Hohenzollern Castle (Work-in-Progress)

These are the drawings of Hohenzollern Castle I’ve been working on for the last week. I’m going to draw in the courtyard and the entryway on my tablet, then start coloring it all.

If you’re not familiar with the Hohenzollern Dynasty, they were the rulers of Prussia. They had one of the most formidable armies in Europe and, in 1871, they made a country called Germany, which you may have heard of.

But, no matter how impressive a performance you put on, if you want that gold medal, you’ve gotta nail the dismount. And the Hohenzollerns fell flat on their faces. Their last ruler was Wilhelm II, a man one might describe as the final season of Game of Thrones in human form.

Anyway, whatever. They had a really cool castle and that’s the important part. I’m gonna get back to work on it.

The Blackboots’ Camp

This is the encampment of the Blackboots mercenary company in Tir Thelandira. The Blackboots are from all over the place. so the camp is filled with tents from all over the place. You’ve got ridge tents, pup tents, tipis, a marquee and, of course, yurts. If tents had a hierarchy, yurts would be the king.

The Blackboots are meant to be everything Glaver’s Regiment isn’t. They’re a cavalry company made up largely of former bandits, known for their dubious loyalty and their habit of killing more civilians than enemy soldiers. Hired after the wood elves destroyed the first human colony, the Blackboots are in Tir Thelandira to commit atrocities and read poetry. And they don’t know how to read.

The next map is something I’ve been asked to draw by several people over the years. I told them it wasn’t time. It’s time. I’m drawing Hohenzollern Castle. Strap on your spikiest helmet, things are about to get Prussian.

Blackboots Camp (Work-in-Progress)

Here’s what I’m working on right now. It’s a mercenary camp, but I said it’d probably work as an orc village, too, and I think it does.

By the way, the vote for the first location in Tir Thelandira is down to the final two. It’s also a tie right now, so if you’re a patron, please go and break it. This isn’t soccer, we don’t do ties. This is hockey and play will continue until one side claims glorious victory.

Laon, France

I don’t draw a ton of city maps and this is the first one that I’m really happy with. Hopefully you like it too, or at least agree that it’s less crap than usual.

Laon has been around for a long time and, if you’re going to draw a map of it, you have to pick a specific point in time to depict. Well, in theory you do. I didn’t. I used several maps from various points in time as reference and, as a result, this is a sort of mash-up of several centuries of the city’s history. I don’t think that’ll be a problem for most people, but, you know, don’t use this in your Master’s thesis on the history of the Kingdom of West Francia.

Next, I’ll be drawing another map for Tir Thelandira. This time, it’ll be the Blackboots camp. The Blackboots are a mercenary company with a nasty reputation and they’re basically the other side of the coin from Glaver’s Regiment. Whereas Glaver’s Regiment is well-organized, professional and honorable, the Blackboots are filthy, drunk and cruel.

I don’t know exactly what the Blackboots camp will look like, but I can tell you two things right now:

  1. There will be yurts
  2. You can probably use it as an orc village if you want

After that, I’ll probably draw whichever map wins the vote for Tir Thelandira’s location #1. If you’re a patron and you haven’t voted in the runoff, go do that.

Anyway, I hope you like the map! Also, does Laon look like the Italian Peninsula to anyone else? I just noticed it. The bottom-left part is Sicily, tell me I’m not crazy.

The City of Laon (Work-in-Progress)

This map is taking a bit longer than I’d expected, but it’s also looking a lot better than I’d hoped. I don’t draw a ton of city maps and I think this is substantially better than any of my previous ones. I’m coloring it now and it should be done in a day or two.

By the way, if you’re wondering why the city is laid out like this, it’s because it’s located on a very strangely-shaped hill. That’ll be much more clear once the ground is colored.

Okay, back to work. Let me know what you think!

Glaver’s Regiment

So, let me start by acknowledging that Glaver’s Regiment is maybe a little small for a regiment. It’s really more like Glaver’s Company. I hadn’t realized that until I counted the beds and realized that there’s only space for about 127 soldiers here. Let’s chalk it up to attrition.

This map was inspired by the marching camps of Roman legions, who would build a defensive stockade and dig a ditch around it whenever they made camp for the night. They were able to get this done in a few hours by bringing the wooden stakes for the walls wherever they went.

There are actually a few of these around today. Well, kind of. You see, when a legion stayed in one place for a while, they would reinforce their camp. Build towers, reinforce wood with stone, replace tents with buildings and so on. Some of those are still standing.

