It's high time for another browser dump! Enjoy!
RPG Business Topics
+Tim Shorts writes about his recent experiences with an RPGNow promo in Deal of the Day Results. If you're interested in exploring marketing campaigns with DriveThru, read this and get yourself more informed. Spoiler: recommended!
SVD Press Shuts Down, and a Farewell Gift announces the permanent closing of SVD Press after 6 years. Publishing tournament deathtrap dungeons is apparently not a large enough niche to survive on, though they've put out some great adventures. If you want to download anything directly from the company, you have until the domain registration expires in April. Also keep an eye on the #irontrident hashtag for more deathtrap dungeon goodness.
Holy Carp, it's November again. If you don't feel like writing fiction, feel free to challenge yourself to make a game in 30 days with NaGaDeMon, National Game Design Month. I haven't done it since 2012 (Egad!), and I still need to go back to playtest and tweak Domo. It seems unlikely I'll have the cycles free to design something this year, but you never know.
Fate Accelerated's Question & Alternatives to Approaches from +Fred Hicks provides some insight into FAE's design thought processes and offers some ideas for changing the central question (FAE's default question is "How?") to hack your list of approaches.
4 Lessons in Storytelling from a Screenwriter Who's Also a D&D Dungeon Master. These tips apply to all sorts of storytelling, from GMing to improvisation to fiction writing. Good stuff.
I blame +Paolo Greco for posting about playing a couple of worlds in the game 504, because now I'm obsessing over getting a copy for Christmas. You have 9 modules to pick from (like Military, Exploration, and Roads) - choose a primary, a secondary, and a tertiary and voila! You have one of the 504 different games you can play in this one box. It's pricy, but $100 for 504 games and a whole pile of different game components seems like a bargain.
Armoured Commander is a roguelike PC game where you play the commander of an American tank rolling through France and Belgium after D-Day. You're outnumbered and outgunned, but you need to pull a victory out of somewhere using whatever screwball tactics you can. Good luck. +Benjamin Baugh posted about it this morning, and I'll be downloading it this weekend.
On Maps and Mapping
Apparently I've gathered quite a few of these. I'll be adding all of these links to the list of mapping resources in The Cartographic Arts. Check out (and share) that post if you want more maps in your life.
New York Public Library Puts 20,000 Hi-Res Maps Online & Makes Them Free to Download and Use. Awesome. They have some very cool historic maps, which should spark your imagination on styles if not content.
Nearly Every USGS Topo Map Ever Made. For Free. Double awesome, because sometimes you just want to see elevation lines to tell how high you need to climb to reach the unspeakable horror's cave. And in a related article, here's How to Add USGS Topographic Maps to Google Earth.
Why Are U.S. Students Bad at Geography? National Geographic asked and answered the question, then went on to include a list of resources to help teach geography. Also, Geography Awareness Week is scheduled for November 15-21, 2015.
A Matter of Perspective gives us a look at the linearized shoreline of Lake Michigan, which shows us distance and detail from a whole new angle. It goes into some detail about design decisions and the actual process of making the map, including dealing with distortion. Fascinating.
When "North" Isn't Actually North: Geocentric Direction Systems. The concepts here are directly applicable in low technology settings. Why be a slave to your compass, when you can navigate relative to the big volcano in the center of the island, or Uptown/Downtown like in Manhattan? It's definitely another perspective to take when making maps rather than leaning on the compass rose.
And apparently, it's #MAPVEMBER. Make 30 maps over 30 days and post them with the tag. Make sure they're usable as is, but other than that, go to town. Like you need another excuse to make maps, but if it works for you, who am I to judge?
The Rustic Residence from 2 Minute Tabletop is a great-looking free modular building map that you can download and print for use as a tabletop battle map, or you can use it directly in Roll20. There's a whole series of maps to explore and mash together, and most of them are free to download and use.
Stop Saying Technology Is Causing Social Isolation, because it isn't. It's changing the nature and medium of our social interactions, but it can be a very powerful means to multiply social contact. Everyone is glued to a cell phone on the train? 60 years ago, everyone was buried in a newspaper to avoid making eye contact. Plus ça change...
Ten Responses to the Technological Unemployment Problem looks at some possible paths to the future as automation continues to replace human labor.
Museums and First Nations Explore 3D Printing as Mechanism for Artifact Repatriation. This is a fabulous idea for giving everybody the opportunity to touch and work with an otherwise-irreplaceable cultural artifact or ancient tool. But this may slow down researchers as museums return the originals. Also the idea of the spirit inhabiting a particular object may throw a wrench into the works. This reminds me somewhat of debates about cloning, only with cultural artifacts.
Let's Just Go Full Cyberpunk Already because we're most of the way there, but only with the negative crap: oppressive governments and megacorps, armed extremists, environmental disasters, and hackers stealing and destroying simply because they can. Let's get the good cyberpunk stuff online to make life a little easier and stoke the fires of Sloth.
Myth of Pristine Amazon Rainforest Busted as Old Cities Reappear. Recent excavations and explorations in the Amazon has turned up evidence of large cities from 3000 years ago. It turns out that over the past few thousand years the Amazon has been settled by humanity far more than it's been a pristine wilderness, and the rainforest is actually regrowth after dense human occupation. Interesting. I'd love a map of one of these old cities, once they piece it together.