View Full Version : December 2014 Entry: Secrets of the Golden Dawn

12-20-2013, 07:29 AM
Iíve never drawn or played any ďdungeonĒ based games before, so I enter this contest on very thin ice. Thus, this first entry is more of a question regarding dungeon mapping than anything else. And the question is, can a dungeon map be drawn something like the draft below? Or does that defeat the purpose of the competition? The idea is to see the interior of the five rooms (plus tunnels between them), and to have the story explained in the space around them as it progress.

Thanks in advance! Cheers.

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12-20-2013, 10:22 AM
I think what you've drawn is a great illustration - but for most Dungeon-crawling RPGs the require more precise information about distances and locations. Fourth Ed D&D for example. You might also want to include a top-down version of each room. Of course many experience Gamemasters might feel very comfortable using the map you've drawn and just make up distances, or render their own top-down view with a marker on a game-mat. However, less experienced GMs using very technical systems will probably struggle to use what you've drawn there to full effect without a top-down view.

Cunning Cartographer
12-20-2013, 03:28 PM
When a GM/DM is running their game and they are using a map they haven't designed themselves then they either want:

1) A map they can use straight away, ie. a Player Map that is used for the tokens to actually go on


2) A reference map, or GM Map, that they use to recreate the map themselves. These are what players will normally find in adventure booklets or the D&D publications, usually cluttered with numbered rooms, etc. so that the GM can reference them from the written adventure

Most tabletop maps that are designed are of a top down view, as that is how the game is played, and typically the map is built up on a squared grid as most systems used squares for movement. However, that isn't to say a map design like yours cant work (in fact they ARE used), but just not in its current state as, like PWKerns says, it's more of an illustration. To make it a dungeon map it needs to be a useful specification map for a GM. The best way to do this is design it with squares in mind in an isometric viewpoint.

Torstan did a really good isometric map tutorial (https://plus.google.com/+Fantasticmaps/posts/djqrLxSDbTH) on his Google+ page. Well worth checking out.

Cunning Cartographer
12-20-2013, 03:29 PM
**double post**

12-20-2013, 04:09 PM
Wait 2014 already???

And no, the rules do not specify that it has to be a playable dnd dungeon.
So this is a good entry but I can't see clearly the link with the last room.

12-20-2013, 04:42 PM
Thanks a lot for the answer, and the link as well. It’s much appreciated! I will continue with the current design for this challenge, based on Azelors point (that it doesn’t have to be a playable dungeon). However, I hope it will be playable anyway (somehow), by the combination of the story and the illustration.

Ops, it’s of course supposed to say December 2013! :)

Cunning Cartographer
12-20-2013, 07:03 PM
And no, the rules do not specify that it has to be a playable dnd dungeon.
So this is a good entry but I can't see clearly the link with the last room.

I agree, as far as the competition goes it is a suitable entry, however, my response was more to the "And the question is, can a dungeon map be drawn something like the draft below?", it can but for the reasons I said there's definitely a better way to go about it for it to be useful. That said, even an illustration can be great inspiration :)

12-25-2013, 03:35 PM
I colored the five rooms and the corridors between them digitally. Iím unsure if I dislike or like the result. Yesterday I realized the contest almost has reached its end, so had to speed up the process. Hope I will be able to finish this tonight or hopefully tomorrow before the competition is over. Cheers!

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12-25-2013, 07:30 PM
Quickly following my previous entry, Iím almost at the finish line with this one. Need to add the text explaining the dungeon, and maybe draw a more stylish blend of the earth surrounding the underground chambers. With some polishing, I will be done tomorrow.

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12-25-2013, 10:08 PM
Very nice! Love those rooms (and the top level), and beautiful job with the colours and border. I also really like the addition of the book and globe! :)

The only thing I would suggest is to reduce the width of the map. There's an awful lot of empty space that just doesn't look quite right. And maybe try using a different compass rose (that's considerably smaller). This one seems much too large and doesn't really match with the rest of the elements, IMO.

