This is the map I used for Sunday’s game where the DDC encountered both a group of Ice Trolls and then a far more dangerous Dire Troll that had been buried in the stone circle. Rather than being a ravine environment, the intention was more to have a raised ridgeway or track through mountainous terrain that sloped away either side.
I set the adventurers at the top of the map, emerging from between trees into the more open area, and the trolls initially in and around the rough circle of stones. The map is designed as a 25×30 portrait area, and was exported from Dungeon Alchemy. The zipfile is mountainpass.zip and you’re welcome to make use of it and the lighting information as you need – or you can just copy and download the map below without any other information.
I had a bit of a quick play round in Heroforge to make some guards that were zombies for a scenario knocking around in my head – I’ve saved the models but did quickly make some virtual tokens that I could scatter around a map to scare some players. I mostly just played around with head positions and changed a couple of minor details, but wanted to keep enough of the same basic equipment and colours to suggest a uniform.
Not bad for a quick ten minutes clicking away on the laptop – I’m thinking of scenarios ranging from adventurers happening across an overrun checkpoint, an invasion by necromancy-using forces, an unearthly portal to a dark dimension, or a buried eldritch machine that has been reactivated and that is draining the life force from the area and needs to be quickly found and destroyed.
Feel free to grab copies for yourself, and as ever if you use them, let me know – I’m always on the lookout for scenario ideas.
There’s an aspect of fantasy world storytelling that appeals that focuses on characters caught between two worlds or cultures – the idea of the halfbreed who may or may not be accepted by either of their species or cultures. Sometimes this leads them to dark places, sometimes to brighter places. They can be an allegory or not, depending on the whim of the author or the player (who may have picked their character traits for some trait that fitted their concept)
So with that in mind, here are two new NPCs I’ve modelled in HeroForge and toyed around with in DNDBeyond: Rufen Hagspawn and Arianna Hytheknot.
Rufen is a custom lineage involving trolls and hags as the concept – very much inspired by the current DDC adventures. He is a barbarian with distinctive broken ram’s horns sprouting from his brow, who appears brutish but is unexpectedly charismatic. He may not be schooled in the ways of civilisation, but he has an uncommon amount of common sense (or wisdom). Even so, that wisdom is largely concerned with where and when to swing the great axe he carries. He is largely shunned wherever he goes, but he has managed to bargain for a trinket that once per day allows him to disguise himself as a human or similarly sized individual. This allows him to access shops and taverns without automatically being chased out of town as a monstrous abomination.
Arianna is a tiefling druid who lives by the docks of a town, preserving the wildlife and plantlife at the interface between civilisation and the natural world. The rats and vermin act as her eye and ears as she sells charms to sailors and potions to housewives. On occasion she’ll be asked to patch up someone caught by footpads, or on the run from the watch – and she turns any coin from that towards making her corner of the world a little calmer and safer for the youngsters. The horns on her head may make for an arresting sight but she finds it a good way to test people by not mentioning it, and pretending to be completely unaware of them when questioned.
Both are good examples of border characters that live on the edges of society and who may well be living in shades of moral greyness. How they react to player characters may well depend on how they in turn are treated on first contact or in how the actions of the characters are reported to others.
Rufen is more of a lone wolf individual who might eke out a living as a hunter, or who might be a mercenary encountered with a bunch of bandits who use his hardiness and regenerative powers to break defences. Arianna is much more of a socialised individual who works within or on the fringes of a society – the docks which inspire her second name. A hythe is an an old english word for a dock, usually on a river – so a hytheknot may be what secures a rope from a boat as it rests in its mooring – or maybe there’s a more sinister aspect related to punishment for pirates.
As ever, feel free to download these PNG format graphics and use them for your own VTTs – and if you do, drop me a note and let me know what they get up to – or how else you’ve used them.
This is an early map I made when I first got Dungeon Alchemy after the KickStarter – so wasn’t made with thought of any particular type of encounter or other use. It was mostly an exercise in trying to visualise a layout on three floors and would probably not be a great place to actually live. If nothing else, it is lop-sided and overhangs on the top floor while leaving either a large flat roof or a very oddly sloped set of shingles. Trying to visualise it do give me a headache – but then perhaps this is a magical place and not necessarily all on our plane of existence.
Looking at the layout – the top set of rooms is the ground level floor, with an entrance hall or porch in its top right corner. There’s a large sitting room to the south and a smaller hallway or reception to the west. This leads to a long thin corridor, off which the dining room, kitchen, toilet, and servants’ quarters are set. At the bottom of that corridor there are steps leading down into the cellar, and stairs going up to the master bedroom.
The master bedroom is the room on its own to the right of the map and isn’t anything particularly exciting.
