View Full Version : Attempt at the ICE Challenge - Inspiration needed!

01-21-2009, 12:50 PM
Hi there. So I want to chuck my hat in the ring for the ICE challenge this month (deadline on the 31st of Jan). I need some inspiration to get something finished for this. I want to do a high fantasy map - some bizarre temple in an unusual place. Ideas:

1. A cloud temple on a mountain - part of the temple on the peak and other parts suspended on the cloud itself.

2. An ice temple (no pun intended for this competition!). A cavernous Ice vault with sharp icicles and crevasses. Not sure what interesting featuers this could have, though a fractured web of ice bridges on the approach over the crevasses would be quite nice.

3. A fire temple (okay, this is all get a little elementat focussed - not my original plan). A volcano lair with lava flows, pillars of flame and basalt altars.

Any other thoughts for nice high fantasy areas with interesting terrain? All inspiration gratefully received!

Steel General
01-21-2009, 01:03 PM
You could look at the CWBP and see if any of the members of the pantheon give you a 'jump-start'.

Your ice temple would work great for the deity Bhoryal

01-21-2009, 01:56 PM
I like the ice motif also. Given that your currently in winter in your current campaign, this also gives you sometime instantly usable also, which is always a plus.

01-21-2009, 05:09 PM
Okay. Let's play with the ice temple idea a bit. Any thoughts on good features of an ice temple? Crevasses are a must. I'll also go for great icicles and ice pillars. An ice waterfall might make an appearance.

I'm starting to think about this as being a shrine at the end of an almost impossible hike through treacherous lands. So it is less a temple and more of a holy place.

What other icy fun can people think of? Also, how would a god of the bitter cold wish to be worshipped? A simple altar seems a bit bland and benign for such a being.

01-21-2009, 05:26 PM
What other icy fun can people think of? Also, how would a god of the bitter cold wish to be worshipped? A simple altar seems a bit bland and benign for such a being.

Hey Torstan, how about a "crypt area" with corpses of holy men that are frozen in solid ice and viewable through the walls - the corpses could be standing or laying down as appropriate. Guardians could also be frozen in the walls near the entrance and would be magically thawed and reanimated to defend the holy site.

You could also create a the effect of a stained-glass image (in blues and whites) as sunlight pierces through the ice from above - I'd even place transparent shafts of light causing kaliedoscope effect on the floor coming from the direction of the sunlight.

Ice sculptures could serve as statuary - and if its an evil temple, frozen victims could serve as statuary... :P

Perhaps a cold fog could exist in a crevasse and seep out into the altar chamber, though that might obfuscate the floor too much.

If the Ice Temple was beneath a glacier accessable via a crevasse the entry tunnel to the altar could be misaligned along a "fault" or large crack in the ice since glaciers still move...



01-21-2009, 05:32 PM
I always think of ice gods as being stern, severe, and harsh thus demanding of worship that's more deed or performance based rather than outright fawning, bootlicking, or sacrifice based (as in animal or human sacrifice). I could see some value being placed upon gems and jewels, diamonds and sapphires rather than rubies and emeralds. Steel might be acceptable since it can be used to shape the ice and silver for its color. Of course wolves and bears would be totems or maybe go obscure and use walrus tusks and whale bones. It would almost have to be on a mountain to let the winds howl through and snow drifts to pile up...like an outdoor shrine with statues around some sort of courtyard with a raised dais at one end with an altar/throne on it or something like that (climb the mountain then climb some steps as symbology for climbing the mountain). Maybe have the dais on a cliffside so that the god could survey the world from atop his perch. I could ramble on with this some more but I just thought I'd pop out some brainstorming. Hope it helps ya some :)

01-21-2009, 05:43 PM
Excellent thoughts there. I think the beings frozen in ice is a must. The light is going to be a very important factor in this as it will show the ice for what it is. Frozen blood should surround any sacrificial area. I like the idea of the howling winds as well - so possibly a shrine inside a mountain top glacier.