Other than that, terrific job! :)

12-26-2013, 03:49 AM
Thanks a lot for the feedback! I believe there is some explaining in order. The empty space around the rooms is reserved for notes concerning the rooms and the star is actually not a compass rose, it’s a heptagram over the seven days of the week and more of drawing with the same purpose as the globe or the book – items that relate to the notes I will add later today. :)

12-26-2013, 07:15 AM
Nice map! I'm eager to read about room explanation and some map background

Cunning Cartographer
12-26-2013, 08:26 PM
Nicely presented and I like the watercolours. The perspective is a little shaky in areas, pointing in a few different directions, but I love the idea and I think it will definitely be an interesting location for any would-be adventurers!

12-26-2013, 08:45 PM
Thanks for feedback! Itís actually not colored with watercolor. I drew all the outlines with ink, than painted the rest in PS. Anyway, here comes another update. My entry is almost done, ish. It still needs some polishing, but Iím not certain when the contest ends so I figure I should post a preliminary final draft anyway. (Am I correct when thinking it ends tonight?)
I added the text ďexplainingĒ the dungeon, however, I took another approach on this then what I believe is the common one. So I guess I should explain. The notes are seven diary entries written by a fictional character, Archeologist Marcus Kain, as he and his expedition descend the levels of the dungeon.
The adventure begins months prior to the notes here, when Marcus Kain finds a clue about a hidden secret of the occult order the Golden Dawn in one of their ancient temples. This clue later leads him to this dungeon. Cheers!

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Cunning Cartographer
12-26-2013, 09:31 PM
Pretty sure the challenge is on until Jan 1st or there abouts.

This is looking great now with the text, feels very complete.

As you have gone for an authentic look to the design, I would suggest avoiding such a straight text Use the mask tool (like it appears you have done on the title) on portions of the text. It doesn't matter if the entire text is legible (providing key words aren't too faded). Maybe used the transform/skew tools to mover your text around a little so it's not quite so neat, which will really bump up that authentic feel.

Really good work tainotim.

12-26-2013, 10:53 PM
It is looking better with each addition. I like the journal feeling a lot. It certainly makes it a more interesting map.

12-27-2013, 06:11 PM
With this update I call this drawing “preliminary finished”. If I find time before the challenge end, I might polish it some more and maybe add or / and remove some details. I’ve always had a hard time separating with projects.

About two weeks ago I begun drawing on this piece and since then I’ve spent up to four hours every evening working on it. It begun as a minimalistic sketch on the cheap A4 paper from the copy machine, but soon – thanks to quick answers and advice from some other members, turned into something much more. When I begun I knew little about dungeon mapping or Photoshop. However, since then, thanks to the pressure of the limited time given in the Challenge, I’ve learned priceless techniques for Cartography, and for the first time in years I’ve had motivation to finish a drawing project. Much thanks to the helpful and encouraging members of the Cartographers’ Guild: for that I say, thanks!

Two months ago I joined the guild and since then I’ve seen countless old and new members polish their cartography skills in their individual mapping projects. To all those members and to anyone reading this, I want to add a word of recommendation and encouragement. Enter one of the Cartographers’ Guild Challenges! The idea might seem daunting, seeing professional artists present their amazing entries for the challenge, knowing that you as a rookie probably won’t stand a chance. However, it’s worth it! In the end, if you struggle to finish the map with the time limit and pressure yourself to make the best you can, you will – with some dedication, learn more than you could ever imagine. And who knows, you might just win! Entering this challenge was the best thing I could do to improve, and it’s definitely something I will do again!

Happy New Year, fellow Cartographers!

Ps/ I just realized that the story in the diary entries take place on New Year's Eve. What a amusing coincidence :)

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12-27-2013, 08:54 PM
It is an interesting phenomenon that even though this is a Challenge/competition/contest where someone gets to "win", the greatest amount of help you receive will often come from your rival competitors.

Great work, the border and icons give it a nice finished touch!

12-27-2013, 10:07 PM
A challenge is a great way to hone your skills and learn new ones. It's also as Bogie said one of the best ways to get the maximum amount of feedback on your work. (We all tend to follow the challenges) Great work on your entry and good luck :)

12-30-2013, 04:36 AM
Thanks a lot. It certainly is. More often than not, the best results show under pressure. Update: Just fixed a minor text mistake where the end didnít fit.

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