Map – Winter Amberhammer Gardens

It would be rude to do the write-up of Sunday’s game and not put up the battlemap we used. The map shown here is a very much cut down version of the bigger map I’d put together of the whole Hold. That original map was generated using Dungeon Alchemist and exported as a jpeg before my then painting snow in with Photoshop Elements. Then the whole thing was imported into Roll20 and some animated spell effects used to simulate the portal (specifically Black Tentacles overlaid with a gaseous cloud)

The characters were placed anywhere they wanted to be within 20 foot or so of the entrance at the North. The snowy stone was treated as rough terrain with rolls to keep footing every time they moved. The grassed areas were easy to travers as it was only light snow. The entrance hall is where the beholder, mindflayers, and a gazer familiar were staged, and the portal was in the structure on the right of the map. The layout therefore gave lots of options for cover and breaking line of sight with opponents with trees, hedges, and ornamental objects.

This version is a relatively low-resolution image that nevertheless scaled well for the purposes of the VTT – just as well as the photoshopped version was nearly 30Mb in size due to my editing options and I had to drastically resize and compress the file.

Still, here we go – feel free to grab and use. I’ve made up a zip file with the original non-winter cut down map, this winter version, and the associated lighting and sizing text file so that you can import either or both versions to your Roll20 vtt – you’ll need to be running the Dungeon Alchemy API, import the graphic to the mmap layer and then copy and paste the contents of the text file into your Roll20 chat. That will resize the map and add lights for the torches on the map.

Amberhammerv4.zip

Map – Forest Arena

This is a quick bonus map I’ve made this afternoon on the Inkarnate website as a flurry of relatively generic battlemaps that I can plonk down as needed. With the DDC campaign being fairly footloose in its direction – or at least in how they get to key components – I’m building up a library of maps in different styles.

This one is meant to be a natural depression in a forest area with two main pathways out. High banks and foliage limit other routes out, but also allow for different elevations in any encounters. In addition, there are fallen tree logs, and a titanic broken sword as a hint of mysteries past or encounters to come depending on mood.

Overhead battlemap depicting a forest clearing surrounded by high banks forming a natural arena with two main routes in as well as two very small alternatives. Three fallen tree trunks lie across the brush in the clearing as well as a gigantic broken sword that is far too large for anyone  barring a giant to be able to use.
Made with Inkarnate.com

If you want to make use of this map, just save the graphic below – or follow the link to https://inkarnate.com/m/971E8l-forest-arena/ if you use Inkarnate and want the original multi-layered file for cloning and editing for your own needs.

Map – Lightning Rail Station

A couple of months ago we had an extended series of session aboard a lightning rail train travelling from Windhaven towards the Breland border – and a number of social and combat encounters took place during that period. Their first break in the journey came at a station where there was a delay to offload and take on new cargo and passengers.

This night time location was revealed just after an intense combat encounter where assassins had boarded the train and tried to kill Thorin – and had nearly killed Valenia in the process – and so the opportunity to get off the train and explore the area for a while felt much needed.

The grass area at the bottom of the map is where I overlaid schematics of the train carriages the characters were in. This was done so that I could reuse this as a standardised design in the future with other carriage configurations. The platform is lit with torches, and the main areas of interest are: the main ticket hall which leads through to the street beyond (and the houses on it), and the well-lit inn/coffee house and the rest rooms next to it. There’s also a store room behind them.

On the left hand of the map is a store room accessed from the ticket hall, and the ticket office top left. There are also desks and furniture in the hallway. The office could alternatively be a House Sivis message post.

I had this set up as being flexible enough to run either combat or social encounters – in the end it turned out to be mostly social and roleplay with stall holders, people passing through, staff from the rail service, and a rather intense Silver Flame Inquisitor who wanted to ask Thorin some questions.

As ever, the zip file attached to this post includes the map and the associated text file of map dimensions and dynamic lighting information and coordinates.

For those who haven’t used Dungeon Alchemy maps, you can install an API in Roll20 and after loading the map graphic onto the map layer, you can copy and paste the text file contents into the chat input. It will then resize the map to fit and support Dynamic Lighting if you are using it.

RailStation.zip

Map-Making Evening

I was just thinking to myself: I’ve not been playing with Inkarnate much – so after sharing a bottle of wine with Lady M over supper, I’ve been making a random map I’ll probably never use. It’s been fun thinking about how I might throw it into a travelling session however.

Anyway, here’s the small and surprisingly rich riverside village of Brookside:

The original map has been published and available to clone at https://inkarnate.com/m/GXvlOw–brookside/ – enjoy!

Quiet Day

I worked more than a few extra hours over the last few weeks, so with a nod from the boss I claimed today back to recover a bit, and I’m glad I did. There’s some family stuff that landed yesterday, mostly related to people’s health, some of which is in the “eh, okay” pile and some in the “oh” pile.

So in between being shattered, I’ve also been processing that – and part of how I’ve been doing that has been making more maps. So that’s a bit of a good news/bad news thing: been an unsettling day, but here’s some creative stuff for your gaming needs.

Enjoy! I’ll stick them up in the respective gaming pages in due course

Maps and Pens and Rock and Roll

My current methods of zoning out and calming down continue to mostly be drawing and making maps. I bought a book of gridded paper off Amazon recently, and have started filling pages with designs that I may never end up using, but that are still an outlet that allow me to work out the story of their use and history.

The sketchbook also continues to grow full of designs, and I’m posting things mostly to Instagram as I go to share with the world. I’m very much enjoying the wider availability of pigment ink and fine pens for the more consistent finishes they offer.

Some of them I’ve started adapting using the map building sites and software so versions of some of these locations may appear, but then again maybe not – that’ll depend on which way the stories go.

