Apr 30, 2022

Wizard Tower of Atok Henald

 Atok Henald seemed like a humble quiet scholar of the arcane arts. Little was it known just how powerful he truly was, and the mysteries he had unlocked in his Wizard's Tower.

Available in both parchment and printer friendly versions:

Mystery Map - Tomb of Solwey

 Solwey was a half-elf prince whose tomb was built long ago. He was a conqueror and a ruthless warlord who amassed great wealth in his life. He wanted to become a Lich to live forever, but the spells failed. The tomb is said to be enchanted with wards of protection to thwart any would be tomb robbers.

Blueline Version

Apr 22, 2022

Spelljammer 2022

 Spelljammer came out at a time I'd lost interest in D&D. It was early in the 2nd edition era. The idea did intrigue me and at some point I picked up the original boxed set. I will say this for 2e, while I didn't care much for the aesthetics of that edition it did have some fantastic Campaign Settings. This new edition looks to be very tempting. I'll add that I like the orientation of that DM's screen, I've always preferred the horizontally layout to the vertical ones. Much more useful at the table without blocking view of the play area.

It is a bit odd that the new Dragonlance and Spelljammer were announced so close together. You'd think they'd space these things out a little more. 

Dragonlance 2022

Even though to some Dragonlance was the end of a golden era for Dungeons & Dragons, it will always hold a special place for me as the first Dragonlance calendar with all that amazing fantasy art made me want to become an illustrator and set me on that path. I don't know how well the current regime at Wizards will handle this world, but I'm hoping for the best.

Apr 13, 2022

Wizard Tower of Gaindrac-Kefas

Gaindrac-Kefas was an apprentice of Dorac the Dreadful. He was a kinder soul, less given to the dark arts and once he achieved the rank of Master he hoped his tower of learning would be a beacon of light. Dorac did not take kindly to his former apprentice departing from the dark path, and so cursed him. Gaindrac-Kefas has not been seen since. 

A two-part tower, the upper section held aloft by strange arcana. A portal connects level 1 to level 4 (and back) if the correct incantation is known to activate it.

Apr 10, 2022

Wizard Tower of Kelon-Süm - Updated

A made a few adjustments to the previous Wizard Tower map to make it a little more legible.

I think I like the underground portions drawn this way, goes with the map better. Originally I was thinking of those great cutaways in the original D&D books with the solid black fill.


Apr 8, 2022

Wizard Tower of Kelon-Süm

 Kelon-Süm was an admirer of the legendary wizard Selta Kolnai. He longed to be as innovative and powerful as that might wizard of long ago. He emulated him and copied his spells to learn how to master the arcane arts. While he was never as creative, he was good at recombining the discoveries of other wizards in powerful new ways.

He built a tower, not far from the draken haunted Shadowhaven mountains, in this tower he gathered some of the greatest works of arcane lore. Deep under the tower he made a shrine to Nakari the goddess of darkness and magic. This endows the tower with the powerful essence of magic energy.

Discussion thread and making of video:

Apr 6, 2022

Gunslinger Update - Strange Science

 Recently wrapped up writing the descriptions for the 200+ Strange Science items in Gunslinger. This was the last remaining major section left to complete, and now that it is done all that remains are the details. As with most projects that last 10% is where the elbow grease really comes in tightening everything up.

Cord of Entanglement: This wand-like device shoots a cord of energy to a distance up to 60’, this uses 1 charge. The wand can entangle opponents. The victim must make a general saving throw or the cord wraps around the victim’s body immobilizing them. The wielder of the wand can pull the victim by 10’ per round towards them. Deactivation of the cord releases a victim held entangled.

Coming up next I am taking a break from writing & designing to spend some time purely on art. I just rewatched a Clint Eastwood classic: Hang 'em High and getting some inspiration for compositions. 

Gunslinger discussion here: https://nightowlworkshop.freeforums.net/board/10/gunslinger

Apr 5, 2022

The Wiz-War that Wazn't

I was once commissioned to redo the art in Wiz-War. So what happened to that edition?

