Friday, September 7, 2012

Warriors of The Eternal Sun: Hints & Tips

Almost 20 years ago, an Official D&D game was released on the Sega Genesis platform called Warriors of the Eternal Sun. This game was based on the Hollow World D&D campaign setting. I played the game to the end when it first came out. Just recently, I decided to give the game another go, and beat it again. I thought it would be helpful to list some tips on how to eventually beat the Burrower and win the game.

**Note...if you do not want to see any hints or tips for this not read any further.**

Character Creation: 
The first thing you need to know is that there are seven character classes, but only the human classes (Fighter, Cleric, Thief, Mage) can get up to 14th level. The Dwarf tops out at 12th level, the Elf can ascend to 10th level, while the Halfling can only achieve 8th level.

I prefer to use the human characters because they can advance to the highest levels. If you do want to use a non-human class, I would choose the Elf.

You will definitely want 1 Fighter/Dwarf, 1 Cleric, 1 Mage and 1 Thief or Elf. I recommend the Thief because he/she can Disarm Traps, which is especially useful in the Azcan Temple. Other than that, the Thief does not have much usefulness in the game, and could be replaced with the Elf. Another strategy is to use 2 Mages, but you will have to protect them with your Fighters.

The most important stat in the game is probably Constitution. Try to get some kind of bonus in this stat for each of your characters, especially the Mages. Dexterity is important for Fighters, since they will be in combat all the time. Strength can be sacrificed for your Fighter, because you can find Gauntlets of Ogre Power right at the start of the game. Go for high Constitution and Dexterity instead.

Note that the first +3 weapons you will see in the game are the Spear +3 and the War Hammer +3. Plan to get these into the hands of your non-mage characters as soon as possible. You really want the War Hammer +3 in your Cleric's hands with a nice Strength bonus.

Party Order:
Of course, you want your best Fighter in front. It's possible that you may have a Cleric with a better Armor Class than your Fighter. In this case, I would put the better AC up front. Generally, I put the Fighter first, Cleric second, then Thief and Mage. In dungeons, however, you will come upon some battles where you will get attacked from the side. Your Mage will get wiped out quickly if you don't have them protected. So, it can be useful to put an armored character in the rear, and have the weaker classes (Mage. Thief) in the second and third slots.

Starting Out:
Before you leave the town at the start of the game, you need to pick up the following items from the various towers and dungeons located within the town. Most of them are hidden behind secret doors, so be sure to find all of them before leaving:

Gauntlets of Ogre Power - give to your fighting character with the lowest strength
Sword +1
Axe +1
Wand of Lightning
Staff of Healing - this has many charges, but save it for the Azcan Temple and the Elven Caves.
Sleep Scroll - rest and scribe/memorize this before leaving town.
Potions of Healing
Chain Mail +1 - give to your Fighter or Cleric.

Be sure to rest before leaving and memorize any new spells. Also, be sure to talk to Marmillian and the Duke, and visit the various shops to make sure you have the best euipment. OK, you're ready to head out into the wilderness.

Leveling Up:
Your first instinct is to complete Marmillian's tasks as the game progresses. However, since you can do this anytime, the first thing you should worry about is leveling up quickly. This will get you better items in the shops, which will make tackling those dungeons a breeze.

The fastest way to level up is to head for the bridge to the West of town. Use your Wand of Lightning to strike the killing blow on any creatures that you meet. The wand has a limited number of charges, and may disappear randomly from your inventory after each use because it is out of charges. If this happens, re-load your game to when you still had the wand and keep killing your foes, making sure that you still have the wand after each battle. Since you'll be defeating harder enemies, you'll level up very fast.

Make sure that each character gets their maximum or near-max hit points when they level up. For Fighters with good Constitution scores, that means at least 10 hit points per level. For Mages, you want at least 5 hit points for every level gained. This is important, because in the Azcan Temple, your whole party will take serious trap damage, and your Mage will usually be the first to die.

Every time you level up, head back to the town and check for new items/spells being sold in the shops. Since Mages take longest to level up, and you have to be 11th level to get your 6th level spells (Death Spell, Disintegrate), use the wand of Lightning to strike the killing blow for your Mage every time. Don't worry too much about the other characters - they will level up quickly enough without extra help.

Places To Go:
As your party gets more powerful, you can explore the world. There's not a whole lot of useful stuff apart from the main dungeon complexes, so you can primarily stick to those if you want.

The best and fastest way to get experience points and gold is killing Red Dragons. You will get 2,500 experience points per kill, plus you will get around 2,000 gold if you defeat them outside the dungeon. There are a few good places to encounter these beasts.

Once your Mage is third level, you can get the Entangle/Web spells. At fourth level, you can have one of each, or two of the same. With two of these spells ready, head across the bridge to the northwest of town. Go north past the lava area (which is where you'll find Red Dragons roaming), and head west along the south cliff wall before you get to the Beastman caves to the north. This cliff wall has a hidden cave by some trees.

WOTES World Map

WOTES Cave Location

The first enemy you'll meet inside this cave is a Fire Giant. Use your Web/Entangle spell on him and have your Mage strike the killing blow with their normal weapon. That will give you 2,125 XP. Now, go through the tangled vines on the far wall and turn left, right and left. If you go just one space down this hall, a red dragon will come down the hall at you. When the dragon gets in melee range, cast Web and have your Mage kill him as above. That will give you 2,500 XP. Be sure to grab the loot the first time you kill these foes, and then head back out to the trees to rest and memorize your spells again. Repeat as many times as desired.

Eventually, you'll tire of this, and want to start completing the game. You'll need to clear the Beastman caves, and the swamp beyond. The Azcan cave is next, followed by the jungle containing the dreaded Azcan Temple. Be sure to grab the Fireball scroll and the Ring of Regeneration in the caves.

