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The Great Spire – work in progress

I envision this massive round structure with landings every 35-50 steps. A large, wide archway leads immediately to imposing steep stairs going up.

To the left of the entry arch are 3 smaller arches that lead into the stables.

A door on the right at the base of the stairs leads to the only room accessible inside without climbing stairs. (Visible on the second, color drawing.) This is where visitors are met and left to wait for their host(ess).

The rooms themselves are often insanely tall. There are several secret doors high up on the walls that shortcut to areas farther up the spiral.

The owner of this tower is a natural flyer and uses the stairs to slow down and exhaust potential enemies. There are likely traps along the way the turn these stairs into the biggest slide ever.

Original pencil sketch of the Great Spire with room numbers.

By the time I got to identifying the levels by color, some of the rooms changed which landings they opened onto. At the bottom is a newer color version with the updated room numbers.

Color-coded map of the Great Spire. Rooms of the same color are on the same level.

Levels

Level 0 – ground

Stables

Reception Room (1) – windowless

Level 1 – light green rooms

On the first landing (30×10) are 2 doors on the left (2, 3) and a door on the right (4). There are no windows in the rooms on this floor.

Level 2 – dark green rooms

On this landing (20ft x 10ft) is a door on the right (6) and one on the left (5).

The room on the left (5) is about 45×30 with a 40 foot ceiling. Large picture windows on the back wall do not open.

The room on the right (6) is 20×10 with a 400ft high ceiling, shrouded in darkness. It feels more like a chimney than a room. In the right back corner is a small hidden panel (gnome size) about a foot off the ground that leads into a 10×15 storage area (6b). On the back wall, abutted against the ceiling is another secret door that leads to landing #13.

Our flying homeowner uses this as a shortcut to the upper levels.

Level 3 – light blue

On this landing (30×10) are 3 on the left (7, 8, 9) and a door on the right (10).

Level 4 – orange

Landing is 15×10 with a door on the right (13) and 2 on the left (11, 12).

Level 5 – pink

Landing is 20×10 with a door on the right (16) and 2 on the left (14, 15).

Level 6 – red

Landing is 20×10 with 2 doors on the left (17, 18).

Level 7 – fuchsia

Landing is 30×10 with 2 doors on the left (19, 20) and 1 to the right (21).

Level 8 – dark red

Landing is 20×10 with 2 doors on the left (22, 23).

Level 9 – dark purple

Landing is 30×10 with 2 doors on the left (25, 25) and 2 on the right (26, 27).

Level 10 – dark orange

Landing is 20×10 with 3 doors on the left (28, 29, 30).

Level 11 – green

Landing is 20×10 with a door on the right (31). Going up the stairs, it would be easy to miss this door.

Level 12 – light yellow

Landing is 20×10 with 2 doors on the left (32, 33). The smaller room has a small hidden panel (gnome size) on the right wall about a foot off the ground that leads into a hidden room (33b).

Level 13 – reddish orange

Landing is 20×10. On the left wall is the hidden door that connects to the 400-foot tall room on level 2. Falling through this door could hurt a lot.

On the right are 2 doors (34, 35). The room directly across from the secret door has a 160’ high ceiling. In the far right corner, abutted against the ceiling is another secret door that leads to room on level #17.

Level 14 – purple

Landing is 20×10 with a door on the left (36) and the right (37).

Level 15 – aquamarine

Landing is 20×10 with 2 doors on the right (38, 39).

Level 16 – yellow

Landing is 20×10 with 2 doors on the left (40, 41).

Level 17 – gray

Landing is 20×10 with 2 doors on the left (42, 43).

Top Level – dark brown

A single door at the top of the stairs leads to a large room (44) with curved walls. The top of the ceiling comes together at a point in the center. Windows circle the point, looking up at the stars.

Great Spire with numbered rooms and levels.

I want to figure out how to represent this building in 3D. I think there are some clever things I can do between levels, but it is hard to visualize in this 2D format.

Cave City – Draft

sketch of city map

Work in progress

Sketch – Cave City

Been working on this idea for a city hidden inside of a cave, currently called “Cave City”. Apparently the people who live there aren’t very creative sorts. Maybe they spent so much time trying to squeeze in their architectural dwellings that they didn’t have time for clever words?

