I’ve been watching the turmoil across social media around the developments at Twitter. Although it isn’t something I make a lot of use of, a lot of my friends do, and it’s nice to be able to dip in now and then. I also tend to use it as another place to link to here when I post – and back in the day when Facebook allowed APIs to play nicely, I had a little chain of things set up that I could post here and see cross posting back and forth to my various other places without any intervention.
Now, just in case things go up in smoke over in that-there land of Twits, I’ve been looking at Mastodon as a decentralised alternative – mostly because most of the people I know are also heading there, along with various artists, authors, and associated ne-er do wells.
It took me a while to get to grips with it, but I’m now set up on an LGBT server (other servers, of course, are available) and am making links and getting used to the differences in how it all works – I refuse to call them toots, no matter how much they try. If anyone’s interested in wandering over – here’s a link to my profile to follow.
If you haven’t already got an account, it will then prompt you to set something up, but otherwise I’ll be able to follow you back (the usual mantra of these things – have we gone back to the noughties again?)
HeroForge have been going for a good few years now, offering a service where people can create and customise tabletop figures for their various roleplay games. You can then order the printed figure to use at home. The rise in popularity of virtual tabletops over lockdown has since led them to make improvements to export portraits and other illustrations. There’s a subscription model that unlocks extra features and save slots to build up a gallery – the site can be found at www.heroforge.com
The boy has been an enthusiastic cheerleader for the website for some time as he creates new characters, and this baton has been taken up as we’ve developed the DDC campaign. Lady B used the portrait features to create graphics for the stream – and indeed for one of the “Well That Just Happened” designs available on the store – https://amzn.eu/d/eJDoAZM – if you’re interested
So, I eventually caved and had a look this week – and decided to start with making an illustration for Karkanna Amberhammer ahead of the session coming up this weekend. For those not following, Karkanna is Thorin’s elder sister, who disappeared towards the end of the Last War and reappeared by way of a message sent to him in Windhaven. The message said to return as their father wasn’t well – and included their father’s heirloom axe. Everything in the game for the last few months has been the group making their way back to the Hold on the Brelish border.
What the group have been able to put together from hints and encounters is that Karkanna appeared back at the Hold, accompanied by strangers, and was welcomed quietly home. The next evening, as the moon rose, Karkanna transformed into a werewolf, and the strangers revealed as duergar and dolgaunts. Strange creatures appeared and overran the Hold, scattering many of the Clan to the hills.
The Silver Flame made contact with Thorin while they travelled, to see what contact he’d had, but decided that he hadn’t been corrupted and let him go on his way. Their first attempt at entering the Hold then led to them fleeing in disarray after fighting dolgrims and dolgaunts before encountering mind flayers and a beholder. During that time, they overheard conversations suggesting that Karkanna had fled or gone rogue – and so when they had a clue as to her location, they decided to find her. The session ended with their arriving at a ruined shrine and finding her waiting for them at the door.
Where this goes next? Who knows – I can’t wait to find out.
The second portrait I created was that of Coal – partner to Caeluma – who ran with the group for a good while before settling back in Windhaven to look after Odif and set up a youth centre with his profits from their adventuring. We had a whole arc of his coming to terms with his past as a war machine and the losses endured, so the dangers facing the group as they protected their young charge made total sense for the character to back out of active rotation.
When I posted this in the group chat the other night, I was immediately asked if he had become some form of criminal mastermind, which wasn’t really what I was going for – but there’s definitely elements of his rogue background along with the steampunk background to suggest a more elevated status than they’d enjoyed before. I had the concept of a gentleman thief in mind while assembling the options. The mimic of course is one of the many that share the DDC’s home, so it made sense to allude to it. In response to the question, someone else said “He’d say he didn’t know what you were talking about, boss”
The tokens are also very customisable – for curiosity’s sake because I mentioned them earlier, here’s what I generated based off these portraits:
I’ve had fun with these – so I’ll likely look to generate a rogues gallery this way of significant characters in the games I run as a creative outlet.
There has been a shift in how Amazon handles designs for their merch initiative, and it has been a joy to realise just how wide a reach this potentially gives me in terms of markets. It isn’t just the UK and the US, but countries in mainland Europe in the form of France and Germany, and Japan.
The new markets can be selected, but I need of course to translate my copy to the appropriate language for each market. French is fine, but my German and Japanese are non-existent. Fortunately Lady M made a quiet suggestion to use a site that she has been taking advantage of at work: www.deepl.com
It is, at its heart, a translation website and I have to say so far I’ve been quietly impressed at how easy it has been to use. Well worth adding to your toolbox, I’d say.
