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Thread: WIP - Mapping the Underdark

  1. #1

    Wip WIP - Mapping the Underdark

    Inspired by these boards, I decided to start on a new map. However, as marketing director for a school, I find I don't quite have the time needed to sit through a full map in one go like I usually do.

    I also discovered that I have no good graph paper around, so I had to make do with a single piece that I found somewhat crumpled in a drawer.

    Anyways - this is a piece in progress for a D&D game.

    Goals:

    - Location that can be used for 1 to 3 fights.
    - Set up so these fights can overlap into each other easily, so it could become one huge running battle.
    - Abandoned location where a group of drow archaeologists are looking for something

    So, I settled on an old fortress of some kind that had a water supply, but where the water level had gone up in the distant past, making it so most of the old site is unusable because it is under a few feet of water.

    However, because fighting in knee and waist deep water is no fun, a chunk of the location is above the waterline, and this will include some larger spaces to keep the encounters more interesting, whereas the semi-submerged portions are going to include a lot more 5 and 10 foot halls.

    And of course, multiple levels. Because I love 3D battlefields.

    - - -

    So I started with the main entrance. Right off the bat I got the multiple level effect across by using a stone bridge over the entrance passage. To accent that the raised sections weren't the primary part of the fortress, I've made the stairs in that section a mix of man-made and natural formations.

    You can see how my map drawing technique works in this partially done piece. I draw out the sections, and then go back and double-up the main walls, then add the cross-hatching. One of the big advantages of the cross-hatching is also shown on this map - the obvious one is that it makes the stone walls dark and "stoney", but it also makes it so when I white out the grid lines, I can do it quickly without damage to any of the walls, and the grid lines are barely visible in the cross-hatched sections.

    This in-progress shot was scanned and a slight increase in both brightness and contrast was applied. For a final, I would increase contrast significantly more to make my pencil drawings look more 'inked'.
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  2. #2
    Guild Journeyer thebax2k's Avatar
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    Link Useful tool for making a 2d map 3d.....

    Excellent map Hellhound, keep it up

    One tool you might want to play around with for help in visualizing complex 3d maps is Google SketchUP. I posted a link to it and to a series of incredible 3d rpg maps a fellow named Nonethewiser had done for Goodmangames here:

    http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=737

    Take a look. In None's hands, the results have been incredible. You've mentioned that the time you can devote to mapping is limited, and I don't know how difficult SketchUp is to master--but if you can, the results are well worth it.
    Last edited by thebax2k; 08-09-2007 at 04:17 PM.

  3. #3

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    Neat. Unfortunately, I don't like doing my maps in a digital format. I'm far happier to sit and draw them by hand on paper - I do them as a form of relaxation therapy (which is why I do so much cross-hatching, it really relaxes me).
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  4. #4
    Administrator RobA's Avatar
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    There is a neat video video tutorial over at google sketchup showing how to turn a plan map of terrain countours into a 3d model that might give some inspiration.

    http://sketchup.google.com/gsu5vtvideos.html

    Scrool down to:
    17. Creating terrains from contours - Create and manipulate terrains created from contours.

    -Rob A>

  5. #5
    Community Leader RPMiller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobA View Post
    There is a neat video video tutorial over at google sketchup showing how to turn a plan map of terrain countours into a 3d model that might give some inspiration.

    http://sketchup.google.com/gsu5vtvideos.html

    Scrool down to:
    17. Creating terrains from contours - Create and manipulate terrains created from contours.

    -Rob A>
    Why did you have to point that out? Why? Now I'm going to be spending a whole bunch of time looking at sketchup...
    Bill Stickers is innocent! It isn't Bill's fault that he was hanging out in the wrong place.

    Please make an effort to tag all threads. This will greatly enhance the usability of the forums.


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  6. #6
    Guild Apprentice Revivalofhonor's Avatar
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    Awesome start Hellhound, I've tryed mapping the underground realms of Aldreia (a world in creation by Colabore World Creation Group, headed by Jharviss) and can never get much farther than the entrance, far to many depths and complications for me maybe some day I will

    Looking great! keep it up i want to see more

  7. #7
    Community Leader pyrandon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HellHound View Post
    ...I don't like doing my maps in a digital format. I'm far happier to sit and draw them by hand on paper - I do them as a form of relaxation therapy (which is why I do so much cross-hatching, it really relaxes me).
    You know, I'm coming to realize this myself once again. I used to while away all my class time in high school (& some college courses) doodling maps in my notebook, but the power of virtual mapping is so amazing I think I myself have "strayed" from my roots--although with a Wacom tablet I can get very close to the same "feel" sometimes. Still, I think your basis of hand sketches with just the post computer work is so honest & pleasing to the eye that it should remind us (i.e., me) that the days of real life paper on real life paper are far from over. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Don
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  8. #8

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    Yeah, I *like* digital maps - typically more than hand-drawn - but I do this for relaxation mostly, and it's also something I do on those rare occasions when my laptop is not convenient.

    And now that I don't play D&D anymore, it is my one link back to the game.
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  9. #9

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    Alright, this map has a name now - the Stagnant Fort.

    People don't remember exactly who built it or when, but the whole thing stinks of rot and stagnant water ever since the water table moved up 8 feet and the two wells in the fort have overflowed to fill all the old living quarters. There are slime molds and other nasty stuff living there now, and most people just ignore it. Except now a team of Drow archaeologists have gone there to get a magic item long buried under the muck somewhere that the players also need.

    And of course, to make it more fun, the Drow team is being hunted by a Cerebrelith. It's time to recreate the movie "Predator" in the underdark.

    So - I've laid out all the main remaining areas. Well, I thought I had them all until I was looking at the scan and noticed that there is one door that leads nowhere in the upper section. Have to put a room behind there. Now I just have to go through and add more details... or remove some.

    Somehow while adding details to the cave on the lower left side, I managed to make it look like a bloody sock puppet of all things. That's GOTTA go.
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  10. #10

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    Alright.... after staying up way too late, I'm done. I'll post the final versions of this map to my other thread - http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=774
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