The Casino de Mont Acceaux

So, this is the first casino I’ve drawn and I’ve got a question for the gamblers out there: is the carpet ugly enough? I don’t know why, but “All Casinos Have Carpet That Hurts Your Eyes” is so consistently true, it could almost be a law of thermodynamics. Anyway, I gave it my best shot.

The Mont Acceaux isn’t meant to be Vegas, I drew it with the Monte Carlo in mind. Actually, the ground level is very similar, the main difference being that I removed the opera house.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Monte Carlo is a 150-year-old casino in Monaco. It’s ridiculously classy, everyone speaks French and no one has a gambling problem, they’re just there for the atmosphere. If James Bond was a place, this is the place that he would be.

You might send your players here to rob the joint, but you could also just let them hear about it and stop by to gamble. Hopefully they don’t lose all the money they’ve accumulated from the hundreds and hundreds of people they’ve killed over the years on two hours of blackjack. That would just be… hilarious. Of course, if that happens, you probably need to prepare for them to rob it, because that’s probably what they do next.

Next up, I’ll be drawing something from the Black Loch. I think I’m going to do the dragon’s lair. Oddly enough, I don’t think I’ve drawn one of those yet, so I guess it’s about time I did.

By the way, sorry this took so long. I ended up deciding to recolor the whole thing because it just looked really bad. It took another couple days on account of that, but I’d rather take the extra time and make it look good than give you something terrible. Anyway, I hope it was worth it!

Black Loch Tokens

You can download these tokens here.

These are tokens for everybody in the Black Loch with a name, plus some Tideborne orogs, Darksong Knights and an assortment of kuo-toa. And a chicken. There are also some alternate versions, most of which are just different skin colors.

Here’s a link to the DM notes for the Deep Spire in case you need a reminder of who these people are. That’s where everyone with a name is from, with the exception of the three ogres, who are from the Chesterboro Arms.

Anyway, I hope they’re useful to you! By the way, are the kuo-toa a little too murloc? I’m still not sure. Whatever, here’s a picture of everyone hanging out in the Chesterboro:

Glogdolp – Roofs

Not too much going on in the roof level, but there is one thing I wanted to mention. If you look around the buildings, you’ll see little triangles pointing to the walls. Those are to indicate where the doors are. It occurred to me recently that that might be useful for some people, so I decided to try it and see what you all think.

Anyway, next I’ll be drawing some tokens for the Black Loch. Drow and kuo-toa and Lim the Big Dumb Ogre and so forth. Those will probably be done in a day or two. After that, I’ll be drawing the map chosen by last month’s Cartographic Congress: a wizard’s casino. I’m thinking this is going to be more Monte Carlo than Vegas, but let’s see how it goes. In any case, after that, I think we’ll be headed back to the loch!

Glogdolp: A Kuo-Toa Village

Here’s the annotated version.

Glogdolp is a kuo-toa village in the Black Loch. The main things they do here are mollusk farming and slaving. That big jail isn’t there to deal with widespread naughtiness.

Glogdolp is at the tail end of a larger kuo-toan nation called the Bluescale Empire, which stretches down the river to the south. They don’t have much of a presence in the Loch at the moment, but they have plans to change that. Those plans aren’t really happening in Glogdolp, but when we get to the nearby kuo-toa stronghold, you’ll get a look at the kind of nonsense they have in mind.

Basically, it’s crabs. Huge crabs. Like, stupidly huge crabs. Siege crabs. The Bluescale Empire is secretly breeding them and, at some point, they intend to use them to take over the loch.

Personally, I think Glogdolp would be a good place for a rescue mission. The kind that starts with a few potions of water breathing, so the party can sneak in through the underwater caverns. Or you could even have the party stop here to ask about something, then have them happen to see a bunch of slaves getting led into the cells. You know, start pushing some emotional buttons, get an argument going between the paladin and the rogue. We have to save them! We totally don’t. My god says we do! I don’t care about your god. You did when he was curing your Thayvian Crotch Leprosy!

Next, I’m going to draw a roof-level map of Glogdolp, which should only take a day or two. After that, I’m going to draw some tokens. Specifically, I’m going to make tokens pertaining to the Black Loch. So, kuo-toa, Lim the Ogre,  the orogs and drow of the Deep Spire, and so forth. If I’m going to draw all the places in the Black Loch, I might as well draw the people as well. That shouldn’t take long either.

By the way, if you don’t know about the tokens I made, there are around 270 of them and they’re free. You can download them all here.

Anyway, I hope you like the map! Let me know what you think of the Black Loch so far!

There are DM notes for this map available to patrons.

