Friday, December 28, 2012

Building Blocks

Writing, drawing, worldbuilding....anything creative has its ups and downs. The good times are when you have so many ideas you feel like you're rushing to get them all down. Furiously scribbling while the muses smile on you. There's nothing like riding that wave of inspiration! Be sure to say "thank you" when fate does bless you with those moments because sometimes they feel few and far between.

That being said, let me move on to the real point of this post: what to do to pull yourself out of a rut.

First of all, be mindful of your feelings, your thoughts betray you. Doing something creative is a great way to escape into something fun. But trying to force it is about the worst thing you can do. For a time-killer, poops-and-giggles guy like me that's not as much of an issue as for someone who does this for a living. I can't think of many jobs cooler than getting paid to do this...but what happens when the laughter stops and it becomes the daily grind of work? Again, I'm rambling. The take away is this, don't count on just being able to plop down and churn out something. It doesn't work like that. It really really doesn't work like that if you're in a bad mood, tired, frustrated, etc. You can improve your mood with this stuff, but don't think it's a cure all.

Second, find what inspires you. If you can't think of something, go find something. I like landscapes (maps especially if you haven't figured that out yet) and concept art. It's pretty easy for me to look at an image and "fill in the gaps". What is this place? Where? What's around the next bend in the road? What lies at the end of the journey? What started it? What are the people, creatures, modes of transportation like? In a specifically fantasy sense, what are the dangers of the world? What is the political system/religion? Are those two separate? Is there magic, what are its rules and limitations? Armor and weapons fascinate me. What does each piece mean/do? Why did the artist/character choose what they did?

Another suggestion...READ! Find a magazine, book, blog, website, forum, guild, whatever. I like to take an empty backpack to the library and just wander. If you're a worldbuilder it can be overwhelming how much you have to consider to flesh out all of the details. Don't try to see it all at once. Focus on bits. Mythos, philosophy, language, commerce, weather, terrain, etc. I say that like it's such an easy thing - believe me, it's not. I get stuck in a funk at least once a month. It happens. Shake it off and move on. We can't be demanding of our imagination, it often does whatever it feels like.

One last bit of advice. Don't erase, apologize, or beat yourself up about it. I used to try to make everything fit into one world. It didn't work. I have pages and pages of notes that I don't know what (if anything) I'll ever do with them. But it was fun to write it at the time. And it's fun to go over it again later. Sometimes you forget something really great hidden within an old notebook and it's really cool to rediscover it - even moreso when you can remind yourself "I did that. It's bloody brilliant!"

**Thanks to Nathan (aka Vorropohaiah) for mentioning documentaries. I knew I forgot to include something! I watch a lot of documentaries. Science, history, cultural, space, etc. They are almost guaranteed to stimulate the imagination. And even if you don't get a lightning strike of inspiration, at least you're learning something that you can draw upon later.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Waste(d)

I don't have much for the blogosphere/bloggerverse today being that it's Christmas, I've been drinking steadily for about 22 hours (with a bit of sleep in the middle), and I'm at my parents' place meaning all my links/favs/pics are not here with me.

My recent activities have mainly been geared towards DM prepping for my homebrew campaign. Wish me luck, I'm DMing for the first time ever this weekend. The world is pretty well built by now, I have down on paper (and still quite a bit in my head) the character/race/class info players will need to get started. I already know the first encounter the group will throw dice for, and I have plenty more that we can game with in the future. Many are stand alone adventures, but with easy work-in-ability later if we decide to run a single linear campaign.

So I'll get my minis printed up sometime between now and Saturday (because it's easier and cheaper than figurines) and confirm who is showing up, and that's that.

This feels like an incredibly wasted post, but it's all I could muster today.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Relax. It's not like it's the end of the world.

I was sent this link several weeks ago, but I just knew I had to save it for today.

