I've started playing with encounter maps for an adventure I'm working on. It's exciting to finally be working on these but I'm a little worried about my chances of success.
The adventure is called Curse of the Emperor's Stone and, as you might guess, it centers around a MacGuffin and the PCs interaction with it.
This encounter, Enter the Lushou, is actually the second of the adventure (the first involves three decks of a ship and I'm not ready to take that on quite yet). The PCs (and a few crewmembers from their ship) have run into a bit of misfortune but they happen to have a crate full of interesting objects that might have something to do with that. Their guide, a child named Xiaolong, suggests they take them to a "sage" named Laoshu. On the way, they meet up with some Lushou* thugs who know exactly what they have in their possession. They're the ones that engineered their misfortune in the first place - because they want what's in the crate. An ambush, and much kung foolery ensues...
This is just a rough, low-res sketch of the encounter map. The only "designed" building so far is the red tiled one with dragon ornaments on the eaves...it's a house of ill repute called Meimao (The Pretty Kitten, if you must know ). I've just dropped on a rough tile texture but the surfaces will be more distinctive that that in the final.
I haven't decided if I want to do this on paper then scan and color it or if I want to do it directly in Photoshop. So, this was sort of a test. I might be able to get decent results this way...but I'm trusting myself with paper more right now. If anyone's got any tips, good tuts, etc. for doing encounter maps I am officially all ears - this is totally new to me!
* The Lushou ("green hand") is a criminal gang run by a half-orc called Grahk Liu. Half orcs are not well-liked in this setting as they're usually the result of raiding by the orc worg-lords (Mongol-analog) to the south. He grew up in an orphanage and on the streets of Haibianr and, though later adopted and educated by a wealthy family, bears the world an awful lot of ill will. He knows about an artifact that falls into the PCs hands early in the adventure and wants it for himself. BTW, Lushou members are a pretty even mix of rogue and monk...with a few other types for support and a huge network of spies throughout the city.