Wiz-War is a classic "Ameri-trash" game designed by Tom Jolly. If you are familiar with it you know Magic the Gathering took many ideas from it. The core concept is great; you are a wizard trying to compete with other wizards to steal 2 treasures in a dungeon and get them back to your home base. You have spells that alter the dungeon, affect opponents, and do all kinds of other mayhem. Each spell is on a card (yeah Magic the Gathering, we know). 

The game passed from publisher to publisher and no real mass market version with high production values really hit retail until FFG (Fantasy Flight Games) got a hold of it and did their thing to it, which was basically to overcomplicate it and change everything good about the game. I like the components but I didn't love what they did to the design.

For a time before FFG the rights belonged to Chessex (yeah, the dice company). After I had successfully launched Dungeoneer in 2002, Donald Reents the owner of Chessex contacted me if I would do a similar treatment to Wiz-War. I was quite excited about the opportunity because Dungeoneer had much in common with Wiz-War. This is a true story: when I made Dungeoneer I didn't even know about Wiz-War, but everyone who played Dungeoneer told me it was a great homage to it. So I tracked down a copy, played it with my friends and fell in love with the game. That aside, what happened to this redux?

I worked hard on Wiz-War for at least a year, pouring over the game, making art, working on the layout. I got pretty deep into it. Then I started getting notes from Tom Jolly and the job transitioned from just making art into a revision including design changes. I didn't understand at the time about "scope" but I was in way over my head. It was too much for one person.

I went back to Donald and expressed the challenges I was facing, his solution was to offer me even more compensation to finish the job. Being a starving artist at the time I didn't turn it down, though I should have!

There was a deadline that could not be moved that was ticking away. Chessex only had the rights for a while and they were about to expire. So they HAD to get a version out before then. I doubled down on my efforts. Organized all the components, was cranking away on art, but to no avail. The deadline was too short and the date slipped by. FFG had zero interest in the work I'd done as they had "a different vision" for the game. I was trying to do Saturday Morning Cartoon, they wanted Magic the Gathering Lite.

The cartoonish art might seem out of place compared to my usual work, but it is a reflection of my fun side. There was a brief time I considered trying to work at an animation studio like Disney, but then I got sucked into games.

Donald apologized to me for the fiasco, and even lent me his apartment in Paris for a week when my wife and I visited there. That was very kind of him, I felt I owed him the apology! 

I still have most of the assets. Some have been lost to hard drive crashes over the years. Occasionally I'll use them as placeholder art when I'm brainstorming a game design. Currently I'm using them as avatars on the new Night Owl Workshop forum, which is what prompted me to tell this story.

I still think my version looks way more fun and reflects the spirit of the game better.

Apr 4, 2022

David C. Sutherland III

April 4, 1949, is David C. Sutherland III's birthday. Dave was the first professional artist to work for TSR in 1975 on Blackmoor. His work was approachable and captured the essence of the game. He continued to work for TSR until 1997 when it was purchased by Wizards of the Coast. In that time he drew many of the most iconic and memorably scenes, and maps for Dungeons and Dragons. Including the covers of the Holmes' Basic, the original AD&D hardcovers, and the Ravenloft maps. He quietly passed away in 2005.

Instead of posting his most well known works, here are some very good ones not as widely recognized.

Apr 3, 2022

Top Secret Warriors of the Red Planet Project

Back in July last year Al Krombach, author of Warriors of the Red Planet leaked this little tidbit on the WotRP blog:

"It seems the Mad Scientist is working on something secret in his laboratory of horrors... I wonder what it will be? Is it anything to do with Warriors of the Red Planet? Something even more nefarious? Stay posted..."

Today I received the Table of Contents.

Wow. Just wow. I can't wait to get this into layout and art. It's going to be a doozy. 

Discussion thread:


Apr 1, 2022

Free Map Friday - Tower of the Amaranthine Wizard

Tobias Ealdwil, known as the Amaranthine Wizard delved too deeply into eldritch lore, his mind became consumed with psychotic thought and he fell into a bizarre nightmare. His apprentice was eaten alive by an alien monstrosity summoned from the unknown depths of the abyss. His tower, once a beacon of learning and progress became infested with unspeakable abominations. Now it sits abandoned and forlorn at the northern edge of the region. An eerie magenta glow forever radiates inside.