The cellar has steps coming down near the well, along its north wall – and that main cellar area is mostly used for storage and drawing water. Each of the chambers off from that are full of work tables and supplies in crates. Its a rambling open area that could hold experiments or McGuffins that a group could be searching for.
So, I’ve included the exported file, jpeg, and text file as usual as usual as alchemyhouse.zip but am treating this as an example of the early learning curve while playing with a new toy. Enjoy!
We picked up the story from last time with the group making their way across a frozen lake towards a burning trading post. Battle was joined with a group of four trolls, and at the end of the last session, Kerne had slain one of them with a deluge of acid.
This week, the remaining trolls ran for cover, running around or into the trading post, forcing the DDC to pursue them. This was the moment they found that the trolls had left concealed bear traps in their paths – a level of preparation and use of tactics not typical of troll encounters. They lost sight of two of the trolls, but the third could be seen through the trading post’s windows. Valenia and Caeluma therefore focused their efforts on shooting into the burning building with varying degrees of success.
Arwan made his way inside in pursuit and was charged by the troll he found in there – and despite weathering powerful blows stood his ground. Valenia finished the troll off with acid-infused magical arrows and just for a moment all was quiet. Arwan extinguished the largest fire in the building by summoning water – and then the other two trolls reappeared.
They had climbed onto the roof undetected and crawled over the top to try and flank the group when the damaged roof collapsed. One leapt clear and landed next to Kerne – the other fell through and landed next to Arwan. In the blink of an eye Kerne was on the ground and bleeding out, with the troll preparing to eat them. Caeluma and Arwan fought the other troll with magics that severed limbs and dropped it quickly.
Valenia risked the irate troll’s claws to heal Kerne, saving their life but getting her back sliced open in the process. Inside the trading post, the fallen troll’s separated body parts began to fight on independently. For a few moments, as fast as the DDC knocked the trolls down, they or their body parts got back up and continued fighting. Then Arwan called on the gods to summon a flame strike from the heavens. The column of fire punched down through the broken roof. It incinerated the troll remains in moments. Outside, Valenia and Thorin finished off the remaining attacker with acid.
In the aftermath, the group took a short rest and investigated the wreckage. There was nothing of any worth remaining in the ruins, but each of the trolls wore two tokens. The first was a bone and iron brooch in the shape of a humanoid skull. The second was a crude silver fist wrought in silver on a silver chain.
Valenia’s investigations also found deliberately dumped animal and human remains. Blood and gore were placed to form a lure to the area, and based on the blood on the troll remains, they had been the ones placing the lures. They mirrored the gore piles found earlier in the forest trails. The DDC decided to return to the Hold to plan and research their next move.
I’ve included the map here, as well as the zipped file of the Dungeon Alchemy base file, jpeg, and text file with dynamic lighting, door, and window location details: tradingpost attack.zip
I started showing boy s the basics of Dungeon Alchemy while we were away so that he could design the shrine that his character Caeluma is founding at Amberhammer Hold. He’s got a basic layout sorted out, and will now need to do the tweaks and nudges to the decor and props to finish it all off.
This has brought me back to making some random maps to toy with some more of the new features in the recent update, which has led to this mixture of landscape and hidden crypt dominated by the wedged skull of a long-dead dragon:
Entry to this snowbound pass through the mountains is under the skull wedged above the southern end of the pass. A small crypt or shrine has been tunnelled out of the mountain rock, with its entrance at the top of a rocky slope covered in ice and snow. Danger might come from within that structure, or from bandits on the clifftop or even on top of the skull. Perhaps a yeti has taken up residence in the pass, or a troll preys on the unwary.
As usual I’ve put together a zipfile of the original .dam file, the exported jpeg and the text file containing lighting information – and that is included in this blog: dragonskullpass.zip
If you use this for anything, please let me know – I’d love to hear how you used it.
We had a somewhat shortened D&D session this afternoon, victim of both a series of tech issues on my side and various people feeling unwell. It left me feeling quite down and upset with myself. I was even, dare it be said, a bit grumpy, and it was the type of grumpy where no matter how helpful the incoming suggestions were, they were not received well.
One very reluctantly undertaken rebuild of my laptop installation later, the system seems to be cooperating and running a little smoother, but damned if I can see what difference there is. Maybe there was some corrupt driver or configuration that refused to be overwritten in app reinstalls or something. Whatever it was, the near-nuclear option seems to have helped for now – and we’ll see what difference it makes.
Alternatively it could just be that my bad mood and frustration was freaking out the local electronics, because that seems as good an explanation as any.
At least writing this is a good way to close out the day and test connections and migrated login details and all the minor aggravations that accompany such things. I can go and try to get some rest shortly, and maybe even wake in the morning with some degree of refreshed approach to the universe. Hopefully it can be a quiet day where I can get on with paperwork and wrap up loose ends before the next round of fun and chaos.
