Kasan-Tir Mining Outpost – “I like it but I’m not into the tunnel thing” Edition

Here are the tunnels to go with this.

There were two experimental things I did with this map and one of them seems to have gone over well, while the other didn’t. A few patrons let me know, which I appreciate, since it helps me make decisions about stuff like this in the future.

Anyway, I made an alternate version without the tunnels for the patrons’ edition maps in case anyone really didn’t like the original one and I figured I should give it out to non-patrons as well. My patrons seem to prefer this one and, in general, I assume that my patrons and non-patrons are likely to have similar opinions about my work. I’m not big on gating off content and I want everyone to have a version of this map they can use.

The other thing included here is the tunnels. These are a VTT token, but they’re printable too. The idea was that they could be placed in a hidden layer– either under the path or off to the side– then revealed when the players get in and make their way down into them.  Or, if you’re printing the map, you could cut them out as an overlay or keep them as a separate page.

Anyway, I hope this is more useful to you! I’m gonna try to get all those things I talked about in the last post done today, so I’d better get to it.

Kasan-Tir Mining Outpost

This took a while to draw because I spent two days laying it out, then I decided it was crap and started over from scratch. Sorry for the wait, but it really was irredeemable garbage.

There’s some unusual stuff going on here and I’m wondering how you’re going to feel about it. First, you’ve got multiple levels overlaid on top of each other. There’s the winding path with arrow slits above, then the tunnels on the other side of those arrow slits below.

Mainly, this keeps the map a bit more compact. I try not to bloat the size of my maps too much because it’s always more of a hassle for people using them. If you’re printing it, there’s more to print and if you’re using VTT, the file size is bigger. And I don’t think this is giving anything away. The PCs can see the arrow slits and, I mean, what else would be on the other side?

The second unusual thing is the perspective shift. To me, this feels like the part that might be controversial. You’ve got a slightly angled view of things right up to the door. Then, once you enter the mountainside, it’s a fully overhead view.

This does a few things for this map. It makes the path seem more upward, it shows the arrow slits and it gives a nice view of the chasm. But, once we’re inside, it’s not doing anything for us anymore, so it changes to top-down. I’m curious what you all think about it. Let me know if you like it and definitely let me know if you hate it. We don’t have to do this again.

By the way, this is handled a few different ways in the patrons’ edition versions. In the 1-inch grid print version, the tunnels are a separate overlay, which seemed more practical for print. And in the VTT version, there’s something similar (the tunnels are a token/tile, basically). There’s also a VTT version like the image above. This map was a gamble, so I thought I’d hedge my bets.

There are a few more things. LIST MODE, ON MY MARK. ENGAGE.

  • There’s an explanation of the equipment on the upper floor in the DM notes. Non-patrons can refer to the DM notes for the Oreworks, which describes all the equipment here: a casting pit, converter crucible, puddling furnace and stamp mill.
  • The VTT versions of this map include a Foundry VTT module for the first time, which is kind of perfect, because there is literally a foundry in this map.
  • I’m going to try to get the patrons’ edition Foundry module hosted online so you don’t have to manually install it. Hopefully today.
  • I promised to get the dynamic lighting maps working for more platforms. EncounterPlus is next. I found a converter and I’m going to try it out.
  • I’m making some Brazenthrone assets. Nothing fancy, but they should make it easier to modify or create new chambers, because I’m only drawing one more.
  • Speaking of which, the next map will be Brazenthrone’s Old Palace (1 on this map). This is the final chamber of the city and I’ll do something cool with it.
  • Is that everything? I think so. Let me know what you think of the outpost!

Brazenthrone – The Iron Mines

 

First, here’s the non-annotated version. The grid size for VTT is in the filename. You knew that, right? Just checking.

I’ve never lost my enthusiasm for drawing Brazenthrone, but I am looking forward to the next big project, which makes me somewhat glad to be wrapping it up soon. Also, when Brazenthrone is done, I get to take this map and make it about 60% bigger. Because apparently I drew all that and it wasn’t enough, so I drew a whole lot more, haha.

