Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Farewell Princess

Carrie Fisher, the legendary author, screenwriter, producer, speaker, hero and actress who most notably portrayed Princess Leia in Star Wars, passed away on at 8:55 AM on Tuesday, December 27, 2016 due to complications from heart failure. She was only 60 years old. Family spokesman Simon Halls released a statement to People Magazine on behalf of Fisher’s 24-year old daughter Billie Lourd.
"It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning,” the statement reads. “She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers."


Carrie Fisher, she died as she lived: drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.





And of course what most teenage boys remember...

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Some Holiday Cheer

From the 80’s alternative vault, this is a new one to me but it’s definitely going into the rotation:



A favorite that never gets old:



Pop/jazz excellence:



And Cyndi (not great quality. but it is Cyndi singing, which is always cool.)





Enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Animated Map Shows How It Took 200,000 Years for Human Population to Reach 1 Billion, and Only Another 200 Years to Get to 7 Billion

Last night, during a talk on his new book Raising the Floor, longtime labor leader and current senior fellow at Columbia University Andy Stern told the story of a king and a chessmaster engaged in pitched battle. “If you win,” said the overconfident king, “you may have anything you desire.” Lo, the chessmaster wins the game, but being a humble man asks the king only to provide him with some rice. The king smugly agrees to his eccentric conditions: he must place a grain of rice on the first square of the chessboard, then double the amount of each successive square. Once he reaches the middle, the king stops and has the chessmaster executed. The request would have cost him his entire kingdom and more.

Stern used the story to illustrate the exponential growth of technology, which now advances at a rate we can neither confidently predict nor control. Something very similar has happened to the human population in the past two-hundred years, as you can see illustrated in the video above from the American Museum of Natural History.


Evolving some 200,000 years ago in Sub-Saharan Africa, and migrating across the globe some 100,000 years ago, modern humans remained relatively few in number for several thousand years. That is, until the technological breakthrough of agriculture. “By AD 1,” the video text tells us, “world population reached approximately 170 million people.”

After a very rapid expansion, the numbers rose and fell slowly in the ensuing centuries as wars, disease, and famines decimated populations. World population reached only 180 million by the year 200 AD, then dwindled through the Middle Ages, only picking up again slowly around 700. Throughout this historiographic model of population growth, the video infographic provides helpful symbols and legends that chart historic centers like the Roman Empire and Han Dynasty, and show major world events like the Bubonic plague.

Then we reach the world-shaking disruptions that were the birth of Capitalism, the Atlantic slave trade, and the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions, when “modern technology and medicine bring faster growth.”

That’s quite the understatement. The growth, like the grains of rice on the chessboard, proceeded exponentially, reaching 1 billion people around 1800, then exploding to over 7 billion today. As the yellow dots—each representing a node of 1 million people—take over the map, the video quickly becomes an alarming call to action. While the numbers are leveling off, and fertility has dropped, “if current trends continue,” we’re told, “global population will peak at 11 billion around 2100.” Peak numbers could be lower, or substantially higher, depending on the predictive value of the models and any number of unknowable variables.

original article here

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Why Making Accurate World Maps Is Mathematically Impossible


Jorge Luis Borges once wrote of an empire wherein “the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province.” Still unsatisfied, “the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it.” But posterity, when they lost their ancestors’ obsession for cartography, judged “that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters.” With that enormous map, in all its singular accuracy, cast out, smaller, imperfect ones presumably won the day again.

With that well-known story “On Exactitude in Science,” Borges illustrated the idea that all maps are wrong by imagining the preposterousness of a truly correct one. The Vox video “Why All World Maps Are Wrong” covers some of the same territory, as it were, first illustrating that idea by slitting open an inflatable globe and trying, futilely, to get the resulting plastic mess to lie flat.

“That right there is the eternal dilemma of mapmakers,” says the host in voiceover as the struggle continues onscreen. “The surface of a sphere cannot be represented as a plane without some form of distortion.” As a result, all of humanity’s paper maps of the world–which in the task of turning the surface of a sphere into a flat plane need to use a technique called “projection”–distort geographical reality by definition.