Some of the angles got a little wonky, especially the top swath of road. Some day I may see if I can improve on this digitally.

This was inspired by the quick sketch made for the Skirmish on a switchback trail.

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Bestosa in Color

Bestosa continent color sketch

Revisited this pencil-sketched fantasy map I sketched out a year ago and gave it some color.

Fantasy map of Bestosa in color
Bestosa (colored 2/17/2019; original pencil sketch 2/28/2018

I kinda like leaving it unlabeled and without towns. It feels like it has more possibilities this way. And it has nothing to do with me being lazy and not wanting to deal with labels and whatnot. Or being too cheap to buy Photoshop.

I’ll confess that the first version has the “dramatic warm” filter on it. The real color is a bit more chipper.

Fantasy map of Bestosa (original color)
Bestosa’s true colors
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Luapi

The continent of Luapi is a hand-drawn fantasy map with towns and topography. No labels. Some buildings turned out better than others.

How would you use the word cartography in a sentence in this instance? Because Google isn’t happy that I’m not using the key words (tags/categories) in the body of my blogs.

Why yes, this doodle is an example of my attempts at hand drawn cartography.  This map includes mountains, lakes, forests, and other examples of topography. I’ve also included sketches of towns, villages, huts, towers, and docks.

This map and all the others are the sort I would use in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. You too are welcome to use them in your campaign (D&D or otherwise) as long as you don’t claim you drew it yourself or make a profit from the sketch.


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Xarundran – X marks the spot in color

Colored pencil sketch of a fantasy continent for use in a role playing game like Dungeons & Dragons. No labels on this one!

Decided to skip the towns and labels on this one. I just wanted the topography without the civilized bits.


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Yewnaria Revisited

I originally posted the black & whitish pencil sketch of Yewnaria here. Below are descriptions of the areas of interest on the continent of Yewnaria.

Continent of Yewnaria (Mainland)

Kalenar

  • Largest settlement on the mainland of Yewnaria
  • The recognized seat of power for the mainland
  • Sits at the mouth of the Kale River
  • Often battered by brutal coastal waves that floods the lower areas
  • The wealthier live in communities built upon elaborate, multi-level platforms perched on stilts

Goya

  • Nearest neighbor to Kalenar
  • Sits between the Kale River and the base of Orgool Hills
  • The Kale River widens and slows down at this point, making it feasible for larger ships to sail from Kalenar up to Goya

Anika

  • Coastal town
  • Next closes territory to Kalenar
  • Has a large wall around the city which helps brunt the worst of the coastal batterings as well as keep out unfriendlies
  • Between Anika and Happychance are rich, fertile farmlands
  • The eastern mountain range of Yewnaria are riddled with tunnels and passageways to the other side of the range. Many of the passageways are controlled by various clans of trolls, kobolds, dwarves, humans and the like that charge tolls and/or offer protection for travelors

Happychance

  • Upriver from the violent coastal tides
  • Happychance straddles the water where three rivers merge

Psíanth

  • Northern most settlement in the Valley of Lakes
  • Large bridge over the Al’alwan River leads into Psíanth from the east

Mawgenta

  • In the center of the Valley Loslagos
  • On the banks of Kershmire Lake

Aberdine

  • Lake side

Cadeem

  • Lake side

Bonhaven

  • Does a lot of trading with Xan and Zemr
  • South eastern coast is primarily dry, arrid steppe land

Southeastern Yewnaria

Xan

  • TBD

Zemr

  • TBD

Northern Yewnaria

Baitan

  • Snobs
  • Hate Kalenar and deny that Kalenar has any sovereignty over them

Brakenridge

  • Isolated
  • Cold

Rodeego

  • Bay harbor
  • Cold

Monokron Isle (Between Northern Yewnaria and the Mainland)

  • This once beautiful isle changed … elementals battle … death … dispair …

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Anzorae – fantasy map

Color sketch of a fantasy map
The delightful continent of Anzorae has towns, hamlets, castles, and more! That’s right, I’ve even put in some hand typography to label locations, rivers and a mountain range.

