Monday, August 15, 2011

Linocut Stamps and Maps

I’ve been looking through an old book of German expressionist woodcuts lately and it inspired me to dig out my linoleum block printing kit. The strong lines in the works of Trampier and other early TSR artists have often reminded me of medieval wood block prints - maybe they'd unconsciously encouraged me to try my own hand at such prints in the first place.

Castles, cathedrals, mazes and goblins were favorite subjects long ago...

Once I had my carving tools out again, I started thinking about how I might be able to use them to create something for use in the game. One idea was that I could make maps on the spot, using small stamps. I cut out a one inch hex, got an ink pad, and proceeded to stamp away. It looks a little funky, but it might work. Next, I thought I could carve small symbols into similar hex pieces - castles, mountains, forest, etc. Linoleum is pretty cheap stuff though, it might be difficult to get the level of detail I’d like.

Stamp experiments, small linocuts glued onto corks.

What’s the point of this versus just using a pre-printed sheet of paper or battlemat? I’m not sure. Aside from the quick and simple pleasure of stamping out a crawl as it progressed, I suppose one could stamp a map on different surfaces. For instance, I have some strips of suede backed faux alligator skin. It might work well as a wilderness/ treasure map made out of a monster’s hide - a game prop I could give to players.

In addition to experimenting with making map stamps out of linoleum blocks, I’m going to try to make my own “Deceased” stamp to ceremonially mark dead PC cards. It could be fun to slam one down at a game table. Bam! Officially dead. It seems like there might be other game uses for DIY stamps like these though.


Paul said...

I love it. Linocuts were one of the things I enjoyed most in school art class. I've been meaning to try it again for years, and you may have just given me the push I needed.

christian said...


"Game over, Gerry. Better look harder for traps next time."

"But, but..."

Perhaps even just raising the stamp over your head in a menacing fashion would be enough to deter PCs from making poor choices?

Telecanter said...

I am veeeeeerrrrry interested in this. There is nothing more DIY than portable printing and I always DM on the road.

Some ideas: characters sheets, fast packs, silhouettes to indicate character classes to other players, map features like circular stairs and such (for use on paper not battlemats). Maybe conditions that may be semi-permanent (other than the death you mention): blindness, cursed, geased, etc.

Lasgunpacker said...

Very interesting, although I think it works better as a dungeon map than an overland map.

You could make geomorphs and stamp them out, or draw walls and things freehand, and then stamp in the doors/traps/stairs/etc.

Please keep us posted on your experiments!

matt said...

Those look very cool and I love the idea of a table prop map that you could hand the players. Something like that always goes a long way and really shows the players the game, getting their hands on something 'in game' always brings it home.

+Christian I seriously badly want a "deceased stamp" that would freaking rock to slam that puppy down on a character sheet. I could totally see the nervous look in players's faces as you reach for the stamp after a roll, man that would be awesome.

JDJarvis said...

Looks like a fun project that could give maps and battle maps a bit of an archaic feel.

Rufino Hernandez said...

Google "Dungeon Stamps" they're rubber stamps for making maps on game mats or paper.

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