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Sylrae
Learned Scribe

Canada
214 Posts

Posted - 15 Dec 2010 :  13:24:06  Show Profile  Click to see Sylrae's MSN Messenger address Send Sylrae a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
I'm starting up an FR game in January using pathfinder.

I want to run it as a sandbox game. No overarching pre-planned plot, and do everything based on the decisions of the players.

The players will start in waterdeep and the main plan is for it to largely be a seafaring game of pirating.

Things I'm looking for, if you guys have any suggestions on where to find them and if they're around:

Random Encounter tables (swordcoast? trackless sea? waterdeep? (that general area, or things similar)).
A calendar of harptos I can use for 1384DR.
Random encounter tables for FR factions with what they are doing and their motives?
random treasure?(pfrpg or 3e/3.5 preferred, but 2e might help too).

Any other useful tips for running a sandbox game?


Zireael
Master of Realmslore

Poland
1130 Posts

Posted - 15 Dec 2010 :  13:51:41  Show Profile  Visit Zireael's Homepage Send Zireael a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Random treasure? 3.5 DMG or Magic of Faerun.
Organizations encounters? Lords of Madness/Power of Faerun
Calendar of Harptos is on FR Wikia.

SiNafay Vrinn, the daughter of Lloth, from Ched Nasad!

http://zireael07.wordpress.com/
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Sylrae
Learned Scribe

Canada
214 Posts

Posted - 15 Dec 2010 :  13:54:12  Show Profile  Click to see Sylrae's MSN Messenger address Send Sylrae a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Much obliged.

Advice on the marine encounters/city encounters?
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
26669 Posts

Posted - 15 Dec 2010 :  16:48:55  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There are a couple third party tomes out there that are great for random stuff: Toolbox and its successor, Ultimate Toolbox. They're by Alderac Entertainment, and both books are nothing but page after page of tables for anything you can think of, and likely more than a few things you've not thought of.

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Christopher_Rowe
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
879 Posts

Posted - 15 Dec 2010 :  16:52:38  Show Profile  Visit Christopher_Rowe's Homepage Send Christopher_Rowe a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's the wrong ocean, and I don't believe there are any encounter tables, but I still think you'd be glad if you looked into Steven Schend's Sea of Fallen Stars book. Lots of great stuff about maritime creatures, spells, weapons, societies...
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Alystra Illianniis
Great Reader

USA
3729 Posts

Posted - 15 Dec 2010 :  16:57:23  Show Profile  Click to see Alystra Illianniis's MSN Messenger address Send Alystra Illianniis a Private Message  Reply with Quote
MUST. HAVE. THAT. BOOK!!!

The Goddess is alive, and magic is afoot.

"Where Science ends, Magic begins" -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491

"You idiots! You've captured their STUNT doubles!" -Spaceballs

Lothir's character background/stats: http://forum.candlekeep.com/pop_profile.asp?mode=display&id=5469

My stories:
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Lothir, courtesy of Sylinde (Deviant Art)/Luaxena (Chosen of Eilistraee)
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Diffan
Great Reader

USA
2803 Posts

Posted - 15 Dec 2010 :  17:08:47  Show Profile Send Diffan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There's also the Exemplars of Evil source book with ready to play villains. Even a sea-faring adventure with a crazy Hob-goblin captain of a ship called the "Much Kill". I liked it a lot and there was even a small part in the adventure for using it in the Realms. I can't remember if it used the Sword Coast or Sea of Fallen Stars though.

Also, I also suggest you get ahold of the supplement Stormwrack. It has all sorts of ideas, rules, and even PC info like equipment, prestige classes and so forth.

4E Realms = Great Taste, Less Filling.

