The Floating Market

Everybody having a good holidays? I hope so, but if not, remember that 2020 is almost over, which is a cause for celebration by itself. And, with tomorrow being New Year’s Eve, it’s completely acceptable to drink your way across the finish line.

This map kind of feels like something someone else drew. It’s a completely reasonable size, it’s almost all outdoors and the map takes up the entire image with no convenient place to put a title. I mean, I did draw this and I remember doing it, but… how do I put this? It’s like watching a movie with Liam Neeson in it and he doesn’t kill a single person the whole time. It’s not bad, necessarily, but it feels a bit strange.

By the way, floating markets aren’t a thing I made up. They used to be fairly common in Southeast Asia and there are still a few around today. It’s a very practical idea if you think about it. How do you get your stuff to the market? On a boat. Where do you sell it from once you get there? How about the boat? Then how do you get home? Throw the boat in reverse and you’re on your way.

I considered drawing a bridge across the river, but I decided against it. That might seem like a strange choice, but I think it’s actually better without one. If the players need to cross, they’ll have to figure out how. There are plenty of possibilities if they aren’t in a hurry, but if they are, they might have to do something crazy, like jump from boat to boat. It’s a recipe for chaos, and chaos makes for interesting encounters. That’s my thinking, but if you have any other thoughts about it, I’d love to hear them.

Anyway, next up is a mind flayer dreadnought, which is a spelljammer warship. After that, I’ll be drawing an aarakocra village. But, as I promised earlier, I’ll be taking a day to work on the dynamic lighting for Brazenthrone first. This has been going much more quickly than I thought and I suspect it’ll be done by the end of January.

Well, I’d better get started on that. Let me know what you think of the map!

The Walls of Brazenthrone for VTT

I spent all day yesterday marking the walls and doors of Brazenthrone for VTT. While the experience hasn’t turned me into a gibbering psychological disaster, I still don’t recommend it. Anyway, here’s what I got done in a day of work:

  • The Great Hall (6 levels)
  • The Anvil Quarter (2 levels)
  • The Common Quarter (3 levels)
  • The Noble Quarter (1F only)
  • City Gates
  • Inner Gates
  • Surface Trading Outpost

For Roll20, these come in the form of wall commands for UniversalVTTImporter. You can download the commands here (in the file called “The Dwarven City of Brazenthrone VTT”). Instructions for using them are in there too. Use the special maps that are included.

For Foundry, there’s a new module you can install with this manifest URL. And for EncounterPlus, there’s a new module you can download here.

The version of the Great Hall in the Foundry module was done by Josh H., who did the most absolutely perfect wall lines I have ever seen in a VTT map. Seriously, they are a sight to behold. I’m actually worried he’s going to look at the ones I did and go, “Look at this scrub with his crappy peasant walls.” Hopefully they’ll meet his standards.

So, all this is in the free public Brazenthrone module. I’m planning to put the rest of the Noble Quarter in there, as well as the Old Quarter, then the rest of the city will go in a patrons’ module. That feels pretty reasonable to me. The free stuff gets you up to the gates, into the Great Hall and gives you a tour of the major districts, which are the places you’d least want to mark the walls for.

As I said before, I’m going to spend a day on this between maps, so I’ll get back on it once the next map is finished. Well, I’m gonna get some drawing done. If there’s anything wrong with any of this stuff, leave a comment and I’ll take care of it!

Drowning Hill – Roofs

Sorry, this took me a bit longer than expected because holiday stuff. Anyway, VTT versions of Drowning Hill with walls and doors are in the patrons’ Foundry module and the patrons’ EncounterPlus module.

If you downloaded the free module for Foundry or EncounterPlus more than 3-4 days ago, you should grab the new one (you can update the Foundry module). They’ve both been fixed up and all the maps and walls should be in good shape.

This is especially true with the EncounterPlus module, which required a little more attention. If you use EncounterPlus, you have Matt C. to thank for that, by the way. Since I don’t have a Mac and can’t run E+ myself, I was flying blind while trying to fix the errors and I wouldn’t have known what worked without his feedback over the last month or so. I’ve already said this quite a few times, but here’s one more: Thank you!

As I mentioned before, I’m going to spend one day between maps doing the VTT walls and lighting for Brazenthrone. After that, I’ll be starting on the floating market map. Until then, have a good holidays!

Drowning Hill

Here’s the non-annotated version and the DM notes. This is pretty far from your run-of-the-mill village and I think I owe everyone an explanation of some of the things that are going on here.

Drowning Hill is a village meant for an amphibious race. The name is a fairly literal description of the place, since most of the village is submerged by high tides. With the place being underwater on a fairly regular basis, it’s not an ideal location for people who are particularly picky about whether they’re breathing a gas or a liquid.

I could talk more about the various races that might live here, but all my thoughts on that are in the DM notes. Also, it just recently occurred to me what a perfect aboleth lair this would be and now that’s the only thing I can see. A big, clairvoyant fish hiding under his cult of drooling lackeys.

You might be wondering about Nina’s Inn. Why Nina? Well, the idea for this map came from the Cartographic Congress, and the person who proposed it, James, asked if I’d name the inn after his wife, so I did. Although, in the DM notes, I may have… sort of implied that she’s a fish cultist. Let’s hope James married a woman with a good sense of humor.

I tried some new things with the color here and I’m pretty sure this is the best I’ve ever colored anything in my life. So I might keep doing that. If you’ve got any thoughts about it, let me know.

The next map won’t take long. I’m going to make another version of this with roofs on it. Everything’s already drawn and I might have it done by tonight. After that, I’ll be drawing a floating market, one of the last three maps from the Great Vote. Anyway, let me know what you think!

 

VTT stuff is much better now.

