Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Why are these notebooks so elaborate?

I get that question a lot now that the Cube World pdfs are coming out and people can see what my notes look like.

Part of the answer is that while I'm trying to think up an adventure I sit and draw. So while, yeah, I maybe didn't need to have every single hair on the giant baboon's body picked out like that just to remember there was a giant baboon when I use that page to run a game, I did have to spend some time figuring out who the baboon was, why he was there, etc and all that came up while drawing him.

The other part of the answer is basically because of what happened the first time I did a published RPG book, Vornheim:
In 2011 or whatever, I got it in the mail and then I felt so relaxed any time I was running a game and the party wandered into Vornheim, because, hey, it was all there. Y'know, organized. Map, monsters, notes, sorted: cool.

I mean I don't remember half of this stuff any more than anyone else does, having it in my face and having each spread look different genuinely saved me time in the long run. So I thought: Ok, why not do all these notes like that? Make everything like that or like the One Page Dungeon Contest.

And it worked, this week's game I had to level someone up (so I pulled out the player's handbook) and the players bought some books (so I pulled out the treasure table) but otherwise I ran the whole game off information in about 4 square inches of notebook.

So, yeah, now that the notebooks are being published: I wasted time so you don't have to.

Two new Cube Worlds are out, 5 bucks each, they're both batches of semi-self-contained scenarios set all over the world, and again most of them were going to be in Lamentations of the Flame Princess' cancelled Violence in the Nympharium. 

Cube World 16 is The Sorcerer, The Disintegrator, and The Giant Baboon (thus the baboon) and Cube World 17 is A Legion, A Dimension, A Cave, A Tower (the hydra is guarding the tower, which only exists at night).

You can check them out here.




Tuesday, June 16, 2020

As Violent As A Static Object Can Be


The new Cube World, Some Semblance of Civilization, is up in the store, lots of buildings and scenery and other sandbox stuff in this one. A lot of the pieces and parts are stolen because what I like to do when I draw is watch Jonathan Meades' videos on architecture.

For sheer D&Dability think the first chapter of this one on brutalism is pretty good. Meades doesn't just tell you what brutalism is or why you should like it, he always comes to his films with a thesis--in this case the idea that brutalism is less a mid-20th century outcome of modern design plus concrete than an expression of a tendency that has always been there and expressed itself in a variety of architectural styles.
A big, heavy, oppressive hormone that runs through the bloodstream of many eras ad in many places. His filmic essay begins, oddly, with Blenheim Palace, one of the many baroques pile of rocks you might have seen in Barry Lyndon.
Regardless of whether Meades is right or wrong about this, his thesis about what constitutes the transtemporal brutalist style matches exactly what you'd want from a dungeon: inhuman scale, repetition, artificiality, moodiness, bulk, solidity, primitivism, irrational juxtapositions, causing you to shiver with "delighted horror or unqualified horror, horror full stop".

I think it might be hard for us now to look at that building and see it as a horror or primitive or charmless or "as violent as a static object can be", but you have to compare it to the homey humanitarian-scaled humanistically windowed and humanely carpeted hobbit-holes architects were otherwise producing. Meades proposes charm is the opposite of grandeur, measured on a scale where Hobbiton is on one side and Minas Morgul is on the other. And you have to think of how it felt to live there, and how it must've seemed as you walk up on it--especially in the dark.

Which brings me to...
....the mansion from the Clue movie.

Maybe its only in the gothic-brutalist lineage in the dark? Maybe the point of this kind of building is to always look the way buildings look in the dark? But whatever, like all the best murder mansions, we only ever see it at night.

I wanted to know who designed it, turns out the answer is exciting: Paul Revere Williams. Maybe the most important and least famous Los Angeles architect. A true chameleon, Williams specialized in mansions for weird rich people--in whatever style they wanted. He did the Beverly Hills Hotel...
And that weird, now-purposeless building in the middle of LAX:
Aaaaand he did Murphy Ranch, which the owner let the Nazis use as a compound here in SoCal until it got raided by the police at the beginning of WW2 (they had their antifa moments I guess, once)...

Its nice that Demon City and Cube World can share an architect, but my hands-down favorite fact about Paul R Williams is he learned to draw upside down because he was black and he knew there were white clients who would feel more comfortable sitting across the table from him while he sketched out their plans.


Monday, June 1, 2020

The Cops Shot A Demon City Contributor In The Face & I Just Got Out Of County

So first, journalist Linda Tirado, who wrote on the upcoming Demon City, lost an eye in Minneapolis:
So starting now all proceeds from the next Cube World (Odd Jobs in Small Baronies) that just came out...
...will go to her because, really, when you can only see out of one eye every little bit helps--and I feel fine leaving it to her discretion whether to in turn pass the money on to someone else.

