View Full Version : Cassedega - Built on the Ruins of Ankeshel

06-17-2010, 09:35 AM

This was created for Open Design (http://open-design.livejournal.com/) for their Pathfinder supplement Sunken Empires (http://www.koboldquarterly.com/KQStore/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=3&products_id=79&zenid=fe5839a09cd6dd6612206d405d56ceac). I was asked to create a city in two halves - one above the sea and one below - built on top of the ruins of an ancient city that had been sunken beneath the waves and recently re-appeared. Nothing like a challenge :)

The original city was vastly technologically superior and huge so the current city only needed to occupy some fraction of the ruins. The ancients used concepts of the golden ratio in their work and liked spirals. From that (and a very comprehensive art brief) I created the original city layout:


Once that was done, I wrecked the city and detailed the city in black and white (the original art brief) which ended up looking like this:


The guys at OD decided that they'd like to have it in colour too, so a little more work resulted in the map at the top of the post. I did a short Q&A on the development of the map over on the KQ website. You can find that here (http://www.koboldquarterly.com/k/front-page5082.php).

Now Tilt is really going to have a go at me about my water obsession...

This is commercial work so it is rights reserved.

06-17-2010, 10:27 AM
Really nice, from the colors to the layout of the ruins and then the new built.. very impressive.

06-17-2010, 10:31 AM
This is just gorgeous Torstan! I will have to read the Q & A when I get home from work. Good job capturing the effect of half the city being underwater too. Is this the full resolution image? I'd like to get in there for a closer look and explore if there is one.

06-17-2010, 10:48 AM
Super beautiful! I love the way that you've done the ruins. A real masterpiece this one, Torstan!

06-17-2010, 11:10 AM
Thanks guys. The ruins were an interesting challenge. I drew the base. Then I used some grunge brushes on a mask to really dirty it up and destroy areas so that it looked beaten up. Then I applied the layer mask and merged it down onto a white layer to have a greyscale image. I used threshold to get clean black and white image of the remaining walls. Then select colour gave me the walls as a selection and I converted it to a path.

Once I had that - the outline of all the buildings in their ruined state as a path - I used the photoshop brush panel to create a rubble brush. I took the standard hard round brush, increased the spacing, added some scatter and allowed for jitter on the size and roundness. This does a good job of drawing out a trail of rubble when you draw with it.

I used this brush on two layers. First with very little scatter to create the ruined walls. This more or less gives the white walls you see on the map. Then with much more scatter to give the dark rubble. A little more use of grunge brushes on a mask broke this up and give the underlying city ruins you see on the map! Oh, I used a straightforward drop shadow on the rubble walls to give a little depth. This was background texture so I wasn't going to go drawing all of those in by hand.

As for the size - this was a created as a print for full page at 300dpi, so the original is 2550 by 3300. However, the conversion from 300dpi for print to 100dpi for display on a monitor gives the same experience of the image. As this appears in a printed product (and in the pdf) I can't release the full 300dpi image I'm afraid. Sorry about that.

Steel General
06-17-2010, 01:08 PM
Great stuff here Torstan!

06-17-2010, 06:41 PM
Oh, wow -- that is beautiful! What a lot of work!

06-18-2010, 02:15 AM
As I already commented on dA: Excellent work, subtile and eyecatching variation of the colours!

06-18-2010, 04:58 AM
Beautiful map torstan, love the colors (and the idea) - one just wanna "dive in" and aborb the details...

see - no bugging about some element at all.. I can only say...

Well done
Absolutely stunning
Transcends time
Really good work

06-18-2010, 07:09 AM
Top-notch, bro. One of the best maps (and cities) that I've ever seen.

06-18-2010, 09:14 AM
Well done as usual and a very unique concept. Very interesting and well done !

06-18-2010, 02:46 PM
Everything is said so far and my vocabulary is not big enough to describe it in other words. An excellent map conversion of an existing concept.

06-19-2010, 02:03 AM
Frankly I love. This really gives many ideas for adventures. Indiana Jones in a medieval fantasy world.

06-19-2010, 08:26 AM
Heh, I don't know how you do it but I was looking around for a partially sunken city for some Aboleths in my campaign and you happen to post this.

Just perfect :D

06-20-2010, 11:53 AM

If you are doing that then I really do recommend sunken empires - I mean the foreword is written by the guy who invented the aboleth. Definitely worth checking out.

Thanks for the compliments everyone. They are greatly appreciated - especially when the city drawing cramps set in :)

06-20-2010, 03:11 PM
This is great work Torstan, have some rep. It's immediately clear the city has been built on the ruins of a vastly larger city. The transition from land to water looks great. What I don't understand though: a lot of the ruins under water have labels. Why's that? They are no longer inhabited I think?