Anzorae

Brief overview

  • The entire continent of Anzorea is controlled by the monarchy, currently lead by Queen Kezarrae (Razorclawed lineage)
  • The northwest coastline is a barren, desert wasteland called “the Sacred Lands” due to the twisted, ruined landscape caused by past battles between powerful gods
  • Taxes for cities/towns/villages range from 10% – 25% depending on the level of favor the royal has with the crown
  • Adventuring Tax
    • Any found magical items must be presented to the court and can be gifted to the royals or be assessed a stiff tariff if the person wants to keep their spoils; sometimes the royals will claim the item for themselves and the “good of the nation” regardless of the presenters wishes.
    • 30% of any coins gathered in the act of adventuring shall be paid to the crown
    • Individuals who cannot prove ownership of a magical item (provenance documents, bill of sale, etc) or who show signs of gaining unexplained wealth not reported to the court are dealt with harshly

Points of interest in Anzorae


Saleece

Saleece
Saleece – Capital of Anzorae
  • Large, walled city
  • Capital of Anzorae
  • Home of the royals and Queen Kezarrae
  • Nezor Harbor protects the city from the harsh northern seas
  • Wardrum Forest –Home to a large tribe of druids who react violently to intruders
    • it’s often difficult to tell the druids from the animals
    • the wiser citizens of Saleece avoid this forest
  • Vargox Mountains – Mined for the wide range of precious metals and gems
    • Full of angry monsters and the corpses of would-be adventurers

Hargth

Hargth
Hargth – lawless port town
  • Primarily a fishing and trade town
  • Started off as a small fishing village, but has grown as a popular destination for smugglers and others who want trade outside the eyes of the law and avoid imperial taxes
    • Forgery is a popular sport here
  • An embarrassing thorn in the royals’ pristine ideals for their nation, especially since it’s so close to the capital
  • Queen Kezarrae’s army often runs raids on the town, but have little success due to the many secret doors and hidden tunnels running beneath the Hargth
  • Hargth Harbor and the surrounding lands are riddled with underwater passageways, which connect to the land tunnels under Hargth
  • It is not common knowledge that within the harbor and water tunnels is the sub-town of Hargthsdowns that is inhabited by merfolk and the like

Sakura

Sakura+Lake Drom
Sakura – on the edge of civilization
  • Lakeside castle
  • Fairly autonomous and isolated from the politics of Anzorae
  • Being on the edge of the Sacred Lands they get the occasional wave of strange mutated creatures that attack the walled town with mindless rage
  • Adventurers that survive the Sacred Lands will often go to Sakura to trade found magical items to avoid the high crown tariffs
    • Forgery is a popular sport here as well
  • Lake Drom – as long as you stay near the banks, you’ll be fine

Ellim

Color Sketch: Hand lettered
Ellim – home of the crazies
  • Medium size city
  • At the mouth of the Joramara River
  • The land to the north of the Joramara River is lush, fertile farmland
  • A lot of small homestead dot the lands north of Ellim and are technically considered under Ellim’s protection
  • Known for the inexperienced mages drawn there for the Wizard College
  • Home of a wide range of eccentric artisan types
  • Moordrae Forest – rangers like it here; no crazy druid tribes

Zomarra

Zomarra
Zamarra – Where you go to get away from the crazies
  • Keep
  • Surrounding land to the North is mostly swamp and the Hargrove River
  • Home of the coldly logical schools of thought
  • Several monastic and scholarly temples call Zomarra their home

Tansy

Tansy
Tansy – Simple Farmers, Right?
  • Farming community
  • Absolutely no hidden prince or princess wishing for a more exciting life here, just boring laborers.
  • Magic users? Bah! No use for that sort here. Go to Ellim if you want to play with the arcane. (Caves in the mountains have several thriving businesses run by clever wizards, sorcerers, witches, warlocks)

Goldspar

Color sketch: Hand lettered
Goldspar – Thinks it should be the capital
  • Large coastal town
  • Rivals Saleece in population, though more of residents live outside the city walls
  • The royals here are secretly plotting to place the crown on their heads

Domaar

Sketch-Hand lettered
Domaar
  • Small village on the largest of the Western Golsmar Islands

General Artist Notes

This was my first try at adding buildings and labels to a map. I can’t draw consistent, level squiggly horizontal water lines, but otherwise I think it’s coming along nicely.