The Azcan Temple is probably the hardest dungeon in the game for the level you will be at when you enter it. It is full of traps and enemies, and it has five levels. Each level respawns when you enter it again, so you end up having to clear nine levels all together. Coming back out of the temple can be quite perilous due to the traps and respawned enemies when you are in a weakened state.

This is the one area in the game that I highly recommend that you map. Your map of each level will reset (to nothing) after you leave that level, so you won't remember where all the secret doors and traps are. I suggest mapping the first level, then heading back outside, and then mapping the second level, head back out, etc.. until you have the first four levels mapped. When you get down to the fifth level, head straight north and take the first main hallway west. You might trigger a trap or two, but there are many more off of this path. The temple guardians are at the end of the main hall, and they have the best treasures in the game: 4 Rings of Fire Resistance. These rings are what you need to continue the main quest line.

**Note: After this point in the game, do not talk to the Duke until you are ready for the town to turn against you, and you will not have any more shop access. You can talk to Marmillian, but not the Duke until you are satisfied with your characters' items.**

After you exit the temple and head back into the main valley, you can head over to the lava area south of the Beastman Caves. Now, you can walk on the lava without getting burned. You will notice that the creatures on this lava bed are all red. The Red Dragons and Fire Giants will give you lots of XP and gold. Fight, head back to the trees, rest, repeat as desired.

At the north end of the lava bed is a cave. The first foe inside this cave is a Red Dragon. Web him, then kill him with your Mage as previously discussed. Head back to the trees, rest, repeat, etc...

When you really want to continue the main quest line, kill the Red Dragon inside the cave, and keep going. Clear the entire first level and grab all the loot. Clear the next level as well. There are trolls on the second level, but the hardest creatures are the Giant Scorpions, because they hit you on several sides, so your Mage or Thief is at risk.

When you've cleared out these two levels, exit the dungeon and rest. Now, we'll take the fast route to Level 3. Enter again, and kill the red dragon. Shoot the hellhounds down the hall with your missile weapons. Exit through the door on the north wall, and go through the door up ahead on the left. Fight/Avoid the fire beetles, and go through the secret door on the north wall. Head north to Level 2.

From the entrance to level 2, head straight into the first empty room, turn right and right again. Then turn left and follow the passage to the end. There will be a room with trolls, followed by another room with trolls, and finally a room with skeletons. Exit this room and follow the passage to Level 3. This route avoids the Giant Scorpions, which can cause you to re-load your game.

On Level 3, there are only a couple of things you should be concerned with. One, the level is full of undead, some of which can drain 1 or 2 levels per hit. Two, the medallion that Marmillion requests is on this level. **Don't pick it up unless you are ready for the town to be destroyed.**

From the entrance, take the first right to the end of the passage. This room is full of wights, which your Cleric can turn. Head through the other door to the end of the next passage. There is a Spectre in the next room. He is on the left when you enter, so be ready to turn and attack. You may be able to turn him with your Cleric, depending on the Cleric's level. If not, hit him with everything you've got as fast as you can so you don't get your levels drained. If you do get drained by any undead, you can re-load your game, which is why we want to take the fast track through here.

The Spectre has Plate Mail +1, which is probably useful to some party member. With this room cleared, track back to the empty room at the start of the level and head north. At the end of the passage is another room. Clear this one out and exit through the north door. At the first corner in the next passage on the east wall is a secret door leading to a small alcove with the Oltec merchant who has the medallion. Nothing else on this level is essential to completing the game, so you can safely exit the entire dungeon, tracking back the same way you entered. Or, if you are brave, you can keep fighting the undead and clear the level.

The Home Stretch:
Once you have the medallion, the city is destroyed. Talk to Marmillian, who is the lone survivor. The good news is that there's a secret passage in the graveyard that will take you to the southeast corner of the world map, where the Elven Caves are. If you decide to take this shortcut, be ready for 2 basilisks that can turn you to stone. If you don't have a Stone to Flesh spell, it's more advisable to take the long way to the caves. Other than the basilisks, there are Flapsails (another type of dragon-like beast) and other foes in the shortcut - nothing you can't handle at this point.

Head through the secret passage or around the world to arrive at the Elven Caves. Now, you can enter past the blockade, and start making your way through the caves. There's nothing too dangerous in the first set of caves, and you can easily enter the Elven City (purple-walled section). There is a Stone to Flesh scroll on this level if you need it. Watch out for Elven Mages, and make your way to the end of this level. At the top of the stairs, enter the doorway to the final dungeon.

The final caves will have some of the toughest monsters in the game. Efreeti, Vampires, Medusae and Chimerae. Watch out for the Vampire who can drain your levels fast. Eventually, you'll get to the last monster - the Burrower, who you'll defeat without a battle. Watch the celebration back at the town, and the ending credits will roll. The game will prompt you to WRITE DOWN (LOL!) your character stats for use in a future product. Unfortunately, this was the only D&D game of its kind released for the Sega Genesis, so you couldn't use your characters any further.

...oh, and Have You Seen My Cat?  :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Video Game Resume

Here is my short-but-sweet list of adventure video games that I've beaten. Some were conquered years ago, and some I beat just this year.