The Mercator projection has, since its invention by sixteenth-century Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator, produced the most widely-seen world maps. (If you grew up in America, you almost certainly spent a lot of time staring at Mercator maps in the classroom.) But we hardly live under the limitations of his day, nor those of the 1940s when Borges imagined his land-sized map. In our 21st century, the satellite-based Global Positioning System has “wiped out the need for paper maps as a means of navigating both the sea and the sky,” but even so, “most web mapping tools, like Google Maps, use the Mercator” due to its “ability to preserve shape and angles,” which “makes close-up views of cities more accurate.”

On the scale of a City, in more Borgesian words — and probably on the scale of a Province and even the Empire — Mercator projection still works just fine. “But the fact remains that there’s no right projection. Cartographers and mathematicians have created a huge library of available projections, each with a new perspective on the planet, and each useful for a different task.” You can compare and contrast a few of them for yourself here, or take a closer look of some of the Mercator projection’s size distortions (making Greenland, for example, look as big as the whole of Africa) here. These challenges and others have kept the Disciplines of Geography, unlike in Borges’ world, busy even today.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hommlet in Blue

I've posted info and maps on Hommlet before (here). But since I'm running this online now, I've been revisiting some of the old material and updating it somewhat. One thing I've done is, like the Keep on the Borderlands maps, convert the Village of Hommlet map into the old school blue format. Just for consistency sake. Heck, there's dozens of iterations of the map out there, but I didn't find any blue ones, so I went ahead and did it up myself.
Hommlet

Monday, November 28, 2016

Keep on the Borderlands - completed

The online Roll20 group has finished the Keep on the Borderlands and is moving on to the Temple of Elemental Evil, so I will be going back in to the old B2 Keep on the Borderlands map posts and updating them with the DM maps.  The index page can be found here. I've also included the battlemap I made from the Cave of the Unknown map by Druvas.

Cave of the Unknown

Not to take away from Druvas' original[since I'm a fan of the old style blue maps], it just didn't mesh well with the other battlemaps I was using so I put this one together. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Ron Glass RIP

firefly-bookBrowncoats everywhere are lowering their flags to half-staff today as word has come out that Emmy-nominated actor Ron Glass has passed away at the age of 71. One of Glass’ agents is confirming his passing and friends have already been reporting that he is thought to have passed away peacefully at his Los Angeles home yesterday.

From wikipedia;
Ronald E. "Ron" Glass (July 10, 1945 – November 25, 2016) was an American actor. He was known for his roles as the literary Det. Ron Harris in the television sitcom Barney Miller (1975–82), and as the spiritual Shepherd Derrial Bookin the short-lived 2002 science fiction series Firefly and its sequel film Serenity.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving 2016

Now more than ever, it's helpful to count blessings and look at the good things in the world.  Doing so provides energy and inspiration for the days ahead.





The following is from the folks over at Popular Science.

"Every Thanksgiving, Americans gather to celebrate family, give thanks, and stuff our faces until we all feel sick. Tragically, filling up too fast on a good holiday meal means you won’t manage to grab seconds or thirds of all the best dishes on the table. You need to maximize your food intake—here’s how.
Note: This advice is not conducive to a healthy everyday diet. But then again, neither is Thanksgiving.

1. Prepare

Getting ready for the big meal is a matter of balance. To consume as much as possible, you’ll need to start on an empty stomach. But if you’re starving, you’ll eat too quickly instead of pacing yourself.
“Fasting is typically not a good idea,” says registered dietician Leslie Bonci. Instead, she recommends that you follow your regular meal schedule, but stop eating four to six hours before the main event.
Exercising earlier in the day is also a good idea. Physical exertion can stimulate the appetite. And a brisk walk or run helps move food through your digestive system and empty out your stomach in preparation.
Finally, it’s easier to eat a lot if you’re relaxed. So immediately before the meal, take some deep breaths, think calm thoughts, and avoid confronting your ornery uncle (you can argue with him after you’ve defeated your turkey).

