These are some sketches I did while planning out the floating fortress warship I’m drawing next. I played around with some other designs, but they just ended up looking too normal. They were big ships, but nothing about them said FLOATING FORTRESS. I think this one does.
Let me break this ship down for you. It’s a catamaran, which is a ship with two hulls. This gives it stability and a wide deck with a lot of space. The primary means of propulsion is rowing, but it also has a single mast with a Bermuda Sloop sail rig. There are rams at the bows of both hulls and other armaments will be included as well. I’ll probably do a ballista version and a gunpowder version.
This is a flagship with a crew in the hundreds, including oarsmen, sailors, officers, marines and other support staff such as medics, mages, a chaplain and so on. It’s a castle on the sea. I can’t promise you’ll like it or that you’ll have a use for it, but I can tell you it’ll definitely be something different.
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!
Tanking– you know, the thing where the person with the full plate and the battleaxe stands in front of the person with the walking stick and the bathrobe. My players are not completely on board with this concept.
Where do I start? How about the wizard? She LOVES opening doors. And if you suggest that front line combat may not be her strongest position, she’ll be happy to tell you all about her AC and her mage armor. It’s 18, you see. She can’t be touched. Do the dice even go that high?
Then there’s the ranger. This ranger does not and will not lead the way ever. He’s focused on archery, which puts him in the back line, but he’s convinced he’s a glass cannon and, should any harm come to him at all, it is OVER. When someone opens the door, he won’t just be in the back, he’ll be another entire room away. Maybe two. That’s not me being funny, either– he is terrified of damage. And this is a character with a d10 hit die, 16 CON and the highest HP in the party.
The rogue will open doors, but only when the rest of the party is engaged in another fight and he thinks he might be able to sneak off to score some loot he doesn’t have to split. This is, of course, the D&D version of Russian Roulette: this room has nothing, this room has nothing, this room has some gold, this room has OH GOD GUYS HELP OH GOD PLEASE IT HAS SO MANY TEETH
Anyway, they thought this was pretty funny, so I thought I’d share it with you. If you’re wondering about the sword (or whatever you want to call it), it’s just a picture I found on the internet. It’s so over-the-top badass that I had to throw it in there.
By the way, Brazenthrone‘s Old Quarter is coming along nicely. The pencils are almost done and I should be getting some of the ink done tonight. Speaking of which, I’m gonna get to work on that! I do love drawing destroyed stuff.
Someone made the Great Hall of Brazenthrone in Minecraft and it is incredible. A reader named Fonta sent me these pictures and I wanted to share them with everyone. The first picture is from the northeast corner of the Promontories, which is the upper right corner of this map. The second picture is from the amphitheater. I believe the hole in the center is a ventilation shaft.
These shots show the city from an angle that the maps don’t, but this is how it looks in my imagination. This is it exactly.
First, the annotated version, the DM notes and this other version.
This was a slightly unusual map for me. When I say I’m drawing a “city map,” it usually means something like Brazenthrone or Finbarr’s Marsh. Drawing an exterior-only city had me a little worried, since the last one I did was this piece of white-hot garbage. God, that’s embarrassing. But I think Vlyn’darastyl is big step up from that.
So, Vlyn’darastyl is a drow city that’s accessible by airship, which isn’t a characteristic shared by many other cities two miles underground. But the Great Breach– a 300′ (100m) hole in the roof of the cavern leading to the surface sea above– makes this possible. There are more details in the DM notes above, but if you’ve got any other questions I didn’t cover, feel free to ask.
Thanks to Senator Matt for proposing this map to the Cartographic Congress! He and I were talking about an idea I had for the future which I’d like to let you in on.
At some point, I want to make a map of a small Underdark sea. That sea is the Black Loch, which the map above shows only a small corner of. I want to make a larger, region-sized map of the whole loch with 10-12 locations marked: maybe a kuo-toa village, a duergar outpost, a few islands with some ruins, a series of caves, maybe something underwater, stuff like that. Then I’d draw maps of each of those locations at a 5′ scale, so you’d have this map of a whole region and, wherever you wanted to take your players in that region, you’ve got a map of it ready to go.
When Matt proposed a city next to an Underdark sea, I thought that seemed like a good addition, especially since the Great Breach makes the area more accessible for DMs whose parties aren’t currently below ground. But– to be clear– this is the only part of it I’ll be making for a while. This is a big project and I’m not going to be starting on it until Brazenthrone is finished, which will be a while still. But I thought I’d share that with you and see if anyone had any thoughts.
As I said when I posted the last map, all patron content is free to everyone this month. You can download it from this post or from Google Drive.
First: your tokens.
For most people, D&D time is chill time and I don’t want to let The Stressful Topic You Can’t Get Away From intrude on that. So I’ll just leave it at this: my game needs to go online. And that means I need to learn to DM on Roll20. The question I have is: Where do I start?
There’s a lot out there to learn from, which is good, but it also means there’s a lot to sort through and, since we’re not talking about 5-minute videos, I’d appreciate any suggestions you might have on what video series or tutorials helped you learn the basics and got you to the point where you felt comfortable running a game.
