Seed: Dragons Cast a Long Shadow

Dragons Cast a Long Shadow

Dragons Cast a Long Shadow (DCaLS) is a free unofficial extension/add-on to Jeremy Keller’s tabletop roleplaying game Technoir, intended to adapt the game to settings that mix cyberpunk and/or transhuman elements with magic. This seed had been originally slated for release near the end of 2019—and you’d think the working from home would make it easier not harder to get out the door—but it is now as ready as I am likely to make it. As with all DivNull Seeds, it isn’t entirely finished, but I’m comfortable sharing it now.

You can find other attempts to mix magic into Technoir, including some official advice on doing so in Morenoir and, evidently, Hexnoir, official supplements created as part of a kickstarter. (I backed this kickstarter, but have never received a draft of Hexnoir, in spite of several requests for it.) All of the attempts I’ve seen, however, handle magic by adding a specific verb for it (e.g. “Evoke”). As I explain in the book, I have problems with this approach (as well as the use of a single “Hack” verb for all things in virtual reality), so DCaLS doesn’t do this, instead using a more expansive approach involving “venues” and “forms”. This makes the game a bit more complicated, but in a way I find useful.

This seed was not as much about experimenting with things I haven’t tried before as some prior seeds have been. DCaLS was more about getting an idea that was pounding in my head out. The one learning experience on this one was making use of stock art for the first time. I was lucky to find a number of works from the same artist, Tithi Luadthong, giving a cohesive look to the whole thing. This runs the risk of using art that is also used by some other random thing, but so be it.

As you read DCaLS, it will come as no surprise to you that the main impetus for its creation was to bring the Technoir rule set to bear on cyberpunk/magic mashup settings from other games, particularly the setting of Shadowrun. More testing will tell, but I think this is the rules light(er) Shadowrun-esque game I’ve been looking for. I hope it is yours as well… or that you tinker with it until it is.

Note that DCaLS makes no attempt to be a complete game; it still requires Technoir to play, being more a replacement for the Technoir Player’s Guide, rather than repackaging the whole game. This is what I intended from the beginning, but also happens to be required, because the Player’s Guide is Creative Commons, while the main Technoir rules are not.

The expansion is now available for free on itch: Dragons Cast a Long Shadow.

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An unofficial Anima Prime 1.5 document

Back when Google+ was still the best place for tabletop roleplaying discussion, Christian Griffen posted a brief outline of an optional “1.5” version of his excellent game Anima Prime. Since a) the demise of G+ has taken this outline with it and b) Anima Prime is a Creative Commons game, I’ve taken the original text of the game, given it a new layout, and updated it with the 1.5 changes suggested by the author.

The results can be downloaded below, released under the same Creative Commons license as the original. Hopefully, this full version of the 1.5 rules works a bit better than comparing the summary of them from Prime Spiral with the 1.0 text of the game. The files are:

Prime Spiral preview

LogoA number of years ago, I wrote up some notes on playing in the setting Exalted using the rules of Anima Prime. This snowballed into a long PDF for my gaming group called Exaltation Prime, which I have never released because it is filled with art and IP for which I do not have distribution rights. One of the things I love about Anima Prime, though, is that it uses a Creative Commons license, so I’ve wanted to share the changes and additions I made to build Exaltation Prime in a way that could be legitimately released under the same Creative Commons license.

The result will be Prime Spiral: Extensions and Hacks to Anima Prime. Each chapter will detail a way to hack the rules of Anima Prime, and explain why you may or may not want to do that. It is worth mentioning that, while I’ve been doing all this, Christian Griffen, Anima Prime‘s author, has been releasing his own changes, mostly meant to streamline the game, while the hacks in Prime Spiral mostly serve to make the game more complicated. You’ll need to season to taste.

At the request of Mr. Griffen, I posted a link to the in progress version of Prime Spiral to a G+ thread. I figured I might as well post it here as well:

Prime Spiral noodling.

Seed: Bladechapel battlemap

Bladechapel is the headquarters of a knightly order dedicated to fighting evil threats from other planes in Monte Cook’s urban setting, Ptolus. Since no detailed plans of this fictional building seem to exist, and I wanted to confront my players with devils and demons ransacking the place during a zombie plague (long story), I set about making maps of my own. While I have progressed reasonably far, I’m to the point where I likely won’t be updating it any further. The map is functional, but not what I’d call “done”. As such, I’m releasing what I’ve got as a DivNull seed.


When it comes to maps, I prefer using vector tools like Illustrator over raster tools like Photoshop. This makes me a bit of the odd man out when it comes to making battlemaps, which is largely a raster pastime, but one of the reasons I wanted to make this map in the first place is to see how far I could push the vector tools. I posted progress notes for this map to a gaming cartography forum, if you are interested in more step-by-step stuff. My take aways from this project are:

  • One big goal was to learn how to use Illustrator’s mesh tool. Mission accomplished there. It is powerful and capable of doing things you can’t do any other way, but a bit clunky. I didn’t get really great at using this tool, but I least I understand what I’m doing now.
  • Live tracing seamless textures can build decent fill brushes that give objects more depth. (Vector maps are often very flat and blocky.)
  • Really decent textured fill brushes push Illustrator CS5 to the breaking point. On more than one occasion, I used up all the memory that Illustrator’s 32-bit limit could handle, causing it to die a horrible death. This transformed the project from learning about vector mapping to tiptoeing around the limitations of the software I was using, and is a big contributor to my not finishing the map. The newer 64-bit version might not have this problem.
  • Illustrator has the ability to print by tiling the output across multiple pages in an easy to understand way, but doesn’t extend this functionality to exporting PDFs. If you want to export to a multi-page PDF, you have to create individual artboards, and overlap them manually. The artboard tool makes this possible, but could be easier (allowing selection of multiple boards and editing, say, the X position of all of them at once would be very helpful, for example). I didn’t know any of this before starting this project, so learning it has been useful.
  • I also mostly just ran out of time. My desire to run a game using this map, and the pace of the game itself, overshadowed the need to do the map “right”.

I wound up with maps of five different “floors” of the building, in the end. They are big, as battlemaps go (roughly 50 squares by 60 squares, at an inch per square). Maps are available in two different formats. The PNG files contain the whole floor as a single image, at 150 pixels per inch. The PDFs divide the map onto pages of legal sized paper (the largest paper that the majority of home printers can handle), with a bit of content overlap. Note that all of these files are huge. You might want to look at the bladechapel-key.pdf file first. It gives a decent overview of the building layout and such.

Sources for this map are a bit tricky. I’m not going to post them, because the Illustrator sources are gigantic (the ground floor is over a gigabyte); however, if you are really want to play with them, drop me a comment to this post and we’ll figure something out.

Many of the objects on these maps (tables, chairs, etc.) are bitmaps intended for use with Dundjinni, and credit for them goes to their creators. Likewise, the name “Bladechapel”, “Knights of the Pale” and other aspects of this map are ©2006-2007 Monte J. Cook, used with permission. The textures originated from Seamless Pixels. Everything else should be considered released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License:

Creative Commons License