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The Legend of Drizzt board game is part of the Adventure System Board Games by Wizards of the Coast. These games are designed as a co-op experience with no DM required! In this game you get to play as Drizzt and his companions.

It contains scenarios set around the city of Neverwinter. You will be getting a lot of Drizzt and his followers throughout your adventures in this board game.  For those of you who don’t already know, Drizzt Do’Urden is the most famous character in the Forgotten Realms world.  Created by R.A. Salvatore and featured in his New York Times Best Selling novels, Drizzt and his companions have become a fantasy staple for fantasy fans and RPG fanatics alike!

This is a great game for families. My wife enjoyed the Neverwinter Nights computer games but has never been very interested in joining my friends and I for tabletop D&D games. My son is 9 years old and although shows much interest in the D&D RPG, still has a tough time with the vast amount of rules required to play a fair and balanced game. The Legend of Drizzt Board Game is a perfect introduction to a family who has not yet played D&D or anyone who has trouble fully grasping the concept of tabletop role-playing games.

My family decided to set up the Legend of Drizzt game on our dining room table at home.  We started a timer to see how long it would take to get all the pieces out, read up on the rules, and start playing.

It took almost an entire hour to get all the dungeon tiles and other icons punched out of the large cardboard sheets and read up on the rules.  Even after reading the rules multiple times we were still all a bit confused despite my 25 year background playing role-playing games.  We decided to just dive right in and figure it out as the game progressed.

My suggestions for first time players:

1.  Make sure you read ALL of the rules by yourself prior to having friends over.  

2.  Punch out, organize, and bag up all the cardboard pieces in advance of your first session.

To start out you choose one of multiple adventures you would like to play.  Next the adventure tells you which cards and items you will need.  After gathering these you mix the specific dungeon tiles up with the generic tiles and place them within a stack of tiles from which you draw each round.  I know, it’s a bit confusing but it’s much easier if you can sit down and look at the pieces.  Then you choose which hero you would like to play and find the required cards for that hero.  Each hero has an attack they can do every round, an attack or stance they can do once per day, and some other one-time use abilities or items.  As the game progresses you find treasure which helps you reset these powers or obtain new powers in the form of magical items.

The game progresses like this:  

  • Hero Phase: This is the phase in which your hero moves through the dungeon and makes attacks against monsters.
  • Exploration Phase: This is the phase in which you add new Cavern tiles, draw Monster cards, and place Monsters.
  • Villain Phase: This is the phase in which you draw and play Encounter Cards as well as activate Villains.

Each player performs all three of these actions each turn, so by the time it is your turn again as many as 3 additional monsters may appear on the map and engage you in combat!  If you would like a detailed play by play (with images) of a session check out this site!

Opinion:  As a veteran RPG Game Master I found the game to be fun, but lacking and repetitive in many areas.   Take in mind that I have over 25 years of role-playing experience under my belt so my opinion is a bit biased.  As an introduction to D&D or a “D&D gateway game”, I think the Drizzt Board Game is excellent.  My family had a lot of fun playing it.  My 9 year old son enjoyed the game immensely and was quite excited each time his turn came up.  He played Drizzt and mangled most enemies he encountered very quickly.  My wife was interested in the game, perhaps a bit more so than traditional tabletop RPGs, but she found many of the rules constraining and suggested we throw out some of the rules and play it our own way.

Overall family score: 3/5

Name: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game
Company: Wizards of the Coast (HASBRO)

Price: $65 US

Type: RPG/Adventure

Number of Players: 1-5
Target Audience: 12+  (9+ will do fine) 

First time set-up: 45m-1hr
Subsequent set-up: 10-15m
Game time: 1-2hrs per adventure 

This game includes the following components:

  • 42 plastic heroes and monsters
  • 13 sheets of interlocking cardstock dungeon tiles
  • 200 encounter cards and treasure cards
  • Rulebook
  • Scenario book
  • 20-sided die

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RPTools: Open Source Tools for Pen & Paper RPGs

RPTools is an open source tool set for PC designed to enhance pen and paper role-playing games.  If you’re a RPG fanatic you are probably already aware of these tools or at least heard of them from your fellow gamers.  After experimenting with the tools in my own Pathfinder and D&D games I decided to dig a little deeper and obtain an interview with the folks who have made these tools openly available to the general public!

