Wednesday, January 30, 2013

April A to Z #3

The sign-up list for the 2013 April A to Z blogfest is now open and I have officially thrown my helm in the ring (number 45 baby!) I have successfully completed the past two years and hope to complete a hat-trick.

This year, my plan is to merge my A to Z challenge with my "make a thing a week" annual goal. So, my 2013 A to Z theme will be mini-maps. I will draw game map locations that incorporate the alphabetical structure into their names or physical makeup. (A for airship? armory? archery school? arcane academy?) I've gotta figure out what I want to draw!

I think it's safe to say that I have gained most of this blog's followers through past A to Z efforts, so I am hoping this year will continue to grow my readership. If you're looking to do the same for your blog, I highly encourage you to sign up!

Oh, and if you need inspiration, check out my past entries in my A to Z Archives!

Now I gotta go pick my helm back up...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Make-it Monday: Map, Lastholt Valley

This past week, I started planning for the epic final adventure in my D&D campaign, which is about to hit its fourth anniversary. I drew up the first in what will likely be a series of battlefield maps as my players march with an army of goodie two-shoes in an attempt to beat back a fiendish invasion.

The map shows a valley on the edge of an ancient, ruined city where the two armies will most likely meet. Over the next couple days and weeks, I will make versions of this map with troop positions, movement and plans of attack and defense. But first, the calm before the storm.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Make-it Monday: Map, Fallside House Interior

Forgive the late posting on this one. The Fiancee and I headed down to McMenamin's Edgefield in Troutdale, Oregon this weekend to celebrate a friend's birthday. On Saturday, we took a trip toodling along the Columbia River gorge and made a stop at Multnomah Falls.

As my brain is wont to do, it immediately began to imagine the Multinomah visitor center as something other than a roadside tourist trap. What if the visitor center was actually a roadside stop along some trade route? It makes sense that travel back in the day would be governed by a couple of related factors. 1.) The distance someone could travel in a day 2.) The presence / location of survival resources and 3.) The presence of navigation landmarks. Multnomah falls reimagined could easily fit one or all of these requirements for a regular rest stop along an overland trade route.

I imagine the fictional house at Fallside arose as traffic expanded a common camp site into something more permanent. The house served as a place to rest, share news and conduct a little business. Perhaps local woodsmen sold game to resupply merchant caravans with meat or foraged goods. Woodcutters might do the same with firewood. Perhaps the builders of the house set up a cave in the cliff near the falls for aging local brews. If the house was located at one end of a particularly difficult stretch of road, such as a mountain pass, it could also act as a place to pick up expert guides or hired muscle.

I actually have a couple other map ideas for Fallside, including an exterior map of the surroundings and one for the cellars beneath the house. Those, however, will have to wait for another Monday.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Make-it Tuesday?

Howdy all, just a heads up that I have not forgotten about my New Year's make a thing a week goal. I was just out of town all weekend, so it will take me until tomorrow to get it online. Also, McMenamin's Edgefield in Troutdale, Oregon is really the hipster Disneyland.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Make-it Monday: Crazy Talkin' with Broga

One of my co-workers recently introduced me to a piece of software that is very dangerous for me to own. CrazyTalk is a $30 facial animation program that automatically lip-syncs to any audio track you add. Of course, I couldn't resist picking it up. I started playing around with it over the weekend and within a couple hours, I managed to put together this little clip of one of the Fiancee's former characters introducing herself.

Ferocious, isn't she?

I definitely need to give a shout out to HeroMachine. I made the image using HM3 and just plugged the png right into CrazyTalk. The two programs present some tantalizing possibilities.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Surfacing Game Master

Our household recently acquired a Microsoft Surface RT tablet. I say "household", because the Fiancee actually acquired it, but I have been the one doing most of the using.

The Surface is Microsoft's entry into the increasingly crowded tablet market that is still dominated by the iPad. The characteristics of the Surface v. iPad seem to mirror the characteristics of PCs v. Macs. In both cases, the Apple offering is glossy and geared towards intuitive use (i.e. simple enough that a not-particularly-bright 3 year old can get it) The Surface, on the other hand, has a bit of a learning curve just like its PC older brother. Get past that initial curve, however, and there are some pretty damn cool custom things you can do with the Surface such as multi-task, run full wordprocessing and other business-oriented programs, etc. In a nutshell, it does more than run apps and play movies.

Last night was my first time back in the GM chair since before the holidays and I had been itching to try my hand at running a game from the Surface. 

Here's how it went:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Oh look, John Kovalic of Munchkin and Apples to Apples fame has made a game named after my blog...

not really, but I suppose I'll have to check it out... twist my arm why dont'cha!?

On a different note, I will be back behind the DM screen for the first time in over a month tonight. I will also be trying my hand at running the game from the Microsoft Surface RT. In playing around with it, I suspect it has some excellent potential as a GM platform, but tonight will put my suspicions to the test.

I'll try to deliver up a full report on Friday.

Also, Larp Trek is one of my new favorite things.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Make-it Monday: NPC Cards

This is the first post of my 2013 goal to make a thing a week. This week, I would like to share my template for NPC cards with you. The card template is a Word doc with fields for inputting abbreviated stats for D&D 3.5 edition monsters or NPCs. Once filled out, the card is designed to be printed on a 4 x 6 index card for use at the table.

The blank form

A completed example
(This was taken from the version I was using before I made the form)

The quickest way to fill out the card is to make sure "restrict editing" is active and set to fill in forms. Then simply tab through the card filling in the necessary stats as you go. If you want to further customize the form, simply turn of the document protection and adjust as necessary.

This card is really intended for NPCs who will likely face combat, thus necessitating a stat block. It seemed silly to make a card template for a non-combat NPC, as that would likely just be a blank notecard. If you want to add fluff to this card, you can use the note section, or jot down personality traits or draw a character portrait on the back.

If you think these cards might be helpful for your game, you can download the blank template here.

NPC Cards and a set of Gamemastery Face cards make a GM's job much easier

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Goal for Lucky '13: Make a thing a week

2013 baby! What could go wrong!?

Welcome to 2013 dear readers and the compulsory resolutions/goals post. 2012 was an incredibly busy year for me outside of the blog-o-sphere. I took my first international trip in over a decade, completed a major two year long project at work*. I was featured in my first half-hour TV special. And the fiancee and I got rolling on our wedding planning.

Within the confines of this blog, things were a bit more modest spotty. I completed my second April A to Z challenge and passed 50 subscribers. Other than that, I've been a bit of a slacker. I don't want to be a slacker, but real life and actual creative pursuits need to come before writing about creative pursuits. I love this little blog though and don't intend to stop. However, if I am going to up the consistency and quality of my posts, I'm going to have to get more efficient about things. I need to make my blog work with, not against my real world escapades and goals.

This brings me to my one blogging goal for 2013.

Make a thing a week

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