Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful....

I hail donjon as one of the most complete gennies I've come across in my years of worldbuilding. I've linked to it before, but I'd like to refer to it again, particularly the random weather generator

Personally I use the weather almost as its own character. At the time I'm drafting this post there is a massive scramble underway in NYC for the monster storm. School is cancelled, public transport is shut down, the harbor is closed, they're afraid the subways will flood, it's even managed to dampen (pun intended) a rather heated presidential campaign. So for the city that never sleeps to come to a grinding halt is a BIG deal.

**Update: the 900 mile wide civilization-drowning blight on the Eastern US of A (aka Hurricane Sandy) is responsible for 11-14 foot swells making landfall in NYC, resulting in thigh deep water on the surface streets, the complete flooding of 7 subway tunnels under the East River, and countless millions of dollars in property damage. Oh yeah and the largest scale blackout of the greatest city on Earth since 2003.

Rain in Seattle, smog in LA, neon lights in Las Vegas, every city has its staple environment - use that to the fullest. Or like with New York, that is no stranger to hard winters, a torrential rain can really throw things for a loop. What if it didn't rain in Seattle? How would the Emerald City handle an unexpected drought? I live way up in the Rocky Mountains where yearly drought is a concern when the winter doesn't give us enough snow. Everyone talks about the impending, doomsday earthquake we call "the Big One" that's expected to level the city. But get people talking about strange weather and two things are sure to come up: the flood of 1983 and the tornado that ripped through downtown in 1999. Very rare and memorable things. Work something like that into whatever setting. Is the storm raging now and everyone is stuck inside, or is it darkening the horizon? Were people adequately warned and prepared, or is it panic mode to grab what is left on the shelves? Or do your characters arrive as some of the first travel allowed back into the city and everything is a disaster area?

Let's say your road weary travelers didn't heed the advice of a local druid's forecast and supplied themselves for only a 5 day trek, which took a turn for the worse and became a 12 day harrowing plod. Because a freak blizzard struck and halted forward progress they had to take shelter in a none-too-splendid inn. The innkeeper swindles them on the price of the tiny room, which has its share of bedbugs, rats, a draft around the window, and a leaky roof. The proprietor knows as well as the adventurers that it's their only option. Either pay top dollar for the shabby digs, or it's back out into the snow and blow. How do they deal with that speed bump? Do they blame their intrepid leader who passed on the sage advice in order to get on the road? Do they bicker amongst themselves about whose turn it is to stoke the fire and empty the chamberpot? Maybe they have to hold members back from throttling the innkeeper and ending up in the local dungeon, for which they have no bail money. And go!

See? This alone is a story (or game session). It really doesn't matter where they were coming from, or their destination. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

NaNoWriMo Prep

Ok all you would-be writers, sharpen your pencils! NaNoWriMo is nearly upon us.

There's a great post over at TTYU - give it some serious consideration.

TTYU Worldbuilding considerations

She even provides the link to her hang outs (discussions with other writers and builders) and the needed subjects.

TTYU Worldbuilding hangouts

You'll notice in her comments that I offered worldbuilding assistance, because I know myself better than to dive into writing 30,000 words in a month. It's all about laying foundations and research and other prep work. That's what I do. I don't often refer to myself as "a writer".

If you want worldbuilding help (maps, gods, history, characters, etc) leave a comment or email me.

Here's a little quiz for you. There are no right or wrong answers, but there had better be answers. It's even better if they are automatic/instinctual.

What if you started a fantasy novel knowing nothing of weapons, armor, magic, travel? Or if you had no idea what the world looked like beyond the would-be hero's village? What beasts live in the wilds, are there elves in the woods, dwarves in the mountains, evil wizards in tall towers? How is the kingdom run, democracy/monarchy/theocracy? Is the leader good or bad, old or young, wise or foolish? What are the laws? How do people dress and talk? What is the economy, is it currency or barter? Is it a farming village or do they trade goods for food? What do they trade: ore, textiles, leather, wool, tools? Where is said village? Where is it in relation to other places? What's the climate? How does the weather effect lifestyle, ecology, travel?
If you couldn't easily answer ALL of those questions, you're not ready to write yet. That's where I come in!
I won't hold my breath, since the requests haven't exactly been pouring in, but the offer stands.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fantasy Map (.net)

This is one I found yesterday through cartographersguild . What a fantastic resource! Maps of about anything you can imagine. I quite like the Floor Plans for the classic graph paper and the Oceanus Ultimus is probably my favorite for its layout and awesome border.


Look and enjoy! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Worldbuilder Guild

Again Nils scoured the interwebs and sent me this little doosie.

Deviant Art Worldbuilders Guild

How awesome is that?! It stands to reason that if there's a guild for cartographers, there would also be one for worldbuilders too. Why did I never think of that?

And if it wasn't cool enough to be able to browse the many many galleries, they're also on Facebook, LinkedIN, Twitter, and have the stand alone site http://worldbuildingschool.com/

Now I really have no excuse not to Photoshop better maps.

I played with the Photoshop cloud render as advised and got some pretty cool results. I'll be tweaking them a bit with Illustrator to clean up the outlines with smooth edges. As WIPs go, it's nice to have a few to tinker with.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I've Fallen Down A Well

After much consideration, I've decided to up my postings to two per week instead of just Fridays.

This is technically a day late since I'll now be posting each Tuesday and Friday to have an even gap of 4 days between. Jabber jabber blah blah blah....on to the goodness.

I stumbled into the depths of this fantastic site and was lost for well over an hour (and there's still much, much more to go).


It has great advice on worldbuilding, many free gennines - I particularly like the random village generator, and several downloadables. You must give it a go.

I found it through RPGBA, which I have now joined under the persistent recommendation of Nils (aka Gandalf). I'll be damned if he wasn't right about joining other forums, Facebook, and commenting on like-minded blogs increasing my traffic.

Friday, October 12, 2012

IT'S BACK AGAIN! Westerlands Map

From the amazing talent that is Geoff Nunn.

This is the "blank" version from his CG album: Westerlands CG Album

He's even delved deeper to create a whole wiki page for his world.

And it all that ain't enough for you, check out his blog too!


Many thanks, Geoff, for being so gracious and for just being an awesome guy. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Yawn...But in A Good Way

My buddy Nils over at Enderra.com is the Gandalf to my Frodo. He drags me from my hole and opens up whole new worlds through his experience and wisdom. I cannot thank him enough. He's been a patient mentor, chat buddy, and a great sounding board for new ideas (and sometimes rehashing old ones).

His latest finds/contributions are these: 

Yawning Portal Maps 1

Yawning Portal Maps 2

You really really need to check it out. I'm floored by the number and posts since March. I cannot imagine having the drive and dedication to pull off a blog like Yawningportal. Tom's experience and know how goes back decades, and it absolutely shows. His passion and penchant for D&D obviously shows, but it's equally impressive how versed he is in other games and design as well. The man makes his own miniatures and settings for gods' sake!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


This is actually something completely new to me, I've never even heard the word before, but to a map nerd like me it's GOLDEN!

A big thank you to Hounaine El-Hamiani who contacted me via cartographersguild.com to request some city maps. It was a very flattering request (via a misunderstanding) which I had to unfortunately decline. I suggested that there are much more talented artists to be found by posting through the guild.

Hounaine was gracious enough to share the following links, which I have now saved to my favs.

Urban Geofiction

This is some ridiculously good stuff. I had no idea there were folks out there putting Google Maps to shame with fictional urban settings. The level of detail is amazing.