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Map: Hillsworth Crooked House

A fantasy hand-sketched building map for role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons (Dnd). I would use it in a D&D 5th Edition game, myself, ’cause that’s my jab. I’ve been drawing more floor plans of late and have a couple of more that will be coming along.

About Hillsworth

Calling this large, brick edifice a “house” may be a bit of a stretch. It has the look of a building that started out with the best intention and then had rooms randomly added on without much concern for square corners or aesthetics.

A large deck on the west side faces the Hespharla Stream. On the east side, low rolling grassy hills protect the house from the winds coming over the meadows.

Colored version of a building floor plan

Raw Sketch

Original pencil-sketch of the Hillsworth Manor. When I brought the file into Photoshop, I had the walls all cleaned up and straight, but decided that this house really wanted to keep it’s crooked personality.

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Map: Academy of the Anchor Accords

Here is the map of fictional Academy of the Anchor Accords, originally drawn in pencil and overlayed in Photoshop with some lovely straight lines and doors.

Academy Floorplan

Classrooms on the left and student dorms on the right. Admin and janitorial in the center.

Secret doors can be found throughout the Academy from staff wanting to avoid students, students wanting to avoid teachers, and everyone wanting quick shortcuts. There’s also a hidden room where the staff hide the good stuff! (booze? chocolate? magic items?)

Is this an abandoned building? An active school? You decide!

The Anchor Accords is part of an idea I’m toying with for a new campaign that involves time and space magic and what happens when one of the dimension’s anchors is removed by some foolish adventurers.

Academy of the Anchor Accords floor plan map

Academy floor plan, simple version without texture

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Map: The Town of Manifort’s Freedom

Fantasy hand-sketched city map for Dungeons & Dragons (Dnd) or other role playing game.

About Manifort’s Freedom

Manifort’s Freedom is a small, river town. On the east side, a sandy beach separates the town’s buildings from the raging waters of the Ogleri River. Rough mountains protect the north flank.

The original founder meticulously planned out the roads and neighborhood blocks, many of which have become crowded and dirty over time. To the West and South, orchards and farmland surround the tightly packed buildings.

A huge tower dominating the center of Manifort’s Freedom is an outpost for the Royal Troops and serves as a defense against potential attacks from the North or the East.

Manifort’s Freedom Modified in Photoshop

city of Manifort's Freedom hand-drawn map

Original sketch of Manifort’s Freedom

Sketch of Manifort's Freedom hand-sketched town

My ramblings

Between having a 4-day weekend and quarantine going on, this seemed like a good time to dust off my sketchbook and pencils and have some cartography fun. While this map sketch is a totally fictional town, it is based on an actual small town near where I went to college.

I tend to think of these maps as something I’d maybe use in a Dungeons & Dragons game someday. What else might this map be used for?

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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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I aMaze myself!

maze

A new trial awaits

maze
Square on the top left is the start with the end on the lower right. Or vice versa.

Unlike many of my past maze-like doodles, this one actually has a start and end point and at least one verified path to success. (The squares are the exit spots.) Sorry about the smudging! From my testing, I know there’s more than one path to success on this puzzle… Which I find philosophically satisfying.

Doodle Maze solution

Finally Using that Journal!

black leather journal

I have a beautiful, black leather journals filled with hundreds of lined, empty pages. I’ve had the thing for years and have never known what to do with it. Until now.

Now it is my official spot for doodling mazes, dungeons, castles, and other whatnots when I don’t care so much if a bunch of lines run through them. And it only took me ten or so years to figure this out!

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Ruins of Amara

My first effort drawing a town.

I think I ruined it!

[pause a beat] … cause the town is in ruins! [insert polite laughter].

As my first sketching of a town map, I think it works pretty well. It’s really clear that the town was destroyed quite a while ago, right. Do you agree?

Are you reading this?

I hope none of my players actually visit my blog, since the group hasn’t been here yet. I’m reasonably sure they don’t. Maybe I should sneak some important clue on this posts just to find out!

Cause this is in-game stuff

The Ruins of Amara is a key location in finishing a big story arch the players have been working on in my current Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) campaign. The current arc takes place in the same world as the Dreadstorms Lost campaign and is actually like a Part 2 continuation.  This is a large part of why I’m having a hard time finishing the Dreadstorm Lost campaign on this blog. My brain has moved along to where we are currently in the game. The end of the Dreadstorms Lost happened in real life a couple of years ago now. Trying to drag my head back there is challenging. Especially when I’m trying to plan what might happen next in the current story.