A lot of people have asked about me since they know I'm in downtown LA--and thank you for that--this map pretty much says it all:
But I got it all on tape so might as well use it.
Peaceful protest (this was friday before there was a curfew order):

Aaaand here come the cops:

Cops:
This guy was popping off at everyone.
Rubber bullet picked up on my street

I gave the video to the LA County public defender in case anyone gets charged with more than a "citation" or tries to get their mountain bike back and they say it was "seized as evidence".

Anyway blah see you soon.
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Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Cops Shot A Demon City Contributor In The Eye & I Just Got Out Of County

So first, journalist Linda Tirado, who wrote on the upcoming Demon City, got shot in the face in Minneapolis:
So starting now all proceeds from the next Cube World (Odd Jobs in Small Baronies) that just came out...
...will go to her because, really, when you can only see out of one eye every little bit helps...will go to her because, really, when you can only see out of one eye every little bit helps--and I feel fine leaving it to her discretion whether to in turn pass the money on to someone else.

A lot of people have asked about me since they know I'm in downtown LA--and thank you for that--this map pretty much says it all:
But I got it all on tape so might as well use it.
Peaceful protest (this was friday before there was a curfew order):

Aaaand here come the cops:

Cops:
This guy was popping off at everyone.
Rubber bullet picked up on my street

I gave the video to the LA County public defender in case anyone gets charged with more than a "citation" or tries to get their mountain bike back and they say it was "seized as evidence".

Anyway blah see you soon.
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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Best Graph Paper Notebook For D&D

What is the best dungeon master's notebook? It came out a few years ago and it's this thing by a mile:
The Princeton Architectural Press Grids & Guides Notebook For Visual Thinkers...

You guys may have seen the converted cookbook I use for the Cube World atlas...


This is a much more day-to-day workhorse product.
So it's sturdy, well-stitched, it's A4 (or A5? whatever: the objectively best RPG book size as decided by LotFP at some point), it was even reviewed in New York Magazine :

In the past I’ve stocked up on whatever cheap-ish notebook hits these requirements:
1. Sturdy cover (won’t get dented in purse)
2. Opens flat
3. Good paper: ink won’t smear / bleed
4. Of a comfortable writing size
5. Decently attractive

These days, I no longer settle. There’s a better option out there. I’ve tasted the fine wine and I can’t go back. Luckily, the wine is priced at a reasonable $16. It is the Princeton Architectural Press Grids & Guides Notebook, and it is not like Other Notebooks.

What really sets it apart is the variety of different grids it provides, which Cube World readers might've seen...
Each spread has two different grids or guides left and right, eight in total, ideal for drawing a map on one side and putting notes on the other....
 The triangle one is perfect for making hexmaps...
The circle one is probable the most eccentric but it has its uses...

The ledger paper on the left has 38 numbered lines, which is perfect if you want to make a standard encounter roll table where there's a 2-in-6 (33.3%) chance of a random encounter. Just do 33 entries and then you've got  a few extra lines for things like "Torch goes out", "Thirsty, drink", "Hungry, eat some rations" etc. and the last line is "38.-100 No encounter".
The one on the right is a logarithmic scale grid, which is nice for diagrams or drawings where you need a sense of perspective...

...or depth, I used it in this Tracery map under the Lodestone Golem to show the steps down from the upper level to the lower ones:
 The left-hand "plaid" grid here is an architectural grid...
Which you can use if you like to include the thickness of the walls as part of your map, so like between Green 4 and Green 5 here you have a lil' gap and a guide to the width of a standard doorway:
The 6-panel grid on the other side is based on a grid for drawing storyboards, I used it to, for example, draw the map on the graph paper side and put in little sketches of the distinctive features on the panel side:
 You probably know what to do with this stuff here--dot grid left, standard graph paper right:








Interleaved between these they also throw in a few random reference pages, this one is languages: sign language, semaphore, etc:
I turned the reference page on geometric shapes into the 4-dimensional room map that you might've seen in the Red & Pleasant Miscellany.
There are a few different versions of this notebook and (I can't decide if this is good or bad) they each have a slightly different set of 8 grids:
That beige one is the "Grids & Guides Notebook for Ecological Thinkers" which, despite the beigeness and cringey title (you can totally see Elon Musk being at some TED talk and going "I've always been an ecological thinker") has a really useful grid for dungeons: large squares about the minimum size you can write in with a .005 pen and about exactly the minimum size for a plausible dungeon room, with a coordinate grid (A, B, C, 1, 2, 3...) already printed in...
Which is ideal for drawing an area map freehand (you can just use the coordinates to identify points of interest) or for making idea matrix charts where two pairs of ideas are knocked together to look at all the combinatoric options like these....
I used this grid for the Tiger King Dungeon...
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Anyway yeah that's the best notebook! Ummm...there's a new module up in the store all about flayers and negazohedrons and brain-eaters...




So if you want it, get it.
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