Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Ziggurat



This is it! The final map of my April A to Z mapstravaganza and my third successful completion of the A to Z challenge. The ziggurat, a mighty monument with a lot of steps that take a lot of effort to climb. What lies in the chamber at the top? Steps down... perhaps to adventure!

Big thanks to everyone who joined me on this A to Z challenge! I found many new blogs to follow and it looks like I attracted many new readers. I will probably take a break from posting... perhaps doing a wrap-up on Friday.

For those of you who joined for the challenge, the mapstravaganza represented an escalation of my New Year's resolution, which was to make a thing a week. I intend to continue with my make a thing a week challenge. The things I come up with get posted every Monday as part of my ongoing Make-it Monday series. Some will be maps. Some will be drawings. Some will be crafts. Some I haven't thought of yet.

Okay, get your printable ziggurat here.

I'm going to stop typing now.

Geoff

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for Yeti's Cave



High in the frozen mountains, perhaps near the icy chasm, a yeti has made its lair in a secluded cave. The cave floor is littered with the leavings of the yeti's hunts. Perhaps the beast has discarded some unknown treasures from unwary travelers it has slain. Or if your in the market for a nearly complete dire elk skeleton...

Just one more day left in the A to Z Challenge!

Get a printable version of the yeti's cave here.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for Xill's Nest



One of the beauties of D&D is there are tons of things that make use of obscure letters like X! The Xill is a race of 4-armed lizard-like beings that live on the ethereal plane. They are evil raiders who wait in ambush for creatures on the material plane to pass by. They then cross over the planar boundary, subdue their prey and drag them back to the ethereal plane. Xill reproduce by implanting their eggs in their victims (Alien or wasp-style) When the eggs hatch, the Xill larvae devour their host from the inside.

The Xill nest takes advantage of their ethereal nature. It is located on the ethereal plane next to a material road where prey is plentiful. The brood chamber and that of the Xill leader have no doors. This allows ethereal Xill to pass while trapping material beings within.

With that, we are done with the final full week of the challenge. Just two more posts to go!
Get a printable version of the Xill's nest here.


Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Waterfront



or wharf... or whatever.

I'd like to give a big shoutout to Dyson Logos and Dante for posting about my A to Z mapstravaganza on various sites yesterday. Apparently the Reddit RPG forum got ahold of it and my traffic spiked to the point that I got a month's worth of traffic in a single day!

Today's map depicts a seedy fantasy waterfront, complete with vikingesque longship in honor of the Swedish invasion my site underwent yesterday. I love the potential weirdness that can take place in dockside neighborhoods. The combination of ships coming in from exotic locales, and ships headed out carrying folks with places to go, folks with people to flee and folks just looking for adventure makes for a crab pot of excitement just waiting to boil over.

Speaking of crab pots, I once worked up an in-game dockside bar called Peggy's. It was run by a dwarf with a peg leg. He had lost his leg in a battle with a giant crab, but managed to take one of the crab's claws in vengeance. He felt fine about it until he learned that crabs grow their claws back. Now ol' Peggy makes regular pilgrimages to re-take his nemisis' claw. The walls of his bar are festooned with the fruits of his labor.

At some point, I would also like to create a seaside bar run by catfolk. It would be called the Crusty Starfish. If you own a cat, I'm sure you get it.

Oh, also, now my 20% gray pen is starting to fade, so I only used it for small bits of shading. I did the shady sides of the rooftops after the fact in Photoshop. Do I go to the art store again or try to get through these last three maps?

Get a printable version here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Village Square



It all starts here. The ubiquitous village has been the jumping off point for countless D&D games. My campaign started in a tavern in a village much like this one. Cliche? about as much as you can get, but it wasn't for my players who had never played before that.

Just four more days left!

Get a printable version here.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Undercity



Beneath every city lies a world of secrets where things discarded by accident or intention go to find new purpose. In the sewers, theives and the destitute can find refuge from judgment and prying eyes.

