Post By SJS
Slave Mines of the Borderlands - map for a homebrew Basic D&D campaign
I'm writing a little module for old-school Basic D&D to run with my kids. It's set in the B2: Keep on the Borderlands setting, for those of you familiar with that. The idea is that a high-level magic user is running several gold/copper/gem mines in the area trying to find special supplies for the creation of magic items and using the proceeds from the gold and copper to fund the research. The party has been exploring the B2 Caves of Chaos, and will learn that friends have been captured as slaves to work in the mines (set in B2's Cave of the Unknown) and must be rescued.
All I really need is a few hand-drawn maps on graph paper, but for the fun of it I've been instead creating the maps in Adobe Photoshop, inspired by Turgenev's style (he posts here I believe but has a huge mapping thread at Dragonsfoot). That led me to here, learning even more techniques, and so I've kind of stopped writing the module to learn map-making!
I think I have a pretty neat idea for the way the mine operates, which I've detailed in my own thread at Dragonsfoot. I've been working most on the "active mine" level, where the worker slaves are busy with pick axes while bugbear slavemasters look on. Here's the latest version:
Here is the key I've sketched out:
1a - This is a major active mining area, and a huge room with high (50') ceilings. The party may enter from the cavern level via the arrow in the lower right; if so, they might take the winding path down into the room or the gently sloping, straighter path to 1b. From b, the party will be 30-40' above the main floor of 1a and might observe the mining operation undetected. Lots of strategic possibilities here.
2 - Except something might be lurking in this area!
3 - A second active mining area.
4 - The shaft of the elevator which connects the Refinery Level to the Command Level. A secret door permits access for rarely used shortcuts for the mining bosses. If this party discovers this, strategic possibilities arise (and dangerous ones as well).
5 - A prep room for the slavemasters; b holds mining tools and c holds weapons and personal treasure.
6 - Another staging area. Ore is stored here before transport to area 7. 6b contains tools.
7 - The floor trap door here connects to the ceiling trap door in the Refinery Level. The floor slopes severely to the trap door, which is easily triggered by weight. Ore is pushed into the pit with large brooms and into the refinery below. Battles in this room could be interesting.
8 - Much of the time (75% chance) visibility in this area is very low due to the humidity (fog) created by an underground stream in area 9.
9 - An underground stream. This area is completely flooded, but only by about 2.5' of water. The current does not flow heavily, but a steep waterfall exists as the stream empties into area 12a.
10 - Quarters for this floors' slavemasters, who watch over the slaves kept in area 11.
11 - Slave pens. Slaves are kept behind bars in areas 12b and 12c. All the slaves on this level are male, mostly human with some other races present; these work the mines. Slaves work in 12-hour shifts; area b or c will have slaves (50% chance); the other area will be empty (slaves will be working in area 1a or 3 or possibly area 7). Slaves are typically marched through the cold water in area 9; the water serves as an additional barrier to escape (making escape easier to hear). Guards from area 10 can bypass the water thanks to the secret door connecting area 10 and 11 to area 8.
12 - Underground lake. The lake shown as area 12a is actually on the Refinery level, including the greyed-out land area in the east side of this room. The ceilings are very high here however. The water, which is not deep, could be reached by the rope bridge connecting area 12b to 12c, or conceivably by the waterfall from area 9. (The waterfall is not a gusher, but climbing down the very wet walls at the opening of the waterfall should be treacherous to all but the most skilled thieves). The bridge is wide enough only for single-file traffic; the drop is a good 40'.
13 - Second slave pens. Slaves are kept behind bars in area 13b and 13c; mining tools are stored in 12d. Similar details to area 11 but the slaves here work in area 15, 16, and 17.
14 - Quarters for slavemasters.
15, 16, 17 - Active mining areas. The arrow between these areas leads to the Refinery Level.
The water areas need a lot of work - next on my list. The elevator shaft may need a bit of tinkering too. Posted for feedback and suggestions.
I really like the layout in this map, it feels natural. I'd almost be tempted to convert area 7 into a circular elevator shaft as it's a large staging area that's perfect for jumping off into the rest of the mine.
Hope you keep posting more levels. It's hard to find good designed mine maps!
I'll post more, sure - all I need is a tiny bit of encouragement!
This is the level just below the one posted first. The dungeon has 4 levels, which I'm calling 1-4 based on the sequence a party is likely to encounter them, and also in terms of the difficulty. But geographically, 1-3 get deeper into the earth, whereas level 4 is actually above the mine, reachable only by the elevator (E near area 7 below). (There is a secret entrance directly into dungeon level 4 from the outside which is a conceivable point of entry as well.)
