The Vagabond Queen, or “The City of Sails”

If you’re planning to run an adventure on the Vagabond Queen, here’s a good way to kick things off:

  1. When the party boards the ship, have an NPC mention that there’s a tavern on board.
  2. The players will head there because 90% of all D&D characters are degenerate alcoholics.
  3. When they walk in, there’s a bard in the corner tuning up his harp. After the players sit down, the bard gently runs his fingers across the strings of his instrument and he begins to sing this song…
  4. Play the song “I’m On A Boat” by The Lonely Island.

If you’re at work, be sure to unplug your headphones and max out the volume before clicking that link.

I’ve got a bunch of ideas for adventures involving this map in the DM notes, along with a list of possible backstories about who built this ship and why, so if you’re a patron looking for inspiration, you may want to have a look.

I’ve got a few more things to make for this map, but I wanted to get it posted anyway. I should have the Foundry module and the Roll20 wall commands done later today. I’m also making some tokens for the smaller boats and some artillery. And, of course, there’ll be a spelljammer version of the map.

In a couple days, I’ll be leaving to see my family for a week, but I should be able to get the spelljammer version up the day I get back. Everything else should be done before then.

Well, drawing this map has been a ton of work, but I really think it turned out well. I’d love to hear what you think. And if you’ve got any questions, feel free to ask!

Here’s the plan.

I’ve got the giant city-ship planned out and I thought I’d share it with you. This thing has six full decks, two partial decks and a few hundred cabins (I think, I’m not counting). There are three taverns, two general stores, a library, a temple, a marketplace, a gambling hall, a broken-down area that’s been sealed off and left to the rats, a wide variety of stores and workshops and a million other things.

The second picture is one deck drawn at full size. I’ve only got half the furnishings drawn in, but it should give you an idea of what this is going to look like. That’s the fancy part of the ship, by the way. The cabins get smaller and the residents poorer as you go down.

Anyway, I’m gonna get back to work on this. Let me know what you think so far! And if you have any questions, let me know. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to read my godawful handwriting.

Driftport 40K: In the grim darkness of the open sea, there is only fog.

The other version of Driftport is a pretty nice place. This is the version for DMs who imagine it as a place where the residents might drink turpentine, engage in cannibalism and sacrifice outsiders to an ancient abomination lurking deep beneath the waves. Or it can just be the night version, I suppose. Your call.

Drawing this gave me an idea for a map of another large, seafaring settlement and I wanted to get your opinions. Imagine a ship, like a galleon or a ship of the line, but much bigger. Bigger than any sailing ship ever built. 400′ (130m) long and 140′ (45m) across the beam. Eight masts, thirty sails. But this isn’t just a ship, it’s a town with hundreds of residents. Across the ship’s 5-6 full decks, there are shops, craftsmen, a marketplace, a tavern, an inn, a temple, gardens, a library, a mill and a lot more. There are cabins for the middle class, luxury apartments for the rich and hammocks for the poor. This is a ship you could get lost in. It could be a community of traders, explorers, pirates or wanderers.

I don’t know what the biggest ship map ever drawn is, but I’m fairly sure this would be larger by an order of magnitude. It would probably take around a month to draw and color. Anyway, is that something you’d be interested in?

The Floating Town of Driftport

I’m going to say something wildly controversial. I probably shouldn’t, but I’m going to anyway and I hope it doesn’t offend anyone. I liked Waterworld. I haven’t seen it in years, but I watched it a few times as a teenager and I thought it was a pretty good movie. Feels good to get that off my chest.

Driftport was sort of inspired by the town in that movie. It’s the kind of town people might build if there was no land. A collection of salvaged ships and scrap wood Frankensteined together into a floating community.

There are a few things that might need an explanation here. The first is the building at the bottom right. This is a trywork. It’s a stove used to harvest oil from blubber. Since wood, coal and peat are hard to come by in the sea, I’d imagine whale oil would be the common fuel used for cooking and heating.

The other two unusual buildings are a ropemaker and a distillery. Rope and rum seem fairly mission critical for a place like this. You need rope for fishing nets, boats and to hold this place together. And you need rum because… well, in the Age of Sail, every ship brought loads of it on every voyage. They considered it a necessity and I’m going to assume they knew what they were doing.

I’m going to make an alternate version of the map next. It’ll be a grimmer, darker sort of place. I’m just going to adjust the colors, add some fog, stuff like that. Anyway, I’ll have it done by tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll still have patrons at that point after what I said about Waterworld.

The Brass Koi: Spelljammer Version

As promised, here’s the spacefaring version of the Brass Koi submarine. I don’t know how many Spelljammer DMs were specifically looking for an amphibious ship, but it does open up a few interesting possibilities. And, in any case, it’s another spelljammer map, which there still aren’t a ton of out there. It’s unfortunate that Spelljammer gets so little support in terms of maps, but I’m trying to do my part.

One thing I wanted to say about this version is that the engines and propeller are only used for underwater propulsion and wouldn’t be necessary for space travel. Now that I think about it, would they be necessary underwater? Could a spelljamming helm drive the ship underwater as well? I’m not sure, but maybe. I’m going with a definite maybe on this one. If you know your Spelljammer physics better than I do, let me know.

Next I’ll be drawing another map from Tir Thelandira. We’ve got 4 left to go, including two which patrons will be deciding on. Which reminds me, if you’re a patron, the vote is open on location #3, so cast a vote and tell me what you’d like to see there. I’ll be drawing the Dhasran colony next, which is a small mining colony that’s producing absurd amounts of gold. It’ll include the colony itself as well as the mines.

