two turns combined.

Friday, November 22, 2013

PBE Games - New One Pages

I guess I neglected to post an announcement last week about the lone product I published, so let me quickly catch things up:

All One Page products are designed for use with any fantasy role-playing game. Each includes twenty ready-to-roll table entries based on a single idea or category.

Next week I'll be publishing three more Dungeons in Blue tile sets, available individually or as a triple pack bundle. I'll also be updating the Master List index to reflect all the latest Dungeons in Blue products.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Firefall - First Impressions

Two of my regular video-gaming friends started playing Firefall by Red 5 Studios a while back, and the game is now in open beta, so I thought I'd give it a try, mostly to shut up my friends, as shooters are not really my thing these days, old-gamer reflexes being old-gamer reflexes. Here are some quick first impressions based on 15-20 hours of play.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Wilds - A Brief Interlude

After the chaotic fight with the trogs, the party was pretty well beaten up and out of healing spells. They decided to fall back to camp and rest up for a day or so. It turns out this was a Good Thing (TM), as the next morning Maro suffered a bout of fever, and was weak and listless all day. He asked Durego for his opinion, and a brief check revealed a major rash on the elf's back and leg. After checking with the others (no one else has similar symptoms), Locky remembered the giant ticks. One of them had bitten Maro, and he'd had these fever fits since. Durego decided to use the party's cure disease scroll on the elf, and shortly thereafter the rash and major symptoms disappeared. This was a good thing, tick fever is deadly over time, and Maro was already down two strength and two constitution. After full recovery the party made an early start back to the Maze, and headed in after scouting the surface...

Friday, November 8, 2013

PBE Games - Small Dungeons #3 / Map Pack Now Available

Pretty much what it says in the title. The third Dungeons in Blue Small Dungeons map is now available on DriveThruRPG, as is a bundle deal featuring all three maps in this series. Small Dungeons are dual-purpose virtual tabletop maps: each contains stand-alone and geomorph-ready versions of, well, a small dungeon. Player and GM versions of each map are provided. All maps are drawn in the classic blue style at 100px per five-foot square, and are fully compatible with Dungeons in Blue geomorphs. Here are the links:

Of course you can see all the PBE Games products right here.

Here's the preview image from Small Dungeons #3, which shows the player version of both maps. As you can see this is a cave complex, with some rather disjoint caverns. Luckily the GM version of the map shows some secret details.

Thanks for reading, have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I Have Powers - Minor Powers

One of the things I've done in my current Labyrinth Lord game, is give each main character a small perk power that matches up with their character concept. These are simple bits that may or may not be useful in play, but give each player a little something to call their own. Some of these were adapted from other systems, some adapted from spells, some were just made up.

Here they are...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Wilds - Divided We Fall

The last few turns of my Wilds play-by-email Labyrinth Lord game have involved a rather convoluted series of split-party actions (always a good thing in the dungeon -- not!). One of the nice things about PBEM games is that you can deal with split up scenes fairly well. Typically I mail out a global turn to our main mailing list, with occasional side notes to individuals as needed. When the party splits up, the main turn gets boiled down to a summary of time and locale, and each sub-group gets a tailored message. In this case, some of the sub-groups were one character.

Friday, November 1, 2013

PBE Games Q3 - 2013 / New Releases

I was looking at my product spreadsheet this morning, and was surprised to see I'm up to 30 published products so far this year, not counting free / bundle items. When I started this project up in February, I expected to put out a title a month, but when I started doing maps, the pace really picked up. Of those 30 products, 19 are virtual maps.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


These creatures were created for one of my old campaign worlds, which featured a vast, magically-corrupted desert known as the Burning. This thousand-mile wide waste was created by the dying curse of a demi-god, and served as a backdrop for much of the campaign. The Sandlings were a constant threat to those entering the Burning.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Wilds - To the Chaos!

When we left our adventurers, they'd started to explore the area at the end of the stairs down they'd found, ending up in a room with a big reptilian statue. They'd also heard noises of some kind beyond the north door, so...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

PBE Games - Three is Better than Two

I managed to get out three new products this week, though one is kind of a cheat, being a bundle of Dungeons in Blue stuff.

First up is One Page #4 - Curious Mundane Objects, the latest One Page, which contains twenty strange objects you can use to confuse or baffle your players! Place them in a local curio shop, a mage's laboratory, or a treasure vault to add a touch of weirdness to your game.

Entries & Exits Two one-third scale preview
Then it's on to Dungeons in Blue with two new releases, Entries and Exits Set Two, which contains a dozen geomorphs featuring dungeon entrances, exits, and level transitions. This is also the final product in the big Parts and Pieces Pack, which includes all the assorted special tile and icon pack products I've released to date (at a discount of course).