06-20-2010, 03:31 PM
Actually Torstan I decided to go and do just that. You should idly mention to them that I wouldn't have had any interest or idea that they existed without you posting the map as well. I won't be able to see it until I get home, but I wouldn't mind some sunken sites and similar for my campaign Artist of Sharn. Especially if there is a more "Abolethy" city than even the one you posted in there.

06-20-2010, 03:48 PM
Well you've already seen the Wreck of the Goodwife map (and picked up the map pack with the high res jog in it from the Kobold Quarterly store?). I don't have any other underwater maps at the moment, but I'll keep my eyes peeled for you.

@Gandwarf - there is an aquatic city under the water and a human city above the water - both new constructions in the old ruins. The floating market acts as a halfway point for the two cities to use for trade. Note that all the above sea docks are well away from the underwater city - to avoid conflicts.

06-20-2010, 05:11 PM
Already using that map actually.

It is a very handy map for a Kraken. :D

06-20-2010, 05:40 PM
Thought you might be.

Oh, there's a whirlpool tile that might be handy for you if you're using a vtt. The small version is this:

The bigger version can be found here:

These whirlpool are CC-BY-NC-SA licensed as in my sig.

06-20-2010, 09:40 PM
Oh poop, I expected Sunken Empires to have more maps of sunken cities and similar. Instead it's got your excellent map and then a bunch of 3rd edition rules that are completely irrelevant to anything I want. Whoops.

It does have some nice new art for aboleths that I can make into tokens I guess :S

The whirlpool is very nice though, I'll definitely have to think of a use for that.

06-20-2010, 11:47 PM
Ah, apologies. I should have asked the system you were using. I assumed that aboleths=3.5/Pathfinder. I hope that at least some of the non-rules specific ideas are useful. At least you have a higher res version of the map - but that's really not the full content of the book.

06-21-2010, 12:11 AM
Yeah, that was what I was hoping for actually but it was mostly some 3rd ed rules and there are still plenty of Aboleths in 4E. Unfortunately nothing in it is particularly useful outside of that as I've already wrote my own fluff. I was sort of hoping for a more "Abolethy" city for my game but this one is fine (because the particular region the PCs are exploring is interdimensional - it has a habit of stealing entire ruined cities/empires from other worlds or places. Making it fit the place into Eberron nicely). I should have asked but I'm not overly worried. I've already put the artwork to good use :D

06-21-2010, 12:14 AM
Well I'll keep an eye out for you in future. Glad the whirlpool came in handy.

06-21-2010, 02:39 AM
Well I haven't figured out how to use it just yet, but let's just say there are more krakens in a certain parties future. I can also use the goodwife map - especially now I have a registration on KQ to download the fullest and prettiest version - in that game as well. I don't think I'll have krakens this time. Probably more aboleths who are most upset at the PCs visiting their pirate ship unannounced.

06-21-2010, 05:49 AM
Truly beautiful map, Torstan. Fabulous stuff.

06-21-2010, 12:55 PM
Absolutely Gorgeous!


06-21-2010, 01:01 PM
Thanks guys! That's very kind.

@Aegeri: There's always this:

It's CC-BY-NC-SA so feel free to lift it for home use.

06-23-2010, 11:21 AM
I seem to recall an Aboleth-themed city on CG.

And with a little searching, I was right: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?9686-Zhann-Vigann-Kaharim

It's a rather different style and may not suit your needs, but I thought I'd point it out.

As for Aboleths equaling any particular version of D&D, they were in AD&D 1st Edition.

06-24-2010, 01:45 AM
I am in love with this map.
Ive kept coming back to view it in the short time ive been here
I love the widows flophouse, makes me laugh at the idea of what a "flophouse" might be

06-28-2010, 01:27 AM
this is absolutely amazing, the only quip I have is its too small, I can't see all the detail I would like *cry* lol

06-28-2010, 08:44 AM
That is really nice, but I think(as with most maps) that one should see the printed version to really appreciate the value of it.

06-28-2010, 09:10 AM
Yep, the original is 3 times the size here and the print version has much clearer details as a result.

As for the naming - a flophouse is just a very simple accommodation - where you can literally flop down and go to sleep. Nothing more than that. Now some of the other, more waterfront, establishments. Well then that's another thing entirely. All the names were provided by the guys at Open Design. I merely placed them in the city and integrated them with the map.

07-01-2010, 04:08 PM
Another great piece of work Torstan, it really inspires the imagination of what this place must be like in the first person!

07-02-2010, 09:02 PM
Wow. I am mindlessly jealous of you. Awesome.