Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Murdered Cartoonist Illustrated French Dungeons & Dragons Game

The French RPG site Le Grog reported that murdered Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Tignous (Bernard Verlhac) was a veteran games illustrator. Among other credits including Laelith for Casus Belli magazine and MEGA for Strategy Games magazine, he appears to have been the illustrator for the mid-1980's TSR board game Le Sourire Du Dragon, based on the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon series. The link to the board game was made by me, and I do not read French, so any additions or corrections to this information would be welcome.

UPDATE (10:00 PM CST): It looks like the box cover was based on a promotional poster by the American artist Bill Sienkiewicz. See Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon Encyclopedia. Thus, Tignous did the board (and the cards, I assume, though they were presumably based on the original cartoon images).

Monday, January 5, 2015

City State of the Invincible Empress Jool-ee

At the risk of testing anyone's patience, this is the FINAL test map before knuckling down and writing the tutorial. The above is an "artistic" player's map without any hex grids, but only using the terrain and icons of the free version of Hexographer. I suck at names (obviously) so partly for that reason but also partly for the fun of it, five places are named after family members. (Guess which ones. Hint: No, my children are not named "Skull" and "Gore".) But I did try to get a bit more evocative and less generic.

I actually like this look for display purposes, though the referee would have a secret color map with more precise detail. You create this by editing and sort of tracing over the previous map. The problem with the mountain and tree icons that I used is that they are "special" icons as far as Hexographer is concerned and thus more difficult to manipulate. Also, the selection is not so great. There are "dune" icons and "rough" icons but nothing precisely desert-ish. And there isn't anything that really works for jungle or swamp. But I think that's okay. Labeling can be good enough.

I know there are better cartographic resources out there in terms of the final look. But this fits with my speed.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Isle of Pleasure

One more set of randomly created Zylarthen maps.

The two above, created with Hexographer, are somewhat similar to the color and black and white schemes used to map the "Gazetteer" world of the X and GAZ series.

The color map is certainly easier to read and has the virtue of the terrain not interfering (as much) with the captions. But the black and white map seems more "OD&D" to me.

For the Zylarthen tutorial I used the black and white scheme. With a bit of thought and work I believe the captions could be massaged to fit better.

This is more of a southern world, dictated by the random roll of the dice. No swamps or jungles appeared in the south, for example. So since I wanted them, I put them higher, meaning among other things, that if you want real cold or tundra (as we all do sometimes), you presumably have to go "off-map" to the north or northeast.

The "Isle of Pleasure" is an island dominated by a Temple to Pan. God knows what goes on there. But wouldn't one want to find out?

The Mermen live in a coastal cliff village or some such. Remember that in OD&D, Mermen have legs.

For the town in the northwest I rolled that the inhabitants were "Prisoners", hence it's status as some sort of giant prison camp.

Finally, I rolled that the desert village in the southwest was inhabited by "Basilisks". So I surmised that perhaps there was some sort of sudden attack or overrun by the creatures, with preserved human bodies similar to that after a surprise volcanic eruption, such as at Vesuvius.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Kingdom of the Ants

I'm still in the midst of hacking around, randomly creating maps for inclusion in the Wilderness Creation Tutorial for the new version of Seven Voyages of Zylarthen. But I really like this one. Again, these use the suggestions in Volume 4: The Campaign, created with Hexographer. The idea is to come out with something resembling the "Wilderness Survival" map of OD&D, but with a larger scale and a bit more flavor.


  1. This map uses the "old school" black and white icons available with the "Pro" version of Hexographer. I think it's arguably more tasteful and avoids the souped-up Greyhawk map look of the color tiles.
  2. Again, it was generated completely randomly with no cheating. This gives it some interesting aspects:
  3. What is the "village" labeled "Kingdom of the Ants"? Your players probably don't want to find out.
  4. But "Cult of Kali" is pretty self-explanatory.
  5. I like the magic school on the tip of that eastern island.
  6. What would a Dryad "city" (actually, more of the size of a village) be like?
  7. There are too many Witches (aren't there always?).
  8. The Martians get their own city, since I randomly rolled that Arid Plains would surround it. I imagine it's a dead city that the Red Martians (determined randomly, but I'm glad they were Red) have temporally occupied.
  9. The Marsh in the northwest looks unfriendly, with THREE (not one, not two but three) Evil Lords vying for control. Do not go there.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Apologies and Some Maps

This blog will be going to sleep for a week or so, as I need to focus all of my writing efforts on finishing up some additional material for Seven Voyages of Zylarthen. Among other things, I'm putting together a map-making tutorial for the forthcoming combined-volume virtual edition of the game.

The maps above and below were created using the free mapping program Hexographer and the "random" wilderness design recommendations set-forth in pp. 25-31 of Vol. 4: The Campaign. They're not the pinnacle of artistic or creative achievement, obviously, nor, as you can see, are they completely finished (each city is named "City", and each tower inhabited by an evil Magic-User is named "Evil Magic-User", among other things). But the point is they were each done from scratch in not much more than an hour or so by a non-artist (me).

So, apologies. Once the new version of Zylarthen is completed, I look forward to returning, hopefully shortly after the Feast of the Ephiphany.

Until then, may God grant you a fruitful and happy New Year (and a quick recovery from celebrating its arrival)!