11 January 2014

Pen and paper progress

This might sound a bit odd but I love stationery, particularly notebooks. There's something enticing about them, physical objects in an increasingly digital age. No cloud storage, no backup - if they get lost, stolen, or soaked by a spilled drink, they're gone. Full of their owner's handwriting and little sketches or tickets or photos that have been stuck in. Think of the Grail notebook in the Indiana Jones film. Marvellous, eh? all those decisions to make before deflowering that pristine first page: what content, what pen to use, what audience is it ultimately for? Sadly, for me, I think a part of the appeal is the willful self-delusion that I might have anything worth writing down and keeping!

So, with delusion intact, I bought myself a little gift back in December while Christmas shopping.

I'd never come across this manufacturer but the quality is lovely. Even better for my purpose, it has a dotted grid marked page. So, with pen and content chosen, I sketched in the first of the maps from my Goblinquest (still not quite happy with that name) adventure that I gave an AAR for a while back, "The Quest for Branwen the Fair". Scanned in, with shading technique learned from +Michael Wenman's fabulous series of sketching tutorials on his blog Observations of the Fox, here you go. I even managed to do this with the boys while they were busy with their colouring books.

I need to read over some advice on the best way of scanning in maps to get the brightness/contrast levels correct, and I'm considering how to show scale - perhaps I leave the levels such that you can see the dots at the edge of each square? Although I do like how clean it looks without them.

When complete, I'll be posting/publishing the whole adventure as a sample to go with the polished up rules themselves.

What notebooks/pens etc. do you chaps and chapesses use?


  1. I literally use scraps of paper (the back of used A4 printer paper usually). I have recently been getting to grips with Photoshop to knock-up dungeon crawl maps (an example may be seen somewhere on my blog), but they don't look nearly as nice as yours does here.

  2. Yeah, I have one with me most of the time, so that I can jot down any fantasy related ideas that might pop into my head throughout the day.

  3. Seems I'm not alone in feeling the need to scribble idea down. I wonder if that's more prevalent among adult gamers (that grew up without laptops, tablets etc.) than kids?

  4. I just find it easier to scribble a few paragraphs down on paper as-and-when an idea pops into my head than messing around with turning the PC on. The computer is where I knock these ill-formed scribblings into something vaguely coherent.

  5. I find that I want to work and read on the digital devices, but I end up back on paper most times. I guess it's my age that makes me more comfortable with paper. The exception is game books, they are just so much cheaper as a pdf that my greedy side overrules my curmudgeon side.

    I'm glad I found your 'Goblin Quest' game. I'd be working on a game to play with my little ones as they get older. Mine involved adding dice as you leveled up and a more traditional hit points system. I think yours probably flows better, so great work! I look forward to seeing your upcoming polished rules as well.

  6. I knew it! Paper for thought processing, computers for finished documents!

    @ TIG - thanks for the compliments on Goblin Quest, I hope to see a report on a game you play with your kids at some point :)

  7. I'm a big fan of the paperbacked moleskine range. If I actually need to do a proper bit of writing I do it in one of those. Once they're finished they get tied up with string and put at the bottom of the desk.

    I had to stop using the small ones as they kept getting mixed up with my notebooks for work, so I generally keep a sheet of A4 folded in my wallet and I write on that if I have the leisure.

    Nice work on the beastmen by the way.

    1. Thanks, Conrad, I'm rather pleased with them myself :)

      The paperback moleskines, eh? I've always ignored them completely as being inferior but shall reconsider...