I'll be spending the rest of the morning updating the Dungeons in Blue Master List with the latest product listings and projected new product releases. November / December should see three new tile sets and an accompanying bundle deal. Of course there are already two more Small Dungeons on the schedule to go with Small Dungeons #1, and I'll likely add a three-map bundle to the lineup as well.

That's about it for news today. Thanks for reading, happy gaming!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dungeon by Table

I posted this quick table in the G+ Map-Making in Games group, and people seemed to like it, so I thought I'd preserve it here for easier reference.

These tables are a very loose mechanism for laying out a dungeon map. Roll the General Space table for an initial what's here, then roll other tables as needed to fill out / inspire details. I've been using this method for Dungeons in Blue geomorphs, making one or two rolls per tile when I need a bit of inspiration.

Friday, October 18, 2013

PBE Games - New Releases

Two new releases this week:

Small Dungeons #1 is now available. The Small Dungeons series adds stand-alone maps to the Dungeons in Blue collection! Every Small Dungeons product contains a ready-to-fill dungeon map drawn in the classic blue style. Each map includes assorted tricks, traps, and features, but leaves plenty of room for the GM's own additions. In addition to player and GM stand-alone maps, every Small Dungeons product also includes a geomorph-ready version of both maps, adding the doors, rooms, and corridors required to connect the dungeon to other Dungeons in Blue tiles.

I've also released One Page #3 : Fabulous Jewelry, which contains twenty unique pieces of jewelry, ready for your treasure trove! Each entry includes a brief description of the piece, plus a suggested gold piece value. Many pieces also include a bit of lore or a minor hook that can provide inspiration for further adventure.

That's it for this week, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Reading is Fundamental

That's what this post is all about. One of my best friends and long-term gaming buddies (seriously, since high-school, and we're old), Micah R. Sisk, has published his first two ebooks in the science fiction genre. The listings on Amazon/Goodreads include a longer blurb, but here's the short and sweet:

NightBird Calling tells the tale of Y'Goth, privateer captain of the NightBird, and his cloned brothers. Their plan seemed a bit crazy: rob the human-on-a-bio-gaseous-computer Nesters. But as is always the case, things get complicated. NightBird Calling is a novella-length story, the first in a series of works exploring the history, cultures, and societies of the posthuman diaspora: the Posthuman Cycle.

NightBird Calling is available for Kindle via Amazon, and Goodreads.
PleshaCore is quest-for-identity, gender-bending action/ thriller set on the anything-goes pleasure planet, PleshaCore. Captain Jacobs finds himself in an unfamiliar body after being restored from his vessel's digital mind-locker. He, now she, also seems to have gotten married to his first mate. With the ship's A.I. on the accountancy warpath, and assorted kidnappers and assassins in pursuit, Jacobs must discover what's behind the web of conspiracy and obfuscation.

PleshaCore is also available for Kindle via Amazon, and Goodreads.

Go forth, and READ!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Blackpool Maze - Tomb & Tunnel

After checking out the stairs up and the length and breadth of the new hallway, the party decides to try the north door, a heavy, iron slab with a broken lock, first. After a check for traps, Ingvild steps back to let Raúguey do his thing, and once again the door opens into the hallway beyond, swirling dust up from the floor. The short hall turns west, then forks to the north, and as the front ranks advance, they note alcoves on either side of the passages, and another split to the north. "It's a crypt," whispers Raúguey with a shiver as he eyes the tipped-over casket in the first alcove, the bones, flesh long-gone, scattered about haphazardly.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

PBE Games - Double-header Two! Two is Better than One, Right?

Well I managed to find a bug in the file-update mailing system on DriveThruRPG today (I really can break anything). Seems when you put URLs in the customized portion of an email  message for a product file update, the URLs get turned to useless goo, as the process strips off the http header and host name. Doh!

Right, so new stuff this week. First up is One Page #2 : Outdoor Oddities and Landmarks. This is a table of twenty strange landmarks, terrain features, and odd constructs ready to plug into any outdoor adventure. Each includes a brief description of the oddity and many include features that can be leveraged into clues or hints by the GM. As promised, this product is up as pay what you want for a limited time.

The second new release is Edges and Alcoves Two, which contains a dozen more Dungeons in Blue geomorphs. All these tiles have entry / exit points on one edge only, so you can bring your dungeon to a sensible close.

I also updated The Master List with links to all available products and projected release dates for the next five or six tile sets (see above note for broken-link warning - sorry if you received one of those). It includes the first mention of...

