The Tir Thelandira Codex

Tir Thelandira is now officially finished! I’ve updated the map, added descriptions of all the locations to the History and Lore of Tir Thelandira, and compiled them, along with the DM notes, into a Tir Thelandira Codex.

You can download the free version of the codex here. It has an updated map, an updated History and Lore of Tir Thelandira, and I threw in the DM notes for Oakenhold and Fiachna’s Knoll. The Patrons’ Edition Codex has all the DM notes.

Anyway, I hope you like how the project turned out! There are definitely some things I’d do differently, but I’m pretty happy with it overall. Even if you don’t see yourself using the island in your setting, hopefully you can get some use out of the maps piecemeal.

Coming up, there’s the giant ship megaproject I’ve been talking about, which I’ll probably be working on for most of next month, if not all. After that, I’ll have a couple of Cartographic Congress maps to draw, then I’ll be getting started on the Château de Brézé. The Chateau is a French castle with a complex network of tunnels and caves underneath it. I was there last year and I took photos of EVERYTHING so I could draw a map of it. It’s an incredible place and I think it’ll make an amazing map for RPGs.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Thanks to all my patrons for helping me to draw this and everything else I’ve been working on! I hope you like what’s coming up next!

Valley of the Five Mages

The Valley of the Five Mages is the last map for Tir Thelandira and, while it’s mostly independent from the rest of the lore, I think it’s a nice addition to the island. The basic story is that five mages have come here from far away to study a mysterious hole in the ground that radiates an intense magical energy.

I wrote some thoughts about what might be down there in the DM notes for the map, but the best option is to have the wizards tell the party they believe there’s a powerful, arcane entity living down there. Then, when the players go down to check it out, it turns out to be a 50-foot-tall prairie dog jacked up on potions of growth. They won’t see that coming, I’ll tell you that much.

Next, I’m going to make separate maps of these five towers. Not everyone needs a valley full of towers, but almost everyone does need towers from time to time, so I thought I’d chop this up into single servings. That shouldn’t take more than a day, so they’ll probably be up tomorrow.

After that, I’ve got to finish up a few things for TIr Thelandira, like updating the History and Lore overview and the island map with the new locations, then putting it all together in a Tir Thelandira Codex, similar to what I made for Brazenthrone and the Black Loch. Once Tir Thelandira is officially done, I’ll be starting on the megaproject I’ve been talking about. Here’s the description I posted before:

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’ve been looking forward to drawing this for a while now and I think it’s going to be the kind of map you could work into a lot of adventures or even plan an entire campaign around. In any case, I’ve never seen anything like the map I’m imagining and I think it needs to exist, so I’m going to roll up my sleeves and draw it.

Well, I think that’s it for now. I’m gonna finish wrapping up this megaproject so I can get started on the next one. If you’ve got any thoughts, by all means let me know!

The Hall of the Bearded Men

This is the ancient ruin found on Tir Thelandira. The wood elves who inhabit the island don’t know who built it or why, only that it was here before they were. The “Bearded Men,” as the elves call them, are a great mystery. They certainly weren’t elves and they don’t look like humans, either. A few claim to have seen a Bearded Man who arrived on a ship centuries ago, but few believe them. Perhaps, one day, another Bearded Man will arrive, if any still exist.

This map is the ancient, mysterious ruin that patrons voted for. I hope you like the way I went with it. I thought it’d be funny to put this big, obviously dwarven ruin on an island full of elves who don’t know what a dwarf is and think of them as an almost mythical race.

There’s one more map to draw before Tir Thelandira is finished and I’ll be sending out a message to patrons asking for proposals for what it should be as soon as I post this.

The next map will be the guildhall of the Imperial Society of Extraordinary Adventurers, including their library, vault and exhibit hall. If that doesn’t sound like something you’ll need, don’t worry. It’ll basically be a large, well-appointed mansion and that’s something everyone’s got a use for. “Adventuring” usually involves a lot of burglary, in my experience.

Anyway, I hope you like the map! I used to draw dwarven stuff a lot and it felt good to be back in that saddle again.

Fiachna’s Knoll

Fiachna’s Knoll is an elven town in Tir Thelandira. With this done, there are only two more maps to draw before the island is finished. The next will be the one proposed by Magpie and voted for by patrons: the ruins of a monument built by a civilization so ancient that it preceded even the elves’ arrival on Tir Thelandira.