Warriors of the Eternal Sun - Sega Genesis
Sword of Fargoal - PC Version
Dungeon Hack - PC Version
Fate - PC
Fate 2: Undiscovered Realms - PC
Diablo - PC
Diablo II - PC
Might and Magic II: Gates to Another World - Sega Genesis
Puzzle Quest - PC
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion & Shivering Isles - Xbox 360
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Xbox 360
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - Xbox 360
Baldur's Gate - PC
Baldur's Gate 2 - PC
Dungeons of Daggorath - PC Version
Neverwinter Nights - PC (beat the adventure included with the game, and some of the fan-created modules. Queen of the Demonweb Pits on NWN is one of my all-time favorite gaming experiences.)
Pool of Radiance - PC
King's Bounty
Forgotten Realms - Unlimited Adventures
Fallout 3 - Xbox 360 
Diablo 3 - Xbox 360
QuestLord - iOS

Might & Magic VI
Might & Magic VII
Eye of the Beholder
Puzzle Quest 2
Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance - Xbox (currently on the final battle)
Dungeons of Dredmor (currently on Level 8)
Dungeon Master
Curse of the Azure Bonds
Blades of Exile
Icewind Dale
Shining in the Darkness
Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup
Dungeon of Doom
Madness and the Minotaur
Brandish (made it to Level 70 or so...way too long!)
The Immortal
Dragon Warrior
Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall
Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind
Heroes of Might and Magic III & IV
Phantasy Star I & II
Rings of Power
Ultima 3 & Runes of Virtue II
Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge (this was a great game - I need to go back and try again)
Planescape: Torment
Dink Smallwood
Dark Souls
The Witcher 2
Dark Souls 2

Shadows Over Riva
The Temple of Elemental Evil
Diablo III
Prelude to Darkness
Wizardry 8 *** I have to play this one soon***
Dark Heart of Uukrul
Ultima VII
Ultima Underworld 2
The Legend of Grimrock 

 1. Diablo II
2. Baldur's Gate II
3. Might & Magic II: gates to Another World
4. Might & Magic VII
5. Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
6. Fate 2: Undiscovered Realms
7. Might & Magic VI
8. Baldur's Gate
9. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
10. Warriors of the Eternal Sun

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mega-Dungeon Map

Last month, I POSTED about the banner of a huge dungeon map that I had printed. I thought someone might want the actual jpg file of this map, so I'm posting the link HERE. Just left-click on the picture below and left-click again on the image that comes up (offsite), then right-click and Select View Image, then zoom in to view the image in actual size.

Mega Dungeon Map
Mega-Dungeon Map

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dungeon Map - The Boiling Cauldron of Menzanoth

Here's another quickie map that I made using Excel and GIMP2. This one has a nice lava texture background, and a layered effect for the caverns.

GIMP2 Dungeon Map
The Boiling Cauldron of Menzanoth

Dungeon Map - The Hidden Vault of Gromlauch the Defiant

Here's a map that I whipped up using Microsoft Excel and GIMP2. I used Excel to set the background and dungeon grid. Then, I used GIMP2 to create the dungeon caverns using an opaque painting tool.

The Hidden Vault Map
The Hidden Vault Map
Now I just have to stock it.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Make Your Own Dungeon in Excel

It's pretty easy to create a sharp-looking dungeon using Microsoft Excel. I'm using Excel 2010, but any prior version of Excel should work just as well.

First, you need a cool looking background. Search Google images for a large texture in the color you want. I went with a dark to light green texture for my dungeon backdrop. The image should be large enough to encompass the entire dungeon or it can be a seamless texture, too.

Once you have the background image saved, go into Excel and set your background. In Excel 2012, this is done from the Page Layout Menu. Next, you'll want to set your rows and columns to equal height and width, so you get perfect squares for your spaces. You can do this by selecting the entire spreadsheet, and then grab the edge of any column and drag it a bit. You should see a small pop-up window that indicates the column width (in inches and pixels). I chose 30 pixels as my column width. Do the same with the rows, except you are modifying the row height.

Once you have your perfect squares, you can turn the gridlines on or off. In Excel 2012, this is done from either the Page Layout or View menus. For dungeon creation, I like to have the gridlines on, and then remove them afterward at my whimsy.

Make Your Own Dungeon with Microsoft Excel
Excel Dungeon with Gridlines

Now that the template is set, you can start creating your dungeon. The easiest way that I've found is to use the cell borders as walls using the cell format function (by right-clicking on the cell you want to change). You can use the same function for shading the cells. I used the gradient feature to create darkness around the walls, and brightness toward the center of each room. For hallways, I used the gradient feature on each individual cell to imitate a graph-paper look.

Once you've created a room or two and some connecting corridors, it's pretty easy to copy and paste these cells to make your entire dungeon. You'll probably want to create some doors, too. This can be done by using the Shapes tool found on the Inset tab in Excel 2010. Simply draw a small rectangle, and right click on the image to set the properties. Make one vertical door, and one horizontal for mass copying and pasting. In the properties window, set the image to "Move with Cell". That way, when you copy a cell, the door image will be copied as well.

Create Your Own Dungeon Using Microsoft Excel
Excel Dungeon Without Gridlines

Of course, you can use the symbols library in Excel, or create your own images and import them, too. However if you want to bang out a cool creation quickly, it's possible using this method.

If you've tried this before, or give it a shot now, let me know what designs you've come up with.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

RPG Stuff

I was going through some of my old files on my PC and I found some hidden treasures that I thought I might share. Some of this stuff is old graphics, some is just miscellaneous stuff, but it's all GOOD. Feel free to download and use as you see fit.

Here's a .jpg file of some castles and towers on a snowy terrain. I think these may be from Heroes of Might and Magic 3, but I can't remember for sure. Anyway, you can copy/cut these and paste them into your own RPG maps.

Winter Palaces
Snowy Castles

Next, I have a sweet collection of spinning dice .gif files.

I also have this wilderness map that I think I constructed using the Heroes of Might & Magic 3 map editor. It shows the northeastern section of the world.

