Thursday, December 27, 2012

Custom Dungeon Tile Service

What is a custom dungeon tile service, and why are you going to love it?

If you don't know, "Dungeon Tiles" are handy pre-printed cardboard pieces you can lay down on your game table. They can be mixed and matched to map out the environment for your players, facilitate combat with miniatures and aid "immersion" into the game.

The off-the-shelf tiles are popular tools for quickly mapping out dungeons. They are mass-produced which makes them inexpensive (a good thing) but the trade off is flexibility and customization. Since off-the-shelf dungeon tiles mostly come in standard shapes and sizes it takes extra time to construct odd shaped or special rooms and you may have less than satisfactory results (overlapping tiles, lack of exact diagonal or round sections, etc).

This is where the dxContent custom dungeon tile service comes into play. I'll make your custom / odd shaped special dungeon tile pieces exactly to specifications to supplement your mass-produced collection.

  • It's great for "Boss" rooms... now you can lay down your standard mass produced 10' x 40' hallways and easily connect them with your custom Goblin throne room (with 20' wide doorway, earthy rear section, twin flanking alcoves with 10' x 10' slave pen in the middle).
  • It's great for those player "hangouts" that characters regularly find themselves in... like the local tavern, the leader's Inn room, or the Baron's library.
  • Maybe you make your own tile set graphics (or purchased some) but lack the time or precision tools to turn them into durable tiles - I can do that for you.
  • It's also great for the discriminating DM that absolutely MUST have a complete tile set of <insert a rare environment that is too uncommon to mass produce>.
Lets talk about the tiles.

  • Your custom tiles are precision cut by a machine to exact dimensions. You can use the quote request visualization tools to rough out the shape, and I'll make the refinements you request. Most mass produced tiles have straight edges, but you can have non-linear to represent cave walls if you like.
  • I make the tiles 1/8" thick providing a nice weighty feel (I can make them thinner if you need to match an existing tile set).
  • I make custom graphics at 300dpi, and you can choose from the growing library of textures or I'll create them special for your tile set needs. I work as a 3D modler and texture artist for a video game company so I have real world experience creating and generating themed textures.
Well, I hope that helps you see the value in a custom dungeon tile service.



Saturday, July 21, 2012

New Generator Testing Features!

If you develop random generators at, you'll be happy to learn about the latest enhancement to the generator builder tools.

I've added in a "Rolls" field that captures all of the random values generated as a running generator works its way through its scripts, so that a second run can retrace the same logic steps.

FYI - The two functions {Dice~} and {ChooseRandom~} are the two most powerful features that introduce randomness into your generators. 

Once the "Rolls" are captured, you can make use of the new "Use Previous Rolls" check box.  Assuming you've not changed your script, the next run will yield the exact same result as before.  This is handy when you want to force your generator down a certain path for testing or problem solving.

For the power-user, the "Rolls" field is editable.  This gives you even more power to test your generators.  Of course it also gives you the ability to cause the generator to act unpredictably if used incorrectly.  Fore example, whenever you alter a roll by hand, you are potentially altering the path your generator takes though the scripts (or introducing a value that isn't handled).  That new path may need more rolls, fewer rolls or even different ranges of values that what the previous run needed. So whenever you edit its good practice to clear the saved rolls following your edit. Its helpful to know that new random values are generated whenever the previous list of rolls runs out.

Friday, June 8, 2012

So... who won?!?

Does anybody wonder..."who won the dxContent mini/module map contest"?

Well, lets say everybody won.  I mean after all, Map Runner got used, some bugs were found and squished and a few tweaks were made and so now the tool is better off.. and a better tool means less stress on the DM... and... less stress on the DM means... um... more effective games by the DM.  Yes, so players and DMs alike are all winners!

OK, ok enough spin. 

The reality is nobody entered the contest.  While it was just 3000 words and a simple map the prizes were...  what's the word I'm looking for... cheap?  I knew going in the contest might not garner much interest... but my big goal was to get Map Runner exposed, get some people using it and get some more people to create dxContent accounts. And on a small scale that's what happened. We are up to 75ish registered users (we started at around 60 before the contest).

