The Elven Citadel of Oakenhold (Work-in-Progress)

Whew, okay. This is all seven floors of Oakenhold. I wasn’t initially planning to make it bigger than the original version, but, well… that happened.

First, let me say a quick word about beds. So, elves in D&D settings meditate rather than sleep and don’t need beds (not for sleeping, anyway). But I want this map to work for other races as well, so I’m drawing the beds in a way that they can be called “meditation mats” for elves or “beds” for other races. Hopefully, that works for most people, but I know it doesn’t for everyone, so I’m going to make a version without the beds as well. Just wanted to let everyone know that up front.

This map is a part of the island of Tir Thelandira and I’ve been thinking about the lore of the place as I’ve been drawing all this. The queen of the wild elves is a ranger and a famous huntress who unified the tribes of the island. Not many elven queens can kill, skin and butcher a deer, but Queen Niamh is a little different. She’s fierce, pragmatic and leads from the front. And when the Dhasrans built their colony on her island and began logging her forest, she fired the first arrow in response.

There’s still plenty more to figure out, but I’ll have the basic lore of the island for you when the map is done.

Okay, I’m gonna start coloring this beast. Wish me luck.

The Green Eye Oasis

The Green Eye is a village and caravanserai built around a small oasis in a sinkhole. The place has everything a traveling merchant needs: camel parking, a room for the night, baths, a tavern and a provisioner. Oh, and water. Merchants need that to live. I mean, everybody does, but merchants do too.

I think this would be a really great place for a battle, especially if the party was inside the village while getting attacked by archers around the edges of the sinkhole. That’d create a really nasty situation, since the place is kind of… what’s the word? The opposite of defensible. It’s an easy place to attack. Making the party fight their way out of here could be an interesting challenge.

Next, I’ll be getting to work on the second map for Tir Thelandira. I’ve got a few different maps planned for the island, but I really want to draw Oakenhold next. Oakenhold is a giant tree fortress which serves as the wild elves’ capital. This will be the first time I’ve ever redrawn a map. If you want to get an idea of what it’ll look like, here’s the original. I’m fairly confident that the new version will be better than that. It certainly won’t be in black and white, anyway. I’ll also write some lore for Tir Thelandira to go along with it and I’ll make some more concrete plans for the rest of the island as well.

All right, hope that sounds good to you! Let me know what you think of the oasis!

Desert Sinkhole Village (Work-in-Progress)

This is a desert village with a small oasis and a caravanserai, built into the sides of a sinkhole. The drawing on the top left shows it from the outside and the other two levels are below.

This place is inspired by the cave houses of Cappadocia in Türkiye (I like the new spelling, by the way), which are an idea I’d like to do more with at some point. For example, this is a castle in Cappadocia. I don’t know about you, but I would describe myself as highly into that. God, I have to stop looking at that picture or I’m going to just drop everything and draw a map of it right now.

Okay, one thing at a time. I’m gonna finish my coffee and start coloring this sinkhole. Let me know what you think so far!

I’ll be back for you, insane Turkish rock castle. This I swear.

Secret Room: Vault

Here’s the last of the secret rooms. Hopefully you’ll find them useful, but I think this is all the one-room maps I can draw before I bore myself to death.

Next up, we’ve got a desert village built inside a sinkhole, with an oasis at the bottom. I haven’t planned it out yet, but I suspect the layout will be a bit like Ollin’s Borehole.

After that, I’m going to get started on the island of Tir Thelandira. The vote on the second civilization has ended and the Dhasran Colony has won! With that decided, I’m ready to start drawing maps of the place. I think I’m going to start with Oakenhold, the big tree fortress at the center of the wild elven kingdom. I expect that to be a pretty enormous map.

Well, this being New Year’s, I’d better leave it at that. If you’re going out, have fun! And if you’re not, don’t feel bad. Neither am I. But have a good night either way!

Secret Room: Cult Shrine

Here’s the cult shrine secret room. You’ve got a big, demonic head, a sinister-looking glyph on the floor and some nice scented candles to freshen the place up a little.

