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Thread: Azer Spire Shrine and Magma Chamber

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    Professional Artist Ashenvale's Avatar
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    Map Azer Spire Shrine and Magma Chamber

    I wrote the set piece for Paizo's Pathfinder #23, an adventure called, "Beyond the Chain of Fire," part of the Legacy of Fire Adventure Path ("AP"). The short adventure takes place entirely within a strange building originally called Azer Spire (hence the name on my website) but renamed Eye of the Red Worm by Paizo editors. The building rises from the Great Bazaar of the efreet's infamous City of Brass on the Plane of Fire.

    When I submitted the adventure's manuscript, I included the attached maps to guide Paizo's cartographer for the AP (the astonishing Rob Azzaretti). Here's the description of the spire from the outside:

    "In the heart of the Great Bazaar, amid a warren of shorter, haphazard edifices separated by narrow alleys of smoking metal cobbles, a gleaming brass building with a broad base twists up to a gigantic spire. The intricately wrought walls make the building appear constructed entirely of a mammoth chain, piled coil on top of twisted coil. A couple hundred feet up, narrow slots open in the spire’s lustrous sides. Continuous gouts of fire roar out of these vents, spiral around the pinnacle in great arcs, and merge into a fire column that corkscrews far up into the sky. A large double door of black iron hulks at the base of the structure, a small slotted window in the door closed firmly."
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    Professional Artist Ashenvale's Avatar
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    The shrine on the left is the adventure's main location. My description for this shrine read:

    "From a mirror-like brass floor, unbroken walls of twisting flame rush upwards on all sides, forming a vast hall of living fire that arcs into a writhing dome of flame far overhead. Crackling heat and the fire’s roar fill the hall. At the hall’s center, a low platform bears both a massive brass gong and a majestic iron brazier emitting a silver flame. A second platform supports a colossal, free-standing archway carved from blood-red stone and festooned with black chains. Three smaller, free-standing archways adorn entrances to fiery alcoves sweeping away from the main chamber.

    "Dozens of yards up, gigantic brass gargoyles lean down through the flaming walls. They depict chain-wrapped, serpentine monsters with azer faces. These sculptures redirect the fires through which they emerge to form their flaming manes, their chains of fire, and their burning eyes."

    The areas labeled "T1" and "T2" represented trapped floors that dropped intruders into the magma chamber below. The circles labeled "W" represented great trap doors through which an enormous and ancient fire elemental shaped like a gigantic worm comprised of spiraling fire, magma, and cinders can rise up from the magma pool in the chamber below.

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    Professional Artist Ashenvale's Avatar
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    My manuscript's description of the magma pool, shown on the right in the map above, read:

    "A seething magma pool fills this black chamber, its semi-liquid surface slowly churning, as if stirred from beneath by some titanic fire god’s spoon. The magma’s lurid light dances across the gleaming, glass-like surface of the basalt walls and ceiling. Narrow ledges circumscribe much of the basin, bare inches above the molten slag. Small archipelagos of stepping stones gambol across portions of the pulsing pool."

    The Azers shaped the contours of their shrine above to echo the shapes of the magma-pool chamber beneath, to which they ascribed great spiritual significance.
    Last edited by Ashenvale; 09-03-2009 at 11:19 PM.

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    I also sent Paizo thisquick, small, somewhat simplistic cut-away sketch of Azer Spire viewed from the side. I warned that I merely meant this illustration to be instructive, not artistically impressive.
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    Last edited by Ashenvale; 09-04-2009 at 12:45 AM.

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    Professional Artist Ashenvale's Avatar
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    For anyone interested, here's the original introduction to this adventure from my manuscript:

    "Whispers on the simmering streets of the Great Bazaar suggest there’s a secret way to escape the City of Brass and Plane of Fire without the aid or knowledge of the efreet. Follow the ribbon of fire spiraling in the sky over the Great Bazaar down to its source, a strange building called Azer Spire. There, tight-lipped azers guard a little-known planar portal that can send anyone anywhere. For a price.

    "Few know that the portal isn’t some door or archway. It’s a living creature, a fire elemental called Janzir-al-Nar, which means “Chain of Fire” in archaic Ignan. Janzir-al-Nar numbers among the Inner Sphere’s most ancient beings. It resembles a Gargantuan worm comprised of swirling fire, churning magma, and cinders. Eons ago, Janzir-al-Nar spread flames throughout the forming Inner Sphere’s primordial chaos. It still touches all fires, lava flows, and magma pools on every plane, sees through them, and can transport itself or others through those fires.

    "A century ago, azers discovered the subterranean magma pool where this timeless elemental basks untroubled, dreaming of worlds of flame. They adopted Janzir-al-Nar as their spiritual icon, erecting Azer Spire above its magma chamber. For 100 years, azers traveled the elemental’s dimension-spanning Chain of Fire for purely spiritual purposes, 'adding links' to its chain by igniting cataclysmic conflagrations on other planes. Recently, however, bad fortune forced the azers to put Janzir-al-Nar’s power to commercial use. The azers now provide confidential planar travel to paying customers who both swear secrecy and vow to spread fires where they go."

    My editors at Paizo, who are exceptionally nice folks by the way, trimmed my verbose prose down, improving it at every turn.

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    That is some really nice stuff there, thx for posting.
    My Finished Maps | My Challenge Maps | Ghoraja Juun, my largely stagnated campaign setting.

    Unless otherwise stated by me in the post, all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.



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    Professional Artist Ashenvale's Avatar
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    Thanks! I had great fun with this map.

    Wes Schneider, my editor (a super cool dude!), said it was the best aurthor's mock-up of a map Paizo's ever received. He spun around a few weeks later and commissioned my map of Westcrown in Cheliax for the Pathfinder Cheliax publication. I'll post that separately sometime because I did a couple versions for him -- from color and realistic, like a National Geographic map, to sepia only and stylistically hand-drawn in feel . I found his choice among my options very instructive! It gave me a much better handle on what Paizo seeks from its cartographers. Others might benefit from this too.
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    Professional Artist Ashenvale's Avatar
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    By the way, Rob Lazzaretti did his own version of this map for the final publication. He does all maps for the Legacy of Fire AP so that the AP has a consistent graphic style.

    Paizo deleted a slew of features from my proposed, overly cluttered shrine (eliminating the sheets of flame lining all interior walls, the floor traps that drop victims into the magma chamber, the iron brazier on the right platform, the eastern secret door, and other elements). Rob's printed version presents the streamlined schematic beautifully.

    I'd love to post Rob's version for you here, but the copyright police would likely abduct me in one of their black, unmarked vans under cover of darkness. I'm terrified they'd stash me in some airless little cell with a dinky computer that lacks Dragon Naturally Speaking, that has only Photoshop Elements loaded on it, and that has only a mouse instead of a drawing tablet.

    I'd go mad within 48 hours.

    Rob's map appears on page 71 of Pathfinder No. 23, for those who subscribe.
    Last edited by Ashenvale; 09-04-2009 at 04:45 PM.
    We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
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