"If WotC were to put out a box of free money, people would still complain how it was folded."
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Erik Scott de Bie
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
4537 Posts

Posted - 15 Dec 2010 :  17:41:00  Show Profile  Visit Erik Scott de Bie's Homepage  Send Erik Scott de Bie an AOL message Send Erik Scott de Bie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In terms of running a sandbox game, from long experience I can offer a couple suggestions:

1) Keep open a clear line of communication with your players. If they're going to direct the course of the campaign, you need to know where they're interested in going so you can react and build things ahead of time. Maybe you're really good at improvisational DMing (some of us are), but it never hurts to be able to know about character decisions ahead of time and make plans.

2) Though the PCs are going to guide the game, you need to have a list of plot elements to throw in if your characters don't offer clear guidance. The last thing you want is the heroes wandering aimlessly and thinking "man, this is boring!" You want an exciting story that they mainly direct, but that you step in sometimes to keep things on track.

Keep this list adaptable. Write down connections that MIGHT be between enemies, but might not, depending on the needs of the story at the time. Improvise as you go along, because the flexible nature of this campaign only allows so much before planning.

You should plan a series of major plot events that will take place "in some form" as you go. For instance, there is a conspiracy of people who are after one or more PCs for some reason as yet unidentified--they launch a major attack on the PCs every five levels or so, and each foiled attack gets the PCs closer to puzzling out who's after them. At the same time, a particular priesthood is going through a major schism that could be fixed or worsened by the PCs, and several things happen at set points in the game. Etc.

Plan on a major plot point every 2-3 levels, is what I would suggest.

3) NPCs have their own lives and pursuits. If the PCs are going to be going about their business, you have to have NPCs who are doing the same thing. This is really the only way to give the PCs the choice of whether to support a given NPC or work against him--this is what's happening, take it or leave it, do what you want with it.

Some of the NPC action takes place off-stage, and the PCs can get involved if they want. For instance, to expand on the example in #2, a priestess might be speaking out against the patriarchical establishment in the church of Lathander; left unchecked, she might incite a movement in the church, or she might be captured/imprisoned/executed as a heretic. The PCs can support her or move against her--they shouldn't feel obligated to follow either course.

4) This sort of game lends itself very well to tying plot elements, villains, treasures, and destinations into the character's backgrounds, motivations, and goals. Your players need to do more work than usual to pull off a game like this: have them craft detailed backstories along with friends, family, enemies, and nemeses for their characters, then use these with abandon in the game. Make some of them what the players might expect, and invert their expectations sometimes. Also, tie some of the characters together in ways they didn't necessarily see coming.

5) D&D is a very swingy game, level-wise, and different places in the campaign are bound to have enemies of different levels. In a normal campaign, you feel justified in railroading the 1st level PCs toward the dungeon with the kobolds, rather than the haunted castle with the epic level lich. But in a sandbox, your tendency is going to be to let the heroes go where they want, and let them suffer the consequences. You need to avoid this, lest you freak your players out and make them too hesitant/timid to do anything, for fear of getting ruthlessly annihilated. You want your PCs to be brave and bold and take chances.

Have a definite "upper-limit" to where your game is going to go. Make a commitment to yourself and your players that you're going to guide the PCs on an adventure, not send them into the jaws of death. Do not send low-level PCs against epic level threats--don't involve those threats at all in the PCs' direct business.

6) Have an endgame--or rather, several endgames. You don't necessarily need to know how the campaign's going to end, but you should know roughly where it's going before you even start it. Knowing who the ultimate villains are will help you make the story coherent and keep the characters engaged in unraveling the mystery.

Those are just some of my ideas, which come from having run two long-running FR sandbox campaigns, and played in another one (which tragically fizzled from too much story damage thanks to a violation of #5).

Cheers

Erik Scott de Bie

'Tis easier to destroy than to create.

