Browsing articles in "Labyrinth Lord"

Labyrinth Lord Treasure Book on Demand — Cover Art is In

Jul 7, 2011
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I updated the generation routine to insert the full page cover image from David. So half of the process is completed. I still need complete the layout for Gate of Smoke’s image, which is a bit trickier, since I have to add some of the cover elements in addition to his image. I should have Gate’s variant completed by the weekend if I don’t get visited by chaos monkeys. I have a much better understanding of how to approach fixed element layouts now. Obviously, when I have his variant encoded, the resulting cover will be randomly selected.

While adding the cover feature, I discovered the process chews up a significant amount of memory during the layout process. More memory than the hosting company allows. On demand books will now be generated on the venerable old pack mule, Users shouldn’t notice a difference other than an additional bit of latency while the data is transported over the crappy DSL connection. If you need it quick, grab one of the seven archived books, which are updated daily.

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LL TBoD: You May See Art

Jul 6, 2011
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Today is full of woops. I forgot my test and development platform is actually the generation site for the nightly Labyrinth Lord Treasure Books on Demand. I began folding in the new artwork before my memory kicked me in the head. So, there might be some cover art, or not. Depends entirely on how you get your TBoD.

I should be more consistent about checking code into source control. I wasn’t. If you want an evening of frustration, trying appending a cover to an on demand PDF creation system. I may have to layout the credits page manually and encode the positions later. At least the cover portion is working.

I suspect I should add the OGL as well. Layout is a pain without having to actually select fixed positions, fonts and such in code without WYSIWYG.

Time for a beer.

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Crafting NPC Parties

Jul 4, 2011

Spending ten hours in a plane allows for a lot of random brain activity. On the way home from my vacation, somewhere over Canada, I decided to enhance my Labyrinth Lord Monster Generator. I was actually considering how to expand it into something similar to the Treasure Book on Demand, which would be straight forward with the exception of the NPC groups. NPC’s appear on ten or more Wandering Monster / Wilderness encounter tables.

I have avoided anything related to randomly generated characters. Like many, I believe characters should be more than a random pile of results. While characters begin as a set of random statistics, interesting choices should be left to the player to forge the results into a unique individual. Non-player characters lie very close to my personal line in the sand. Having chosen to press forward, I have begun considering how to design the software and the information it should generate.


I’m no purist when it comes to balance in random encounters. I trend toward it most of the time but allow for outliers, which statistically might be less or more powerful than the player characters. NPC groups are listed by Labyrinth Level on the wandering monster tables. Still, balance goes further based on class (race) selection available within the group. Class defines the set of skills available to the group. Player groups tend to self balance when it comes to class selection.

Level balance is a reasonably easy problem to solve. The dreaded Gaussian bell curve can easily accommodate balancing the NPC levels around a target level while still allowing outliers. Picking the exact distribution and applying will take effort but having a 5th level show up in a party of 3rd level is achievable. Or even a first in a 7th level party even if the likelihood would be minute.

Class balance is trickier. Once again, I’m not a purist. I favor systems where race is not a class but rather an element of the character being generated. Still to be useful to many in the Labyrinth Lord audience, generating race as class needs to be an option. Allowing for race as a class goes against something I rarely see in D&D — single race groups. Treating race as a class gives you a narrow set of skills and abilities. I’ve never understood the logic behind it.

Looking at races as cultural entities, I would expect elves tending to adventure with other elves — not choosing to join up with a halfling, dwarf, gnome and the oddball human. Associating with other individuals who understand and agree with your culture is the norm, not the exception. Yet it is nearly forced upon you to achieve a wide mixture of talents useful for adventuring. Makes me wonder if the original writers were trying to achieve racial harmony except they noted tension between various racial groups.

I have no clear idea how I’m going to approach class/racial skill balance. For the initial attempt, I’m likely to avoid it entirely. Ignoring it may be fine but I still want to consider it.

