Mont-Saint-Michel – Work-In-Progress


Here’s Mont-Saint-Michel so far. First, I want to talk about what’s finished, then I’m going to talk about some of the unusual things I need to do to get this map done right.

So, this is the town at the base of the abbey. The exterior walls and doors are finished, along with other details around the area, like fences and stairs (which are EVERYWHERE). The only interiors I’ve done are the gatehouse and towers, which are things I’ve been able to find information on in some old French books.

In other words: this is everything (in the town) that I’m able to find concrete information on. Finishing this up shouldn’t take nearly as long for one simple reason: I can start making stuff up now. These buildings aren’t famous and won’t have floor plans publicly available. And besides, they’re not the same as they were in the past. Currently, aside from a number of houses, almost everything else is hotels, restaurants and gift shops, about half of which are called “La Mere Poulard” for some reason.

Okay, now let’s talk about this map’s special needs. This place has two issues that make mapping it complicated:

  1.  Nearly every building has two or three exterior doors on separate floors. This place is built on a very steep rock and a ton of buildings have one door in front on the ground level, a side door on the second floor, then a back door on the third floor.
  2. Elevation is important with this map and the elevation here is insanely complicated. Drawing elevation lines isn’t going to cut it.

So, here’s how I plan to deal with this: First, the ground level of the map will show the lowest level of every structure as well as the outdoors. All ground level doors will be drawn as normal, but doors on upper levels will be indicated by a gap in the wall fill with a number indicating which level the door is on. If someone enters the building through that door, switch to the level of the map shown by the number. Pretty simple.

The solution I’ve come up with for explaining the elevation is the brute-force option: I’m going to make a separate elevation reference map that DMs can refer to when questions come up. I’ll label all the ledges and roofs with their approximate height over the ground below. How high is this to climb? How far do I fall from here? Am I above or below that guy? Check the elevation map. It’s not an ideal solution, but unfortunately explaining the elevation here means writing all over the map, so I’ll make one version with it and one without.

In other news, I’m learning a lot of French while doing the research for this. Not useful French, but I now know words like “pont-levis” (drawbridge), “poterne” (postern) and “bastillon” (bastion). Yay.

Okay, I’m going to get back to work.

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