Kuo Toa-Village – Work-In-Progress

I’m in the middle of coloring this at the moment. There are also a series of underwater caverns below, but I’ll show you those when it’s done.

The main thing the kuo-toa in this village do is capture travelers to serve as slaves or sacrifices. This is one of the reasons people stay at the godawful inn nearby. When the choice is either sleeping on a bed that smells like weapons-grade cat urine or getting brutally sacrificed to an imaginary fish goddess, most people would choose the former.

The Chesterboro Arms – Lim the Ogre, Proprietor

Here’s the non-annotated version and here are the DM notes. This map is a part of the Black Loch.

The Chesterboro Arms is a straight up dump. Nobody thinks they’d ever stay at a place like the Chester, but then they find themselves in a REALLY scary part of the underdark. Wherever you look, there are bandits, monsters and all kinds of awful crap that wants to kill you. You probably shouldn’t even be there and you’re damn sure not sleeping there, so you press on. And you keep pressing on. And after a couple days of walking, you’d give anything just for a nap.

And then you see it: the Chesterboro Inn. Is the food good? You don’t care. Have the beds ever been washed? You don’t care. Is it safe to sleep here? Well, the innkeeper is the biggest ogre you’ve ever seen, so… yeah, probably. And, sure, the building looks like it’s going to collapse, but what are the odds that it happens today?

If you have questions about the Chesterboro Arms, you should understand that you’re supposed to have questions. I didn’t just set out to make this place crappy, I wanted it to be hilariously crappy. The outhouse is huge. You have to go through a bedroom to get to the storeroom. There’s a shed full of chairs. I don’t really have an explanation for that stuff, except that they seemed like things Lim the Ogre would do. Speaking of which, if you want to know the story of how an ogre opens an inn, that’s in the DM notes.

I’m going to draw another Black Loch map next, maybe the kuo-toa village. After that, I’ll do something other than the loch. You know, mix it up a bit. Anyway, I hope you like the Chesterboro! If your party ends up going there, please tell me how it went. I seriously want to know.

The Vale of Pentandra

The Vale of Pentandra was a map chosen by the Cartographic Congress. Ben, who proposed it, wanted an elven city in the rainforest with a magical portal in the center, surrounded by two huge trees arching overhead.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I like the portal. Sometimes, as a DM, you want your players to be somewhere really far away. And you don’t want to say, “You get on your horses, clap the coconuts for two months and you’re there,” but you also might not want to do three sessions of “stuff happens while you’re on the road.” Having a way to avoid either of those things in a way that feels natural can be nice. Ready to stop doing Chult stuff and start doing Waterdeep stuff? This might be a nice place for the party to hear a rumor about.

I apologize for this taking so long, but I wanted to get it looking right and that required a lot of changing things around this time. Also– feel free to laugh at me– I got everything done an hour ago, was ready to post this, and realized I forgot to put a scale on it. I managed to forget about that for the entire week and a half it took me to plan, draw and color this. YEP THAT’S ME PROFESSIONAL FANTASY CARTOGRAPHER RIGHT HERE.

Anyway, I’ll be getting to work on the Black Loch next. I’m going to draw the inn on the left side of the map. I know there are a million maps of inns out there, but this one is going to be a little unusual, because this place is owned and operated by a clan of ogres. And it features only the finest ogre furnishings. Ogre-crafted tables. Ogre-crafted bar. Ogre-crafted doors and walls. Starting to get the picture? Your players think they’ve stayed at a crappy dump of an inn before. They have no idea.

The Black Loch: A Map Full of Maps

I’m giving out the patron versions of this map to everybody. There isn’t as much stuff as there would normally be since this isn’t a battlemap, but I want everybody to have it. You can download it here.

For those of you who haven’t heard of the Black Loch yet, there are only two important things to know:

  1. The Black Loch is a small sea in the underdark.
  2. I’m going to draw a map of every dot on the map above, at a 5′ grid scale.

Now that everyone’s caught up, let’s talk about what we’re getting into. There are 23 dots on the map, 3 of which have been drawn already. I’m also going to draw two more things that aren’t marked on the map, which means there are 22 maps to draw before this is finished. Unless I decide to add something else, which I may.

By the way, you might have noticed that most of the place names are pretty generic. They’ll get proper names when I draw them, but, for now, they’ll just be descriptors.

