Hand-Drawn OSR Maps Bring Retro Feels

I love maps. Maps tell a story words can’t. Maps are an invitation to explore, and something to show off.

My first RPG map ever was painstakingly copied from the Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play book, and was an underground lair much like two of our recent releases. I still remember the note nailed to the door of the hideout: “Observe the laws of Asylum: Knock and wait.” Good times!

 

One of my favourite maps is the huge poster map of the Old World from Warhammer. The map was included in the massive 300th edition of White Dwarf, and has the titular dwarf illustrated on the back. Yes, I know, I’m a huge Warhammer FRP fan, it’s true.

The cover of White Dwarf 300. Colossal is true! We won’t show you the actual map, because of copyright, but you’ll find pictures if you Google it.

Kim Frandsen has been producing hand-drawn OSR maps for us, and here are the first nine of them. Each pack contains several versions of the same map, and all are covered under our stock art license, so you can use them in publications as well as in your home campaigns.

You can find all our Elite Design Elements, including the above OSR maps, on Drive Thru RPG, and all our maps and map tiles are also on Drive Thru. (All our Elite Design Elements can be used in commercial products, while our other maps are only intended for personal use. You know how it is.)

Map Tiles

We’ve done a bunch of Print on Demand map tiles, like our Maze Tiles and Sea Tiles.

Raft on Sea Tiles
Ah yes, early product photos.

Maze Tiles Detail 1

We’ve also done clix-sized sewer tiles, which are still some of my favourite POD products we’ve ever done, besides the Madness Cards.

Hero Gridz Sewer

Got a request for a map? Bang it out in the comments below and we’ll see what we can do. There are plenty more maps on the way, so check back often.



Madness Cards for D&D Fifth Edition

As sanity slips away, draw Madness Cards to decide your character’s mental affliction.

‘In a mad world, only the mad are sane!’
— Akira Kurosawa

Madness Box Cover
Madness Box Cover

A pack of Madness Cards contains 60 cards; two copies of 30 unique afflictions, each with a short term, long term, and indefinite madness, including afflictions from Arcanaphobia to Zoophobia, compatible with the Fifth Edition OGL.

Check It Out

You can see our in-depth look at the Madness Cards on YouTube:

The free printable rules leaflet is available on Drive Thru RPG. It goes into the differences between the cards and the madness rules in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. It’s not a big difference, really, and we’ve tried to keep these as intuitive as possible.

Madness Cards Set
So many cards.

The cards themselves are pre-cut, poker-sized, with rounded corners, and they come in a handy card box.

Our Design Philosophy

Madness Cards were designed to be intuitive, with all the rules you need printed on each card. Nobody wants to page through reams of text at the table, so having everything on a poker-sized cards makes things easy. We included two copies of each card so that the DM and afflicted character’s player could each have a copy.

We wanted a connection between the various madnesses, so here each card’s content is grouped by affliction, such as Vampirism, Claustrophobic, or Delusions of Grandeur. Each level of madness affects your character in different ways, with short term madness mostly affecting combat and indefinite madness affecting how you roleplay your character.

 

Most of the rules text is brand new, so you can give up on that stuffy old table in the DMG.

South African Limited Print Run

If you’re in South Africa and are interested in a pack or two, let me know by contacting us through our Contact Page. We’re looking to do a limited print run of the cards locally, to defer some of the high import costs involved in getting the cards from the US.

 



Coercion — Valkyrie: Ragnarok

This is the second bit of fiction in the Valkyrie: Ragnarok and Valkyrie: Saga settings, and sits at the start of Valkyrie: Ragnarok. I hope you enjoy it. For the full story, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

Because of adult content, the following is not recommended for readers under the age of 12.

