The world’s laziest posts, part 1: GIS dungeons

I’m terrible at drawing maps, and designing rational floor plans.  Sometimes I’ll Google image search (GIS) things like crypts or temples, which is always turns up tons of great stuff. Like this Egyptian temple:

Khonsu Temple Floor Plan

and this plan of Olympia:

Or this abbey:


But sometihng you might overlook are other types of plans, particularly those for old gardens. If you GIS “garden plans” (or better yet, “historical garden plans” so you don’t get as many modern drawings that are actually illustrations rather than plans).

The garden a the palace of Versailles is particularly vast and you’ll find lots of images like this map:

or this elevation:

Weird symbolic plans can be inspirational too:

Whether you were planning to run it as an outdoor maze or an underground dungeon, the unusual layouts can help break the monotony of halls and rooms.

Limiting your search line drawings or black & white makes even generic searches for “plans” useful.


Published in: on September 19, 2014 at 9:01 am  Comments (1)  
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Auran Empire map?

Been getting a little curious about the ‘default’ setting for ACKS and when I went to look at the map on their website, the  link ( is broken.

The WayBack Machine has no archived copy of it.

The “hand-drawn” map it replaces is also nowhere to be found.

Did Autarch take it down because they are planning to save it for a gazetteer, or is this just a glitch?  Assuming they did not mean to retract the map, does anyone have a copy of the jpg?  My Google-Fu fails. TIA!

Published in: on June 27, 2013 at 12:21 pm  Comments (2)  
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I only found Wizardawn recently, through a link on someone else’s blog (Maybe Troll & Flame? or from someone on his blogroll? It was late last night and I forget).

This has to be the most useful site ever, with tools for generating towns, dungeons, wilderness, and so on. So far my favorite feature is that it generates numbered maps from various geomorphs.  The ruined cities, village, and town maps look awesome, and the dungeon geomorphs will be familiar to users of other online random dungeon generators.

Many of the encounter tables for the tools use Labyrinth Lord or OSRIC, but things are pretty system-neutral.  If that weren’t enough, you can download a number of interesting sci-fi and fantasy games — RPGs and board games — created by the anonymous owner of the site.  For free.  Check it out.

Also, many thanks to the creator of Wizardawn, whoever you are!

Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm  Comments (6)  
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Phantom islands of the Atlantic (book report)

Hoping to find some inspiration for the island-hopping “5DM campaign,” I read Phantom islands of the Atlantic by Donald S. Johnson.  The book is written by an historian and sailor, and discusses seven legendary islands (or groups of islands) that have appeared, for varying terms, on maps of the Atlantic.  Links go to the Wikipedia pages on them so you don’t have to read the book too.  (It’s not a bad read but I skipped a fair amount of the geography and seamanship heavy discussions of where the islands might have been located and which real islands or phenomena might have inspired the stories.)  The maps included in the book include both some reproductions of the originals and some simplified line drawings, which could be useful.

  1. Isle of Demons — not mentioned on Wikipedia: this was confused with an island where Marguerite de la Rocque  and her lover were marooned, and which is described in the Heptameron.
  2. Frisland — where two adventurers become embroiled in wars of conquest on unknown islands
  3. Buss Island — which was thought to be island that sank and occasionally rose again
  4. Antillia, the isle of seven cities — supposedly settled by Iberians fleeing the Visigoths
  5. Hy-Brazil — (I first heard of this in the wonderful film Erik the Viking!) — this one originated in Celtic mythology
  6. St. Ursula and her 11,000 virgin companions — who supposedly sailed from Britain to Roma and landed on some phantom islands.  Later explorers would name the Virgin Islands after this legendary figure.  St. Ursula was very popular in the middle ages and the modern Order of  Ursulines were founded in her honor, although the Vatican no longer regards her as a real saint.  This chapter has a good reminder about the trade in saintly relics that were big business in the middle ages.  When a mass grave was identified as that of Ursula and her 11,000 martyrs, there was an explosion of shrines built.  1000 skeletons were shipped out to one location. (The skeletons were probably either a Roman era graveyard or late Roman mass grave; there were not really 11,000 bodies there and they were not all women. Still, a cache of relics like that would be an authentic medieval treasure hoard, if you are bored with gold and silver coins…)
  7. The islands of St. Brendan — This is the longest chapter and mentions a number of islands: The Island of Smiths (possibly volcanic); the Island of Strong Men; many mysterious places like an island with food set out but no inhabitants, a rock with Judas Iscariot stranded on it, a massive crystalline cube that might house New Jerusalem, and many other curiosities and wonders.  Brendan and his companions are also menaced by various monsters and devils, and receive aid from magical birds.  The story is fairly repetitive, in the Medieval manner, but has a lot of details you might steal.