Frozen statuary sounds good too, and drifting mist and snow...

The more I think about this, the more I see that my standard approach of a black ink line followed by colour isn't going to work so well. An ice temple is going to look weird with strong black outlines. Perhaps I need to take a shot at a more painterly approach. Definitely something to investigate.

The concept of stained glass patterns from light thrown through a curtain of ice is lovely too. Well, this promises to be a challenge. Now if anyone has an ice temple coming up in their adventure, you can always slip in some requirements here and you might just get an ice temple to fit your needs!

Right, off to play with some sketches now in between figuring out dark matter annihilation in proto-halos.....

01-21-2009, 05:55 PM
Perhaps start with a blue-ish gray background and draw with white lines instead of black, and work in your normal style that way...


01-22-2009, 12:03 AM
What if you put a large frozen creature under the floor, which is polished to a high degree of translucency? Ooh! And it's mortally wounded, but the god froze it there instantly to save its life and now it slumbers, awaiting some hero (or villain) to revive and heal it.

01-22-2009, 12:41 AM
I'll just brainstorm some ideas here...

I can see a large ice window behind a great ice throne. The ice window being sort of like stained glass. The ice throne is suitably sized for a Titan. Along the walls are the bodies of those that attempted the journey but died. They serve as an honor to the ice god. Sort of a gallery of the devoted. Before the throne is a great crevasse that serves to keep the devoted back from actually getting too close to the ice god for fear that their body heat might warm him too much.

The throne itself is composed of ice sculptures. Great polar bears as the arm rests, and an whale fluke as the back rest with the symbol of the god carved into it.

There is a passage that leads around to the outside of the "window" that leads to a great ledge from which he can look to the south across the barren lands in search of the fire goddess whom he fell in love with as a youth and before they were forever separated when the curse of their domains were laid upon their shoulders.

There is a great ice sculpture of a fiery woman in the center of the hall that serves to remind him of her.

Bear and wolf pelts serve as the only other furnishing and as a place for the priests to sit while they worship.

In the far opposite corner of the temple are the actual living quarters for the few priests that were strong enough to make the journey and serve the god. Their rooms are kept at a comfortable 32 degrees so as to not melt the temple, but be warmer than the outside. The stay warm by wearing the furs of the animals whose meat the live off of, and have fashioned their religious symbols and weapons from the same animals' bones since wood is scarce.

01-22-2009, 09:11 AM

Right, I think I am settling on a design now. The temple is inside an ice waterfall. The ice waterfall is the artifact of an ancient battle, and was created by the god or some powerful priest of the god to trap a dragon. The dragon remains frozen in the ice, and only regular sacrifices keep it there and stop the ice from melting. The caretakers of the temple are frozen in ice when they are at the peak of their powers, so that if the dragon were ever to escape, they would be there to fight it.

Main areas:
1. The dragon hall - dragon beneath the ice with the frozen caretakers around it.
2. entrance flanked by statues
3. the high window - an ouside ledge with an altar surrounded by frozen bloodstains with a vertiginous drop.
4. the icy stiarcase - a series of bridges between the hanging icicles that reaches from the mountainside to the temple.

Further ideas always welcome! I'll see if I can get some sketches up between bits of work today.

01-22-2009, 10:26 AM
Also, how would a god of the bitter cold wish to be worshipped? A simple altar seems a bit bland and benign for such a being.

I don't know the world / pantheon you have to base your ideas on, but there are plenty of ways a deity could end up representing cold / ice. For the rest of the ideas I assume we have complette freedom. Some of them are feared by people who don't like Ice... But as soon as you see creatures that favor cold and ice, you can see a different kind of deity.

Imagine a group of elves, who somehow lived on a plane of ice, and soon they had their own mythos, that could have a benign and good ice god. If they would find a permanent portal to a treacherous glacier in the material plane, how their temple would look like?

Lets go to something more specific. If they became natives to planes of ice, once this god/godess saved them in a war when their lands were scorched, and with the dinive help they adapted to the icy conditions.