So what’s the next big project? It’ll be a map of an entire setting. That setting will be a sea in the Underdark called the Black Loch. I’ll talk more about it soon, but you can read about it in this post.

Before I get started on that, I’ll also be finishing the Great Vote maps. The ones left to draw are:

  1. Fortified Oasis – The middle of the desert. The only water for days. And someone built a stone fortress around it. This will be a middle-eastern design.
  2. The Fallen Tower – A large, broken tower. Part of it remains standing, the rest lies on the ground in several large segments.
  3. Aarakocra Village – Aarakocra are avian humanoids. This will be a cliffside or mountain community of them, featuring various things unique to a community of people who can all fly.
  4. Floating Market – This is a real thing. I’ll make a map of one.
  5. The Deepspire – A fortress city in the seas of the Underdark, carved into the sides of a massive column of rock stretching from the sea floor to the roof of the cavern.

In fact, I’ll be drawing the Fallen Tower next. After that, I’ll be doing the second-to-last chamber of Brazenthrone, Freeholders’ Hall (27 on this map). If you’ve got any questions about the Black Loch or my plans for the post-Brazenthrone world (or anything else), just ask!

The Tusk

Last month’s winning Cartographic Congress proposal was by Bryan, who suggested a hanging wizard’s tower. That idea became the Tusk.

There were a few different ways to go about this, but I decided to go with the weirdest. The path to the entrance spirals up a stalagmite, then over a bridge and up the bottom tip of the Tusk itself. After that, the stairs go inside, then later back outside again, ending at a wide stone platform covered in magical glyphs.

Is this a practical layout for a home? Not especially, but I think there are a few things that justify it. First, I envisioned this as the home of a powerful wizard, for whom time and space aren’t huge concerns. The ability to fly and teleport makes the stairs a lot more of a problem to guests than to the occupant.

Second, it makes it harder for people without those abilities to get in and get to the top. Which is a legitimate precaution, because that’s probably what your party is trying to do.

Third, it prevents your party from just taking the stairs straight to the top. I did consider a spiral staircase going all the way up, but… I mean, look: there are parties that will explore the place and run into the various encounters you’ve set out for them, and then and there are parties who will just go straight to the top. They know that’s where the wizard is. Fantasy roleplaying games have been around since 1974 and, in that time, not one DM has ever put the wizard on the ground floor of the tower. This layout makes the party open a few doors at least.

And fourth, I just think it’s cool. I think about practicality a lot when I draw maps, but I think I’m allowed to take a break from it every now and again.

Next up is Brazenthrone‘s Iron Mines, one of three chambers left to draw in the two-year-long megaproject. I’m not sure what my plans are for it, but maybe some inspirational music will help me envision something.

There’s an annotated version of this map and DM notes available to patrons.

Brazenthrone – Greenstone Hall

Greenstone Hall is a residential district of Brazenthrone with a large, green crystal formation embedded in the floor. Discovered when the chamber was excavated, not much is known about it other than the fact that it’s magical. Once seen as a cause for concern, it’s managed to blend into the background after eight centuries of not causing any apparent problems.

With this chamber finished, we’ve got three more parts of Brazenthrone left to do, the next of which will be the Iron Mines. But before that, I’ll be drawing last month’s Cartographic Congress winner, a hanging wizard’s tower built into a stalactite. It’s a concept that allows for some unusual design decisions compared to your standard tube of rocks poking out of the ground. I think it might lead to something pretty interesting when it’s finished. Well, I’ll be back with it in a bit and we’ll see!

There are DM notes for this map available to patrons.

I’m an idiot. Here’s the actual alternate version of Whiskey Point.

The previous “alternate version” of Whiskey Point was identical to the regular version. I guess I saved the wrong file without noticing. Sorry about that. I especially apologize to anyone who was staring at the two files, trying to figure out what the difference was.

Anyway, I just noticed this, so I’m posting the actual alternate version. The difference is at the top floor of the lighthouse. If it still doesn’t look different, reload the page. You may have the old file cached.

