View Full Version : Inn on the cliff

06-28-2008, 11:02 AM
I'm writing an adventure for Tuesday evening - just a simple 1st level run through for a new 4e game - and the first encounter is a fight in the snow with a pack of wolves on the outskirts of a town. The town used to be large and well defended, but has shrunk over the last few decades. The outer walls have fallen into disuse and neglect and are little better than ruins. However one structure still stands outside the new town walls - the Storm's Watch Inn (thanks for the name Del!). It stands out over the cliff with a spectacular view up and down the fjord. Even though it is a good distance from the town these days it still gets regular custom. So here the initial sketch. C&C appreciated as always, though this is in a very early stage:


06-28-2008, 09:30 PM
though I probably know the answer to this question.... I guess I'll be the scale police here, but..... SCALE!?!?!

and... Yer welcome on the name... cause it is a great name!! just love it myself.... i'm gonna name EVERYTHING stormwatch...!!!

Can't wait to see you put some color and texture to the map :D

06-29-2008, 08:58 AM
We had a december challenge where several of us done an Inn on a cliff top. Might be useful...


06-29-2008, 09:45 AM
Ah, that was when I was having a cartography break. Missed that one. They were some really great entries! That was fun to look through. Very handy.

06-29-2008, 06:53 PM
Okay, so I had a little more time for mapping this weekend before having to accept the week might have started. Got the basic lines in for this map and created a new background to have a shot with. Not sure how this will work with the colours, but it will be interesting to give it a shot. Hopefully the cold background colours will lend a wintry chill to it.


06-30-2008, 04:56 PM
Another quiet evening - now got the trees in. All elements have their own masks as well - a lot less painful this time.

Anyway, here is the map in its current lineart form:


06-30-2008, 06:15 PM
And here's a version with the first colours added!


06-30-2008, 09:46 PM
I'm betting that snow maps offer a bit of a challenge in that just by default ... show can be pretty devoid of anything, it blankets everything .... so trying to compliment an otherwise plain and uninteresting scene with enough eye candy to keep it from being 'boring' ... ooooooo..... a thought... you could easily have some interesting things 'under' the snow that are hazards the players can't readily see ....

Its looking great .. but you already know that.... I like the cool ice-octopi inhabiting the surrounding area .... oh.. wait... nm, those are trees.... :D

07-01-2008, 01:28 PM
Thanks. Actually the snow is proving to be a pain because light colours don't yield so well to dodge and burn. Here's the current iteration:


I've got a few floating rock issues and the cliffs need quite a lot of work. A task for tomorrow now. This is proving to be harder work that I thought - but that's what I get for messing with this style. Learning some useful things though. I'll be very grateful for any C&C on this.

07-01-2008, 02:42 PM
I thout it was ice at first....

but here's a thought.... did the wall jsut fall down on top of the snow .. I mean in a blanket of snow... most would be white capped with perhaps the lower side not facing directly up would show dark...... and the walls would have a cap of snow.... perhaps... unless its a light blanket ... because stone retains heat and would perhaps melt it but with that really nice blanket you got.... top down .... alot of it would have snow on top ... even the branches on the tree would have snow directly on top of its larger branchces

But hey .... what's the point of all that... right? just get ya a big blank white canvas and tell yer players they're in a field of snow in a snowstorm lol... so working with snow seems to have a naturally defeating effect on a map....

But I think what you got is great... but that's my C&C for which you requested :D

07-01-2008, 04:07 PM
And here's a version with the first colours added!

I'm still new here and all, but that said: this map (at this stage of development) is the nicest thing I've seen here at the Guild. Just thoroughly inviting, evocative, clearly informative and likeable.

07-01-2008, 04:46 PM
Yup. Pretty much all of his stuff is. I don't think I've seen a single map come from him that wasn't.

07-01-2008, 06:10 PM
yaaaaaa... he has that effect on everyone ..... we're thinking of getting him cloned so he'll produce twice as many twice as fast...

07-01-2008, 07:25 PM
yaaaaaa... he has that effect on everyone ..... we're thinking of getting him cloned so he'll produce twice as many twice as fast...