I said this was going to be the last secret room, but people seem to like these, so I’m going to do one more: a vault. That’s a common type of secret room that’s missing from these, so I’m going to draw one. It won’t take long. In and out. Quick, one-day map. I’ll have that for you tomorrow and then I’ll be drawing something much, much bigger.

Sound like a plan?

Secret Room: Prison

So here’s a secret room which I suspect will be pretty useful, since a lot of adventures involve rescuing captives and a lot of maps don’t really have a great place to keep them.

I tried to make the place look as dank as possible. Not “dank” in the positive way, but in the traditional sense. Dark, wet, kind of nasty. So you’ve got some piles of refuse, bloodstains on the floor and a few buckets for… well, I’m sure you can work out what the buckets are for.

Anyway, I’ve got another secret room almost finished– a cult shrine– and I’ll get that posted tomorrow. Hopefully you think these things are useful, but in any case, I’ll be back to making the usual gigantic maps very shortly.

Secret Room: Psycho Murder Basement

This is the first of three secret rooms I’m drawing. It’s meant to be used with another map that you’d like to add a secret room to. For example, maybe you want to run an adventure in the glorious French castle of Chateau de Chenonceau. But your adventure requires a brutal axe-murder dungeon and, inconveniently, the Chateau de Chenonceau doesn’t have one of those. This map is meant to solve that problem, with two different versions so you can have the secret entrance either behind a wall or under a trapdoor in the floor.

Next, I’m going to draw another secret room map: a hidden prison. This is for situations where you need to hide some hostages or sacrifices or something. You know the adventures where the party has to go somewhere and rescue people? It’s for those.

It shouldn’t take long to draw. I actually got this one done in two days, but I decided to hold off on posting it since it’s probably the most grisly map I’ve ever drawn and Christmas felt like a slightly awkward time to put it out there. I mean, what do you even write in the post? “Have a great holidays everybody, here’s some dismembered corpses!” I don’t even know.

Anyway, hopefully you find the idea of the secret rooms useful! I’m not going to be spending a ton of time on them, but I want to draw a few and see what everybody thinks. If you’ve got any thoughts about these or how to make them more useful, by all means let me know!

The Two Palms Tavern

Well, I decided to draw a palm tree on the map and call it the “Two Palms Tavern” after all. I’m not proud of having drawn a dad joke into the map, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time. I won’t make a habit of it, I promise.

The vote for the second civilization of Tir Thelandira is still open and I wanted to give patrons another chance to cast a vote before I end it in a few days, so if you haven’t cast a vote, please do! Once it’s decided, I’ll write some lore for the winner and start getting to work on the maps.

Next, I’m going to draw a few maps based on an idea I’ve been sitting on for a long time. The maps will be secret rooms. Not maps with secret rooms, just secret rooms connected to nothing. They’re meant to be used along with some other map that you wish had a secret room, but doesn’t. I’ll make versions with different entrances so you can have it behind a wall or under a trap door in the floor.

These will be small maps with 1-2 rooms and they should only take 2-3 days each. I’ve got three secret rooms in mind: a hidden prison, a psycho killer murder cellar, and a cultists’ shrine/summoning circle. Those seem like they’d be fairly useful, but if you’ve got any better ideas, let me know. I might draw more later depending on what you all think of these.

Anyway, that’s it for now. If you’re celebrating a holiday soon, I hope you have a great one! Relevant holiday greetings to one and all!

The Barre Sinister: A Spelljammer Pirate Tavern

I’ve made some fairly strange maps, but we might have a new champion today. The Barre Sinister is a tavern built on a giant, stone hand… in space. I also made a version with just the hand, which is arguably weirder. I suspect at least one of you has a use for that.

If you don’t play Spelljammer and you’re wondering how this place could possibly exist, allow me to explain the first rule of Spelljammer: Never ask questions about how things work. They just do. That’s a very important rule. No one’s trying to play Spelljammer with Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Of course, not everyone is running a campaign in which the players can escape the gravitational influence of their planet, so I’m going to make an island version of this map next. That shouldn’t take long, since I mostly just need to change the background and draw a bit of land around the hand. Maybe I’ll throw a palm tree on there, who knows. Wait… would that constitute a pun in this situation? Maybe I’d better not.