Cave Map

I’m going to get on with making a page just for maps, using old and new material, probably starting this evening.

In the meantime, here’s a very quick cave map with a stream pubbing through it from a spring at the back. A group of smuggler’s (or other antagonists of choice) have made use of a cluster of side caves and installed a portcullis style gate to deter intruders.

Further back in the cave there is a branch where a fissure opened up and a number of cave fishers (or other suitable pest-level monsters) have settled in, eating vermin and fish that emerge from the depths in the water. By and large the two sets of inhabitants ignore each other barring opportunistic encounters.

Lady M made an unflattering comparison to a set of mutated ovaries and associated organs, but she’s flying on painkillers post-surgery so I’m going to nod and smile…

A New Outlet

I was recently given a journal filled with squared grids. It has sat on my shelf for a few months, but I’ve started today to sketch out some sample maps that I could use for gaming, as well as make available for people to download

I might make a section under the games page for maps in general to make them easier to find. A significant part of traffic to this site revisits the maps from past adventures, so I think this proves an interest in things like this.

So, this is intended to be a mortuary temple site, set underground, with ossuaries, a channel house, preparation chambers, and living quarters kept away from visitors.

How benign or sinister this site may be is up to GMs – there is a room key on the map. The scale is intended to be five foot to a square, so the scale and feel is more something carved from the living rock than a massive temple.

Enjoy!

Day 372 of Isolation

What is days? What is space? Oh wait – hang on, I can go outside – ah, nope. Okay, so instead, while in between sorting a few odds and ends out with emails and remote access to some things, I’ve been experimenting a bit with some of the map pack options in Roll20 to make some maps for “just in case” – because if I’ve learned anything over the years, its that players are distracted by the slightest thing faster than you can yell “Squirrel!”

With a roleplay-heavy group like the current DDC, this may not necessarily be a bad thing. I plopped them down in a generic inn map while assembling things and it turned into at least two sessions of them making breakfast for each other, singing, and trying to teach a tiefling to catch apples with their tail. All the derailments so far have been purely character-chat – aside from the sudden desire to go find a training ground to practice combat.

Fortunately there are a great number of free map graphics made up. They’re searchable through the assets menu, but these all take time and I couldn’t find anything generic enough.

In the end I used a semi-random map for that particular moment. It did prompt me though to have a look at the various map pack options available to purchase through the Roll20 marketplace – rather than so many of the pre-made pretty options.

I ended up with three that look fairly flexible in that they are modular graphics with connectors – I can use the layers to blend the rough edges and the intended size and proportions so far have been quite user-friendly. I

‘ve been practicing with the Stone Building set to make some sort of generic mansion layout. Its not for a particular planned encounter, but is the sort of thing I plan to archive and keep to hand the next time they try something felonious or otherwise random.

Longtime gamers won’t even blink at the option of felonious in the above paragraph – and as this group has designated the rogue as their financier, I feel entirely justified in making up places that may suffer security lapses in the weeks to come.

Now my only concern is going to be what effect having lots of small graphics for the map will be like as opposed to having a single graphic that I’ve made elsewhere and imported. I’m using .png format graphics, so they should be reasonably swift but I’ll report when I start using them in anger. The other difference is that the group is currently five players plus myself, as opposed to the eight or so that the previous Wartorn Campaign had – I’m hoping this imposes a much lower hit on bandwidth and loading times.

Maps and Mapping for Roll20

I’ve been using the pyromancers.com website to handmake the maps I’ve been using in the Wartorn Roll20 campaigns over the last year or so, but it’s not the only resource I’ve been making use of.

There’s a few more websites that have recently caught my eye, and I’ll probably start dipping in to using them from time to time. A few of the maps that my group have yet to encounter have been made up using graphics from these sites, so I’ve tested them for ease of importing the resulting graphics in to Roll20. So far, each has been useful in different ways.

simple map of connected roomsThe first – ANAMap – is a map generator that allows me to make old-school line drawing maps and export them as PNG graphics, which are fully supported by Roll20.

When you start up, you are presented with a blank sheet of graph paper-style unreal estate and a series of tools on the left hand side that allow you to carve your nascent dungeon with a few simple clicks. Each square on the “graph paper” is cleared as you click on it, and refilled if you click back on it again, making editing and changing your mind a simple task as you go along. The palette is simple, and the icons are rudimentary, but if you’re looking to generate something quickly with a clean set of lines, this is probably what I’d prefer to direct you towards at the moment. As an added bonus, the site does remember where you got up to, and so you will see your most recent edit when you go back.

You can save and reload maps as you need to revisit them, which is a nice touch and making the grid disappear is a matter of clicking on the Draft button. The Dark theme reverses the palette to make a neon dark blue and glowing walls effect, so that might prove useful if you want to do some mirror-world or dreamscape representations of maps.

Randomly Generated series of tiles that create a series of connected rooms and tunnelsThe other site I’ve started using has been more for inspiration or throwing together very quick locations, and I think I’m only really starting to scratch the surface. Dave’s Mapper uses tiled templates to randomly generate areas. It too allows you to export maps as PNG format graphics and these can be resized as required when you import them into Roll20.

There are all sorts of filters available to choose the style and design of the tiles used, and whether the maps are close edged to make a contained location, or open-edged (for generating a location within wider streets or tunnels, for example). By default though, the maps tend to resemble the example here, reminiscent of classic hand-drawn dungeons in original D&D products back in the days of yore. I really like it, and I might use it for generating treasure maps for handouts to players, using them as a template for a map put together with the pyromancers site instead.

Hopefully, one or more of these resources will be helpful to you too, let me know in the comments, or feel free to suggest other map making resources that you treasure.