So the locals now see them as strange icy elves, mostly warriors, who don't speak their language, and some conflicts with locals are possible (when locals started it). Yet the elves helped other locals.

How would these elves know their protector deity?
What would the locals think?

01-22-2009, 10:29 AM
Ohh, sorry, I spent too much time trying to figure something out about the message I typed last and haven't seen the latest post by torsan. But the point is: how a deity is worshiped, and how you see it can be different, and many ice gods aren't evil.

01-22-2009, 08:23 PM
When I read about an ice temple the first image that came to mind was a raised dais of ice covered with a fine mist (thinking dried ice fog). Centered on this dais there sits a block of ice about 7 feet long and 4 feet wide. The top of this block is a shallow trench of about man size and the surface of the ice block has a very slight red tint.

That is what I first saw in my minds eye.

01-23-2009, 09:18 AM
I though of ice bars :)

A lot of places have them (Montreal, Russia, Finland). Here's some nice shots of one in Dubai:

-Rob A>

Steel General
01-23-2009, 05:17 PM
Don't they build an Ice Hotel in Quebec every year?

01-23-2009, 05:20 PM
That'll actually be handy for some colour references, though I think my ice temple will avoid having an ice bar!

Thanks for all the ideas - the normal every day work got in the way of tackling this over the last couple of days but I'm going to sneak in a little drawing over the weekend.

01-23-2009, 07:51 PM
@ RobA - Actually the Ice Hotel in Quebec is actually some where north of that city I believe.

@ SG - That is an Ice Castle that Quebec City makes every year on the Plains of Abraham for it's winter carnival.

01-28-2009, 12:51 AM
Well as the deadline approaches, here's the current line art. Not far off finished this section. I need to finish the dragon's wing, put in two ice guardian statues at the bottom and put in buried elders of the temple. Then it's on to the colour.


01-28-2009, 02:00 AM
Great start, I hope you finish in time. I've been checking I.C.E.'s contest page everyday, hoping to see your entry posted!

Remember, you have to download their contest agreement, sign and date it, scan it, and send back as a PDF along with your map file or link to map file - to completely qualify. Since time is getting close, I didn't want you to miss their specific rules on that.

I don't care if this beats my map, as long as Guild members earn all the awards! (Despite being the only entrants...) :P


Steel General
01-28-2009, 06:55 AM
This is looking really cool (no pun intended) Torstan, hopefully you'll get it done before the deadline, and if not well I'll still look forward to the finished product.

01-28-2009, 08:32 AM
Thanks GP. I didn't know that and am well warned.

01-28-2009, 09:37 AM
Thanks GP. I didn't know that and am well warned.

Yea, there are a couple of things to pay attention to, notably the 1 meter square scale they require, which of course is different than D&D that normally you play.

01-28-2009, 10:51 AM
Well as I can see it is a 1m hex - so I've laid down 100px hex grid over the wip to keep me on track. Now I need to polish this one off for the 31st and get my Dreeston map done for the Paizo open call... Oh, yes and my actual commissions for the 1st :) Nothing like being busy.

02-25-2009, 08:16 AM
Right, a small update.


Still very much in its ugly duckling phase.

02-25-2009, 08:50 AM
I've been playing with styles for the icicles. This is what I have so far. I'm working in greyscale right now to keep the filesize down. My laptop might kill me when I move to RGB. Anyway, all C&C welcome. This is all a litle experimental right now:

02-25-2009, 11:12 AM
Thank goodness, you're still working on this - I was really hoping you got your entry in to ICE! No comments, yet. Looking good so far, but not enough details for me to properly critique. I am definitely looking foward to this.


Steel General
02-25-2009, 11:13 AM
I like what I see, but will hold off on more comments until you are further along.

*cracks whip at Torstan* Get to Mappin'! :D

02-25-2009, 11:25 AM
Thanks for the encouragement. I have a short hiatus in other projects. I'm going to try to get the bulk of this done this evening.