Heroes of Might and Magic 3 World Map
World Map - Northeast Section
Here's a little wilderness area map that I made with a stream running through it. It could be useful for running a close-up encounter. I think I made this with Railroad Tycoon's map editor.

Railroad Tycoon Area Map
Area Map with Stream
Here's a few more Tower objects from the HMM3 Map Editor:

Winter Towers
Snow Towers
Finally, here are some Space-RPG tiles. I think they are from a game called Space Empires 3.

Space Empires 3 Tiles
Space Game Tiles

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

D&D Plot Idea - The Secret of Spirit Lake

Here is a little D&D plot idea that I came up with for a party of first-level adventurers. Feel free to use it for your next gaming session if you want.

Westhaven Map

This adventure begins in the civilized territory of Westhaven, which is marked by five sizable dwellings (Applegate, Darrow, Kielport, Millsend and Thornberry).  The small town of Millsend is located on the river Vinewater, north of Spirit Lake.  The inhabitants of Millsend, which include several hundred families, are predominantly agricultural laborers. Recently, the town’s tree cutters have reported sightings of strange creatures in the woods surrounding Spirit Lake, causing them to abandon their logging sites.  Since Millsend depends on the regular flow of logs to the other towns to sustain its economy, the town is in need of someone to investigate the woods and hopefully rid them of any unwanted visitors. 

Spirit Lake sits at a higher elevation than the surrounding countryside, resting just above the base of the mighty Slumbering Hills.  Very few people have ever wandered up into the hills and returned to tell about it.  However, the lower region, including Spirit Lake, has been considered safe until the recent sightings.  The lake is virtually surrounded by forest, with some obvious logging activity creating an opening to the south, where the Vinewater flows down into the lowlands.

The creatures which have alarmed the loggers are satyrs, which have come down from the mountains to the south.  If any of the loggers is asked for information about the creatures, their reports will vary from seeing strange lights or devil-shadows to hearing strange voices or even sweet music.  The satyrs are not hostile, but do not wish any interaction with people.  However, it will be the task of the adventuring party to make contact with the satyrs, and see if a solution to the logging problem can be reached.

Farther up the hillside, the woods turn faerie in nature.  It’s quite possible that anyone adventuring up the hills south of Spirit Lake will encounter other fey creatures such as pixies, dryads or sprites.  However, the players should be discouraged from adventuring south until they are at a higher level.  Encountering the satyrs will reveal that they have been temporarily exiled from their woods for excessive revelry.  The satyrs are not allowed to return (by the centaurs who exiled them) until they obtain a special magic artifact to prove their worth.  The magic item will have to be located by the adventurers to rid Spirit Lake of the satyrs.

The magic artifact that the satyrs require is a red crystal ball, which was mischievously taken from the centaurs by a couple of pixies, and thrown into the waters of Spirit Lake. Finding the crystal ball would be nearly impossible, but the pixies finally revealed to the chief centaur that they saw it float down the Vinewater, into the lowlands.  The crystal ball is but one of a pair that can spy on each other.  So, the person who peers into one crystal ball would be able to peer out of the second, and vice versa.  The satyrs are in possession of the blue crystal ball, but will not offer it freely to the adventurers.  Instead, they will ask the party to bring them some fine wine as compensation for loaning out the blue crystal ball. Once the satyrs have their wine, they will hand over the blue crystal ball so that the party can use it to find the other one.

The fine wine can be purchased at various shop locations in Westhaven, although it would be quite expensive.  The wine can also be acquired by thievery, or from Vinberry Cellars, outside the village of Thornberry.  The Vinberry winemaker will give a few bottles in exchange for ridding his wine cellar of a few beasties, namely giant spiders and rats.  If the party tries to give the satyrs cheap wine, they will reject it after inspection (opening the bottle).

Once the adventurers have the blue crystal ball from the satyrs, they can peer into it to try to locate the red crystal ball.  However, since only the red ball’s surroundings will be revealed, they will have to piece together clues to determine its whereabouts.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dungeons of Dredmor Review

If you are a fan of dungeon-crawl PC games, you’re going to want to give Dungeons of Dredmor a try. Based in a 10-level labyrinth, Dredmor offers up everything that makes for a great dungeon crawl…namely lots of weapons, monsters, skills and other items to use in attaining your goal, the eventual defeat of Lord Dredmor himself.

PC Gamer US named Dungeons of Dredmor their Top Indie Game of 2011. Dredmor is set apart from other dungeon crawls or rogue-like games by its graphics and sound. Not only that, but Dredmor has a silly sense of humor to boot, with monsters issuing funny insults faster than you can draw your Clockwork Chainsword. Best of all, Dungeons of Dredmor costs only $4.99. You won’t find a better deal out there.

As with any good dungeon delve, Dredmor starts off with a character generation system which offers  a lot of variation, depending on what type of persona you wish to have. The basic game boasts 33 different skills, while the expansion packs offer even more. You get to choose from typical RPG skills such as Swords and Dual-Wielding, or the more creative Mathemagic and Archaeology. Once your skills are chosen, you can’t go back and select differently, so thoughtfulness here is key. Or, you can have the game select your 7 skills randomly for you (this is fun, but often leads to a quick death).

The 33 skills are listed here:
Swords • Axes • Maces • Staves • Dual Wielding • Shield Bearer • Berserker Rage • Unarmed Combat • Master of Arms • Smithing

Archaeology • Burglary • Archery • Thrown Weapons • Tinkering • Fungal Arts • Artful Dodger • Perception • Assassination

Blood Mage • Golemancy • Fleshsmithing • Mathemagic • Psionics • Necronomiconomics • Viking Wizardry • Astrology • Promethean Magic • Magic Training • Ley Walker • Wand Lore • Vampirism • Alchemy

Once your character is generated, it’s time to drop your newly created dungeon-fodder onto the first level. There, you can view all of your many statistics that will impact your progression in the game. Since Dredmor is normally played in Perma-death mode (meaning you can’t reload your character after death), it’s a good idea to pay attention to the small details. You can also view your very limited starting inventory, including any equipped items. Now, you’re ready to venture forth into the dungeon.

