View Full Version : Into the Underdark with HellHound

08-08-2007, 11:28 PM
I'm going to go ahead and repost my old underdark maps from ENWorld, Circvs Maximvs, and if I can find them a few maps that I never got around to posting anywhere.

These are all finished products to me, in that I don't intend to go back and modify them any further. I have higher-res versions stashed away on a portable hard drive, but these are generally good enough for game use.

The theme of these maps was an underdark adventure set on the shores of a great underground sea. Some of the maps are more typical dungeon maps, but most are based on this theme.

08-08-2007, 11:30 PM
This was once a temple used by Kuo-Toa - that's the structure at the south end of the map with the well in front of it in the rough cave. They also had the back exit. Later it was taken over by slavers, who built the double fortress fronting the main cavern, as well as the look-out tower that has since collapsed by the back entrance. Now, it depends on what you want it to be. In my campaign, it has just been put back together by another group of slavers, but they haven't found the two secret door, and have not bothered to move into the back entrance area.

(Hand drawn in pencil, parchment created entirely digitally. This was my first scanned map, so the grid was lost and I had to create a grid in photoshop to superimpose over the map)

08-08-2007, 11:32 PM
Here's the next one in the set, and old monestary, now abandonned.

It was a rare drow monestary back in the day. A bastion of law for drow who sought the training provided here. It was a small monestary, but the power of those who resided within kep ti safe for generations. In time, a few other monks joined the order, finally including two githzerai, one of whom became the master of this enclave. It was the githzerai presence that brought about the end, however, as an inquisition of mind flayers struck in order to destroy their hated ex-slaves, and they not only killed the master of the order and his brother, but also all but two of the monks, and destroyed the stone bridge that linked the island monestary to the shore and the underdark caves.

Who lives there now? Up to you... in our game it will -probably- be the base of some aboleth slaves who have whatever item the party is seeking.

(Hand drawn in pencil, overlaid on scanned paper with digitally created edges)

08-08-2007, 11:34 PM
Here's how the party is getting to the ocean in question - the ancient Dwarven Stair. This access to the shores of the dark sea navigates down 120 feet from a small abandoned fortress at the top with accesses to the underdark, to the stony shore of the sea itself.

(Hand drawn in pencil, overlaid on a digitally created parchment)

08-08-2007, 11:44 PM
Woohoo! Thanks for accepting the invite Hellhound. It's great to see you on the site. We (well at least I) really appreciate anything you do decide to post.

I have no idea what your unpublished maps consist of, but did you ever do any type of stalactite (aargh, I can never figure out which one hangs from the ceiling) tower dwelling for your Underdark campaign? No problem if you didn't, Chris West did a Cryomancer's lair in Dungeon (adieu old friend) I can yoink if needbe.

08-08-2007, 11:49 PM
Nope, never did a stalagtite lair. Although I considered it for a scene once, my underdark campaign ended before we got that far along.

08-08-2007, 11:58 PM
Awesome, Hound! Keep 'em coming! Thank you x 10! :)

08-09-2007, 05:09 AM
Besides the beauty of the compositions and the way they are so pleasing to the eye, I love your trade-mark hatching, the line thickness variation and jitter. Am I right in thinking you draw your maps by hand, scan them and then ink them and mount them on parchment in a paint program? I'd love to hear more about your working process.


08-09-2007, 08:37 AM
100% hand drawn with pencil (usually a 0.5mm mechanical pencil with a fairly soft lead - as soft as I can get - sometimes a 0.7mm but I don't like those as much). They are never inked, all pencil work.

Then scanned and the unnecessary gridlines are brushed over in white, and finally overlaid on a parchment design that I made in photoshop. I've got a limited number of parchment designs for these because I just haven't found the time to make more, and don't have the energy to invest in them at this time.

The parchments are a mixed bag. Some were made entirely digitally - I wrote a short tutorial on doing that on ENWorld somewhere. However the better ones are pieces of white paper that have been seriously teabagged and then scanned when they dried.


This is a temple to some water deity or another. It has changed hands repeatedly over its existence, and is difficult to maintain because it actually has no other access to the underdark except the one access to the dark sea itself. A small underground river used to enter the dark sea from this point, and the temple was built around it, and the centrepiece of the temple is a waterfall chamber leading to a large pool. The river pours down from the centre of the ceiling of the chamber, and pours down past the observation deck on the top level, the blessing platform on the second level, and into the pool proper below, where the water is channeled into the dark sea itself.

(Hand drawn in pencil, overlaid on a digitally created parchment and digitally created wax seal)

08-09-2007, 09:14 AM
Talk about timing. I'm currently gearing up for an underdark adventure based around an underground sea, so these are perfect. Thanks for posting these excellent maps.

08-09-2007, 09:22 AM
Glad they can be of use to someone.

Here's number 5 in the set - the Duhr-Ilvahn Trading & Salvage outpost is an old trading community that lies on the one main access between a drow city and the dark sea. The top of the map is the access route to the drow city, and the south is the port facility. This community has grown over centuries of trade, and the current ownership also runs a salvaging operation, keeping tabs on lost barges on the sea - their own and others.

