We Interviewed Fantasy Cartographer Old School NPC

We had the pleasure of chatting with Old School NPC all about their work!

1. How long have you been in the dnd space?

I first played D&D back in 1984. Just a one-off session after school. I was intrigued, but never had another opportunity to continue. It was always something that interested me as I would come across the books in stores over the years. It all changed in 2012 when I got the 4e starter set. I was hooked immediately. I joined a group to play with each week and found myself digging into every detail of the game and its history. More than playing, my passion is being the DM. I love creating the environment that the players then bring to life.

2. What inspired your work?

I am a huge fan of the old school D&D books such as The Temple of Elemental Evil. The maps in these adventures emphasize function over style. I have memories from school of other kids sketching out dungeon maps on graph paper. The more recent maps by cartographers like Mike Schley up the ante by creating maps that are pieces of art in themselves. With my maps, I try to combine these two styles. I want them to be functional above all else, but with a style that is eye catching and can be easily used on a virtual tabletop.

3. Tell us all about being a cartographer?

Maps have been an obsession of mine all my life. World maps. Road maps. Topographical maps. I love to look at the world from the top-down perspective and see how things relate to each other. When I draw a map, I start with an idea. I ask questions about who created this area? Why was it created? What happened to them? Who is using it now? Then I think about interesting features like elevation changes and water and hidden rooms. I strive to create locations that are more than just a series of rooms. I want the party to be able to make choices about the path they take.

4. What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into dnd?

Don’t be intimidated. As an introvert with social anxiety, I know I struggled with the notion of going to a gaming store on D&D night and taking that first step. It was difficult, but it was also among the best things I’ve ever done. I found a space where I am welcomed for who I am, and I can play an amazing game with others that have a passion for immersive storytelling. I love helping new players getting started in the game. My Session 0 streams on Twitch (OldSchoolNPC) are specifically to help new players create characters and ask questions.

5. Goals for 2023?

I am just starting out and looking to build my community. If I can provide something that people are interested in and I see an upward trend in my number of followers, then I will consider that a win.

6. Where can people support your work?

Please follow me on Twitter (@OldSchoolNPC). I also have a mailing list on my website (http://OldSchoolNPC.com) where I send out free products and discounts. I live stream map drawing with GIMP every Monday and Wednesday on my Twitch channel (OldSchoolNPC). My modules and maps can be found at DriveThruRPG. And I even do map commissions on Fiverr (jstorta).

Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Need coverage? Please send an email to [email protected]

Tatiana Stec is the Co-Founder and Creative Director at All Ages of Geek. You can follow her on Substack.

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