Bors ran his rough fingers over her skin, lightly tracing every scar.
“You’re pretty, for a Get.”
“You’re pleased, master?”
“You’ll do, half breed.”
“Thank you, master.
“You’re trained?”
“Yes master, by the queens of the Lotus Courts.”
“Really, a Savonin plaything? I thought they drowned their bastards? Or were you a curiosity?” Bors asked, running his hand down her long legs.
“I don’t know, master.”
“Probably. And yet you’re here. Far from Savonin. Far from Angor.” Bors ran his hand along her arm, then grabbed her wrist, hard. He pulled her hand closer, until it was between their faces. “A plain decoration,” he said, indicating the burnished orange bangle on her wrist. “But not Savonin, or Angorian. Not from Avernos either, at least not the lands the light touches. Dwarven.”
“If you say so, master.”
Bors shook her, hard, his expression dangerous. “You know it is. My spies have been watching you. You wear your hair loose to hide it, but you’re a half breed Get, plain enough. The child of a human slave and her elvish slave master, a child of a Savonin heathen lust ritual, more likely than not. Yet, you’re alive and far from the lands that spawned you. You’re an interesting one, for sure, but everyone has their story. Not easily do the miserly dwarves give up their tokens, even of copper. What’s your story, wench?”
“My story is whatever you want it to be, Master.” She said, as she tried to pull out of his iron grip.
“No games.” Bors’ demeanor changed again, and he smiled, revealing his brown, stained teeth. “A Get like you has a hard enough time as it is. Uncle Bors can help. I’ve got many brothers. Friends, really. Help us and we’ll help you. The undercity of Bastion would be a hard place for one, such as yourself, if you were found out.”
“Master can have what he paid for.”
Bors swung himself over her, pinning her to the musty sleeping pallet with his naked body. “I want answers. My silver not good enough for that?”
“Off me, or I’ll scream.” She’d dropped the coquettish act.
“Oh, your man’s been dealt with. So hard to get good help these days, hey?” Bors’ voice turned cold. “Now, tell me the truth, or you’ll end up in the Depths. Can you speak the elven tongue?”
“Yes.”
“And Dwarven?”
“No. I know nothing of…”
Bors slammed the back of his hand through her face. “Tell me again.”
“I know it.” She said, as blood welled up inside her mouth.

You’ll get more of the story if you’re a subscriber to our newsletter.



December RPG Blog Carnival Roundup

2020 is almost upon us, it’s our birthday, and it’s time for the December RPG Blog Carnival Roundup!

2020

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival was all about the players and their characters. The theme was “Adventurer, take this… ,” and we hoped it would inspire you to join in the fun and post an article on the subject.

rpg blog carnival logo

Mayhem in Space

Moebius Adventures posted some great adventure seeds for Aliens & Asteroids, including a “Big Red Button” and a seemingly simple mission to an uninhabited planet. Of course, all kinds of things will probably go wrong for the party, thanks to your wily GM, but that’s roleplaying.

These seeds could easily be adapted to any Space exploration game and are sure to inspire you.

Read Adventurer, Take This…, on Moebius Adventures.

The Mystery Wagon

Codex Anathema has been diving into the artificer this month, and brought us a fantasy version of the Mystery Machine in the Mystery Wagon. Not only is it a great way to avoid wasting time shopping for gear, but post includes a handy new artificer infusion for resizing the wagon.

Read Adventurer, Take This…, on Codex Anathema.

Custom Mini’s for Your PCs

Our very own Mini Monday cooked up an idea for making your own traveling wargaming and roleplaying set, using LEGO minifig heads. This is a great way to let your players build their own highly portable character figure.

Read Mini Monday #12: Travel Wargaming, on Rising Phoenix Games.

Mini Monday #12: Travel Wargaming
LEGO Minifig heads make great travel wargaming miniatures.

Gaming Addiction

Roleplaying, like other gaming, can be addictive. Be aware of the signs of a gaming addiction and seek help if you need it. Our own Magic Life Lessons takes a look at gaming addictions and how you might go about cutting back from unhealthy gaming habits.

Read Magic Life Lessons #11: Gaming Addiction, on Rising Phoenix Games.

That’s a Wrap!

That’s it for the RPG Blog Carnival roundup, for December, and for 2019! We hope you enjoyed this month, and the year, and that 2020 — the “Year of the Icosahedron” — is a great one for you and your gaming group.

See you in 2020!



Magic Life Lesson #11: Gaming Addiction

Magical Life Lessons are short snippets of wisdom learned from playing Magic: the Gathering. It may be a game, but here you’ll find insights learned from slinging cards that you can apply to the game of life.

Let’s get serious for a bit. Gaming addiction is a real thing, and as we swing into the holiday season we’ve got a chance to sit back and take stock of things.