Small Dungeons

Sometime before Halloween I'll be releasing the first Small Dungeons product for Dungeons in Blue. Small Dungeons are 100x200 foot ready-to-fill maps that come in two flavors, stand-alone, and geomorph-ready. You can use them by themselves as a one-shot dungeon, or combine them with other geomorphs for a full megadungeon experience. Here's a one-third scale peek at the first Small Dungeons map, showing both the stand-alone and geomorph-ready versions.

Click to embiggen

Have I typed 'dungeon' enough in this post?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Photo of the Week - From the Archives

I haven't had much time outside over the last week or so, so I haven't taken many photos. I had to go digging in my old photos for these two shots. Both are from a trip to Swallow Falls State Park in Maryland. As I recall, it was a chilly, gray weekend, and there'd been quite a bit of rain the week before, so the water was high. These were taken with my old Nikon Coolpix.


Easy to Cross, Right?
If you've never been to Swallow Falls, and you're in the area, it's well worth a visit. There's a network of trails, and a campground available, though energetic walkers could see most of the sights in a day-trip.

Images copyright Mark A. Thomas
Creative Commons CC BY-NC 3.0

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Wilds - Splish Splash!

After a brief fight with the bugs, which resulted in a few minor wounds to party members, and one bug escaping down a hole, the rear-guard noticed some hefty splashing noises coming from the big hall to the north that they'd just vacated. Rather than face whatever it was, they decided to avoid it....

Friday, October 4, 2013

Path of Exile Release Date Announced!

Path of Exile by Grinding Gear Games, is an action RPG that's been in open beta for quite a while now. I've written about it before, so I'm not going to spend time describing the game. The thing I will talk about is the October 23rd launch date for Release 1.0.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

PBE Games - New Release Double-header

I'm happy to announce two new PBE Games products out this week. First up is the next Dungeons in Blue geomorph pack, Tunnels and Passages, which includes twenty-four classic blue dungeon tiles designed for use with your favorite virtual tabletop. This set is focused on getting from point A to point B in the dungeon. Most tiles are heavy on corridors and passages, light on rooms and chambers. There are still plenty of interesting and dangerous places to visit though!

The second release is the first product in the One Page series. Number One : Minor Treasures is a single page treasure table containing twenty unique, ready-to-use treasures, suitable for any fantasy campaign. Every entry includes a brief description of the item and an estimated value in gold pieces. Many also include a minor hook or bit of information to inspire further adventure.

The One Page series is brand new, but the next four products are mostly done. I'll probably be pushing out one per week for the month of October. I'll also be setting up Number Two : Outdoor Oddities and Landmarks as a pay-what-you-want product, so you can try before you buy if that's your thing.

Final note, the quarter is done, so that means I'll be publishing a new quarterly report on title sales. Stay tuned.

(And if you're a Wilds reader, never fear, the next post will be up sometime tomorrow).

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Wilds - One Stone Unturned

Prudence overcomes aggression, and the party elects to leave the scraping noises beneath the rock alone, for now. As Durego said, "It's not like whatever it is is going anywhere." The party retreats out of the cave into the jail, taking a careful look around as they fall back, and closing doors behind them as best they can. The two forced doors no longer close completely, but Durego and Raúguey use some of the manacles hanging on the walls to fasten the doors shut, sort of.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Dungeons in Blue - Entries and Exits Set One Released

The mapping streak continues this week, with Dungeons in Blue Entries and Exits Set One. These geomorphs are focused on getting into the dungeon and delving deeper into the depths. Each tile contains either a surface access point or stairs leading to the depths, plus connections to the current level, of course.

This set rendered at 100px per five-foot square and fully compatible with the rest of the Dungeons in Blue line. It includes twelve tiles (EE1-EE12):

  • Six 50x50 foot tiles.
  • Six 50x100 foot tiles.
  • A map legend image detailing all map markup.
  • A one-third scale summary map showing all tiles.
  • A short readme PDF.
All maps are ready-to-use PNG-format files compatible with most virtual tabletops. Use them as-is, or combine them into larger maps using your favorite image processing software.

I've also updated the free Dungeons in Blue Master List with information on the latest releases, a new map legend, plus a preview of the next few Dungeons in Blue releases. The Master List includes preview images of all Dungeons in Blue products plus a small set of free sample geomorphs, so it's well worth grabbing. Upcoming products include:

  • Edges and Alcoves Set Two - more side and edge geomorphs.
  • Entries and Exits Set Two - the companion collection for the current release.
  • Tunnels and Passages - a big set of connection tiles with lots of corridors, caves, and passages.
  • Parts and Pieces Pack - a bundle deal that includes all the above-mentioned stuff, plus the previously released Icon Pack One and Icon Pack Two (all at a discount of course).

And speaking of discounts, it's been over six months since the release of Deadly Blows and Koslac's Crossing, so I've dropped the list price on both these products. You can see all these and more on PBE Games' publisher page.