NERD TREK interview with Frank Edwards & Keith Athey of RPTools.


Jonathan Nerdtrek:  Hello Keith!  Please tell our readers a bit about your RPTools programs and your role within the company.

Keith Athey:  RPTools is a community devoted to producing open source software for the online gamer. By online we mean folks playing together from across the globe or those with projectors or networked laptops who use RPTools to speed game play.  MapTool is by far the most used product but we have others including DiceTool, CharacterTool, InitiativeTool, and TokenTool.   My role within the community is that of Bard.  I do my best to spread the word about RPTools and try to bring even more people into our community of users.

Jonathan Nerdtrek: I have been checking out your RPTools programs and find them very impressive.  Watching this tutorial video for MapTool has blown me away.  Your attention to detail is astounding- love that you can click on an item to see its contents, open and close doors, and obtain a light source for each character on the battlemap.

Frank Edwards: I can’t take credit for most of the code — that belongs to the RPTools founder, Trevor Croft.  However, real life has become much more real for him lately and he has left the product development in the hands of myself and Craig Wisniewski.  We are attempting to carry the banner forward!

Jonathan Nerdtrek: My business partner Todd Gamble (D&D 3.5 Core, Forgotten Realms 3.5, 3x Ennie Award Winner) and I have built a website called  This website is under beta testing and launches in 2012.  I was curious if you had any ideas of how we could work together to benefit your tools and our game.  We will have a lot of people who would probably like to play online with their friends.  I think it’s quite amazing that you ask for nothing in return for your tools which in itself lends great credibility to your product.

Frank Edwards: You may be familiar with the name Jonathan Roberts of Fantastic Maps?  He and Rite Publishing have produced the first commercial adventure (that I know of) that includes a MapTool campaign file as part of their module.  We worked with Jonathan over the past couple of months to ensure that any tweaks we made to MapTool weren’t going to cause him any headaches for his campaign macros.  If you haven’t seen The Breaking of Forstor Naga then you should check it out.  He has a product entry on Paizo’s web site (the module is generic enough to run in any game system, but the campaign file is primarily for PF) that links to a YouTube video that shows how he has configured MapTool.  I will warn you:  he has set the bar pretty high IMO!

Jonathan Nerdtrek:  Thank you Frank!  I checked out the module you mentioned.  It looks great!  Are the Pathfinder statistics that are worked into that adventure generally available on RPTools programs, or are those custom stats that Jonathan Roberts worked in on his own?

Frank Edwards: Jonathan created his own “framework”, i.e. his own set of macros and game statistics.  There are also user-contributed frameworks (on our forum under User Creations > Campaign Frameworks) that cover various game systems such as D&D3.5/PF, D&D4e, ShadowRun, GURPS, and so forth.  I believe he created his own so that changes in the community version wouldn’t affect the functionality of his project, although he could have included the existing framework as part of his product (there are no royalties or similar issues with frameworks; most are covered by a Creative Commons license).  I suppose you’d need to ask him that question.  If you register on our forum at, he goes by the username torstan.

Jonathan Nerdtrek: Can you please tell us more about these tools and what each one does?

Keith Athey:  MapTool is RPTools primary product. It allows online players to share maps, tokens, and chat across the internet. It allows for customization for whatever game system you use but can be used with almost any game system.  DiceTool is a computer dice roller that allows for complex dice expressions. This code was folded into MapTool proper as time wore on but it still functions as a stand alone product.  TokenTool allows you to rip images from the web or your local machine to quickly create tokens for use in MapTool or other VTTs.  InitiativeTool was created to keep track and roll game initiative. MapTool has absorbed much of this functionality as well.  CharacterTool is used to create custom character sheets for differing game systems.  All the Tools are cross-platform, meaning they run on Windows, Mac, or Linux, and game system agnostic. All the software is free and game system agnostic. You can even download the source code, if you like.

 Jonathan Nerdtrek: Keith and Frank, thank you for talking with NERD TREK.