Anyway, I’m gonna get to work on that and I’ll be back with it in a day or two. By the way, if you’re the person who actually has a use for the empty space hand, I’d love to hear what you plan to do with it!

The Second Civilization of Tir Thelandira

I’ve come up with three civilizations based on the ideas you’ve given me. There’s a vote, which is open to all patrons, to decide which one will share the island of Tir Thelandira with the wild elves. Here are the choices:

The Kiyaran Khanate:

The Kiyarans are horse-riding, nomadic people with a culture inspired by Turkmen, Tatars and Mongols. They rule a small empire on several distant islands.

20 years ago, five ships of Kiyaran soldiers were caught in a storm and destroyed near the remote island of Tir Thelandira. The survivors came ashore and met the island’s elven residents, who took them to their queen. The queen allowed the Kiyarans to occupy the island’s eastern plains and to tame the wild horses that lived there, giving them bows to hunt with and tents to sleep in. The Kiyaran soldiers were grateful and never made trouble for the elves, for whom they had great respect.

Recently, the Khanate, who had long thought the soldiers to be dead, began to hear rumors that they were alive on Tir Thelandira. A ship was sent to the island, which found the survivors. Their leader, First Lancer Bayar, returned with them to tell his story to the Khan.

After hearing it, the Khan saw an opportunity to expand his empire. The soldiers would use their knowledge of the island and its inhabitants to assist a larger army in the conquest of the elven lands. Bayar asked the Khan to spare the elves, who had saved the lives of his men, but the Khan refused.

The Khan’s brother was sent to Tir Thelandira with ships full of soldiers. First Lancer Bayar returned as well, agreeing to help, but secretly hoping that he and his men might find a way to stop the invasion.

Dhasran Colony:

The White City of Dhasra is a small, tremendously wealthy city-state built on the islands of a river delta. The river, known as the Golden Serpent, was named for the large amounts of gold dust that once flowed through it.

That gold is one of the main sources of Dhasra’s wealth, but lately the mines have begun to peter out. In response, the Raja of Dhasra sent out a fleet of ships to find new sources of wealth abroad. Several of these ships came to the eastern shores of Tir Thelandira, where they noticed a few bits of gold flake in the river. After a bit of digging, a large vein of gold ore was discovered.

Before long, a small mining colony was constructed on the island. The elves living to the west watched the Dhasrans warily, but did not act until they began logging the elven woods. The colonists were warned, but the warning was ignored and the elves retaliated. Swiftly and mercilessly, the colonists were slain to a man.

After several months, the Dhasrans returned to rebuild their colony. This time, they brought two legions of mercenary soldiers to protect it. Neither side has moved on the other, but no one expects peace for long.

Exiles of the Triumphant Dawn:

In a distant kingdom, the priests of the Triumphant Dawn once had thousands of followers. Their god was a righteous and benevolent deity, who encouraged those traits in his worshippers.

When the priests began to demand an end to the corrupt and tyrannical rule of the nobility, they made a great many enemies. The priests believed that, as clergy, they had no need to fear serious retribution. They were wrong. After a number of riots, the nobles began hunting down and executing priests of the Triumphant Dawn.

Realizing that they had failed, the priests fled the kingdom, settling on the distant Tir Thelandira. The High Priest asked the island’s elven Queen for permission to stay, which she granted on two conditions. First, the exiled priests would not expand their colony. And second, they would not attempt to convert her people.

The High Priest agreed, but soon violated the first condition. After the priests left, the nobles had turned their wrath against their followers. When the priests learned of this, they sent ships to bring them to Tir Thelandira. The colony of 150 turned into a colony of 5000. When the new colonists began proselytizing to the elves, the queen regarded it as a complete betrayal.

Relations between the two groups are tense, with some elves launching raids against the colonists. So far, the Triumphant Dawn have exercised restraint, but there are people on both sides pushing for a holy war.