The Brazenthrone Codex, Third Edition

I know some of you may have an instinctually negative response to hearing about a switch from second to third edition, but I promise you, this third edition is not a downgrade from the second that will slowly grow worse and take twenty years to rectify.

This is the complete Codex with all the expanded annotated maps and DM notes from Brazenthrone, along with a few drawings I included for the sake of fanciness.

While making this, I was slightly surprised to learn that I still remember how to draw a person! There was a time when I drew a lot of those, but it’s been a while. I think I did respectably well, anyway.

Anyway, this wraps up Brazenthrone. The response has been overwhelming, which I’m really happy about. Hopefully it opens up doors for people to do things they couldn’t otherwise, or inspires them to write epic adventures in the city.

Next, we have four maps remaining from the Great Vote: the fortified oasis, the floating market, the aarakocra village and the Deepspire. Those will be the next four maps, aside from one or two Cartographic Congress maps. I’m going to draw the fortified oasis first. It’s been a while since we’ve been to the middle east and I’ve been looking forward to drawing this for a long time.

I’m also going to get the Foundry module and the Roll20 VTT stuff sorted out and updated with the Old Palace. Let me know what you think of the new codex!

The Dwarven City of Brazenthrone is finished.

I’ve been an artist for my entire life and this is easily the best thing I’ve ever drawn. I wish I could show it to 12-year-old me. He would’ve gone wild. To be honest, he and I aren’t that different, although I’d say I’m at least 10% more mature.

The last two years have been quite a journey and I want to thank my patrons for joining me on it– or maybe I should say taking me on it. They deserve a lot of credit for this. I made Brazenthrone, but they made Brazenthrone happen.

This is a map that could only exist through crowdfunding and that was part of the idea from the start. No publisher will ever commission an artist to make something like this and the amount of work involved– around 2500 hours– is prohibitively high for a hobby project. But they covered my rent and bills and put food in my fridge for two years, giving me the ability to work on this and other maps full time, which is the way this gets done. That’s how you make a Brazenthrone.

But, while my patrons financed the drawing of this map, it isn’t just for them. It’s for the rest of the community as well. It’s for the teenage DMs, the broke college student DMs and the older DMs who are having a rough time at the moment. I don’t want anyone to be unable to use Brazenthrone on account of money and I want to make sure the resources to use it are available.

For that reason, I’m making the Brazenthrone Codex– containing all the DM notes and expanded annotated maps– free for everyone. I’m also giving out a collection of all the maps. They were all free already, but some of the older web versions didn’t work well with VTTs, so I replaced them with 35px VTT versions that will. You can download all that here.

Alternatively, you can just load the map above, enter a grid size of 728×1176 and watch your computer’s exhaust vent spew flames like it’s trying to reach low earth orbit. Let me know how it goes.

The Brazenthrone Codex does need an update and I’m going to add all the maps and DM notes that aren’t included in about two days. I’m also adding a few small illustrations and giving it a cover. I was planning on giving this stuff out as a Christmas present to the community, but then I started typing and… well, you’re getting it early. It’s from my patrons, too. I picked it out, but they paid for it.

So, let’s talk about what’s next. I want to map out an entire campaign setting. In a way, that’s what Brazenthrone is, but this is different. The setting is a small sea in the Underdark called “The Black Loch” and it will be much, much bigger than Brazenthrone.

Unlike Brazenthrone, however, there will not be a map of every square inch of it. Instead, there will be a map of the region with all the notable locations marked. Things like a kuo-toa village, a duergar outpost, a drow city, abandoned structures, some islands with ruins, caves, maybe something underwater. For each location, I’ll draw a 5′-per-tile battlemap, so your players can explore the loch and, wherever they go, you have a map. There will probably be 15-20 locations in all, depending on how many good ideas I come up with. I can’t promise an exact number, but I can promise that, when I run out of interesting places to add, I’ll put the pencil down. I won’t waste time drawing filler.

There’s already one map I’ve decided will be a part of the Black Loch: The Drow City of Vlyn’darastyl. This is probably the only part that will get a city map instead of a battlemap, but I may make a battlemap of a specific building or two there.