If you are interested in checking out the 100% free and open source RPTools simply visit and click the download link!



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Submit your Questions for Matt Wilson of Privateer Press

Matt Wilson, Chief Creative Officer of Privateer Press & Director of the film Wolfsbane will be sitting down with NERD TREK for an exclusive interview.

Privateer Press is responsible for the WARMACHINE product line as well as HORDES, IRON KINGDOMS, and No Quarter Magazine.

The movie Wolfsbane is Wilson’s first foray into the film industry and is a modern day twist on the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood.

Now is your chance to have your questions answered directly by Matt Wilson!


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D&D: Neverwinter – Wizard’s Fiery Phoenix?

At PAX Prime 2011, Loveless and I had the opportunity to sit down with Laura Tommervik and Shelly Mazzanoble from Wizards of the Coast and talk about their new line of products featuring the city of Neverwinter in the Forgotten Realms.

I started out the conversation by voicing my familiarity with the Dungeons & Dragons game and reluctance to proceed from 3.5 into the new D&D 4th edition.

I explained to Laura that most of my acquaintances have passed along negative feedback regarding the 4th edition of D&D. Much of the feedback I have received referred to D&D 4e as “tabletop WoW” or “a game focused entirely on tactical combat.” Laura’s response was both diplomatic and insightful, “The Dungeons & Dragons game has continually evolved since 1974 and it will continually evolve, forever. Wizards of the Coast is constantly trying to provide the best play experience for what people want.”

“It’s all about us listening to the community, having that feedback loop, the community actively involved.” Laura said.

Although everyone I know plays 3.5, we’re more than willing to gaze across the river at 4th edition. Maybe we just need a sturdy bridge to allow passage and find out if the grass truly is greener on the other side. Or perhaps a nasty mottled green troll lurks under the bridge, waiting to devour us alive!

I spent over two decades of my life playing the Dungeons & Dragons game. Given that fact alone, I was willing to give these products a second chance. I found a crack in the wall of my old school gamer mind, and began shaking loose the rusty nuts and bolts so I could see things in a new light. The judgmental DM who grew up with Gary Gygax, Arneson, Elmore, and Easley needed to loosen up a bit. This was after all, a completely new product with fresh faces full of passion and creativity behind it. Why not give them a chance?

“In terms of what edition of D&D people are playing, we’re just glad you’re playing Dungeons & Dragons.” Laura offered, which caused a smile to work its way across my face.

“The current campaign is all about the city of Neverwinter. There are vast universes in D&D, and it’s hard to have shared experiences with so many different settings. What we are trying to do going forward is provide a cross category approach.”

“We are providing a cross category approach using story as that connective tissue between all the products: the tabletop RPG, board game products, video games, and novels.”

Wizards of the Coast has revived Ed Greenwood’s star attraction the Forgotten Realms in their 4th edition version of Dungeons & Dragons. Using New York Times Best Seller R.A. Salvatore as a key player in the design of their new product they have forged into new territory while bringing back familiar faces like Drizzt Do’Urden. This is an ingenious ploy as even I couldn’t help but pose under the huge statue of Drizzt and his dear friend Guenhwyvar outside the WOTC booth at PAX. Old school meets new. My friends, we have just come full circle.

So, Laura continues to explain that Wizards decided to begin the new series of products by launching them in the Forgotten Realms- “the most popular world within D&D”. An obvious choice for a focal point in the realms was the city of Neverwinter. “Neverwinter has a fascinating history and is in the process of being rebuilt as the D&D campaign begins.”

I asked if Ed Greenwood was still actively involved in the Forgotten Realms. Laura told me that they still work very closely with Ed, “one of our authors” which caused me to raise an eyebrow. Ed Greenwood, creator of the Forgotten Realms- the very place in which all of these products are set is “one of our authors”? Hmmm… According to Laura, Ed just came out with a new book this summer although I can’t for the life of me seem to locate it on the net. I’m friends with Ed on Facebook, but even there I only find shameless plugs from other RPG creators and photos of people posing alongside Ed with his long wizard beard.