Signature of Shameless Self-Promotion +6: Order my sixth novel, Shadow of the Winter King (Amazon, e-signing, Dragonmoon Press)

Also check out my Realms work, most recently Shadowbane: Eye of Justice, out now on e-readers everywhere! (Kindle, Nook)
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Hoondatha
Great Reader

USA
2207 Posts

Posted - 15 Dec 2010 :  19:22:45  Show Profile  Visit Hoondatha's Homepage Send Hoondatha a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I agree. In the games I run, players are guaranteed to sooner or later run into a threat they literally can't defeat head-on. This could be extraplanar monsters when they don't have sufficiently powerful magical weapons, or a dragon of significant age, or just huge numbers of orcs. They're never set up specifically to be TPK's, but there is definitely the danger of that happening. And my players like that, it keeps them on their toes.

Heroes shouldn't be afraid to run; they're not going to win every fight. There are also all kinds of scenarios where being drastically out-gunned is the entire point (congratulations, you've found an orc horde. Can you get to Felbarr with the warning before their warg riders hunt you down?)

Heroes should also, however, be able to turn situations to their advantage. I once had a low-level group turn an old, tired, and cranky blue dragon into an ally through a phenominal negotiation/running bluff. I had just expected them to run away.

In short, don't be afraid to occasionally throw overwhelming force at your players. Just give them ways of getting out of it, even if they aren't necessarily immediately obvious.

Doggedly converting 3e back to what D&D should be...
Sigh... And now 4e as well.
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Erik Scott de Bie
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
4537 Posts

Posted - 15 Dec 2010 :  23:38:21  Show Profile  Visit Erik Scott de Bie's Homepage  Send Erik Scott de Bie an AOL message Send Erik Scott de Bie a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think maybe I was overstating things--I think the concept I was going for was, "be careful about putting the PCs consistently up against overwhelming threats/odds." Throwing the occasional wrath of god at the PCs is a staple of good DMing--that goes without saying.

What I meant to caution about was putting the PCs on an epic-level path when they're not epic level.

Here's an example from my (fizzled) game. The party found this wizard's lair guarded by a threat that was appropriate for their level. There was a high level demon trapped in a summoning circle, but it was trapped, so no worries. When we found the wizard's sanctum--complete with his dead body--fine. We did the logical thing that PCs do: we stole his stuff and ran.

In this situation, taking away his high level items made sense--it really just would have taken one encounter. The problem is that the hits just kept coming: suddenly, our mid-level characters were running from great wyrm dracoliches, world-spanning conspiracies composed of 20th level NPCs, and basically unable to trust anyone ever or do anything. It got to a point where we were just afraid to do anything unless we over-analyzed and over-planned our every move. And we could never escape that path that we were on.

What I'm suggesting is that one should be VERY CAREFUL about throwing epic level things at the party. It won't always go like you expect, and it can lock the PCs onto a path that will KILL YOUR GAME.

It's good to give the PCs warnings if they're heading into danger. If they choose to ignore those warnings and press on anyway, hey, at least you tried.

Cheers

Erik Scott de Bie

'Tis easier to destroy than to create.

Signature of Shameless Self-Promotion +6: Order my sixth novel, Shadow of the Winter King (Amazon, e-signing, Dragonmoon Press)

Also check out my Realms work, most recently Shadowbane: Eye of Justice, out now on e-readers everywhere! (Kindle, Nook)
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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
5686 Posts

Posted - 15 Dec 2010 :  23:55:23  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
A seafaring game of pirating!

1) Make sure the PCs can all swim.
Otherwise your sandbox will get pretty muddy.

2) Loot and magic tend to sink.
No stuff means no swag, and no swag means no grog. And we're getting dangerously low on grog. Yarrrr...

3) Low-level PCs cannot control the wind and waves.
Invisible railroads are plenty possible. "Undiscovered" islands packed full of problems are an ancient plot device.

