I’ve had an idea for a megaproject in my head for a while now. The plan was to make a map of an entire city. Not an overview like the image above, but a detailed interior map of everything, every building, including upper floors and basements. And not only that, but the towers and gatehouses, multiple crypts, a full sewer system. Everything.
Well, I’m doing it. Starting now.
So let’s talk about Finbarr’s Marsh. Finbarr’s Marsh is strongly inspired by the Irish city of Cork, as it was in the Middle Ages. Cork was built on an island in the fork of the River Lee, near where it meets the sea. The inhabitants, who were apparently very security-conscious, felt that being surrounded by a river wasn’t enough and decided to construct towered walls around the edges of the island, along with two bridges, both with gatehouses on both sides of the river. In short, Cork City was a fortress.
Another interesting architectural feature of Cork solidified it as my choice of city to use as inspiration for this project: a watergate. When Cork was a walled city, it had a large canal running through the city center and a huge gate that allowed ships to enter to load and unload cargo inside the city walls. On either side of the watergate were two castles: Queen’s Castle and King’s Castle.
Are you sold on Finbarr’s Marsh yet? I’m sold. The above map is getting enlarged 16x. The ground level is coming first. Hold my beer.
This map was chosen by last month’s vote of the Cartographic Congress (although there was only one member at the time, so it was more of a Cartographic Tyranny, really).
Anyway, the idea of this map is that a necromancer (probably of an aquatic species) who lives in some caves beneath a lighthouse has managed to gain control of the lighthouse keeper (or become the lighthouse keeper, if you prefer) and is doing a really terrible job of keeping the fire lit. As a result, the necromancer has a ready supply of corpses to… you know, necromance. Build an army of the dead, make Frankensteins, whatever they’re into. The rest of the details are up to you!
This map has an annotated version and DM notes for patrons.
This is my idea of what a drow outpost for raiding the surface might look like. Built into a cliffside, it has only one entrance to the surface, which is a narrow tunnel in the roof of a small cave, accessible only by a rope ladder, which would normally only be deployed when drow are coming or going.
The cottage above the cliff would have been built by the drow as well. Although they have no use for the building itself, they would need a way to vent the smoke from their cooking fire without drawing attention to the presence of their outpost. By running the house’s chimney directly to their vent shaft, they can make it look like the house is producing the smoke. Of course, this will not pass close inspection because the house itself has no fireplace or occupants. That might be useful as a way to allow the PCs in your game to discover the outpost.
Anyway, I hope you like it! I’m giving out the annotated version for free on this one:
I recently started a Patreon and I decided that I’d offer to make a map of my first patron’s choice. She requested a swamp map with the home of a wise woman, the entrance to which is hidden in a tree.
To make it interesting, I threw in some huts that could be used for some sort of encounter. They could be a community of lizardmen, bullywugs or just good old fashioned hillbillies. After that, we’ve got some ruins, which could contain another encounter or just be used as cover in a fight.
The wise woman’s home in the bottom right leads from the staircase in the giant tree stump. I didn’t think that needed an explanation on the map, but if anyone found it unclear, please let me know.
This one took some time. Whew. The annotated version is below. Since the image is big enough as it is, I decided to write the DM notes here:
Let’s get this one out of the way first: You’re not burning it down. Well, not without a lot of effort, anyway. The tree is 40 feet in diameter at the base of the trunk (that’s 125 feet in circumference). That’s a hard log to burn. And getting there to start the fire means getting shot at by a whole lot of archers. Levels 2, 3, 6 and 7 are all lined with arrow slits. And from 100-200 feet up, they have the range advantage for sure. You have a mage who knows fireball? Check the range. He’s a pincushion long before he gets that close. Brought a catapult? Ballistas? Level 5 has three ballistas with bows almost 20 feet across. They are there specifically to disable war machines. Is burning Oakenhold impossible? No. But the elves who built it did take that into consideration when designing its defenses.
Oakenhold is not designed to be a seat of power, from which a king rules. Rather, it is meant to serve as a military stronghold for defending the land around it. This is why there is relatively little in the way of luxury or space devoted to the nobility.
If you want to make it a seat of power, I would recommend changing the archery range at 24 (see annotated version below) into a throne room/audience chamber and devoting most or all of the 8th level to the nobles. Change out the rooms for a bath, a dining room, a sitting room, a study or two, maybe a vault. You get the idea.
So, what do you do with a ten-level elven tree fortress? I’ve got a few suggestions:
Steal something from it
Kill someone in it
Escape from it
Help the elves take it back from the people who took it from them (possibly involving one of the above).
Also, I started a Patreon today, if you’re interested in giving me some support so I can spend more time making stuff like this. If not, its no problem at all. Just wanted to mention it.
Finally, here’s the annotated version:
Edit: And here’s a version that’s easier to print: Page 1, Page 2
This is an abandoned village in the woods. If you want, it can be no more than that. Or you can send your PCs underground to find their creepy little secret. The nature of that secret is up to you, of course. Dark gods and demonic summoning? Opening a gateway to another world? Trafficking Eastern European prostitutes?
I haven’t actually used this map in a game, but I had some thoughts on what kind of adventure it might be used for, so I made an annotated version and some notes for DMs. The annotated version also gives my ideas on what the rooms might be, in order to make it a little easier to put to use. Of course, feel free to ignore any or all of it and use this map as you please. Let me know what you think (if anyone is reading this).