Of the many Irish isles, one would have stood out to ancient settlers as a particularly good place to live. With its rolling hills, thick forests and an abundance of arable land, it was exactly what many of them were looking for. The island was called “Ireland” and, conveniently, it was the big one in the middle.
But for some people, Ireland was a bit too easy. They were looking for a challenge. These people wanted to make their homes on a smaller island, several miles offshore. Maybe a steep, jagged rock jutting out of the sea, preferably with no trees, very little flat ground, and, of course, no farmable land. Because agriculture is basically cheating.
A little ways off Ireland’s southwest coast, they found exactly what they were looking for: Skellig Michael. They headed over, built themselves a few big, stone beehives to live in, and enjoyed spending the rest of their lives away from the fast-living, hectic lifestyle of rural Kerry.
Then, over 1000 years later, Luke Skywalker showed up. Seriously. If you recognize this place, that’s probably why. In 2015, part of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was filmed on Skellig Michael. And if the island’s name rings a bell, that’s probably because you’ve played the Witcher. The Kingdom of Skellige is named after it. I’m not sure how the producers of Star Wars or a Polish author even knew this place existed, but apparently it’s more famous than you’d expect.
Anyway, next, I’ll be drawing another map from the Black Loch. This time, I’ll be drawing the ruins of an Illithid settlement, which should be a pretty interesting place to explore. After that, I’m going to draw the map chosen by last month’s Cartographic Congress, which I am ridiculously excited about.
Once in a while, someone proposes something to the Cartographic Congress that’s very similar to an idea I’ve been wanting to draw for a while. And, once in a while, that proposal wins. This is that proposal: a town built on a bridge over a river canyon.
I’ve seen a couple maps based on similar ideas before, but I’ve got a whole different sort of thing planned. I’m planning to draw buildings along the sides of the bridge, plus a lower level underneath the bridge deck, and hollow spaces inside the support pylons. I want to have the settlement extend into the cliffsides beneath the bridge as well. I’ve got a big vision for this and I think it’s going to be really cool, either as a settlement or as a dungeon to explore.
Well, that’s it for now. Hope you like Ard Skellig. Let me know what you think!