The Black Loch is Finished.

I’m giving away the Patrons’ Edition stuff for this map to everyone. You can download it all here. When I drew those cave and tunnel maps earlier, I was thinking about giving those away, but I decided I should give you a good map instead. So here it is.

With Charwall finished, the Black Loch is finally done after a year and a half. It’s been a huge amount of work drawing around 30 maps and 100 tokens and writing lore for it all, but I feel pretty good about it and I hope you like how it all turned out.

I want to say that I’m truly grateful to all the patrons who have supported this along the way. It felt like an incredible honor to be given the ability to spend two years drawing Brazenthrone and it’s no less an honor to have been able to put another year and a half into making the Black Loch as well.

Moreover, I’m grateful to be able to have your support for this despite the fact that I’ve given away usable versions of all the maps for free. I’m fairly sure that costs me money. I have no idea how much, but my rent gets paid and I’m not going to stop doing it. I feel very fortunate not to have to.

Well, it’s 9am and I’ve been up all night, but let me mention a few things before I go. I’ve updated the Black Loch Codex and the History and Lore Overview with Charwall. Remember when I made a post titled “The Black Loch: History and Lore Overview – FINAL UPDATE FOR REAL THIS TIME“? Okay, that was a lie, but this is the final update for real. Like, really real. Actually, legitimately very real. Anyway, it’s in the codex and you can download the new version here.

Well, that’s it for now. It’s been quite a journey and I hope you like where it all went. I’ve got another one in mind and I’ll tell you all about it in a day or two. Until then!

The Complete Black Loch Token Collection

These are the rest of the tokens for the Black Loch. You can download the complete collection here.

The collection also contains the previous tokens I made for the Black Loch, as well as the ship tokens, so there should now be tokens of every creature I’ve mentioned in the lore, as well as every significant character.

With that crossed off the list, there’s only one thing left to do: draw the last map. The final location is a place called Charwall and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it until I found some inspiration in a couple of proposals for the Black Loch Conclave.

The first proposal was for a colony of dragonborn who worship Kaliphex the Immortal (the dragon in the picture above). The second proposal was for a kobold settlement in a series of watery tunnels– a sort of “Kobold Venice,” if you will. Those proposals sparked some ideas and I put them together to create Charwall.

Basically, Charwall is a settlement of draconic races, with dragonborn, dragonkin, half-dragons and kobolds living together. Most of the residents aren’t from the underdark and they’re not exactly sure why they came to Charwall. They just know that they were drawn to the place, by something.

That something is Kaliphex the Immortal, an 11,000-year-old red dragon who resides nearby. It’s unclear even to Kaliphex what’s causing this, but she came to the Black Loch to be alone and now a group of dragonkin appear to be worshipping her. I’ll figure out the details of what’s going on as I work on the map.

As I said, this will be the last part of the Black Loch. It’s been quite a journey so far and I hope it’s turned out as well as you’d hoped. I’ve got another journey in mind after this is done and I’m looking forward to telling you about it.

Well, I’m gonna get to work. Let’s get this thing over the finish line.

The Black Loch: Caves and Tunnels

I’m fully prepared to admit that these are some of the most uninteresting maps I’ve ever made, but that’s basically the point. There are plenty of interesting maps in the Black Loch, but sometimes that’s not what you need. Sometimes you just need a cave or a tunnel without anything special in it, because it’s random encounter time and the party will be fighting *rolls dice* …giant bats.

That’s what these are for. They’re not specific locations marked on the regional map, they’re for the places in between.

Of course, the Black Loch is a sea, so there will be plenty happening along the coast as well. For those encounters, there’s the Black Loch naval battlemap. While I originally made it as a backdrop for ship battles, I think it’s just as good for encounters on land as well. And it’s plain enough to be fairly reusable.

There’s only one thing to do before I get started on the last map in the Black Loch: draw tokens. I’m going to make tokens for all the various creatures mentioned in the lore, as well as the notable characters. I already made tokens for some, so I just need to knock out the rest.

Anyway, I won’t ask what you think of the maps because, let’s be honest, they might be the most boring maps I’ve ever drawn. But I hope they’re useful.

Well, I’m gonna stop typing and start drawing. I’ll be back with some tokens in a few days!

The Black Loch Codex

You can download the free version of the Black Loch Codex here.

The Black Loch Codex compiles the Black Loch History and Lore Overview, as well as all the DM notes, in one PDF.

