Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Castle of the Bloated One - Ruins of Ja'ron Fer'oc: Level 9

December 29, 1977 Original Concept

"You want to know what happened to the Legion?", the old bard leaned forward and whispered. The children moved closer to the fire, transfixed by his words. "Very well... the fields were covered with human, elf and dwarf. The Legion's finest warriors battling The Wite; a horrible mass of orc, hobgoblin, gobber and undead. From my vantage point smoke rose into the air, billowing upwards from the mass of bodies burning everywhere. but ..." the bard faltered, choking back a sob ... "but... through my gossamer eyes ... they weren't moving, silent screams unanswered, frozen in place mid-strike. The Legion had fought their last battle".

Five of the children started crying, reaching blindly for comfort from each other, when the oldest boy glanced up, anger and tears reflected on his face, "I don't believe it!". The old man nodded "aye, ti's true ... for the fields were covered in glittering ice".

Level 9 was based on that passage from my notes. A larger level featuring snow, ice, fissures and crevices, along with a wilderness look and feel. Presented below is the Ruins of Ja'ron Fer'oc: Level 9.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Castle of the Bloated One - Ophidian Level 8

December 26, 1977 Original Concept

A chance viewing of a silly 1973 horor movie titled "Sssssss" led me to purchase a couple golden books on amphibians and reptiles. Over the next few weeks I slowly worked on a monster who could bite a humanoid and subsequently they would transform into a snake-like creature. Like the vampire, infected humans would be under their master's control. I called them Sssnapes (highly original *rolls eyes*), and added them to my trove of beasties. Six years later the Ophidian would appear in Monster Manual II and I instantly thought, that should have been mine!. C'est la vie...

Thus, Ophidian Level 8 is presented:


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Castle of the Bloated One - Organ Donor Level 7

December 19, 1977 Original Concept

Luray Caverns, August 10, 1977.
My family had traveled down to Falls Church Virginia to see my Aunt Marie & Uncle Andy - the same uncle who first introduced me to Miniature wargaming, stamps and coins. After spending a couple days at the Smithsonian, my Uncle took us to Luray Caverns and there I was introduced to a wonder. The cavern is impressive, all the moreso when you account for the ghost stalactite that one can see from 7 or so different places during the tour, and just how cool (literally and figurately) the place is. The bombshell for me however is the stalacpipe organ in the main cavern, operated by a custom console that produces the tapping of ancient stalactites of varying sizes with solenoid-actuated rubber mallets in order to produce tones.

As we listened to this amazing instrument, my mind instantly started working on the next level of The Castle of the Bloated One. We purchased one of the original 33 albums (vinyl, ah how I pine for thee) and I used it, along with the images I'd taken on the trip to lay out Organ Donor.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

1E Character Background

I've posted a copy of the 1E Character Background to the Downloads Archive. I use page 1, and associated tables on page 2, if needed. The rest of the document can be used for more info, perhaps during down time or if more detail is sought/needed.


Blowfish Sign update

I've considered doing a major overhaul to the blog layout wise, but after talking to quite a few people, the majority agreed that the elements fit the theme for a tavern well. That said, this blog does represent my 1E game, my passion for my campaign and it's history.

So two changes have been made; the sign hanging out in the elements now has a weathered grey plank for it's background, with a sign post and chains w/bracket. The second sign has also been weathered, hangs on the wall by the entrance, and greets the patron as they enter.

Overall, I'm pleased with the finished design.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Gem Tables 2.0

I've been revisiting past works, and I've not included a link to my set of gem tables to flesh out 1E campaigns. I realized the previous version, 1.5, needed some TLC, so I've updated the entire document with a cleaner presentation and streamlined the layout. I've included a short synapsis as well.

  • You want a quick gem name to throw out for that pickpocket attempt? – use the Quick Gem Table on page 6.
  • You need a gem and want to choose it from a categorized list? – use the Advanced Gem Table starting on page 7.
  • You want to choose a stone from a large combined list? – use the Complete Gem Tables starting on page 10.
  • Need a color or color combination for a stone? – use the Gem Color Chart on page 14.
  • Tired of round or square shaped stones? – use the Gem Shape Chart on page 15
Lastly, I wanted to show how all 3 sets of tables could be used, so a longer example has been included.

