map detail

The Setup for my Home D&D game, table was built on New Year’s Eve 2016, with two of my players and myself, the TV is a 40" Samsung smart tv connected to a dell precision 5720 27" 4K touchscreen workstation running Fantasy Grounds to manage campaign details, display maps and use tokens onscreen to represent characters.

Total cost not including the tv or workstation was about $120.

Crafting Globes by Hand with Bellerby & Co. Globemakers

To see more of Bellerby & Co.’s handiwork, follow @globemakers on Instagram.

Bellerby & Co. Globemakers (@globemakers) is one of the only companies in the world still handcrafting globes — everything from molding a perfect sphere to personalizing the maps to painting details — and they have no intention of stopping. “A globe is a true representation of the world,” says Jade Fenster, longtime partner in life and work of company founder Peter Bellerby. “A globe may inspire you to travel. It makes you understand where you belong on this amazing world. And sometimes, you might just reflect on its beauty and fragility.”

After learning how to make a globe for his father’s 80th birthday, Peter founded the company in his living room in 2008, and it has since grown to 20 cartographers, woodworkers, illustrators, engravers and painters in a former warehouse space in northern London. “Everything is bespoke, and using old-school methods means that each globe ends up being entirely unique,” says Jade. After placing an order, several months will pass before customers receive their globes — size options range in diameter from 9 to 50 inches (23 to 127 centimeters) — but the wait is always worth it. “It’s rare to be able to purchase something that is made just for you, and will always be one of a kind.” 🌍

Outlining your novel scene by scene (Part 1)

Did you ever feel bored midway writing a scene? Or lukewarm? Do you feel like readers will jump full chunks of text?

Well, I used to feel that all the time.

I disliked outline with a passion. I thought it stole the magic away from creation. I thought it would trap my story in a box. Whenever I tried, I had no idea where to start, so I blamed outlining all over again. I would just write the first scene and allow my story to unfold itself. Although it is fun to let your story take the lead, it’s also chaotic.

I realized the importance of outlining on my third book. After months and months of hard work, my story turned out just… boring. Weak characters. A plot full of holes. No defined theme. Useless scenes. And a story that started with a goal, but changed so many times along the pages and accomplished almost nothing. Slow. Tedious. I was frustrated. I had to delete more than half to make it work. Even after rewriting, I wasn’t happy. That project was a major fail.

Originally posted by failworldblog

And failing was good, because, on my next project, I outlined. 

I listed all arcs and, within the arcs, all scenes. I was mad. I wanted control. I wanted power. And I only sat down to write when I knew exactly what was going to happen from start to finish. I never wrote something that fast and effortlessly in my life. It didn’t take away the magic of writing, it simply gave me a sense of direction.

Outline is a map. And when you have a map, you have a journey to make.

Originally posted by artymissk

If, like me, you are a bit lost, here’s how you can create the map for your next novel, or how to outline your book scene by scene. I’ll share with you three techniques, but will divide them into three posts. This is the part one. Or the Map Technique.

I advice you to grab pen and paper, and move away from the computer. Find a comfortable spot, maybe a coffee shop, or by your window. And let’s work!

Originally posted by sashabloodsoup

Before outlining, write down your storyline in one phrase. I’ll be using an example to help you understand this technique. So, my storyline is:

Masked twins fight against a violent dictatorship.

Now, let’s start.

In every journey, we need a departure point and an arrival point. This is essential for a map. And, if it’s essential for a map, it’s essential for our outline. So, create the start (departure) and the end (arrival) of your story. With my example, it goes:

  • Twins have their lives destroyed by the government (departure)
  • They destroy the government (arrival)

Amazing!! Our map is taking form. 

What else a journey must have? Milestones. Without milestones, we don’t know how far we are from the arrival. They are essential as well. But how can we put milestones in an outline? Easy. Between departure and arrival, you will list every important arc (or event, or key scene, or plot point) that must happen in order to take the plot from start to end. More or less like this:

  • Twins have their lives destroyed by the government (departure)
    • Their family is destroyed
    • They are taken in by their uncle
    • Uncle and twins plan their revenge
    • Twins find their mask
    • Twins perform small acts of justice
    • They gain the respect of the citizens
    • Government sees them as threat
    • Government tries to erase them
    • Twins perform huge acts of justice
    • They are almost killed 
    • Uncle is killed
    • They perform one last act of justice by killing the dictator
    • Citizens claim for democracy
    • Democracy is installed
    • The twins destroy their masks 
  • They destroy the government (arrival)

All milestones are placed, nothing too fancy, just a description of what we’ll be seeing along the journey. Good. 