The ten dungeon levels in Dredmor are all roughly the same size, and each level takes about 1 ½ hours to clear depending on how quickly you progress. Each level is randomly generated for loads of fun replay. It’s pretty common to lose a lot of characters in the game’s first few levels, especially when you’re trying out different skill combinations. So, having a flippant attitude toward character death is important.

The dungeon levels each have a different look to them, but each level basically contains the same kind of stuff…lots of monsters, more items than you can carry, a few shops to purchase and sell items, statues to break, chests to unlock…you get the picture. However, the variety and replayability keep Dredmor from becoming mundane. Also, the graphics and sounds lend a style to the game that other dungeon crawl games don’t offer.

One feature of Dungeons of Dredmor that is a little different is the Monster Zoo, a collection of 100 monsters in a single room. Each level (starting with Level 2) has a monster zoo, meaning that you better be prepared for one any time you open a door. As you might expect, the zoos take a little while to clear out, and usually feature a “boss” or two. These can be deadly when attacking with hordes of normal monsters.

Every time your character levels up, you get to choose a new skill level for one of your chosen skills. This is where games are won and lost, because the abilities gained at different skill levels vary so greatly. For instance, Level 2 of the Golemancy skill allows you to create a small golem for protection in battle, a good option to have! Getting certain skills to their highest level quickly is usually a good strategy for successful Dredmor gameplay.

Each time your character dies, he will be listed in the High Score list (along with a tombstone). You will quickly fill up the Top Ten slots on the high score list as you learn the best ways to play. It’s quite routine to have characters pass away after only a few fights, while getting characters to make it down a few levels is challenging indeed.

After a few tries with different skillsets, I was able to get a couple of characters down to Dungeon Level 4 before they died. These characters were most always the armored fighter types, with my wizard-like creations generally getting slaughtered in the first two levels. For some reason, the dungeon’s fourth level seems to be where the monsters ramp up a bit, and I’ve been taken out more than once by a single foe after I had cleared out a Monster Zoo.

The shops are very important places to visit. You’ll find a variety of items there which you may or may not be able to afford. Certain skills can increase your ability to find loot. That becomes key if you want to do a lot of item purchasing, rather than simply finding the items that you need at some point. Occasionally, you can find a shop on the first few levels with an ultra-powerful item, such as a sword or wand. Usually, such an item is not affordable at the time you first visit the shop, but you can always come back later and acquire it when you get the needed funds.

In my current game, I’ve blown through level 4 for the first time, and have made it all the way down to Level 7. I’m thinking that this character has a chance to go all the way. Here is my Character Build:

Berserker Rage – For the general combat bonuses.
Fleshsmithing – I’ve found the Knit Tissue ability at skill Level 2 absolutely essential for extended survival.
Mathemagic – Froda’s Jump Discontinuity (Level 1 skill) has gotten me out of many a sticky battle, especially against a hard foe or a cluster of opponents when my life level dropped quickly.
Promethean Magic – The fire-based skills at levels 1 and 4 offer fire-ball like spells which can take out several monsters at once. I like to use to deplete monster hit points this when I first enter a room, and then finish them off with my weapon.
Perception – Allows you to see things, especially traps, more easily. This is very useful when you are a low-level character.
Burglary – The Lucky Pick skill at level 2 allows you to always have some lockpicks on hand.
Archaeology – Perhaps my favorite skill, you start with the Fedora – a hat with better than average ability modifiers. Ancient Kronian Ritual at Skill Level 5 lets you use each Item-Enhancing Anvil twice instead of once. I try to max this skill as soon as possible.

Other skills that I like, but couldn’t work into this character build are Dual-Wielding, Assassination, Viking Wizardry and Vampirism. The latter skill lets you regenerate your life points from the dead corpses that you kill. However, you can’t use food to restore your life, so you have to keep killing things to survive. Also, I’ve actually found using a strong shield preferable to the Dual-Wielding skill.

If I do ever get down to Level 10 and defeat Lord Dredmor, I will restart with a different type of character, maybe one that creates golems or deals in Necromancy. Whatever I decide, I know that I’ve already gotten my money’s worth out of Dungeons of Dredmor.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My RPG Map Banner

I recently came across a great idea for an enhancement to my role-playing game experience. I decided to have a large, high-quality vinyl banner printed, depicting a huge dungeon map. This will allow me to have a large dungeon at my disposal any time I need one. I used Banners On The Cheap to print my banner.

The rationale behind creating the huge dungeon map is that I would be able to use portions of the map for any RPG session. Since the map is printed on a 4’ x 8’ banner, it can easily be used on a table-top, floor, wall or other flat surface. Portions of the map not being used during any given gaming session can simply be folded up or covered, to be used at some later time.

To design the dungeon map for the banner, I used the Random Dungeon Generator at This is currently my favorite free dungeon generator on the web. It doesn’t have as many features as some of the other free dungeon generators out there, but it uses predefined dungeon tiles, designed to give the dungeon an authentic feel. Most other dungeon generators can only create rectangular shapes, but the one at is able to seamlessly combine the tiles into a realistic-looking map, complete with caverns, pools, rubble and anything else you can imagine that would populate a massive dungeon.

