Thursday, December 9, 2010

More on using geomorphs

Dungeon geomorphs are a handy tool for whipping up dungeons for dungeon delving RPGs yet a lot of folks don't use them much.

I really enjoy drawing dungeon maps from scratch myself but I do find myself pressed for time and do enjoy being able to copy sections from geomorphs to make the map drawing go quicker.

Dungeon geomorphs allow the dungeon builder to establish a set of common features that look similar from time to time. There are a number of advantages in this. A DM may establish what things look like in a dungeon/campaign allowing brief descriptions once players become familiar with reoccurring features. Players that pay attention to the dungeon will be able to learn what features may be present by becoming familiar with repeating features and can make decisions based on experience not simply wandering about. The unique can be added to familiar locales making those unique features stand out even more and lastly players can become complacent and thus more likely to be tricked and trapped or even led astray by minor differences.

Dungeon geomorphs aren't very limiting they actually offer an immense variety in options. Just 2 geomoprhs square geomorphs that can connect in but the 4 main cardinal directions allow for dozens configurations with rotation of geomorphs (more if you can create reflected geomorphs with a computer art program). If you have a set of 100 or so geomorphs that can go together you have many billions of possible combinations. Introducing geomoprhs with greater variations in size and connections (like the ones I've been posting lately) and the ability to increase unique configurations in your maps increases.

Don't be limited by using the geomorphs alone. If you have access to an okay image editor yuo have the ability to create diverse and complex maps with plenty of unique features while takign advantage of geomorphs as I showed in my earlier example and here:

(click for larger image)

This map was created using my geomorphs and some digital tweaking. It took less then half an hour to whip up. It only uses a handful of geomorphs from this blog.

A feature of geomorphs and the computer age is if you enjoy miniatures play along with your dungeon delving geomorphs printed out to scale provide the DM with a set of dungeon terrain tiles that exactly match the map they are using.

dungoen gemorphs speed random dungeon generation immensely. Combines with a handy set of tables whipping up a dungeon (or a section of one) is speeded up immensely. There are a number of applications out there on the web that take advantage of dungeon geomorphs currently and one could craft one of their own with a little bit of programing know how.

Dungeon geomorphs can be built into decks (easier when they are the same size) that can have some duplicated more often then others to create a semi random placement where some features may occur on a more frequent basis.

Dungeon geomorphs are a handy and versatile tool in a DMs dungeon building toolset. The more the merrier.


  1. The plethora of geomorphs you have created for us is wonderful, and much appreciated, JD.

    I love the idea of a deck of cards with the 'morphs on them. Perhaps double-sided would be even more useful?

    I would gladly pay print copies in that sort of format. You really ought to think of the possibilities of such a commercial course (IMO). :D

  2. Very nice overview of how to use the things. Geomorphs are the mapping equivalent to random encounter tables, in some respects, and they can really work well to help flesh-out dungeons, lairs and previously unplanned-out spaces for when a group of adventurers go 'off the map,' which tend sto happen in sandbox-style gaming.

    While I like the idea of a commercial pack of Geomorph Cards, I'm not sure how the numbers come-out in terms of production-costs versus what the real sell-through might be...but it could work. But then, there are an awful lot of us building our own sets...

  3. I think the key is to be the first to do something new and well enough that making one's own is more of a chore than simply purchasing the utility item. If well-enough made, they would be on-par with the lifetime of minis, and would be as 'useful' and 'handy', especially as cards that could be set up in a snap.

    But, I could be wrong. :D

  4. Geomorphs cards as commercial product or self made are a pretty cool idea.

  5. @Timeshadows makes a good point. It's just that taking things past the point of easy piracy can get difficult. It's real work. I'd love to see something come of all the interest in geomorphs and the overall quality is improving all the time, so it's probably inevitable that a commercial product hits the shelves pretty soon...why not yours?

  6. I print out my geomorphs on light card stock and keep them in a deck box.

    We need PDFs of the new ones you've made so I'm not sitting there printing and reprinting them until I get the scale just right.

    (And again, I encourage you to include the crosshatching in the PDF edition)

  7. I am curious about your crosshatching, how do you do yours. It almost looks as though you may have a large section of crosshatching that is layered beneath the graphics in your graphics program. I like the way it looks.