Other Elements

Treasure and magic are difficult to define for NPC groups. Games range from low magic and low wealth to magic as common for adventurers and high wealth. Any random NPC party can be considered as non-lair and have a lower amount of total wealth with them. Tailoring magical items to the class and race need to be considered. I’ll likely have to invent a fair number of new treasure tables to match a portion of the items they utilize beyond the random loot they may be carrying home. I’m not going to spend a significant amount of time tailoring the tables to match. If it is critical for the campaign, a random group is not going to be encountered. Game masters can easily add or subtract from the results on the fly.

Names confound me. I’m certainly not alone in having difficulty choosing names for player characters let alone non-player characters. I’d like to include names since that is a detail that arises more often than not. Still, I do not have a good source of name data. Many sites have accumulated good databases of names. I am not one of them. First cut, I’m going to have to leave names out. Perhaps I can find another site willing to share name data down the road.

Spell books and available spells I can handle easily. I’ve already translated the known spells by class tables into a database table. Producing a list of spells ready to be cast vs. the overall known for magic users should be simple. It’s another detail generally ignored by most generators but one I believe important.


More decisions await me. I already have more questions to consider than answers. Perhaps I’m biting off more than I should. Still, I’m bull headed and going to push forward. I may succumb to failure. More than likely, I’ll constrain the options and leave many details up to the user.

Treasure Book on Demand – Art Contest Winners

Jul 3, 2011
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The art contest closed on June 30th. Two entries were posted. Both are well done and must have taken a substantial amount of effort. My skills as an art critic are non-existent and so I chose not to choose. Both entries will be awarded the top prize for the contest. Without further ado, here are the entries.

Gate of Smoke's Pile of Loot

Gate of Smoke didn’t comment when posting his entry. The details in the image suggest the spoils of adventure do not come easily.

Victor Von Dave's Full Cover

Victor commented on his full cover entry,

This was quite a challenge, but I had a blast putting it together. Next to monsters, D&D is all about treasure, so I wanted to pay proper tribute to the masters.

He paid a fine tribute from my perspective. For more from Dave, you can visit his blog, Ménage à Monster. I do not have a website address for Gate but will link it when I do. You can see more of Gate’s art on his Deviant Art page.

Thanks again to both of the entrants.

[poll id=”3″]

I’ll get the artwork inserted into the generation system after I recover from my red-eye flight home from Alaska. My body desires multiple naps.

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Treasure Book Art Contest Closed

Jun 30, 2011
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The contest for a cover / cover artwork for my Labyrinth Lord Treasure Book on Demand is now closed.

Head over to the Goblinoid Games forum topic to see the entries. Forum members can begin voting on the entries they like best. When I return from Alaska, I’ll collate the votes, down select, and announce the winners by July 5th.

Best of luck to all the entrants.


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Labyrinth Lord Cover Art Contest — Treasure Book of the Day

Jun 23, 2011
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The contest for a cover / cover artwork for my Labyrinth Lord Treasure Book on Demand ends June 30th at midnight MDT. $175.00 in prizes are up for grabs. Don’t miss out.

You can see the rules and latest updates on the Goblinoid Games forum topic. Entries should be posted on the forum thread by midnight Mountain Daylight Time on June 30th.

Due to poor planning on my part, I’ll be unavailable the last week of June. If you have questions, please post them by Thursday, June 23rd. I return from fishing in Alaska on July 2nd and will announce the winners by the 5th.

Best of luck to all the entrants.


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LL Monster Stat Blocks: Brevity Enhancements

Jun 21, 2011
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As I noted yesterday, I was unhappy with the design decision in my hoard generation system. The output of the gems and jewels routines can be excessive. Detailed output is useful for treasure only information. When used in tandem with a far more terse application, such as the Monster Stat block generator, the information is overwhelming.

To alleviate the problem, I re-factored the treasure generation system with a terse option. I initially removed only the detailed gem and jewelry types but individual values were still too long. I settled on a count for both categories and a total value listing.

Currently, only the monster generator uses the terse option but I plan to add terse as an option for both the hoard and treasure book generators. I occasionally like the added detail for inspiration. Usually, I skip past all the details between the count and total value.

The output is far more useful now. Clean. Simple.

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