View Full Version : Maps I was unhappy with

08-08-2007, 11:51 PM
I'm going to post a few maps here for posterity because they weren't posted on ENWorld and I went through the work of making them, but in the end I just wasn't happy with the results.


Here's the first one - done one weekend at a Feis (irish dance competition) while waiting for the youngest Gelfling to dance.

It is from a scene in the long-ago canceled psionics book I wrote. The empire in question had a massive crystal mine that they used (and then worked dry) to get crystal for psicrystals, dorjes, capacitors and so on. In the flavor text for the adaptive ooze, it describes one of these creatures errupting from the fortified mine entrance and killing a lot of the workers and guards before being put down by a group of psion law-bringers.

A thousand years later, here are the ruins of the mine entrance.

Starting from the bottom of the map:

Two guard towers. The construction of these is awkward and not that well thought out - the guard walks are aimed towards the space between them - obviously designed to watch over the traffic of workers and product more than to defend against attack.

The Gorge. There is a deep gorge here at the edge of a cliff-face. This massive gorge is why the mine exists - the cliff-face used to have visible crystal deposits on it, so the Duan'Kan built the bridge and mine to access the cliff face and then to dig into the face to follow the crystal veins. The bridge is a flat bridge, to allow for easier transport of crystal out of the mine.

Towers. There are two defensive protrusions that jut out over the gorge. They exist for archers and kineticists to use to watch approaching traffic in order to defend the mines proper.

Then there are a bunch of rooms - up to the GM, but likely including a small barracks and kitchen environment for the guards who worked here, but not the miners. They would have been fed at the mining camps some distance away.

The Shaft In the back of the rooms is the elevator shaft with two elevator platforms. To the East of the shaft is the room with the machinery to raise and lower the platforms to the mines below.

Wow, looking at my maps from 2005, I realize I've let my skills rust pretty badly. I have to really work on these to bring them up to par with the stuff I was doing then.

08-08-2007, 11:54 PM
These next two I'm officially "unhappy" with.

To make excuses - they were drawn on paper I am unhappy with (I love mapping on it, but it scans VERY poorly), and the pencils I had with me sucked. Further, I had to create it as I went instead of pre-planning sections, because I was working on it during a competition on a challenge from the eldest Gelfling to produce an elven tree fortress / home.

The lines aren't as dark or as good as I like, and I had to experiement with a different fill than my stonework fill, concentric circles of a tree cross-section.

Anyways, here is the Elven Fortress of Guenevae (in two parts - the first part has the side-view describing where the other maps fit together. I'm particuarly pained by how crappy the side-view is).

08-28-2007, 11:00 PM
Comments and discussion not only encouraged, but very much enjoyed.

I enjoy external validation, is that so wrong?

08-29-2007, 09:05 AM
Well, since you ask :)

I really like the mine entrance. It's a good layout. The one thing that raises a question is why there is no wall and gate around the front of the bridge - between the guard towers. They have a lot of stone, and they've put some serious effort into building defensive structures - yet they allow attackers to walk straight up to the front doors of their guard towers?

In the case of the elven tree home, the one question I have is whether elves would build a home inside a tree? Surely that goes against their nature loving instincts? Otherwise I like it. I don't think you need to beat yourself up about the style at all.

08-29-2007, 11:24 AM
Hellhound, your standards must be pretty high--your "failures" look better than some commercial rpg maps I've seen ;)

But since you asked for commentary, here are my two cents. The mine looks pretty good, but the watch towers should be closer to the bridge. Unless there is some feature thats crumbled away, it looks possible to get around the towers to the bridge (yes, you'd get spotted and hit, but a large enough group could make it past with minimal losses). I guess my idea of how watchtowers on a bridge should be drawn is influenced by the bridge over Skull Gorge in Red Hand of Doom. The towers there provide both lookout perches and block access to both ends of the bridge by providing chokepoints that can be blocked.

The other quibble is the large "patio"/open area on the other side of the bridge. Why is it there? If the mines were as valuable to their ancient builders as your comments indicate (and a source of psi crystals and dorjes would be very valuable indeed to a psionic empire) then the builders would have made the other side enclosed with only one entrance, not the multiple entrances that the map shows (although underground, the builders of the mine would have been wary against fly spells/disciplines and wanted to shield the troops guarding the mine). Although your description states the miners were initially mining the cliff face, if the mine was under external threat (which it may not have been--it sounds like the builders were more worried about miner rebellions) then that area would have been enclosed.

As for the tree fortress--well, the side view is not "arty", but it does get the job done and gives a good idea of how the levels relate to each other. An illustrator you may not be, but your cartography skills more than make up for that (grin).

I guess any criticism I have would be regarding the second tree fortress level. The room layout does not seem optimal and is a bit confusing. And, unless it would compromise the structural integrity of the elven fortress, why were no rooms built into the trunk on that level? (Yes, I know you were creating it on the fly for the eldest Gelfling (I hope there's not an eldest Skeksis ;), but you might want to try circling the rooms around the trunk in the future and using the interior of the trunk.) Another good reference for future tree fortresses is the Drow tree fortress from the adventure in Dragon Issue 73--its multilevel as well and quite skillfully done.

08-29-2007, 04:53 PM
Just a quick general comment here: I'm glad Hellhound posted these here, both so we can see further into the mind of a cartographer as skilled as him, AND because I think seeing what cartographers (or artists in general) view as their failures can be just as helpful as seeing only their successes! Thanks 'Hound!

08-29-2007, 09:25 PM
These next two I'm officially "unhappy" with.

Anyways, here is the Elven Fortress of Guenevae (in two parts - the first part has the side-view describing where the other maps fit together. I'm particuarly pained by how crappy the side-view is).

One comment, not on your mapping, but on the envisioning.

I have built a few treehouses, and having a solid structure (like the second fortress) spanning branches (or larger trunks) doesn't work really well. The wind in the tree will tend to tear these types of fixed structures apart, as the small forces of wind at the branch tips get hugely magnified into small but super powerful force near the trunk. I've had 1/2 galvanized carriage bolts sheared right off trying to solidly connect two large upward reaching branches.

If you REALLY want, google up "treehouse" and you will find a ton of references (or ask question and I might be able to answer :)

IN my ming, I think a workable tree fortress would be inside hollowed out (and large) tree trunks, with lots of other independent platforms, connected by webbings or nets. Possibly something like a banyan tree.

Along this line, some of you might like this:

-Rob A>

08-29-2007, 11:41 PM
There was a show on just recently that had a guy that is a professional tree house builder. He built a tree house that spanned two trees and had a floating floor to allow the trees to move independently. Very cool. During the show they had some incredible tree houses. One of them was a three story house that was about 2500 square feet if I remember correctly and it was fully furnished to boot!

Now in a fantasy setting with magic at hand, I don't think there would be any problems with building a huge tree house castle especially if you could simply ask the tree to help. ;)