Magic Life Lesson #11: Gaming Addiction

I’ll throw my own definition of gaming addiction your way, but if you’re looking for a more formal definition, from the pros, check out GameQuitters.com’s excellent article on the signs, symptoms, and causes of gaming addiction.

To me, any addiction negatively impacts your life. If you’re lying, stealing, losing sleep, or neglecting work, then you’re probably addicted.

I often struggle to stop playing MTG Arena, saying things like “Just one more game” or “one more win.” That has caused me to lose sleep, which has a knock-on effect on everything else.

How to Combat a Gaming Addiction

I’m no medical professional, so, as a “life gamer,” I can only offer advice based on my own best judgment. Here’s what I’m doing to break my addiction.

Moment of Craving - Gaming AddictionSet Limits

I play every three days, so I can nab those quests. The goal is to end when I’ve cleared the quests, or at bedtime.

Set Priorities

Because I work as a freelancer and for myself, I do a lot of work in the evening. Keeping work as a priority, to do first, has always helped me from blowing the whole evening on Magic: the Gathering. Often, MTG Arena never goes on and I go to bed with a sense of accomplishment.

Be Accountable to Someone

Let other people know you’re playing, and encourage them to pull the plug if you can’t. If they’re someone you trust, let them know about your struggles.

Be warned. Tensions can flare, because you don’t want to stop. Remember why you’ve got a cut off time. Stop while you’re ahead and while the game is still fun, and you’ll remember the old saying “Everything in moderation.”

Looking For Help?

If your concerned, you can take this short survey on GameQuitters.com. They’ve got a host of other resources too.

RPG Blog Carnival

This week’s Magical Life Lesson is brought to you by the RPG Blog Carnival, which is all about the players this month. Roleplaying can be addictive too. Be aware of the signs of a gaming addiction and seek help if you need it.

Our Christmas Sale

Our Christmas sale is now on. Use the coupon code “NOEL2019” at checkout to get 30% off your purchase from our store.



Mini Monday #12: Travel Wargaming

It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying table. This week I’ll show you my travel wargaming solution. Welcome to Mini Monday #12: Travel Wargaming.

Mini Monday Gargoyle

Here’s a trick for getting your wargaming and roleplaying fix while you’re traveling. You can’t always carry your hobby with you, but these minis fit in an Altoids tin.

Mini Monday #12: Travel Wargaming
The trusty old Altoids tin. I’ll happily accept donations of these, any day.

Mini Monday #12: Travel Wargaming

These mini miniatures look cool and are easy to play with, and have bases of a standard size. You can easily adapt this idea for building a roleplaying set too.

Mini Monday #12: Travel Wargaming
LEGO Minifig heads make great travel wargaming miniatures.

Each mini is a LEGO minifig head on a 2×2 inverted dish, with a round 1×1 plate between them to give the figure extra height. You can use different colors to distinguish between different types of units, such as leaders and rank and file troops. I just used whatever I had. These custom LEGO wargaming miniatures work well for skirmish games and roleplaying games.

Mini Monday #12: Travel Wargaming
The battle commences between the Empire and the Rebels.

You could easily build terrain too, since it’s LEGO, or maybe a custom measuring stick—anything you want.

RPG Blog Carnival

This week’s post is brought to you by the RPG Blog Carnival, and the theme “Adventurer, Take This… .”  Rising Phoenix Games is hosting the carnival this month. Using LEGO minifigs in your campaign is a great way to allow your players to customize their representation of their character, without having to paint a new mini each time a player decides to dip into a new class.

Got any travel tips related to tabletop gaming? Have some nifty ideas for carrying your Kill Team? Let us know, in the comments below.



Magic Life Lesson #10: Magical Synergies

Magical Life Lessons are short snippets of wisdom learned from playing Magic: the Gathering. It may be a game, but here you’ll find insights learned from slinging cards that you can apply to the game of life.