I’ve got news for Roll20, Foundry and EncounterPlus DMs, as well as some news about Brazenthrone. Let’s take it one at a time.

Roll20

I started using a new script to allow you to automatically make walls for your maps. It’s called Universal VTT Importer and it’s better for a few reasons: first, it makes both walls and doors. Second, it works with Dungeondraft, so I can make proper walls for you instead of the janky ones with all the dots.

As a guy who draws his own maps by hand on paper, I didn’t expect that I’d ever have a need for Dungeondraft, but I guess I was wrong. Anyway, the wall commands you need are with the VTT files for the oasis map (in the “Newest Patron Content” folder). There are also instructions on how to use them. Follow my instructions, not the ones in the link above. I did some of that stuff for you.

Foundry

I finally got around to cleaning up the public Foundry module and, uh… that thing really had some problems, huh? Sorry about that, but they’re all taken care of. The grids all line up, the walls are all aligned properly and I took care of a bunch of other little things that I noticed.

Mostly, the problem was that I didn’t make some of my older maps with VTTs in mind and it caused issues. I won’t bore you with the details. I did take a few maps out because they would be an enormous pain to get their grids aligned, but these were almost all from my early black and white days. In other words, they were crap. I made the effort for anything good, like Finbarr’s Marsh and Neuschwanstein. Still, if anyone was planning a massive, five-year campaign around Burdock’s Trading Post, I do apologize.

Here’s the manifest URL for the public module. You’ll have to uninstall the old one and install this, but in the future, I’ll make them updateable. For patrons, the Wahat Al-Hasan Oasis is now in the patrons’ module. The manifest URL is in the Table of Contents.

EncounterPlus

The best news is for you. I’ve converted both of the Foundry modules into EncounterPlus modules. This took some work, since the converter is very particular about everything being a certain way. Missing image file? Something out of place? Oh hell no! Call the whole thing off, ABORT, ABORT! I ran the converter, got an error message, fixed the problem, ran it again, got another error, fixed that problem and, after doing this about seven million times, I finally present to you: the public EncounterPlus module.

Everything in the public Foundry module is in here. 66 maps, ~275 tokens and a few dozen journal files. There’s also a patrons’ module, which is in the patron content drive, in a folder in the VTT section.

One word of warning: I haven’t tested that the public module works yet. I don’t have a Mac and I can’t run E+, but the patrons’ module has been tested and it should be fine. Also, I need to thank Matt C. for helping me with this. It would not exist without him. If the public module is confirmed as working, I’m going to send it to the E+ devs to give out to anyone who wants it.

Brazenthrone

The following is something I’m really going to regret saying later. Still, here goes:

I’ve been thinking about doing the walls and doors for Brazenthrone lately and I’m feeling like it’s hard to justify not doing it. It’s an insane task, but, I mean, it’s tens of hours of work for me that saves other people a combined total of hundreds, maybe thousands of hours. That’s the thing I keep coming back to. So… I’m going to do it. God, that was really hard to type.

The thing is, I need to do this in a way that enables me to not go completely nuts. So, the plan is to do it a bit at a time. I’m thinking I’ll spend one day on it between maps. I don’t know how long it’ll take, but– like Brazenthrone itself– it’ll get done eventually.

I’ll release it in the form of Universal VTT Importer commands for Roll20 and modules for Foundry and EncounterPlus. I’ll do FantasyGrounds if I can find a converter, but I haven’t seen one yet. Most of it will probably be for patrons, but I’ll make some of the really crazy stuff– like the Great Hall– public. No one should have to draw the walls for that monstrosity. Well, except me.

Anyway, I’ll spend a day on this after I get done with the next map. We’ll see how it goes.

Wahat Al-Hasan Oasis

I did quite a bit of research for this map, particularly on Middle Eastern architecture and furnishings. It isn’t based on any real place, but it was inspired by the Masjid Wazir Khan in Pakistan and the Buland Darwaza in India.

As I was skimming through the various reference material I used here, I came across something largely unrelated, but ridiculously awesome: zamburaks. This is a small cannon mounted on a camel. Not pulled by a camel, mounted on the camel. It’s a camel with a cannon turret on its back and I swear to god it was a real thing that people did. My players are in the middle of a frozen wasteland at the moment and I want to stop everything and drag them out to a desert just so I can have them get shot at by a camel cannon.

I’ll resist the urge to do that, but maybe you don’t have to. See the stables in the map there? *Slaps roof* This bad boy can fit six zamburaks in it. I am just saying.

Next up is last month’s Cartographic Congress winner: a village for an amphibious people, located on a hill that is submerged during high tide. An inn at the top of the hill is the only structure permanently above water. I’ve got a lot of ideas churning around for this one and I think it’ll end up being pretty interesting. Anyway, let me know what you think of the map! Or zamburaks.

The Fortified Oasis – Work-In-Progress

Here’s the first floor of the oasis, almost finished. The other two floors are also nearly done, so I should have this finished in a couple days.

This floor doesn’t have many of the rugs I mentioned earlier, which are mostly on the level above. There’s one room with seven rugs. It’s like Discount Carpet Warehouse in there. And the hookah room has five. Yeah, there’s a hookah room. And I sincerely apologize in advance for whatever happens when the stoner in your group gets there.

Okay, just wanted to show you how it was coming. Back to work.

Several Small Things

I’ve got the next map– the Fortified Oasis– fully penciled and ready to ink. But before I get started on that, I wanted to mention a few other things I got done:

Anyway, that’s all. I’m gonna get back to work on the oasis. I was up drawing until pretty late last night because, as it turns out, if you draw a million rugs on a map, you then have to come up with designs for a million rugs. It does look pretty cool, though. I think you’re gonna like it.