“You’ve just defeated the Orcs and their chieftain. While searching the bodies, the thief finds a glove that jingles when inspected”. “I look inside” says the thief. “Regis tips the contents into his hand and you see…”

You’ve either pre-rolled the treasure, roll it on the fly, or make it up on the spot. However you do it is fine because you’re the DM. In this example we will roll for three separate stones using all the tables.
  1. Quick Table (page 6) Roll of 59 results in an Opaque Quartz.
  2. Advanced Table (page 7) Roll of 3D8 nets 14, which is Olivine, the subsequent roll of 4 gives a Green Peridot.
  3. Complete Table (page 11) Roll of 11, and on sub-table 11, roll of 15 results in a Black Verdan Gold. 
Roll for value using the charts reproduced on page 3 and 4 and you’re done. So let us conclude this example:
“You find 25 coppers, 4 silvers and 3 gems” the DM replies. “Cool, we'll stash them for later and check back in town”, the Cleric says, thinking the gems might be used for a tithing to his church.

Later, at the local magic shop (substitute a Gem Store complete with Gemologist and/or Lapidary if you'd like), the party has the gems appraised. “Ah, these are interesting stones my friends... (checks and tests) ...the first is a Opaque Quartz, the second a Green Peridot, and the third is Black Gold”. “Whew-hew” cries the fighter, “Gold! We’re rich, drinks are on me!”

“Not so fast my friend, this is a Verdan Gold nugget. It's very delicate and certainly not as valuable as true gold because of its small size, but the color and ...” “How much is it worth?” the Thief interrupts, a glint in his eyes. “Well, fair market value – and maybe you'll find a better deal in Elise - but I'd say 130 Gold”. The jeweler continues “all together, these gems are worth 185 gp”.

Included is a link to download version 2.0 of the Gem Tables document below, and it will be available in the the downloads archive:


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Temple of the White Lotus - Level 3: Balcony

The Temple of the White Lotus, Level 3's primary purpose is balcony, storage of weapons and arrow slits for defensive purposes on the exterior. Twin staircases on either side lead down through level two, and exit via secret door inside and outside on level one. Sleeping quarters have existed here in the past, as have a few collections of books and artwork.


Temple of the White Lotus - Level 2: Gallery

The second level of the Temple of the White Lotus has a unique feature, a grand gallery. In the past both art and jewelry exhibits have been held here, and some of the proceeds from such events help supplement the temple. The upper balcony gives a lovely view of the reflecting pool below, and incense provides a peaceful environment. The upper halls include the three guiding principles of the order, Harmony, Peace and Nature.


Temple of the White Lotus

I'm a firm believer that OD&D and 1E are the best versions because the rules have a mystical quality to them. In addition, since I run a medieval western campaign (always have, always will) I stick to the base classes. I wanted to include monks in my campaign, so I created the Monks of the White Lotus.

This is the finished recreation of the Temple of the White Lotus, devoted to study and training, and includes the largest fountain/reflecting pool that I've ever created. The monks supplement their temple's coffers beyond donations by selling their famed lotus at local events, and are a source for rarer varieties of the popular flower.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Castle of the Bloated One - Castle Main - Level 3

Level 3 has a singular feature, a multi-pillared room with central dias. L'chian Endor'e and his enclave make their home here.


Castle of the Bloated One - Castle Main - Level 2

Level 2 includes a central training ground, and multiple stairs leading to various levels. There is also current work being done on sub-levels by work crews recently hired by his grace, L'chian Endor'e, high druid of the School of Scales.

Castle of the Bloated One - Castle Main - Level 1

Now that the Castle complex is correct, the three previous posts show The Castle of the Bloated One Levels 4 through 6, which are specifically part of the Castle Main. These are not shown on the previous blue overlay map, because they are 212 feet below the castle complex. They can be accessed from inside the Castle Main, or by using the twin set of spiral staircase just east of the main entrance, and the vertical Columnar Basalt shafts located east and west.

