Thursday, April 5, 2018

Hexes and the Curse of Indecision


Araminta "Cheeseburger" Denies Others Access to the Map
So, you know those blog posts with maps in the last few months, let’s make some changes.



But, wait, I was going to do NPC generation and using random generation as a challenge in plot line development.




Nope.

I was already distracted from a hex map that I started shortly after reading several books about world building practices (including Kent Kelly's Game World Generator). Those four hex sheets were laid aside in frustration. as I started finding appropriate maps in my ‘publisher resources’ binge phase. The posterboard mounted map currently serves as a comfortable cat bed when it’s out.

Greg Christopher’s island maps were especially appropriate to the setting that I was envisioning - densely forested, fairly rocky islands. The problem that lingered with me is that the maps were very, very modern looking when compared to the generally pseudo historical art menagerie that I worked with. 

The hex overlay that converted into an easy transparency made sense, and I was pleased with the work. It was good enough for my table, but… 



I didn’t make it. Nor am I making the initial setting, but I am twisting it. And there was this program, that I absolutely grew to love. Hex Kit, by Cone of Negative Energy, is a map generation program that works with images of the author’s own inked hexagonal creations. It has a very different vibe, being hand drawn and digitally rendered. Very beautiful output. It also layers hexes, to some very unique effect. I haven’t liked a map making program this much since Dundjinni passed away.

Admittedly, I love Hex Kit for it's complete different reasons, but largely the same design aesthetic - it felt natural, intuitive. 

I haven’t had as much time away from the kitchen lately (day 11 today), but I did manage to start the first step in Kent Kelly’s Game World Generator - creating coastlines. Consider this a temporary zoom outward from the microcosmic Midenbrook into the greater picture of the Shae Isles and Ulvslund.

Shae and Ulvslund, Western Arborea


This was a couple of hours of poking and rotating hexes, but this is more accurate to how I’m working ‘The World Between’ into Arborea. I’ve begun to lean away from considering LotFP my choice in anticipation of the eventual release of Advanced Labyrinth Lord - essentially giving seamless access to AD&D 1e with the added bonuses of mixing race/class (B/X style) with classed demihumans as multi class options. Picture a ‘Basic’ dwarf with thief skills for instance, or you could just play as per the Advanced rules and not have the experience baggage tagging along. 



There is plenty of space in there for house rules that actually develop something, and with the more straightforward Labyrinth Lord/Holmes style combat and monsters, the engine is trim and sleek, delightfully abstract. 

Whether or not I’ll totally break and follow Raggi, putting the Specialist in… or using the ‘oh my Gods, the players actually have to keep track’ Encumbrance system… or change to the Fighter only advance in combat (and the subsequent revisioning of the armor class system to ascending)… All remains to be seen. 
Upcoming Advanced Labyrinth Lord Cover

Honestly, I’m trying to run more ‘by the book’ these days, but some rules are just made to be broken. I typically run LL with my AD&D books nearby, but it’s nice to tell the players that they’re playing a book that they don’t need an online auction to get. They make nice OSR gifts that support the authors keeping the Renaissance from becoming just a starting point in our past.

I'm probably going to continue bouncing between the top down and bottom up philosophies of world building - especially as I am working with Jack Shear's collected blog posts about his original OSR work with a Gothic overtone. The fact that it is collective commons doesn't hurt either.

Until the next time that you're whistling past the graveyard, keep on creepin' on.

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