Post By Cunning Cartographer
Forgotten Realms Battlemap: The Ruins of Dreggerson Keep
Northward of the great grey marshes of Thar, at the hilly base of the Galena Mountains stands the ruins of Dreggerson Keep; a now goblin infested sanctum it was once owned by the proud Dwarven family by which it is named. Overrun many years ago the keep is nestled into the hills themselves, a line of defense to house not only the Dreggerson's but also the warriors who guard the mines from which the dwarf family has made their fortune.
The Keep had stood strongly against the raiding goblins and orcs for decades, but whatever bad fate occurred at the keep the fortified building now acts as a stronghold for the horde that amasses in the north...
This map is the top level of a 6 level dungeon adventure for my Forgotten Realms Campaign; a keep built into the hills that once owned by a dwarven family is now overrun by orcs and goblins. The lower levels are a goblin lair that lies directly beneath the keep, unbeknownst to the dwarves for years until finally a hole opened up within the keep catching the guards et al unawares (see Room 3 below). The lower levels are all classic cave maps, but I thought I would WIP the top level.
This is my first WIP documentation that I've ever done and actually only my second "Illustrative" hand drawn map that I've ever made (so yeh, making my second map a 6 level dungeon is biting off quite a mouthful!), a change from my usual style. Might be quite detailed, but hell I thought I'd go for the full process in how I made this map :)
I'm actually designing this at 300x300px/square 300dpi to make the final product a high quality printable map, which will be part of an adventure pack I intend to sell once finished (so apologies, the completed map published here will be smaller scale with magnified sections for close up detail).
First step for me was brainstorming what encounters I expect to happen on this level, what puzzles, traps and stories will unfold:
- A corpse of a dwarven runepriest who had locked himself away in his room (trapped access) when the goblins started appearing. Inside the room he has a written note (in Dwarven) saying he hid the women and children of the family in the vault, the door magically sealed with a password.
- The family vault/treasure room with the corpses of the family who never managed to escape. These are side-quest/sub-bosses as disturbing the bones the agonizing ghosts of the dead will appear before our party can fill their pockets with loot!
- A room with an orc chieftain looking over battleplans, these will lead to the next encounter/chapter of the campaign.
- Access to lower area for the goblin caverns
From here I started to lay down some rooms with the above in mind and began rough sketching the layout. Laying in some ideas of furniture in places and rough stonework effects for the wall (stone layered walls built into the rock).
1) Keep entrance.
2) Empty/Storage rooms
3) Hole in the floor leading to lower caverns
4) Old guards room
5) Corridor, smashed statues in alcoves, central wall also partly destroyed
6) Runepriests trapped room; players must correctly answer a riddle to gain access
7) Runepriests room with his dying letters about what happen with the goblin invasion and mentions the family are sealed away behind an illusion wall in the throne room and the password to get into the vault. The letter is written in dwarven so unless the players can read dwarven, use a ritual, then they'll not be able to gain access to the room. However, they will meet a dwarven prisoner in the lower depths of the caverns, so can get the room (and treasure) on the way out.
8) Throne room - Orc Chieftain with battleplans of next attacks.
9) Wolf pens
10) Old kitchen
11) Hidden passage to the vault (the door is made to look like a wall with an illusion)
12) The vault with ghosties.
Last edited by Cunning Cartographer; 07-27-2012 at 12:20 PM.
Threw up a Photoshop grid onto the image, each square divided into 5 sections so I can keep the constraints on my walls uniformed. I generally like to take up up 2 fifths of a square for a thin room wall (a fifth on either side of a square tile so that the wall doesn't each up too much of an accessible square).
Making the guides isn't always necessary, but given the amount of brick work that is going to take place I didn't want to keep confusing myself and make the walls too large, or start drawing too much into a square, etc. So the guides will at least give me a consistent size throughout the map.
Next step is doing the basic inking on top, where I'll probably add in the walls brickwork as I go... this may take some time.
First round of inking done drawing in the brickwork by hand. This probably took about 5hrs +. Started getting a little quicker towards the end and the brick patterns came more naturally, plus I went back to the start to make some of the smaller bricks a little larger; about a quarter the way through I realised I'd drawn them much smaller than I liked.
Threw a parchment background on the image and a quick colour wash to highlight the walls and floor (not sure on the final colour pallet I will use though). Also, not sure how I'm going to draw the stonework for the entrance and the inner curved wall; I want it to be larger carved stonework, maybe from the mountain itself, as opposed to more brickwork. Overall I'm happy with the shape of it so far.
Looking good so far; although, personally, I would lighten the floor colours a bit.
Drawing all the bricks individually seems like an insane amount of work. Could you find a texture to do that?
All in all, it's a nice map. I can't wait to see how it turns out...
Gotten a little distracted away from this one at the moment (doing two Guild challenges and doing maps for my DnD game), though as this dungeon will feature in my campaign I will have to continue it soon As mentioned the colour pallet there is just thrown up and isn't necessarily the final colours, not sure what I'm going to go for yet, but I do plan on it being a very dark and somber place with a history of death and sorrow so hopefully the lighting is what will make it.
I don't doubt there is a texture out there for the brickwork, but I really try to avoid tiled effects where I can and so would sooner give the image the time and effort of an illustration than the quick and easy route I'll take shortcuts where I can get away with them, but I don't mind painstaking work on the details as when I look at the final product I feel that much happier that I went that way from the beginning instead of trying to go fast and loose!