“In terms of Neverwinter, we work very closely with R.A. Salvatore- the New York Times best seller who had a trilogy in Neverwinter.” Yes, everyone always did love R.A. Salvatore. I never did find out what those first two letters stood for. I always imagined that he had a really god-awful name and thus attempted to mask it by replacing the words with large imposing capital letters. Randleworth Agglewaddle Salvatore. Or perhaps Rucksack Abblewath Salvatore?

Laura continued, oblivious to my wildly wandering mind- “This setting is interesting to new people but also brings in a lot of locations from the past book and video game history. We’re focusing on this great place with so much going on.”

Being a follower of the Forgotten Realms and D&D products for over two decades I asked “Are places seen in the Neverwinter Nights video game franchise going to be incorporated into the new games?”

Laura responded “There are a suite of programs that assist in sharing the collective experience- the shared experience. They will all be centered around the same story. The Neverwinter Campaign Setting just came out.”



The Neverwinter products really do look cool. As Laura hands me the D&D Neverwinter Campaign Setting book I flip through it taking a look at the interesting locations and wonderful images.

“This Book contains pretty much everything you will need to know about the city. It will introduce you to the people you will find in Neverwinter, the geography, 3 factions vying for control, new character themes, and 1 new character class. “

The book looks nice and clean with beautiful fantasy artwork throughout, although the cartography of the city of Neverwinter itself appears very crudely drawn. (They should have called Todd Gamble or Rob Lazzaretti for help!) Oh well, you can’t win them all and besides, the rest of the book is very aesthetically pleasing.

I would later sit down with the book and spend some time reading about the various locations within Neverwinter as well as the interesting characters, and devilish enemies in this setting. One of the first things I noticed that I liked more than any previous products was the nice clean lay out of the pages. I was able to quickly flip to any page and find just what I was looking for. As A DM I really appreciate ease of use when it comes to reference books. The last thing you want to do when looking for vital information is have the gaming group pause and wait for a response. The game needs to have a smooth flow and ebb which keeps the group (DM included) immersed in the fantasy.

Overall I think the WOTC Neverwinter team has done a great job. I will review the Neverwinter Campaign Setting in its entirety in a future article so come back to NERD TREK to check it out.


Fortune Cards

This new product I was very excited about. Laura explained that this product was an accessory to the tabletop RPG. (Finally cards in D&D!) “They give you extra in game benefits and add a level of unpredictability to the game. You never know what you’re going to get.” Laura smiled as she handed me a pack to flip through.

How does this new system work? I’ve included the basic rules as shown in the pack for you all to read:


You can use all the cards of one or more DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Fortune Cards boosters as your deck.
Each player brings his or her own deck to the game.

At the start of each encounter, shuffle your deck and draw a card.

You can play one card per round. It requires no action to play. The rules on each card state when you can play it and what effect it has. A card takes effect just once unless it states otherwise, and you discard the card when its effect ends.

You can have only one Fortune Card in your hand at a time. At the start of each of your turns, you can do one of the following:

✦ Discard the card in your hand and draw a new one.

✦ Draw a new card if you don’t have one in your hand.

✦ Keep the card that’s in your hand if you haven’t played it.


You can also build and play with your own customized deck of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Fortune Cards™. Each card in the Shadow Over Nentir Vale™ set belongs to one of three categories: Attack, Defense, or Tactics. The card’s face displays its category.

A custom Fortune Card deck can contain any multiple of 10 cards (10, 20, 30, and so on). For every 10 cards in your deck, you must have at least 3 cards of each of the three categories (Attack, Defense, Tactics), as shown in the table below.

Deck Size Minimum Cards per Category

10 3

20 6

30 9

And so on.

I received a couple packs of cards from Laura after the interview to take home. Tossing them in my Bag of Holding, I wouldn’t get the chance to really take a look at them until PAX had concluded. Ripping open the packs, I smiled getting that feeling that washes over you when you get to try something new for the first time. My mind rushed back to my first booster pack of Magic the Gathering cards.

The new D&D Fortune cards look pretty basic which is what you want when you’re trying to keep pace with an exciting combat encounter. They provide special benefits that you may use in combat to obtain an advantage. Here are some examples of the cards I received:

ATTACK: Vicious Damage
Play when an enemy succeeds on a saving throw to end ongoing damage.

