View Full Version : WIP - Battlemaps for Curse of the Emperor's Stone...

08-20-2010, 09:49 PM
Hi all,
I have a couple of older threads going for battlemaps for my adventure Curse of the Emperor's Stone. I'm going to have a total of six "tactical-scale" maps in this adventure so, rather than starting threads for each, I'm going to just start this one and put all of my WIPs here. First, I'll give a run-down on the maps that are on my "budget", in order of their appearance in the adventure:

1) Intruder Alert/Scalante: A map of the PCs ship, where a sneak has boarded in the middle of the night, possibly resulting in combat.
2) Enter the Lushou: An alley ambush of the PCs by one of the local crime rings.
3) Chase: Not sure how this one will map out but I think it's going to be a flowchart-like diagram with map elements. Or something. In any case, the premise is that the aforementioned Lushou crime folks are chasing the PCs through the city...probably on rickshaws.
4) Ambush: And, yet another ambush by those Lushou jerks as the PCs make their way to the House of the Four Winds. These are just the set-pieces folks, there's other stuff happening! :)
5) House of the Four Winds: A glorious three-way battle between the Sifeng (Four Winds) monks, the Lushou, and the Zhaodaozhe (Seekers of the Way)...oh yeah, and the PCs...in the middle of a growing monsoon.
6) Temple of Heaven: The PCs undertake their final test in ridding themselves of the Emperor's Stone, with tests of strength, will, and faith in the Temple of Heaven. The ToH is an enigmatic place...larger on the inside than one would expect, and full of surprises.

I don't suppose *any* of that makes any damn sense without reading the adventure. :) Even so, hopefully the maps will speak for themselves.

08-20-2010, 09:51 PM
So, here's my start on the map for House of the Four Winds. For now it's a grid (10' squares) and a blow-up of the area from my Haibianr city map. Now to start roughing stuff in. Not sure what style I'm going to end up using...possibly not the realistic textured style from the docks map, but maybe (I really like it but it's a bit of a pain).

08-20-2010, 11:57 PM
This is as far as I'm going to take it tonight. The roofs won't be so plainly shaped. I'm working on a more complex curved shape with verticals at either end for the larger buildings. Going to take me a while to get it right. Likewise, the wall won't be so plain...there'll be tiled roofs over the gate, corners, and a couple of the buttresses (none of this is pictured yet). There's also no terrain shading yet. Basically this whole thing's on a hill rising toward the top of the map. You'll see that better when I get some shading in. C&C welcome.

08-21-2010, 03:12 AM
Yeah. Guess I wasn't done after all. Caffeine will do that to you. Roofs are defined a little more and the trees and bushes look a lot better.

08-21-2010, 03:46 AM
ooh that's pretty!

Steel General
08-21-2010, 08:50 AM
Coming along nicely, like the texture on the roofs.

The drop shadow may be a bit large though *shrugs*

08-21-2010, 11:42 AM
Thanks, guys. Agreed on the shadows...just a placeholder for now.

Edit: So. Anyone in here a math whiz? Just did a little back of the napkin thingie to help me figure out how long shadows should be. Am I doing this correctly? Been a long time since trig/geometry.
Edit2: I ran this in Excel and see now that l should be d divided by tan alpha, not the other way around. If anyone's interested I've built an Excel spreadsheet that does this (attached). I believe the angle given by Photoshop can be subtracted from 90 degrees to arrive at alpha...thought it was the other way around but I don't think it really can be. I need to relate this back to PS because I use bevel to determine shading on roofs and such.

Wonko the Sane
08-21-2010, 01:03 PM
Close...you messed up the last step - should be:

l = d
tan α

08-21-2010, 01:05 PM
Ninja'd! Thanks.

08-21-2010, 04:45 PM
Lots of work on roofs...hopefully it shows up. Also, reworked building and wall shadows based on my little Excel tool (which is growing in functionality and which I will share as soon as I'm sure it's working properly and foolproof). Tree shadows are still a drop shadow but I'm going to rework that with varied heights and I think I'm going to try to simulate "dappled sunlight" if I can. New compass rose added - the dragon was fine when N is up but looks silly tilted. I need to add some details but I'm not sure what. C&C appreciated.

Edit: BTW, I know the road to the gate is a bit off-kilter. Hopefully fix it up by next time. Plan on doing a little roadwork anyway as it's rather flat.

08-21-2010, 06:06 PM
I might darken up the trees a tad so that they don't blend in with the grass but otherwise this is quite good.

