Saturday, February 26, 2011

Interview: Craig Wisniewski - Maptool Gang of 3

We continue Maptool Month interviews with the father of MapTool frameworks, Craig Wisniewski. Frameworks allow for the creation of custom settings, screens, and macros that automate game mechanics. I've created one such framework but there are many, many others. Throughout this interview you'll find screen shots from some of the more popular frameworks.

Craig added the HTML frame and dialog functions allowing for the creation of custom windows using HTML/CSS with links and buttons that run MTScript macros. He also added the ability to update Token properties from within macros to automate game mechanics like hit point reduction due to a successful attack. Other biggies include trusted macros created by the GM and LIB: tokens which allow for the distribution of frameworks and other MTScript utilities. Basically, without Craig I doubt we would have the frameworks you see in MapTool today.

Craig refuses to adopt a pseudonym or use an avatar. Some feel this reflects the practical manner he brings to MapTool development. It could be he never intended to stick around long enough to need a nickname or stylized image. Still others believe he just likes it when people ask why he doesn't have them. Whatever the case, we present the very practical interview of Craig "No Avatar" Wisniewski.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Zealand Red Cross Earthquake Relief

Help with the relief effort in New Zealand and get some great gaming stuff at the same time.

A powerful earthquake struck New Zealand's already-bruised city of Christchurch on Tuesday, collapsing buildings, burying vehicles under debris and sending rescuers scrambling to help trapped people amid reports of multiple deaths. DriveThruRPG and several publishers have teamed up to raise funds to aid those affected by this earthquake. You can donate directly with the DriveThruRPG $5 donation offer or purchase a $20 bundle of RPG stuff.
You can find more information about the New Zealand Red Cross here.  Please note that due to the emergency and high traffic volume it may be difficult to connect to their site.

Interview: Bill Hart - Maptool Gang of 3

We continue Maptool Month with an Interview with Bill Hart aka Dorpond from the MapTool forums. Trevor once described him as MapTool's energizer bunny. Bill found MapTool and began contributing almost immediately. He was a driving force behind the current MapTool visions system. He drove home the point that an elf with lowlight vision should see the map differently than a dwarf with darkvision.

Bill continues to support MapTool contributing to design and testing of the product. Those who don't produce code for a living often don't understand the old 40/20/40 rule of coding. Forty percent of a projects time is spent in analysis and design, twenty percent coding, and forty percent testing. Thus Bill is the forty percent bread in the MapTool code sandwich.

The other quality Bill brings to the table is endless enthusiasm.  You simply can't get the man down even with a troll club (trust me, I've tried). He believes deeply in the mission of MapTool of providing a free, quality tool that brings gamers together.

So, without further ado, the Dorpond interview.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Interview: Frank Edwards - Maptool Gang of 3

MapTool is my weapon of choice for online games. It started as a virtual battle mat but grew into a fully configurable, game system agnostic, online table top with rich map making capabilities. With MapTool you can create custom properties and data for your characters and creatures within your gaming 'verse, roll dice inside an integrated chat system, and track initiative. With the addtion of MTScript (MapTools scripting language) you can fully automate game mechanics within MapTool to share with your friends across the Internet.

MapTool is an open source Java project meaning the product is free and its source can can be viewed and changed, if desired. Since it's written in Java it works on Mac, Linux, and Windows operating systems.

The project has dozens of contributors who donate their time to provide code, testing, and content. Last year, long time project head Trevor Croft stepped down handing control of the project to a triumvirate of talented technicians while running out the door mumbling something about going to the store for a pack of cigs. We all thought this odd since Trevor doesn't smoke. He was last seen in Las Vegas being thrown out of a casino for testing a card counting program developed for an Android phone.

As we continue Maptool Month on The Savage Troll, we bring you interviews with each of the Gang of Three (as we call them) who direct the MapTool project. We start with Azhrei interview followed by Dorpond, then Craig, ending with a combined questionnaire about the features slated for MapTool version 1.4.

First up, Frank Edwards aka Azhrei.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review: The Giant's Meadhall Map

Product: The Giant's Meadhall
From: Rite Publishing
Price: $2.99
Artist: Jonathan Roberts

This is another great map from artist and cartographer Jonathan Roberts. His latest offering is of a giant's mead hall created from Mammoth tusks and skins. The art is up to Jonathan's usual level of expertise and the product has been professionally packaged so it prints on both European and US letter-sized paper. All the maps (both color and printer-friendly black and white) are in the same pdf which helps eliminate drive clutter.