Whiskey Point

Here’s an alternate version (explained below) and a ballista token I made for no specific reason.

Whiskey Point is a ruined fort and lighthouse which has been reclaimed by pirates, who patched it up and now run a black market from inside its walls. Other pirates come here to fence their loot and have a few drinks before getting back to work.

The alternate version only has one difference: at the top of the lighthouse, instead of a pyre, there’s a crystal. In this version, the idea is that the lighthouse is actually an arcane weapon that fires powerful beams of light. Should you use this version of the map? Look, I’m not trying to tell anyone how to run their game, but I just want to say two words to you, okay? Just two. Laser pirates.

Next up is Brazenthrone‘s Mushroom Farms. It won’t just be a cave full of mushrooms. It’s also where most of the city’s breweries are. And it’s where all the city’s funerals are held, since it’s the farthest downriver and the dwarves of Brazenthrone do Viking-style funerals. That’s where the deceased is placed on a boat, then the boat is lit on fire and sent down the river. Dwarves aren’t known for their love of boats, but they do live under a mountain and they can’t have dead people stinking up the place.

The Red Towers II: Orcstralia

Here’s the alternate version of the Red Towers for those of you who prefer a drier greenskin lair. I was thinking of calling it “Stinky Uluru,” but I didn’t think anyone would get it except Australians and people who played Civilization 5.

I decided everyone should have the annotated version of this map. It seemed like some things might be a little confusing without it. Anyway, here’s some other stuff. Check the previous post if you’re not sure what the tokens are for:

Next up is another Brazenthrone map: the Hollows. This is the bad part of town, where your players can go to fence some stolen loot, join the thieves’ guild or just score drugs. This is the sixth-to-last chamber of Brazenthrone left to go! After two years of drawing, it’s nearly finished! Can you believe it?

The Red Towers

Greenskin Rock got a new name and this is it. I like sea stacks and I like the idea of something living in one.

You’ve got all the things a semi-primitive demihuman race needs in here. There’s an eating area with a fighting pit, a shrine to whatever unpleasant-smelling god these heathens worship, along with cells so the sacrifices don’t wander off. There’s a kennel for wargs or wolves or… Yorkshire Terriers? Whatever kind of pets the inhabitants are into. Plus a brewery, a rookery, a well and a few other things.

By the way, I did something new with this map. Those planks on the ground level are sort of like primitive drawbridges, which can be pulled in to keep people out. I made an alternate version of the map with the planks removed and I made the planks into VTT tokens, so DMs can place or remove them, should the need come up in your game. These can also be printed for those of you whose tabletops are non-virtual. Anyway, here’s all that stuff:

There’s going to be another alternate version of this map as well, which I should have for you in a day or two. This map seems like it could just as easily be a rock formation in the desert and, since it’s easy enough to change, I’m going to do it. Anyway, hope you like it! I’ll be back with the low-humidity version soon!

Brazenthrone – Excavation

This is a new, unnamed chamber of Brazenthrone currently being excavated. It’s at 19 on this map. This is where dwarven cities come from: lots and lots of tedious digging. Fortunately, that’s a thing dwarves happen to be into. For them, hammering away at rock is like… taking a walk in the woods. Or petting a kitten. You can hardly even call it work.

With that done, there are now six chambers of the city left to draw. Six! There are three small residential districts, plus the Iron Mines, the Mushroom Farms and the Old Palace. I don’t see any way that this doesn’t get finished by the end of the year at the latest.

Coming up next is Greenskin Rock, a cluster of sea stacks with a goblin or kobold community living inside. After that, we’re back to Brazenthrone with the Hollows (12 on the map above). It’s a residential district, but there are two things that make it a little more interesting than most: first, it’s the bad part of town. Crime, heroin, bad language… they’ve got it all. And second, it’s where the thieves’ guild is secretly located. I’m not sure where I’m going to hide it away, but I’ll come up with something interesting.

All right, I’m gonna get to it!