/dodges whip

02-25-2009, 06:54 PM
A small update - most of the lights an darks in place for the icicles. Highlights on the floor, shadows in pillars and walls to do, as well as the light/dark for the dragon and the ground far below.... Hmm, quite a long way to go yet.


I think I will have to double the size of the hexes to keep the filesize down. I think I bit of more than I can chew with the scale of this.

02-26-2009, 09:06 AM
Okay, done the walls, laying in the values on the entrapped dragon.


I'll admit to not being entirely convinced by the dragon at this stage. If anyone has things they don't like about this, please chip in.

Steel General
02-26-2009, 09:27 AM
I think the dragon looks great so far.

02-26-2009, 09:27 PM
A small update - the dragon is certainly in progress right now.


02-26-2009, 10:56 PM
Looks great T. A good example of why to use/get a tablet...I don't think I could ever get that kind of control with my mouse.

Steel General
02-27-2009, 06:38 AM
Looks great T. A good example of why to use/get a tablet...I don't think I could ever get that kind of control with my mouse.

I agree... I'd probably "punt" and grab a dragon from the Dundjiini forums. :)

02-27-2009, 08:25 AM
Now where would the fun be in that :) ?

02-27-2009, 09:22 AM
Now where would the fun be in that :) ?

The fun would be in NOT smashing your brains in with a hammer in frustration since you can't draw well.

Replace you/your with "me" as in the person speaking the above sentence, not directed at "you" being the entity named Torstan.

02-27-2009, 09:33 AM
The dragon looks good, but I have a hard time reading the map as it is... I guess it'll improve thou. Good job!

02-27-2009, 10:28 AM
Yep, there's a layer that sits above the dragon that has the hard reflected white on the floor, which will push the dragon into the background. Also, the dragon dearly needs to have it's levels adjusted to drop it more into the range of the ice.

As for the illustrative stuff - this is a first attempt at seriously drawing something in gimp rather than with pencil and paper. It's... interesting. We'll see how it turns out.

02-27-2009, 01:02 PM
It's too bad the dragon wasn't turned 90 degrees. Then he could essentially be the bridge going from wingtip to wingtip.

02-27-2009, 01:41 PM
Now that's an interesting idea.

02-27-2009, 09:17 PM
Indeed...a north/south bridge across the head to tail region and an east/west bridge across the wings.

02-28-2009, 12:08 PM
Well after those suggestions the dragon is certainly going to be altered, but here's the current version:


Many more updates to follow over the course of today.

Steel General
02-28-2009, 12:52 PM
Looking good, my friend.

02-28-2009, 01:44 PM
Indeed...a north/south bridge across the head to tail region and an east/west bridge across the wings.
My idea was to actually only have the one bridge still, but to turn the dragon 90 degrees so that the wing span becomes the bridge span. Perhaps they work the dragon into the structure to make it look like the bridge was constructed as a dragon. Won't the PCs be surprised when they find out that it doesn't only look like a dragon, it is a dragon!

02-28-2009, 04:57 PM
Mmm dinner time. :)

03-01-2009, 12:02 AM
Last update today:


03-01-2009, 12:10 AM
Starting to look wickedly fun...nice.

03-01-2009, 12:30 AM
To be honest, I'm having a hard time telling what is a hole and what is a stalagmite, assuming there are some. Also, I can't tell what is under ice. Other than the obvious dragon and bridges. It's probably just my aging eyes, but I suspect that it has to do with the heavy black lines.

03-01-2009, 09:15 AM
Thanks for pointing that out. I'll work on making that clearer. That's useful to know.

03-01-2009, 12:58 PM
Well I've placed a background and finished the magic circle. It's time to stick in the colour. I hope the colour will make it clearer what is floor and what is a wall or a pillar. This is turning out to be much harder than I had anticipated. (no great surprise there I think!)


The dark points around the magic circle are pillars - but as it is ice, they are also transparent. I tried to keep them darker so that they are clear, but they don't really jump out. Any suggestions as to how to make this clearer would be greatly appreciated.