While I’m sure there’s a strong case to be made for Fantasy Grounds, I’ve used Roll20 as a player, so I feel like it’d be easier for me to learn. Still, if you have suggestions for learning FG, please do post them. I’m far from the only DM looking to take their game online right now and some people might be more interested in learning Fantasy Grounds.
So, the tokens. They’re not the fanciest tokens out there, but I wanted to keep them simple so they’d look good shrunk down. The top row is my party. Starting from the left, there’s the gnomish druid, the dwarven paladin, the elven wizard, the monk, the ranger and the halfling rogue.
The second row is alternate versions for anyone who might need darker-skinned characters. Or, in the case of the monk, lighter-skinned (our monk is Zakharan). The third and fourth rows are drow/duergar and greenskins, which are the other two common D&D skin tones. These are super easy to recolor, so I thought I’d try to make them as flexible as I can. Anyway, I hope you like them and thanks in advance for any advice.
If you have advice but you don’t want to use the comment system here (because it’s stupid), you can just leave a comment on the patreon or email me.
Except for some rocks. The town is done, the abbey is done, the roofs are done, the little outlying buildings are done and the various things I forgot to draw earlier are done.
I didn’t think I’d get it finished this soon, but I ended up drawing most of the fourth level and the roofs in one enormously long session, using coffee and Scandinavian metal to stay awake for an amount of time usually only achievable by meth addicts.
There are still some rocks to draw, but that’s only an hour or two of work. Rocks are easy to draw. After that, I’ll scan it all, assemble the third level of the town and the roofs, place the trees, rocks and coastline and it’ll be ready for color.
I’m sure you all have varying opinions about this project. Some of you are excited for it and others not as much, but thank you all for bearing with me. I really didn’t expect that it would take as long as it has, but I promised to draw it and honoring my commitments to you all is the most important thing for me.
I’ll also promise you that, from now on, I’ll look more carefully before I leap. While I’m glad to have drawn Mont-St-Michel, I wouldn’t normally take on a sprawling megaproject while I’m still working on another one (Brazenthrone). For those of you waiting for more of the dwarven city, I apologize and I’m going to get back to it as soon as I can. Hopefully you’ve got enough to work with until then.
All right, I’m going to go draw these rocks and get this stuff in the scanner.
Okay, I’m awake, I’ve had coffee, I can write now. So, next up is the third level of Mont-St-Michel, which I think is quite a bit more interesting than the second because we finally get to the top of the curtain wall, which a lot of the adjacent buildings have exits to.
Other notable things include the town hall, which is actually right over the main gatehouse. I can only assume it was built there so that, in the event of an artillery barrage, the politicians are the first to die. And there’s a windmill on top of the island’s leftmost tower. It’s the small tower in the center here. The windmill blades are gone now, but I’ll draw them back in on the map.
One other thing I wanted to address was how this map would work with VTTs. An entire level of the island is going to be way too big and probably not very practical (at regular size, anyway). A patron suggested that I divide it up into blocks of buildings and include every level of that block in one map. This keeps the image sizes reasonable and allows players to go between floors without having to load a new map.
I’ll make full maps of each level for VTT at various sizes as well, for use as overview maps or for people who don’t mind lowering their grid size to 35px. I think VTT DMs are going to have a lot of different preferences about the size and scope of the maps they want for Mont-St-Michel, so I’m going to make sure there are as many options as possible as far as what you want in the map and how big or small you want it to be.
Okay, I’m going to get started on the third level. I’m hoping to get all of it and the roof level done by the end of the month. I’d better stop typing and start drawing then.
I hope you all had good holidays! The Mont has grown a good bit lately. There’s more of the town and the walls finished to the east of the gates, along with the Tour de la Liberté (“Tower of Freedom”).
And below, there’s the barracks with its own barbican and the Tour des Fanils (This sort of means “Stephanie’s Tower.” I think. It’s complicated). In the northwest corner is the Tour Gabriel (“Gabriel’s Tower”), a huge artillery tower with a windmill and a lookout tower built on top of it. Yeah, I’m thinking it too. I heard you like towers.
One other thing I wanted to mention: the arrows at the top or bottom of staircases indicate which direction is up. Maybe that’s obvious, but I just wanted to make sure.
Okay, that’s it for now. I’m gonna draw more of the town next. I’ll be back to show you when I’ve got a few more pages done.
So, a few months ago, I was asked to draw part of a map of that a bunch of other artists would be working on. The map was of the innards of a tarrasque and the idea was that each person would draw a different organ.
I was asked to do something different, though: draw a building piercing through the side of the creature. Why? Because *Ralph Wiggum voice* I’m special. I decided to go with a minaret, the pointiest buildings in all of architecture.
Anyway, there’s an adventure to go with it and a whole bunch of other stuff, which you can download here. It’s all free for everybody. All right, I’m gonna get back to work on Mont-Saint-Michel. I’ve got a few more pages to show you, which I’ll post either tonight or tomorrow.