From milestone to milestone, we have roads, or sequences of roads. Between arcs, write down sequences of scenes that must happen to move the plot forward. For example: 

  • Twins have their lives destroyed by the government (departure)
    • Their family is destroyed
      • Twins live with their father (who is an important journalist)
      • Father is abducted by the government
      • Social worker takes them to lonely uncle
    • They are taken in by their uncle
      • Twins and uncle can’t adjust to new life
      • They are all filled with grief
      • Uncle comes up with revenge plan
    • Uncle and twins plan their revenge
      • Twins trains while uncle perfects his plan
      • Twins and uncle adjust to new life
      • They become a family
    • Twins find their mask
      • Getting ready for their first step
    • Twins perform small acts of justice
      • They destroy factory that uses slave force
      • They kill politician who closed hospitals
      • They kill a famous torturer for the government party
      • They find their father’s file
      • Discover that father was tortured and killed
    • They gain the respect of the citizens

We are almost there… 

Because, in every mile of the road, we have landscapes. Scenes are landscapes. And we need hundreds of different landscapes along the journey, beautiful ones, strange ones, unexpected ones… we need scenes. To every sequence, create as many scenes as you need:

  • Twins have their lives destroyed by the government (departure)
    • Their family is destroyed
      • Twins live with their father (who is an important journalist)
        • Father receives a journalism award
        • Twins enjoy the party
        • It’s time to go
        • Father drives them home
      • Father is abducted by the government
        • In isolated street, the car is stoped
        • Two man attacks them and abducts their father
        • One of the twins receive a scar on their face
        • Twins are left alone in deserted street
      • Social worker takes them to lonely uncle
        • Social worker takes them from the hospital
        • Drives them to poor area
        • Leaves them with unknown uncle
    • They are taken in by their uncle
      • Twins and uncle can’t adjust to new life
        • Twins can’t eat
        • Twins won’t leave the house
        • Uncle tries to get information on what happened to his brother, but fails
        • It’s believed that their father died
      • They are all filled with grief
        • Uncle and twins have a sincere talk about father, they tell past stories, they laugh, they cry
        • For the first time, they have dinner together
      • Uncle comes up with revenge plan

You can almost see the story playing inside your head like a movie. That’s the magic of a scene by scene outline. :D

This last step is optional. But it’s a great exercise to trim the rough edges. Under each scene, catalog which character(s) you’ll need, what place(s) will be used, what does the scene accomplishes and ways it can unfold. Example:

  • Father receives a journalism award
    • Characters: Father, twins, father’s coworkers, VIPs
    • Place: Banquet hall 
    • Accomplishment: To show that father is a famous journalist that gives no chills for what the dictator says
    • Possibilities: 
      • Father is announced as the award winner
      • Speech against the dictator
      • Ends speech by showing his love for his son/daughter(s)
      • Twins are proud (and kind of embarrassed as well)
      • Applause, applause
      • Nice food
      • Beautiful dresses
      • It’s the twins birthday
      • Or it’s Christmas
      • Open hall with garden
      • Fireworks
      • Rich people

Takes time, but, now, you have the most detailed map a traveller can possess. It’s easy to depart, just take a seat and enjoy the ride.

Originally posted by mr-nikolo

I hope it helps somehow. Next time I’ll show you a different technique. 

Astronomy From 45,000 Feet

What is the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, up to?

SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, as our flying telescope is called, is a Boeing 747SP aircraft that carries a 2.5-meter telescope to altitudes as high as 45,000 feet. Researchers use SOFIA to study the solar system and beyond using infrared light. This type of light does not reach the ground, but does reach the altitudes where SOFIA flies.

 Recently, we used SOFIA to study water on Venus, hoping to learn more about how that planet lost its oceans. Our researchers used a powerful instrument on SOFIA, called a spectrograph, to detect water in its normal form and “heavy water,” which has an extra neutron. The heavy water takes longer to evaporate and builds up over time. By measuring how much heavy water is on Venus’ surface now, our team will be able to estimate how much water Venus had when the planet formed.

We are also using SOFIA to create a detailed map of the Whirlpool Galaxy by making multiple observations of the galaxy. This map will help us understand how stars form from clouds in that galaxy. In particular, it will help us to know if the spiral arms in the galaxy trigger clouds to collapse into stars, or if the arms just show up where stars have already formed.