I reserve the right to move things around to accommodate the lore as I come up with it, but the general idea is that the west is sort of the civilized half of the map. Things get a little wilder out in the east and then, in the Deep Reaches, you get the crazy stuff. Let’s talk about the specific locations, as well as the other two things that aren’t on the map:

Already Finished
to be drawn
  • Inn – A solitary inn for visitors who don’t care to stay with the kuo-toa or the drow. How do they survive out here? By paying something really big and scary for security.
  • Drow Settlement – This will be a small drow town.
  • Secluded Manse – Vlyndarastyl used to send their driders to live on a small island. Someone killed them all and built a house there. I’m not sure who that person is yet.
  • Grimlocks – A grimlock settlement of some kind.
  • Duergar Outpost – This will probably be half fort, half trade outpost. It’s also a place where the duergar can keep an eye on what’s going on around the loch.
  • Kuo-Toa Village and Stronghold – This is the tail end of a kuo-toa kingdom that stretches down the Bluescale River.
  • Submerged Temple – A kuo-toa temple. One of three maps that will be completely underwater.
  • Submerged Ruins – I’m not sure what I’m doing with this. Maybe a sunken town of some kind?
  • Ancient Crypt – I don’t know what I’m doing with this. Maybe it’ll be ancient catacombs from a city that used to exist on the island.
  • Travelers’ Ruin – This is a ruined building that passing travelers stay in sometimes.
  • Dragon’s Lair – This will be the home of an ancient dragon, high up in the column of rock.
  • Fortress Ruins – A charred, burnt-out ruin of a fortress. WELL GOLLY I WONDER WHO DID THAT.
  • Deep Gnomes – I’m not sure exactly what this will be, but it’ll have deep gnomes living in it. I think it might be a settlement built around a vertical shaft that goes through the whole place.
  • Abyssal Caverns – Several systems of underwater caverns in the walls of a deep crevasse at the bottom of the sea. There may or may not be a kraken lair.
  • Surface Entrance – This is the end of a river or stream leading down from the surface. Lots of waterfalls along the way. A good way to get your players into the loch.
  • MyconidsMyconids love darkness and dampness, so you’d have to imagine they’re living somewhere in the Black Loch.
  • The Blind Colossus – A giant, faceless statue standing in the creepy end of the loch. No one knows who it is or who built it. There will be an interior of some kind.
  • Illithid Ruins – An abandoned, crumbling mind flayer city.
  • Aboleth Lair – Aboleths are like mind flayers, except they’re better across the board. Mind flayers have psychic powers, aboleths have better psychic powers. Mind flayers are geniuses, aboleths just flat out know everything. Mind flayers look kind of like a cuttlefish, aboleths are actual, giant fish. Anyway, the point is, an aboleth and its flunkies live here.
not on the map
  • A Ship – Your players will probably need a ship. There are plenty of ship maps out there, but you need a particular kind of ship for the underdark. Sails won’t do much work, so it’ll have to be a galley. A long time ago, I drew a ship for the underdark called the Grey Huntress, but it’s kind of old and I want to draw you a better one.
  • Vlyn’darastyl Streets and Buildings – This will be a battlemap for Vlyn’darastyl with a small bit of the city depicted. Someplace you can use as a backdrop if your players get into a fight, which they probably will, because drow are not nice people.

Anyway, there’s the plan. While I’m working on the Black Loch, I’m going to draw some other maps as well, but I’ll keep things progressing. Some of the maps above will be bigger than others, so it’s hard to calculate how long it’ll take, but I’d say a year or so sounds about right. So, now that you’ve got a better idea of what this project is going to look like, what do you think?

The Great Pyramid of Khufu, depicted before it was looted.

Here’s the non-annotated version and here’s another non-annotated version without the treasure.

I didn’t draw this because it’s the most famous pyramid in the world, I drew it because I genuinely think it’s fascinating. But exactly what is fascinating about it is hard to convey in a map alone, which is why I made the version above to explain it. There’s a mysterious tunnel that leads nowhere. There’s a set of three granite slabs that were dropped down to seal the burial chamber. There’s a narrow, vertical passage with a hidden entrance. And it runs through a cave.

I think this would be a great place for an adventure. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just have somebody tell the party it’s there and it’s full of treasure, then have them figure out how to get inside. Personally, I think it’d be fun to let the players think it’s just a fantasy map. Then, after the session is over, tell them they just looted the Great Pyramid. Yeah, in Giza, the big one. Yep, that’s what that was.

Well, I’m not drawing another pyramid next. Instead, I’m going to draw the regional map of the Black Loch. I expect this to change over time as I come up with new ideas and develop the lore of the place, so think of it as the Black Loch v1.0. It’ll have a bunch of locations marked on it, which should give you an idea of what it’s going to look like as it comes together. Any changes I end up making will probably add things rather than subtract them, so I’d say you can probably expect to see maps of whatever is there.

Anyway, I hope you like the map! This concludes our Egyptian tetrahedral mausoleum double feature.

There are DM notes for this map available to patrons.