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.


Level 0 – ground


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.


Map: Pillar House Tavern & Inn

Floor plan for a tavern and inn
The Pillar 3-Story Tavern and Inn with color coded levels. Scroll down to see the other iterations of this map.

Pillar House History

The Pillar House straddles a canyon where a tributary of the Irewrathe River rushes past 50 feet below. This is the narrowest spot to cross the wild Irewrathe River for many miles. This tributary was always popular with those wanting to avoid the main routes guarded by local constabulary.

The owner, Galspar the Delightful, built the original house as revenge for a mostly forgotten squabble. All right. You caught me. That is a lie. The story is a bit of a legend in these parts.

The squabble goes something like this … Four bandits demanded a toll to cross a rope bridge at this crossing and the wizard Galspar and his party of adventurers were not inclined to pay and killed those 4 bandits. The Bandit Master was not terribly happy about Galspar’s response and a mini war ensued. By the time the dust settled, only the Bandit Master and Galspar were still standing. An agreement was reached between the two, but little of the details are known.

At the spot where the original rope bridge stood, Galspar the Delightful crafted great pillars of stone jutting out of the raging waters. (There are rumors that a bargain was struct with a clan of earth elementals who guard and reinforce the pillars. But surely that is just a rumor?) The pillars created a deadly maze for anyone trying to navigate the river by boat. Atop these pillars, Galspar built his house and settled into retirement. Did he allow others to cross the canyon there? No. He did not. He and his house sat there like an angry, bloated toad. Travelers went around the long way. Somehow though, those affiliated with the Bandit Master (know thieves cant?) were able to safely get through maze of pillars in the river below.

After a few short years, Galspar the (Less than) Delightful, grew bored with retirement and sold the house to Dovilynn Warmdelver, an entrepreneurial dwarf who had grown tired of the smugglers life and had a great idea for Galspar’s place.

Dovi converted the house into a tavern & inn and named it the Pillar House Tavern & Inn. Past associates appreciated a place to quench their thirst and rest up. Though the law would occasionally raid the place, they were never able find any evidence that the clever dwarf giving shelter to wanted criminals or storing illegal goods. Of course, both were absolutely true.

There are several hidden rooms in the River Pillar House. One of the secret rooms has 4 beds for those the law is after. Another is for storage. And the third is the owner’s bathroom, because being a tavern owner means not sharing your damn bathroom with a bunch of drunkards. Two trap doors can be accessed from below if you know where and how to climb the right pillars.

Beneath the house, earth elementals (2-6) and water elementals (1-4) make their home. If a boat tries to navigate the pillars without the right Thieves Cant signals, they will attack. They get first choice on any of the items from the slain. The rest they leave in a cave for the tavern. If you DO have the correct Thieves Cant signals, the water elemental smoothly carries you through the pillar maze to the other side.

Eight beds for rent

The River Pillar House Inn & Tavern has 8 beds for rent to the public. All but one in shared rooms.

On the main level is a room with four regular beds in one, as well as one room that has an extra-large bed for larger bodies or who just like to sleep in groups. For the smaller folk such as halflings and gnomes, an optional bunting board can divide one of the regular beds into two smaller beds.

On the mezzanine is a room with three regular beds next to the shared bathrooms. The bathroom has three holes and a semi-private bathtub.

Hidden on the mezzanine level is a room with 4 regular-sized beds that the Thieves Guild rent when someone needs to stay out of the public eye. There is a second secret door from this room that allows the sneaky visitors quick access to the bathrooms, but they will still need to use their stealth to ensure that others in the inn do not spot them. Otherwise they can use the bed pans.

Map Iterations

Includes the maps showing all 3 floors labeled with and without color-coded levels, individual level maps with their secret rooms, and one with no text or furniture.


Obsidian Map – Improved Upon!

City of Obsidian

… now with shanty neighborhoods surrounding outside the city walls

map of the town of Obsidian

Took the hand-drawn map of Obsidian into PhotoShop and had some fun. (The original sketch of Obsidian is here.) Added the shanty neighborhoods outside of the city walls. Sat it on a black background and change the color pallette of the map.

Labeled City of Obsidian

City of Obsidian Map numbered with legend
This version of the Obsidian map includes a legend of various locations with the city walls

Map Legend

(most of the information below in the extended legend is a repeat of the information in the orignal post)