Once I had the idea for the map fleshed out, I headed over to Banners On The Cheap to determine what size map I should create. I decided on a 4’ x 8’ banner, meaning that my dungeon map should be roughly the same proportion, to keep the aspect ratio consistent, which would hopefully result in the best resolution and the highest quality map possible. Banners on The Cheap has their banner sizes listed in a drop-down menu on their homepage, so deciding on an appropriate size and material for my banner was quick and easy.

After determining my banner size, I went back to to create my dungeon map. The dungeon generator maxes out at 200 squares, both high and wide. I knew that I wanted my dungeon to be about half as tall as it was wide in order to fit my custom banner. Therefore, I set the width at 200 squares, and the height at 100 squares. If each square represents 10’, that dungeon will be well over 1/3 of a mile wide!

The dungeon generator at also creates room contents for each chamber. I didn’t need these for my map, but since I have the seed number of my random map, I can go back and reload the map on their site at any time and have random room contents generated. My dungeon contains over 1500 rooms, so it will be nice to have a head start on populating it with creatures and features.

Once I had generated my design, I checked the entire map to make sure that the dungeon tiles were distributed well.  Satisfied, I used a free .pdf creation tool called CutePDF to save the entire website as a .pdf file. Once saved, I selected only the map portion, and imported it at high resolution into a free photo editing program called GIMP2. Once I had the map imported, I saved it, first as a .bmp file, then as a .jpg file. The .bmp file was very large, but I wanted to make sure that I kept the graphic resolution as high as possible (sometimes, .jpg files can lose a little bit of resolution.) Be sure to check the resolution of your graphic file when you’re finished. It should look pretty much like the original map design for optimum printing.

Here's what my final map file looks like:

Huge Dungeon Map
Dizzy Dragon Dungeon Map
You can get the .jpg file HERE.

Once I had my .jpg file saved, and was satisfied with the resolution, I went back to the Banners On The Cheap website. Their image uploading process is super simple, so I was able to load my map quickly. My large .jpg file ended up being a little over 4 MB, so it was well under their online upload limit of 20 MB. After my map had uploaded, I was able to preview it on my banner. My map ended up being a tiny bit smaller than the banner size, so I just centered my map on the banner, chose my background color and saved my banner design. I could have also added text or clipart to my design if I desired, but I decided to keep my banner relatively simple. At the end, I was able to view a larger proof of my banner before completing my order.

The Banners On The Cheap checkout process was very simple. Before finalizing your order, you can change your banner type, size, and whether you want single or double-sided. All of this likely depends on the banner size that you select in the beginning of the process. You can also choose to add options for easy hanging, which I decided I didn’t need for my table-top dungeon map.

I placed my order at Banners On The Cheap, and they shipped it the next day. A few days later, I received my banner via UPS. It came rolled up length-wise in a box that measured approximately 4" x 4" x 4 1/2'. The map is centered on the black background exactly how I placed it in on their website. There is also a white border around the entire deisgn, which may be an automatic feature of this type of banner. The banner seems to be very durable, with a consistency similar to a large table-mat. I tested the surface with water and am pleased to report that nothing smudged or smeared.

Here are a few pictures of the banner:

RPG Map Banner
Full Length Banner Shot

Map Close-Up
Close-Up Section of the Banner

Map Side View
Dungeon Map Banner Side View

As far as the map looks, everything is exactly as I designed it. The one exception is that the print appears to have bled into the banner material a little bit, so the resolution is not quite as sharp as my original .jpg file. This won't be an issue for the functionality of the map, as the fine print (room numbers) is still very legible and everything else on the map (symbols, etc.) is larger and/or very readable. The colors are distinct as well, with no issues.

Overall, I am very pleased with my finished product. The banner looks as though it would last for many years. My one recommendation to anyone wanting to produce a similar banner would be to keep your map scale somewhat large (my dungeon squares are about 3 per inch, which seems to work well.) If I had printed the same map on a 2' x 4' banner, I'm guessing that the room numbers would have been less legible. I would think that an overworld map would have the same issue with the small print (city names, etc.)

Thanks to Banners On The Cheap for producing a fine and creative product!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Make Your Own Dungeon

I just stumbled upon a nifty little dungeon creation tool. It's called Ye Olde Map Maker, and you can definitely use it to make some simple dungeon layouts.

The map making tool has sections for Walls, Doors, Windows, and 2 Object Menus. The Walls Menu has the most options, with 26 different wall sections, each of which can be rotated by 45 degree increments. The Doors Menu only has a couple of door types, but you could also use the Windows menu for doors if you chose to. The Object Menus have a few generic object types, but this tool would be greatly enhanced if the Object Menus were expanded.

The map maker has a nice parchment look to it, perfect for displaying your dungeon creations. Here's a design that I created in a few minutes with the map maker:

Ye Olde Map Maker Dungeon

As you can see, I was able to populate my mini dungeon with pillars, beds, chairs, stairs and more. The diagonal wall sections can be a little tricky to use at first, but you'll quickly learn how everything fits together. I would think that this tool would be perfect for designing levels of a small tower, for instance. There are some outdoor objects in the second Object Menu, so it's not out of the question that you could also create an outdoor map with this tool.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Terrain Generator

When playing solo RPG's, I've used random terrain generation as a way to either create a wilderness area map, or randomly create an adventure map space-by-space as you go. Here's a custom random terrain system that I developed for this purpose.

First, you need to determine the terrain in the starting space. If starting in a town or other landmark, that space should still be allotted a terrain type. Roll on this table:

Basic Terrain Table
Terrain Types d100
Badlands 01-06
Desert 07-12
Forest 13-25
Hills 26-40
Jungle 41-47
Mountains 48-55
Plains 56-81
Swamp 82-88
Tundra 89-92
Water 93-100

Once the terrain of the first space is determined, use the following list to determine the terrain of the next space. The next space can be in any direction, but must be adjacent to the previous space for which terrain was generated.

