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Thread: February Entry: Werthers Skull

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    Software Dev/Rep Redrobes's Avatar
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    Post February Entry: Werthers Skull

    I spent some time thinking about what sort of place to make and I wanted something a little more unusual than an inn. As I mentioned in the synopsis, my party were forever clearing out old places and converting them. The most notable of these was Obsidian Castle which was taken from a picture by a local fantasy artist called Rodney Matthews.

    http://www.rodneymatthews.com/gfx/elric5.jpg

    Last month I mentioned HeMan and thought that Castle GraySkull might be silly enough or maybe Skeletors Snake Mountain... which led me to think that I remembered that there was another very similar Matthews piece that had this great skull castle in it called Werthers Skull.

    http://www.rodneymatthews.com/gfx/elric7.jpg

    So this looks like just the place that some evil arch wizard might have made for a home and a medium to high level set of adventurers might hole up. A place that is so remote and barren that no ordinary person would travel to. Perhaps its on another plane of existence where there are a thousand miles of wilderness and desert from every direction.

    So I have sketched it out again and tried to figure out what it looks like from the front and put in some levels. I have decided that the skull is the petrified remains of a real skull and that there exists the whole body under the earth. The spiral stairway is a metal framed type that travels down the spinal column going deep into the ground though it has long ago caved in and filled it up from the lowest available level. The party has never tried to excavate it beyond this point.

    I'll add some more detail to the levels as a proper map shortly.
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    Last edited by Redrobes; 02-10-2008 at 09:22 AM.

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    Administrator Facebook Connected Robbie's Avatar
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    Whoah there!...Thats too awesome! Slow it down a bit...make it less awesome please!!!

    Just kidding...seriously though...I like the idea a LOT...very nicely done...especially the possibilities of exploring the entire body of the creature with some excavation by summoned elementals...

    I don't however like the squareness of the levels...I would expect the rooms and areas to be a bit more organic...with vaulted and arched ceilings that conform to the "chambers" of the skull and the cavities of the sinuses the rooms occupy. I imagine the structure would naturally conform to those spaces the skull provides...Maybe grab some cross sections or x-rays of some animal skulls and make the rooms similar to the cavities already in place...

    Still...I'm inspired by this piece because its soooo unusual.
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    Guild Journeyer thebax2k's Avatar
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    Wow Redrobes! That is a very impressive cross section and I await the level maps that you come up with for it. Great job.

    I do agree with Arcana to some extent. If the skull is the site of an Archmage's lair (or former Archmage's lair), it would stand to reason that there would be some extradimensional space or rooms. Let the first few levels conform to the shape of the skull, but as the party descends lower into the dungeon, the levels need not necessarily conform to the outlines of the body. There might be unusual archways (permanently opened two way gates) that serve as the ingress and egress to the extradimensional spaces. To some extent my thinking is influenced by the maps of some of the structures in Ptolus by Monte Cook--the Tower of Shade and the stronghold of the good outsiders have levels that do not conform to the shape of the building they are located in.

    Regardless, looks good so far, keep it up.

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    Software Dev/Rep Redrobes's Avatar
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    That Whoa effect is what I got with the Obsideon Castle - thats the Matthews effect there not my map.

    I agree that maybe I should do some better shaped chambers. My thinking was that originally the skull was solid. Petrified not fossilized. Theres no way in, no door or anything, you have to teleport in. Originally, some wizard would have disintegrated sections out of the solid block and then use some kind of pass through stone. Of course he could have conjured some stone elementals or stone shape so it might not necessarily be so square. A bit easier to map if square but maybe I should put a little more effort into it for such a neat exterior.

    Right, so columns, bone structures, blobby shapes with interconnecting spaces. Hmmm. What about a half way between the two. Otherwise its all going to have to be done in 3D which would mean making that skull in 3D first ! Yeah, I reckon theBax has it. I think maybe round at the top, more square but with arches and pillars as you get lower - perhaps sinew type shapes. I'll see what skull sections I can find.

    Ok then treat the current map as the outer border and ill round it out a bit when I start mapping. I still like the spiral stairs and the steps up to the top level.

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    Guild Journeyer thebax2k's Avatar
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    One question Redrobes, why would the creator of the skull lair leave no exit/entrance to the outside? Sure he was probably a big, bad, evil guy up to no good, but I would assume (being a paranoid, evil, secretive wizard) his lair was warded against scrying and teleportation from the outside and it would easier for him to have a trapped/ guarded entrance for his minions and flunkeys to come through than leave a hole in his magic defenses. Its another kind of vulnerability in his defenses to be sure, but the lair is in a remote place and the creator would likely have some kind of nasty debuff/trap at the entrance.

