Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reintroducing the Play Generated Map and Document Archive

Ezra Claverie, "Beneath the Crater of the Slave Lords", c. 2006, St. Louis, Missouri

The Play Generated Map and Document Archive is exactly what its title implies, a physical collection of ephemera created during game play. The main focus is on RPG materials; maps, character sheets, visual aids, etc. I am trying to treat these items as "folk art", getting others to acknowledge their aesthetic and social value. The mission statement can be read here.

I've long thought that a blog might be a useful tool, keeping up and informal discussion of the archives contents. This discussion will later be formalized into explanatory materials which will be included in the website itself. The blog format, of course, will invite others to chime in with information that might help me better interpret the collection.

David McLouth, Dungeon Map D1 L1, c.1983, Michigan region

For example, this map is part of a large collection created by a fellow named David McLouth. The dungeon keys are here and here. The McLouth pieces are the most recent donation to the archive, and are quite distinct from other maps I've collected from other times and regions. This particular set of dungeons are heavily influenced by Set One of the Basic Dungeon Geomorphs put out by TSR. While I don't have this direclty from Mr. McLouth, I feel that the angular dungeon structures and thin lines are in direct contrast to the more typical dungeon format seen in The Keep on the Borderlands. Stylistic inferences aside, mixed in with the McLouth materials were sheets taken directly from the TSR Set One, numbered and annotated for GMing use.

Part of my reason for running a blog to accompany the Plagmada site, and emedding it in a community like this, is to invite associations which I failed to pick up on. The RPG world is large and complex, for the first and second generations of RPG gamers and publications, there is a lot of variation in things as simple as how to draw a dungeon or interpret a rule. Variety of viewpoints, that is part of my hopeful harvest from the blog - a chance to pick your communal brains and have someone say "Hey, that section there was lifted whole cloth from Wights and Wyverns E7".

And, like I said, this will also work as a verbal mumble to accompany the archive. I will give bits of background about the pieces, share my "aha!" moments and bits of confused research.