Eldfjall is an arctic island in the northern seas, a bountiful hunting ground for whaling and seal-hunting. But it’s so far north that crops can’t grow and even a fire won’t keep away the bitter, year-round cold. Still, one brave group of settlers found a way to make it habitable: they built their homes in the caldera of the island’s volcano, using the heat it gives off to stay warm and grow small gardens to supplement their diet of fish, seals and whale. This town wasn’t built around a volcano by chance, but by necessity. It’s not a threat to the town, it’s the heart of the town. It’s what gives it life and, without it, the town couldn’t exist.
Eldfjall is the Icelandic word for “volcano.” I don’t know much about the Icelandic language, but that word is so Skyrim it makes my brain tingle. Also, Eldfjall is a pretty Icelandic place. Cold, volcanoes, whaling? That’s everything Iceland is famous for minus Sigur Ros.
Next up is Brazenthrone‘s Burke’s Hall, at 23 on the overview map. Then it’s the Great Garden: a huge, elaborate garden with ponds and a great sacred tree.
Skywatch is a little unusual as castles go, for a few reasons. The obvious one is that it’s on a rock in the sky. Historically speaking, the most common place to build a castle is on the ground. I’m told that’s where over 50% of castles are.
The less-obvious quirk is the castle’s defenses. Most castles rely on the idea that the lower parts are easier to get to than the higher parts. So there’s a curtain wall. And there’s a big, strong gate at the bottom. That doesn’t work here, since, presumably, anyone attacking Skywatch can fly. Any door is, more or less, as easy to get to as any other. And a wall? The only thing that does is block the view.
Another special necessity for Skywatch is the observation platform and arrow embrasures at the bottom, which prevent the sky beneath the castle from becoming a blind spot.
So how do you defend a castle in three dimensions? I suppose that depends on the wider setting. Are there airships? Dragons? Griffon riders? Aarakocra? In any case, I’d imagine that the main thing is to handle them at a distance, since the usual plan of setting up a height advantage for the defenders isn’t going to work out very well.
Thanks to Roose, who proposed this map to the Cartographic Congress! Next up is Brazenthrone‘s Opaline Grotto, one of the more interesting residential areas of the city.
There’s an annotated version of this map and DM notes available to patrons.
With this done, the shattered wreck that is Brazenthrone‘s Old Quarter is now finished. Next up is last month’s Cartographic Congress winner: a small castle on a floating island in the sky. Following that, we’re going back to Brazenthrone to do the Opaline Grotto (24 on this map). Then it’ll be the most recent Cartographic Congress winner, a city built on an active volcano. So, you know, Hawaii. Not really. Kind of, though.
I’ve got another bunch of tokens I made for my game as well and I’ll have those up in the next few days. There’s some town guards, pirates, mind flayers and a hill giant that one-shotted an NPC in my game the other week. The dude valiantly charges forward and says, “You take the goblins, I’ll handle the big guy!” And then that giant did to his head what Tiger Woods does to golf balls. Good effort, though, buddy. Good, solid try.
There are DM notes and hi-res print and VTT versions of this map available to patrons.
These are the ruins of Brazenthrone‘s Old Quarter. Known in its time as the “Temple Quarter,” it was once the heart of the city, much as the Great Hall is today. The Quarter’s downfall was brought about by a force more powerful than any other: geology. A tremendous earthquake, brought on by the shifting of magma deep underground, shattered one of the chamber’s support columns and brought down huge sections of the chamber’s ceiling.
After being declared irreparably unsafe by the Ministry of Engineering, the entire area, as well as the Old Palace to the north, were reluctantly abandoned and sealed off.
Today, the Old Quarter lies ruined, infested and partially flooded due to a leaking ventilation shaft. Going in there for any reason is a terrible idea, but your players will charge in headfirst because this is the kind of place where there’s cash and prizes to be found. And besides, making prudent decisions is the DM’s job.
I’m thinking this will be three levels in total. The to-do list for Brazenthrone is getting shorter and shorter! I can’t wait to get it all into the one image and see how it looks!
There are VTT and print versions of this map, as well as an expanded annotated version, available to patrons.
This is the main temple of Mystra, the goddess of magic in the Forgotten Realms. In addition to its religious functions, the temple also houses a massive storehouse of magic in the caverns below. I only included the first level in the map, but there’s a stairway on the left side of the caverns to allow you to expand into another map if you want.
The symbols at the bases of the towers are meant to be glyphs that teleport people between levels. But if you’d prefer boring old stairs, I made another version with those.
My game is starting soon, so I’ve gotta wrap up this post. Next up is more Brazenthrone!
This was going to be the last level, but a few people mentioned that they could use a version without any interiors, so I’m going to do an overview map with roofs on everything. It’ll only take an hour or two and I’ll have it up later tonight. From now on, I’m going to start making those for the remainder of Brazenthrone, as well as other maps when appropriate.
Oh, and I also promised a 3rd edition of Brazenthrone History and Lore. That’ll be up later tonight or tomorrow. Okay, well, I’m gonna get to it.
There will be one more floor to the Noble Quarter, which– I’m not going to lie– isn’t going to be super exciting unless your favorite part of these is the roofs. But it’ll only take a day or two and, afterwards, I’m finally going to put all of this together. All of Brazenthrone in one image. It’ll be way too big to serve any practical purpose, but I really want to see what that looks like.
What about after that? Well, I promised that once the core parts of Brazenthrone were done, we’d take on Mont-Saint-Michel. And we will.
When a person of great magical power breaks the rules, you can’t just throw them in the pokey with the cattle rustlers and meth dealers. Imprisoning someone with the ability to fly, teleport, and otherwise bend the rules of reality takes a place like the Silent Vaults.
Enclosed in an antimagic ward generated by a powerful device (in the dungeon, left side), the Vaults nullify the abilities of those contained within. The facility also has a guard barracks, warden’s residence and a chapel that is definitely not dedicated to Mystra.
Floating above the prison is a tiny island with a heavily-warded containment vault, designed to hold a person or entity of incredible arcane power. If you need to make a demon or an archlich sit and think about what they’ve done, this is the place to do it.
The clanhalls are the family estates of Brazenthrone‘s high clans. High clans are basically the nobility of the Kingdom of the Twelve Mountains. You can read more about them here, if you’re interested.
Clans are just extended families. Some clans only have a few members, while others have over a thousand. The clanhall is where the clan’s patriarch or matriarch lives with their immediate family. Some of these are grand manors, while a few are barely bigger than the average commoner’s home.
Regardless, the Noble Quarter is a pretty nice place to live. Unlike most of the city, it’s built in a large, beautiful, natural cavern. The waterfall on the north end makes the air a bit more humid than other parts of the city, allowing mushrooms to grow naturally on the ground.
Of course, it’s not all waterfalls and mushrooms. This was the epicenter of a major catastrophe not long ago. I’ll get into that in the DM notes and the next edition of History and Lore, both of which I’ll put out when the Noble Quarter is finished.
All right, next up is last month’s Cartographic Congress winner: a magical prison. Spellhold, Azkaban… something of that nature. Then we’re coming right back to Brazenthrone to knock out the rest of the Noble Quarter, which will be two more floors. Or maybe three. We’ll see.