As an added bonus, here’s a random snowy and abandoned temple I made up to test that Dungeon Alchemy had reinstalled properly. I’m putting it under the general label of “miscellaneous battle maps” as I have no immediate plans for use. Looking at it, I can immediately see a couple of settings changes I need to make around the bordering blank space around it, but that’s just my preference.
The map is designed for a Roll20 VTT, so the usual zip file of original map, exported jpg and text file with dynamic lighting details is included – snowtemple.zip – have fun, and as usual if you make use of it, drop me a note and let me know what encounters you’ve used it for
I’ve been playing round with designing tokens for more generic non player characters – in particular this week I’ve been toying with themed and uniformed groups that the DDC and others are likely to encounter. To cut a long story short, here’s some tokens for two sets of guards for your virtual table. Rather than do a portrait and token, I’ve instead done two different styled tokens in PNG format – one a circled portrait, the other a top-down view of the figure that preserves transparencies.
This first one is a half-elven city guard in chainmail and armed with a buckler shield and hammer. His yellow half-cloak is as much a badge of office as a protection from the elements while on patrol. I’m not sure which faction these guards will be connected to, but I can repaint the model with different schemes. These are not bad people – they’re just doing their job.
This second token is for the newly-reformed guards of Amberhammer Hold. They’re dressed for the cold winter heights as well as the dark below in colours that reflect the yellows of the amber fields and the glint of gold in the mines. They wield war hammers as they keep the peace, and bear battle axes for times of war.
I’ve enjoyed starting to make these – there will be more
This map featured in our recent one-shot and was a good chance to flesh out the local suburb and bring the group up to speed on what their erstwhile companion had been up to while they were out saving the world.
The club house was founded by Coal, a warforged rogue, to provide a safe space, meals, and general support to local youths – and it is almost certainly only a vicious rumour that it is also a front for a small guild of thieves with a side line in community support.
Just to remind you, this is what Coal looks like: a lithe robot in a suit, with a flowing long coat, various blades and spiked objects close to hand, and quite often a tame mimic nearby as backup.
So, here’s the clubhouse. I only created the main public area – mostly due to time constraint – but also to save some surprises for the future. There’s a large hatch in the main area in the floor suggesting a cellar. There are also stairs to an upper floor.
The general layout was inferred from the more generic area map of the suburb we’ve been using in the main campaign, and created using Dungeon Alchemist. This allowed me to then embed support for dynamic lighting, doors, windows, and movement restriction for walls. As it is on the edge of a public gardens, that provides a pleasant backdrop, while there are buildings either side, suggested by the free-standing walls. In the wider area map, the building to the left is a tea shop and cafeteria famed for its range of produce and cakes. To the right is the home of Iron Ryan, who is a renowned pit fighter, rival to Thorin, and general friend of the DDC who dated Kerne for a while. He’s a regular visitor at the club house and teaches self defence classes – and is most definitely not working as muscle for Coal, and you won’t repeat that rumour unless you fancy waking up tied up and on display somewhere public.
There are two entrance lobbies from the street that lead into the main hall – and the ground floor contains two study/lounges, an office, a toilet, a kitchen, and a pantry. In our game it made a good place for the group to receive their rewards, debrief Coal on the mission, and give young Odif a present.
I have, as usual with a Dungeon Alchemy map, created a zip file with the original file, a jpg export, and a text file giving all the additional sizing/doors/windows/dynamic lighting support. To use it in Roll20, upload the jpg to a blank map and put it on the map layer, then cut and paste the text file into the chat box while you have the Dungeon Alchemy API script running. It will resize and label the map accordingly.
Feel free to download, and if you use it, drop me a note to let me know what stories unfolded: coalsclubhouse.zip
I put this together for my games as a generic guest house map – largely because of the reverse heist that we’re doing for the one-shot adventure. Its a town-based guest house with three floors. Five rooms are for guests, while the sixth is a master bedroom for the owner. There is a latrine on the first floor. and a bathroom on the top floor. The whole map is geared for a 39×22 grid which leaves a small border around the whole thing – and the floors go from left to right as they ascend.
There are two doors on the ground floor – one from the garden at the top, and one from the alleyway on the left hand side – and various odds and sods plonked into the map by Dungeon Alchemy. I’ve included a zipfile below with the map jpeg export, original dungeon alchemy file, and the generated text file that defines walls, doors, windows, and light sources for Roll20.
As ever, for Roll20 you import the jpg to the background layer and then, while the dungeon alchemy api script is running, paste the text file contents into chat. That will resize the map and graphic and line up all the walls and features. Let me know what adventures you have with it…