If you're a virtual gamer, you won't wast time importing the pdf into an image editor, exporting to image files, and then assembling them in favorite VTT. The pacakge includes a JPG image of the map (with and without grid) as well as a Maptool campaign file.

This map originally appeared in Kobold's Quarterly #16 in the adventure "Beer Run".

Friday, February 18, 2011

Interview: Jonathan Roberts aka Torstan

We continue Maptool Month with an interview with Jonathan Roberts, also known as Torstan on multiple gaming forums. Jonathan is another artist who gives back to the virtual gaming community with the release of free tiles and maps to be used online. Publishers noticed his maps and he soon found a second career as a cartographer and artist in the gaming and comic book industry. In his spare time Jonathan contemplates the creation and composition of the universe as a doctor of theoretical physicist with New York University.

We caught up with Torstan between drawing fantasy maps for our imagination and analyzing data detailing the structure of our physical reality.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Review: Devin Night's Dark Forest Token Pack

Product: Devin Night's Dark Forest Token Pack
Price: 5.99
Artist: Devin Night

James Hazlenut aka Devin Night provides quality hand-drawn tokens, artwork, character portraits, and maps for use in RPGs. Many of the tokens I use in Maptool are Devin's. I've also commissioned multiple works from him for story and setting illustrations. I was therefor pleased to see a new set of Devin Night tokens appear on

The Dark Forest Token Pack features 79 fantasy creatures for use in your face-to-face or Virtual Table Top game. The product has two downloads; one to print and cut and the other to drop onto your VTT.

This token set includes Animals (Wolves, Bears, Spiders), Bugbears, Green Dragons, Giants (Ettin, Hill, Rock), Goblins (archers, spearmen, clubbers, and shamans), Hobgoblins (archers, fighters, shaman), and Orcs (archers, fighters, shaman, thief). I've included some of the samples below to whet your appetite.





Aside from making great tokens, Devin gives back to the VTT community. He was a founding member of the now defunct Four Ugly Monsters. Once that site closed, he made all the FUM tokens available for free. If you'd like to see Devin's token work, visit his Immortal Nights site for over twenty free token packs.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Discounts @ DriveThruRPG

Thanks to everyone who visits our little corner of the time-crunched blogosphere. DriveThruRPG was kind enough to give its reviewers discounts to pass along (Thanks Sean). This month, they offer a 20% off on the following products. Simply use the following coupon code at checkout: FebChatterTwenty11

Monday, February 7, 2011

Interview: Artist Devin Night

Devin Night is a cartographer and artist providing great content for RPGs and Virtual Tabletops. Over the years I've commissioned multiple works and have always been very satisfied with the results. You can find his artwork on the Immortal Nights, his Token Blog, in Maptool as a loadable token set, and multiple DriveThruRPG products.

His tokens are overhead views of characters, monsters, and items. They are hand drawn and colored, with transparent backgrounds and soft shadows to help them stand out on maps. Each token comes in two scales: med-res and low-res. Tokens can be custom ordered
for a small fee.

Devin has a new token pack out titled Dark Forest Token Pack depicting Goblins, Hobgoblins, Orcs, Wolves, Bears, Ettins, Green Dragons, Earth Elementals, and Hill Giants available on DriveThruRPG.

Devin was kind enough to consent to an interview at the Tavern of The Savage Troll.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Review: Story Maps: Ruins of the First Age

From: Savage Mojo
Price: $6.95
Artist: Mike Burns

Ruins of the First Age includes two maps of 12 tiles each meant for printing and use in face-to-face games. The map depicts ruins and surrounding area with 8x8 inch tiles. If you plan to use it for a Virtual Table Top there's some work ahead of you. The maps are 8x8 inches bounded by white borders that overlap a bit. You'll need to crop the border before using.

If you plan to use this product in a VTT, you'll need to crop the border first with an image manipulation program. I use GIMP. While GIMP can have quite a learning curve, it is highly functional and quick if you know a few tricks. For more information check out Beginning GIMP by Akkana Peck.

You can crop the images quickly by importing all the pages at once into GIMP assuming all the images are identically layed out like Savage Mojo's. This creates one layer per page. Crop the image to the corners and it crops them all at once.