Creative Pursuits D&D News

Terror in Tosasth

Like the mummified corpse of a king long forgotten, lying dreamless in a tomb hidden by innumerable layers of sand, mysterious treasures lure the imagination of true adventurers. Men have not long settled here on the edge of wilderness, and few are those who recall the tales of their grandmothers. Yet, the other folk remember a time when elves and dwarves built kingdoms that rose up, clashed and tumbled down again. Offer a dwarf a mug of ale or flatter an elf and you may coax a tale of Tosasth (TOH-sosth).

Despite the benefit of longer lives, only vague details may be conjured from elven memory about the once-great city that now is little more than a graveyard teeming with the undead. “Stay away from that cursed valley,” they will advise. Perhaps the stories told by their fathers were parables only, myths meant to illustrate the folly of hubris, for among the various horrors professed to dwell in Tosasth, a curious mind will discover a singular theme. Long ago, elves and dwarves who grew from parallel limbs of the tree of life, made war that ended in terrible catastrophe.

The series of adventures in this tome offer thrilling danger, spectacular loot and the answer to the mystery of Tosasth.

Terror in Tosasth is a collection of adventures I wrote for my ongoing Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game campaign. I took my notes from the campaign and put them into the style used by the BFRPG community. There are 18 different adventures and procedures for running a city filled with undead.

Aside from all the writing, I felt the need to draw many images to fill in gaps in the pages. I thought I’d get away with recycling image from all the session reports. Nope. I had to draw at least 20 more images.

This material is all free under the Open Game License.

D&D Programming Random Generators

One Dice Six

Table I from Dungeon Master’s Guide Appendix A

It’s common for role-playing rules to include tables for generating complex results, similar to the image to the right from the first edition Dungeon Master’s Guide for generating dungeon maps. The user is meant to roll a twenty-sided dice and find a matching row from the first column. A roll of 4 matches the range of 3-5, indicates a door in the random dungeon and directs the user to Table II.

Automating the results with code provides two advantages over manually rolling. In the moment, at the table, it can be quite dramatic to click once and see a result. The other advantage is being able to rapidly re-roll and pick suitable results, such as when working on a new adventure and riffing on random results.

Creative Pursuits Martinez News

The Martini Available in Hardcover

I published a hardcover book containing the play I wrote this year, The Martini. The blurb on the back is as follows.

Martinez Cocktail — Martinez Special — Martini: the libation universally celebrated as the quintessential cocktail enjoys no documented nativity. Despite aspirations of adoptive metropolises, the sensible historian recognizes a likely heritage that begins in Martinez, California. Yet, like the last swallow of gin, vermouth and olive brine swirling at the bottom of a glass, the veil of time obscures important details of this sought-after story. Now, inside this book, you will find clarity in a delightful martini tale, told twice. Illustrated prose encourages gathering close and reading aloud, while a second form provides a play in one act to be performed and enjoyed by a gathering of friends.

You will find The Martini for sale on for $19.79. On, The Martini sells for $21.99, with free shipping if you already subscribe to Prime.

You might purchase this book because your gift-giving skills rival those of the jolly old elf himself.

Personal Poems

Mourning is a doorway back into daylight

Following is a song I wrote about 15 years ago. I thought I knew what it meant when I first wrote it, then I discovered a new meaning about seven years ago. I’ve discovered a more profound meaning, and it probably had this meaning all along. Before I explain, here are the words.

How Long Must You Cry

How long must you cry before you wonder why your life’s filled with pain? How long must you cry?

How long must you weep, crying yourself to sleep? Tear-stained memory. How long must you weep?

I know why you cry. I know why you cry. It’s for me. It’s for me. It’s for me. You cry for me.

How deep must you age before you turn the page? Gone is yesterday. How deep must you age?

How wise must you grow before you will know. I’m beyond your reach. How wise must you grow?

I know why you cry. I know why you cry. It’s for me. It’s for me. It’s for me. You cry for me.

When I first wrote this, this was kind of a bitter warning to someone who foolishly spurned my offer of friendship. I didn’t take the song very seriously and thought of it as “you don’t know what you’re missing”. The language is kind of extreme for the actual situation, but it’s stylized.

Years later, I discovered that instead of it being me speaking to someone else, it was someone I’d lost speaking to me. I imagined my father asking me how long I was going to feel sad about him dying. I took it as a statement to myself to suck it up, to repress the bad feelings.

Today, I started thinking of this song as an ideal version of myself, a version of myself who I dreamed I’d be as a child, speaking to myself as I really am. And I’m curious: when will I give up comparing myself to that unattainable ideal? When will I cease entertaining the idea of having a chance to replay the past?

So in this sense, I’m not attacking myself for feeling sad. There’s a version of me that could have been. There were decisions I made that got me where I am, and there were circumstances beyond my control that probably had a greater influence. It’s legitimate to mourn the loss of what could have been. The mourning is a doorway back into daylight. So, I’m pleased to find the song is not a bitter rant, nor a vigorous self-attack. It’s simply a question about when the truth will be accepted.

Random Generators

Automatic Album Cover Game

In the past few weeks there was a game/meme going around on Facebook that instructed you to put together an imaginary (record) album cover by randomly selecting text from wikipiedia and images from flickr. Of course, it occurred to me to write a program to do it. But it took Lee Springer nudging me to actually spend the time. Here are some examples from the random album cover generator.

Instead of pulling text from wikipedia, I generate the album name and the artist name using the routines I have already. Luckily flickr has an API and they even tell you which images are OK to use in derivative work. I pull recent “interesting” pictures, scan for the ones with rights that allow me to use them and I layer the text over the top.

At any given time there are mayb 10 – 20 images available, but it changes over time. It’s really just another way to view the random text out of the generator. Sometimes having it in the context of an album cover is surprising enough to make me chuckle.

When I first wrote these generators about 10 years ago, they used to make me laugh a lot. After a while, my brain seemed to automatize the rules behind them and they stopped making me laugh. They are vaguely pleasant to me, but they rarely make me laugh out loud.

Original images for the album covers above are here: