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Thread: Balor's Burrow. (It's burrific!)

  1. #1
    Guild Apprentice Pank.HQ's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    Waterloo, ON, Canada

    Wip Balor's Burrow. (It's burrific!)

    It's scary! A balor is ready to give birth - or rather, lay some kind of demon egg - and has burrowed into the side of a hill by breathing fire and melting the terrain in his path. When she gets to her destination, the balor conjures a gigantic fireball, twelve metres in diameter. The fireball melts the surrounding terrain to make a rough-edged, spherical cave. The singed walls of the sphere make it strong enough not to collapse. At the bottom of the sphere, the balor gathers some rocks which survived the fireball and spits up a little pool of lava, where she can place her egg.

    It just so happens that this path goes directly underneath a neighbouring dugout warren, belonging to some happy dwarves or something. All the dwarves have escaped through the roof.

    When the party comes along, they notice that all the dwarves are missing, so they investigate, going through the dwarves' entrance. This is a great chance to let them decide between stealing all the dwarves' stuff or leaving it be. Underneath a tunnel connecting the two halves of the dwarven dugout is a little hole where the party members can slip through into the balor's burrow chamber.

    Enough backstory - now for the good stuff.

    I'm stuck in a few ways, because (a) this is my first dungeon-style map, (b) my sphere isn't spherical enough, and (c) I'm not sure what to do about lighting.

    My instinct was to keep all the lighting from a uniform source, having the shadows on everything face the same direction. That was my instinct; my conscience, however , was telling me to obey the natural light sources of the burrow (the lava pool, for example). I couldn't decide what to do about this dilemma, so here I am, coming to you.

    Any crits or comments are very welcome. My last map took me about six months to make; I hope to have this one done by the end of tomorrow, so I'm not expecting anything huge.

    If you have ideas for what to do with the rest of the caves, please let me know. And if you have any ideas on how to make the sphere more "round," I'd love to hear them, too.

    Thanks for reading!
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  2. #2
    Community Leader Gandwarf's Avatar
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    Jun 2008


    I am bad at dungeon mapping, so I can't really help.
    I wanted to say I kinda like the map as it is (though there is certainly room for improvement) and I like your backstory. Those dwarves do seem to be a bit unfortunate. If they aren't being chased out by a Balrog then it's a balor.
    Check out my City Designer 3 tutorials. See my fantasy (city) maps in this thread.

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  3. #3
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
    Ft. Wayne, IN


    Lighting is tough, something I often struggle with and often just 'punt'. I believe there are a couple of tutorials on lighting (or at least some recent posts).

    A simple (and hardly the best) way would be to take a large soft, low opacity, low flow airbrush and 'plunk' it down over the magma pool.

    As far your sphere not being spherical enough. Do you really need to worry about the ceiling? The room is round enough and a fireball isn't perfectly symmetrical anyway, is it? I think it looks fine.
    My Finished Maps | My Challenge Maps | Ghoraja Juun, my largely stagnated campaign setting.

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  4. #4
    Professional Artist Facebook Connected Coyotemax's Avatar
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    Jul 2009


    It would make sense to not have a perfectly spherical room actually. Rock is going to have striations and imperfections, and veins of different density materials throughout. Some areas would melt more than others, giving you a nonspherical effect

    My finished maps
    "...sometimes the most efficient way to make something look drawn by hand is to simply draw it by hand..."

  5. #5
    Community Leader NeonKnight's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    Surrey, Canada, EH!


    Well, the DM in me says the map is near perfect. As a DM I do not like photo-realistic maps. I want a clear, easily discernable map that I can look at and say, "This is Here, and that is there." Photo realistic maps work great in PC/Console games where it is supposed to look like you are right 'there' but in a published work, there needs to be clarity.

    Good Job!
    Daniel the Neon Knight: Campaign Cartographer User

    Never use a big word when a diminutive one will suffice!

    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

  6. #6


    There is an art book that I bought, which helped me with some of my lighting issues. It came with a disk that had scripts that are used in photoshop for lighting special effects. Lightning effects, torch light effects, star burst effects, they are all covered in this book.
    The book is called Hi-Fi Color for comics, published by Impact. You can pick up this book at one of the larger book stores, Borders or Barnes and Nobles or 1 million books.

    Unlike, NeonKnight, I really like photorealistic maps especially battle maps, it sets the mood of the adventure for me. However, NeonKnight is right about one thing photorealistic maps lack clarity.

  7. #7
    Guild Journeyer
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    Feb 2009


    I'm with NeonKnight maps for gaming need to be clear and understandable with just enough detail to put you in the mood. With that in mind, I would say that making the excavated areas much lighter than the background rock would be a good idea. It would make it easier to tell where you can walk and where you can't. You might also want to put some little transparency where the tunnels overlap to make it clear that the tunnel underneath is traverseable. Otherwise brightening the lava to show that it's really hot would be a good idea as well as putting some glow effect around it to display that it's casting light. As for the rest of the map, it looks great. Good work.
    “Maps encourage boldness. They're like cryptic love letters. They make anything seem possible.”
    -Mark Jenkins

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