The enemy must reroll the saving throw.

ATTACK: Recall Power
Play when you use a daily attack power.

The power is not expended. Expend a higher level daily attack power instead.

TACTIC: Roll with the Blow
Play when an attack hits you or an ally.

That character shifts up to 3 squares as an immediate reaction.

DEFENSE: Quick Switch
Play at any time.

As a free action, you can stow one item and draw another.


These cards look like a lot of fun to add into the game. My first thought was that this would give the PCs an unfair advantage over the enemies. I changed my viewpoint when I realized that I could throw these cards out to the PCs more often than magical items and give the PCs an extra strategy to consider during combat. Even though I run D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder and not 4th edition I can still work most of the cards into my games with only minor adjustments.

Another idea I had was to also allow some of the enemies to have such cards that they also will use against the PCs to keep things balanced while providing additional flavor to combat.

Overall I am pleased and impressed by this new concept by Wizards of the Coast. Years ago I used cards to represent magical items and other special abilities. Perhaps I should have marketed that concept!


Neverwinter Comic Mini-Series

Laura also announced that the same week as PAX Prime 2011 was happening so was a new series of comics being unleashed upon the unsuspecting fans of the Forgotten Realms.

Titled FORGOTTEN REALMS: THE LEGEND OF DRIZZT: NEVERWINTER TALES, it will be a five part comic mini-series. The series is written by R.A. Salvatore who is joined by his son Geno Salvatore as co-writer. This series of comics has just launched and is available through IDW Publishing.


Legend of Drizzt Board Game

The Legend of Drizzt Board Game comes out in October. This is part of the Adventure System Board Games by Wizards of the Coast. These games are designed as a co-op experience with no DM required! In this game you get to play as Drizzt and his companions!

“It contains scenarios also set around the city of Neverwinter. You will be getting a lot of Drizzt and his followers through the novels, adventures, comics, and board game.” Laura repeats the Neverwinter theme driving it into the soft tissue of our brains. It’s OK- it’s Forgotten Realms, hammer away!

This is a great game for families. My wife enjoyed the Neverwinter Nights computer games but has never been very interested in joining my friends and I for tabletop D&D games. My son is 9 years old and although shows much interest in the D&D RPG, still has a tough time with the vast amount of rules required to play a fair and balanced game. The Legend of Drizzt Board Game would be a perfect introduction to my family or anyone who has not played D&D or is not yet old enough to fully grasp the concept of tabletop role-playing games.


D&D Encounters:

D&D Encounters is an in-store play program started by Wizards last spring. It is the most successful in store play program D&D has ever had. It is a weekly event that gathers D&D players into one central location in local gaming shops.

Each session all players and DMs run the same story. Thus, players who live in different areas can share their experiences online through Facebook with others who are tied into the D&D Encounters program.

Neverwinter has now been introduced into D&D Encounters to bring the new setting full circle.

To get involved in this program you can visit and enter your zip code. A list of local participating stores will come up where you may call and find out what day and time the session will be happening. You can show up with no experience required and get right into the game! If you have always wanted to play but don’t know anyone, don’t be shy- come on down and meet others who enjoy creativity and adventure.


D&D Lair Assault:

D&D Lair Assault is a new hybrid version of D&D Encounters for those who crave a dangerous experience. This program is very difficult and for people who want to take their game to the next level. Traps, encounters, and challenges that push the limit are what D&D Lair Assault is all about.

Players should expect to lose some characters in this game. The adventuring party will need to strategize ahead of time to take on the challenge or die in the process. Shelly Mazzanoble (author of Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress) offered first-hand experience on D&D Lair Assault. “It is very, very challenging. We play tested it in the office, my character was dead in 17 minutes. I think that was a new record for me.”

There is an expectation that this particular program holds the DM in a more adversarial role. Never before have players been set against the DM in Dungeons & Dragons. This game should be interesting and even tempts me to try out D&D 4th edition and visit my local store.


