Brazenthrone – Freeholders’ Hall – Everyone’s Edition

Here’s the non-annotated version for those of you who don’t like words and numbers all over your maps. Also, here are the DM notes.

You know what? This is the second-to-last chamber of Brazenthrone and I’m just going to give everyone the patron content for the rest of it. You can download it from Google Drive here or from this page on my patreon.

There’s not too much to say about Freeholders’ Hall. It’s where the mushroom farmers live. There’s a high clan that lives there, too. And there’s a statue of a naked man. You can read about it in the DM notes if you’re interested.

Yesterday, I wrote about how I found a way to include dynamic lighting with my maps for Roll20 users and I made commands to generate the walls for you with this map as well. They’re in there with the VTT files and there’s a file explaining how to do it.

For those of you running games on Foundry, Fantasy Grounds and other platforms, I need you to know this: I know you are out there, I appreciate your support and I am going to do everything I can to make this happen for you too.

So far, what I’ve learned is this: there was a script called SVG Loader that could import wall lines in Foundry, although it may no longer be compatible with recent updates. I’m going to try it out anyway and see if it works. If I can get it to work for me, I should be able to load up a map, import the walls and export the whole thing as a module file. If I can’t, maybe I can get an older version of Foundry that the script was compatible with? Who knows, I’m just spitballing, but I’ll get to work trying things out tomorrow. I can’t promise you I’ll be able to do this for every platform soon, but I can promise you that I’ll try.

The next map will be last month’s Cartographic Congress winner, a dwarven mining and smelting outpost built into a cliffside. After that, we’re knocking out the last part of Brazenthrone: the Old Palace. It’s a ruined palace adjacent to the Old Quarter and I think it’ll be pretty cool. I wanted to save it for last so hopefully the dwarven city of Brazenthrone finishes on a bang.

I just did two impossible things in Roll20.

I set up the dynamic lighting for every wall in the Great Hall of Brazenthrone in 15 minutes. That’s the first impossible thing. The second impossible thing is: I can give you the ability to do this. Except it’s not going to take you 15 minutes, it’s going to take you 1 minute. And no part of this involves ever setting foot in the Roll20 Marketplace.

Two days ago, I posted something about how I didn’t think I’d be able to give you maps with dynamic lighting set up for Roll20. I thought the only way to do that would have been to sell them on Roll20’s store. That turned out to be wrong. Well, 90% wrong.

Let’s talk about scripts. Specifically, this script. Here’s how it works: I draw a line. Then, I turn the line into a series of commands that describe the line. The script then turns those commands into walls on a map. If it sounds complicated, don’t worry: I have to do the complicated parts. What you do is super easy:

  1. Install the Walls script into your game. You can copy it from here.
  2. Make a page and put the map on it. Go to the map layer and select the map.
  3. Copy a text file (the commands for that map) and paste it in the chat. Hit send. It takes 10-30 seconds to finish and then you have the walls set up for dynamic lighting.

It’s not a complete setup, since it doesn’t do doors, but tracing the walls is a large part of the work of setting up dynamic lighting and being able to knock that out in a few seconds is a pretty big deal. Here are three maps and their script commands I made to try this out on: the Great Hall, the Fallen Tower and the Tusk. Note that the fallen tower is 140px per tile and the other two are 70px. The size has to be correct.

I was informed about this by Luke, who DMs a game I’m a player in. I told him I thought this might change some things for the better for a lot of people. If you DM on Roll20 and have a Plus or Pro account, try it out and let me know what you think. This is a very easy thing for me to do and, if you want me to make these for every map in the future, I will. Maybe I’ll even sit down and do the backlog at some point.

Maps for EncounterPlus

So there’s an app called EncounterPlus, which is an encounter-tracking app. It’s like an offline VTT. Basically, it’s for people who want to use digital maps and tokens to track their combats, but everyone’s in your living room.

Before I go any further, I’m going to save some of you the time: it’s for iOS only. Remember 1997, when everything came out for PC and there were like 12 programs for MacOS? Apparently things have changed.

Anyway, I’m not writing this to recommend EncounterPlus. As a PC user, I’ve never run it, so I can’t tell you if it’s good or not. However, a patron named Matt C. does use it and created some .module files using my maps. These aren’t adventure modules, just maps with the dynamic lighting already set up. I told him I’d share them with you, in case there are more E+ users out there.

You can download the files here. The maps included are:

I’d love it if these could be made for more platforms, but, currently, I believe only Encounter+ and Foundry allow you to make downloadable files with the lighting set up in advance. I’m considering making files like this for both platforms in the future, as well as FantasyGrounds when they implement dynamic lighting. Of course, I’d do it for Roll20 if that becomes possible, but I’m skeptical that it will.

I talked to one of the E+ devs, who told me he could make a script that would convert Foundry modules to E+, so… well, being able to set up a map once and convert it for multiple platforms would make doing this a lot more reasonable. Anyway, no promises just yet, but it’s something I’m looking into.

The Fallen Tower

Drawing this map made my brain hurt and I’m genuinely worried that, by posting it, I’m going to cause other people’s brains to hurt as well. I think this has something to do with the floor being a wall and a wall being the floor, which… dammit, my brain hurts again.