Exit Mundi - Various End of the World Scenarios

As much as I think this world would be better off with fewer idiot people, I guess it's a good thing the sun will continue to rise. I'd miss my wife, friends, dogs, and blogs. But man I'd like to shoot some zombies!

On to the next dommsday panic, I suppose.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Satellite Style Photoshop Map Tutorial

I haven't been on in a while, but I was sending thanks to the artist who supplied the awesome maps that now adorn the nerdatorium. While I was wandering through links I came across this fantastic info share:

Satellite Style Photoshop Map Tutorial

And that's just Part 1. I'm eager to see what comes next.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


My last map from Banners on the Cheap came yesterday, and again, I'm impressed with how it turned out. Now y'all (mainly you Nils) can quit having an old fashioned geek fit and get down to gawking ;)

First up, in honor of The Hobbit movie opening, a classic oldie but goodie

This map of Beleriand is still tucked in the corner where is always was

The Ustalav region of Pathfinder is also in its original location

As is the 4 panel Pathfinder Inner Sea Region

Now, on to the newness! This 3x6 foot mega-map now takes up the back wall above my drawing table. I had to take an angle shot from each side to minimize the washout from the flash.

Above the computer desk is (from left to right) Galinorn, the north-central continent from above, the Westerlands, and the Forgotten Realms

This Galinorn map was the last to be delivered, not due to slow shipping, but from me not ordering it with the first two. I don't know why.

The Westerlands in all its GIMP glory. This is the world I'm currently focused on as it's where our dice throwing adventures take place.

The Forgotten Realms is roughly where it used to be, just moved down a bit.

And I had room to move it because my wife gave my the fantastic idea of putting the bookcase on its side to allow more wall space. Great thinking, wife!

And to finish off, the Pathfinder town maps are in their original location, but shuffled a bit so they didn't get caught in the scanner.

So there it is folks. The Neo-Nerdatorium. I was thinking that the new organizational setup would also help my oragnize my thoughts and imaginings, but I'm beginning to believe that nothing short of prescribed medication will help that.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pull Up A Chair And Pour A Pint

The nerdatorium is in a state of disarray. As I was taking down maps to hang the new stuff, my wife gave me a great suggestion of how to rearrange the bookshelf to give myself more wall space. That is done and about half of the old maps are going back up, but shifting to new locations. I have 2 of 3 new maps hung, since I'm still waiting for the last one to be delivered. Pics are coming (Nils), I swear.

In the meantime, as mentioned previously, I've begun gaming with pals and preparing what will be my own homebrew campaign. Since I want to keep this blog primarily about world building, I started a new adventure log blog for the game tracking:

Once we start rolling dice - probably after the holiday craziness subsides - I'll have semi-regular posts.

In the meantime, as I continue to build that world for the gamers to journey and jaunt in, I can't decide if I should post the progress here, or on the new blog. Advice, suggestions, opinions?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dead Reckoning

I still haven't gotten around to hanging my new maps in the nerdatorium. Work has been A) well, work B) busy. So in the meantime I'll scrape this old post from my old blog - zombiegunslinger - and splash it up here.

Can you pay homage to your own defunct blogs of the past?

While I was driving around in the mountains with my dad I kept telling him how the mountains would be a great hold fast in the aftermath of the zom-pocalypse. There's water, wood, game, fish, and the terrain is far too rough for the walking dead to navigate....thank you Max Brooks and WWZ for the idea.
The idea nested in the back of my mind for a couple weeks, then WHAMMO!! The pieces cascaded into place and formed the zombie-western, post-apocalyptic story of Dead Reckoning.

As always, I wasn't nailed to the idea until a thought up a title that fit just right. Dead Reckoning works on many levels:

1) Wiktionary/Wikipedia defines "dead reckoning" as - the process of estimating one's current position based upon a previously determined position. While traditional methods of dead reckoning are no longer considered primary means of navigation, modern systems (GPS) are very widely used.
A disadvantage of dead reckoning is that since new positions are calculated solely from previous positions, the errors of the process are cumulative, so the error in the position fix grows with time.