Geez, why just limit it to 2 copies? If we duplicate him more times, he can create FAR more work (at least until he helps blow up the world:P). I remember looking this weekend and he spit out like 4 new or updated maps in around 3 hours time. A machine that one is I tell you... a machine.


07-01-2008, 08:00 PM
@del: yes there should be a covering of snow around, but as you say - there would be very little to see. I'm claiming there was a thaw and a freeze :)

@Ghalev: That's a bold statement - go and look for theRedEpic on here. He does hand-drawn way better than me. Nevertheless, I am very grateful for the compliment. That means a lot from someone of your pedigree.

@ everyone else; Thanks a lot for the compliments - apart from the cloning (and gratuitous world destruction talk) :). I'm having a lot of fun fiddling with this style trying to get a few different things to work - while also getting maps out in a reasonable time. A new campaign is focussing the mind. The rest of the maps for tomorrow's game will have to be a little less finished...

However I can't help fiddling with this. You'll note the resolution dropped between the last few iterations from 3000 to 2000 px per side. My laptop was complaining. Looks like I'll have to do all the dodge/burn stuff at this scale and then resize up later :(

I still need to work on the trees - they are currently entirely basic and need a little TLC. I'll have a shot at it tomorrow before I go to work and post an updated WIP.

07-02-2008, 08:01 PM
Right. I think this one is done. Some more work was done on the shadowing - especially the cliffs and around all of the stone-snow boundaries to tie the regions together a bit more. Also shadowed the trees and did the sea highlights:


Works well at 40px per grid.

07-02-2008, 08:09 PM
utterly brilliant, Torastan! this should be a picture in a novel or something. Really wonderful work.

07-02-2008, 08:25 PM
Wow, that's much higher praise than this deserves! The players are only one it for one fight :)

07-02-2008, 09:37 PM
I don't have enough superlatives for how awesome this map looks.

07-02-2008, 10:40 PM
I think my favorite thing about it, other than everything, is the texture on the roof. Looks great.

07-02-2008, 11:18 PM
I guess I couldn't give any higher praise than it already has.... so ... good job Tor

07-03-2008, 04:12 AM
Well, that series of compliments definitely made my day :)

It's been interesting playing with this style. Initially it was a matter of creating something that looked like it had been hand drawn on parchment. The colour overlays on the parchment looked good, so it soon moved to more colour and less parchment. In this map I took away the parchment background and went for a more interesting set of colours as the base. This one isn't pretending to be painted on parchment at all - and I like the result a lot. I'll definitely be using the underlay colours in future as a way of setting the colour scheme for the whole map.

The next maps in this series areas a set of maps in an old abandoned mine, which will have a different colour palette again. This will require a bit of further experimentation, but it will be fun.

Also, I'd like to point out that when I first came over here my maps were pretty ropey. Indeed here is the map I'd been using in maptool when I arrived:

It has a certain charm - and was definitely usable - but not exactly pretty. I was too embarrassed to put it up, but I now know I'd have got on a lot quicker if I had. The encouragement around here - as well as the excellent knowledge base - is great. My maps wouldn't be close to what they are if it wasn't for this site. And now I'm picking up print commissions for my work, which I would never have gone in for if it weren't for this site. So, thanks to all, and especially to Arcana and RPMiller - who roped me into all this.

07-03-2008, 02:52 PM
Well, that series of compliments definitely made my day :)

And just in case your head is not big enough: THAT MAP IS JUST PLAIN AWESOME! I would give you some rep, but I have to spread some more first. I can't wait to find some snow to through some players into the map!


07-03-2008, 03:14 PM
Good grief. If this carries on, I'm going to have to go and have a lie down.

I understand about the rep - it's a common affliction it seems. Lots of compliments this time but no rep. I clearly need to try harder :)

07-03-2008, 03:40 PM
Oh, forgot to upload these shots of the map in use. The sharp eyed among you will notice this is actually the map in a slightly un-finished state - but it made for a good fight nonetheless. There will be a later battle here when the goblins come swarming down towards the unfinished walls, so I'll use the map again then.