So what's next?  Well, I'm off for a week of camping in the woods.  I should have a lot of time to think about what is next, and what can be improved.

Have a [PositiveDescriptor] week.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Introducing: Judge Shawn

It's Friday and you know what that means... time to introduce another judge for the dxContent mini map/module contest.  Its not to late to enter the contest - there are 10 days left!  Check out the rules and make your maps.  The contest ends midnight May 20th, 2012!

Today we meet Shawn.  He looks like a Jedi to me which is ironic because he is currently running a popular Star Wars campaign.  I'm always impressed with Shawn's "immersion" in role playing his characters - I can only assume that translates to his DMing style.  His player notes are often more detailed than the GM's! - One of these days I'll do a series of blogs comparing and contrasting DM notes... I hear from the Bothans that Shawn's notes are pretty detailed...

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

Shawn: Maps are pretty important to me as a GM.  I don't often use modules, but when I do it's important for the maps to be grid-based.  I use minis, so transferring encounters from modules to the table is made much easier by a high quality map.  The worst maps I've seen were in Necromancer Games' Rappan Athuk modules.  Those modules were so epic, but the maps absolutely sucked.  When I write my own adventures, I spend time on the maps to make setting up encounters easier.

As a player, it makes a huge difference to my enjoyment of a session to have a battle mat.  I don't often see a GM's maps when playing, so the battle mats are the main thing.

dxContent: How many years have you played RPG games?

Shawn: 32

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

Shawn: Since it came out.

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

Shawn: Yes!

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

Shawn: My GM notes are very extensive and detailed.  I also take pretty thorough player notes.

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

Shawn: Home-spun.

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

Shawn: Home grown.

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

Shawn: Magic. 

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

Shawn: Both! 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Introducing: Judge John

Hey folks, just a reminder: you've got until May 20th to get your submissions in for the dxContent mini/module mini/map contest.

Speaking of which, its time to introduce our next judge John Reyst.

John is the man behind the two-time Ennie winning He also developed and (did I miss any?!). John and I played in each others campaigns for many years.  I know John appreciates a good map when he sees one, so he was a shoe-in for the judging.  Of all the GM's I know John has great stamina when it comes to keeping a campaign going year after year.

I think John "burnt out" once as a DM, but we fed him a sandwich and he was good for another six years.

Its under these kind of DM's that you really get to develop a character (Brother Roth began as humble acolyte and rose all the way to Arch-something or other, and I"ll never forget the Romey Wanderbuck who began life as a young halfling scoundrel and ended up an aged local legend and business tycoon.

Below are John'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?

John: As a GM, maps are absolutely required, at least in terms of high-level maps of encounter areas or the world setting as a whole. For specific, actual combat encounters, I almost always design them on graph paper and assume they’ll be necessary. The players I most often play with enjoy the tactical side of roleplaying games as much as the actual role playing aspects so when things get tense excitement visibly builds when we shift to the battlemat and start placing our mini’s where they’re supposed to be.

As a player, I’m like most of the rest of the players I play with regularly I think, in that I do enjoy the tactical and strategic “chess-like” aspects of seeing and moving mini’s around on a battlemat in an encounter. Using a battlement in any sort of combat encounter that is remotely involved, or in which the outcome may have a serious long term effect (such as possible character death or “losing” (not successfully accomplishing) some major goal, almost demands the use of battlemats. I don’t want to have arguments with other players or the GM as to where my PC is, or how far it is to the bad guy etc. Using a battlemat removes all of that. If, however, the encounter is less important, or unlikely to have any real long-term ramifications, the use of minis and the battlemat can be skipped. The GM can simply describe what happens in a narrative fashion, or it can be played out casually, still using most of the combat rules, but simply describing where things are and the effects of actions, instead of worrying about exact and precise placement of figures. As a player, in terms of maps in regards to maps of the setting or the world, I find them immensely helpful in immersing myself in the setting. Even if my PC wouldn’t know what countries lie on the farthest corners of the world, I as a player enjoy knowing that there really are things out there for me to explore, and things that the GM has invested at least some effort into.

dxContent: How many years have you played RPG games?