We can also use SOFIA to study methane on Mars. The Curiosity rover has detected methane on the surface of Mars. But the total amount of methane on Mars is unknown and evidence so far indicates that its levels change significantly over time and location. We are using SOFIA to search for evidence of this gas by mapping the Red Planet with an instrument specially tuned to sniff out methane.

Next our team will use SOFIA to study Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, searching for evidence of possible water plumes detected by the Hubble Space Telescope. The plumes, illustrated in the artist’s concept above, were previously seen in images as extensions from the edge of the moon. Using SOFIA, we will search for water and determine if the plumes are eruptions of water from the surface. If the plumes are coming from the surface, they may be erupting through cracks in the ice that covers Europa’s oceans. Members of our SOFIA team recently discussed studying Europa on the NASA in Silicon Valley Podcast.

This is the view of Jupiter and its moons taken with SOFIA’s visible light guide camera that is used to position the telescope.  

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

I wonder if the Inquisition has debriefings? Like, after the entire crew gets back from a mission they have a meeting with the advisors regarding everything that happened. 

Or maybe everyone in the party is required to write a field report? I bet Cullen reads them all, just sifting through endless crap from the Inner Circle:

Sera’s reports consist only of crude drawings and obscenities – he actually finds those entertaining. She’s quite inventive and the point is always rather clear.

Cassandra’s are always perfect and detailed, if not a bit stilted. Not that he minds. 

Dorian’s are always about the lack of amenities or certain comforts. Can’t you order us thicker blankets? I was freezing the entire time and there was a rock under my back. 

Blackwall’s reports are always helpful, he makes notes about soldiers, or various things that need to be done in the area. 

Iron Bull’s are always just an account of the things he killed or fought. Sometimes he’ll share a good joke he heard too.

Vivienne’s are to the point, crisp and tidy, never wanting. She’ll also tack on notes about the Inquisitor, or her companions, bits of pertinent information.

Cole doesn’t write reports, but sometimes he’ll pop into Cullen’s office and tell him a few things of note before disappearing again. 

Solas’ are scholarly, recounting the areas they’d explored and interesting landmarks, usually with a very detailed map attached. 

And then there are Varric’s, written on fine vellum imported from a printer in Kirkwall, the penmanship always neat, and flowing over the pages. And there are many pages as Varric describes, in that detailed way only a writer can, the exact way his boots squelched while in the Fallow Mire; the damp, musty smell that clung to him after spending ten days soaking wet on the Storm Coast, without a chance to dry out; the biting chill that cut through him in the Emprise du Lion, and the way the dark branches of the bare trees struck a bleak contrast against the snow. The fucking endless snow. 

It’s when they return from the Hissing Wastes and Cullen sees that Varric’s report is eighteen pages detailing exactly where he found sand on his person, that Cullen informs him he is exempt from writing any further reports.

A courier gives you a package that says “To: [features that describe player in party] wearing green [colored item they have]”. You are wearing a red [item]. The package contains…

1. Drugs, and a map detailing where to take them.

2. Information on the location of a missing villager, and instructions on where to take them.

3. Information about a coup happening soon.

4. Drawings of you and your party members, scarily accurate and personal information as well as instructions on the best way to take you out.

I was twenty. I will let no one say it is the best time of life. Everything threatens a young man with ruin: love, ideas, the loss of his family, his entrance into the world of adults. It is hard to learn one’s part in the world.
— 

Carsten Niebuhr or Karsten Niebuhr (1733-1815), a German mathematician, cartographer, and explorer in the service of Denmark, is renowned for his participation in the Royal Danish Arabia Expedition (1761-1767). He achieved fame as the only survivor of the Danish expedition to the Middle East and India. His fame is deserved not just for survival, however, but due to the excellence of his observations which resulted in detailed maps that were used for more than a hundred years.

He also copied inscriptions of cuneiform script that proved of great assistance to Georg Friedrich Grotefend and others in their work in deciphering ancient texts from the Persian Empire. Neibuhr’s explorations of what were, at the time, distant and difficult places for Europeans to travel laid the foundation for numerous later scholars to visit and uncover the secrets of past civilizations.

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Monday’s picture: a travel to Pasargadae, Iran 

estimated reading time: 3 min.

Once capital of the Achaemenid Empire, the city of Pasargadae was constructed under the reign of Cyrus the Great (559–530 BC). Located in ancient Persia, near the city of Shiraz, it is today one of Iran’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites…

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