In the past, rangers and druids were trained in specialties like botany and fungi, but recently (50 years), the school's focus has shifted to the preservation of knowledge, while still retaining a vast library of information on the trees located throughout Isolde-Delta. Level 1 includes the School of Scales, and the last surviving Llorimar Tree, known for its medicinal properties.


Castle of the Bloated One - Massive Update

From January through September of 2012, work on recreating images of the layout of The Castle of the Bloated One, all done in Dungeonographer, and finished in Paint Shop Pro took place. The entire complex was also created in Sketchup for both perspective and top-down viewing. Those images were posted on this blog from October through December 2012, to both share the original campaign, and to collect as much data as I could in hopes of at some point publishing the material.

Over the last month, I've been revisiting this area to correct errors made in recreation due to not having my original source hex maps available, which I found on September 3rd. First was recreating a basic blue overlay of the entire castle complex to show the layout, sans any dungeon levels.

Next, all the entrance points from the castle complex into the dungeon were created, and then Dungeon Level 1 was laid out. I did this in two versions, a full 10,000 X 10,000 version in Dungeonographer, and a smaller overlay version to fit the blue layout.
Then, I added an overlay of the dungeon onto the blue background, giving a collective view of the complex together.

More to come,

Monday, September 12, 2016

Castle of the Bloated One - Running Water Level 6

December 16, 1977 Original Concept

Level 6 took five days to layout, due to the angled section at the bottom. I wanted a design that included a mushroom/lichen garden, so I researched my Encyclopedia Brittanica collection. I discovered that soil rich in nutrients, and higher humidity would be key. Logs could be stacked into various shapes, and over time the mushrooms would flourish. The level is split horizontally by the river, which falls partially from Level 5 above, and a natural fissure that runs due north some 1400 feet before branching off. One of my favorite types of rooms includes multiple stairs, and this particular design include five separate sets which lead down to three different levels.


Friday, September 9, 2016

Castle of the Bloated One - Deep Level 5

December 10, 1977 Original Concept

This is the first level I laid out on the morning of my 14th birthday. My notes include the following info:

This level includes a waterfall (from the aqueduct on Level 4) and a combination feeding ground/slaver region. The water leads around to room #8, which has an entrance to a set of natural caverns, home to mushrooms, lichen and a couple big nasties. Traps are prevalent throughout, along with a couple surprises. Thus, presented below is Deep Level 5:


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Castle of the Bloated One - Garden Level - revisit

Originally, I had posted an image of the Castle of the Bloated One Garden sub-level on December 16, 2012. I had the write up from my original notes, but the image was based on an workaround due to not having the original main castle layout and the sub-levels available. It was all based on memory. The original image:

In any case, last week I was looking through my Forgotten Realms boxed set (for info on the gods of the realms), and in the bottom were six hex maps folded up. Angels did sing! So, I'm revisiting and posting the now correct information.

December 10, 1977 Original Concept

The Garden Sub-Level was designed as a place where crops are grown and harvested for the Castle's occupants, while the resulting seed is stored/maintained for next season. Fresh water is collected via the natural sandstone filter in the ceiling, which slowly drips down into the deep central collection chamber. An aqueduct complete with gated levers, drops the water down to Level 5.

Ventilation, sunlight, and some rain water is filtered down to the 80 foot tall chamber via four vertical Columnar Basalt shafts who's entrance is housed in twin open air buildings on the surface. These shafts have steep vertical stone steps, and while only the steadfast dare to use them on a regular basis, most prefer the twin Guard Tower stairs.

A grove of trees serves as a reminder of the deep connection to the Older Faith, while the outer walls keep the residents safe and secure during wartime. Other secrets remain...

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Custom Mapwork: Basement

The basement includes one of my favorite features in maps, both carved rooms and natural caverns. I decided to add in a stone backround, which I feel finishes the design:


Custom Mapwork: Ground Floor

The Ground Floor mentioned a vegetable garden outside, but no details were included. This was an opportunity to create one in black and white, and add in a bit of detail including a cobblestone path and well. The design also required two Sphinx at the entrance:


Custom Mapwork: First Floor

A fellow gamer over at Dragonsfoot had put a request out for some custom work, and after seeing my blog, he sent over some preliminary sketches.