Thanks for reading, happy dungeons!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Wilds - Black Water in Blackpool

"Stand back, just in case," says Raúguey, hefting the crowbar and eyeing the bar-lined door at the end of the water-filled hall. When the others nod their ready state, he jams the bar into the gap by the lock, and heaves. There's a creak, and then a sudden SCREE-SNAP as the lock mechanism twists, then breaks in the rusted frame. The door sloooshes inward then grinds to a stop against the submerged floor.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Photo of the Week - Mantis Makeover!

Today's photos were taken in my back yard. The first is about a month old; the second I took just a couple days ago. I'm fairly sure both these shots are of the same praying mantis (it's not like my yard has a ton of hiding places for big insects.
Young Mantis on Sage
Older and Wiser Mantis on Basil
Images copyright Mark A. Thomas
Creative Commons CC BY-NC 3.0

Monday, September 23, 2013

Wilds - Back to the Dungeon!

With a clear course of action in front of them, the party, at the urging of Saurabh and Raúguey, elect to spend a day exploring the area around the current camp to see if they can find a better site for the mules and guards. The old fire pit and trails in the ruins have made folk cautious. Leaving the camp in place and guarded by the usual suspects, the main party heads out to explore, using the old road as a guide, but diverting off the rough path to investigate anything interesting.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Wilds - Blackpool at Last?

Last turn the party found a ruin beside a vast lake, about where Vukota told them they'd find it. Could it actually be Blackpool Maze?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Photo of the Week - See?

I told you Indiana was kind of flat.

I took this on the drive out to one of my favorite little nature preserves, Weiler-Leopold / Black Rock Barrens, part of the Niches Land Trust. It's obvious Autumn is on the way. Lots of old and dying flower heads around.

But not everyone has given up on summer yet.

Images copyright Mark A. Thomas
Creative Commons CC BY-NC 3.0

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wilds - Hey Look! Ruins!

A few turns have passed, and not without incident. After discovering the skull on a stick and some other signs of activity, the party decided to attempt contact with whoever / whatever was encamped in the fortified cave they'd found. Leaving the bulk of the group at the camp near the little clearing, Maro, Mordikarr, Ingvild, and Dagmarten retraced the trail north to spy out the cave and see who they were dealing with, hopefully without being seen...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dungeons in Blue - Edges and Alcoves Set One Released

I've been on a mapping tear lately, so here's another set of virtual tabletop geomorph tiles ready to roll! Dungeons in Blue Edges and Alcoves Set One contains twelve unique map tiles rendered at 100px per five-foot square (now with magma!). It includes two versions of each tile, one for players and one for GMs. The GM's version shows additional features, tricks, and traps. This set includes (EA1-EA12):

  • Six 50x50 foot tiles, all with a single entry side.
  • Six 50x100 foot tiles, all with a single entry side.
  • A map legend image detailing all map markup.
  • A one-third scale summary map showing all tiles.
  • A short readme PDF.
These tiles are all edge pieces, meaning the standard entry and exit points appear only on one side of the tile. All geomorph dungeons need to end eventually, don't they? Here's the one-third scale summary sheet of all geomorphs in this set.

And don't forget, you can still get Dungeons in Blue Icon Pack One at a 25% discount right here. This offer expires September 15th.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Photo of the Week - Weeds

It's been hot, humid, and generally not very good for walking about with a camera weather the last couple days, so I had to dig into the archives to find a couple shots for today's post. The theme is weeds, which are everywhere. These shots were taken at Fort Ouiatenon Park, at the same time as last week's shots.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Wilds - Out and a Scout!

After the fight with the giant ticks, the party decided to head back to the spire, south to the road, and then east along its more clearly marked path in hopes of finding known terrain. This plan leads them east northeast for just over a day, where they find vault hill, the place they found the weird shapes and the key that unlocked the spire. Emboldened by this discovery, they head out northwest, along the other fork of the road that leads away from the hill. After passing through the ruins of what might have been stone-walled huts or a farm with several outbuildings, the road ends. Undeterred, the group continues northwest, hoping to reacquire the trail. Instead they find a grisly skull, probably a kobold or goblin, stuck on a post next to a narrow trail.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dungeons in Blue - Icon Pack One Released

The first icon pack for Dungeons in Blue virtual tabletop geomorph tiles is now available!

