Monday, September 16, 2013

Make-it Monday: Map, Elven Museum

This post is yet another entry in this month's Campaign Mastery location blog carnival.

Hey hey, map fans! Look at what we have here! Some of you who started following during April's Mapstravaganza mentioned that you wanted some more. Well, I broke out the ol' Prismacolor markers this weekend and drew you up something nice!

This map represents an ancient, ruined elven museum that I ran my players through in my game. I really dug the idea of running a Night at the Museum-style adventure, and when playing in a setting where magic is a reality, it doesn't take a lot to apply it to the "exhibits come alive" trope. Read on to learn a little more about how things were set up in my game, or get a blank copy of the map here.

The Backstory

a sect of ancient elves started fretting over a prophecy predicting the doom of their civilization, so they decided to try and preserve as much of it as they could by setting up this remote little vault built into a cliffside in the wilderness. The structure served both as a repository and a center for research while they tried to figure out if there was some way to ward off the impending doom.


Much of the complex now lies in ruins, collapsed under piles of rubble. The map depicts those spaces, which remain open.

A. Entryway
The entry to the museum is located at the end of a box canyon, and is carved directly into the canyon wall.

B. Hall of Animals
This soaring room is lit by the glow from several stasis chambers housing biological specimens of various kinds. Some of the chambers have long since gone dark, while others sputter fitfully as their magic slowly fails. The two chambers in the center house fearsome reptilian beasts. One holds a solitary T-rex, while the other holds a trio of Deinonychus. The controls for the stasis fields are located in the lower left corner of the chamber as drawn on the map. Unfortunately, the controls are malfunctioning, and may short out all the chambers rather than just the intended one.

A pair of balconies run along either side of the high vaulted room, and additional stasis chambers can be seen flickering on top of them. The balcony to the left also holds a secret gateway. A picture on the far end of the balcony is actually a portal to a pocket dimension housing the museum's library. The spectral image of the librarian is the only remaining denizen of the museum. He is unable to manipulate things in the physical world, but appears in paintings throughout the museum, and may communicate with visitors from those paintings.

Two hallways lead out of the hall to either side on the lower level.

C. Auditorium
This large chamber is lined with statuary and distinguished by an ornate, spiraling pattern made from an exotic metal inlaid into the floor. A raised platform at the far end of the chamber sits in front of a pair of massive stone doors carved with mystical runes. A pedestal stands in front of the doors and is topped with what appears to be a large bird's nest carved from stone.

D. Well
This darkened chamber contains a well that provided the complex with an internal water source. The well may now be the home for various unpleasant vermin.

E. Planar Orrery
This chamber contains an orrery depicting the planar structure of the multiverse. The room was once used for studying the movement and alignment of the planes. The controls for the orrery are located to the left on the surrounding balcony.

F. Autoclave
This chamber is now only accessible through a ruptured ventilation pipe running up past the main floor. Originally used to quarantine new specimens and sterilize objects in the event they exhibited infestation by vermin or other undesirable nuisances, the room now sits dormant and dark.

A large capstan is set into the floor to the right, and a length of rusted chain runs partway to the wall. It appears that it used to run all the way into a hole in the wall. A search may discover a bit of twisted metal wedged in the gears below the capstan. If someone pulls the metal out, the capstan releases and necrotic gas begins filling the room. The gas is harmful to living creatures, but will cause the bones of any dead critters to animate into undead skeletons. With the capstan's chain broken, the only way to turn off the gas is to get through the stone door to the controls in chamber beyond. The door is not locked, but is stuck.

G. Alchemy Lab
This room contains two large vats that supply the gas for the autoclave. Turning the valves on the vats will turn the gas flow off or on. A pair of workbenches in the room contain alchemical apparatuses and tools. Three doors on the far side of the room lead to storage closets, while a set of double doors leads to a now collapsed hallway.

The Situation

In my game, the players visited the museum in search of a lost gem said to hold the soul of an ancient hero. They found the museum had become the lair of a blue dragon and his lizard-person minions. The dragon, who had set up shop in chamber C. stole all their stuff before throwing the party out on their ears. They ended up seeking the assistance of the librarian to help them regain access to the dragon's chamber, which had been sealed off with a wall of force so the dragon could rummage through the party's gear undisturbed.

The librarian had the group fetch a number of items from the various chambers to complete a set of magic paints that would allow the group to bypass the wall of force by entering and exiting some of the paintings scattered around the museum.


  1. Where do you come up with this stuff?! Do you have a muse chained to your radiator or what?

    1. This adventure was honestly one of the toughest ones for me to figure out. I knew I wanted to throw my players in front of their very first dragon. I also knew I wanted to set things in a museum for a change of pace.

      Though the map is pretty twist and turny, it's really just a 5-room dungeon setup with the room complexes in either wing each being treated as "a room".

      Figuring out the dragon reveal was honestly the toughest part. One of my brainstorming partners came up with the brilliant idea of having the dragon speak with the party first before stealing all their stuff.

      I had him cast a modified dispel magic spell on their bag of holding and everyone's handy haversacks. The spell caused all those convenient extra-dimensional spaces to vomit their contents all over the floor! That meant the players had to figure out how to get back in to fight the dragon WITHOUT any of the gear they squirreled away in their encumbrance avoidance bags. The wizard definitely learned the importance of keeping his spell book close.

  2. Seriously, Geoff is the most creative person I have ever met. I can assure you there are no muses chained up in our house. He comes by it honestly :)

  3. Woot and woot! A map and a story. Thanks Geoff! Great stuff. Moar!

    1. Yay! Don't say I never gave you anything! ;)


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