I’ve been thinking about what this place should be and I’ve decided to make it the absolute last thing you’d expect to find on an island full of wood elves. And what would that be? The most dwarven thing ever. These ruins are going to be more dwarven than a drunken axe-throwing contest. Of course, the elves of Tir Thelandira have never actually seen a dwarf, so they wouldn’t know what to make of it, which could lead to an interesting conversation if a party with a dwarf passes through.

After that, there’s still one more map to go. I’ll be sending out a message to all patrons asking for proposals for location #2 in the next few days. Here are a couple guidelines: first, the location can be anywhere on the northern island. And second, Tir Thelandira is very isolated, so the location can’t be a major city.

Anyway, this megaproject should be wrapping up soon and then I’ll get started on the next one, which will be that giant ship I mentioned earlier. Hopefully that sounds good to everyone!

New Giltwater – A Gold Mining Colony

Here’s a version without the mines.

New Giltwater is a gold mining colony in Tir Thelandira. After the last colony was burned to the ground by the island’s native wood elves, the colonists have taken a few more precautions this time around, building a palisade and keeping a few companies of mercenaries close by.

There are only three more maps to draw before Tir Thelandira is finished. After that, I’ve got a few ideas on what to start on next and I’ll probably let patrons vote on which one you want to see first. Here’s what I’m thinking about:

  1. Dhasra. An incredibly wealthy city built across a river delta. The main location on the island would be the White City of Dhasra and I’d draw an overview of the city, then detailed maps of different locations within the city. There might be a couple other locations on the island as well.
  2. A very bleak island whose noble families all became vampires long ago. The peasants are little more than livestock for the nobles, who have established an upper caste of commoners to keep the rest in line. The nobles live in lavish palaces with fountains of blood, while the serfs live as prisoners in their own lands. A few groups of wanderers roam the forests, living free from the predation of the nobility. Deep in the shadows, there is talk of an uprising.
  3. A new version of Tortuga. I’ll redesign it and it’ll probably be a bit smaller, but the same basic idea. Since I’m drawing a world full of islands, it seems like an interesting way to travel between them. It lets the party stay on the move, while also having a community of people they know around them.

By the way, the runoff vote for the next location in Tir Thelandira is open, so if you’re a patron, go over there and participate in democracy. It’s really close right now, so your vote very well might change the outcome.

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on those three ideas. What you like, what you don’t or what might make them better. I really want to draw all three, but I’d like to hear your opinions first.

The Tower of the Moon

The elves of Tir Thelandira don’t know much about arcane magic. The magic that priests and druids can do? They understand that just fine. Basically, god does magic for you*. Simple. But wizard magic is something they don’t understand. And if you don’t understand it, you can’t teach it. And, in a society that can’t teach magic, there’s only one type of mage that can exist: wild mages.

A wild mage named Selaira lives here. She wasn’t the first to be born with an innate gift for magic, but she’s the first to really investigate it, to try to learn how it works. She’s the first to do experiments and write books about her findings. At the moment, she’s teaching other wild mages to better harness their abilities, but she’s starting to suspect that she can teach magic to people without an innate gift. If she figures that out, magic might go from being a rare gift to a widespread ability that affects every part of society.

Considering the major role that magic plays in other elven societies, this is a bit like peanut butter being mere moments away from the discovery of jelly. A very exciting moment in history, to say the least.

Next, I’ll be drawing the Chateau D’If. This is a 16th century island prison just south of France. Part of the book The Count of Monte Cristo takes place there. I’ll be drawing it as best I can with the limited amount of reference material available. Which is to say, I can’t find a proper floor plan, so I’m going to have to make some stuff up. Still, I think it’ll make a great map.

Anyway, I’m gonna get to work on Classy French Alcatraz. Let me know what you think of the map!

*I know this isn’t how everyone interprets it, but that’s how it works in my games.

The Blackboots’ Camp

This is the encampment of the Blackboots mercenary company in Tir Thelandira. The Blackboots are from all over the place. so the camp is filled with tents from all over the place. You’ve got ridge tents, pup tents, tipis, a marquee and, of course, yurts. If tents had a hierarchy, yurts would be the king.