This product contains over 75 map icons designed for use with Dungeons in Blue geomorph tiles and your favorite virtual tabletop software. Icons are drawn using the same style and scale (100px per five foot square) as the original maps, allowing you to quickly and easily customize your map. The icons in this pack include:

  • Trees, altars, statues, and pillars
  • Boulders, individual and arranged in piles and markers
  • Slime patches and stalagmites
  • Grates, curtains, and cages
  • Pits, wells, stairs, and pools
  • Normal, trap, and false doors
  • Wall and floor tiles to cover unwanted features

This product also includes a copy of the latest map key. You can check it out right here, right now, and if you're an impulse buyer, you can use this link to pick up the product for $1.29 between now and September 15th, 2013, a 25% discount off the regular price.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Photo of the Week - The Birdhouse

Almost forgot to post something today. This is a really crusty birdhouse I found along the edge of an open field at Fort Ouiatenon Park. It's seen better days. Perhaps it's occupied by undead birds?

Also, a happy little butterfly.

Images copyright Mark A. Thomas
Creative Commons CC BY-NC 3.0

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Path of Exile

I first played (and wrote about) Path of Exile (PoE) about a year ago during the early phases of the beta process. Recently I stuck my toe back in to test the waters. One of the nice things about free-to-play games is that it's easy to jump back in after a hiatus. After a big client patch, I was back in and running. My original characters were all there, but wiped back to level one, not surprising given then were created during a beta weekend. I wrote up a long list of info for my friends to see if I could incite some of them to give the game another try, and after rereading it, I realized it was a pretty good summary of the starting experience, so, here it is:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Photo of the Week

I took today's photos at Celery Bog, a wetland preserve in West Lafayette. It's a great little park with a variety of terrain. Most of the time you think of Indiana as flat and open, but there's surprising variety in this little park. Aside from the obvious wetland area, which despite the name is actually a marsh, there's wooded area (Indiana used to be mostly forested believe it or not), and a section that's been allowed to revert to prairie grasses. This is what the bog looks like right now. This is why wilderness exploration is slow!
Celery Bog in August
Most photographers that visit the site focus on waterfowl. I've seen the usual geese and ducks, plus bald eagles, osprey, assorted herons, kingfishers, woodpeckers, and a host of others, but without a long lens most bird photos turn out pretty bad. I tend to go smaller, like this little dude. Found him in a small stand of milkweed just at the edge of the marsh. Sadly he was all alone.
Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar
Finally I decided to play around with Gimp and G'MIC again, using the bog image above. This is the result of applying pencil sketch to the image above.
Sketch Mode
Images copyright Mark A. Thomas
Creative Commons CC BY-NC 3.0

Monday, August 26, 2013

Wilds - Mule, Applied Directly to the Forehead!

So how does one level up a mule?

The party continues their fight against the blood-sucking giant ticks that invaded their camp at nightfall.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wilds - Tick TOCK!

Last turn, the party was ambushed by some multi-legged creatures that had been lurking in the trees above their camp. Let's see how that works out... Who lives? Who dies?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Photo of the Week

In an effort to A) force myself to take more photos, and B) to post more often, I'll be posting a picture or two each week from recent photo sessions. Most of these will be nature/outdoor stuff, with some macro stuff in the mix. In some cases, like today, I'll be including GIMP-processed versions of the image as well.

Today's image is of a giant horsefly that decided to do some sunbathing on my patio.

Original image
Cropped and sfx'd using G'MIC in Gimp
Images copyright Mark A. Thomas
Creative Commons CC BY-NC 3.0

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wilds - I Spire

When we left the party, they'd just returned from a round of spire-hopping, a process they continue for a while longer. They also try a few new tests. Raúguey stays behind at the base camp while the others take a trip in the spire to prove that the spire itself doesn't move (it doesn't). They find destinations that are solid walls of ice, bitterly cold ocean water, snowy hills, tundra, and a walled-up chamber completely enclosing the spire.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Items of Power - Volume Three

The latest product in PBE Games' Items of Power series is now available. The third volume contains seven new magic items: the Vermin Blade, Steadyhand Ring, Lifehammer, Robe of Elements, Sword of Bees, Magician's Elixir, and the Skull of the Dead.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Random Tables II - More Excel

A few days back I posted an ultra-simple example of a random table in Excel. Since I'm making a few tables for another project, I thought I'd do a slightly more complex (and useful) example, and explain how it works. Here's the basic table, which uses a percentile dice roll and has variable ranges for each table entry.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wilds - Click Your Heels Together Three Times

After debating the wisdom of exploration versus continuing to try combinations in hopes of getting home, the party elects to do a quick scout of the immediate area, keeping the spire in sight. Leaving the hirelings inside with the beasts, Ohwatoo, Dagmarten, and Locky do a quick survey of the immediate area around the tower, while Raúguey, Ingvild, and Durego investigate the various piles of stone they can reach. Rawon, Mordikarr, and Maro spread out a bit and scout out a few hundred yards into the woods.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Random Tables - An Excel Quickie