08-22-2010, 12:47 PM
Thanks, Ascension. I'll give that a try to see how it looks.

So, my local critics suggest that everything looks "too square" and I can sort of see that point. Looking at satellite images of buildings, even old ones, I see that (apart from photographic noise) you just don't see much in the way of imperfections in building. I was thinking of extending the diagonal cap tiles beyond the roof edges and maybe docking a pixel here and there from the bottom row of tiles. Maybe also hint at a missing brick or two from the wall...though not many, because this is supposed to be a well-maintained monastery.

Anybody have any other ideas for dealing with this?

Also, anybody have suggestions for details that might make this come alive?

08-22-2010, 04:00 PM
A path! A path! Nih! A lil koi pond, shrine, gardens, gazebo, ornamentation on the corners of the roofs (from above you might just see a rectangle but the shadow would show something curly).

Wonko the Sane
08-22-2010, 10:44 PM
What sad times these are that passing ruffians may say "Ni" to old cartographers. :P

08-22-2010, 10:57 PM
Wait, so did you say you can create a formula in PS to make the shadows? I've not seen anything like that in Gimp as far as I know but that would be nice. I've taken to doing mine by hand quite a bit :/

08-22-2010, 11:37 PM
Heya. Nope, no formula in PS. I've created an Excel file that takes in the PS lighting angles and height of the object and tells you how long the shadow should be for that height. Then there's a bit that converts the length into pixels for a given scale and tells x and y displacement. It's not done yet...and you still have to do everything by hand in PS. Yeah, and automated thing sure would be cool. I dunno, maybe PS Extended has some 3D thingies that would help? Or CS 5?

08-23-2010, 03:38 AM
Well, here's a couple of the things Ascension suggested. I think it's an improvement. I'm saving the koi ponds for the Nihon Shogunates though. :)

08-23-2010, 05:10 PM
I'm going to call this one finished...five more maps to go. Here's the posting in the Finished Maps thread (link (http://www.cartographersguild.com/newthread.php?do=newthread&f=36)). Thanks to all who commented.

Next up is a fairly simple battlemap. Hopefully have a post on it tomorrow night.

08-25-2010, 09:59 PM
Okay, here's the next map in the series. It's a closeup of the eastern shore of Haibianr. The PCs are on their way to the House of the Four Winds (up the hill to the east, you can see the first pavillion on the right) but the Lushou have a lot of feet on the street. They know the heroes are likely making their way to the Sifeng monks to help them deal with their Macguffin so they've set up an ambush before they can get to the safety of that monastery. It'll be a tough fight but at least the PCs have an ally in the battle - one of the Sifeng monks on his way back from the market.

This is a rough start, just taking a clip of my original city map and then zooming in to get to the correct scale and adding a grid. I dropped in the same overlay items, same styles as my House of the Four Winds map. These may or may not be what I print but I like them so far and might standardize on them. Since north is up I *could* use my lovely dragon compass rose but, on reflection, I think I'm going to make that one a Haibianr city map-only thing. Give it a little bit of exclusivity. If I get crazy I might design a new rose for every "special" map. That'd be cool...but painful.

Nothing to C&C right now but feel free to jump in with any suggestions.

08-26-2010, 09:56 AM
Well, it would work for a battlemap I guess but it's so blurry I think it would bother me....maybe this is just a reduced version?

edit: re-reading, you said it's just the rough draft so I'm guessing you do mean to clear it up a bit.

On the matter of the compass rose, perhaps the rose you design could hold a hint of what the map is about? Nothing obvious until you have been through it?

08-26-2010, 01:21 PM
that looks really nice, great roofing ... one thing I wonder about is the scale - 10 feet is double the scale that I use for battlemaps. I look forward to seing more in the series :)

08-26-2010, 01:26 PM
Thanks. I do agree about the scale...I'd rather use 5' to the square (and will when I can) but I didn't want to make the squares any smaller or the map any larger. There's some precedent for using 10' when the area covered is so large - Paizo has done it when necessary (with some customer complaints) and sticks by the practice. The next one in the series uses 5'.

08-26-2010, 11:06 PM
Didn't have a lot of time to work on this tonight but here's the latest version. Needs lots of work!

08-27-2010, 03:54 AM
nice... but perhaps the threes are a little to meshed concidering the scale :)

08-27-2010, 09:23 AM
I think you are correct. At this scale I'm wondering if I need to come up with a new technique.

08-27-2010, 10:30 PM
Little progress. Some roof texturing now and I did some tree tweaking...think it's a little better. Bushes still sort of suck. Will fix that soon.

