View Full Version : July/August Entry: Cavern Arena

08-05-2010, 01:03 AM
Ok, there are so many great things going on that I can't keep up so hopefully my best shot will do well enough. I just couldn't say no to this one.

My plan is an arena that is in an underground cavern.

At some point (appropriate underground dwellers of dark desire appropriate to whatever world you have) dug into a vast cavern that was later turned into an arena for entertainment, execution, election purposes, whatever. Interestingly, one end of the chamber ends at an underground lake connected to the Sea. Sound like a great way to escape? Perhaps, but why are the last 40 feet at that end of the arena worn smooth almost as if someone polished it? Furthermore what are those deep gouges that seem to draw one's eye toward the water? Ask anyone of the denizens who might speak to you and they might explain that the beating of the drums prior to each Arena event is the invitation to the local Kraken that just loves a free meal. Heck, he's been known to reach out and pluck anyone he can reach right out of the battle. Go there at your peril.

Why you ask would I design such a diabolical twist into what is already a terrible place? Well, just imagine facing an opponent you can not beat. Care to test your speed vs. the Sea Monster? Perhaps you are faster than your foe? An added point of stress for my good friends who sit around my table every now and then thinking they can have all the gold they want..

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that you adventurers, trespassers really, should decide the order in which you will be loaded into the cages because well...it matters...muahahaha!

That's right folks, there is a series of cages on a track that will be time released every so many minutes (best for Game Masters to choose the time based on party strength vs the opponents you plan to pit them against). Say 5, 10 minutes? Perhaps 1 or 2d6 minutes will suffice. Sure, the purloiner of light wares might be able to pick a lock but what of the archer up on the high ground?

You could design the cages however you want them to be, maybe completely enclosed so nobody but the fighters who are out can see what's going on or perhaps there is a small slit they can peek through while they wait to join the fray. Imagine the beautiful stress the players will go through working out who goes first...hehehehe.

Actually, it would make for a fun team vs team combat strategy game wouldn't it?

So I began this thing today, let's see if I can get it done. I plan for it to work in a VTT setting such as Maptools so that's my goal. These images are shrunk, the original is 300ppi and 14" x 17" when printed....at least that's my goal for the final.

Image 1 is a background I made up and some lines for layout.
Image 2 is some of the walls of the cavern and the water's edge.
Image 3 has the first balcony overlooking the arena floor as well as the high ground and a few rocks for cover if you are dodging arrows. :)

08-05-2010, 06:35 AM
I really like that spiral platform thing in #3! Did you make it yourself? Looks Torstan-y (which is intended as a big compliment).

08-05-2010, 10:22 AM
Yeppers, I can post the original drawing if folks are interested. Basically, I drew it in my sketch pad, scanned it in and then worked it over in Gimp. Thank you for the complement! It is a very big complement in my opinion and I would be amiss if I did not acknowledge some influence from Torstan's works. I think I speak for us all when I say I always enjoy seeing his new projects.

Short story: I actually did 3 different versions, and after each I stuck my pad in front of my wife and asked, "What's this look like?" Man, she's so brutal - the first one she said, "It looks like a Cinnamon Roll." (Dangit! I knew I had failed on the 3d look) Initially for this one she said looked like a ramp going downwards. I figured at least I had the effect working now. After shading and working it over a bit more I think it works.

Update - More balconies (that still need some character added to them. Added the rail for the cages to roll in on.

### Latest WIP ###

08-06-2010, 11:14 AM
Some more updates, worked the cavern walls around the arena added some benches for the spectators as well as the royalty thrones. I created a pile of skulls and added that to the arena floor as well.

It seems I've had a malfunction with posting images: My original map is 4200x5100 pixels & 300x300ppi which is 14"x17" print size - (I want to share the image at less than full resolution like the professionals do so folks still purchase their full versions.)
I changed the 300ppi to 100x100ppi and then reduced the image size back to 14"x17" which resulted in actually reducing the pixel count to about 1/3 of the original :O
I believe I only want to reduce that BY 1/3, not TO 1/3 size. So, this one has been reduced as follows: 300 to 100ppi, Pixels from 4200x5100 down to 2772x3367.

If anyone is practiced at this and knows if I am doing this correctly please give me the nod. I want to get into the practice of doing correctly in case my dream comes true and I one day start publishing things. Also, as others have asked it's how to share without giving everything away.

The reason I noticed my error was because the skulls were reduced so badly they were unrecognizable. The goal is to look good on the screen but fall short when printed, I think anyway.