Anyway, I think that’s it for now. I hope everybody who was asking for a submarine is happy with the Brass Koi. Let me know what you think!

The Brass Koi

When I first started drawing this map, I was trying to avoid making it look too modern, since most people are probably going to use it in a fantasy setting. Then I saw a picture of a fighter jet and I thought about how cool a canopy like that would look on a submarine, so I drew one in. I still think it’s within the realm of “something a gnomish inventor might build,” but I apologize if I went too far. You’ve gotta admit, though– that canopy is pretty sweet.

I’m giving out the annotated version of the map to everyone so I can explain the various parts of the sub, since not everyone knows how a submarine works. Let’s start with the ballast tanks (5). In order to make the sub dive, you have to make it heavier. You do this by opening the ballast tanks to fill them with water. To ascend, you force the water out with air tanks and pumps (6, 11). This is how you control the depth of the submarine.

If your party has a submarine, they probably need to be able to get out of it underwater. That’s what the lockout chamber (16) is for. You enter from the top, seal it shut, then open the door to the outside. The lockout fills with water, but the rest of the sub doesn’t.

And then there’s the light (3). Gnomish inventors probably aren’t building you a sonar system, so you’re piloting this thing the old-fashioned way. And since it’s dark underwater, you need a lamp. The Koi has a lamp and reflector in the bow so you can avoid crashing into rocks or running over any passing kuo-toa. Or maybe you want to splatter the kuo-toa. It’s up to you, but you need to be able to see them either way.

I hope that helps everyone understand the map a little better. As I said before, I’m going to make a spelljammer version of this map as well. You know, the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of an amphibious spelljammer. Anyway, I’ll have that for you tomorrow. Until then!

Auld Mithrilsides: A Dwarven Sternwheeled Steamship

This was intended to be the ship from Thanesridge Landing. But that ship was crap, so I redrew it. I like this much better. I will always redraw and rework a map rather than knowingly put out something that sucks, even if it takes a bit longer. Also, I’m going to replace the ship in Thanesridge with this one, but give me till tomorrow to get that done.

So, the map. Dwarves aren’t known for their love of ships, but I felt like this is the kind of ship a dwarf would build. With a coal-fired steam boiler for propulsion, they don’t have to worry about “learning to sail” or whatever. Just fuel it up and point it where you want to go. Which way is the wind blowing? Who cares. Plus, the burning coal makes it smell a bit like home.

I’d like to remind any DMs considering using this map that the ship’s speed is entirely dependent on how hot the boiler can get. So if the party starts summoning fire elementals in the fuelbox, things could get pretty interesting. Of course, the ship is made mostly of wood, so hopefully they don’t get too interesting. Anyway, something to think about.

Next up, I’ll be drawing the next map for Tir Thelandira. This will be the map proposed by Shawn and voted for by patrons. It’s called the Tower of the Moon and I’m imagining it like this: a round, wooden tower that snakes upward, curving and branching off in a few places. It’ll be kind of like a large, hollow tree. I haven’t drawn it yet, but it looks really good in my head.

Anyway, I think that’s it. Let me know what you think of the ship!


Thanesridge Landing: Upper Level

The upper level of Thanesridge Landing is done and there’s only one more part of the map left to draw: the rest of the ship.

By the way, I got an answer about how they pumped the water out of the drydocks back in ancient times: an Archimedes screw. Speaking of Archimedes, did you know he also invented an ancient Greek death laser? Not bad for 200 BC.

Anyway, I’m gonna get to work on the ship. I’ll have DM notes for patrons once it’s done.

Thanesridge Landing: A Dwarven Port

Thanesridge Landing is a dwarven port settlement. Dwarves aren’t famous for their love of ships, but they’re pretty fond of money and trade is a proven way to make a lot of it.

This map wasn’t intended to be a part of Brazenthrone, but I’ve started thinking of it like it is. In my head, this is the end of the Bitterwash River that runs through town. I’m not going to add it to the giant map of the city or anything, but you can consider it an unofficial part of Brazenthrone if you want.

The drydock on the right is called a “graving dock” and it’s actually below water level. It’s gated off from the sea and the water is pumped out. Then, when you’re ready to launch the ship, you just open the gate and sail it out. I didn’t find out how the water was pumped out, but these things date back to at least 200BC, so apparently it was possible. If you happen to know how they did it, I’d love to hear.

Anyway, I’ve got two more parts of this map to draw. First, I’m going to make a roof level, which may have some more buildings on top of the mountain ridge at the back. And I’m going to draw the rest of the steamship at the docks and make a separate map of it. It’ll be useful if your party shows up and steals the thing. I mean, they steal everything else, right? Maybe that’s just my players.

Well, I’m going to get to work on the rest of this. It shouldn’t take long. Let me know what you think so far!

Palazzo di Nettuno

I think Venice is the kind of place a fantasy writer would come up with. “It’s this city in a harbor, you know? Trade port, super rich. Really beautiful. And get this: the streets? They’re made of water.” It’d be a really cool concept if it weren’t for the fact that it actually exists.

Of course, not everyone has a fantasy version of Venice in their game world, but I think this could be used as a palace with a moat as well. And I’m going to make a dry land version, which I should have up by tomorrow. Someone suggested turning the boathouse into a stables, which sounds good to me. I’ll draw in a few bushes, a happy little tree, it’ll be great.

By the way, I’m not sure if this map is supposed to be in daytime or a brightly moonlit night. I just started coloring without really thinking about it and this is what happened. Anyway, if you figure it out, let me know.

Okay, I’m gonna go draw some grass on this thing. Be back with that soon!