Work was work, and so this evening I’ve worked on some old graphics to bring them up to scale to use on tshirts on Amazon UK. I’m considering putting a few up for other countries at some point, but as far as I know the majority of our DDC audience is UK-based and this is hardly a superstar blog.
It started as a joke, but to paraphrase Dr Frankenstein… it’s alive! Or Live on Amazon anyway: the first bit of merchandise related to the DDC Dungeons and Dragons group is available to buy from Amazon in the UK right now:
I noticed today that I’ve been bumped up a tier in Amazon Merch which increases the number of designs I can sell from 10 to 25. I’ve been focused on Raglan tshirt designs there for the clarity they give my line art pieces so most things will go up in that format, and then a few as more general tshirts.
To find my things, search for Ludd Clothing as a brand. The latest piece as of the time of writing is based off a sketchpad piece I’ve had bubbling away recently, and myr s asked specifically to see it appear on a shirt. What better way to celebrate!
Well, by adding more things to the RedBubble site (see the site menu above for that link at any time)
We did a thing this weekend, quite unexpectedly, when Lady B messaged the polycule to ask if we’d be willing to gather on Discord and be part of an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on her Facebook stream.
As followers and supporters of her series of streams about her experiences of transition, we of course agreed. A couple of hours and some muffled stubbing of toes later, we were gathered round our respective devices for what was intended to be a quick half hour that turned into an hour and a half of us spinning off on tangents and laughing a lot.
I’ll add a link below to the streams recording – but I must add that the first five to ten minutes is completely silent due to a technical hitch known as “flicking the wrong switch” in Lady B’s kit.
Nevertheless, it was fun, and a good chance to talk a bit about who we are and how we relate, and our thoughts on being the oddballs that we are. So, enjoy the stream.
Lady M has been busy this week – just one way I can tell she’s on the heal at last. She’s been laying the groundwork for a little while for a project that is very close to her heart. It’s called Today’s Women In Tomorrow’s Technology, and as of this week the blog and twitter components have gone live.
At the heart of her project is a desire to inspire, guide, mentor and bring new and existing women together working in the Technology industry. She’s already gathering attention and support – and I think that in part it is a case of the right idea, at the right time, that is capturing people’s imaginations.
She’s asked me to write a guest spot on there in the near future – but don’t let that put you off. Go take a look, and engage if you like the ideas or want to be part of a wider discussion.
I’ve been using the pyromancers.com website to handmake the maps I’ve been using in the Wartorn Roll20 campaigns over the last year or so, but it’s not the only resource I’ve been making use of.
There’s a few more websites that have recently caught my eye, and I’ll probably start dipping in to using them from time to time. A few of the maps that my group have yet to encounter have been made up using graphics from these sites, so I’ve tested them for ease of importing the resulting graphics in to Roll20. So far, each has been useful in different ways.
The first – ANAMap – is a map generator that allows me to make old-school line drawing maps and export them as PNG graphics, which are fully supported by Roll20.
When you start up, you are presented with a blank sheet of graph paper-style unreal estate and a series of tools on the left hand side that allow you to carve your nascent dungeon with a few simple clicks. Each square on the “graph paper” is cleared as you click on it, and refilled if you click back on it again, making editing and changing your mind a simple task as you go along. The palette is simple, and the icons are rudimentary, but if you’re looking to generate something quickly with a clean set of lines, this is probably what I’d prefer to direct you towards at the moment. As an added bonus, the site does remember where you got up to, and so you will see your most recent edit when you go back.
You can save and reload maps as you need to revisit them, which is a nice touch and making the grid disappear is a matter of clicking on the Draft button. The Dark theme reverses the palette to make a neon dark blue and glowing walls effect, so that might prove useful if you want to do some mirror-world or dreamscape representations of maps.
The other site I’ve started using has been more for inspiration or throwing together very quick locations, and I think I’m only really starting to scratch the surface. Dave’s Mapper uses tiled templates to randomly generate areas. It too allows you to export maps as PNG format graphics and these can be resized as required when you import them into Roll20.
There are all sorts of filters available to choose the style and design of the tiles used, and whether the maps are close edged to make a contained location, or open-edged (for generating a location within wider streets or tunnels, for example). By default though, the maps tend to resemble the example here, reminiscent of classic hand-drawn dungeons in original D&D products back in the days of yore. I really like it, and I might use it for generating treasure maps for handouts to players, using them as a template for a map put together with the pyromancers site instead.
Hopefully, one or more of these resources will be helpful to you too, let me know in the comments, or feel free to suggest other map making resources that you treasure.