As with the map of Bealdunagaen, I used a combination of pencils, gel pens, crayons, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and a wee bit o blush in the creation of this map.


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Bealdunagaen – fantasy map sketch

Update: March 29, 2018

Fearing the River Police would find me and confiscate my map drawing tools, I went back and added some rivers and made sure none split after downriver. I went pretty light on the rivers on this one, so it wasn’t too bad.

Hand drawn Fantasy map in color

Getting crazy with some color

This island-heavy map was inspired by the area around Bealadangan on the west side of Ireland, thus the name Bealdunagaen.

Color hand-drawn map with islands and mountains of imaginary Bealdunagaen

On this fantasy map, I dipped my toe into the excitement of adding color.

Color Creativity

I used a variety of media for coloring the map, wanting to used what I had on hand. In the end I used graphite pencils, sharpies, highlighters, gel pens, and crayons. But I wasn’t getting the quality of blending I wanted.

I was cleaning out a drawer in my bathroom and found a bag of makeup that I hadn’t touched in years. Mmmmmmm… So the brown of mountains is an eyeliner pencils. The shading is a combination of crayons and eye shadows. I like the way the land and mountains turned out. I eventually gave up on the water. It’s a mixture of highlighter and crayon trying to hide the highlighter.

Bealdunagaen sketch and various media used

When the light hits the paper, the colors look shiny from the sparkly bits in the eyeshadows. Yay! Finally a use for makeup!

Bealdunagaen map cropped to show shiny reflection
Orignal pencil sketch of Bealdunagaen

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The Dungeon of the Dori

Percolating Ideas

The Dungeon of Dori is an idea percolating in my head for a Dungeons & Dragons session (could be used for any RPG, really). This is the initial sketch of the dungeon/castle/place-to-cause-mayhem including hidden doors and a huge slime monster … or maybe a water feature … who knows?!

I picture a drab, gray stone castle with odd nooks on the outside, leading visitors to think they’ve found an entrance only to find it’s an architectural feature of the insane Dori. There are a couple of exterior doors, which are hidden … naturally (the squiggly lines are hidden doors). Even the interior is full of hidden doors, which make for quicker movement for those who are familiar with the interior.

The inside is dark and cold, with a constant echo of dripping water. I also like the idea that the filled in areas area actually pillars hiding secrets inside of them.

And Traps? Oh yes. How could the insane Dori not have wicked traps?!

Trap Resources

Speaking of traps, Roll 20 has a nice summary on traps and some sample traps in the D&D 5th Edition Compendium here.

And  covers some traps and hazard examples in the article A Collection of Traps & Hazards (D&D 5E)

I also found the Power Score’s  Dungeons & Dragons – Traps in 5th Edition had a nice gathering of information on dealing with traps and trap examples.

DungeonOfDori
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Old-School, Hand-Drawn Dungeon

Grid Paper and Pencil

I found myself alone with grid paper and idle time back in October 2016. I couldn’t help but want to start creating a maze-like dungeons, possibly reliving some of my 80s childhood at the same time. While sketching, I imaged dimly lit stone hallways with sweaty, slimy walls. And secret doors. Clever traps. Wondering monsters. The big baddie waiting in the center for the big showdown. And marvelous treasures!

It occurred to me that I’m always looking for maps to snag for my game, so it occurred to me that I should share what I’ve made too. Here’s a result of that particular compulsive sketching, available for noncommercial reuse to the interwebs: maze-with grid [PDF version]

Here’s another post of another maze I created around the same time.

Donjon Random Dungeon Generator Screen CaptureDonjon’s Random Dungeon

For those of you who prefer computer generated maps, with or without a grid, Donjon’s Random Dungeon Generator is a really awesome, free tool for making random dungeons. Along with detailed maps of varying sized and shapes based on your selections, the generator creates encounters for the party size and level you need in your chosen environment.

I will caution that for a 1st level dungeon, DCs (Difficulty Classes) of 20, 25, and 30 felt really unrealistic if you want your first level players to have a chance of success. So read over the included encounters and modify as you see fit.