Friday, August 14, 2015

Cosmic Universe Creation 4

Part 3

Part 4

More on Note-maps and Timelines.

When I edit this into a final document, the instructions will be more seamless; as it stands, however, after a period of reflection, I feel like the previous entry was more or less this:



Let's fix that by:






Answer the question:

What goes on the map?


In supers, anything goes. Unused campaign settings for other games make ideal alien worlds- regardless of genre. High fantasy; dinosaur planets; post apocalyptic science fantasy; giant robots; giant monsters; space monsters; worlds or whole sectors of space like the Old West or ancient China; Cthulu or whatever else you can think of, it can almost certainly be encompassed within the boundaries of your superhero universe with little or no trouble.

Make a list of what you want on the map.

Possible entries.

Duplicate Earth

Arena World

Artifact (planet sized or larger)

Robot planet

Center of the universe

God world

Inimical alien empire(s)

A breach in space-time leading to ?

Space storm

Prison planet

Pirate worlds

Demon world

Living planet

Dead worlds, destroyed by war, disaster or time

Fingerprints of the ancients


Important: A complete inventory of planets and sundry is not required to begin making the map/working on the timeline (Steps 3-?). You can mark down a few planets and then let your ideas cook for a few days before adding more. Further, this is a good time to work on the timeline, and think about any gods or natural forces that might be tied in with the fabric and history of space-time. Dig?

Today's example is a map of Drift Sector, a volume of space nested within the larger Earth? Universe map shown in part three of this series.



What goes on the timeline?


Birth of the universe

Origin of the space gods

Origin of space monster

Birth, rise and fall of great empires

The rise of super powers on earth

Humans go into space

Crisis events

Galactic and or terrestrial wars

Alien invasions

Formation of important groups


Below: a sample timeline: I find it helpful to put early events at the top and and move forward in time as I go down the page.



Lay out the map.

Note- the creator should feel free to modify any and all of this from materials to paper size to format.

For this map, we're going to use a sheet of standard printer paper in landscape orientation.


Make borders of 1 inch at the top and bottom of the page, and 1 1/2 inch on either side. Within this frame, thinking about the worlds you want in your setting, lightly draw in some circles and other shapes to represent the planets and such. Name stuff. Think about the inhabitants and the heroes and villains associated with the sector and its planets. Take notes on the side. If you are short on ideas, look at the list in step one- or read the homework.


Add some detail to the planets and other objects. A few lines here and there make a big difference. Be expressive!


Write a few words about each of the map's features in the margins. You need not be comprehensive. For instance, in the example below, I have yet to key the eight moons of Dominion; I am still mulling over their exact nature.


The map is perfectly servicable as it is, but you may wish to add Ink and color. I colored mine with the ipad app, Art Studio. I also cleaned up the text and added some campaign ideas I had while working on the map.


Okay, now it is your turn. Make a map.

Reading suggestions:

The Mighty Thor 131-133, Thor's first true foray into deep space.

Tom Strong 11-12, a great story featuring a "counter" earth.

Next time a world map, and some NPCs, or such is the plan.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

[Maps] BX Cosmonaut Expanded Preview

I am adding a second class, Cosmonaut Esper; a starting adventure which links into to a weird wilderness, which in turn links into Equitorial Empire Province: Karakul (map on your right, follow the tags from there). The EE/ Age of Lead stuff was originally concieved as a setting for cosmonaut nonsense and I may include an introductory Age of Lead appendix as well.

Here are some maps:

I don't wish to give too much away, but one major challenge of the minisetting is finding a way past the Barrier



Making Maps 1, Making Mountains

I have too many projects going on; here is a by product of the expanded B/X cosmonaut, which I worked on over the weekend. I promised to do some posts on stuff like this long long long ago, but never did...


Anyway, mountains (you get a bigger image if you open it in a separate tab):



Saturday, August 1, 2015

Age Of Lead: Sagoth (class) and Orkan (creature)






Hirsute and ape-like, the ab-human sagoth exist as the most populous and versatile folk in and around the lands controlled by the empire. Sagoth comprise a large part of the imperial legions (second only to skeletons) and the vast majority of the empire's farmers and artisans. Furthermore, large populations of sagoth barbarians live outside of the the empire's control.

Player characters are assumed to be imperial soldiers or outland barbarians.

RESTRICTIONS: Sagoth use a D10 to determine hit points. They may wear any armor and use any weapon. A character must have a 9 or higher constitution to become a sagoth.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Physically sturdy, sagoth add 1d4 to their final STRENGTH score. Sagoth relate to animals exceptionally well; at 3rd level a sagoth may charm animal as the spell, once per day. At 5th level the sagoth warrior gains a land mount, usually an orkan or a mammoth. At 8th level the warrior has the option to switch to an aerial mount, usually a war bat. Bat riders are held in high esteem, and are the closest a member of the sagoth class can really come to the aristocracy.

