Mind Flayer Dreadnought Spelljammer

You’ve gotta love Spelljammer. Want to travel into space? Just duct tape a spelljamming helm to the deck of a stolen fishing boat and you’re off to explore the stars.

Mind flayers, however– former masters of the universe that they are– tend to be a bit more sophisticated about interstellar travel. Dreadnoughts are the capital ship of the illithid fleet and they weren’t built for catching seabass. In addition to carrying a variety of weapons on board, the dreadnought also holds a fleet of boreworms, small attack ships with a single crewman. Boreworms aren’t fighters, they’re actually boarding ships, designed to crash into the side of a ship, punch through the hull, then eject the illithid pilot into the enemy vessel.

If you find some things about this ship unusual, remember that mind flayers are a little different than the rest of us. As a brain-eating species, they don’t need a dining table or a kitchen. And illithids love pools. That might be their main motivation to rule the universe: more time in the bath.

As I promised, I’m going to spend the day doing the dynamic lighting for Brazenthrone. I think I can get the rest of it finished by tomorrow. I honestly thought this would take longer and I’ve never been happier to be wrong.

Next up is the aarakocra village, the second-to-last of the Great Vote maps. The last will be 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. This is going to be a part of the Black Loch and will be pretty huge, so I’m going to do the next Cartographic Congress map before I get started.

That map will be a dark, surreal estate on the plane of shadow. I hope you like weird, because that is going to be WEIRD. I’m going for “Salvador Dali plus MC Escher plus your worst childhood nightmare.” We’ll see how that goes.

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

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.

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!

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!

Brazenthrone – The Oreworks – Third Level

And here’s the last level of the Oreworks. Is there much here on the third floor? No. Is there a hole through which your players can drop someone into a blast furnace? Yes sir, there is.

Honestly, I think the real potential of the Oreworks is that there’s all kinds of dangerous stuff sitting around that can make a fight here a lot more interesting. Furnaces, molten metal, an assortment of smashing machines… there are a lot of hilariously terrible ways to die here. Something to think about.

Anyway, next up is a mountaintop airship port. A place to gas up the ol’ flying machine, make some repairs, sell off some loot, have a few drinks and get in a fight. It’s not going to be nearly as much like a truck stop as I’m making it sound. After that, it’s back to Brazenthrone. I’m not sure what I’m doing next, but it’s not the Old Palace. I’m saving that for last to make sure it ends on a high note.

Brazenthrone – The Oreworks – Second Level

Here’s the second floor of Brazenthrone‘s Oreworks. Not too much going on, but now you know what those horses are walking around in circles for. Also, the Miners’ Guildhall isn’t just a bar, even though it is mostly a bar.

I’ve actually got the third level done as well, I just need to make the VTT and print versions and so forth. I’ll have it up later tonight. All right, I’m gonna grab something to eat and get on that.

Brazenthrone – The Oreworks – Ground Level

First, here’s a few things:

This is the first of three levels of Brazenthrone‘s Oreworks. This took a bit of research to draw, since– like most people– I wasn’t all that familiar with the processes and equipment involved in pre-modern ore processing and steelmaking.

It took some reading, but I got the basic idea and there’s an explanation of all the equipment depicted here in the DM notes, which I’m giving out to everyone so you don’t have to spend half the day on Wikipedia just to understand this map. I’m not sure my explanation of this stuff is completely accurate, but it’s accurate enough for D&D purposes. If you’re a welder or a steelworker or someone else who actually knows about this stuff… I mean, I don’t think you’ll facepalm, but I also can’t guarantee you won’t facepalm.

There are a few different methods of steelmaking that I could’ve chosen for the dwarves of Brazenthrone, but I decided that they used a Bessemer Converter. Having been invented in the mid-1800s, this is somewhat advanced technology for a middle-ages setting, but dwarven steelmaking is meant to be advanced and, more importantly, I think it looks cool.

I’ve got the second and third levels of this mostly drawn and I’ll have them up in the next few days. After that, I’ll be drawing last month’s Cartographic Congress winner: a mountaintop airship port.

Well, I’ll be back with the rest of the Oreworks. There’s a lot going on in this map, so if you have any questions about it, just ask!