Several Small Things

I’ve got the next map– the Fortified Oasis– fully penciled and ready to ink. But before I get started on that, I wanted to mention a few other things I got done:

Anyway, that’s all. I’m gonna get back to work on the oasis. I was up drawing until pretty late last night because, as it turns out, if you draw a million rugs on a map, you then have to come up with designs for a million rugs. It does look pretty cool, though. I think you’re gonna like it.

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.

Here’s the first floor of the Old Palace.

There are two more levels of Brazenthrone‘s Old Palace, both of which are nearly done. I’ll have it all up in a day or two, but I thought I’d give you a look at the first floor since it’s finished.

The large room at the upper center is the throne room. The Brazen Throne was removed and currently occupies the new throne room in the High King’s Palace. The symbol on the floor is the Brazen Hand and represents the royal Brasshand Clan. It’s an older and slightly different version of the symbol that can be seen in the new palace.

The other symbol represents the Kingdom of the Twelve Mountains, the nation that Brazenthrone is the capital of. The runes around the edges spell out the motto of the Twelve Mountains: “Many Clans in Peace, One Clan in Strife.”

Anyway, that’s all. I’m gonna finish up the rest.


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.


Dear Foundry Users: This is me having your back

I worked out a way to export walls to Foundry. I haven’t exported the module file to share the maps with you yet, but I wanted to let you know that your situation is handled. I found a way to convert Roll20 maps with dynamic lighting to Foundry, so patrons can expect to spend a lot less time setting up maps in the future.

I’ll get you the module file for the Tusk, the Fallen Tower and the Great Hall in a day or two and I’ll fill you in on how I did it. It’ll be free for everyone, of course. Also, I have a surprise for you. You’re going to like it. Things, uh… yeah. Things happened.

Right, I’m gonna get some drawing done and I’ll get back to you with that module.

I just did two impossible things in Roll20.

I set up the dynamic lighting for every wall in the Great Hall of Brazenthrone in 15 minutes. That’s the first impossible thing. The second impossible thing is: I can give you the ability to do this. Except it’s not going to take you 15 minutes, it’s going to take you 1 minute. And no part of this involves ever setting foot in the Roll20 Marketplace.

Two days ago, I posted something about how I didn’t think I’d be able to give you maps with dynamic lighting set up for Roll20. I thought the only way to do that would have been to sell them on Roll20’s store. That turned out to be wrong. Well, 90% wrong.

Let’s talk about scripts. Specifically, this script. Here’s how it works: I draw a line. Then, I turn the line into a series of commands that describe the line. The script then turns those commands into walls on a map. If it sounds complicated, don’t worry: I have to do the complicated parts. What you do is super easy:

  1. Install the Walls script into your game. You can copy it from here.
  2. Make a page and put the map on it. Go to the map layer and select the map.
  3. Copy a text file (the commands for that map) and paste it in the chat. Hit send. It takes 10-30 seconds to finish and then you have the walls set up for dynamic lighting.

It’s not a complete setup, since it doesn’t do doors, but tracing the walls is a large part of the work of setting up dynamic lighting and being able to knock that out in a few seconds is a pretty big deal. Here are three maps and their script commands I made to try this out on: the Great Hall, the Fallen Tower and the Tusk. Note that the fallen tower is 140px per tile and the other two are 70px. The size has to be correct.

I was informed about this by Luke, who DMs a game I’m a player in. I told him I thought this might change some things for the better for a lot of people. If you DM on Roll20 and have a Plus or Pro account, try it out and let me know what you think. This is a very easy thing for me to do and, if you want me to make these for every map in the future, I will. Maybe I’ll even sit down and do the backlog at some point.

Maps for EncounterPlus

So there’s an app called EncounterPlus, which is an encounter-tracking app. It’s like an offline VTT. Basically, it’s for people who want to use digital maps and tokens to track their combats, but everyone’s in your living room.

Before I go any further, I’m going to save some of you the time: it’s for iOS only. Remember 1997, when everything came out for PC and there were like 12 programs for MacOS? Apparently things have changed.

Anyway, I’m not writing this to recommend EncounterPlus. As a PC user, I’ve never run it, so I can’t tell you if it’s good or not. However, a patron named Matt C. does use it and created some .module files using my maps. These aren’t adventure modules, just maps with the dynamic lighting already set up. I told him I’d share them with you, in case there are more E+ users out there.

You can download the files here. The maps included are:

I’d love it if these could be made for more platforms, but, currently, I believe only Encounter+ and Foundry allow you to make downloadable files with the lighting set up in advance. I’m considering making files like this for both platforms in the future, as well as FantasyGrounds when they implement dynamic lighting. Of course, I’d do it for Roll20 if that becomes possible, but I’m skeptical that it will.

I talked to one of the E+ devs, who told me he could make a script that would convert Foundry modules to E+, so… well, being able to set up a map once and convert it for multiple platforms would make doing this a lot more reasonable. Anyway, no promises just yet, but it’s something I’m looking into.

The Floating Fortress is Inked

Yeah, there are boats in that boat. They’re called gun yawls and they look like this. They’re basically large rowboats with a single cannon. The idea is that they’re maneuverable and hard to hit. Apparently they were very popular in Scandinavia, which is something you might have guessed from the picture, in which there’s a Danish flag that is almost as big as the entire vessel itself. Presumably, this is meant to be used as a sail in the event that everyone’s arms get tired.

I’m going to make three versions of this: one with cannons, one with ballistas and one with no armaments. I’ve got a ballista and five different cannons you can copy and paste onto the map or use as VTT tokens to arm it as you like.

There’s one other thing I wanted to point out. I drew a ship called the Ebonclad about two years ago. You can fit that ship into one of the floating fortress’ hulls. You can almost fit two into each hull. This thing’s pretty big.

Floating Fortress Warship Sketches

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.