Mont-Saint-Michel – Work in Progress 4


Originally, I’d intended to post again once I’d finished the upper town, but I decided to push on and finish up the gardens as well. So this is the entire ground level of the town complete. Aside from two small buildings on the north side of the island, the only thing left is the abbey. It’s hard to say for certain, but I think this was the hard part. I really hope this was the hard part. This part was super hard.

One other thing I need to talk about is how long this will take and how I’m going to handle it. I estimated a month at the start, but it’s going to take another month at least. I could pause and work on a Cartographic Congress map or Brazenthrone, but I really don’t want to do that. I am very much in the zone right now, I’m getting a lot done and as long as the boiler is burning hot, I want to keep steaming ahead.

So, this is the plan: I’m going to push through and finish Mont-Saint-Michel. Afterwards, I’m going to knock out whatever Cartographic Congress maps are waiting to be drawn. Then, I’ll draw an equal number of Brazenthrone maps in a row, plus one.

I really hope everyone’s cool with me putting everything else on hold for this. I didn’t realize how much work Mont-Saint-Michel would be, but hopefully you’re liking it so far.

Mont-Saint-Michel – Work in Progress 3


I feel like things are starting to get kind of real now. This is most of the town finished, including the local church (Saint-Pierre’s) at the top with the cemetery below it. There’s also a gambling hall, some gardens, a bunch of houses and, at the top left, a building known as the House of the Spinning Pig (“Truie-qui-File”).

The story behind this is that, apparently, some guy taught his pig to spin thread and he used to take it out in the streets where people would watch it perform. Eventually some religious authorities caught wind of it and told everyone what a delightful miracle this pig was. The man and his pig became famous and lived happily ever after.

I’m kidding, of course. They accused the guy of having demonic powers and lit him on fire. The pig, too. The middle ages weren’t a great time to be different.

Anyway, just thought I’d share that. I’ll be back in a few days with the rest of the town and the gardens.

Mont-Saint-Michel – Work in Progress 2


I hope you all had good holidays! The Mont has grown a good bit lately. There’s more of the town and the walls finished to the east of the gates, along with the Tour de la Liberté (“Tower of Freedom”).

And below, there’s the barracks with its own barbican and the Tour des Fanils (This sort of means “Stephanie’s Tower.” I think. It’s complicated). In the northwest corner is the Tour Gabriel (“Gabriel’s Tower”), a huge artillery tower with a windmill and a lookout tower built on top of it. Yeah, I’m thinking it too. I heard you like towers.











One other thing I wanted to mention: the arrows at the top or bottom of staircases indicate which direction is up. Maybe that’s obvious, but I just wanted to make sure.

Okay, that’s it for now. I’m gonna draw more of the town next. I’ll be back to show you when I’ve got a few more pages done.

Mont-Saint-Michel Work-In-Progress – The Gates and Barbican


Here’s a couple of pages I (mostly) finished inking to give you an idea of what this thing was going to look like. These are the outer gates and barbican.

The outermost entrance, the “Porte de l’Avancée,” is on the far left by the guardhouse. To its right is the “Porte du Boulevard.” And finally, for those especially persistent assailants, there’s the “Porte du Roi,” or the “King’s Gate.” This is protected by a ten-foot ditch crossed by two drawbridges– one for the main gate and one for the postern beside it– plus a portcullis and two sets of steel doors.

Here’s what the inside of the gatehouse looks like. The big thing on the ceiling is the back end of the drawbridge arms with a big counterweight in the middle. Pulling that down brings up both drawbridges. The release for the portcullis is in the room above. Dropping a big, sharp hunk on steel on someone’s head is a classic French move.

If you’ve looked at any maps of Mont-Saint-Michel, you might notice that there are some buildings missing from inside the barbican (the triangular wall). Those are fairly new and I’m removing them. This is going to be a little bit of a mish-mash of the Mont at different points in history. I’m including two postern gates in the east curtain wall which were bricked up a few centuries back. I’m also drawing in the “Grand Degré,” an inner gatehouse between the town and the abbey. It was dismantled, but I have diagrams of it from an old French book and it’s pretty cool, so I’m putting it in the map. I’m also including a windmill that used to be on the westernmost tower and a few other things. There isn’t enough information for me to roll everything back to the middle ages, but I’ll do what I can.

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.