2. Choose wisely

Once you’ve girded your loins for the overeating challenge, there’s nothing to do but begin. The choices you make now will determine whether you fill your stomach to maximum capacity, or give up long before dessert. That’s because certain types of food make you feel more full than others.
An over-full feeling isn’t just caused by a stretched-to-capacity stomach. Your body also triggers feelings of fullness by releasing hormones and enzymes as you eat. For example, the more you chew, the fuller you will feel. (That said, do not chew less in an attempt to reduce fullness. It will increase your odds of choking, and death by asphyxiation is not a fun way to end a Thanksgiving meal.)
Because of this, certain substances, such as the fats and proteins in turkey, will make you feel full sooner than others. “Once you start eating protein, the secretion of enzymes and hormones starts that satiety cascade,” Bondi says, “and having fat as part of the meal triggers satiety. If you’re trying not to over-consume, front-load with protein.”
And if you are trying to over-consume?
“Potatoes, stuffing, rolls require minimal effort,” Bonci says. “You can do maximal damage with those things because they layer nicely—you can pack in more without feeling too full.”
So you start with the carbs, and only then load the turkey onto your plate. While you’re at it, you should also delay your consumption of fiber-rich foods like veggies and whole grains. They fill you up faster because that fiber soaks up water and takes up more room.
Liquids also occupy precious stomach real estate, so don’t consume a large glass of juice or bowl of soup right away. That said, fluids will help food move through your stomach as you eat, so sip some water or other liquids throughout the meal.

3. Take a break

The human stomach is stretchy. If you cram food and drink into it, it will expand to a maximum volume of two to four liters—the equivalent of one or two 2-liter bottles of soda. Once you’ve filled your gut to capacity, the meal is over—right?
Not so. As fast as you put food into it, your stomach processes that content and starts moving it into the intestines. So when you feel like you can’t eat another bite, press pause. If you’ve been loading up on simple carbohydrates, you’re in luck: The stomach can empty itself of low-fiber carbs in a mere 30 to 90 minutes.
But veggies and whole grains will throw a wrench into the process. “Something with fiber takes longer to leave the stomach because the fiber holds fluids,” Bonci says. Thirsty fiber not only makes you feel fuller faster, but also moves more slowly through your system, making that feeling of fullness last longer.
And protein like turkey sticks to your ribs for much longer: It will take closer to four hours to pass through your stomach.
Luckily, you don’t have to wait for your stomach to empty out entirely before you go back to the buffet. Even a little reduction in food volume can help. Give yourself half an hour to recover, and you might find that you’re ready to pack in more chow.

4. Recovery

At this point, you probably feel bloated and sick. All you want is to curl up on the sofa, holding your stomach and groaning. Ignore that instinct and get to your feet.
If you take yourself from a sitting to a standing position, you’re going to move food more quickly.
“Part of the digestion of food is movement,” Bonci says. “If you take yourself from a sitting to a standing position, you’re going to move food more quickly and feel less uncomfortable sooner than if you just sit down.”
You don’t have to start running laps around the living room, but even a slow walk can make you feel better. The nerves around your stomach are the ones that complain to the brain about how full you are. Once your body pushes that food from your stomach into your intestines, the uncomfortably full feeling should ease up.
Adding liquid will also speed up this process. “Drinking will help to move things down,” Bonci says, “instead of everything sitting there going nowhere like a traffic jam.”

5. Dessert

Sweet foods don’t make you feel full as quickly as savory ones do. So after the meal, dig in to some pumpkin pie—after all your hard eating, you’ve earned it."

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans Day

Honoring and remembering all the brave veterans who fought..to give us a safe and peaceful place to live in.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Friday, September 30, 2016

& Magazine # 13


& Magazine #13 – Character Races!

by Bryan Fazekas 

After a year’s hiatus, another publication of & Magazine Issue #13! DOWNLOAD THIS ISSUE here

In this issue featured: Character Races!

Brown Elves – Player Character Race - a surprising crossbreed
Canaer – a variant grey elf
Aquatic Player Character Races – some ideas for an aquatic campaign
Elves of Black Shadow – inspired by a 90’s game

Plus lots of bonus articles.

(For those folks interested in such news.)

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.

Maps




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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

B2 - Keep on the Borderlands - #17 Chapel

My continuation of the mapping of the buildings inside the Keep. This is the final map in this series the Chapel (#17) alongside the Inner Bailey wall behind the warehouse and opposite the Guild House (#16).


The spiritual center of the Keep is located in a building that has a peaked roof two stories tall; the interior is one large room. The altar is located at the eastern end, with a colored glass window above it; the window is 20’ tall and 8’ wide. An offering box is fastened securely atop a heavy pedestal in the southeast corner.