The book also drew my attention to the Ebstorf Map, which I’d never seen before.  Some one needs to redo this in English, or better yet do a version for Greyhawk or some other fantasy world.  This is exactly the sort of map players should have.

Published in: on November 16, 2011 at 9:00 am  Comments (5)  
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How Scottsz fixed my map

Scottsz explains the goetic art of ‘Gimping,’ and shows how he transmuted my shi*ty map into gold!  Surf on over to Old School Jump to see how he fixed my OPD map.  It was obviously a lot of work, and I’m very grateful.  Thanks, Scott!

I hope this also motivates more entries into the OPD contest. At this point there are more prizes than entries!  And while that’s good news with respect to my chances of winning something, I tend to use a lot OPDs as spurs when I’m DMing so I’d like to see more entries!  Get on it, people!

Published in: on March 20, 2011 at 2:56 pm  Comments (1)  
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OPD with revised map

I already posted a bit about the Belly of the Beast here, and mentioned my intention to get the map looking better.  Scottsz has very kindly cleaned up the whole thing, adding legible numbers and more consistent doors etc.

Very bluntly, if it weren’t for Scottsz & Sorcerers of Doom there wouldn’t be a Swords & Dorkery. I stumbled across his first incarnation of SoD (there have been three incarnations of that blog by my count) and saw someone plugging away at a gaming project I could relate to and the whole wide world of blogging opened up to me, and I thought, “I could post my crap! Someone out there will appreciate it!” Scottsz’s Old School Rant directed a lot of traffic to me in the early days too and I feel I owe him an awful lot now. Most recently he gave me feedback on an ealry version of Belly of the Beast, which has become my One Page Dungeon entry, and now he’s even transformed my crude hand-drawn map into something respectably professional-looking. Thanks again, Scottsz!

Here’s my original scan he started with:

Here’s his cleaned up version of it:

And here’s the final (I think!) OPD: Mike_Monaco_The_belly_of_the_beast_OPD

Published in: on March 16, 2011 at 8:37 pm  Comments (1)  
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Chance favors the prepared mind

Last night I stocked a dungeon map I’d stumbled upon in my research into copper mines, using the Moldvay Basic book, and a few tables from The Dungeon Alphabet and Kelri’s Old School Encounter Reference. (I also had some of Al’s tables from Beyong the Black Gate handy but did not decide to use them, nor the DMG’s dungeon dressing tables, since I already knew the dungeon was a mine and I could make up dressing for it easily enough on the spot).

Initially I thought I’d roll up sixteen rooms and assign them logically to the sixteen numbered areas, but once I was done I didn’t feel like recopying everything I’d noted and instead I mostly kept the rolls as they fell, with a few modifications (some of the monsters from one area might be in another area or two, and a few traps/specials were moved around).  What I was very pleasantly surprised to find was that it was actually very easy to work out a “narrative” of what the hell is going on in the mines based on the various random elements.  If it goes over well in my game, I’ll go ahead and post it here.

Published in: on October 26, 2010 at 7:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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Free maps, and some pamphlets

So this is pretty cool — refurbished old maps free for educational use.