Here, I made a diagram to explain it as simply as I could:

There’s some further explanation in the DM notes, but I think this covers the important stuff. As you can see, I had to change the way I draw significantly to accommodate some of the Fallen Tower’s peculiar needs. Like, there’s a map symbol for a door or a window, but there is no map symbol for “There’s a gap where a staircase used to be. In the wall. 30 feet up,” or “There’s a door, but it’s sideways.” So I had to draw in the sides of the walls to show those things.

A huge part of the time I spent on this was just figuring out how to present it in the most easy-to-understand way I could. At first, I had plans to complicate the hell out of this thing, but I decided to keep it fairly simple and see what you all thought. If the Fallen Tower doesn’t cause too much cerebral hemorrhaging, I may revisit this idea down the road and go a bit wilder with it.

Anyway, I do think this came out pretty well and I think it’d be an interesting place for players to explore. If you’re having a hard time wrapping your head around it, let me know and I’ll do what I can to help. It’s my fault you’re looking at this thing in the first place, so I kind of owe you that.

Next up is Brazenthrone‘s Freeholders’ Hall (27 on this map). It’s where the mushroom farmers live and it’s the second-to-last Brazenthrone map. After that, I’ll be drawing last month’s Cartographic Congress winner, a dwarven mining outpost built into the side of a cliff face. Then we wrap up Brazenthrone with the Old Palace. This journey of nearly two years is coming to a close.

Brazenthrone – The Iron Mines

 

First, here’s the non-annotated version. The grid size for VTT is in the filename. You knew that, right? Just checking.

I’ve never lost my enthusiasm for drawing Brazenthrone, but I am looking forward to the next big project, which makes me somewhat glad to be wrapping it up soon. Also, when Brazenthrone is done, I get to take this map and make it about 60% bigger. Because apparently I drew all that and it wasn’t enough, so I drew a whole lot more, haha.

So what’s the next big project? It’ll be a map of an entire setting. That setting will be a sea in the Underdark called the Black Loch. I’ll talk more about it soon, but you can read about it in this post.

Before I get started on that, I’ll also be finishing the Great Vote maps. The ones left to draw are:

  1. Fortified Oasis – The middle of the desert. The only water for days. And someone built a stone fortress around it. This will be a middle-eastern design.
  2. The Fallen Tower – A large, broken tower. Part of it remains standing, the rest lies on the ground in several large segments.
  3. Aarakocra Village – Aarakocra are avian humanoids. This will be a cliffside or mountain community of them, featuring various things unique to a community of people who can all fly.
  4. Floating Market – This is a real thing. I’ll make a map of one.
  5. The Deepspire – A fortress city in the seas of the Underdark, carved into the sides of a massive column of rock stretching from the sea floor to the roof of the cavern.

In fact, I’ll be drawing the Fallen Tower next. After that, I’ll be doing the second-to-last chamber of Brazenthrone, Freeholders’ Hall (27 on this map). If you’ve got any questions about the Black Loch or my plans for the post-Brazenthrone world (or anything else), just ask!

The Tusk

Last month’s winning Cartographic Congress proposal was by Bryan, who suggested a hanging wizard’s tower. That idea became the Tusk.

There were a few different ways to go about this, but I decided to go with the weirdest. The path to the entrance spirals up a stalagmite, then over a bridge and up the bottom tip of the Tusk itself. After that, the stairs go inside, then later back outside again, ending at a wide stone platform covered in magical glyphs.

Is this a practical layout for a home? Not especially, but I think there are a few things that justify it. First, I envisioned this as the home of a powerful wizard, for whom time and space aren’t huge concerns. The ability to fly and teleport makes the stairs a lot more of a problem to guests than to the occupant.

Second, it makes it harder for people without those abilities to get in and get to the top. Which is a legitimate precaution, because that’s probably what your party is trying to do.

Third, it prevents your party from just taking the stairs straight to the top. I did consider a spiral staircase going all the way up, but… I mean, look: there are parties that will explore the place and run into the various encounters you’ve set out for them, and then and there are parties who will just go straight to the top. They know that’s where the wizard is. Fantasy roleplaying games have been around since 1974 and, in that time, not one DM has ever put the wizard on the ground floor of the tower. This layout makes the party open a few doors at least.

And fourth, I just think it’s cool. I think about practicality a lot when I draw maps, but I think I’m allowed to take a break from it every now and again.

Next up is Brazenthrone‘s Iron Mines, one of three chambers left to draw in the two-year-long megaproject. I’m not sure what my plans are for it, but maybe some inspirational music will help me envision something.

There’s an annotated version of this map and DM notes available to patrons.

Brazenthrone – Greenstone Hall

Greenstone Hall is a residential district of Brazenthrone with a large, green crystal formation embedded in the floor. Discovered when the chamber was excavated, not much is known about it other than the fact that it’s magical. Once seen as a cause for concern, it’s managed to blend into the background after eight centuries of not causing any apparent problems.

With this chamber finished, we’ve got three more parts of Brazenthrone left to do, the next of which will be the Iron Mines. But before that, I’ll be drawing last month’s Cartographic Congress winner, a hanging wizard’s tower built into a stalactite. It’s a concept that allows for some unusual design decisions compared to your standard tube of rocks poking out of the ground. I think it might lead to something pretty interesting when it’s finished. Well, I’ll be back with it in a bit and we’ll see!

There are DM notes for this map available to patrons.