With this last building my series on the buildings inside the Keep comes to a close. I will put up a index post with all of the relevant posts linked so that it is easier for folks to locate these maps and info. For now just select B2 in the labels at the bottom of the post to get the relevant articles listed.
These maps are all of the old school blue I'm fond of, based on some hand drawn maps I found some time ago over on Dragonsfoot by paleologos.

edit: DM map

Monday, July 25, 2016

B2 - Keep on the Borderlands - #15 Tavern


My continuation of the mapping of the buildings inside the Keep. This is the Tavern (#15) located across from the Fountain Square and alongside the Travellers Inn.


This place is the favorite of visitors and inhabitants of the KEEP alike. The food is excellent, the drinks generous and good. The place is always active, with patrons at any time of day or night. The barkeep, if talking with a good customer and drinking to his health, will sometimes talk about the lands around the keep.

The cellar is where drink and food are stored and prepared, and where the servants sleep. The family sleeps in the small loft. 

The cellar and loft, which houses the bedroom/living quarters for the Innkeeper, his family and staff is not detailed here, in the player's version of the map. At some later point I will re-visit this post and put up the full floorplan.

We're down to the home stretch with only one more building, the Chapel, left to go. These maps are more of the old school blue I'm fond of, based on some hand drawn maps I found some time ago over on Dragonsfoot by paleologos.

edit: DM's map

Sunday, July 24, 2016

B2 - Keep on the Borderlands - #14 Travellers Inn

My continuation of the mapping of the buildings inside the Keep. This is the Travellers Inn (#14) located across from the Fountain Square and alongside the Tavern.

This long, low structure has five small private rooms and a large common sleeping room for a full dozen. (Servants and the like always sleep in the stables, #4., of course.) Private rooms cost 1 g.p. per night, but sleeping in the common room is only 1 silver piece per night. The innkeeper and his family live in a small loft above the inn. This building is some 18’ high.

The 2nd story/loft, which houses the bedroom/living quarters for the Innkeeper, his family and staff is not detailed here, in the player's version of the map. At some later point I will re-visit this post and put up the full floorplan.

We're down to the home stretch with only a couple more buildings to go. These maps are more of the old school blue I'm fond of, based on some hand drawn maps I found some time ago over on Dragonsfoot by paleologos.

Edit: DM's map


Saturday, July 23, 2016

B2 - Keep on the Borderlands - #11 Loan Bank

My continuation of the mapping of the buildings inside the Keep. This is the Loan Bank (#11) located across the street from the Trader and alongside the Outer Bailey wall.

This low building houses all of the banking needs for the average dungeon adventurer. Here anyone can change money or gems for a small fee. The banker will also keep a person’s wealth stored safely at no charge if it is left for at least one month, otherwise there is a nominal fee. Unsecured loans can be obtained for up to 5 gold pieces; over 5 gold pieces requires some item of security deposit be left for the loan. A sign on the shop states clearly that this place is under direct protection of the KEEP.
Rates/fees are as shown on the floorplan. The strong room of the place is in the cellar. It is protected by a locked iron door which leads to a small vault with 12 compartments each protected by locks and other means. The cellar, which houses the bedroom/living quarters as well as the vault, is not detailed here, in the player's version of the map. At some later point I will re-visit this post and put up the full floorplan.

Over the next several days I will be posting additional floorplans for most of the other buildings in the Keep. These maps are more of the old school blue I'm fond of, based on some hand drawn maps I found some time ago over on Dragonsfoot by paleologos.

edit: DM's map


Friday, July 22, 2016

B2 - Keep on the Borderlands - #10 Trader

My continuation of the mapping of the buildings inside the Keep. This is the Trader (#10) located next door to the Provisioner in the Outer Bailey.

This low building houses a shop where all of the equipment needed for dungeon adventurers are sold. This place deals in all armor, weapons, and large quantities of goods such as salt, spices, cloth, rare woods, etc. The trader is very interested in obtaining furs. Prices are as shown on the floorplan. The back rooms, which are the stock room and living quarters, is not detailed here, in the player's version of the map. At some later point I will re-visit this post and put up the full floorplan. 

Over the next several days I will be posting additional floorplans for most of the other buildings in the Keep. These maps are more of the old school blue I'm fond of, based on some hand drawn maps I found some time ago over on Dragonsfoot by paleologos.

edit:DM's map


Thursday, July 21, 2016

B2 - Keep on the Borderlands - #9 Provisioner

My continuation of the mapping of the buildings inside the Keep. This is the Provisioner (#9) located down the street from the Smithy in the Outer Bailey.

