Thursday, September 15, 2016

Iconic Map of London's First Underground

Most major world cities now boast far-reaching and convenient subway systems, but London will always have the original from which all the rest descend. It will also, arguably, always have, in the Tube, by far the most iconic. The Metropolitan Railway, the first underground train line to open in London and thus the first in the world, entered service in 1863. Other lines followed, run by several different companies, until all the operators “agreed on a joint marketing strategy in 1908 that featured the now familiar logo with a red disk and the word ‘Underground.'”

But by 1913, writes the BBC’s Emma Jane Kirby, “passengers are moaning about unpunctuality, about overcrowding, about confusion and dirt. The Tube, crammed on workdays (some 400,000 people now work in the heart of the city) is virtually empty at weekends and holidays and the company is fast losing money and public support. What we need, thinks [London Underground commercial director Frank] Pick, is stronger branding.” In addition to the immortal logo, he wanted “some eye-catching posters, distinct from general advertisement bills, that will make Londoners of all social classes proud to journey around their city and visit its attractions.”

But a transit system, even the formidable London Underground, is only as good as its maps. Eric Gill, the Arts and Crafts movement luminary who helped design the Tube’s typeface, asked his architect-cartographer-graphic designer brother MacDonald to come up with an eye-catching one. In the result, writes the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America’s Elisabeth Burdon, “all the attractions and amenities of London are laid before the viewer in a manner which is both visually exciting and yet within a comprehensible structure; the city is presented in the manner of a medieval walled town, the curved horizon recalling the medieval world map’s enclosing circle, all bounded by a decorative border in which coats of arms evoke a sense of stability and tradition.”

Apart from its degree of historical astuteness and cartographical soundness, Gill’s “Wonderground Map,” as Londoners came to call it, contained enough humor that some of the passengers who consulted it missed their trains due to sheer amusement. Kirby points out that, “on the Harrow Road, a farm worker tilling the soil cries ‘Harrowing work, this!’ an exclamation which is countered by the query ‘What is work, is it a herb?’ delivered by an effete gentleman nearby.” A sign placed at the map’s eastern edge points the way to “Victoria Park, Wanstead Flats, Harwich, Russia and other villages,” while “at Regent’s Park Zoo a prehistoric-looking bird eats a child through the bars of its cage as the child laments, ‘and I promised mother I’d be home for tea by five!'”

The Wonderground Map attained such popularity that it became the first London Underground poster sold commercially for homes and offices, and remains on sale more than a century later. You can view the whole thing online, and in zoomable detail, here; if you’d like a printable version, you can find one here. The history of London now credits it as having effectively “saved” the Tube, whose reputation for dysfunction and discomfort had reached a critical point. Newer subway systems elsewhere may have since made great technological leaps beyond the London Underground but we can safely say that none will ever inspire quite so beloved a work of cartography.

An alternative version of the map can be viewed and downloaded at the David Rumsey Map Collection.

Quoted from original article here.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

RIP Gene Wilder

Actor Gene Wilder has died aged 83. He starred in classics like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, The Producers, See No Evil Hear No Evil, Silver Streak, and the Frisco Kid.
The actor died in his Connecticut home as a result of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, Wilder’s nephew said, adding Wilder hadn’t disclosed his illness because he did not want to disappoint or confuse his fans.

Wilder, a Milwaukee native who was born Jerry Silberman in 1933, was nominated for an Oscar twice in his career — once for best supporting actor for his role in The Producers and once for co-writing Young Frankenstein with Mel Brooks.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Saturday, July 30, 2016

B2 - Keep on the Borderlands - #4 Common Stables & #5 Warehouse

My continuation of the mapping of the buildings inside the Keep. While these maps aren't really needed by anyone, per se, I just did them to complete the set of floorplans for the Outer Bailey. I mean c'mon, they're just basically big rectangular boxes as you can see here.

COMMON STABLE: This long building is about 15’ high, with a 3’ parapet atop its flat roof, so that it can be used in defense of the gate. The gateside wall is pierced for archery. There are always grooms inside tending to horses and gear.

I added some of the contents for the warehouse, so that it didn't look so pathetically empty. Otherwise it would have just been a legend with a big, empty rectangle next to it.

COMMON WAREHOUSE: Visiting merchants and other travelers who have quantities of goods are required to keep their materials here until they are either sold to the persons at the KEEP or taken elsewhere. This long building is about 15’ high, with a 3’ parapet atop its flat roof, so that it can be used in defense of the gate. The gate-side wall is pierced for archery. Its double doors are chained and padlocked, and the corporal of the watch must be called to gain entry, as he has the keys. Inside are two wagons, a cart, many boxes, barrels, and bales - various food items, cloth, arrows, bolts, salt, and two tuns of wine.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

B2 The Keep on the Borderlands Map Index

A couple of days ago as I was busily posting the various maps for the buildings inside The Keep on the BorderlandsZach H. over on Zenopus Archives suggested I put up an index post so that it would be easier for folks to dig through this info. Now, while I try to be diligent about labeling all my posts, I can see the merits of putting a dedicated post where folks can go and jump directly to what they're looking for without having to wade through all the rest of the muck and mire.

So here it is folks, the index to my B2 posts up 'till now and (hopefully) any future missives that might come out will get indexed here as well.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

B2 - Caves of Chaos - My Spin

In my continuation of B2 posts and since I'm overly fond of maps I give you the following. Inspired by the colored Caves of Chaos map from Telecanter and the "Caves of Chaos is a One-Page Dungeon" map by Zach S. as well as this guys annotated version, I've modified and made my own mash-up version of all of the above.  Why did I do this, because the sum of the parts make up a greater whole, I felt. With labels showing what areas belong to which tribe, which guards/monsters are in what rooms, and what directions they will take upon being alerted as well as what surprises the party's likely to encounter upon a second visit to the same cave. For me this map represented 90% of what I needed to run this module in a concise manner.

Here is a DM non-colorized version with no trees shown for those who might want to make their own notations and scribbles or what-not.

And here is a player's version of the map with no room numbers or secret doors/passages shown. Also, sans trees.

Just borrowing the best parts from here and there to make my job of DMing easier and thereby (hopefully) more enjoyable for the players.
If for some reason someone wants any of these files in an even larger/more detailed format just PM me. I just uploaded a somewhat conservative file size to avoid hogging anyone's bandwidth.