Microsoft Excel as a dungeon design tool

PC Magazine has an article about how to use Microsoft Excel as an architectural design tool. While not suitable for building a bridge, it’s more than good enough for laying out your deck, landscaping, or bookshelf locations. Essentially, the instructions are to resize all of the cells to form a graph-paper-like grid. Then you can use the built-in shapes and graphics or import your own.

Well, why not a dungeon? It must be better than drawing something up on graph paper and scanning it. If you’ve already got Excel available it would be worth it to try. I imagine Excel alternatives (Open Office Spreadsheet, for instance) would work just as well.

(via Lifehacker)


Dave Arneson passes away

We lost Gary Gygax in March of last year, and now that other pillar in the creation of Dungeons & Dragons has left us as well.

Wired News: R.I.P. Dungeons & Dragons Co-Creator Dave Arneson, 1947-2009

While not as famous as Gary Gygax, who passed away in March of last year, Arneson was a driving force behind D&D’s creation and his contribution to the world of adventure gaming should not be underestimated. It was Arneson’s spark that transformed Gygax’s game Chainmail into the first edition of D&D, and begat everything that followed.

Arneson had to fight to get credit for his contributions, filing multiple lawsuits (later resolved out-of-court) against Gygax over crediting and royalties. He nonetheless did return to TSR in the mid-’80s to work with Gygax again. Following that, he began a second career as an educator, working in several schools with a particular focus on how to use gaming as an instructional tool.

Arneson suffered a stroke in 2002 and was soon after diagnosed with cancer. He finally lost his battle with cancer last night, surrounded by his family, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Gamers everywhere owe him a certain debt of gratitude for his work. He will be sorely missed.

Been gone too long – getting back into roleplaying games (part 3)

So, finally, no further complications cropped up and we were able to meet Wednesday last at a café in town.

I had three main objectives for the meeting: Make sure no one was too weird, to set up our schedule for play sessions, and discuss the kind of game we were looking for.

The first was easy. There was only one guy who I hadn’t already met, and it was quickly obvious that he fit in to the acceptable weirdness scale.

The third wasn’t too bad either. I suggested a semi-monthly schedule that everyone agreed with, although, predictably, we’ve already had to make adjustments.

The second actually took up the majority of our time but, in the end, was a bit anti-climactic. We’ve all been out of it so long (except for one of us, who has never been in it) that we didn’t have strong opinions about much of anything. I’ve been doing a lot of reading of RPG theory lately, and specifically social contracts, but I didn’t want to scare anybody away by going too crazy. We did agree on a few things (no player killing or thievery, no evil characters, limited meta-gaming at the table, lengthy rule discussions away from the table, and so on) but for the most part no one objected to anything I presented.

I did step up and offer to be the DM, even though I’m still learning the rules. Since we’re all learning the rules, it seems to fit, and I did a good bit of gamemastering when I was younger. (I’ll get my chance to play someday.) As such, I talked a bit about my DMing style and some of the things that I like to do. Not knowing this crowd, though, and not having done it in such a long time, I stuck to generalities.

So, when I left, everyone seemed enthusiastic if not exactly “gung-ho” and we had the date for our first session, where we would do our character creation.

Any doubts I may have had about anyone enthusiasm were pretty much erased the next day, when the guy who had the least experience among us offered up his choice of race and class and a backstory to go with it. Shortly thereafter came another character concept with backstory. I’ve got a good hook for the first; I’m still working on the second.

So I think we’re off to a pretty good start. Now, if we could just find a couple more players…