08-28-2010, 02:31 AM
nice.. I love your roofs - gotta get myself some :)
The trees are a bit low I think, most of them should be higher than the houses. The bushes are to spaced out - they need to come together more as most bushes shoot new shots close to them selves, and perhaps have a slightly different texture than the trees :)

08-28-2010, 10:02 PM
Well, I added some details, fixed up tree heights, and some other things. Didn't do a lot with the bushes, unfortunately, but I've got to call this one done and move on. Thanks to everyone that commented! Posting this in the Finished Maps forum. Not sure what map is next...have to see what grabs me. I've really been putting off finishing up Scalante.

08-29-2010, 01:12 AM
Much better trees now - still not loving the bushes but I respect your style :)

08-29-2010, 01:28 AM
Heh. Thanks. I'm not loving them either, truthfully. They look like amoebas or something. I'll be revisiting all of these maps before I publish so I'll try to tighten them all up a bit...and bushes are on my fix list for this one. I'd like to add some more details at some point as well...carts and what not. For now, though, I've got to keep on truckin'. Got a lot of maps to finish and a creeping deadline. :)

08-29-2010, 01:34 AM
oh yeah creeping deadlines... why can't they just walk upright like a man! ;)

08-29-2010, 09:22 AM
Looks great, man. I owe you some rep cuz I hit ya up recently already.

10-02-2010, 12:42 PM
Been a while since I turned to these. Lots more to go on this map but it's starting to look like something. I'm still creating furnishings and little details to try to make it pop. Right now I've only got "grounding shadows" worked out for some of the items...keeping it loose so I can see what's working and what's not. This will be a nighttime encounter and I'm still considering trying to do some dramatic lighting effects...but I'm not set on that by any means.

10-02-2010, 02:14 PM
I can't wait for more updates on these battlemaps:)

10-03-2010, 11:57 AM
Thanks. Here's another. Still nothing in the crew cabin yet but most of the basics are there except for that cabin. Still needs some more shadow work. The labels are a work in progress.

Assessing it this morning I see that the biggest missing item(s) at this point is ROPE. I think, in fact, that it needs a hell of a lot of rope. Anchor ropes, ropes coiled on the deck, ropy-netty things going up to the masts, and lots of other miscellaneous ropy things. The suck part is that I have to draw all of that by hand and I have to go do a bunch of research about ropiness on sailing ships. My Use Rope skill sits at a firm +2, and that's only camping-related from when I was in the Boy Scouts thirty years ago. Then, of course, the ropes need shadows...

After that, I think it mainly needs cups and saucers and mugs and sacks and other decoration. Maybe a map spread out on the mess table...edit: Anyone have a nautical map they'd like to "feature"? I'll put you in the credits! :)

C&C appreciated.

10-03-2010, 01:13 PM
Just a question but this ship has three masts?

10-03-2010, 02:07 PM
Ropes. I wouldn't put too much in unless you're expecting rigging to be useable in "battle". If you are then you may need to have another level up, with just rigging and you have to decide what rig the ship has. It looks too small to warrant much in that area though.
In general, a "ship shape" ship is a tidy one, even in days of yore, health and safety was still a factor! A strict shipmasterwill make sure things are tidy.
You'll need fore and aft hawsers (for mooring), these can be singled or multiple. I'd suggest single here and have the excess end of the hawser coiled on the jetty. However it could be looped/hitched around the bollard a few times and then back onto the ship with the excess coiled up in the bow - or hung on the railing with belaying pins
Your halyards (for raising the sails) will probably be coiled up and hung on the masts and the sheets (for controlling the sails' angles when sailing) will be either stowed away or coiled and hung at appropriate points in the rigging. For example, if there is a boom (the pole at the bottom of a sail, e.g bermuda rig) then the sheet will be pulled in tight (to stop the boom swinging around) and the sheet coiled and hung on the boom.

However - if you want to be fancy? One way of stowing halyards and the like is coiled flat in a spiral flat on the deck, looks nice but still has a potential for hazard.

10-03-2010, 02:58 PM
Yes. It's supposed to be a caravel. I don't vouch for its authenticity.

10-03-2010, 03:47 PM
Looks great!!

10-03-2010, 04:24 PM
After reading up it makes sense. Just seemed small for three masts, from my nautically declined mind. Also agree with Crayons that decks will very tidy from my knowledge.

10-03-2010, 04:39 PM
Caravel huh. Lateen rig. Never sailed one, so most of the following is observation from images and deduction.

