Grotto. While drawing this map, it occurred to me that “grotto” might be… not the ugliest word in the English language, but the ugliest word for a thing that’s usually beautiful. Say it: grotto. Grotto. Ugh.
Yeah, so anyway, the Opaline *ahem* Grotto is a natural cavern with unmined opal deposits in the walls. There’s also a small cave system behind one of the houses leading to the Bitterwash River in case your party happens to need a shortcut.
Since I’d originally drawn this as a rectangular chamber on the Brazenthrone overview map, I updated it with the new shape. The print and VTT versions of it are here (they’re free). I know I updated this the other week and I apologize to anyone who just printed it and is staring at the screen like, “This f#@%* guy…” But this is probably the last time I update it. Unless it’s not.
Next up is last month’s Cartographic Congress winner: a city built around a volcano. After that, we’re going back to Brazenthrone for Burke’s Hall (23 on the overview). And then I’ll be knocking out a map from the Great Vote. I’m thinking the Great Garden sounds good, but I reserve the right to change my mind to Greenskin Rock. Screw it, I’ll put up a vote on the patreon. Decisions are hard.
There are DM notes for this map available to patrons.
Last month, I was making all the patron content for my new maps available to everyone (for reasons explained in this post). I’m going to continue doing so until at least May 18th, which is the date for the end of the lockdown in Ireland (where I live). I hope these maps have been helpful to those of you who have had to bring their games online (and everyone else).
Anyway, this map is Brazenthrone‘s old mines, the city’s disused and sealed-off iron mines. What went wrong? They dug too deep and too greedily? Disturbed a sleeping dragon? No, they tunneled into an underground stream and flooded the place. Eventually, various critters tunneled their way in from outside and made it their home, leading to the dwarves sealing the whole thing off.
But maybe somebody left their lunchbox inside and your party has to go in and get it. Or maybe there’s an aboleth in there doing some kind of psychic nonsense and someone needs to put some lemon juice on that sucker and toss it on the grill. There’s some ideas in the DM notes.
Next up is more Brazenthrone. I’m going to do a residential district because there’s quite a few of them left to draw and I don’t want to end up with everything else finished and 8 residential chambers to draw in a row. Well, I’d better get started!
EDIT: Apologies, I was recently made aware that Slovenians do not like being referred to as Eastern European. Sorry about that.
This is Predjama Castle, a real place in the Eastern CENTRAL European nation of Slovenia. That’s right: Eastern Europe– the most brutal and merciless of all the Europes. Leading cause of death in the middle ages? Dracula. Number two? Gypsy curses. Number three? The church.
How do you survive all that? You build this place. Predjama is the castle a paranoid person builds. Start by constructing it in the mouth of a cave. Put a drawbridge on the front door. Then, put another drawbridge on the top level, leading to an inner citadel in the caves behind the castle. Then, dig an escape tunnel leading through those caves to a hidden exit in a nearby well. That just might do it.
This place is one of the most Ravenloft things that has ever happened. Like a vampire reading Edgar Allan Poe on a chair made of lost hope. I love it.
One last thing: this map was proposed to the Cartographic Congress by someone who has since had to delete their patreon account, but I’d still like to give them the patron content for this map if I can. If you are that person, please email me and I’ll send it your way. Also, thank you for suggesting this map.
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.
This is the bottom of Brazenthrone, as far down as the city goes. While dwarves aren’t typically a nautically-inclined people, they’re happy to trade with those who are and deep gnome, drow and orog merchants come here to do business. The thing across the harbor’s entrance is a chain boom, which can be raised or lowered to control access to the outpost.
Next up is the map chosen by last month’s Cartographic Congress, the harbor fortress of Torchguard. Like the Underdark Outpost, it’s looking like it’s going to be bigger than I’d originally planned. It might actually be approaching the size of Neuschwanstein.
I suppose it wouldn’t be the first time I made modest plans and then went way overboard. I originally planned for the Great Hall of Brazenthrone to be four floors before I added another two. And that’s the biggest map I’ve ever made. How do you look at that and think, “It could be bigger?” Well, anyway, I hope you’re cool with that because I’m probably not going to stop.
This is where Brazenthrone sends the few criminals whose crimes are deemed too severe for a flogging, yet not quite warranting execution (they do love a good flogging).
The prisoners are housed in a series of oubliettes, sleeping in the narrow alcoves around the sides. Those deemed especially naughty are placed in the isolation pits. Gates at the entrance and the guards’ area prevent access by potential escapees. This could be an interesting place to have your players escape from or stage a rescue.
Next up is Old Madeleine’s Inn and Fighting Pit, then we’re finishing off the lower part of Brazenthrone with the Underdark Trading Outpost. If you’re a patron, there’s still time to vote in the runoff between the Airship of the Line and the Aarakocra Village in the medium category (the vote ends later tonight). When it ends, the large-ish category vote will begin.
This is last month’s Cartographic Congress winner, based on the idea proposed by Senator Wulfric. It’s also the first map I’ve made with people in it. Dead people, sure, but still. By the way, if you don’t want dead bodies in your iron mine, there’s a corpse-free version here.
This map has a built-in story, but is left open-ended. Some miners were hitting a rock with a thing, the rock broke and they found a cavern with… well, that part is up to you.
Next up is Brazenthrone. Where are we going next? North to the Noble Quarter? South to the Anvil Quarter, Common Quarter or Grand Temple? No. We’re going down. First, the Underdark Waystation, then the Pits of Justice, then the Underdark Trading Outpost.
The first vote of the Great Vote will be in the next few days and will be open to all patrons. If you’d like a voice in what the next few months of maps will be, consider becoming a patron.
This is the basic layout of the map I will be drawing over the next year. Keep in mind that this is at a 70 foot scale, which means that each tile here will become 196 tiles when drawn at a 5 foot scale. To illustrate how big this will be, the Great Hall, marked as (4) here, is about the size of the ground level of Finbarr’s Marsh (including the surrounding water).
A few things to mention:
All of these will have multiple levels.
The mines are just a sketch. They will look completely different in the 5 foot scale maps.
I will be drawing the residential districts (the unmarked chambers on the map).
All of the chambers here will be assembled as one big map when they’re all finished. And that one map will be so huge it’ll be impractical to use, but it’ll probably be really cool.
Finally, any and all of this is subject to change. A measurement error here and a new idea there will almost certainly lead to changes and/or additions at some point. But this is the general idea.
I will be alternating between drawing maps for this and drawing other maps. My next map will be an airship. After that, Brazenthrone’s Surface Outpost. Then something else. Then back to Brazenthrone. And so on.
Thanks again to everyone who joined my patreon. That was definitely a much bigger response to Finbarr’s Marsh than I was expecting. And if you liked Finbarr’s Marsh, I have good news: you ain’t seen nothing yet. The next megaproject is going to be 6-8 times that size. And it may be kicking off a lot sooner than I expected.