Someone over on G+ was asking about tools to make random tables for RPGs. I mentioned Excel and the poster said they weren't very good at using the spreadsheet. Since quick and dirty tables are pretty easy with Excel, I thought I'd throw together a quick example, so... here:

This is a very simple table with six entries (A2-A7). A1 is a formula which randomly selects an entry from the table using the INDEX and RANDBETWEEN functions. A8 is a text copy of the function used. Each time you hit the F9 key, RANDBETWEEN recalculates its value, and uses it as an index into the table. Here's what the INDEX function means:

  • A2:A7 is the array to work on (that's six rows by one column).
  • RANDBETWEEN(1,6) chooses a row value between 1 and 6, inclusive.
  • The final 1 parameter chooses the first column.

Points to note:

  • The INDEX function takes an array, a row, and a column as parameters. You can get fancier and use RANDBETWEEN for both row and column to create a two-dimensional table.
  • The RANDBETWEEN function picks a number from the integer values between and including the given low and high.
  • The row and column values in INDEX are values within the given array (A2:A7). The first row/column is always one, and the highest value is equal to the number of rows/columns in the array. Don't use spreadsheet row/column values!
  • Using an array reference inline like that leads to unreadable spreadsheets. If we were doing a more complex example, we'd apply a name to the data range, and use that instead.
  • What works in Excel generally works in Open Office or Google Drive documents. For example you can see the Drive version right here.

OK, that's it, quick and dirty. There's more complex stuff in this post right here though.

Monday, August 5, 2013

All Over the World...

Last turn the party decided to try and use the pedestal they found in the center of the spire chamber. The discovered the entire contents of the chamber, including themselves of course, had been moved to a different location. Let's see what happens next.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Wilds - The Spire

A few turns have passed in my Labyrinth Lord, Wilds game, and action has been a bit slow, with various real-life vacations slowing the pace a bit. here's a summary of action to date.

Friday, July 26, 2013

PBE Games - Q2 2013

I just realized that I'd carefully extracted last quarter's sales numbers so I could write up a quick report on progress, but I never actually did that. Here's the data (click for larger image):

Q2 2013 Sales
A couple observations based on the above:
  • Deadly Blows picked up some sales when Johnn Four at Roleplaying Tips mentioned it in one of his newsletters. So far it's in the lead for best-selling paid product. Note that Deadly Blows is on sale for the duration of the Christmas in July sale on DriveThruRPG.
  • Dungeons in Blue - The Master List shows that pretty much everyone will snatch up free products. It 'sold' 283 copies.
  • Tome of Names stuff has all come out between 10 and 15 copies sold each, so there seems to be a small but steady demand there.
  • Virtual Tabletop maps don't sell much, which is not surprising. They're fun for me though, so I don't mind if they don't make me rich. These products are also included in Christmas in July.
PBE Games on DriveThruRPG

And since you've read this far, let me mention the latest product from PBE Games: Items of Power - Volume One. Each product in this series contains seven unique magic items ready to plug and play in any OSR-style campaign. You can take advantage of this special offer link to receive a 25% discount on Items of Power - Volume One.

Thanks for reading, have a great weekend!

Monday, July 22, 2013

DriveThruRPG Christmas in July

It's that time of year again, DriveThruRPG & company is having their annual Christmas in July sale. This year PBE Games has a few things included in the sale. Here's the list:
  • Deadly Blows - system-agnostic critical hits tables
  • Koslac's Crossing - the map of a dwarf-built fortification for the virtual tabletop
  • The Tombs - the map of a tomb complex for the virtual tabletop
All the above are 25% off usual prices. I've also put Dungeons in Blue - Triple Pack One on sale at 15% off for the duration of the Christmas in July sale.

And if you missed it over the weekend, the next three sets of Dungeons in Blue tiles are now available:

Tile Set D contains a whole mess of smaller tiles: ten 50x50 foot and ten 50x100 foot geomorphs. This set includes three exterior entrances and quite a few level-connection stairs. I've also mixed in a variety of connection layouts, dead-ends and straight-through corridor arrangements to mix in with the usual edge and corner pieces.

Tile Set E provides the standard mix of tiles, four of each size. It also includes a full-sized exterior entrance tile and three tiles with level-connection stairs.

Tile Set F mixes things up again, with two 100x100 foot tiles, four 50x50 foot tiles, and eight 50x100 foot tiles, all in a variety of configurations. This set includes another entrance tile, and several more level-connections stairs.

Triple Pack Two includes all three sets listed above at a 15% discount.