This map here is reachable from the one earlier posted in 4 ways:
-The leftmost caverns with arrows on both maps are joined together (though I see now I have the arrowheads facing each other, which is a little silly)
-The elevator shaft in area 4 from the first map lines up with the elevator shaft near area 7 on this map
-The larger lake in area 14 is the same lake as the one in area 12a in the first map; in the first map the room is crossed up high on the rope bridge but conceivably one could get down to lake level directly
-The floor trap in area 7 from the first map is the ceiling trap of area 13 on the following map; normally this is used to dump ore into this level from the level posted above
Here's the key I've roughed out. I know these RPG elements are a little off topic for this forum, but I present them in order to get advice on the map. Each room has a function in the mine, and I assume that whoever built the mine would have done so in the most efficient way possible, making allowances for constraints offered by the rock, location of water and lava sources, etc.
1 - Entry cavern.
2 - Ore processing room (hence the rubble/dirt on the floor). Ore from the mines is received here and moved into area 15.
3 - Guard room. Baddies who make certain there's no unlawful entry or contraband smuggled out.
4, 5, 6 - Quarters for 6 Dwarven goldsmiths who are the "brains" of the refining operation.
7 - Elevator room - Final product is shipped up to the command level (Dungeon Level 4, coming soon). The elevator is operated by an ogre or troll or like creature (still trying to decide) on the upper level; to request raising or lowering, the refinery monsters strike a chime twice, which echoes up the shaft. The elevator here is small compared to the shaft it sits in; a thief could reconnoiter by climbing the sheer surface of the shaft. Probably no more than 4 armored creatures can ride the elevator at once.
8, 9 - Quarters of the refinery level slave masters (hobgoblins? orcs?)
10 - Prison entry. A locked door leads to the slave quarters.
11 - a is a vestibule; b and c are slave quarters. Slaves work 12 hour shifts in the vat rooms (15 to 1; one pen holds the day shift and the other the night shift. All refinery level slaves are women (mostly human); mining level slaves are male. The party's motivation is recovery of a husband and wife; these are on 2 different levels. The wife will either be here or in a vat room (50% chance).
12 - Storage room. Final product is stored here until a large enough load is ready to be moved up the elevator.
13 - Ore room. Promising ore from the mining levels is dumped into this room and eventually sorted and gathered by slaves. (The rubble/dust shown on the map for rooms 13 - 18 indicate the heavy use of these rooms in processing ore; there is crumbled rock all over the place.)
14 - Underground lake. This lake is about thigh-deep in most places and is fed from a deeper spring. The water is used to wash the ore, for hydration, for bathing, etc. Slaves gather water here to distribute to other locations in the mine as needed. The room itself is 30-40 feet high; a rope bridge (dashed line) crosses it about 18 feet above the lake; adventurers may well cross the bridge when on the level above.
15 - Water vats. Ore is washed and cooled here.
16 - Acid vats. In my reading about gold refining, I learned that certain acids (hydrogen cyanide) are used to remove gold from rock ore. When necessary, ore is treated here. This will be a very dangerous room, with acid vapors causing damage to anyone staying in the room too long. Vapors are evacuated through shafts in the ceiling; I may connect this to a trap or dangerous room in the level above. I'd love to find an intelligent humanoid monster that is immune to acid that might supervise the work here.
17 - Lava vats. This room may cause heat damage. Inside are lava filled vats for melting metal; the heat is also used in certain extraction recipes. The doors to this room are periodically propped open to reduce overheating (33% chance all doors are open).
18 - Cooling room. Metal bars (gold, copper) are set on workbenches to cool; occasional gems that are mined are sorted and identified. The Dwarven smiths rove all of the vat rooms but spend most of their time here, or in room 7, 12, or their quarters.
19 - Lava cavern. Lava for the vats is gathered here when needed. Heat from this room is also vented to the Command Level sauna and pool (Dungeon Level 4, forthcoming). This cavern is fairly large (high ceiling), but still extremely hot. I'm assuming something bad ass will live back here, a flame salamander or something. Escaped slaves may have perished here. Lava levels shown may change rapidly with seismic shifts. The heat from these caverns are noticed well outside the door that has been placed between it and area 18.
The lava cavern is an interesting location but a real challenge (for me!) to map. What I have is more than adequate to run an adventure, but it's the kind of thing where I'm sure some of the talents on this site could also make it look beautiful. Ditto the lake and the vats.
Thanks for the comments above, more comments welcome; the whole thing is a work in progress.