Wednesday, March 6, 2013

DIY Enablers

 The internet is the greatest development for the DIY approach to any hobby, and gaming is no different. At the touch of a button you can discover places like (Dyson Logos maps), or use free fonts to turn a player handout into something way cooler than a ball point pen jotted on an index card. There are billions of images to download (just search “images [whatever you want]” and you’ll find mountains of pictures), and information on interesting topics is no more than a click away.  Hint: if you’re not writing an academic article, and you just want ideas, go fishing in Wikipedia. After you follow 3 links you will be somewhere you didn’t expect, probably getting neat ideas.

Of course, there’s a difference between the people who are putting up the DIY material, and the people who are creating tools for the DIY approach. I want to take a second to point out some of these guys. First is Dave’s Dungeon Mapper, which many of you will already have seen. This piece of awesomeness creates a map out of geomorphs that have been contributed by DIY artists. In addition to pointing out the resource, I’m going to point directly to the page that lists the people who made it happen.
Although the geomorphs themselves are quite magical, what really makes my eyes pop here is the computer program that combines them. It is TOO cool. And David Millar has got to be the most modest, self-effacing guy in the history of putting neat stuff on the web. I had to really delve to find his other site: This one has puzzles. Also note that he takes donations.

Another one is the SRD site that’s run by John Reyst. You might have skipped over John’s sites because (a) the Pathfinder-related site is what everyone sees first, and/or (b) there are some advertisements. Basically what John does is create a System Reference document for open games, and then fill it with hyperlinks so you can navigate around in it. It’s a bit like a wiki, but easier to see all of it. John has an SRD for Pathfinder, but he ALSO has an SRD for Swords & Wizardry ( and one for Mutants and Masterminds too, incidentally (

So what John does is basically to aggregate open game content for the games he covers. One new-school fantasy game, one old-school fantasy game, and a superhero game. Probably we watch to find the sci-fi game that goes up at some point. John does his DIY in the website-creating realm; he doesn’t create the DIY material himself: he’s a DIY enabler, like Dave Millar. Dave apparently didn’t even play RPGs until he tackled the project of making a computer put together geomorphs. John Reyst’s talent also lies in making tools for the DIY community.

Also check out for a wealth of online generated tables that are put into a functioning program.

Let's hear it for the computer guys who are working to let the rest of with do-it-yourself projects!


  1. Abulafia ( is another great meta-resource for DIY, and open to DIY contributions as well.

  2. If people want to list other random generators and resources in the comments, that would be awesome. I'm sure someone has done it already, but then I could take all those links (I don't think you can hotlink in a comment) and do a post where they are hotlinked, then there would be a nice page of links. Has someone else already done that?

  3. A few years back there were some in the community who strongly believed and loudly proclaimed that those who didn't create (write stuff) were next to useless and not part of the spirit of the thing. I strongly disagreed with this because we are all very individual in our strengths and weaknesses. It's good to see a post recognising that some can contribute greatly to our hobby without being either authors or artists.

    A good post Matt about some blokes who are very worthy of praise.

  4. Woot! Thanks Matt for the kind words. I sincerely hope the Swords & Wizardry SRD helps people run and play the game they love.

  5. Dave's Mapper is great, but its vertical geomorph set is a treasure.

  6. Ramanan Sivaranjan of made some nice generators, particularly his Carcosa hex generator.

    I recently made a pulp adventure name generator (