Sunday, October 22, 2023

[Dungeon] The Red Bastion - old-school adventure

Last week, I wrote about my process of drawing dungeon maps. Now I stocked the "tutorial map" and turned it into a proper little adventure location!

The Red Bastion - the prison of a dwarf ghost princess... A 15-room dungeon for levels 2-3.

Grab the PDF here!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

How do I make dungeon maps? A tutorial...

People ask me from time to time about my digital dungeon drawing method. Here’s a write-up! I hope it’s useful.

The Process:
I use GIMP, which is an open-source graphic editor. Photoshop can do the same. Basically, you need any graphic software that can do layers and brushes.

I learned the basis of my approach from this video:
P3RPLEX3D explains very well how to do basic wall outlines and fill it with a grid pattern. Thanks!

I use custom brushes for dungeon symbols. I downloaded a set from a blog many years ago, and cannot find it :( The file was shared openly, so I feel mildly comfortable including it here.

Then I add everything else on top… Here’s my process:
  1. I put on some music (“Hejira” by Joni Mitchell today)
  2. I sketch out the map on paper. This is not the final version, but it’s good to have the general layout from the start
  3. I open GIMP
  4. I already have a blank map file, so that I don’t have to go through basic setup every time. This blank has several layers:
    a. Background
    b. Dungeon wall outline
    c. Dungeon grid
    d. Symbols
    e. A group of text labels
    f. Optional layers to contain stuff like water, overlays, or cover-ups for secrets and traps if I want to create a players’ map
  5. I set the editor’s grid to 70 x 70. This is the standard scale for Roll20 digital maps, but you can use any scale you want
  6. I draw all the walls
    a. Brush size for walls is 8 pixels
    b. For built architecture, I switch on “snap to grid”. Sometimes you have to adjust the grid to 35 x 35 etc., as needed. For natural cave areas, I switch “snap to grid” off
  7. I leave gaps for doors and similar features
  8. Fill up the dungeon with the grid pattern (see the video tutorial above)
  9. Draw the rest of the fckin owl Add in symbols for doors, secret doors, traps, main room features like statues and coffins
  10. Add “indoor” cliffs, bodies of water – these all go on extra layers. The slider for layer opacity helps a LOT!
  11. Add labels and room numbers on top. I always number the rooms on my paper sketch first, and only after that add the digital labels. I use Jost, font size 54 for room numbers, 40 for smaller notes

And so on. There’s a lot of trial-and-error, janky additions and overlays, mistakes happy coincidences. But overall, this is a relatively easy method of creating usable digital dungeon maps without resorting to specialized software. And I like the flexibility it offers.

Step-by-step illustrations:

1. Sketch:

2. Digital outlines:
3. Grid fill:

4. Symbols and extra layers:
5. Labels and finishing touches:


Sunday, October 15, 2023

[Dungeon] Delver's Delight - "lost world" level complete!

Another update to my dungeon, Delver's Delight! This time I added a large "lost world" style level, called Land of Dusk. It has a stronger overarching theme than the previous dungeony dungeon levels. Weird dino jungle & lake in a hollow earth cavity!

This is Level 3A.

Level 3B is also in the works, it's a dungeon/fortress area that connects up with the Land of Dusk.

Grab it here!

Sunday, October 8, 2023

[Dungeon] Delver's Delight, a very dungeony dungeon, now with a second level!

I added level 2 to Delver's Delight! 32 more rooms. The method and feel are similar: traps, monsters, weird rooms, it doesn't make too much sense, but it's fun... I use random generators to get going and fill up rooms, then refine them, add more ideas.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

[Dungeon] Delver's Delight, Level 1 - a very dungeony dungeon adventure!

I made a dungeon module. It's very "dungeony", it doesn't have much logic or reason behind it, but it has fun rooms, traps, treasure and monsterrrrs. Stocked with OSRIC/AD&D.

Update, Oct. 8, 2023: NOW WITH TWO LEVELS!


Have fun!

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

7 more carousing mishaps/events in the jungle

A follow-up to the first 1d6! Our Isle of Dread campaign is about to end soon, but we cannot end without a big reckless carousing session, so we need MOAR weird stuff. So I put on some tacky exotica music (courtesy of Soma FM), got some inspiration from TVTropes, and came up with seven more entries. Yeah, that's a d13... But we play online, so that doesn't really matter...

  1. A handsome young fellow/lass clad in a leopard-skin loincloth/bikini teaches you how to swing effectively on vines. You get a +2 on rolls of this type from now on. But deep down you are also hopelessly in love with the mysterious jungle boy/girl.
  2. You are bitten by something slithering and nasty. Save against Poison or suffer an effect until the end of the next session. Roll d4 – 1: double vision, -2 on ranged attacks, 2: muscle cramps, -2 on all attacks, 3: fatigue, encumbrance counts as one level worse, 4: you become immune to all poisons for the duration!
  3. A highly intelligent but hapless explorer/scientist falls into quicksand! If you rescue them, they follow you around for a session, providing helpful insight, according to their field of expertise. Which is a 5-in-6 in a random skill, roll d4 – 1: Architecture, 2: Bushcraft, 3: Languages, 4: Explosives.
  4. You step into a clever little snare. Take d6 damage, save against Paralysis for half. If you succeed on your save with a roll of 16 or more, you learn how to craft such snares! It takes 10 minutes, some rope and some sticks to set up one.
  5. Drums! Drums in the night! Check Languages to see if you can decipher and learn the rhythmic code.
  6. That cactus juice really packs a punch! Once during the session, you can question the very nature of reality and, like, walk through a solid wall or something. Afterwards, save against Poison or fall unconscious for an hour.
  7. You find a large gold nugget, reach for it, only to realize that it’s inside a giant Venus flytrap! Save against Paralyze: on success, you retrieve the nugget (worth d6 x 100 sp), on failure, you lose your arm.
To be continued?..