I like the economic and fauna/flora maps especially, you don’t see a lot of them.

Unrelated but interesting too is this post about some old pamphlets.  I totally love the first image there.

Published in: on July 26, 2010 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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ABC: Always Be Cobbling!

Craft projects are big in my household, between my wife’s sewing and scrapbooking, my daughter’s myriad crafts, and of course my own constant painting and converting of minis. I was just taking stock of the half-started/partly completed projects I am working on, or planning to work on (although lately the garden and a tentative return to exercising and even this blog have been competing for time):

  • 1/72 armies. I have several hundred plastic figures in 1/72 scale that should eventually be painted and based for wargaming (DBA), including several that are mostly conversion jobs since no-one makes Lydians, Neo-Hittites, and various others. These have been on hiatus for a couple of years now, since I’ve been more interested in fantasy and RPGs lately.
  • Painting (and to some extent re-painting) my old D&D figures, of which there are maybe two hundred, if I don’t count the vast piles of plastic figures from BattleMasters, Lionheart, Age of Mythology, and other board game figures I’ve drafted for RPG and wargame use, and if I don’t count some newer figures…
  • Several armies worth of fantasy type armies, including some complicated conversions (I’d like to take some of the Lionheart knights and make them into fully armored centaurs, for example).
  • Completing the rules additions for “Dungeon Delvers” and the large new Egyptian tomb dungeon I made for it, which will require some playtest time.
  • Photographing all of the painted figures for pet project (I’d like to create a series of booklets of NPCs and monster stats, assigning names and values to each figure in my collection, probably statted in D&D as well as “Dungeon Delvers” )
  • Fleshing out the megadungeon and campaign world for an OD&D or Labyrinth Lord campaign to rune someday.
  • Testing out the Chainmail rules as wargame and for OD&D to see if the it would be viable to run a convention game consisting of a skirmish, a short dungeon crawl, and a larger mass battle or siege in a semi-simulation of the old Dark Tower electronic bard game.
  • Painting up hordes of zombies and a few modern figures for zombie gaming.
  • Painting up a huge pile of plastic cowboys & “Indians” for use with Boot Hill.
  • Painting my swashbuckler/pirates figures, including all those undead pirates I bought earlier.
  • Painting my small collection of superheroes and sci-fi figures, just to get them finished.
  • Rebasing some figures that I rather impulsively put on flocked “grassy” bases although they really would be better off on neutral black bases, since they are for RGPs and may be indoors as well as outdoors.
  • Make chess set, and/or a hnefatfl set for myself (I’ve made both as Christmas gifts before but you know, the shoemaker is barefoot or however that goes.)
  • Create a pair of Ragnarok armies (both sides of the Norse apocalypse) for the game Hordes of the Things. Not to mention a Chaos army, an Imperial Warhammer army, some Hyborian armies, and a ninja army, all for HOTT…
  • Repair a couple of Grenadier “masterpiece” models…the Goblin War Giant, which has a number of loose goblins, and the Undead Giant,which is currently in pieces.
  • Build a 28mm scale viking hall, a tavern, and a coach house that are big enough for RPGs & skirmish wargames.
  • And a scale pirate sloop, and a galleon, and a merchantman ship, all for pirate games.

Good grief. I’ll be doing this when I’m senile.

Published in: on July 10, 2010 at 10:53 am  Comments (4)  

Maps of mines

Quick idea: suppose the upper level(s) of the megadungeon you are planning is composed of mines. How do you map a mining complex? Wing it? Or do you check some real-world mine maps?

Here’s a link to some guides to mines in Illinois (pdf documents).

And here’s some maps of West Virgina mines.

A little more Googling might lead you to mines in your area. Unfortunately, the National Mine Map Repository does not have an easy way to find the many maps they’ve scanned — you need to know what you’re looking for there.

Published in: on July 2, 2010 at 12:20 pm  Comments (5)  
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