View Full Version : February Entry: The Tomb of Le Wushi

02-04-2010, 02:48 AM
I guess you guys are getting to me with all of this iso mapping stuff. I'm going to give it a go and see what happens. This is a location in my Asian-themed fantasy setting that needs mapping in any case. In this world there is a relic called Huangdi Shi, or the Emperor's Stone. Here's the excerpt on it:

Huangdi Shi has resurfaced – this time in the cosmopolitan Dazhou port city of Haibianr. Also known as the Emperor’s Stone, Huangdi Shi is a jade statue depicting a heroic figure, triumphant in battle. Its origin is unknown, although some suggest it first appeared in the treasure vaults of the First Emperor, who united the various Min nations more than 7,000 years ago through force of arms and personality. Respected scholars have variously noted the statue’s presence in the possession of many famous historical leaders: Learned Zhu claims it resided for a time in the saddlebags of Grazak Khan and his descendents, the orkish worg-lords that terrorized the post-Imperial city-states between 3,500-3,900; meanwhile, Honorable Ling believes it rode in the treasure palanquins of Emperor Wu during his crusades to unite the warring three kingdoms in 5,235-37.

Whatever its genesis and history, Huangdi Shi functions as its common appellation “Kingmaker” implies. This minor artifact only works for certain bearers, those it deems “worthy” of its ministrations – usually a person with a talent for martial endeavors and the ambition to see them through. Once it has found a beneficiary, its “chosen one”, that person undergoes a meteoric rise in power, challenging all comers until she either resides at the top of the heap or falls to her foes in battle.

Huangdi Shi lay forgotten for many centuries in the tomb of a would-be conqueror named Le Wushi. Le failed the Kingmaker’s test, falling to his foes in a great battle on the windswept plains of southern Helei. His followers recovered his slashed and arrow-riddled body and laid it to rest in a carefully prepared tomb along with his many worldly treasures, including Huangdi Shi – and there the artifact vanished from official notice for more than five hundred years.

A group of professional treasure-seekers recently breached Le’s tomb, braving its formidable traps and arcane wards with the loss of only one expedition member. The artifact, along with the rest of the tomb’s loot, was piled into a treasure cart and brought to the lucrative antiquities markets of Haibianr. There it was sold, with many other, less-remarkable objets d’art, to Hanford House, a prestigious foreign auctioneer dealing in exotic artworks and patronized by the wealthy nobility of distant nations.

Hanford frequently distributes lists of available lots via its network of sellers. The lot containing Huangdi Shi came to the attention of the Prince Mikkel of Iskandia, who purchased it sight-unseen for the tidy sum of 1,000 gold Crowns. The Prince arranged for his purchase to be delivered by ship to the port city of Florennia and thence overland by regular caravan to his palace in Brekka.

Had Hanford’s appraisers realized the true value of the unassuming jade statue, however, the Prince would certainly have paid much more.

Actually, one of those appraisers, a scholar of Min antiquities named Li Pantu, did recognize the worth of Huangdi Shi. While Li was ignorant to the true power of the statue, he was somewhat familiar with the artifact’s auspicious past and its association with the successes of its former bearers. He didn’t inform his employers at Hanford, marking it on the manifest as “Jade statue, small; 150 gold Crowns”. Instead, Li sent a message to the Lushou telling them that he had located an “item of interest”.

Thus, for a few pieces of platinum, Huangdi Shi came to the notice of Grazak Liu, a half-orc crime lord behind the Lushou, or “Green Hand”, one of Haibianr’s most notorious underworld organizations – dipping its clawed fingers into criminal enterprises ranging from illicit drugs to the flesh trade. Liu isn’t interested in Huangdi Shi for its monetary value, however. He has aspirations that well exceed his current grasp and believes that the artifact will bring him the power he needs to reach his goals.

While Hanford House’s extensive security presents an impossible barrier to smuggling the treasure out or taking it by force of arms, Liu is betting that the foreign ship that is set to take Huangdi Shi to its new home will prove an easier mark. Thanks to Li Pantu, Liu knows the name of that ship and where it will be docking and has already laid plans to get his claws on this valuable piece of Min history.

This, then, is the resting place of Le Wushi, pretender to the imperial throne of Minguo...

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02-04-2010, 05:04 AM
This kind of levels seems a good way to place as much as possible on one side. I like the idea of a Asian theme, too.
I'm still thinking about doing an entry for this month challenge, but as dungeons are not the kind of maps I do usually, I have not really an idea so far. And I'm short on time this month, too. But...who knows ;)

Steel General
02-04-2010, 06:34 AM
Interesting start...looking forward to seeing where you take it.

02-04-2010, 10:02 PM
This needs ages of work but here's a little rough-out of the aboveground area and a little refinement of the off-map stuff. None of the elements tie together very well yet but I'll keep experimenting as I map. I have a newfound respect for Djekspek. :)

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02-05-2010, 12:03 AM
That looks pretty good so far.