Eat lots of garlic - it keeps the elves and vampires away.
Don't stick your sword into dragons, you just don't know where they've been.
Avoid stepping on halflings. They stick to your boots, will smell awful, and are impossible to scrape off.
Ah, of course. Never play leapfrog with a unicorn.
[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 16 Dec 2010 00:00:32
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
26669 Posts

Posted - 16 Dec 2010 :  01:03:21  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Christopher_Rowe

It's the wrong ocean, and I don't believe there are any encounter tables, but I still think you'd be glad if you looked into Steven Schend's Sea of Fallen Stars book. Lots of great stuff about maritime creatures, spells, weapons, societies...



An excellent resource, indeed! It's one of my fave Realms sourcebooks.

Candlekeep Forums Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
26669 Posts

Posted - 16 Dec 2010 :  01:04:29  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mr_Miscellany

Forgot to mention that Volo's Guide to Waterdeep is a super-useful resource for sandbox style play. I used it in my 3E Realms game to good effect.



This is prolly one of the best FR resources out there -- it's the book that made me fall in love with the Realms. I can't echo Mr. Misc's recommendation enough!

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Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
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The Sage
Procrastinator Most High
Moderator

Australia
31314 Posts

Posted - 16 Dec 2010 :  01:41:24  Show Profile  Send The Sage an AOL message  Click to see The Sage's MSN Messenger address  Send The Sage a Yahoo! Message Send The Sage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by Christopher_Rowe

It's the wrong ocean, and I don't believe there are any encounter tables, but I still think you'd be glad if you looked into Steven Schend's Sea of Fallen Stars book. Lots of great stuff about maritime creatures, spells, weapons, societies...



An excellent resource, indeed! It's one of my fave Realms sourcebooks.

Seconded. Some of the Sage Schend's finest RPG work.

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Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
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Scribe for the Candlekeep Compendium -- Volume IX now available (Oct 2007)

"So Saith Ed" -- the collected Candlekeep replies of Ed Greenwood

Zhoth'ilam Folio -- The Electronic Misadventures of a Rambling Sage
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The Sage
Procrastinator Most High
Moderator

Australia
31314 Posts

Posted - 16 Dec 2010 :  01:43:46  Show Profile  Send The Sage an AOL message  Click to see The Sage's MSN Messenger address  Send The Sage a Yahoo! Message Send The Sage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by Mr_Miscellany

Forgot to mention that Volo's Guide to Waterdeep is a super-useful resource for sandbox style play. I used it in my 3E Realms game to good effect.



This is prolly one of the best FR resources out there -- it's the book that made me fall in love with the Realms. I can't echo Mr. Misc's recommendation enough!

I'd extend Mr. Miscellany's declaration, actually, and say that the majority of Volo's Guides offer something for a sandbox Realms campaign -- regardless of where you're setting up your party. The Ed-lore weaved through each of these individuals tomes often touches upon the deep and core dynamics of Ed's Realms. Which makes it easier to apply them across the wide-range of the campaign setting itself.

Candlekeep Forums Moderator

Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
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-- Candlekeep Forum Code of Conduct

Scribe for the Candlekeep Compendium -- Volume IX now available (Oct 2007)

"So Saith Ed" -- the collected Candlekeep replies of Ed Greenwood

Zhoth'ilam Folio -- The Electronic Misadventures of a Rambling Sage
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
11344 Posts

Posted - 16 Dec 2010 :  02:03:44  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I haven't read past Mr.Misc's post, but I would have to agree with him. I understand the gist of what Erik was saying, but there are ways to avoid TPK's other then heavy-handed railroading (I always railroad, but in such a way no-one is ever aware of it - IMHO that's the way a game should be run).

A high-level 'Baddie' isn't going to waste his time with a bunch of lowbies; why bother killing what you can use?

The party could wind-up with a 'sponsor' they are unaware of, or at-least unaware of it's true intentions. The last game I ran, the party was hired as guards for a caravan - they had no idea the 'men in hooded cloaks' were really Red Wizards out to throw Harpers off their trail.


The World of Ark - Roleplay in the Age of Legends!
Red Aegis - One of the most innovative RPG concept in years!

"Maps I'll find for you both old and rare. Maps will I seek for you of lands both dark and fair."



