The Wind-Gnome town of Gnomsulost
Okay, I’ve been absent from this forum for a few months, and I seem to have forgotten to move this map to the finished map section. I believe it’s still not too late to do so anyway. ;) Note, if your name is Matrim, this post contains loads of spoilers (for the other forum members: Matrim is one of my players in my D&D game).
This map is part of my own D&D world Amaris. My last map was also, though it isn’t mentioned there. This town is actually an unnamed town on my ‘Oostangelt and the Forbidden Pass’ map, found here.
Fictional history and description (official wall-of-text-warning! Skip to map creation if you don't care about fictional history ;))
Before proceeding with the description of the town itself, let me start out with its inhabitants. Wind-Gnomes are not a special breed of gnomes, at least not genetically. Physically they are normal gnomes. They earn their name from several cultural and technological elements. Wind-gnomes all share a deep cultural love for the wind, flying and floating. With even the slightest breeze you can see kites all over the town.
The Wind-gnomes love for the sky and wind extends not only to their pastimes but also to their religion (they worship the Gnomish goddess of the wind, Volennia), their architecture (high tower-like housing) and ultimately their economy. In their quest for achieving flight, they finally built the ultimate flying contraption: Gnomic airships. Literally ships strapped to cigar-shaped balloons. Amazingly, the ships are only partially magical. These ships actually are the foundation for the Wind Gnome town of Gnomsulost and it’s as of yet unnamed northern sister-town. The towns’ economy was based on the airline connecting the human kingdom of Bern to the Dwarven Kingdom of Khaz Dukar.
Gnomsulost was built around a massive rotating hangar. This hangar contains two airships, and is also the mooring place for these ships. A plateau was carved out of the slope of a mountain to form the central part of the town. The town later expanded uphill, where it got it’s second wall. The third addition to the town was made by carving out a lower ‘cliff’ to hold another part of the expanding town.
Gnomes, Dwarves and Elves wall their cities and towns in a different way compared to humans. Human settlements sprawl out, and get walled in later. However due to the much slower population growth of slower ageing races like Gnomes, Dwarves and Elves, these races have the luxury of saving up for a new section of wall (or town expansion) and build it before the first people build their houses. It also allows for more space around houses.
The gnomes usually share the open spaces in the centre of housing blocks among all of the inhabitants. Gnome children play here, and much of the outside social life of gnomes happens in these spaces.
Gnomish houses usually have businesses or storage space on the ground floor. Living and sleeping quarters are as high as possible. Often, a single narrow tower isn’t enough for a gnomish family, thus a single house usually consists of several towers, one of which only houses storage space and stairs, as well as bridges to the other parts of the ‘complex’. Gnomes build this way to be closer to the sky.
Gnomes build mostly in wood, with bark roofing. Most stonework (including the walls) is Dwarven stonework.
The Gnomes have enjoyed a good economy for generations, however lately (as in, the last one or two decades) their airline is becoming increasingly dangerous with flying Drow Raiding Parties (making use of aerial mounts).
Note: I actually worked out how the airships supposedly work. The propellers are powered by an animated (cog-)wheel, the ‘engine’ also features a donkey-boost option, also useful should the animated wheel ever stop turning. Alternatively, with no donkeys aboard, manual labour suffices too.
The balloon is actually filled with a magical gas mixture. The gas itself isn’t magical, the way it is obtained and stored IS. The gas is pretty similar to Helium, including the funny-voice effect. The balloon actually consists of a bag filled with three balloons, bound by ropes. It’s ballast system is made up of heavy rocks strung on a rope, which can be lowered into a bag of holding to lower the weight. It’s controlled by an intricate ‘fly-by-rope’ system. All these functions can be controlled from the main cabin.
Should the ship ever have a favourable wind blowing from the back, it can deploy sails from the side for extra speed, though these seriously reduce manoeuvrability.
If I knew magic, I would SO build me one of these. ^_^
Note: gnomic flying contraptions make use of magic; they won’t work well when all magic stops working, but they won’t really crash either… At least, they’ll crash at a more acceptable (read: slower) speed compared to say a flying carpet... ;)
Excuse the wall of fictional text, let us proceed with text about the actual creation of the map.
Map creation notes:
The WIP can be found here.
This map was one big learning opportunity. I based a lot of my knowledge on Pasis’ mountain tutorial, though it’s really regional mapping tutorial. A lot of elements (like basic use of textures) come from this tutorial. I highly recommend it. The cliffs are actually tweaked Pasis mountains cut in half by overlaying half of them with a hard copy of the underlying terrain. I’ve yet to figure out a way to keep the ground editable though. Once you’ve made these hard-copies and slapped them over half the mountains, you can no longer edit the ground without having to redo these hard copies, which actually isn’t that much work, but it’s still sloppy.
For where I got my textures:
The grass, water, ground, cliffs and rocks come from Pasis’ tut. The fields are based on a texture made by RobA, the walls, roads, smoke, dirt and housing textures come from Ascension.
The forest texture is my own doing; it’s based on a google-earth crop of some Canadian forest made into a tiling texture. The idea to just chop a mountain-design I liked in half to get cliffs is also my own, and more something resulting from frustration about not being able to make decent cliffs. The result is very acceptable. Housing is just elements of squares with several layer effects put onto them. Ascension describes something similar.
The little dots, named in the legend as ‘cattle’ should actually read ‘livestock’, Gnomes mainly keep sheep, goats, donkeys and mules as farm animals. While I understand the word ‘cattle’ is more regularly used for cows. This was a slight translation error on my part. The original map is in Dutch though, and can be seen in the WIP.
The only thing I'm dissatisfied about is the fencing, however, there's not much one can do with a mere one-pixel line, which is already over scale. I've recently seen some very creative hedgerows on other maps though. Overall, I'm very happy about this map though.