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.
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.
Here’s the annotated version.
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.
Here are the second and third levels by themselves.
These halls are the “suburbia” of Brazenthrone, which makes them a little hard to say much about. They’re where normal dwarves live. They’re neither the wealthiest commoner district nor the poorest. The wealthiest is the Promontories, of course. The poorest will be the Hollows, to the west of the Anvil Quarter. It hasn’t been drawn yet, but that’s where it’ll be. Ye olde hood.
With these chambers done, a finished Brazenthrone is starting to come into sight. As I promised earlier, I’m going to redo the overview map of the city to include all the unmarked chambers. That won’t take long and it should be up later tonight. I’ve had a few people tell me they’ve been using it as a handout recently and, with six chambers drawn that aren’t marked on there, it’s probably a good time to do it. Anyway, I’ll be back with that in a few hours!
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!
The non-annotated version is here. EDIT: Bonus alternate annotated version.
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.
DM notes and VTT versions of this map are available to patrons.
There she is. I’ll do History and Lore next, then I’m stitching this whole monstrosity together. But first I’m gonna go play some D&D.
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.
Here’s the non-annotated version for those of you who don’t want a 1 and a 2 on your map.
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.
Okay, here’s the non-annotated version. There are DM notes and a fully-annotated version of this map with all the rooms marked available to patrons.