Before I get started on that, I’ll be drawing the four remaining maps from the Great Vote, which are listed in this post (1,3, 4 and 5). The last one– The Deepspire– will also probably be a part of the Black Loch.

So, that’s the plan. If you’ve been with me on this journey, I hope you’ll come along for the next one. And if you’re just finding all this for the first time, you didn’t get here late. This may be the end of Brazenthrone, but it’s the beginning of everything else.

Brazenthrone – The Old Palace

Here are the annotated version and the DM notes. All the patron content for this map is free to everyone and you can download it here.

This is the last chamber of Brazenthrone, but the map isn’t finished yet. It’ll be finished when it’s all put together in a single image, so we can sit back, look at the entire city and wonder why anyone would ever do such a thing. I’ll give a whole big speech and everything, it’ll be great.

It shouldn’t take longer than a day or two, depending on how many times it crashes Photoshop. Making this thing crashed it at least a dozen times, but I think I know a better way of doing it. Hopefully it works, because there’s a LOT to add to that.

I do have some bad news, though: Roll20 seems to have gotten an update and the Walls API script I was using to give you maps with the dynamic lighting set up doesn’t seem to work anymore. And, since I was making the Foundry version by exporting the Roll20 version, I can’t do that either. I’ve found another script to replace it (written by the same person) and I’ll get you some walls for this once I’ve got a minute to sit down and work out how to use it. EDIT: Nevermind, the script just needed to be restarted. I’ll make the VTT stuff in a few days.

I haven’t forgotten about EncounterPlus either. But first, I REALLY want to finish up Brazenthrone. Here’s what I’ve got left to do:

  • Put it all together
  • Update the Brazenthrone Codex with the rest of the maps and DM notes
  • Make some art for the Codex. Not maps, drawings. Whatever I can sketch in a day or two to make it look nice, maybe give it a cover.

After that, I’ll get on that VTT stuff and we’ll talk about what’s coming next. Well, I’m gonna start putting this stuff together so we can see what two years of drawing a map gets you.

Map Module for Foundry (and a note about Roll20)

Here’s the Foundry VTT pack I promised. Actually, it’s not the pack I promised, it’s a lot more than that. Here’s the story: I was getting a few maps ready to export from Roll20 to Foundry, using a campaign on my friend Luke’s Roll20 account. I export everything, expecting three maps to come out the other side. Instead, I get sixty maps. Huh?

Oh, these must be the archived maps. I look through them and they’re ALL set up for dynamic lighting. Manually, by Luke. There’s Skywatch. There’s Tortuga. There’s FINBARR’S MARSH.

So I send Luke an email that begins with “HOLY MOTHER OF GOD” and I ask if I can share these all with you. He says, “Of course.” Also, he apparently has more. He then proceeds to copy over a few more from his other campaigns. So there are around 70 maps in this module, including almost everything other than Brazenthrone and Mont-St-Michel. He even threw in the tokens, some DM notes and some pre-generated characters. This was not a small amount of work on his part.

All the maps in there are the free web versions. I give Luke access to my patron content, but he doesn’t use the VTT versions, so all the maps are free already. If you want to use the VTT versions, you should be able to just replace the map image with the 70px VTT map and the lighting should work the same.

So, after getting all this together, there’s one thing that’s been driving me nuts. I want to give this stuff to Roll20 users too, but… I can’t. This stuff was MADE on Roll20. Luke set up the walls, doors and lighting on Roll20. And I can export it from Roll20 to Foundry, but I can’t export it from Roll20 to Roll20?! Are you kidding me?

I’d love to be wrong about this and, if you know how I can share these, please let me know. I can’t export the wall lines like I did with the other maps recently because they have to be made in a specific way to do that. So, I apologize to Roll20 users who feel left out here. I really do want to give you this stuff and, should that become possible, I will do it in a heartbeat. But the tools to do it don’t currently exist.

Should you feel that having these pre-lit maps is very important to you, there is a nuclear option: The Converter. I used it to convert these maps from Roll20 to Foundry, but it does a lot more than that. I am not telling you that you should do this, but I feel like I should point out the existence of this piece of software for those who may be considering it already.