The history of Amara

The citizens of Amara had been harrased by a decidely evil dragon that was destroying their crops and livestock and demanding they pay tribute. Even giving into the extorsion, the dragon continued to pillage the town and the surrounding area. The townsfolk went to a nice, friendly elder dragon and asked if it would be so kind as to remove the dragon from their lives. The nice dragon was welcome to all the treasure that the evil dragon had extorted from them.

There was an epic battle between the two dragons. Magic flew. Breathes of fire and acid spewed. Buildings were hurled at the enemy. By the time the battle was done, the village was in ruins and the entire poplulation was dead. The spirits of these dead villagers haunt the ruins to this day, demanding to know why their savior failed them.

Hand drawn color fantasy town map
The Ruins of Amara on the NE Coast of Briarstone

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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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Anzorae – Back for More!

After joining the Cartographers’ Guild, I’ve learned that most of my rivers have all been messed up and that I’ll never really be done with a map.

The orginally posted version of the Anzorae map with information tidbits on the locations is here.

So I made the following changes:

  1. Fixed the multiple rivers leaving a lake or a river splitting downstream. By “fixed” I mean I found ways to cover up the BAD rivers.
  2. Added smaller townships (red circles with X)
  3. Added roads, major and less well-maintained ones
  4. Filled in the blue ocean around the continent. I just felt unfinished like it was before.
  5. Added “ANZORAE” title to page
  6. I haven’t figured out how to make the wiggle-squiggly, ocean water lines look better. If I squint, I can ignore those. I’m really tempted to take it into GIMP to get rid of those buggars.
a hand-drawn isometric map of a fictional place
Anzorae Map Version 2.0 – now with roads! (To see it without the distracting ocean lines, see below)
a hand-drawn isometric map of a fictional place
Anzorae with the squiggly ocean lines removed. Unfortunately this also removed the island and the title of the map. GIMP is great for a free program, but Boy! Oh boy! I miss PhotoShop!

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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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Bestosa – pencil sketch fantasy map

Bestosa is a map of a fantasy continent pencil sketch

Continent of Bestosa

With this fantasy map, I added tunnels through caves. Fun.

I like the chain of islands, but adding topography into those the small areas seems impossible. I’m drawing on letter-size sheets. Do other people use bigger canvases?

Wavy ocean lines … got a bit carried away there. Also keeping them on the same horizontal plane was a bit challenging.

In regards to topography, I notice that I have a tendency to put the mountains smack dab in the middle. Gonna have to work mixing that up.

Still struggling with buildings and shields and labeling. They’d need to be so tiny!

I’m enjoying creating  these sketches, so I’ll keep at it.


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More Doodle, Less Noodle

Humans are strange. I just like to add my bit into the mix.

I do find that this sort of doodling keep me occupied and out of trouble when I’m in long stretches of sit-and-by-quiet times like long boring meetings, plane rides, or when other players are doing some intense role playing that I need to stay out of (which is amazingly harder than you’d think!). Also, I’ve found these random squiggles make for some interesting background textures.

What is it this time?!

A pattern marked on clothing of a secret sect of druids bent on destroying unnatural buildings and walls that dare defy mother nature?

A wicked bard’s gloves hypnotize his audience with ever sweep and gesture of his hands, making them susceptible to his suggestions?

To enter the Chamber of Knowledge, first you must solve this puzzle? Is there a solution to this puzzle? Maybe the answer is not all puzzles must be answered. That the search for knowledge and truth is where true enlightenment follows.

What ideas can you come up with?

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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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A Doodle for the Worms

Doodle doodle doodle

This is definitely more doodle than maze or map for Dungeons & Dragons. If this was an underground labyrinth of tunnels, it would take FOREVER to get through it. Unless you had some clever way to cut through it. One of my favorite things to do with these silly doodles is to image how I would use them in a D&D game.

Worms. Big Worms.

In my mind I see this as underground tunnels burrowed by huge worms with no particular direction except to keep moving and eating. Do they sense food moving nearby? A new tunnel is created as the worm dives for it’s food! Yum. Adventurers are tasty.

Why would anyone want to go down into these crazy, constantly changing tunnels? What prize could possibly hope to find?! Perhaps the skins shed by these beasts is used to create the most exquisite material far superior to even that of elven-make that is used to make the most visually stunning, supple and strong of armor. Even a monk could wear armor made from this cloth an gain an Armor Class bonus without taking penalties or disadvantages. Probably worth a pretty penny to the right buyer!

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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.