Edited by - Markustay on 25 Dec 2010 18:23:21
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Sylrae
Learned Scribe

Canada
214 Posts

Posted - 16 Dec 2010 :  02:54:08  Show Profile  Click to see Sylrae's MSN Messenger address Send Sylrae a Private Message  Reply with Quote
A nifty suggestion Markustay.

Any chance I could a section of map from your giant map of faerun? (pre 4e, from icewind dale to the jungles of chult, basically everything west of the wealdath)
http://warp.portent.ca/area.png is the basic area I'm looking for.
Bare is good.

I want to print it out at 3ft by 4ft, get it laminated, and have the players use it to track their position on the sea. Laminated means they can write on it in dry-erase or washable markers (I'll have to look into which works on laminate). So high resolution would be amazing. If you could crop that area it would be amazing.
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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
5686 Posts

Posted - 16 Dec 2010 :  03:07:10  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Glass table top (with flame-rounded "safety" edges) is ideal for that sort of application. Scribble on it all ye like and whatsoever is placed beneath remains immovably preserved.

Eat lots of garlic - it keeps the elves and vampires away.
Don't stick your sword into dragons, you just don't know where they've been.
Avoid stepping on halflings. They stick to your boots, will smell awful, and are impossible to scrape off.
Ah, of course. Never play leapfrog with a unicorn.
[/Ayrik]
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Sylrae
Learned Scribe

Canada
214 Posts

Posted - 16 Dec 2010 :  05:13:49  Show Profile  Click to see Sylrae's MSN Messenger address Send Sylrae a Private Message  Reply with Quote
True. that's not an option in my case though. We game in a university classroom on campus, and whatever we use needs to be easily portable. That's why I'm thinking the map should be laminated.

Though once I am more settled and have a decent place of my own, I'll definitely be keeping that in mind. it's a good idea.

I read yesterday, that the average D&D player is 30, and has enough gaming books that they could last the rest of their lives, and that the biggest competitor to D&D, is another edition of D&D. Well, I have the library, but I'm considerably younger (23).

But I like trying out new games enough that my small library doesn't stop me from getting new books. I just have to like the game.

Edited by - Sylrae on 16 Dec 2010 11:11:45
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Diffan
Great Reader

USA
2803 Posts

Posted - 19 Dec 2010 :  14:25:11  Show Profile Send Diffan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I ran a "Sandbox" style game, which I guess is the same as an Episodic-style campaign. There was no overreaching plot. No main bad guy. No evil deity that attempted to take over the world for the PCs to fight. Just their normal day lives with some adventuring in-between. Since the PCs settled in Waterdeep, they all went for run of the mill jobs. Our Sun elf/eladrin wizard taught at Blackstaff tower. Our cleric of Lathander (now Amaunator) did clerical duities at the Temple of Lathander. My own DMPC worked as the captain of the guard at the Halls of Justice.

This led us to actually put those Profession skills to use, craft magical items, make some money that wasn't gained through slaying some monster and filled in the blank spaces between adventures. When we would have a session, it would be a re-cap of what we did in our "off time" and this would lead to a lot of role-playing. Then I'd have certain elements that might affect one of the PCs. For example, our rogue/Assassin PC made an enemy in one adventure. This enemy became a re-occuring threat and in one "episode", took hostage our Assassis PC's friend (a girl he was slowly teaching the Art to) in order to have them square off in another duel. In a different session, our cleric PC had to recover a magical item (Chalice of Lathander) from the hands of an evil Durthan witch and her Banite bodyguard from making it a corrupted magic item.

I'd suggest making each session a stand alone or maybe a 1-3 session mini adventure that focuses on one PC as the "main character". Each of the other PCs support that character in achieving some goal. Then, rotate the "main character" so each PC gets it's own spot-light.