Terrain is normally determined randomly from the previous square.
Roll d100 to determine the new terrain type:
An 85 or lower (d100) indicates the same terrain type as the previous square.
An 86 to 98 indicates a roll on the Basic Terrain Table (above).
A 99 or 100 indicates a roll on the Special Terrain Table.  The Special terrain square has the same basic terrain type as the prior square.

If a player rolls a water square, they can not enter that square unless they have a means of crossing the water.
Any attempted travel to any undetermined square that is adjacent to the water square is determined as if the prior square was a water square.

Special Terrain Table
Prior Square
Special Terrain Badlands Desert Forest Hills Jungle Mountains Plains Swamp Tundra Water
Canyon 01-30 x 01-30 01-35 01-50 01-40 x x x x
Glacier x x x x x 41-55 x x 01-40 x
Hot Spring 31-40 x 31-50 36-45 x 56-65 01-20 x x 01-15
Island x x x x x x x x x 16-75
Lava Flow 41-50 x x 46-50 x 66-80 x x x x
Oasis x 01-20 x x x x x x x x
Plateau 51-85 x 51-100 51-90 x x 21-85 x 41-100 x
Quicksand x x x x 51-100 x x 01-70 x x
Sand Dunes x 21-100 x x x x x x x 76-100
Tar Pits 86-92 x x x x x 86-100 71-100 x x
Volcano 93-100 x x 91-100 x 81-100 x x x x

Descriptions of Each Special Terrain Type are listed below:
Canyon        A deep ravine. Canyons are notorious for the ambushes that often take place there.
Glacier         A massive body of ice. Travel across a glacier can be treacherous. Cold-loving creatures often have lairs there.
Hot Spring     A source of hot water that issues from the ground. Creatures that prefer warmth can often be found there.
Island         A small land mass in a water square. The island has its own terrain type, with an increased chance of encounters/special features.
Lava Flow     A source of molten rock bubbling up from the ground. Travel over lava flows can cause damage from the heat.
Oasis         An oasis is a fertile area within a desert. These are often inhabited.
Plateau         An area of flat, highland terrain. Dragons and other flying creatures make their homes there.
Quicksand     A solid-looking piece of ground that is particalarly viscous. These areas can not be avoided, and have a chance of swallowing their victims whole.
Sand Dunes     A hill made of sand. Dunes can contain the bones of creatures, and perhaps - the treasure that the creature carried.
Tar Pits         Pools of hot black tar that seep up from the ground. These cause damage, and have a chance of holding their victims fast.
Volcano         Mountains that actively spew forth smoke, ash or lava. These are very deadly to any who approach.

After the terrain is determined, roll d100 and consult the list below:       
Nothing                01-75          Nothing unusual in this square.
Encounter             76-95          Roll on the Encounter Table. (You will provide the Encounter Table)
Special Feature     96-100        Roll on the Special Feature Table.

Special Feature Table
Special Feature Table
Castle  01-05 
City  06-09 
Dungeon  10-20 
Fort  21-28 
Gate  29-30 
Inn  31-35 
Lair  36-45 
Mine  46-49 
Pool  50-59 
Road  60-69 
Ruins  70-74 
Tavern  75-80 
Temple  81-84 
Tower  85-86 
Town  87-92 
Village  93-100 

Descriptions of Each Special Feature Type are listed below:
Castle     A huge stone complex. These are always inhabited by someone…
A thriving metropolis. This is the largest type of civilization.
A strange door in the wilderness leading to who knows where?
A small garrison that may or may not be occupied. Normally used for military tactics.
A magic teleporter that will transport to another space on the map (may also be a gate there).
A place to spend the night.
An area that some creature(s) is using for their dwelling place.
A complex of underground tunnels fashioned for the excavation of precious metals or stones.
A small, circular body of water. These are sometimes magical.
A quicker way to travel. These often lead to civilization.
Formerly a castle or fort, now a pile of rubble. The undead often gather here.
A place to have some drinks, play cards and recruit hirelings.
A chapel or larger structure that provides healing services.
A tall structure, known for housing wizards.
A smaller version of a city.
A smaller version of a town.

More Online Random Dungeon Generators

Following up on my previous post, here are a few more random dungeon generators that you can find online.

The dungeon generator at is pretty cool. You only have a few selection fields to modify your random dungeon, but you can choose from a variety of styles including the above "Standard Tileset" look. You can also specify room density and whether you want your rooms separated so that there's not a single thin wall between rooms. Room numbers are automatically generated and placed for you. The best part is that the dungeon maps are easily printable.

One random dungeon generator that's a little bit outside the box is DungeonBuilder. You select the dungeon size, number of rooms and maximum room size, and DungeonBuilder creates and randomly places the room for you. You then have to connect the rooms with corridors and doors manually by clicking on each space until you get the desired result. This kind of generator could be useful if you are using a Random Dungeon Generation Table (such as is found in the original DM's Guide).

The most intricate of today's Random Dungeon Generators can be found at the Myth Weavers website. Originally designed by Jamis Buck, this generator is one of the oldest ones out there. Choosing from 13 different selection fields, you can customize your random design by size, room density and door type (note the concealed door on room 14 in the map above.) This generator will give you a potentially large, quick map if you aren't looking for diagonal hallways or multi-faceted rooms.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Online Random Dungeon Generators

There are quite a few online random dungeon map generators out there. Some even have content generation as well.  Let's take a look at some of the better dungeon generators that you can find on the internet.