Deadly Discovery was arguably the best 2019 Challenger Deck around, and it certainly earned a great number of wins for me. With Throne of Eldraine came a new season, and Deadly Discovery was cast into the annals of history. Graveyard Adventures was a green and black deck I built, and although it had some strong points, it was not nearly as effective as Deadly Discovery. But, with their powers combined, a new deck was forged to take on the current meta. Introducing Undying Pledge:

Undying Pledge

Smitten Swordmaster & Deathless Knight - Magic Life Lesson #10: Magical Synergies
Smitten Swordmaster has two ways to return Deathless Knight from the graveyard.
Deck
8 Swamp (ANA) 58
4 Smitten Swordmaster (ELD) 105
4 Leyline Prowler (WAR) 202
2 Blacklance Paragon (ELD) 79
3 Deathless Knight (ELD) 208
2 Edgewall Innkeeper (ELD) 151
2 District Guide (GRN) 128
3 Golgari Findbroker (GRN) 175
4 Murder (M19) 110
1 Syr Konrad, the Grim (ELD) 107
4 Order of Midnight (ELD) 99
10 Forest (ANA) 60
2 Find // Finality (GRN) 225
4 Overgrown Tomb (GRN) 253
1 Charity Extractor (WAR) 81
2 Casualties of War (WAR) 187
4 Temple of Malady (M20) 254

(You can copy and paste the above text to import it into MTG Arena.)

The deck has many synergies, and synergy is really just a fancy way to talk about combined ideas that work better together than on their own. Like in Magic: the Gathering, you can get a lot out of combining ideas to make something new, and that’s Magic Life Lesson #10: Magical Synergies.

Magic Life Lesson #10: Magical Synergies

Swords are cool. Lasers are cool. Laser swords? Now those are even cooler! Bread is a good idea, and so is cutting it. Sliced bread? Best idea since… well, you get where this is going.

Combining ideas is a great way to come up with something new and valuable. That “value” might be obvious, or it might lie in how useful or entertaining something is.

Just look at the Stranger Things franchise. It took concepts from old horror movies and threw in a fair load of nostalgia to make something new and groundbreaking, even though it is squarely rooted in the past. It was so inspiring to me that I ran an eight-session Stranger Things campaign.

Glasses reflecting Stranger Things Logo
Photo credits: Puneeth Shetty

Apply it to Your Life

But how do you apply this principle to your own life? You could create a competitive advantage, a niche market, or find a better way to do something by mixing ideas together and seeing what sticks.

I started releasing free fiction for Valkyrie: Ragnarok as a way to build a following and introduce my setting to roleplayers. It’s an idea combining freemium, blogging, and the concept of the minimal viable product (MVP). Time will tell if the idea floats, but the important thing is that it’s a stronger concept because of the parts it draws inspiration from.

Two are stronger than one!



Adventurer, Take This… — RPG Blog Carnival

RPG Blog Carnival

‘Tis the season to be jolly
To deck the halls with boughs of holly
Then loot the corpses for lots of lolly!

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival is all about the players and their characters. The theme is “Adventurer, take this… ,” we hope it will inspire you to join in the fun and post an article on the subject. Here are some ideas to spark your creativity:

  1. An adventure idea based around a magical item, such as an evil ring of invisibility or a magical sword from a lake.
  2. New magical items, gear, weapons, vehicles, or spells.
  3. A look at the role magical and mundane items play in a campaign.
  4. How to deal with overpowered items and the ramifications they can have on your campaign.
  5. An article aimed at the most important people in our games: the players.
  6. A miniature painting tutorial aimed at player character figures.
  7. A devious trap based on a magical item or bit of loot.
  8. A review of a player-focused RPG supplement.
  9. An article appropriate to the season of giving and related to RPG player characters.
  10. A discussion or rules for crafting items or in-game economy.
Adventurer, take this - RPG Blog Carnival
Adventurer, take this…

Be sure to put a link to your post in the comments below. Because of spam moderation and holidays, please allow 48 hours for your post to go live. I’ll post a summary of all the articles at the end of the month, to take us into the new year, on Rising Phoenix Games’ birthday! Let’s end the year with a bang!

If you’re travelling this season, travel safely. Have a Merry Christmas, a happy festive season, and a Happy New year, and we’ll see you next year for more adventures in the worlds inside our heads.

Till next time, play good games!



First Contact — Valkyrie: Ragnarok

This is the first story in the Valkyrie: Ragnarok and Valkyrie: Saga settings, and sits between both. I hope you enjoy it. For the full story, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

First Contact

The ground shook, rattling the shelves of tools and threatening to topple the computer screens in the small control room.