This is another one that took a full sheet of graph paper, and has more rooms than I like in a 'dungeon' environment. Fortunately, it isn't meant to be used as a dungeon so much as a set piece for a running battle or an investigative scenario. Drawn in pencil and overlaid on digitally created parchment.

08-09-2007, 02:35 PM
Nice job. Those maps provide a lot of inspiration!

08-09-2007, 05:58 PM
Number 6 in the sea-shore underdark set.

This is a quick one, but a big one on paper (full sheet map). It's a bridge over a river that feeds into the sea, the bridge top is about 50 feet above the river, so the bottom is probably about 40 feet above. There is a little guard tower on the upper ledge, 20 feet above the ledge and bridge (60 feet above the water level).

The location is nice for use in game as a way-point because it is memorable (bridge, river, guard post, long old worn down stairs to the seashore), and it acts as an intersection, with three egresses into the underdark proper from here, as well as access to the sea and to a minor shipping waterway.

I didn't like this one much when it was about 2/3 done, but now when I look at it, it's one of my faves in the set. Definitely got the feel across a lot better than the dwarven stair.

Drawn in pencil on graph paper (full letter sheet), and scanned and overlaid onto a digitally-made parchment.

08-09-2007, 10:59 PM
This one was done as a request for a friend's game -

A wizard's private sanctum in the underdark, built in water-carved tunnels near a massive underground lake. The lair itself starts with a narrow tunnel that opens into a flooded room with only stalactites and stalagmites, which can only be easily navigated with flight magic, spiderclimb, swimming, or (if you're drow) levitating and pushing yourself from stone pillar to stone pillar.

The interior of the lair has a bit of a spiral upward, with a trap door in the wizard's personal chamber that actually opens into the ceiling of the flooded entry chamber. The wizard has a trophy room for all the monsters she's killed, a sculpture room to practice stoneshaping, and a false escape in her personal chamber that will hopefully distract attention away from the trap door in the floor. The false escape leads to some sort of death trap.

I came pretty close to the description I think, and I really like this one, especially since it is only a few rooms and takes up 1/3 of a sheet of graph paper.

Drawn with pencil on graph paper, scanned and overlaid on scanned home-made parchment

08-09-2007, 11:21 PM
A quick interruption to say how much I'm enjoying these maps! :)

08-09-2007, 11:33 PM
I'm glad you are! Now up the rep! (ahem) (kidding)

One thing I never verbalized but really was a key design concept is that most of these locations are at intersections. The D&D underdark traditionally is made of a huge network of long boring caves. The locations you are most likely to use repeatedly during an underdark campaign are the intersections where two or more of these cave lines intersect. By making them interesting, you get to use them repeatedly ("next time, turn left at the chasm bridge") and repeating various set pieces in a game adds a feeling of continuity that most players really enjoy.

08-10-2007, 01:00 AM
This map is one I made today after nearly a year without mapmaking (I curse you people for getting me going on this again - I should be preparing for the games I'm running at GenCon next week!!).

People don't remember exactly who built it or when, but the whole thing stinks of rot and stagnant water ever since the water table moved up 8 feet and the two wells in the fort have overflowed to fill all the old living quarters. There are slime molds and other nasty stuff living there now, and most people just ignore it. Except now a team of Drow archaeologists have gone there to get a magic item long buried under the muck somewhere that the players also need.

And of course, to make it more fun, the Drow team is being hunted by a Cerebrelith. It's time to recreate the movie "Predator" in the underdark.

08-27-2007, 09:40 AM
Wow Hellhound, your maps are good enough that even Monte Cook is snagging them. Kudos to you sir and keep those maps coming ;)

08-27-2007, 12:39 PM
Wow Hellhound, your maps are good enough that even Monte Cook is snagging them. Kudos to you sir and keep those maps coming ;)

Yeah, I kinda geeked out over that myself.

However, I'm working on my entry for the Alliance contest right now, so maps will have to wait a bit.

08-28-2007, 05:07 PM
Here's my latest.

This is actually part 1 of the prior map. En route to the drow archaeological dig, the party came across an old toll fort along what used to be a major underdark trade caravan.

Originally, the building on the right was the main entrance to the 'fort' and they would have pedestrians travel up and over the fort to be inspected, whereas caravans would pass between the tower and fort.

The tower on the left is a full 20 feet higher than the fort on the right (the floor of the tower is 30 feet above the cave floor). It has no access points except via the undercave passage between the fortress and the tower.

In my campaign, the Cerebrelith had been using this as his base of operations between hunts. When the players arrive it is abandoned but there are multiple skull-less bodies hanging from the archway of the tower on the left as well as some in other locations throughout the structure.

- - -

This was mapped using a blue pen instead of my typical mechanical pencil, on standard (although water-damaged) 4-quad graph paper. This meant I couldn't go back and change any mistakes, but it also provided for cleaner detail work in many places (especially along cave walls). After scanning, I desaturated it and increased the contrast to make it look black. The parchment was the one I designed for a book ENP released to support the ENnies two years ago - the base is a scan of tea-soaked paper, with some digital enhancements.

The Cartographist
12-13-2007, 05:45 AM
Hellhound - I was looking back through the Finished Maps gallery and I came across this thread. Your underdark maps are fantastic. The handdrawn look is really easy on the eyes.