It was highly successful when I ran it and the group liked it a lot. Also, this style of game play requires little in the way of master-minding the adventure. And it really helps the Plug-in-Play style adventures. I'd endorse the Original Adventures site for some great ideas that can be quickly placed into the campaign.

4E Realms = Great Taste, Less Filling.

"If WotC were to put out a box of free money, people would still complain how it was folded."
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Xevo
Seeker

USA
35 Posts

Posted - 23 Dec 2010 :  15:30:03  Show Profile  Send Xevo a Yahoo! Message Send Xevo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I tend to run a lot of sandbox/on the fly games with my group (it helps that we are small). One of the things I've learned is to never underestimate your players' ingenuity. When you have some big baddies in mind, do not be afraid or upset if the PCs happen to waste him w/o a problem (so long as the idea is sound). All my players know that anytime they meet some major antagonist, they have a chance of killing it. Of course they can be killed too. Since it is sandbox, I can always say that the baddie was just another pawn in the game and go back to the drawing board.

The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.
-Terry Pratchett
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Markustay
Realms Explorer extraordinaire

USA
11344 Posts

Posted - 25 Dec 2010 :  18:36:16  Show Profile Send Markustay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
@Sylrae - your link isn't working.

I just got back to the mapping after another brief hiatus, so let me see what I can do. I already have most of that region complete on my 'naked realms' map (the geographically 'corrected' one with all the labels stripped-out). I'll probably have to bump-up the resolution though, which is going to make it a hefty file for you.

I think the only part of that that wasn't completed was in the region of Silverymoon, which is funny because I am now re-doing that particular area in a completely different style (so in other words, what I am doing now is visually incompatible with my older, 3e-style maps).

I call the style of that naked map 'enhanced 3e', which was to be my next-gen variant, but I took a year off and have now gone in a completely new direction artistically. Considering it was 90% complete, I should finish the damn thing for posterity (like the Kara-Tur map that is 98% complete).

Anyhow, I once accidentally printed one of my Silver Marches Maps onto photo paper (didn't realize a piece of that was in the printer), and I was like, "wow!" - they look pretty nifty all shiny and professional-like. It looked just like something you might have gotten in one of the old boxed sets.

I guess my point was that I sort-of did something along the same lines as your lamination, and it turned out pretty cool for an accident.


The World of Ark - Roleplay in the Age of Legends!
Red Aegis - One of the most innovative RPG concept in years!

"Maps I'll find for you both old and rare. Maps will I seek for you of lands both dark and fair."



Edited by - Markustay on 25 Dec 2010 18:37:20
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Sylrae
Learned Scribe

Canada
214 Posts

Posted - 26 Dec 2010 :  03:23:59  Show Profile  Click to see Sylrae's MSN Messenger address Send Sylrae a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Merry christmas everyone, markus!

Yeah, dunno what happened to the file, I only have access to dialup at the moment.
If you'd just be bumping the resolution in photoshop, a png in the highest resolution you have would work out great. (lossless image compression).
Basically looking for the entire trackless sea from a little ways in the coast of faerun to a bit in the coast of maztica, from icewind dale to chult.

A labelled one would be helpful, but for the players, an unlabelled one is what I'd need.


Hmm, if it was mostly finished, I wouldn't mind helping you finish it, just so we'd have it. I've always loved your revised 3.0 FR maps, and I would love to see your world map in completion.
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Sylrae
Learned Scribe

Canada
214 Posts

Posted - 03 Jan 2011 :  07:04:52  Show Profile  Click to see Sylrae's MSN Messenger address Send Sylrae a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hey Markus

If you cuold help me out that would be amazing.


Here's the section I need.
http://warp.portents.ca/WFRI Files/trackless sea.jpg


Any chance of a labelled and unlabelled copy? the unlabelled one would be the one the players will use.

Thanks alot. :)

Does anyone know of any better maps of skullport than the tiny black and white ones in the skullport book, or is that one I'll be redoing myself for certain. Are they in the atlas?

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