John: About 32 years.

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

John: I’ve played the 3.x generation since it was released in or around the year 2000 and have continued playing since then.

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

John: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. In larger or more complex encounters I enjoy the tactical nature of seeing and moving figures about on a battlemat. I enjoy the strategic aspect of the game in that sense. In smaller or more impromptu encounters I don’t always “need” mini’s. Only if there is likelihood of a lot of questions of character and enemy placement do I prefer mini’s.

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

John: Chaotic initially, jumbled, and often stream of thought. Then during play they’re fairly non-existent but I try to do a “brain-dump” after a session, to try to make note of the things I noticed were problems, things the players did that I need to follow up on, or to determine how the world reacts to the players actions etc.

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

John: 99.9% home brew. I strongly dislike the “rair-roady” nature of published adventures. I prefer a campaign world without invisible walls that confine me into a predetermined set of actions.

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

John: As a GM, home brew 100%. As a player, either is fine so long as the world is consistent and engaging.

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

John: All of the above. I’ve played and enjoyed just about every role and expect I’ll continue doing the same.

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

John: I find that GMing engages me more, not just from an amount of effort required point of view but also from a “how actively engaged am I in the world” point of view. Meaning, when I am laying in bed at night trying to fall asleep, I’m not stuck thinking about what my character did or will do in the next session. What constantly goes through my mind are ideas for campaign settings, people, races, religions, that sort of thing.

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]!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Map Runner Save/Open features now enabled!

I have good news map makers! The Save, Save As, and Open features for Map Runner are enabled! Now you can keep your mapping goodness safetly tucked away in our database for you to work on anytime, anyplace and come back to it again and again.

Next on the agenda is to get the text tools implement as well as finish the library of tilesets so you don't get those ugly green broken image links when your work requres a tileset that isn't created yet.

Enjoy making (and saving) your [RandomBossMOnster]'s Lair

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sneak peak at dxContent's Map Runner

Map Runner is in the works! It's my new tile-based map editor allowing you to quickly flesh out maps for your on-going campaign. Here is a screen shot showing a dungeon I whipped up just for this blog entry:

As you can see, there are a lot of cool things you can do with Map Runner: layout hallways, rooms, doorways (with or without doors), low areas (in this example a sewer area) and place stairs.
Lets take a quick look at some of the tool menus you'll find. The first one I want to show you is the "Basic" menu. Here you can layout your halls, corners, intersections etc. Its as easy as selecting a tool and clicking on the map grid.

Another important menu is the "Doors" menu. With this tool you can add doorways and optionally fill them with various types of doors (Normal, Bars, Secret and Concealed). You can also remove doors with the Remove option.
This next menu is called "Inters'ct/Edge" (intersections & edges). With this menu you can add large open areas and large open areas with "low" areas. There is also a "crosser" tool. For the Dungeon tileset this allows you to make bridges across the low areas.

Here is one of my favorite menus, its called "Details". Many tiles have alternate versions of themselves, like round vs. square corners or in this example a room tile that can be turned into a 10x10 or 5x5 hallway.

This mapping system Is "tileset" driven. I provide you with thousands of pre-draw tiles and then using the tools they are automatically placed. But building maps by selecting from thousands of tiles is not fun... so as you can see the menus allow you specify what you want and where and the software does all the work of finding the right tile to fit your needs.

I'm making this a free tool for everyone and it will be cross-browser compatible. So if you like IE, Chrome, Safari or Firefox I've got you covered. I've left in slots for new tilesets also, so down the road I could add an outdoor tileset, a castle tileset or whatever comes in demand.

Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas or general questions. Have a [PositiveAdjective] day!