03-01-2009, 02:55 PM
I'll have to wait until the color is added I think. I can tell that those are pillars now, but only because you have said they are. The biggest "problem" that I see is the area around the altar and the bridge just before it. I honestly can't tell what is going on there. Also, is that a stream entering the area from the north and existing to the south?

03-01-2009, 03:22 PM

03-01-2009, 06:18 PM
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I see ICE as ended the deadline on Entry Submissions - it seems they were waiting for someone specific who got their entry in, but I don't see Torstans!

I sent an Email to the Admin regarding the March 1st deadline, and I mentioned Torstan's coming entry on today, but I don't have a response yet.

But on the home page - is a notice that the Final Entry has been submitted, and on the Contest Page, it says its now closed...

I hope they get my Email and Torstan's entry can still be entered - don't know though!


03-01-2009, 07:51 PM
Torstan, you still got time - 4 hours from now, Rasyr closes the contest. He responded to my Email, and though he closed it yesterday, his unclear wording has allowed him to extend the entry deadline to midnight tonight!

Get that map done and uploaded, T!

I got you a few more hours!


03-01-2009, 09:14 PM
Thanks. Posting it now. I assumed March 1st deadline meant the 1st. I'll get it to them right now.

03-01-2009, 11:42 PM
Finished and posted. Thanks GP.

Here's the final. There's a few things I don't like about it, but I learnt a lot in the process.


03-01-2009, 11:52 PM
Real nice. By the time I got to read this it was done but I was going to say you might want to make the shadows for the columns a bit sharper/more defined. Love the inset sketch too...even more perilous than I had imagined.

03-02-2009, 05:43 AM
Just wow. This is amazing, I really like your artistic style.

03-02-2009, 07:03 AM
The colors make it... Awsome!

03-02-2009, 08:39 AM
Yes, I realised there was no way I could show how that all fit together without an inset sketch so that was a last minute addition. So it looks like 4 entries and the others are really excellent - GP, Steel General and an unknown UK entry who we should really invite over here. Definitely worth a look. Mine's certainly the least complicated. It'll be interesting to see how we all do (or if they even let my last minute entry through!).

Thanks for the comments everyone. I really wouldn't have got through this without the encouragement. Thanks also to RP - you were dead right about the stairs - they made no sense at all. That was a final change I was very happy with. This was my first attempt at placing the greyscale values first and then laying in the colour after. It seems to be a standard technique in digital art, but I'm not there yet. Definitely some more practice - on easier subjects than a dragon in an icecube - before I'm quite comfortable with it, but I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. Right, off to the Finished forum and RR thumbnails with this!

03-02-2009, 08:50 AM
The colors look really awesome torstan and I agree that the inset helps. I'm still a little confused by what is what, but it nevertheless is a beautiful map. Best of luck to you and everyone else for the win!

03-02-2009, 09:00 AM
Yes, I agree. It was harder than I thought when your walls aren't solid and you can't really use proper shadows :) I should have bit the bullet and just gone with less of an attempt at realistic lighting (yes, I know, not a lot of realism in a dragon in an icicle).

This would have been an awesome isometric map - probably needs it for a really good feeling of height.

Edit: Just checked and it's up! It made it in.

03-02-2009, 10:36 AM
Oh yea! Isometric would have really been awesome for this particular map. I just wish I could have offered better advice, but I can totally see the difficulty because I was lost trying to come up with suggestions that would have helped. The inset definitely helped. Maybe not including the distant ground would have helped? I honestly don't have any suggestions, but I think that an iso version would have definitely made it clearer.

03-02-2009, 01:00 PM
Yep, unfortunately the rules of the contest were for a top down hex grid so that was out. Thanks for pointing out the particular issues though. It's definitely better for it.

03-11-2009, 08:33 PM
That's very cool, Torstan! Excellent work! I would rep you but I need to spread it around a bit more before I can do so again.