Based on a beloved cartoon
Black & White layout
Three levels: Basement, Ground Floor, First Floor

The first floor inludes a shaded balcony region where the chandelier is:


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Isolde-Delta and the Coins of the Realm - Collected

27 March, 1978:

To finalize the revisit of original material, included below is a collected image showing all five coins together.


Isolde-Delta and the Coins of the Realm - Mithril

27 March, 1978:

Mithril Ore
Jorel Lightbottom and Elisea Land’orel found the first recorded Mithril Ore, and created a design that represented the shared love of the land and its history. They, and odd pair, spent weeks deciding on a design – seen arguing occasionally well into the night. Finally they settled on Mithril Ore, with the phrase: Blood in Legend, Blood in the Vein (Legenda in sanguinem, sanguinem in venam). Presented below is the Mithril coin:

Isolde-Delta and the Coins of the Realm - Platinum

27 March, 1978:

Platinum Crown
Selvarus One-Eye (Court Jester to Lord Prothall) had his blacksmith brother (long-departed) create a replica of the King’s crown. During the Feast of Ravers, he stumbled blind drunk into the court and sat on the throne. Donning the real crown, he decreed “My crown should be seen far and wide, whether I’m sitting or crapping”. The King thought it was a grand suggestion, and chose the phrase: Glory, Honor, Unity (Palma Veneratio Iunctum). Presented below is the Platinum coin:

Isolde-Delta and the Coins of the Realm - Gold

27 March, 1978:

Gold Shield/Sword
The Church of Sorakis settled on the shield and sword of their warrior/mage class, the templar. This is the living embodiment of their creed, and represents the balance needed for success in the world. Encircled by the phrase, Live by the Word, Sword in Hand (Vivunt ex Verbo, evaginatum tenentem gladium). Presented below is the Gold Sword:


Isolde-Delta and the Coins of the Realm - Silver

27 March, 1978:

Silver Axe 
The Valley Dwarves of Isolde, master wood and stone carvers, chose their favored Wood Axe. During the spring and fall equinox, the dwarves travel throughout the realm, selling their wares during festivals and local events. The phrase is, Balance Leads to Victory (Pondera Plumbum ut Victoria). Presented below is the Silver Axe:


Isolde-Delta and the Coins of the Realm - Copper

Rarely do I revisit previous posts, but I found another missing page from my Isolde-Delta history, which gives me missing details on the coins of the realms. That info originally appeared in the non-traditional sandbox design series of articles:

27 March, 1978: 

Isolde-Delta Coins History 

When Isolde-Delta received the official deed of crenellation, two writs were sent throughout the realm. The first detailed the official decree, (found on the official Isolde-Delta map):
The second writ asked each settlement from the smallest fife to the largest city to decide upon a symbol and slogan that best represented them. Once a choice had been made, they were asked to petition an artist whom would create the design professionally. Each symbol would then be voted upon via Land Census at the end of that year, and the best designs would then be minted and represent the five coins of the realms. They were: 

Copper - Lotus - The Church of the White Lotus (Monks) 
Silver - Axe - The Valley Dwarves of Isolde 
Gold - Shield/Sword - The Church of Sorakis (Haven) 
Platinum - Crown - Selvarus One-Eye (Court Jester to Lord Prothall) 
Mithril - Ore - Jorel Lightbottom and Elisea Lan'orel (Dwarf/Elf) 

A grove of trees was chosen as the symbol of the realm, and would be included on the back of each minted coin. The ancient language of Latin, created in Harnic runes would be used for the slogan that would adorn each piece.

Copper Lotus
The monks of the realms during an enclave, voted unanimously that the Church of the White Lotus should represent their vested interest. They chose the Lotus flower because it represents the simple man in Isolde, his journey through life and the balance one must achieve with the realm of Nature. The phrase is one of the three guiding axioms of the faith, Harmony and Peace with Nature (Consensio quod Pacis per Vis).  Presented below is the Copper Lotus:Cheers,