First off - a moment where one check almost ended in the death of a character. The player moved there and said 'wolves don't have anyway of moving people around right?' The wolf of course promptly bull-rushed him towards the 30' drop onto knife edged rocks - but failed sadly. The fighter then used one of her nifty powers to shift that wolf away and the cleric hit it with cause fear and made it run like a puppy. But here is the moment when the fledgling ranger's life was in the balance:

This one is a little later - when the highly mobile woves have hunted down and surrounded the cleric. The red outlines show those that have been marked by the fighter. There's a red dot in there which denotes a creature with the ranger's Hunter's quarry on it too.

All in all, a fun fight. It's a lot more tactical than 3.5 and the players like that. They came away realising that they needed to work a lot more as a team - particularly in moving enemies around so that the wizard could use area spells freely. This group of players have decided to move fully to 4e - but then they don't have many 3.5 books. Now my other group have libraries - so we'll be 3.5 for a long time yet.

Oh - these maps will be put together in maptool as an introductory adventure for new users with lots of tips and tricks. I just need to find the time to get them all done - and now RP goes and announces a VTT monthly challenge. How am I ever meant to get any physics done? :)

07-03-2008, 04:05 PM
Now my other group have libraries - so we'll be 3.5 for a long time yet.

I wouldn't bank on that. I find that the "collectors" move into the new edition once they feel that they have everything they want for the old one.

As a local shop owner for Vampire 2nd ed, Warhammer 40k V3, d20, D&D 3.5, Warhammer 40k V4, and the WoD revamp and now I'm watching as a spectator with D&D 4th ed. So far it's the lesser invested guys switching first, then when they are having fun and the stores stop ordering the old books the collectors move in and begining a new shelf in the library.

07-03-2008, 06:02 PM
So, thanks to all, and especially to Arcana and RPMiller - who roped me into all this.
It was my pleasure and when did you say I would be receiving the finder's fee checks? ;) :lol:

Thank you for coming over here and for sharing everything you do and for invigorating others to participate.

07-04-2008, 12:20 AM
This is a really beautiful map! I'm so glad you've shared the step-by-step progress with us. I may have to attempt a copy!

07-04-2008, 03:18 AM
Stunning work as always Torstan. Really lovely work.

The Cartographist
07-05-2008, 04:31 PM
Torstan - That was a lot of praise thrown your way, and all of it deserved. You mentioned theRedEpic as someone you look up to. Well, the three that continually come to my mind are you, theRedEpic, and Hapimeses. All amazing.

You had asked for some CC, which no one seemed to offer. I'll offer some, although since you've already used the map in your gaming session, you might wonder why. I hope that I don't offend.

The thing that stuck out at me was the black outlines on a lot of your objects. Several of your previous greats looked to me like paintings. This one, with its black outlines, looked like a cartoon. And while I do like the map, I'm stuck on the old painting style. If this map could have been done without those outlines, I would have been floored by it.

07-07-2008, 07:54 AM
Thanks a lot. That's useful feedback. Yes, the lines are very different in this map to the previous ones. The reason is that the previous maps had a parchment base. This allowed me to soften the lines by making them 50% overlay and 50% normal. This resulted in a great dark brown ink effect. Now this map was onto a much colder blue/grey background so I couldn't get a nice ink effect so easily. I ended up leaving the lines at 100% normal - and you are right, they are a lot stronger than the previous maps. I'll have a shot at this and see if I can soften them.

I think you are right about the colour difference. I'll play with warming up the base layer a little and see what it looks like. And C&C is always appreciated. I'll be using this map again and again so anything that can be done to make it better is worth it. It is also useful to know what worked and what didn't as I'm definitely still experimenting.

07-07-2008, 08:40 AM
I think you are right about the colour difference. I'll play with warming up the base layer a little and see what it looks like. And C&C is always appreciated. I'll be using this map again and again so anything that can be done to make it better is worth it. It is also useful to know what worked and what didn't as I'm definitely still experimenting.

For me, this is the type of map that I would love to see modularized into tileable art pack. Something about this map makes me want to see more. At some point, this wall was high enough to keep something out or keep something in. What's on the other side? Also, it stands out as it's not your typical photo-realistic battlemap scene.