When moored up it looks like the sail is usually bundled up against the yard (the diagonal spar the sail hangs from). Since the yard looks both too slender to support a human properly and doesn't seem to have ropes for a man to stand on to do so then I imagine the whole yard is lowered, the sail bundled, and then raised again to get it out of the way.
It looks like each yard has sheets at both ends, possibly with pulleys, these would not be unshipped but left and probably tightened and the excess rope belayed away as above.
You would probably only have the rope ladder arrangement on the tallest mast and only if there was a crow's nest up there. There would be no need for regular access up the mast otherwise for the above reasons. Maintenance access would be by temporary rigging of a bosun's chair or just plain climbing the mast.
It looks like there are 3 or 4 stays (the ropes/wires used like tent guy-ropes to hold the mast upright) per mast. These will be more or less permanently tied off and unlikely to have much excess length as they remain static.

S'bout all. Hope it's vaguely useful?

10-03-2010, 05:03 PM
I was just thinking about the barrels stowed in the bow. Normally these wouldn't be stored there as they would make the ship/boat "plow" through the water. More likely they would be stowed amidship. :)

10-03-2010, 05:17 PM
Actually, rather conversely, the very bow section of the hold is usually where the anchor chain "lives" - heavy stuff . Behind that is usually for sail stowage.
Compared to the ballast, the effects here are minimal really

10-03-2010, 09:59 PM
I have no idea what any of that means :) but I appreciate you sharing it. I'll go read up some more and look up some of the terms you used. Not going for super realism here (mainly because I can't) but I hope folks won't fault me too much for it. The encounter, at least, should be exciting - assuming the PCs make decent enough perception checks to take part in it! ;)

10-03-2010, 11:04 PM
No one will fault you for it M they look great and as a PC thats all that really matters oh and "is that flammable?".. :)

10-04-2010, 02:09 PM
[Dull definitions following]
Since ships seem to be a popular item perhaps I should write a quick "intro" tutorial on them!! :D Actually, I'm sure there must be someone more qualified than I to do that.
Simply put -

Some ropes
Halyard - a rope used to pull things (sails, flags, people!) up a mast
Sheet - a rope used to control the position/angle of a sail (confusing, a "sheet" is not a sail itself)
Hawser - a rope used to tie up or tow a ship
Stay - a rope used to hold a mast upright - basically a permanent structural item like a tent guy-rope.
other ropes:
Painter - basically a hawser associated with dinghies and rowing boats
Spring - a hawser but used as a term for when it is used to position a ship on leaving.
Warp - a rope used to tow a ship

Obviously the same rope can sometimes be referred to by different names depending on its current usage, I can only assume that in an age of shouted orders the need for explicit definitions was vital. I call to mind Vizzini in "The Princess Bride" shouting "Move the thing! And that other thing!"

Some woodwork
Gaff - a horizontal spar attached to the mast at one end and used to increase the height of a fore-aft sail - eg Gaff Rig
Yard - a horizontal spar attached to the mast somewhere along its length more usually for square, lugsail or lateen rig.
Boom - a horizontal spar attached to the mast at the bottom of a sail

10-04-2010, 03:14 PM
Really impressed by your battlemaps. Have to try that some time..

10-04-2010, 05:53 PM
Thanks. And thanks, Crayon, for the nautical education. I'm going to try to get up to speed enough to at least finish this up somewhat realistically. Honestly, I'm not even sure about the arrangment of the decks, since I was unable to find any plans at all. You'd think there'd be a deckplan of the Pinta or something on the Internet somewhere...but I haven't found it if so.

10-04-2010, 06:23 PM
I don't think there's anything written in stone about layout. It's all practicality.
I would say that deck hatches are usually on the centerline of the ship, the fore hatch in front of the foremast, and this is often used for stowing sails, anchors, extra rope etc in the forward cargo area. The main cargo hatch would be as you have it but on the centerline again?
Looking at the cabins, I wouldn't really expect to see a corridor on a ship this small? I'd have the captain just have to go through one of the other rooms to get to his cabin, I guess. A dining room seems a little "posh" but would probably double up as sleeping accomodation for crew in hammocks.
BTW, you might want a small galley/kitchen - these are rather carefully designed as fire is obviously a serious hazard. It would also usually be placed forward as the wind will blow the smoke away from the rear steering position. If you want some detail to add, you need something for steering. This could be old fashioned, like a steering oar as used by vikings, greeks and so forth on their ancient ship designs, a simple wooden bar attached direct to the rudder, or a wheel, usually housed in a "binnacle" and involves chain or rope drive with "gearing"?