This applies very well because the whole premise of the story is that the generation (or possibly the next generation - 2 from the zom-pocalypse) following the outbreak has reverted back to Old West style living. They only vaguely know where they are headed based on the previous period of American history. They are learning as they go through trial and error and finding ways to adapt to rougher living, competition with other survivors, and contending with the ever present threat of zombies. A second application is that technology has failed almost entirely because there is no one left to pilot the satellites, keep the ISPs humming, or generally leave the lights on. Therefore a humanity that has become increasingly dependent on mass media, abundant power, and knowledge at the touch of a button is now forced to eek out a living in the wilderness like their forefathers.

2) A definition for "reckoning" is - an opinion or judgment, or the consequences/retribution for one's actions.
This fits because in the story it is not known/no longer known what caused the outbreak to begin with. Some think it was government work/weapons/testing that lost control and others believe it to be God's judgment on a crumbling, immoral world. Either way it just so happens to be that it is the dead wreaking havoc against the clustered pockets of lingering civilization.
The whole thing won't be entirely Old West....that would just make folks think there was a post Civil War outbreak. Think more like Book of Eli.There will be those with modern firearms, but ammo (particularly brass shells) is running short and people are going back to black powder weaponry. Fuel was mostly consumed as people fled into the mountains from all over the country. Air travel, aside from the rare glider or hot air balloon, is nearly non-existent. Travel by horse and wagon is easier than it was in the late 1800s due to the fact that paved roads still criss-cross the country, but they are falling apart, dead ending in the canyons, or being washed out from repeated storms and no maintenance.

Another problem....beyond the obvious zombie that Mad Max-ian bands of cannibals and marauders have formed to pillage and plunder the settlements. And what is a sleepy mountain town without a self appointed, greedy baron out for land, power, and domination. These fat cats monopolize trade, passage, and any source of power (electricity, water, fuel, etc). Perhaps some even construct pioneer style forts which they defend with armies of hired thugs who run amuck and present yet another threat to those trying to pick up the pieces.

Hunting is difficult because some animals have become even more skittish of humans due to the wandering dead, while others (bears, large cats, wolves, etc) have become much more violent and aggressive, attacking any human and tearing them asunder. They do not consume the flesh of zombies...aside from your routine scavengers like carrion birds and coyotes. Animals cannot become infected from the bite of a zombie because they lack the brain physiology of a human which stores the zombie-ism.

Printed books....already becoming a rarity (imagine the future!) are treasured - the most highly sought after being Max Brooks' Zombie Survival Guide, and what would the American West be without the zealous Bible thumpers clamoring for leadership of their flock

Monday, December 3, 2012

New Maps and other D&D Adventures

Last Friday was a big day for me. Not only did my vinyl maps get delivered [insert cartographer geek squeal here], but I was also out until 1 AM playing my first ever session of D&D. I will say this, what a great way to kill several hours with a fun bunch of guys. Thanks a ton Marcus, I had a blast...even if my character SUCKED!! Word of warning people, if ever you have to create a quick level 6 character to replace the cool level 15 ranger that it took you hours to create, don't go with a dwarf druid healer that takes a penalty of  -1 on ranged attacks.

I'm now thinking that D&D will become a regular thing for me (well, as regular as it can be for a grown man with work, school, and a family to consider). I know I want to DM games and, through trial and error, I now have a much better understanding of creating characters. I'm even looking at getting a vinyl grid mat that I can scribble on.

As for the other vinyl mats/maps that came Friday, Ansaera looks fantastic, and huge. 3x6 folks, that's a big freaking map! Westerlands is awesomely marker-friendly and the perfect size for a tabletop game mat.

I'm so impressed with both of them that I placed a new order with Banners on the Cheap this morning for a 2x2 Galinorn.

Pics will come later when I rearrange the Nerdatorium wall hangings to accommodate the new goodies.