02-05-2010, 02:20 PM
Those forests are beautiful...are they handdrawn? I may have to snaffle for my reference folio.

02-05-2010, 02:36 PM
Hey thanks, guys.

Ravells, yep, they're hand-drawn but don't snag them yet...let me finish them first. I plan to finish the shading, add a little color variation, tighten the outlines and then shade and texture the ground underneath. I just used a small soft brush set to dark green to scribble around and then painted under them on another layer with a middle green set to 100% opacity and shaded the edges with a lower opacity dark and light greens.

02-05-2010, 08:44 PM
must....wait.... must......wait :)

02-06-2010, 12:03 AM
Wait no longer! Well, okay that's dramatic...but these are slightly improved. The building and bridge still look hinkey and it could generally use a lot more texturing and vegetation. I'm still working on the below-ground levels on paper to get a good layout that'll work with isometric...harder than I had thought it would be at first.

02-06-2010, 08:37 AM
This is looking very cool Mearrin! This is not just a one-page-dungeon but is becoming sort of a one-page-campaign ;) and the 1st level 3d-ish look is looking pretty cool already! Really like the way you did the trees. As for 3d-ish drawing I've learned that it takes loads of time and practise to get decent stuff out and must say that you do a great job so far in my opinion. Also I found out that often i have to move stuff around from the original place i planned them just to make it better fit for a 3d-ish view so i'd say dont plan ahead too much with the 2d layout up front as you may have to move stuff anyway. Looking forward to seeing this progress! cheers

02-07-2010, 05:42 PM
This is an ambitious and intriguing project. I'm eager to see more!

02-11-2010, 11:25 PM
Don't know if I needed to post the whole thing again, but here it is with some random improvements and a sketch of level two. There are multiple false tombs, each outfitted better than the last to convince tomb raiders that they've reached the prize and can go home...before getting to the real thing. It's filled with traps and guardians...like a small army of clay golems! :)

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02-12-2010, 02:39 AM
Looks great, Mearrin69!


02-14-2010, 09:59 AM
I begin to fear I won't be able to finish this thing but I'll keep going on it; even if it doesn't make the deadline I want the map finished so...

Had some time this morning to finish sketching in the layout of the levels and noting what everything represents. Here's a quick overview:
1) Aboveground: The tomb of Le Wushi is accessed via an unmarked cave near the first falls on the "blue dragon stream". It's not far off the track of the old Helei road. Visitors should be wary of entering the nearby woods or bivouacking in the vicinity as this forest is infested with goburen (goblins, lit. "dog fear people") from numerous tribes.
2) Level One: The natural cave above rapidly transitions to roughly worked stone and visitors descend a steep flight to rough stairs to emerge in what seems to be an austere tomb to some ruler of an obscure kingdom. Most tomb raiders are likely to see through the ruse, however, and search for secret passages - and one is easily found, leading to a second tomb of slightly more grandeur. This second tomb, appears to be that of Le Wushi, and contains four major chambers in which can be found an army of clay soldiers to defend "Emperor" Le in the afterlife, a miniature highly-detailed "spirit world" for him to rule over, a mansion for him to inhabit, as well as a significant trove of treasure. Still, this is not the actual tomb of Le Wushi. Another secret passage opens onto a stairway to yet another level.
3) The stairway from above leads to a large vault containing a third tomb, also appearing to be that of Le. In it is an even larger treasure hoard and a sarcophagus. Those not fooled by this ruse will find yet another secret passage, leading through a trap-filled gauntlet and a fourth false tomb of simpler construction. Below the sarcophagus here is another secret stairway, this one harder to locate and open, that leads to the true tomb of Le Wushi.
4) On the third level is a gallery featuring murals of Le's life, another treasure collection, and the mummified body of Le. A final secret passage leads to Le's true treasure, an immense collection of wealth, magic, and personal keepsakes. This hoard has never been discovered and is likely to contain objects of unestimable value.

That's it so far. Starting to play with how to represent all of this in an attractive and workable way.

02-24-2010, 09:45 PM
Hi all,
Yeah. It's looking like I'm not going to get this finished after all. Jury duty next week and I've been trying to put in some work hours before that happens. I won't withdraw it yet but it seems unlikely I can get it done before the contest deadline unless it comes after Friday/Saturday, when I might have some more time to work on it. I'll try to put in some more time though before I officially withdraw...I hate to do that. :) Will finish this in any case even if I don't make the deadline because I want the map.

02-27-2010, 01:23 AM
Sorry guys. I guess I'd better call this withdrawn.

02-27-2010, 11:58 AM
Sorry guys. I guess I'd better call this withdrawn.

Bah! Sorry you ran out of time on this one mearrin, but I understand not wanting to submit anything that you can't properly complete.