All maps are rendered at 100 px per five-foot square, in ready-to-use PNG-format files compatible with most virtual tabletops. Two versions of each map are provided, one for players, and one for GMs. The GM's versions show additional features, tricks, and traps. Use them as-is, or combine them into larger maps using your favorite image processing software. Of course each set also includes a map key image, a one-third scale summary image of all tiles, and a brief readme PDF.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dungeons in Blue - Round Two

The next round of Dungeons in Blue geomorph tiles for the virtual tabletop are now available on DriveThruRPG! This update includes three new tile sets and a matching triple pack bundle deal. Each geomorph set in the last Dungeons in Blue release included four of each geomorph tile size, 50x50 foot, 50x100 foot, and 100x100 foot. This series mixes things up a bit. Read on for details on each tile set.

Tile Set D contains a whole mess of smaller tiles: ten 50x50 foot and ten 50x100 foot geomorphs. This set includes three exterior entrances and quite a few level-connection stairs. I've also mixed in a variety of connection layouts, dead-ends and straight-through corridor arrangements to mix in with the usual edge and corner pieces.

Tile Set E provides the standard mix of tiles, four of each size. It also includes a full-sized exterior entrance tile and three tiles with level-connection stairs.

Tile Set F mixes things up again, with two 100x100 foot tiles, four 50x50 foot tiles, and eight 50x100 foot tiles, all in a variety of configurations. This set includes another entrance tile, and several more level-connections stairs.

Triple Pack Two includes all three sets listed above at a 15% discount.

All maps are rendered at 100 px per five-foot square, in ready-to-use PNG-format files compatible with most virtual tabletops. Two versions of each map are provided, one for players, and one for GMs. The GM's versions show additional features, tricks, and traps. Use them as-is, or combine them into larger maps using your favorite image processing software. Of course each set also includes a map key image, a one-third scale summary image of all tiles, and a brief readme PDF.

If you want to check out the entire product line, grab the Master List, a free starter kit that includes a set of ready-to-use tiles, the latest and greatest map key, one-third scale summary maps of every Dungeons in Blue tile set, and an index PDF with direct links to the rest of the Dungeons in Blue product line (link update in progress now).

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope you'll check out Dungeons in Blue, or take a look at some of PBE Games' other products. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wilds - Back in the Spiders!

The party is finally back on the road, after an extended stop in Auslaug to restock, rest, carouse, and visit family and friends. When they finally get back on the road, they elect to head southwest to Hustwood, and then travel west from there hoping to avoid potential encounters with the gnoll village that lies closer to the northern route.

Several party members spent big chunks of gold on the few magic items found in Auslaug, picking up a few potions, a ring, a spear, a wand, and a sword. No doubt the traveling merchant Bekki will carry the news of a ready market for magic items south when she travels down-river to East Gorsebonn with the trade delegation.

I've skipped a bit of uneventful travel here, let's move on then, into the Wilds!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dungeons in Blue - The Next Round

I'm getting ready to put up the next Dungeons in Blue geomorph packs on DriveThruRPG. The tiles are done and the PDFs are ready, I just need to do a final edit check and review, then pack everything up. Hopefully I can get this done before the DriveThruRPG summer sale starts. Here's what's coming:

Set D contains twenty tiles, ten 50x50 foot and ten 50x100 foot:

Set D one-third scale samples

Set E contains twelve tiles four of each size (50x50, 50x100, and 100x100):

Set E one-third scale samples
Set F contains fourteen tiles, two 100x100, four 50x50, and eight 50x100:

Set F one-third scale samples
Triple Pack Two will contain Sets D, E, and F in a bundle deal.

Of course all three packages come with GM and player's versions of all tiles at 100px / five-foot square resolution, plus a one-third scale summary sheet, a full map key, and a readme PDF.

You can also check out the Master List, a free starter kit with sample tiles, map key, summary preview images and a full Dungeons in Blue product listing.

Andddd... The new tile sets are out!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Steadyhand Ring

Another magic item from my Wilds play-by-email game. With the party back in town, they're spending some time trying to figure out what the magic items they've found do.

Steadyhand Ring
This battered brass ring feels heavy in the hand. It is a plain band, but the inner surface is inscribed with a faint pattern of oscillating lines. When worn it steadies the wearer's hand, granting a +1 to hit bonus with missile weapons and a +5% bonus to find / remove traps and open locks attempts. It takes several hours wear for the ring to attune itself to a particular wearer's personal aura. Swapping resets this attuning process.

Now let's see who from the game notices this post. Gather information check anyone?

The Steadyhand Ring is one of seven items in Items of Power Volume Three, available on DriveThruRPG.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Meanwhile, in the Wilds

I haven't posted much on this game lately, because the last couple turns were uneventful, and the party is now back in Auslaug, dealing with XP, gold, equipment, and the like. Of the survivors, the main characters, except the poor elf Maro leveled up to 3rd. Also, using our 0th level adventuring rules, the three hirelings also leveled up. More on that below.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Library of Names Now Available!