Progression and saving throw: as dwarf.




AC: 3 (15); HD: 15; MOVE: 120' (40'); ATTACKS: bite or trample; DAMAGE: 3d6/ 4d8;


These huge, surly beasts serve as mounts for the imperial light calvary. Notorious for their short tempers and hateful disposition, orkan prefer to trample medium sized and smaller opponents.

If an orkan fails a moral check during combat, it will turn on its rider.





Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cosmic Supers Setting Part 3



Part One

Part Two


Part Three

The One Page approach:

This method of campaign construction is focused on creating something playable and rich, without cutting corners, but also without engaging in unnecessary labor. To that end, everything we make will be easily usable at the table. What then are we going to make? Primarily: timelines, note-maps, NPCs, and fact sheets (detailing adventures, artifacts, aliens, institutions and other disparate elements of play) - all of which will be scaled in such a way that everything necessary to game play will be contained on one page in each instance.

In cases where the subject matter is too broad to cover on one page, it can be broken into smaller components of a size more appropriate for one page. However, an overview page is often helpful, with component pages nested inside it, like Russian dolls. Maps provide an easy example; starting from the top down, I might make a map of the galaxy; a map of one of the planets in the galaxy; a map of a region of that world; a city in that region; and then down to a building within that city. At each level of scale I should be able to provide all the information necessary to use the map in play on one page.

Step One: Note-Maps

After, as we discussed in the previous entry, acquiring a hazy sense of your game universe's history and current (at the start of the campaign) state, it is time to begin to make something solid and playable. We will start with a note-map (see below for an example). Knowing about the theatre of action will give insight as to the sort of things that exist and go on in the universe. Below is the cosmic scale map I have worked up for my own universe "Earth ?" A cosmic scale map is almost more of an ideational diagram than a true map. The purpose is to throw down as many ideas as you can and scatter them through space; again consider the example.

As you generate your map, it may be helpful to work up a basic timeline as well. Each should provide ideas for the other.

The referee's skill as a cartographer is of absolutely no importance. Abstract scribbles will serve just as well as lovingly created color follies.

A word about fictional cities and the real world status quo. Fictional cities are one of the often derided elements of superhero comics. However, properly used wholly imaginary cities solidify and individualize the game world as well as the place of the PCs within it. For example, Gotham city is linked with Batman forever and always, regardless of context. NYC is linked with expensive cigarettes, Broadway shows and pizza. Further, do not fall into the trap of allowing your imagination to be constrained by real world geography, politics, or technology. The constraints of editorial mandate and long form story telling keep Reed Richards from changing the world; your PCs need not suffer under the same restrictions.

A rough map of the Earth? Universe.
A finished version of the same map. It is argualbly prettier, but no more useful. Maps like this can be made with basic materials such as pencil, paper and/or with virtually any media you like ranging from crayons to photoshop.


As stated and hopefully demonstrated above, these maps don't require any special skills or gear to make. If you can do circles and boxes, you can do one of these. However, some materials that might help:

Circle template

Designer pens- I use micron; get a variety of point sizes. I suggest .5; .3 and .1


White plastic earaser- there is no substitute.

Whatever else strikes your fancy, really.


Homework: Read either Crisis of the Infinite Earths #7 for a specific example of supers universe history (likely at your library as part of a larger collection or comixology) and/or Fantastic Four 74-77 (on Marvel Unlimited/comixology) for a unique view of the Marvel Universe at many different levels, and an expansion (or contraction?) of the setting within setting nesting concept mentioned above.

Next time: a nested map or two, and time line creation steps/examples.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My other blog

I have a second blog the topic of which is my struggle to not be such a shit artist- and motherfuckers, let me tell you, it is a fucking struggle. Comments are open over there, mostly in hopes of eventually getting some input and critique.


Cosmic Tales: a blog about Failure.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Age of Lead, classes so far, Illustrated.

I still have three left to illustrate, and. I am conflicted as to whether or not to add in some combat tricks, like disarm, formated like the forager's skills, for the skeleton. Or maybe give the martial classes the ability to move around bonuses to AC or to hit depending on what they want to focus on from round to round. However, I want to keep the skeleton dead simple (see what I did there?) for players who don't want to fuck with a lot of options.

Also, in AoL, class is caste is race.

I will reskin the dwarf as either frankenstein monster guys or cave men- email me if you have a strong opinon.

Also email me if you want this as a .pdf.