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.