U is also for "Uh oh, out of ink." My 50% gray marker I bought specifically for the A to Z challenge ran out of ink partway into shading this drawing. I had to continue with the 80% gray marker and then adjust the curves in Photoshop. It's kind of cool that I managed to draw a pen dry in less than a month, but it does mean I'll be stopping at the art store before moving on to V.

Get a printable version here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Thunder Vale


Thunder Vale is a valley high in the Cloud Peak Mountains, named for the booming echoes made by two waterfalls pouring over a cliff at its southern end. The stronghold featured yesterday is located atop the cliff in Thunder Vale. In my game world, the stronghold and vale were given to my players to serve as their base of operations. When they found it, the stronghold was in partial ruins, and a group of refugees had settled nearby fleeing a plague (of the zombifying sort) that was sweeping the land. The players have begun to fix up the keep and many of the refugees have chosen to stay, beginning to establish agriculture and herding within the vale.

Get a printable version here.

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Stronghold

Welcome to A to Z week four! I went waaaaaay overboard on the first map of the week and ended up doing four maps. One for each level of a simple stronghold, from the basement to the top of the guard towers. This map is unfurnished due to the sheer amount of time it took me just to finish the structure.






Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Rookery



We have reached the end of week 3 of the A to Z challenge, and I'm still hanging in there. For this week's finale, I give you the rookery for the Royal Turimori Griffoners! Just one more full week and a couple extra days! I may deviate from my original list for the next couple maps... not completely sure yet.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Queen's Court




A to Z Day Q. Though Q is a tough letter to use in Scrabble, I've never had a hard time with it in the A to Z. The queen sits in the grand hall of the Thunder Throne. Don't cross her royal magesty, or you just might get a lighting bolt in the teeth.

Get a printable version here.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Potion Shop



A to Z day P! Ah, the friendly, neighborhood potion shop. A must stop for any adventurer on the go. Stock potions are kept in the main shop. Top shelf brews in the back room. The basement, however, is off limits unless you are of a particular disposition.

I felt a bit conflicted about mapping such a small space. I've been trying to keep all my interior maps at the same scale, but couldn't bring myself to draw a ridiculously huge potion shop. Also, it's really tough to indicate potion bottles when drawn from above.

P is also for pageviews. Yesterday my pageviews for April passed the total views I had during April 2012! Hooray for expanding audiences!

Get a printable version here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Outpost




Ah the old frontier outpost. Like the Motel 6 of a high fantasy universe. This collection of buildings marks the final taste of civilization on the edge of the great unknown. Rest up, grab an ale and hire the most trustworthy guards you can find before heading through the gate.

O is also for Otis. If you haven't had a chance, go check out fellow drawrer, Kyle Henderson's A to Z offerings.

Get a printable version here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Naiad's Pond




Deep in an ancient forest, this sylvan spring is home to a beguiling water spirit. What lies on the island in the middle? Fey treasure? or does the watery tart run a thriving sword-distribution business?

Get a printable version here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Mushroom Forest



Beware of myconids and feral smurfs while roaming through the mushroom forest. Welcome to week three of the A to Z challenge! M is also for mid-point. If you have made it this far, you are halfway to the end of the challenge! How are all of you holding up?

Get a printable version here.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for Lich's Laboratory



Okay, closing out A to Z week two with a bang! I present you with a lich's laboratory, complete with cosmic orrery! For those of you unfamiliar with liches, they are evil undead wizards (kind of like Voldemort from Harry Potter.) They give up their soul in exchange for eternal life so they can pursue their mad quest for power and knowledge (kind of like Voldemort from Harry Potter). They are tough to kill, because they store part of their essence in a phylactery (kind of like a horcrux from Harry Potter.) If you take away anything from this, it should be that Voldemort is a lich.

Get a printable version here.

Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Kobold Warren



Kobolds are one of my absolute favorite D&D beasties, and I have posted about them before. I love the idea of little hordes of devious beasties setting traps and laying in ambush waiting to take down bigger, stronger prey.