I just wanted to throw up a quick note that I've bundled the three-volume Tome of Names series into the Library of Names. This set includes over 1000 names divided into nine language categories, including both first names and surnames.
The names in this product have a fantasy flavor, but may also be useful for science fiction, or other settings.

Thanks for reading, enjoy the July 4th holiday (if applicable)!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wilds - Wanted: Dead or... Dead!

With the ghouls' remains burned to a crisp the party packs up and starts backtracking along their trail (with a mix of grumbling and enthusiasm). The trail is not particularly hard to follow, at least for a while, but after several hours traipsing generally northwest, the signs grow thin and faint as the dense undergrowth and tall trees give way to more open woodlands. Enthusiasm wanes and grumbling increases. By mid-afternoon, only Maro seems intent on continuing along the possibly-lost trail.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Wilds - Bring out your Dead!

Dead, or mostly dead? Whatever the things are, it's clear the party is going to have to fight!

Round One - enemy initiative

Ohwatoo begins casting a spell!

As the party prepares swords, bows, crossbows, holy symbols, and spells, the creatures charge, closing on the party's front rank. The mules scatter back along the path, and one yanks Jonquil off his feet as he tries to control it. Thinking fast, Gorvil shifts into the gap left by the fallen Jonquil and sets his trusty pole arm against the charging foes from the second rank.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Dungeons in Blue Virtual Tabletop Tiles

Dungeons in Blue, classic blue geomorph-style maps for the virtual tabletop, are now available on DriveThruRPG! These ready-to-fill maps are packed with rooms, corridors, pits, and caves; all judiciously sprinkled with tricks and traps. Every geomorph tile seamlessly connects to every other tile in the series, providing the megadungeon builder tremendous freedom and flexibility.

Start with The Master List, a free starter kit that includes a set of ready-to-use tiles, the latest and greatest map key, one-third scale summary maps of every Dungeons in Blue tile set, and an index PDF with direct links to the rest of the Dungeons in Blue product line.

There are currently three tile sets available, cunningly named Set A, Set B, and Set C. Each of these sets includes:
  • Four 100x100 foot full-sized tiles.
  • Four 50x50 foot corner tiles.
  • Four 50x100 foot edge tiles.

50x100 foot sample tile
Each set also includes a map key, one-third scale summary map, and a quick readme PDF.

If you're ready to dive into the deep end, all three sets listed above are available in the Triple Pack One bundle.

All maps are rendered at 100 px per five-foot square, in ready-to-use PNG-format files compatible with most virtual tabletops. Two versions of each map are provided, one for players, and one for GMs. The GM's versions show additional features, tricks, and traps. Use them as-is, or combine them into larger maps using your favorite image processing software.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope you'll check out Dungeons in Blue, or take a look at some of PBE Games' other products. Have a great weekend!

50x50 foot sample tile

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wilds - The Road Home

With a pile of gold, silver, copper, and platinum bars in their hands, greed comes to the fore, and the party decides it's time to head to town. They retreat out of the vault complex, sealing all the doors behind them, and fall back to the camp they used the previous night, near the stream. The hike isn't terribly long, but Durego and Raúguey have convinced everyone that they should load excess personal gear on the mules so they can split the bars and other treasure among party members. That way a mule can't run off with all the loot. It takes a couple hours to wind down off the hill and backtrack along the old road, covering tracks as best they can.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wilds - Pop the Box

Fully recovered and itching for loot, the party prepares to open the three chests they found in the glowing vault...

Start Date: July 16, Year of the Badger, morning
Start Status: Pop top!
Start Location: In the golden tunnels, deep in the Wilds

The Turn

After a discussion about various ways to open the chests, the party agrees to build a lifting mechanism using some poles, rope, and a grappling hook. Before heading out to gather the needed supplies, they check out the last doors. As expected, they mirror the already explored areas.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Dwarf Kettle

Finally, the players in my Wilds game have figured out what the iron kettle they've been lugging about does! Now I can post it for everyone.

Dwarf Kettle

This iron kettle was made by the Dwarfs long ago, though it's plain shape and lack of adornment make this hard to discern. When a command phrase is spoken (Kettle Cook - in Dwarf), the kettle transforms whatever liquid it is filled with into a rich, warm broth, just right for sipping. Consuming one cup of this broth is equivalent to a full meal. The kettle can be activated twice per day.

  • The kettle holds four servings.
  • Anyone consuming a serving regains 1d4 HP.
  • Broth produced cannot be stored for more than one hour.

Short and sweet!

The Dwarf Kettle is one of seven items in Items of Power Volume One, available via DriveThruRPG.