This one should be much better to look at and is also saved as .jpg @ 85% quality which saves megabytes.

### Latest WIP ###

08-07-2010, 04:08 AM
Spent time adding lots of little things, like Pit traps, weapon stands (got more of those to do), Put in another vantage point for a ranged attacker if he can get to it. I also added some Horns as ornaments on the spectator areas and started on the entrances for whatever is going to be next released. Oh yeah, blood soak stains added as well.

It's starting to get a little character I think, still have several ideas to attempt as well as hopefully some lighting.

Grid is turned up because I was using it and forgot to chill it out before I posted.

### Latest WIP ###

08-07-2010, 11:33 PM
Ok, just a couple of updates because I wanted to share my drawings from today. I drew up what I think is a pretty wicked looking bow and put it on a stand on the Archer post. I figure whoever is king of the arena at the time will have choice to begin up there before the new arrivals are rolled in and the cages start opening...pretty big advantage if you are any good with a bow but oh well.

I also at my wife's urging (didn't take much) decided to attempt drawing a Monster for the Water area. Hehe, so maybe I got a bit carried away but I'm pretty happy with my Kraken. What you see here is a small scaled down version of the original. If you want to see a more detailed view I have it up on my DeviantArt area (http://jaxilon.deviantart.com/art/Kraken-174436817).

### Latest WIP ###

08-08-2010, 02:27 AM
Been wondering if I need to put some kind of information showing how high the archer areas are or if I should leave it to the Game Master? I could just make a notation along the side of the hill but I'm open to suggestions. Leave it or add something? I could draw a side view and put it along the margin of the map but I'm not sure if that is acceptable for a table top setting.

08-09-2010, 02:13 AM
I've added in lights and bonfires, this is in a cavern after all.

It's been fun drawing all the items like the sword stands, lamps, horns, bow and quiver of arrows (which reminds me, you guys are slacking because the first quiver I drew when I was tired and I had the arrows in the wrong way, LOL). I'm surprised nobody busted me on that. I own a bow myself which really makes it hard to believe I did it. Anyway, it's fixed now.

It's only the second time I've attempted to do lighting and after that was all installed I had to change a few shadows. I can remove the lighting layers so the map can be used in a VTT where you can create your own fog of war and so on. I will put together a pack after I'm finished tweaking it.

C&C welcome as I'm pretty much done unless I can think of some new things to add before the challenge ends.

### Latest WIP ###

08-13-2010, 08:17 AM
This is really great, Jax. A lot of mood, lots of interesting features, cool lighting, just all around neat. The Romans would be proud. Is this a new style for you too? It is nice and crisp!

08-13-2010, 12:18 PM
One of the things I've been getting from feedback is that things are blurry or fuzzy...it's odd for me to hear that because when I was drawing I was being told to chill out on the precision (the perfectionist in me I guess, I should scan in one of my old pieces if I can fit it on the scanner). Maybe it's just all the pixel watching but whatever the case I'm trying to keep things as clean as possible and use as little blurring as I can. Seems to be working. I'm also going more for the illustration style than for realism which is different for me. I'm shooting for somewhere in the middle.

I actually have another update to this which I think is even more moody. I'll post that tonight probably. I have a little more tweaking to do. I figured since the lighting will be stripped out when it's released as a map for VTT I may as well go hog wild in my depiction and it is in a cavern after all. The shadows might aid a rogue type character so why not deepen them? I'm also working on showing the hight of the Archer's perch. I could write it directly on the map but I'm thinking an insert along the side might be better (open to suggestions though).

Thanks for the response, it's been real quiet in here.

08-13-2010, 05:07 PM
At this point I figure I get better feedback from sharing all out, so I'm pulling out the stops and popping this at it's full resolution jpg quality at 90% because 100% was way over the size limit.

- darkened the shadows a bit more to make it more ominous which incidentally helped to pop the blood stains.
- added a side view of the Archer's Hill to indicate height for calculating range etc. If it's better at the lighter coloring I can change it back to that, otherwise I'll let this one go in for the final vote. Barring some nutty thing I forgot of course.

When I put this together as a vtt pack I believe I remove the shadows almost entirely because at least in Map tools the vision blocking and lighting is built into the tool.

Also, I'm a bit confused regarding the grid - I know in the pack you provide maps with grid and withOUT grid but which one should I submit for a challenge entry?

So here we go:

### Latest WIP ###

08-13-2010, 11:36 PM
Forgot my CC on that last one but the updated one looks like the thumb is busted :/