Everything I need to know I learned from D&D

After speaking with Laura we jumped into a conversation with Shelly Mazzanoble, author of “Confessions of a Part Time Sorceress”. Despite the fact that this book was written for women, I still had picked it up from the library upon its release and read it through. I think I was hoping that my wife would show some interest in the book and subsequently join my friends and I on an adventure. No such thing happened, it turns out my wife prefers adventuring in offline RPG computer games but no further.

I enjoyed Shelly’s first book and was excited to hear that she had just finished yet another! When I told her I was a fan she handed me a copy of her new book: “Everything I need to know I learned from Dungeons & Dragons” at which point I promised her a review. I’m reading now so as soon as I finish this book I will be sharing a review on NERD TREK with all of you. If you can’t wait that long I’ll toss up a link where you can buy the book on Amazon.


Once we finished speaking with Laura and Shelly we were escorted to the Atari booth where one of the developers of a new Facebook game entitled Heroes of Neverwinter waited to greet us.


Heroes of Neverwinter

Developer: Atari (Wizards of the Coast)
Single player/Turn-based RPG
Platform: Online (Facebook)

Heroes of Neverwinter is a fantasy RPG experience which will soon be available on the Facebook platform. As of this posting, there has never been a Facebook game as advanced as Heroes of Neverwinter.

Atari is running a closed beta which we had the chance to partake in.

We started in our own city which we were able to control and build shops. Adventures are posted on a board in the middle of the city which you can click on and check out whenever you would like. Once ready you can add the adventurers you would like to take by finding them in taverns and around town or importing your friend’s characters into your game. Your friends can then watch your adventures through their characters eyes if they wish.

When we left the city we were presented with a colorful world map which instantly made me smile. Despite the changes that occurred in Forgotten Realms over the past 100 years or so, much of the land remained the same. Some old favorite locations were still available to adventure in. We jumped into a forest and instantly found ourselves attacked by bandits. As combat began I yelled outloud and probably scared the crap out of the developer explaining the game! “This style of combat is just like the old school SSI Gold Box games from TSR!” I exclaimed aloud. He looked at me scared at first, then smiled and nodded. “Yeah, exactly! Well, there are a few cool new features and of course the graphics are better… but yeah- its turn based combat.” I love turn based combat. I know Perreault likes his combat fast and messy, but man- I love my strategy!

At this point I was already sold. It’s free, will be available on Facebook, I can play with my friends, go on adventures, and there’s turn based combat? Sign me up! Unfortunately Atari is only in the closed beta right now, but they assured me that they would squeeze us in since we’re media. That means a detailed review with screen-shots coming soon (pending Wizards & Atari’s approval first of course!)



Overall it looks like Wizards of the Coast is taking the bull by the horns and pushing a marketing strategy across the board.  Neverwinter will be seen in D&D tabletop products, cards, novels, comics, video games, board games, Facebook games, and even in local gaming groups at shops across the nation.  This might just be the Phoenix that Wizards has been looking for to burn the bad stigma off their wings and rise from the ashes in a burst of flame, torching the night sky with the brilliance of creativity and new found fans.  Good luck Wizards, more than just the fate of the realms is riding on Drizzt’s shoulders this time around!  😉

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Interview with Todd Gamble: Forgotten Realms Cartographer

The following is an interview with Cartographer, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Model Scenery Creator Todd Gamble who spent a number of years working for Wizards of the Coast on the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting for Dungeons and Dragons.  For me, he has been a creative influence for many years as well as a positive influence in the small logging town of Snoqualmie.  The quaint city of Snoqualmie is deep in the rain covered Cascade Foothills of Washington State.  It was a pleasure to meet with Todd and take a short journey into his past accomplishments.  Please join us now as we travel into the creative realm of Todd Gamble, artist magnificent!

Jon: So, you worked at Wizards of the Coast for a number of years and did cartography for the Dungeons and Dragons games including the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting.  How many years did you work for Wizards?

Todd: I think I worked there for about six years or so.

Jon: Please tell us in detail what a normal work day is like at Wizards of the Coast for a Grandmaster Cartographer such as yourself.

Todd: Roll in to work when I wanted, coffee in hand, say hello to my coworkers and sit my ass in front of a monitor assembling maps.

