Friday, April 27, 2012

Introducing: Judge Denny

I always find it informative to hear how other game-masters prepare and view RPGs.  In this post I introduce one of the dxContent mini/module mini/map contest judges.

I'd like you to meet Denny Edwards, another long-time gaming friend, DM and player.  Denny has a fantastic grasp on plot twists, mystery and suspense.  He creates villains you really hate (I'll get you General Gnaw!), and NPCs you really love (Rest in peace "Decoder").  Below are Denny's responses to my "get to know the judge" questions.

dxContent: As a game master and/or player, what level of importance do you place on maps and why?

Denny: If a picture is worth a thousand words, a map is worth a thousand encounters.  In the RPG games I’ve played in or ran over the years, maps have always been a staple.  Clearly not all gaming situations call for a map, but more times than not a visual representation of where things are in relation to each other helps provide a better (and hopefully a shared) understanding of what’s going on.  Personally I have a preference that significant combat encounters take place on a gridded map with miniatures or other counters.  I’ve found that a lot of time is saved if you don’t have to ask or explain where something is at and a map solves the problem handily.  If nothing else, even a small map and a pencil make for a much better game. Finally, it has been my experience that maps encourage exploration and curiosity; players  always want to know what’s beyond the edges of the map or what the strange rune etched into the floor is for.

dxContent: How many years have you played RPG games?

Denny: 28 years

dxContent: How many years have you played 3.5 / Pathfinder?

Denny: 9 years

dxContent: Minis are a "must" for your style of RPG play - Yes or No?

Denny: Yes; minis or counters

dxContent: Your game master notes (or player notes if you don't gm) are best described as...?

Denny: Organized and cross-referenced

dxContent: Do you prefer ready-made modules or home-spun material or a mix?

Denny: Mix

dxContent: As a gm (or player if you don’t GM) do you prefer published campaign settings or home-grown settings?

Denny: Mix

dxContent: Favorite role to play in a RPG (stealth, magic, melee-master, etc)?

Denny: Magic/stealth

dxContent: Would you rather play, game master or do both?

Denny: Both

Friday, April 20, 2012

dxContent Map Runner Mini Module Design Contest

As Map Runner nears its official graduation from beta status, I'm holding a design contest to see what people can do with the mapping tools.  The rules are not complex - basically you're creating a very mini-module around a map you make with Map Runner.

Lots of ideas come to mind creature lairs, tombs, castle dungeons, city sewers and more.  So unleash your creativity and show me what you can do with Map Runner (and ultimately help make it better).

dxContent’s Map Runner Mini-Module Design contest rules

#1 - Create a user account.

#2 - Create a single map 14w x 12h (or smaller) map using dxContent’s Map Runner tools.

#3 - Detail your creation using the Pathfinder rules system in 3000 words or less.
  • Up to half of your word budget can be allocated to background, plot, environment notes, the other half must be allocated to detailing specific areas on the map.
  • Author your submission text in google docs
    • save on text budget by linking to creatures / spell descriptions, etc on
    • Include a screenshot of your map in the Google doc. No maps created outside of Map Runner are allowed, and the map should not be altered outside of Map Runner in any way.
  • Your submission text must be “PG-13”.
  • Your submission must not use copyrighted intellectual property.
  • You waive all copyrights to your submission and place it public domain.
 #4 - Before midnight May 13th 20th 2012 (due date extended!):
  1. Post a response to this blog post notifying me of your submission.  Be sure to state your dxContent account name.
  2. Share the google doc containing your submission with
 #5 - Contest submissions no longer accepted after midnight EST on May 20th 2012

Contest Judging

Judging will begin May 21st.  All submissions will be ranked on a 1 to 10 scale by a panel of contest judges in the following categories:
  1. Creative use of Map Runner
  2. Overall Originality
  3. Overall theme
  4. Conformance to Pathfinder Rules system
  5. Technical Writing / Organizational skills / formatting / layout
  6. Effective use of word budget / PG-13 content
In the event of a tie, the earliest submission wins.

The top three creations and honorable mentions will all be featured on and/or Not So Random Thoughts, (’s blog). In addition:

1st Place Prize
25 tiles based on your specs will be added to Map Runner*
2nd Place Prize
15 tiles based on your specs will be added to Map Runner*
3rd Place Prize
10 tiles based on your specs will be added to Map Runner*
Honorable mentions
1 tile based on your specs will be added to Map Runner.
*Alternately you can request a feature change/addition to Map runner
have a custom random generator built for you
Good luck and happy [Random RPG activity]!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Map Runner 99% ready!

Its been a busy first quarter of updates to Map Runner!

First lets talk about the tiles. Map Runner makes maps based on combining tiles (also known as "geo-morphs"). At the time of this blog the tile count is 4,064! I don't know if that is a lot compared to other map generators, but can I just claim that that is the largest geo-morph library in the universe?

Anyway, biggest or not, here is what I've done:

  • I've completed the entire list of tiles I had planned and all the possible legal combinations.

  • I've added some additional tile variations (and will continue to add more over time)

  • I've improved the stair images and added variations for those as well.

Now on to the tool changes. I've made a number of tweaks to the map making tools making them smarter so that they produce fewer illegal tile combinations. For example placing a vertical hallway puts in the end caps, placing stairs starts a hallway, etc, etc, etc.

But the big news is that I've added the basic text tools so that you can not label your maps with key numbers / letters or labels (" 'ere be trezure!").

There is more planned, but I'm not ready to "let the dragon out of the cave" on those features yet, but at this point I've armed all you overworked DM's with the basic tools you need to create attractive dungeon and sewer maps for your campaigns, that you can save in the cloud and work on from anywhere you have web access.

Have fun building the Dungeons of [RandomRuinedCastleName]!