A few European cities actually originated as Roman forts or “castra.” Castres in France is one example, as is any place in the UK with a name ending in -caster, -cester or -chester. There are quite a few of those, which suggests that the English were a fairly rowdy bunch in the ancient times. And the Great Wall of Scotland tells you everything you need to know about Rome’s issues with the folks to the north.

Next, I’ll be drawing a city map based on a real place: Laon, France. It’s a walled town with a cathedral, a palace and a templar church. Here’s a photo. It’s a classy place and I think it’ll fit right into a fantasy setting. After that, I’ll be back to work on Tir Thelandira.

Well, that’s it for now. Let me know what you think of the map!

Glaver’s Camp (Work-in-Progress)

Glaver’s Camp is the location of one of the mercenary regiments in Tir Thelandira. Glaver’s Regiment is tasked with guarding the Dhasran mining colony, while the other regiment, the Blackboots, is closer to the forest to protect the Dhasran loggers.

I haven’t figured out everything about these two groups, but I can tell you a few things:

  • Glaver’s Regiment are highly professional, organized soldiers. Their camp is designed similar to a Roman legionary camp.
  • The Blackboots are a cavalry regiment composed entirely of scumbags. Their camp is going to be absolutely filthy.
  • The two regiments absolutely hate each other for reasons I haven’t worked out yet. If you have any ideas, by all means let me know.

I’ve got this halfway colored, so it shouldn’t be too much longer. Anyway, back to work!

The Big Plan (Yes it’s insane, but that’s never stopped me before)

I sat down to lay out what the world outside Tir Thelandira looks like and this is what I came up with. All of this is preliminary and nothing is set in stone. Tir Thelandira is the little island on the right.

I don’t know exactly how long it would take to write lore and draw maps of all the places on all these islands, but I’d guess it would be approximately the rest of my life. That works for me. This feels like a worthwhile thing to spend a lifetime creating.

Of course, it’s not going to be a world for quite a while. It’ll be a number of islands that can be inserted into another setting. That’s what Tir Thelandira is right now and it’s what all the islands will be for a long time. In several years, there may be regions of the map that can be used as a setting by themselves. But the finished world, in which every island on that map has its own story and its own maps? That’s something so far away that you may never see it. I may never run a game in it. But that part of it isn’t for us, it’s for the people after us. It something we can create as a legacy to leave for the next generation of DMs.

Here are a few ideas I had for this world:

  • The ruins of an ancient empire, dangerous and uninhabited except for treasure seekers. Littered with colossal statues, crumbling cities and buried palaces.
  • An island populated by humans and ruled by vampiric noble families who treat the commoners as cattle. A very bleak place.
  • An island of giants who raid other settlements. Basically, super-vikings.
  • An island whose people were wiped out by a disease. Now overrun by undead.
  • An island populated by humans but ruled by giants. There’s an interesting relationship between the two groups.
  • Underwater kingdoms of merfolk and aquatic elves.
  • Greek stuff
  • Islands with cultures inspired by East and Southeast Asia, India, East Africa and Arabia. And Europe, in case that doesn’t go without saying.
  • A Polynesian-inspired region, parts of which are very advanced. Like, imagine the Republic of Venice was built by the Maori.
  • Islands at war
  • Dwarves living on volcanoes.
  • Lizardfolk with an amphibious kingdom
  • An advanced society in an arctic climate.

I’d love to hear your ideas as well. I want to make this thing and I think I’ve proven that I can. So, what do you say?

The Ruins of Giltwater

Giltwater is the first Dhasran gold mining colony in Tir Thelandira, marked as “Burned Colony” on this map.

When I finished drawing this, I read back through the lore of Tir Thelandira and realized I’d made a mistake. In the lore, I said that hundreds were killed when the elves attacked Giltwater. But I hadn’t drawn a colony big enough to hold hundreds of people. So what did I do? I did what anyone writing fantasy roleplaying game lore would do. I retconned it. I retconned the absolute living hell out of it.

I think the lore will have to stay a little flexible until the island is done, particularly since there are three locations that haven’t been decided on yet, which makes them hard to plan for. Speaking of which, if you’re a patron and you haven’t cast a vote on the second ballot for location #1, you’ve got one more day to do that.

So, what’s next? Well, I’m sick at the moment and I don’t have it in me to start on a new map today, so I’m going to give myself something easy to do. Tir Thelandira is going to be part of a larger world with many more islands and I want to start laying out that larger world so we can start thinking about where we go once this first island is done. I feel like I’m up to that. I can draw a collection of variously-sized blobs. I believe in me.

I should have that done tomorrow and you can tell me your thoughts about it. After that, I’ll get started on another map for Tir Thelandira. Okay. Time for blobs.