Anyway, I hope this is useful to you! If there’s anything I screwed up while making this compendium (and there’s no way there isn’t, haha) please let me know!

EDIT: I couldn’t get the Great Hall in there, but this should do it. Make a scene with a 70px grid, place the image, then right-click the scene and select import data. Import the text file. You may have to place the image as a tile, not as the background image for it to work. I’m not sure why, I’m still new to this.

EDIT 2: The Route Finder module may cause problems with this for reasons unknown. If you’ve got it installed and Foundry is bugging out, try deactivating it.

 

Brazenthrone – Freeholders’ Hall – Everyone’s Edition

Here’s the non-annotated version for those of you who don’t like words and numbers all over your maps. Also, here are the DM notes.

You know what? This is the second-to-last chamber of Brazenthrone and I’m just going to give everyone the patron content for the rest of it. You can download it from Google Drive here or from this page on my patreon.

There’s not too much to say about Freeholders’ Hall. It’s where the mushroom farmers live. There’s a high clan that lives there, too. And there’s a statue of a naked man. You can read about it in the DM notes if you’re interested.

Yesterday, I wrote about how I found a way to include dynamic lighting with my maps for Roll20 users and I made commands to generate the walls for you with this map as well. They’re in there with the VTT files and there’s a file explaining how to do it.

For those of you running games on Foundry, Fantasy Grounds and other platforms, I need you to know this: I know you are out there, I appreciate your support and I am going to do everything I can to make this happen for you too.

So far, what I’ve learned is this: there was a script called SVG Loader that could import wall lines in Foundry, although it may no longer be compatible with recent updates. I’m going to try it out anyway and see if it works. If I can get it to work for me, I should be able to load up a map, import the walls and export the whole thing as a module file. If I can’t, maybe I can get an older version of Foundry that the script was compatible with? Who knows, I’m just spitballing, but I’ll get to work trying things out tomorrow. I can’t promise you I’ll be able to do this for every platform soon, but I can promise you that I’ll try.

The next map will be last month’s Cartographic Congress winner, a dwarven mining and smelting outpost built into a cliffside. After that, we’re knocking out the last part of Brazenthrone: the Old Palace. It’s a ruined palace adjacent to the Old Quarter and I think it’ll be pretty cool. I wanted to save it for last so hopefully the dwarven city of Brazenthrone finishes on a bang.

The Fallen Tower

Drawing this map made my brain hurt and I’m genuinely worried that, by posting it, I’m going to cause other people’s brains to hurt as well. I think this has something to do with the floor being a wall and a wall being the floor, which… dammit, my brain hurts again.

Here, I made a diagram to explain it as simply as I could:

There’s some further explanation in the DM notes, but I think this covers the important stuff. As you can see, I had to change the way I draw significantly to accommodate some of the Fallen Tower’s peculiar needs. Like, there’s a map symbol for a door or a window, but there is no map symbol for “There’s a gap where a staircase used to be. In the wall. 30 feet up,” or “There’s a door, but it’s sideways.” So I had to draw in the sides of the walls to show those things.

A huge part of the time I spent on this was just figuring out how to present it in the most easy-to-understand way I could. At first, I had plans to complicate the hell out of this thing, but I decided to keep it fairly simple and see what you all thought. If the Fallen Tower doesn’t cause too much cerebral hemorrhaging, I may revisit this idea down the road and go a bit wilder with it.

Anyway, I do think this came out pretty well and I think it’d be an interesting place for players to explore. If you’re having a hard time wrapping your head around it, let me know and I’ll do what I can to help. It’s my fault you’re looking at this thing in the first place, so I kind of owe you that.

Next up is Brazenthrone‘s Freeholders’ Hall (27 on this map). It’s where the mushroom farmers live and it’s the second-to-last Brazenthrone map. After that, I’ll be drawing last month’s Cartographic Congress winner, a dwarven mining outpost built into the side of a cliff face. Then we wrap up Brazenthrone with the Old Palace. This journey of nearly two years is coming to a close.

