Friday, February 25, 2011

Piasa Bird

Aldorbans post of his picture of the Piasa bird sparked old memories which precipitated another dive down the internet rabbit hole. I have a certain fondness for the Piasa Bird, the Piasa bird trail patch being one of the coolest patches one could get by hiking with the Boy Scouts  in '70s Illinois. Believing it to be an Native American petroglyph I was shocked to discover that not only that the current Piasa bird was painted in the 2000's, but the previous one I admired as Native American  rock art was painted in 1934. The original petroglyph was quarried away in the late 1800's for limestone.

First description is from the  French Explorers Pere Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet  traveling the Mississippi River in 1673. Jean Jean-Bapiste Louise Franquelin drew the following from their description.

First known picture is from someone who saw it was John Caspar Wild's Valley of the Mississippi Illustrated, page 136. Unfortunately the scan on the internet is not a very good one, the description in the text is better. I downloaded the image from the internet and enhanced the contrast to bring the very faint image in the original scan out.

A better old picture is from Henry Lewis's Das illustrirte Mississippithal although it does not look like a Native American petroglyph.

The current painting at the rock is below (from Wikimeida commons)

This link here is my favorite Piasa Bird, not being fond of the garish colors most paintings use. Note: I have not posted it here as I am unsure whether the owner has placed it in public domain.

P.S. O.K. I must post now having wasted far too much of my precious "snow" day on this post. Although it has a curious relevance to a map I was planning to post later.
P.P.S. I have spend so much time on the Piasa bird I am now listed on page two of the google search. This of course necessitates posting of even more of the pictures I have found.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

City of Caen

Here is a map drawn from a 17th Century Panorama of the French City of Caen. She-Who-Must-be-Obeyed has re-imagined it back to the Middle ages by pulling out the star forts, horn works, and bastions, and has also converted it to a top down view. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hexes and Villages

The little brown book's Underworld and Wilderness adventures explains that a barony can clear hexes up to 20 miles away and that within that area there will be 2-8 villages of 100-400 inhabitants (Other editions dodge this bullet by not even addressing Baronies in the core rules).This has always seemed a bit skimpy to me. With my newly created hex overlay and H. C. Darby's Domesday England, Cambridge University Press 1977, I decided to check the village density of Norman England. To this purpose I have created the following 5 mile to the hex map. Please note that Wales and Scotland were not surveyed, so are blank:

As you can see the village density in most places far exceeds 8 villages in a 20 mile radius. Densities of 10 villages or more per  5 mile hex are not infrequent. She-Who-Must-be-Obeyed who did the shading of the hexes by density says I should use this information to make a new roll-up chart, but that must wait for another post.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bad Neighbor Mountain

Here is a map from my graduate school days in 1982. Since the new Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master Guide suggested using 25-50 mile hexes that's what I mapped the world in. However I found the hexes at this size lacking in gamable detail. As a solution to this I hit on the solution of drawing a detail map of a single hex on one piece of paper. Here is my detail map of one of the Mountain Hex near the city of Anva

Of course I couldn't draw such a beautiful map and not show it to the players. However I wanted key for where the monsters lair that players couldn't. The solution an overlay of tracing paper with the DM's key on it. Here's the map with the overlay in place on top of it. Note trying to get a piece of tracing paper to line up in the scanner is not an easy task, the key is slightly off, you can spot if you look closely at the crosses that mark the mountain peaks next to the numbers giving the mountain heights.
:Here's the key for the numbers

1) The village of Telgrin; Major attraction "Ye Olde Magic Shop" Fireworks and novelties; 10th level Illusionist
2) The Earls Hunting lodge; 3rd level fighter acts as grounds keeper
3) Hermits hut, burned and ruined
4) Goblin camp: 14 goblins 4 wargs, Hermit 16th level cleric held prisoner will not harm anyone not even goblins
5) Ruined castle
6) Ruined castle
7) Trail to the lost city
8) Wachtower, lost city can be seen from here
9) The dragons roost

and here's a little adventure I wrote (the point of drawing the map to begin with). A brief aside this adventure follows the infamous plague dungeon She-Who-Must-be-Obeyed wrote and DMed in my world after reading A Distant Mirror, If I can cajole my way into the secret notebooks I may post more on that dungeon.

Going after Carsolar

Trin is in plague trouble again. Anva has volunteered Carsolar the mighty cleric to help. But where is Carsolar? Rumor has it he is up in the hills looking for the Snic-ker-snee the famous blade of legend.

Carsolar is of course the 16th level cleric being held at 4
Throw in a few wolves on the road into to town to start things off
a brief inquiry in town leads to directions to the hermit hut 3
battles with wandering warg riders leave trail back to the goblin camp
a battle in the goblin camp frees Carsolar
leading to a triumphant return to Anva to collect the ample reward

Remember this is Old School, none of that purple prose to clutter up the adventure, just some notes to myself  to remind me of the theme them improvise the rest, springle liberally with random encouters to liven up the slow spots and throw some curves to delinerize the plot  and I'm good to go.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Plan B

Well there I was working away on hex gridding over the map of Doomsday England, a pet project to try and figure how many villages actually fit in a five mile hex (from the overlay it looks to be 7-9, you can read more ideas about division of land at Redwald). Suddenly it occurred to me it was probably in poor taste and perhaps a violation of copyright to publish a map taken from a couple of figures from someone else's book, even if I had smashed them together and overlaid a grid upon them. Although the book author seems unlikely to be checking my web site, my status as a someday want-to-be author and game publisher always leaves me leery of violating intellectual property rights. After all, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you want to check out the base maps look on pages 38-39 of H. C. Darby's Domesday England, Cambridge University Press 1977 (I have the 1986 paper back edition. Its a reasonable read for a scholarly introduction to the data in the Domesday Book, a Norman survey of the land and loot they got when they took over England {for tax purposes of course}). From the book I gleaned Redwalds division into Hides, Tithings, and Hundreds leaves out many other land divisions in use in near Anglo-Saxon times including wapentakes, ridings, lathes, and rapes. Real life is seldom simple. Never-the-less I am no longer planning on posting my five mile hex map of Domesday England this week. I will not be posting my Domesday map until I find a source for the basic information in open source. As a result this weeks offering to the web will be a bit later than my usual target of near the weekend. I am working on a fine old map and adventure from the 1980's (Hope to have it done later today or tomorrow).

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Montgomery's Tower

Here we have today another piece of Jerry's World, Montgomery's Tower. Montgomery decided, that rather than go through all the fuss and bother of clearing his own Barony, he would just live in Henrich Barony. But he build his own tower in the mountains next to Henrich's village number 5. Take a look at Henrich's Barony here to see where. While your there take a look at the revised World map as well. I mentioned that some commentors were less than satisfied with the colors to She-Who-Must-be-Obeyed and she worked furiously on recoloring it until her arthritis flaired up (being old is not for sissies) and she declared it FINISHED. I suggested she might add a key so you could tell what was what and had to make a hasty exit from the computer room (purple is Mountain, grey-brown hills, blue water, green forest, orange desert, and mottled yellow-green swamp). I suggest if you have any further comments on the world map you keep them between between you and me. So without further addo here's Montgomery's Tower (It even includes the costs in case you want to build a duplicate for your OD&D campaign).
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