    Also, although you'll be doing 3d maps for the levels, I'd appreciate it if you could provide 2d overhead renders if you chose. I guess I'm hopelessly oldschool in my map preferences, but I have a future vile necromancer villain for my pcs in mind engaged in Things Man Was Not Meant to Know who would find a skull lair highly useful....

    Keep it up, your lair is shaping up to be an evocative and memorable location....

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    Software Dev/Rep Redrobes's Avatar
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    Well I was thinking that this skull represents some very very ancient race - maybe even divine who had some kind of cataclysmic battle with something potent enough that could turn somebody this big into stone. I leave it your fullest imaginations but I figured that this remaining skull would probably be on some outer plane and that millennia has passed by such that wind erosion has taken the sandy soil away revealing this skull which must be made of stouter stuff.

    I'm guessing then that the area around this skull is barren and vast and that really there is nowhere to go once you exit. Theres really no reason to exit and no roads within miles and miles of it. Its probably barely known or else known only in some mythical sense like Noahs Ark would be now.

    To my mind, if it were somewhere that you could get to more easily then it would have been fought over, made into some shrine and a city would have evolved around it. I can't imagine that anyone other than powerful wizards could fight over it and they don't need doors like normal folk do. Also, if a wizard had a lot of minions then maybe an abode which could house more minions would be different to this kind of place. A whole mountain, castle, island, or larger structure.

    This is a retreat. A place to get away from other people.

    I had a lich once who had his abode in a solid wall of dungeon disintegrated out. The only way in was a teleport and he had an emergency exit which was a thin tube where he could go gaseous form if required. I used to have things in my house rules where you got the teleport error in D&D but that you could craft some expensive and permanent items to a point and make that special teleport sites that removed the error. A sort of unique thing that was so familiar that it would not need the check.

    In terms of scrying I reckon that he would indeed place protections over it. I would think that there would be some effect in place before any wizard cast anything that had something like that going on in order that this skull was never detected by the usual means. Perhaps it is the skull itself. Maybe the creature of this skull was naturally magic resistant to these weaker spells. Perhaps that is a good reason why the abode should be in the skull and not 100 yds to the north under the sand which would be less obtrusive... Maybe there are indeed lots more spaces in the rock surrounding this point which have bundles of books, pentagrams, alchemy labs etc.

    Back to reality tho... My plan is to create top down 2D maps though I think it might necessitate making some 3D models to get a slice through them in order to figure out what the shape might be. How I get the arches and sinew shapes in to that I have no idea at this point. Maybe disintegrate does not work on the actual bone bit of the skull, thats why there is no door and the shapes will be defined inside. I was going to put a kind of window in the nasal bit - as shown on the sketch. Maybe thats the only way in.

    Straw poll, what does everyone think ? If you were a wizard capable of going to this remote place and able to teleport would you think you still need a door ? I'm sure you might gather that I don't think it would need it.

    I only started this cos my machine was chugging endlessly calculating terrain but its now turning into a bigger job... still, its always fun.

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    Community Leader NeonKnight's Avatar
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    I thought of it like the following from the Dungeons & Dragons game:

    Astral Plane

    The Astral Plane is the plane of thought, memory, and psychic energy; it is where gods go when they die or are forgotten (or, most likely, both). It is a barren place with only rare bits of solid matter; some creatures, such as the tyrannous githyanki, use the petrified corpses of dead gods as floating fortresses. The Astral Plane is unique in that it is infinitesimal instead of infinite; there is no space or time here, though both catch up with you when you leave. The souls of the newly dead from the Prime Material Plane pass through here on their way to the afterlife or Outer Planes.

    The most common feature of the Astral Plane is the silver cords of travelers using an astral projection spell. These cords are the lifelines that keep travelers of the plane from becoming lost, stretching all the way back to the traveler's point of origin[attribution needed].
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    Community Leader Gracious Donor ravells's Avatar
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    I'm curious as to where the name 'Werthers' came from. I have visions of casting about for a name, and seeing a butterscotch sweet next to the computer and thinking, 'ah!'.

    For the non Europeans, 'Werthers' is a popular brand of butterscotch sweet in these parts!

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    Community Leader NeonKnight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravells View Post
    I'm curious as to where the name 'Werthers' came from. I have visions of casting about for a name, and seeing a butterscotch sweet next to the computer and thinking, 'ah!'.

    For the non Europeans, 'Werthers' is a popular brand of butterscotch sweet in these parts!
    I thought the same (and I'm not European). Mmm Werther's Originals!
    Daniel the Neon Knight: Campaign Cartographer User

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    Any questions on CC3? Post them with CC3 in the Subject Line!
    MY 'FAMOUS' CC3 MAPS: Thunderspire; Pyramid of Shadows; King of the Trollhaunt Warrens; Demon Queen's Enclave

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