This low building houses a shop where all of the equipment needed for dungeon adventurers are sold. He does not sell weapons other than spears, daggers, arrows and bolts. He has a few (7) shields, but does not sell armor or mounts. He will direct any persons interested in such items to the trader next door. Prices are as shown on the floorplan. The back room, which is the bedroom/living quarters, is not detailed here, in the player's version of the map. At some later point I will re-visit this post and put up the full floorplan. 

Over the next several days I will be posting additional floorplans for most of the other buildings in the Keep. These maps are more of the old school blue I'm fond of, based on some hand drawn maps I found some time ago over on Dragonsfoot by paleologos.

edit: DM's map


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

B2 - Keep on the Borderlands - #8 Smithy/Armorer

My continuation of the mapping of the buildings inside the Keep. This is the Smithy located alongside the Stables in the Outer Bailey.

This building is about 20’ high, the lower floor is occupied by a forge, bellows, and other items. Here horses and mules are shod, weapons made, armor repaired and similar work done. The smith is also an armorer, and has two assistants. The second floor is not pictured here, in the players version of the map. At some later point I will re-visit this post and put up the full floorplan. 

Over the next several days I will be posting floorplans for most of the other buildings in the Keep. These maps are more of the old school blue I'm fond of, based on some hand drawn maps I found some time ago over on Dragonsfoot by paleologos.

edit: DM's map


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

B2 - Keep on the Borderlands - Private Apts. #7 cde

My continuation of the mapping of the buildings inside the Keep. These are the Private Apartments located alongside the Inn as well as the southern wall in the Outer Bailey.

Over the next several days I will be posting floorplans for the other buildings in the Keep. These maps are more of the old school blue I'm fond of, based on some hand drawn maps I found some time ago over on Dragonsfoot by paleologos.

Monday, July 18, 2016

B2 - Keep on the Borderlands - #7a Jewel Merchant & #7b Priest

These are the Private Apartments located behind the Inn in the
Keep. Apartment 7a is the Jewel Merchant and his wife, while Apartment 7b is the jovial Priest with his two silent acolytes.

Over the next several days I will be posting floorplans for the other buildings in the Keep. These maps are more of the old school blue I'm fond of, based on some hand drawn maps I found some time ago over on Dragonsfoot by paleologos.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

B2 Keep on the Borderlands - #16 Guildhouse - Blue Map

Yesterday I went over some of the maps and setup for my current online game. That mostly dealt with the surrounding areas and the Keep overview. Today and in the next few posts I'm going to get into actual buildings inside the Keep. As Gary put it;
Certain buildings of the KEEP will frequently be visited by the adventurers (such as the Travelers Inn, Tavern, and Provisioner). Floor plans are very useful in visualizing these areas. For information on their preparation, refer to the section entitled “Designing Floor Plans” near the end of the module.
 Now the one map of the buildings inside the Keep that is provided in the module is the Guild House (#16 on the map). It's a great starting point, but I like my maps old school blue, so I took it and adjusted the color as well as adding a cellar to the original plans. For anyone intimately familiar with the floorplan you'll notice that the secret doors/passageways have been removed from this, the player's version of the map. At some later point I will revisit these posts and put up the DM versions as well.

Over the next several days I will be posting floorplans for the other buildings in the Keep. My maps will be more old school blue based on some hand drawn maps I found some time ago.

edit: DM's map



Saturday, July 16, 2016

New Campaign - B2 Keep on the Borderlands

A while back I was playing an AD&D 1ed game online set in Greyhawk. My favorite game and setting, in case that isn't obvious yet. Unfortunately that game dissolved after a short while along with a couple other online games I had been playing in. After a short stint looking for something suitable I decided to bite the bullet and just DM it myself. This was in part because the FtF campaign I've been DMing is starting to wind down after ~7 years of play.

So now I'm DMing a Google Hangouts game starting off in the Keep. Naturally I've set it in Greyhawk and will be taking the folks through B2 Keep on the Borderlands to start off. Believe it or not, except for a short foray into the Caves of Chaos just recently, I had never played or DMed this module.
Looking around on the web there is a metric ton of info, game reports, maps, conversions and the like for this module. So naturally I decided to add some more junk to the pile. If someone finds it useful, great, but really I'm just putting it up here as a sort of work in progress, for my own benefit primarily.