The Donjon Website will allow you to create random dungeons complete with dungeon contents, including Wandering Monsters, Traps and Treasure. There are 15 different customizable fields for you to create exactly what you're envisioning in a random dungeon. Perhaps my favorite feature is the drop-down menu with 14 different map types, including Parchment, Marble and Steampunk (shown above). The only negative is that I don't think there's a feature to make the rooms and corridors anything but rectangular.

An Interesting concept in map-making can be found at the Risus Monkey. This map-making tool uses 116 different morph types to generate a seamless connection of hand-drawn tiles. You can specify the width of your dungeon, and also how many tiles you want your dungeon to have. There's no content generator, but if you need a random dungeon that has that illustrated feel to it, this might be the tool for you.

Another random dungeon generator that appears to use tiles is Retro Crawl. With more of a polished look than Risus Monkey, this tool combines the hand-drawn look for caverns with the straight edges of normal dungeon corridors. This one numbers the rooms for you, and provides brief content descriptions of each numbered area. There are 7 different fields to help you customize your dungeon, too.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Simon and Garfunkel or Demogorgon?

As I was listening to Simon and Garfunkel's great anthem "America" on YouTube, I couldn't help but notice that I had seen one of their photos somewhere before...

...the Monster Manual!

The resemblance is quite spooky, don't you think? Also, it's worth noting that the singing duo looks quite young in the picture, lending credence to the possibility that the artist of the demon prince used S&G as his model for the drawing!

Another thing that Simon and Garfunkel have in common with D&D is "Cecilia", a monster hit for the singers, and "Caecilia", a monstrous, 30-foot long, grey worm from the Basic Edition.

And "Garfunkel" eerily rhymes with Carbuncle.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Basic D&D Character Sheet

Here's a character sheet that I created for Basic D&D. Feel free to use as you wish.

Basic D&D Character Sheet

Friday, March 16, 2012

Skyrim DLC (Skyrim Expansion)

After the huge success of Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, game producer Bethesda released an amazing expansion pack titled "The Shivering Isles". The expansion or DLC (Downloadable content) contained a whole new area for players to explore, plus made serious improvements and additions to the original game setting.

Now, following upon the even-greater success of Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Bethesda again has plans for a major expansion to the original game, which will reportedly be available first for the Xbox 360. Bethesda has already stated that they think the Skyrim Expansion will contain enough new quests to require a minimum of 20-30 hours of playing time.

But, what improvements and additions would Skyrim players really like to see? Here's a list of things that I think would make the original Skyrim experience more enjoyable:

More Creative Settings - In The Shivering Isles Expansion, you came face to face with a madman named Sheogoroth.  In his realm, you had to be prepared for anything to happen at any time. Not only that, but the Shivering Isles setting was quite beautiful and unique compared to the Oblivion mainland. Multi-colored skies and forests filled with psychedelic-looking plants were the norm in the Shivering Isles. While Skyrim can be breathtakingly realistic, the wilderness seems a little mundane on the creative side. It would be nice if the Skyrim DLC added some more creative features to existing locations, and added entirely new locations as well. Drawing from Oblivion, the Skyrim Expansion could bring back more Oblivion gates, leading to other planes of existence. Other features could be added to the Skyrim mainland, such as volcanoes, quicksand traps, sinkholes, huge tree-worlds, backward waterfalls and more. The unaccessible parts of the map could be made more accessible, and the many small islands could be used to house new locations or portals to other planes, a la Oblivion. It would also be cool to visit a "cloud world", accessible through a mountaintop.

More Monsters - Although I've beaten the Skyrim Main Quest, and still enjoy playing the game, my main gripe with the ongoing Skyrim enjoyability factor has to be the lack of monster variety. Sure, the giants, dragons and hagravens are cool, but it seems like you've encountered every basic monster type pretty early in the game, and from that point on, you just get minor variations on the same basic creatures. I'd really love to see some new creatures introduced to the Skyrim DLC. Here's a list that I came up with without much thought:

Giant Ants
Giant Bats
Giant Snakes
More giant types - Fire, Frost, Ettin, etc...
Genies that could grant wishes if defeated
Bigger Spiders who do more poison damage
Gorgons who could turn you to stone
Slimes and Oozes
Lurkers Above

Obviously, some of these creatures are exclusive to Dungeons and Dragons, but there's no reason similar creatures couldn't be introduced to the Skyrim DLC.  I think the main goal would be to increase the challenge by adding creatures with new and tougher abilities that would require the high-level player to think a little more.

More Missile Weapons - Here are a few ideas:  Spears, Slings, Darts, Blowguns. This would definitely help round out the thief-type characters. It would also be fun to make more use of catapult-type weapons, making them mobile, with a variety of objects that you could fling.

Require More Spell Use for Mage Quests - It's crazy that my character could become the Arch-Mage of Winterhold without casting more than a couple of different spells. Magic is not generally required for completion of most quests. It would be nice to make magic use a more prevalent aspect of optional quest completion. I'd also like to see more variety in Spellbooks, as most of these are offered very early in the game at very cheap prices. I think the Skyrim DLC should offer more powerful spells at much higher prices.

Miscellaneous Ideas that could be added to the Skyrim Expansion:
Dragon Riding
Intelligent Weapons
Totally dark dungeons with rings of Night-Eye available
Less Dragon Attacks
Enhanced Cooking Features/Ingredients to make this an actual worthwhile pursuit
Arrow Smithing/Enchanting
Battles against more than two or three enemies...How about a single character taking on a village of fifty goblins or a pack of fifteen wolves?
More enhancements to outdoor living, for those who don't want to stay in a house.
Flying Pegasi

Hopefully, the Skyrim Expansion will be out by Summer 2012, and we'll get a chance to see what Bethesda has up its sleeve.