Sunday, March 22, 2015

Quest for Souvenir Part 3

Over two years ago, I wrote about how a lot of people have a misunderstanding of font licensing. This led me down the path of trying to find "open licensed" fonts that people could use in their products that would evoke the same feeling as the fonts used in such products as;

Universalis ADF as a stand in for Futura font used in 1e AD&D Hardback Rulebooks

Tex Gyre Heros as a stand in for Helvetica font used in Unearthed Arcana

Tex Gyre Aventor as a stand in for Avant Garde font used in B1 In Search of the Unknown

Those 3 fonts cover a lot of ground for the early material produced by TSR in the 70s and early 80s. Unfortunately, there is one key font that does not have an equivalency.

Souvenir, one of the most reviled fonts by the font elite. Souvenir, that soft wide font that was used everywhere in the 70s. Souvenir, the MS Comic Sans of it's era. Souvenir, the font that was used in X1 Isle of Dread by David "Zeb" Cook and Tom Moldvay.

Back in the 90s and 00s, some turned to a knock off font named Soutane to mimic the Souvenir font look, but that font is probably? likely? a forgery.

But, what is ridiculous about Soutane being a forgery of Souvenir is that Ed Benguait made a digital copy of Souvenir in 1967 based off an old font called Souvenir made by Morris Fuller Benton in 1914.

And the story goes back even further still, because Mr. Benton is alleged to have gained inspiration for the Souvenir font by looking at a font called Schelter Antiqua and Leipziger Latein Kursiv by Schelter & Geisecke from 1905.

So, I finally tracked down enough type specimens of Schelter Antiqua to take a stab at making a font. Making a font set is grueling, mind numbing work. I think it is very deceptive how much work there actually is in making a font. Think of it as trying to make 250 little pieces of art, and then trying to work out how all 250 characters are going to interact with each other. I estimate, I have spent 50 or so hours working on this font, and it is still rough around the edges, poor at spacing between the letters, and is missing many, many extended characters.

But it does cover the 256 basic ascii characters, and that is all I need to put it to use. I named this version of the font Adenken and released it under the SIL license.

Working so long on the font has let me discern that (in my mind) there is no doubt Mr. Benton used the Schelter Antiqua font as the starting point for making Souvenir. However, the old font is still quite different from the modern Souvenir. Below, I have put a sample of the cover to X1 Isle of Dread and then below that, I have put a sample of the new font I put together.

Souvenir is rounder, smoother. Souvenir has more polish. The Adenken font I put together, looks, well... more "Old German" in character. Some of the characters are still very similar, such as the T, D, and X, but some are quite different, such as the lower case d.

So the quest continues! I think the Leipziger Latein Kursiv font by Schelter & Geisecke is even closer in appearance to Souvnir. If I ever find enough specimens of that particular font, and have another 50 hours of free time to cobble together, I might take another stab it.

But for now, if you want to try your hand at making your own font, there is nothing stopping you.

Here is the Truetype TTF file.

Here is the Fontforge Workfile.

If you want to start editing your own font, download Fontforge. There is a version of windows, mac, and linux.

Part 3 of a series on Souvenir (Part 1, Part 2)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

One Page Dungeon Contest Judges

The 2015 One Page Dungeon Contest draws near, a mere two months away at the time of writing this post, I think it is time to reveal the judges.

The 3 judges for 2015 One Page Dungeon Contest are...

Steve Winter, writer of the recent 5th edition adventure Hoard of the Dragon Queen, alumni and long time editor of TSR, and contributor to Kobold Press (Blog)

Martin Thomas, blogger at Daddy Rolled a 1, returns for a second year of judging the contest. He wrote the interview of last years judges so you can gain insight into the judging process. (Blog)

Teos Abadia, a tireless fan of Dungeons & Dragons, who has written exclusive D&D Adventure League encounters for WotC and is more commonly know as Alphastream in the D&D twitterverse (Twitter)

And now that I have your attention, I wanted to go into a small complaint I heard about last year's contest. I would say the complaint was small and was not held by a large percentage of people who are interested in the contest. That is just my impression and is not science so I could be wrong.

The complaint revolves around that there are no solid rules about what the contest is looking for. Since it is not grounded in something that is formulatic, it is impossible for contestants to know with certainty what to put together.

Well, I have already written about the subject and my conclusion is that you can not put down, in strict form, exactly what to look for. Creativity, nostalgia, change, mental challenges, lateral thinking, so many things swirl around the contest, that it will never be reduced to a set of rules.

But, last year, there was a bit of a divide between some of the judges on a few details on how to judge the contest, so I wanted to address those points. I did not give much in the way of direction for judging, and all in all, everyone did a great job in coming up with a personal criteria for the 2014 contest.

If the gentle reader wishes to read about last year's judging, refer to Daddy Rolled a 1 excellent blog post One Page Dungeon Contest: The Other Judges Take a Turn.

Here are the points I wish to address for the 2015 contest.

About Monster Stats: An entry should not be penalized for having monster stats. An entry should not be penalized for NOT having monster stats either. Now, if an entry took up 50% of the page with monster stats, well, that would be a bad idea because, really, an entry could use that vital space for something creative instead of just a list of numbers. There is no hard and fast rule for what to include in the one page dungeon, but worrying about whether to include monster stats is not something the contestants should have to worry about.

About Fantasy Theme versus Sci Fi Theme versus Other Themes: An entry should not be penalized for having a Science Fiction theme, or an Espionage theme, or for any generic role playing game theme. The contest is foremost about adventure and providing a fun packed, exciting adventure that a game master can riff off of to have a rip roaring good time at the game table.

About Small Fonts: This was only touched upon tangentally, but I feel it requires re-emphasis. Do not try to cram an unholy amount of text into one page by reducing the font to an incredibly small font size. I can't give an exact font size that is going to get a penalty. I can't even say the judges will abide by this rule. Every judge has full discretion to vote with how they want to vote. I do know that when you go under 8 point font size, you are starting to get into the danger zone. How far can you go below 8 points? I don't know the answer. Sometimes a smaller, ledgable font size will work. The best answer I can give is... can someone with normal eyesight read the page? And by read the page, I mean, the page at normal magnification... really the way the page would look if you printed it out on actual paper.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Over 450 Dungeons and Counting

I spent a good part of my limited free time this month working through different open source image galleries. Galleria and Flexslider were the two main ones I tinkered with. I have always been the type of programmer who would rather write my own software than to have to hack on something and try to get it to do something it doesn't do out of the box. From reading about programmers over the years, this is a common trait. It, possibly, stems from the anecdote that it is much easier to write code then to read code. And there is a corollary that the act of writing code gives you a much greater insight into the problems that creep up with any project.

So, as humble and uncomplicated as it is, I wrote my own little image gallery. It is not complete. In fact, the domain I am using is named
When I get it a little more polished and I get the rest of the site converted over to a new system, the beta3 site will disappear and then all of the content there will reappear under the main domain

Currently, the website is being hosted through Google Sites, but I would like to get it onto its own place. And, philosophically, I am having more and more issues with the decisions and directions that Google is taking, so after moving the contest, I would also like to move the Random Wizard blog to its own place. But time, time... where does it go?

As I get older, I find I have less and less time to work on the complicated projects I have always wanted to get into. More time is devoted to work, family, loved ones and exploring the world. So, instead of leaving the beta version wrapped up in a domain, I figured why not let the fans of the contest see the image gallery. It really lets people "see" what the contest is all about.