Stevens cursed and grabbed the monitors. “No, no, no. Not now.”

“What the hell was that?” Stern asked. He’d slopped hot coffee all over his white shirt.

“Probably a mine collapse. There are several major shafts running through this area.” Stevens straightened his chair and grabbed the PC’s mouse. “Diagnostics all green. Nothing in the envelope, and the seals are all good.”

“We should manually inspect the exterior. Call it ‘protocol.’”

“Right, Did you ever get to listing emergency procedures for earthquakes?”

“Haha,” Stern said, mirthlessly, “I’ll get to it. Just after I finish writing emergency protocol procedures for dealing with aliens, pixies, and hippies.” He grunted a laugh.

Suddenly the lights flickered. Both men leaned forward to peer through the perspex viewing window, into the hanger beyond.

***

“The Landing Pad was built for a single purpose,” Stevens said, speaking into Stern’s camera. “The saying goes: ‘build it and they will come.’ So we built it.”

Stevens stepped aside as Stern began his long pan, which took in the hanger and all of its modifications.

The Landing Pad, as they’d dubbed it, was a medium-sized airplane hanger, an old military building they’d bought and repurposed. The hanger was purposely empty except for a large square marked out in yellow and black chevron tape on the concrete floor. The square was exactly a meter from each wall, and the space it marked out was empty — the envelope.

There were four red lights, one in each corner, at eye level. All of them were off.

Besides these, the hanger was featureless, although sensors and cameras were carefully tucked away into the girders that make up the hanger’s skeleton. Heavy white plastic sheeting covered the walls and ceiling between each girder, overlapping and carefully bonded together to form an airtight seal. Behind that, the corrugated iron sheeting of the hanger had been carefully reinforced and sealed as well, to prevent anything bigger than a bug from getting in.

“This structure is a marvel of ‘can-do’ engineering.” Stevens said, “It’s a science project on a massive scale. This is what happens when men with a passion for science put their efforts and their money together. Some called us mad. Some said it was a midlife crisis, but here we are.”

Stevens stood in the centre of the envelope with his arms outstretched. “This is the world’s first monitored teleportation landing pad. It is a safe zone for machines, for vehicles, to teleport into, perhaps from a different time. We will provide a live feed and a freely accessible archive of the 24-hour video footage, of the envelope and Landing Pad via our website, which you can find in the links below.”

Stern zoomed in for the finale.

“We predict,” Stevens said, “that our first arrival will occur within moments of the project’s completion. Join us live in three weeks, on December 6th, for the launch of our live feed. Till next time, teleport safely.”

Stern cut.

That had been two weeks ago.

***

The four warning lights flashed, bathing the Landing Pad in red, strobing light. The two men gazed through the perspex, into a confusing conglomeration of substance which their minds, at first, failed to comprehend. Then they discerned figures, bodies in battle with dark masses that bore sharp black fangs down with savage fury, ripping the throats of the human figures in a frenzy of bloodlust. The vision dissolved into a red mist, and then nothing.

The red lights blinked twice, then went dim.

The yellow glow of the hanger’s overhead lights took their place, revealing a scene that was unchanged from moments ago, the envelope empty again.

“First contact,” Stevens mumbled, fumbling for a pen, a phone, he wasn’t sure what.

“Get on the phone Stevens.”

“To who?”

“The news. The President. Someone important, you ass.”

Stevens didn’t seem to register, and was mumbling to himself. “They’re early. The vents aren’t even closed yet. I still need to test the scrubbers. Anything could leak out.”

“Screw the scrubbers. We’ve been broadcasting, look. The feed’s live.” Stern pointed to the screen.

“We’ve been streaming for a minute. Look, it started just before the quake. You can see it on the log.”

Stern grabbed Steven’s phone and started dialling. “Crap, this is bad. Start the lockdown.”

Suddenly the earth shook. This time, tools cascaded from the racks, clanging to the floor. Draws of filing cabinets rolled open and a coffee cup smashed to the floor. The red warning lights began flashing their steady pulse and a siren began its droning wail.

Stevens took a deep breath. “Something’s coming through.”

 

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