Anyway - I feel I've bored you all far too much here already! Anything else, please ask!

I had a look for plans too. The Cutty Sark is a much larger and possibly more modern Clipper design
but it's about the only sailing cargo vessel I can think of at the moment! Might give you some ideas?

10-05-2010, 02:00 PM
Don't know if it's reasonable or not but I went with bunks for the crew quarters. The room sleeps 16 and I've said the crew complement, including Captain and First Mate, is 26. That leaves 8 crew on duty at any given time...or else bunking on the deck or on a crate or something. Not finding time to work on much of anything that doesn't directly pay the bills at the moment but I'll try to get some time to work on this more tonight. I want to finish it soon and move on.

edit: Oh, the bunks don't have any bedding at the moment. Will add it soon.

10-05-2010, 04:55 PM
Bunks!??? The wimps! :D
Seriously, tho, bunks, while comfy, are rubbish in a storm - even a deep swell means you just fall out. Hammocks are really the de rigeur "thing" for your tough old sea dog! Also saves space for cargo.
Apparently Columbus's crews slept on deck there was so much cargo. Crew numbers surprised me initially but is actually about right after a quick check around.I imagine you've been using figures based on Columbus who had 2 Caravels and a Carrack I think?
Anyway, it looks great!

10-05-2010, 06:24 PM
Hmmm. I was going to do just hammocks but I really couldn't figure out how to fit enough of them in. And I thought it'd look a little strange unless I drew them all independently...a copy-paste thing would get too regular there. How would you mount a bunch of hammocks? Put in some upright posts?

10-05-2010, 06:44 PM
Well, structurally, there will be "roof beams" or rather joists for the deck above, and they'd likely have hooks/pegs on those, so in essence they hang from the "ceiling". There may also be poles to support the joists but doubtful here. This puts your crew close to the ceiling (and that's not usually all that high!) so more space undeneath for cargo. Easy.
You can also jam them in coz the hammock wraps around you somewhat. 3ft width each would be ample. When things get rough they all swing together...
Remember also that likely only about a 3rd to a half of the crew will be sleeping at any one time and chances are they use the same hammocks. Aaaaand, when not in use, you just unhook one end and hook it up to the other end - easy to stow.

As a matter of interest, have you had a play with this Ketchup file?
It's really rather good.

Oh, hang on! Bigger ship and all but

10-05-2010, 10:54 PM
Well, that ship battlemap just keeps getting more and more complex...so here's an interlude. This will be a schematic map depicting a chase scene from a tea shop (the yellow dot next to the green one on the left side of the map), where the PCs have been consulting with a local expert, to the city university library (the green dot on the right side of the map), where their "consultant" will help them figure out the nature of the situation they've stumbled into. Hot on their heels is a handful of Lushou thugs, who've just tossed the consultant's shop (the upper yellow dot on the left side of the map) and are looking for the PCs. Fortunately there are rickshaws right outside the tea shop and the PC, their consultant, and their interpreter can hop a couple and try to elude their pursuers. They'll have a little bit of a head start and have several chances to pull far enough ahead to lose the bad guys.

This is sort of conceptual at this point. The yellow circles are points of interest, the blue line is the main route from the tea shop to the library. The green circles are start and end points. The red and orange ones are "action" and "decision" points. I haven't fully designed the game mechanics for the chase yet...so I'll have to do that before I can finalize the map itself (and add labels). Just trying to get something on paper. Any C&C for the look of the thing is welcome.

Oh, and my artist came through with a pic of the "consultant" - allow me to introduce Lao Shu (lit. old rat). He's a friendly, wily curator of a curious curio shop. If he looks creepy it's because he's supposed to. You've seen this guy in ten movies. He's the sort of fellow that'll sell you a mogui along with cryptic warnings about not getting it wet or feeding it after midnight...

10-06-2010, 11:01 PM
Since I'm not making much progress on maps tonight I'll share a couple of NPC concept sketches from my artist. The first is Xiaolong, the group's "interpreter" - who ends up helping out some strangers in a strange land. The second is Captain Aldo Bonisi, master and owner of Scalante. Again, these are just rough concept sketches...not the final deal.

Maybe I'll have a map update later. Trying to get caught up on several things so I'm not sure.

10-07-2010, 05:11 AM
looks really good mearrin - love the concept sketches too :)

Steel General
10-07-2010, 06:45 AM
The sketches are quite nice...