  1. The Frenzied Ferret Dance Hall & Eatery – wild dance parties, gambling, and talent contest. Great place for a bard to practice their arts.
  2. Salty Swan Retreat – Bathhouse and adult entertainment/companionship
  3. The Tipsy Unicorn Tavern & Inn – Cheap drinks & small rooms
  4. Dizzy Dragon Den – Nicer place for travelers to eat and rest for the night.
    Rooms 1gold per night; Stables 6 silver per mount
    Food Specialties: Dragon Pepper Poppers, Dragon’s Breath Ale
    Yahkle Arodite (Dwarf); talkative cheery fellow; closely shorn red hair; no beard nor eyebrows; happy to spin a yarn about how his beard burn off and how lovely life as a dwarf is without a beard
  5. Mayor’s Office – Mayor Kayrem O’Riley. Male gnome with greenish hair, vibrant blue eyes, plaid red/black suit with black button up shirt and matching pocket square.
    Glenarra, Mayor’s Assistant.  Female halfling, flaxen haired, tired rings under her dark brown eyes, horribly hung over from partying at the Frenzied Ferret last night.
  6. Military Barracks for Sovereign’s Troops – Colonel Bodo Mutah. Male gnome, gray & grizzled
  7. The Congregation of The Somewhat Virtuous  – a collection of chaotic good god kiosks; layout is a maze of cubicles that changes everytime you enter the building
    Calista. Seerer. Human androgynous. Royal blue; follower of Daghdha
    Cleric Zorbit (Cleric of Aphrodite). Halfling female, short bobbed orange hair; grey eyes
  8. Temple of Eternal Song
  9. Keepers of Balance
  10. Paragons of Pelor
  11. Sparks Refinery & Warehouse – Entrance to the diamond mine is inside the warehouse; most of the surrounding warehouses are also owned by VonBellor and used for processing the diamonds
    Buric VonBellor. 1/2-Elf male. Head honcho of mines – technically, the diamond mines belong to the country of Briarstone and the sovereign
    The mine tunnels below the town of Obsidian twist and turn, up, down, and back upon itself … who knows how far out or down this mines might go?
  12. The Pounding Hammer Smithy – Industrial and normal smithy (horse shoes, wheels, pipes, etc.
  13. Metal Mayhem – Specializes in basic armor and shields; some +1 magical armor and shields
  14. The Majestic Gray Blade – sells well-crafted bladed weapons; some magical
    Can do some custom work for the right price
  15. Berttle’s Bloody Blades – shadier magical items and slimy proprietor;
    Berttle is a angry, greasy gnome who bellows at his apprentice, Goffenmauker, but is cloyingly nice and ingratiating to buyers
  16. The Raven’s Maze – basic magic items (potions/scrolls)
  17. The Dapper Dandy – magical cloth items made to order (cost 2x normal)
    Also makes beautifully embellished sword sheaths and  quivers
  18. The Royal Yeti – fancy clothier
  19. Duke’s Castle – Not much is known about the Duke by the locals. The royalty here is rarely seen out mingling with the commoners
  20. Darkhallow Gaols – Prison for unruly minors and adventurers. Rumor has it that there are hidden levels of the dungeon where the Duke tortures keeps the vilest of his enemies
  21. Open Market – From fresh produce, meats, jewelry, and random other vendors that may change with the seasons
w = warehouse
T = guard tower

In the Works

I am still working on drawing fantasy cartography maps (is cartography and maps redundant?), but not as diligently as earlier this year. I’ve been distracted with traveling and running D&D games and all the other stuff that takes up one’s day. And there’s this game on my phone … man, is it a time sink!

But to prove that I’ve been doing something, even if I have been ignoring my blog, I’m including a couple of in-progress sketches in the early stages of creation.

The nameless ones

These map doodles are currently without names. Ideas are welcome.


Ireland: Bunratty Castle

While some might suggest that posting photos of my trip to Ireland here is a bit off topic. I’d argue that it was research. Research for drawing better castles and the like on my fantasy maps as well as inspiration for my D&D games!

“Bunratty Castle is a large 15th-century tower house in County Clare, Ireland.” – Wikipedia

Personally I still thinks it’s a friggin’ castle, not a “tower house”.

Bunratty was intereting in that they actually staged the rooms with furniture and nick-nacks, so you could see what it might have look like with people living in there.


Ireland: Blarney Castle

I was recently on a trip to get some inspiration for castles and the like. We don’t have a lot of those in the Pacific Northwest. In September I travel with a delightful group of ladies to the majestic land of the Irish, which is chuck-a-block full of old castles, cemeteries, monasteries, and ruins.

Blarney Castle & Gardens was one of my favorite stops. It was a beautiful, photogenic location, and the weather was well behaved. A couple days before the area had been hit by quite a wind storm. Up on the tower it was still as cold as tits on witch, but it could have been MUCH worse. (I’m not actually sure why witches have cold tits. Is it because of dancing naked in the moonlight? But considering all the history/mythology of witches tied with Blarney, it seems appropriate.)

Blarney Castle

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Hoping to get some elequence for my D&D game mastering!

Traveling Companions

Bench by Blarney Castle
My delightful traveling companions, Sally, Carol, and Donna
3 women on a bench in Blarney Castle
Me with 2 of my traveling buddies, Carol and Donna. The spot on the bench was wet, so I chose not to sit my bum down.