My first steps in setting up any new campaign is, and has always been, the maps. Looking around for maps of the wilderness and Keep I found a few that I liked but just weren't 'perfect', for me anyways. So, naturally I took the ones I liked and adjusted them to suit my own tastes and style.

The Hexographer map over on breeyark.org was the closest to what I had in mind, so that's the one I adjusted to my liking.
As you can see I've borrowed things from all over the place on this map.
The scale 'debate' I just sidestepped by making the caves ~2.5 hours to get to by an unencumbered man on foot and left it at that. You'll notice some farmhouses and fields located just outside the Keep. These I placed there because it seemed like a perfect place for the start of a new town, with some protection nearby. The farmers scamper into the Keep at nightfall when the raiding gets to be extreme. After all, they're brave not stupid.


Since this is situated in Greyhawk the next question was where was I going to place it, besides the suggested Yeomanry.
Since I'm planning on tying this in with The Temple of Elemental Evil later I decided to place it not too far away on the Wild Coast along the Jewel River. If you click on the environs map you'll see a spot towards the bottom in the middle of the Welkwood labelled Baridel Castle, the name for the Keep I adopted in my version of Greyhawk.


The next step was the keep itself. The Castellan Keep map over at halfblogre.com caught my eye, so that was the next to get incorporated into my milieu. As you can see I just adjusted it slightly to conform to my view of the Keep. You'll notice I've added some storage towers to the inner gatehouse, as well as switching the location of the stables and warehouse. I just figured the Smith would need direct access to the horses and putting it next to the Smithy/Armorer would make more sense. You'll also note that I added some barracks to the inner bailey since the 250+ inhabitants (mostly soldiers) of this castle needed someplace to sleep, too.

Next time is some old school blue maps of the different buildings inside the Keep itself.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Game of Thrones Interactive Map

If you're a fan of Game of Thrones, then this should help while away the days and weeks while we wait for the next season to arrive. Courtesy of the information documented by Game of Thrones Wiki, there is now an independently curated interactive map that allows users to plot individual character trajectories, royal house locations, and affiliated constituencies across the Known World of Westeros (according to the events from the first 6 seasons of the HBO drama). Before the program returns to the airwaves diehard fans and learned readers of GRRM’s original novels alike can now brush up on their Westerosi geography.




Saturday, June 4, 2016

Muhammad Ali RIP

Muhammad Ali, boxing great and cultural symbol, dead at age 74 | Reuters


Passing along the sad news that Muhammad Ali, one of the great athletes and personalities of our time, has passed away at the age of 74. Having battled Parkinson’s Disease for decades, his passing doesn’t come as a complete surprise. But, for anyone who remembers Ali in his prime, this news will certainly come as a blow. There is perhaps not a better way to remember Ali’s life and times than to watch the 1978 episode of This Is Your Life.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016


“It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.”


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Travel Times Over the Past 200 Years

The classic Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States shows exactly how travel times across the United States have evolved over time. Back in the early 1800s, without easily navigable roads or railroads, even a journey from New York to Washington, DC, was a multi-day affair.



Map of travel times in 1800 and 1830. (Hathi Trust)

Over time, that slowly improved. Construction on theNational Road, which stretched from Cumberland, Maryland, across the United States, began in 1811 and continued through the 1830s. The advent of the steamboat also made it easier to use rivers.

The big advance, however, came through trains. By 1857, railroads had improved travel times significantly — culminating with the development of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. Even in 1857, travel was easier, thanks to the railroad system.



Map of travel times in 1857. (Hathi Trust)

By 1930, railroads had successfully compressed travel times to a couple of days versus the many weeks it took in the 1800s.



Map of railroad travel times in 1930. (Hathi Trust)

These maps don't just show the rapid pace of technological progress, however. They also show how that progress advanced unevenly, in fits and starts. Railroads didn't reduce travel times right away — they still required significant infrastructure investments, ranging from laying down tracks to building tunnels. That took decades.

The same thing happened to airline travel. This map of air travel times in the 1930 shows it was a huge advance on railroads. But it was still significantly slower than air travel is today:



Map of airline travel times in 1930. (Hathi Trust)
Found at.