Direbane is an abode to share artifacts, simulacra, histories, and other items of note related to ongoing years adventuring.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Campaign Re-Boot

(Patrick Wetmore's ASE overland map hand-copied into the free-version of Worldographer
When we originally conceived what became the "Blipping" campaign back in 1988, I did not envision any "blipping" at all. First off, we never had other characters disappear just because the player was absent from the session. Basically, their characters became quasi-retainers who hung in the back and out of combat, but were ready to be used in an emergency if the party ended up in a tight spot. These lurking PCs did not receive any share of experience though, unless they were called upon to enter combat, cast some healing, or such, then they received a whole share if I remember correctly. (A boon because if the character was thrown into combat they could be killed too even with the player awol.)

Kind of like now, but for different reasons (our main DM Dr. John was off on his journey becoming a mad scientist), I ended up DMing our main game fore a long time and wanted to game a character of mine own for a minute. My original plan, upon which apparently I did not achieve consensus, was to start out in the land of Arduin and branch out from there. I even drew a starting map.

Arduin worked not only because it hosted the nexus of all the planes of the Multiverse, but also because the setting could handle straight sword and sorcery up to techno and sci-fi. Plus all of our group were familiar with the setting and there were enough hooks with little that was canon which in my idea left us free to extrapolate.

I ran the first three sessions in March-April-May 1989, doing some overland and Dead Watch Mountain I believe. Next Dr. John took over and BOOM we were on some other planet. As time passed we went from blipping to other settings each time a new DM took over (typically 3 session cycles) to our characters blipping in and out dependent on whether the character's player was actually present. Best laid plans, eh?

This time around, 30 years later(!), I am again trying my hand birthing a co-created connected land.

I bounced around for a setting (and had just about settled on Chaosium's original rpg treatment of "Thieves' World") when "Anomolous Subsurface Environment" (ASE) popped up during my online search/musing of all things Labyrinth Lord (the old school retro-clone settled on for our trip back to old-style gaming).

ASE is gonzo, sci-fi infused megadungeon that I had been interested in for many years. What I did not realize is contained in Patrick Wetmore's adventure is a gonzo city and setting surrounding the megadungeon. As I read more ASE seemed the perfect starting point to our campaign. A futuristic world destroyed thousands of years ago and now a place of magic and barbarism - just enough details to go off in any direction. (Was particularly keen on versatility because the suggested next DM up wanted to run an Arabian Nights theme.)

Next thing that cam to mind was how to keep the maps together as close to seamless as possible?

Mapping software was the obvious solution, however, many of our group (myself included) are rather short on the ducats. That meant for mapping software to work for everyone there had to be a free solution.

Inkscape is far and away the best quality freeware for vector graphing, but requires time both to learn and to draw. I tried a number of online applications (like HEXTML, HexDraw, and others) which all had limitations in the free versions such map size or features that made them less useful.

I finally settled on Worldographer, which the main drawback I had to live with is I couldn't draw coastlines freehand. Arrggh!!!! Ha, otherwise though the free version is pretty sweet with classic-style terrain and hex features.

Since most of our group does not hyper-focus like me this is the best thing to easily encourage everyone to add their overland to the unified campaign.

First game in 4 weeks, and then I'll get you my pretty...!  ;~)

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