Take a long lunch, if it was sushi, we’d walk from the restaurant to Toys R us and get something cool and unnecessary, then walk to Half Price Books which rocks and get some cool art reference books for mapping ideas.

Later on, take a break from work and go get an Americano, stay late and get some more maps done. Fight my way home in traffic from Renton to Shoreline which was lame.

Jon: What was it like working with other artists and cartographers?  Was there anyone memorable that you especially enjoyed working with, or had strange little quirks?

Todd: It was awesome working with other artists. The illustrators, sculptors, and mappers worked in a secure area called New Siberia (because it was so far away from the rest of the employees and behind two large steel doors which required an electronic key card to get in. There were all kinds of neat costumes stored in our area for the illustrators to use on models.

I especially liked working with Matt Wilson because he was always so nice to me and not big headed like some of the illustrators there. He has his own successful company now, Privateer Press / Iron Kingdoms. I also liked my lead, Robert Lazzaretti.

He took me in when I was new and showed me all the ropes single handedly. He taught me how to use the computer basically. Up until then, I had no real computer training and I was worried about that but Rob helped me out. His wisdom helped me get three EN Awards for best in cartography. I was so proud to receive them because the real people chose for themselves in that contest.

Jon: What are some of the different projects you worked on at Wizards?

Todd: I worked on several Avalon Hill military strategy games, Pokemon JR trading cards, Star Wars RPG, maps and illos for several gaming magazines, Map of the week on the web, fantasy novels, 3D miniature scenery and cardstock structures, D&D maps and Forgotten Realms maps and more.

Jon: Are you still doing work on the side for wizards of the coast?

Todd:Yes, mostly maps for fantasy novels. Once in awhile, they will throw me a board game to do artwork for.

Jon: You are an amazing artist and I have followed your work for years.  After working on cartography you also built model scenery both for miniature photo shoots for Wizards and for model railroading.  Tell me about your history with model railroading and model scenery.

Todd: I’ve always liked anything in miniature form. My passion is for model railroading because there is so much real history to delve into. Where I grew up in Northern California (Ingot, CA.) there was plenty of mining and railroad history. A flume carried cut lumber from Terry Mill down to a small line that carried lumber and ore to Bella Vista. They would send apple shipments down the flume as well. I used to go hunting for spikes along the old roadbed as well as climb around the old gold mine buildings.

I tried to recreate the scenery around me in miniature and that’s how I became addicted to scenery building. Wizards had me build several miniature sets for photo shoots for their miniatures. Now, I build model scenery as a profession (among other artistic endeavors). You can see some of my work at my website and on my blog at

Jon:I’ve seen some pretty impressive graphic designs that you have dreamed up.  How do you get started on a project?  Do ideas just come to you or do you sometimes have to go out into the world and look for inspiration?

Todd: An idea usually pops into my mind as the client is describing what they want or think they want. But I still do research on the web and magazines and books at my local coffee shop (Isadora’s Café, downtown Snoqualmie, WA.)

Jon: Isn’t your Dad a graphic designer?  How did he influence you?

Todd: My Dad was a major influence on my creativity. He was a fine artist when he was younger, became a firefighter and then created his own advertising and design business from his home. His company grew from our home into a business park with employees. I was one of his employees for awhile. I learned more from him in design than I did from my formal college education. He taught me how to be professional above all. My Mom was also a great influence on my creativity. She is an artist and showed me that art is everywhere and you can make art without any money. Just look around and hot glue stuff together or paint it or whatever.

Jon: What kind of a graphic design would you dream up for

Todd: Geez, I like the way it looks now. I’d have to think about that one for a bit. It’s an awesome place to go each day and daydream.

Jon: Is there anything you would like to say to our fans?  Do you have a website or blog where they can check out more of your work?

Todd: I would say keep your dreams in front of you always no matter where you are in life and they will eventually come your way. Maybe not when you want them to, but it’s better when they come naturally in their own time. Also, it’s ok to be weird and playful with your imagination. Dr. Suess says,”I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.” And, Albert Einstein say,”Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

You can see some of my work at my website: and on my blog at: