Sunday, April 5, 2015

Dwimmermount, Outdoor Map, and Domains of War

Way back in the Spring of 2013, when Autarch was still putting together the Dwimmermount megadungeon for publication, they were contemplating how to fit the Dwimmermount outdoor overland map into the ACKs system. They asked what the map would look like if it were converted to the standard 24 mile per hex map used in the ACKs and Domains at War rules (You can buy Dwimmermount here).

So I started up a correspondence and put together some images showing how one could interpret the 6 mile per hex into 24 mile per hex. For those who may be unfamiliar with Adventurer, Conqueror, King (ACKs), the end game of the system is building up a kingdom (Similar to Frank Mentzer's Companion Set).

 I just put in an overlay and sized it appropriately, and then started to fill it in with the dominant hex type.

Then I removed the original background to have only the new 24 mile per hex map.

And then I showed how much area that would take if compared to the old TSR map of the known world.

For my meager efforts, the guys at Autarch were super gracious, and they sent me a a package, via express mail. It was super cool to get a physical vinyl map of the Dwimmermount surrounding lands. You can see the map in the thumbnail at the top right corner of this post.

Of course, I didn't stop there. As is my wont, I went off the deep end and I emailed the folks over Autarch and said I had this theory. Pure speculation really. I got the impression from reading Grognardia that Dwimmermount was Cheyenne Mountain, except far far in the future, or perhaps just in an alternate earth but with a basis of Cheyenne Mountain (Cheyene is the underground bunker complex of NORAD for those who may not be familiar with the location).

So taking that theory and running with it, I wrote, if the future of earth is one where the ocean levels rise, perhaps it would be similar to the earth of 75 mya when there was a shallow inner sea.

So that a "known world" type of map for the Dwimmermount setting might look something like this.

Of course, they never went with that idea (that I know of), heh, and I don't blame them. But it still makes for interesting world building.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Fifth Edition Cover Inspirations

While thumbing through my G+ feed, I came across a post by Grand DM that pointed out there is a striking similarity between the 1980 Moldvay Basic D&D Cover by Erol Otus and the full image for the new 5e Starter Set.

I never noticed the resemblance before, which is odd, because I do remember thinking the cropped box cover image looked a bit like the Frank Mentzer Basic D&D cover by Larry Elmore.

Kind of cool to fit in two inspirations into one. So then I got to looking at the other covers to see if there were similarities. I found the 5e Monster Manual cover looks quite a bit like the 4e full page Beholder picture.

And then I got to thinking over the 5e Player's Handbook cover and looked through the Jeff Dee artwork in G3 Halls of the Fire Giant King.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Quest for Souvenir Part 3

Over two years ago, I wrote about how a lot of people have a misunderstanding of font licensing. This led me down the path of trying to find "open licensed" fonts that people could use in their products that would evoke the same feeling as the fonts used in such products as;

Universalis ADF as a stand in for Futura font used in 1e AD&D Hardback Rulebooks

Tex Gyre Heros as a stand in for Helvetica font used in Unearthed Arcana

Tex Gyre Aventor as a stand in for Avant Garde font used in B1 In Search of the Unknown

Those 3 fonts cover a lot of ground for the early material produced by TSR in the 70s and early 80s. Unfortunately, there is one key font that does not have an equivalency.

Souvenir, one of the most reviled fonts by the font elite. Souvenir, that soft wide font that was used everywhere in the 70s. Souvenir, the MS Comic Sans of it's era. Souvenir, the font that was used in X1 Isle of Dread by David "Zeb" Cook and Tom Moldvay.

Back in the 90s and 00s, some turned to a knock off font named Soutane to mimic the Souvenir font look, but that font is probably? likely? a forgery.

But, what is ridiculous about Soutane being a forgery of Souvenir is that Ed Benguait made a digital copy of Souvenir in 1967 based off an old font called Souvenir made by Morris Fuller Benton in 1914.

And the story goes back even further still, because Mr. Benton is alleged to have gained inspiration for the Souvenir font by looking at a font called Schelter Antiqua and Leipziger Latein Kursiv by Schelter & Geisecke from 1905.

So, I finally tracked down enough type specimens of Schelter Antiqua to take a stab at making a font. Making a font set is grueling, mind numbing work. I think it is very deceptive how much work there actually is in making a font. Think of it as trying to make 250 little pieces of art, and then trying to work out how all 250 characters are going to interact with each other. I estimate, I have spent 50 or so hours working on this font, and it is still rough around the edges, poor at spacing between the letters, and is missing many, many extended characters.

But it does cover the 256 basic ascii characters, and that is all I need to put it to use. I named this version of the font Adenken and released it under the SIL license.

Working so long on the font has let me discern that (in my mind) there is no doubt Mr. Benton used the Schelter Antiqua font as the starting point for making Souvenir. However, the old font is still quite different from the modern Souvenir. Below, I have put a sample of the cover to X1 Isle of Dread and then below that, I have put a sample of the new font I put together.

Souvenir is rounder, smoother. Souvenir has more polish. The Adenken font I put together, looks, well... more "Old German" in character. Some of the characters are still very similar, such as the T, D, and X, but some are quite different, such as the lower case d.

So the quest continues! I think the Leipziger Latein Kursiv font by Schelter & Geisecke is even closer in appearance to Souvnir. If I ever find enough specimens of that particular font, and have another 50 hours of free time to cobble together, I might take another stab it.

But for now, if you want to try your hand at making your own font, there is nothing stopping you.

Here is the Truetype TTF file.

Here is the Fontforge Workfile.

If you want to start editing your own font, download Fontforge. There is a version of windows, mac, and linux.

Part 3 of a series on Souvenir (Part 1, Part 2)