I made a version for non-patrons as well, which has all the DM notes I’ve given away for free so far. I also threw in the DM notes for the Grinning Widow, since I think some of the suggestions about how to handle the crew might be useful, particularly for newer DMs. It’s basically about how to deal with your party traveling in a ship with 20-30 crew without letting the players treat them as their own private army. And make no mistake: they will try.

Anyway, I hope everyone’s happy with it. I’ll update the codex with the last map once it’s done.

Next, I’ll be drawing some simple cave and tunnel maps. Nothing fancy, just something to use as backdrops for encounters that happen outside the marked locations. I’ll be back with those in a day or two, then I’ll get started on drawing the rest of the tokens. And after that, I’ll draw Charwall, which is the last map left.

Okay, I’m gonna get to work!

The Black Loch Overview Map

Okay, here’s the final version of the Black Loch regional map with all the proper location names written in. There’s no Patrons’ Edition version of this map, I’m just going to give everyone all the stuff I made for it. You can download it here.

There’s a blank version of the map in there as well, so if you want to change the names, move things around, or hide some of the locations from your players, you can.

Okay, I’m gonna finish updating the Black Loch History and Lore Overview. I should have that done tonight or tomorrow. Until then!

The Chronomancer’s Tower

There are a lot of possibilities for this map, but I feel like the most interesting would be for this thing to be a time machine. You turn a few wheels, set some dials and you’re off to the future. Or the past. This could allow the party to get some ancient, lost artifact or talk to that one guy who knew that thing the party wants to know but has been dead for 2000 years.

Alternatively, you could just completely jump the shark and send the players to Stephen Hawking’s dinner party for time travelers. That idea might not be for everyone, but I thought I’d throw it out there. It’d be pretty funny if you’ve got a group that would get the joke.

Next, I’ll be finishing up a few things for the Black Loch. I made a list of everything left to do in this post, but I’m going to start by making the final version of the Black Loch region map, replacing the generic place names with the proper names.

Then, I’ll be tackling everything else on the list, which means I should be posting something here almost every day for the next week or so. After that, I’ll get started on the last Black Loch map. All right, I hope that sounds good. I’m gonna get some sleep and get started in the morning!

The Chronomancer’s Tower (Work-in-Progress)

Here are the drawings for the next map. While I was looking at various clock towers for inspiration, I discovered the Prague Orloj, which is an astronomical clock. It was too cool to not include it in the map, so I drew it in. It’s based on a geocentric model, but I think we can let that go, since it was made in the early 1400s and telescopes were still two centuries away.

Anyway, I’m gonna go color this thing. Hope you like it so far!

Cinderfork Foundry

Cinderfork Foundry is a duergar armorsmithing operation built around an exposed magma vent. Is that safe? No, it’s not. But pumping a bellows is hard work and it’s nice to have a pool of molten rock do the job for free. Well, it’s free if you don’t count the expense of a few people dying because a tectonic plate jiggled a bit, squeezing 80 tons of magma into the room. But of course you don’t count that. Or maybe you do. Look, I’m not an accountant.

If you use this map, remember that it’s insanely hot in there, especially the top floor. You could make an encounter here a little more interesting by giving the party exhaustion penalties, which increase every few rounds. It’d make the players really feel the environment, while also giving them an incentive to get things done fast. You might also want to think about how much damage you’re gonna hand out to anyone who gets chucked into the magma, because, chances are, someone’s going for a swim.

Next up, I’ll be drawing last month’s Cartographic Congress winner: an ancient clock tower with a chronomancer’s workshop below. I’ve looked into some real clock towers for inspiration and I have to say, there are some actual clock towers that are a lot wilder than anything I’d have ever come up with. Here’s a clock tower in Bern, Switzerland. Now, let me read you a description of that:

Every hour, a performance involving automated figures is set in motion by the astronomical clock. A dancing jester rings two bells and cues a parade of bears, Chronos turns over an hourglass and opens his mouth, and a gilded rooster raises its wings and crows to start the show.

So, I think we can all agree that Switzerland wins. Congratulations to Switzerland, you win at clocks. Forever.

Anyway, I’m not sure I’m going to do anything quite that crazy, but hopefully I’ll manage to come up with something that doesn’t put the Swiss to sleep. After that, I’ll start on the last few things I need to take care of with the Black Loch, which should be finished later this month.

Well, I’m gonna go find out what the inside of a clock tower looks like. If you’ve got any suggestions for clocks I should have a look at, let me know!