The Blackboots are meant to be everything Glaver’s Regiment isn’t. They’re a cavalry company made up largely of former bandits, known for their dubious loyalty and their habit of killing more civilians than enemy soldiers. Hired after the wood elves destroyed the first human colony, the Blackboots are in Tir Thelandira to commit atrocities and read poetry. And they don’t know how to read.

The next map is something I’ve been asked to draw by several people over the years. I told them it wasn’t time. It’s time. I’m drawing Hohenzollern Castle. Strap on your spikiest helmet, things are about to get Prussian.

Glaver’s Regiment

So, let me start by acknowledging that Glaver’s Regiment is maybe a little small for a regiment. It’s really more like Glaver’s Company. I hadn’t realized that until I counted the beds and realized that there’s only space for about 127 soldiers here. Let’s chalk it up to attrition.

This map was inspired by the marching camps of Roman legions, who would build a defensive stockade and dig a ditch around it whenever they made camp for the night. They were able to get this done in a few hours by bringing the wooden stakes for the walls wherever they went.

There are actually a few of these around today. Well, kind of. You see, when a legion stayed in one place for a while, they would reinforce their camp. Build towers, reinforce wood with stone, replace tents with buildings and so on. Some of those are still standing.

A few European cities actually originated as Roman forts or “castra.” Castres in France is one example, as is any place in the UK with a name ending in -caster, -cester or -chester. There are quite a few of those, which suggests that the English were a fairly rowdy bunch in the ancient times. And the Great Wall of Scotland tells you everything you need to know about Rome’s issues with the folks to the north.

Next, I’ll be drawing a city map based on a real place: Laon, France. It’s a walled town with a cathedral, a palace and a templar church. Here’s a photo. It’s a classy place and I think it’ll fit right into a fantasy setting. After that, I’ll be back to work on Tir Thelandira.

Well, that’s it for now. Let me know what you think of the map!

The Ruins of Giltwater

Giltwater is the first Dhasran gold mining colony in Tir Thelandira, marked as “Burned Colony” on this map.

When I finished drawing this, I read back through the lore of Tir Thelandira and realized I’d made a mistake. In the lore, I said that hundreds were killed when the elves attacked Giltwater. But I hadn’t drawn a colony big enough to hold hundreds of people. So what did I do? I did what anyone writing fantasy roleplaying game lore would do. I retconned it. I retconned the absolute living hell out of it.

I think the lore will have to stay a little flexible until the island is done, particularly since there are three locations that haven’t been decided on yet, which makes them hard to plan for. Speaking of which, if you’re a patron and you haven’t cast a vote on the second ballot for location #1, you’ve got one more day to do that.

So, what’s next? Well, I’m sick at the moment and I don’t have it in me to start on a new map today, so I’m going to give myself something easy to do. Tir Thelandira is going to be part of a larger world with many more islands and I want to start laying out that larger world so we can start thinking about where we go once this first island is done. I feel like I’m up to that. I can draw a collection of variously-sized blobs. I believe in me.

I should have that done tomorrow and you can tell me your thoughts about it. After that, I’ll get started on another map for Tir Thelandira. Okay. Time for blobs.

The Stonestead

The Stonestead is a broch. They’re a real thing and there are a bunch of them in Scotland. I drew this particular broch for the island of Tir Thelandira, whose wood elf inhabitants have a distinctly Celtic-flavored culture.

The Stonestead is the elves’ first foray into large-scale stone construction. Built to defend a gap between the northern and southern parts of their forest, it’s meant to ensure that, should the Dhasran colonists or their mercenaries decide to march on the elven lands, they have to either fight their way through the fort or venture into the woods, where they’ll be easy prey for elven archers and ambushers. Neither option is great– but, of course, that’s the idea.

I’ve received quite a few proposals for new locations for Tir Thelandira. If you’re a patron who’s got an idea you’d like me to add to the ballot, you’ve still got time to shoot me a message. Just to recap, the proposals are for either the location marked “1” on this map OR the swamp to the east of Oakenhold. I’ll be posting the first vote in a few days.

Next up is an East Asian-style village built into a cliffside. This picture should give you an idea of the sort of thing I’ll be drawing. Personally, I think that’s nuts. I mean, how is that a real place? What happened there? I don’t know, but I’m glad it did. Because that’s awesome.