This map shows part of a kobold warren I ran my players through some time back. I also included a copy of the full map I did for them at the time. Can't remember which software I used. I would have hand-drawn the whole thing, but I am trying to limit myself to a single sheet of graph paper for each map in this exercise. My vision of a kobold warren involves lots of twisting halls with arrow slits to shoot through, secret doors with narrow bolt holes where the kobolds can use their small size to their advantage.

Here is the original full map I made:


get a printable copy of the hand-drawn excerpt here.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Jungle Ruin



We go from an icy chasm to a steaming jungle for my J day A to Z post. This jungle ruin is dedicated to some sort of being associated with armed snakes. What lies beyond the secret door in the altar chamber? Only an intrepid explorer with a keen eye for traps will ever find out.

get a printable copy here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Icy Chasm



We're mid-way through the second week of the April A to Z Challenge! I feel like I'm keeping up with my posts okay, but I have had a heck of a time getting to check out other peoples' blogs. I've seen a ton of stuff that I've been interested in and meaning to comment on, but I just haven't had the time! Anyone else feeling that way? How do you balance the writing and the reading/commenting obligations of the A to Z?

This map was tough. I had to do a bit of figuring out before I found a visual way to convey "icy" using just my usual mapping tools.I'm fairly happy with the way it turned out, and quite happy with the fact that I drew this in just about an hour. (My last few posts had been taking about twice that.)

get a printable copy here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Hag's Hovel



Hey, if you are gonna be forced to live in a one-room shack in a festering swamp. You might as well build it on the back of a giant turtle! Amiright!?

H is also for hand-drawn maps. If you are interested in how I make my maps. It's really straightforward. I start with a printed sheet of graph paper, and a mechanical pencil. I sketch out the basics of my map and then fill in the pencil lines with either a cheap ball-point gel pen or my .5 mm micron pen that I picked up from my local art store. Once I have the lines all inked, I add shading with my three gray pens. They are 20%, 50% and 80% cool gray. That's it for the hand drawn part. After that, I just scan the image into Photoshop on top of a parchment background. I change the map layer from "normal" to "multiply" which turns the white bits transparent. Then I add text and save. Simple as that!

This is all you need to make a great map...
in fact, all you really need is the paper and a single pencil!

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Great Gate




The Great Gate is a fortress in and of itself. With two sets of massive 20 foot-wide doors, the gate is wide enough to allow 4 ox carts to pass through abreast. Perhaps the gate serves as the entryway to a grand city. Perhaps it sits astride a narrow mountain pass, tasked with holding back the barbarian hordes. Wherever you may need a really big door, the Great Gate is there.

This map uses two different cutaway levels. The upper part of the map shows a bird's-eye view of the defenses on the roof of the gate. The lower half shows a cutaway of the gate's interior.

get a print optimized copy here.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

F is for Flooded Cave




A flooded seaside cave holds hidden secrets waiting to be found. But beware, a fearsome guardian may lurk in its watery depths. This flooded cave could serve as a small five room dungeon with the rooms being:


  1. The seaside entrance
  2. The flooded lower chamber (perhaps with a ferocious aquatic guardian)
  3. The secret antechamber accessible by secret door or by braving the flooded lower cave. (maybe there is some fiendish trap or puzzle lock that must be navigated to get to room 4)
  4. The tomb of some (hopefully dead) pirate king
  5. A storage area with a ladder to a clifftop location (lighthouse? bandit hideaway? both?)


I had to tweak the lighting curves on this image when I scanned it into Photoshop. For some reason my scanner made the grid show up really well in the grayed out wall spaces, but not in the white, navigable terrain.

Finally! Finished with the first full week! Huzzah! I would also like to thank everyone who keeps stopping by and leaving such wonderful comments. I have been trying my best to get to others' blogs and reciprocate, but  doing so in between work and drawing the maps for this blog has been tough. I've seen a lot of great stuff out there though. If you want to make things easier on me, make sure to link to your own blogs in your comments. I'll be sure to check them out!

print optimized version here.

Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for Elven Tree House


I did the first part of the drawing while sitting outside on my front porch in 70 degree sunshine. Not bad for Seattle in early April, and quite an appropriate drawing venue for the subject.  I was inspired by the sample elven tree home in Races of the Wild and decided to do my own take on the form.

The layout of the house is as follows:
  1. Front Porch
  2. Hallway
  3. Main Living/Dining Chamber
  4. Master Bedroom
  5. House Shrine/Meditation Room
  6. Guest Bedroom
  7. Guest Bedroom
  8. Kitchen
  9. Pantry
  10. Study/Library
I may have gone a bit overboard on this map. Drawing this map took me probably 2.5 hours start to finish (including importing and laying it out in Photoshop.) While I really enjoyed the process, I don't think I can sustain this level of detail throughout the A to Z Challenge.

Get a print-optimized version here.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for Dragon's Den



I worked up a mountainside cavern home of a red dragon for this map. I found it very challenging to create a lava flow that was distinguishable from a regular river. I'm not completely satisfied with the result of the lava. I suppose it would help if I added color.

[Update:]

I also feel like I should give a shout out to one of my favorite D-named bloggers, Dyson Logos of Dyson's Dodecahedron. Dyson is a prolific mapper and one of my direct inspirations. His simple style has been mimicked by numerous other fantasy mappers around the web, and I had to make a conscious effort to differentiate my own maps in some way. I made a conscious choice to use gray pens to shade my maps, rather than copying Dyson's distinctive cross-hatches. If you are enjoying my maps so far, I highly recommend you check out Dyson's stuff. You wont be disappointed... just please come back here too.

Get a printable version here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Cathedral



Constructing religious structures for a fantasy world can be quite challenging. For this map, I drew up a cathedral dedicated to Heironeous, the standard D&D deity of chivalry, glory and heroics. I figured that if any of the deities in the D&D pantheon had cathedrals, Heironeous would. The grand, soaring architecture was meant to evoke a sense of glory, awe and power in actual cathedrals. Why not coopt that mood for a fantasy structure?

So much symbolism is built into real sacred spaces that it can be difficult extracting the real world symbolism while still making a structure that is recognizable as a holy space. I modified the architecture of a archetypal Christian cathedral, shortening the nave and adding a portico and plaza outside the main doors. A large statue of Heironeous stands at one end of the space with the main altar center.

I turned to some of David Macaulay's books as inspiration for this map. He has been one of my favorite illustrators since I was a kid, and I really wanted to capture his combination of accessibility and attention to detail.

Oh, by the way. If you are someone who likes maps... like, LIKE likes, like more than looking at an atlas likes, you may want to check out the Cartographers' Guild, of which I am an infrequently active member.

You can get a printable version here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B is for Barracks


My B map is a military or guard barracks complex. The topmost building is the mess hall. Just below that to the right is the unit armorer. The smaller square buildings are all the bunkhouses and the c-shaped building in the lower left is the stable. Drawing this map made me realize that drawing human statues from above is really challenging. Also, it is really difficult to make a regimented military compound look interesting.

I got some questions about permissions for using my maps. I am totally fine with people downloading and printing the files for their own games or personal use. If you wish to display the map online on your own site, I ask that you please credit Geoff, or my handle, Sporkchop and link back to ROFLInitiative.com. If you want to use a map for anything considered commercial (e.g. in a publication for sale) let me know. I am willing to negotiate.

Get a print-optimized version here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for Altar of Arlee




And it begins! My first map in the 2013 April A to Z Mapstravaganza is of an altar dedicated to a spirit of writing and literacy, Arlee! Special thank you to the April A to Z Founder, Arlee Bird! This altar can also serve as any sort of outdoor shrine you can imagine.

My theme for this month is Mapstravaganza! I will be hand-drawing maps for use in fantasy tabletop games and posting them here. Most will feature general locations that can be utilized in a broad array of settings and scenarios.

Get a print-optimized copy here.

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