Spells and the Jamming Thereof

I was asked to make a couple of minor changes to the Leviathan of Tyria to make it work better as a sci-fi vessel, but I ended up getting carried away and removing the boats, anchor and bilges, changing the background and recoloring a few things. It’s still not wildly futuristic, but it looks a lot more ready to cruise the void than it did before.

This could also work as an airship, but, more than anything, I think it’d make an excellent spelljammer, if anyone’s still out there jamming spells in the 21st century.

I also made another, somewhat less mainstream version for someone who’s been asking for something like it for a long time. Of course, if anyone else has a use for it, work away.

As with the regular version of this map, all the patron content for this is free and you can download it from Google Drive or from this post on my patreon.

Alright, back to work on Brazenthrone!

The Leviathan of Tyria – Everyone’s Edition

I’m making all the patron content for this map free for everyone. I’m pretty proud of this absolute monstrosity of a ship. I made a ton of stuff for it and I want you all to have it. You can download everything from my Google Drive here.

So, let’s talk about this gigantic boat. The Leviathan of Tyria is a catamaran (two-hulled) warship which is powered by both rowers and sails. Armed with rams, artillery and a complement of marines, it is dangerous both up close and at range. In addition, the Leviathan carries four gunboats on board which it can deploy in battle to surround and distract enemies.

I made three versions of this ship to help it fit into everyone’s game. The first is armed with gunpowder weapons, the second is armed with ballistas and the third has neither, allowing you to customize the ship’s weapon loadout as you see fit. There are artillery tokens included to customize it on VTTs, as well as copy-and-paste-able artillery to modify the print versions of the map.

The pre-armed versions have around 25 guns/ballistas each. You can add more if needed, but before you turn the Leviathan into a 120-gun ship-of-the-line, let me suggest that you count how many D20s you own. I’m not saying you shouldn’t arm it to the teeth, just shop around for a dice rolling app before you have to start making hit rolls.

Here are the DM notes and the annotated version of the gunpowder Leviathan. Everything else is in the link above. Have fun with it!

There’s one more thing I wanted to mention: my wife is raising money for a charity called LauraLynn Children’s Hospice and I told her I’d post a link on my site in case anyone wanted to donate. I know this has been a tough year for most people and children’s hospices are kind of a super depressing thing to bring up, but they do important work and, if 2020 has been merciful enough that you can afford to donate, I’m sure they’d appreciate it.

I can’t think of a way to transition from that back to maps without it being awkward, so let’s just do it. Next up is Greenstone Hall, one of the four remaining chambers of Brazenthrone. It’s a small residential district which shouldn’t take long. After that, I’ll be drawing draw last month’s Cartographic Congress winner, a hanging wizard’s tower built into a stalactite. Or a stalagmite? The one that points down.

Anyway, hope you like the ship! If you’ve got any questions about it, just ask!

Brazenthrone – The Mushroom Farms – Ground Level

Here’s the non-annotated version and here are the DM notes, which I’m giving out to everybody because there are some unintuitive things about the Mushroom Farms and I want everyone to understand why they are the way they are.

One of the buildings here is Meard’s Dwarven White Whiskey distillery. White whiskey is a thing I came up with while thinking about dwarven liquor. I thought, “Dwarves are known for drinking really strong ale, right? So what is their liquor like? How strong is that?” This was my answer.

I introduced white whiskey to my players at a tavern once. The bartender told them it’s too strong for anyone but dwarves, so, of course, everyone HAD to try it. He put a tiny metal cup in front of each of them, filled them up and backed away. When the players threw their drinks back, I told everyone who wasn’t a dwarf to make a CON save. Those who failed vomited immediately, violently and copiously.

Later, they came to find out what’s in white whiskey: alcohol. And nothing else. It’s just a bottle of ethyl alcohol. That’s dwarven liquor.

The second (and final) level of the Mushroom farms is close to being finished and I should have it up later tonight, tomorrow at the latest. It’s just roofs, but that’s part of the protocol.

After that, I’m drawing the floating fortress warship that was voted on as an honorary Great Vote winner several months back. It’s been a while since I’ve done a ship map and it’s about time for another one. Unless the half a ship in Whiskey Point counts, which it doesn’t. Okay, I’m gonna go finish up the mushroom farms!