Fantastic Maps: The Dragon's Lair PDF

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Jonathan Roberts, cartographer for Kobold Quarterly and Adventures in the Hyborian Age, presents another Fantastic Map: The Dragon's Lair. This multi-page PDF allows you to print out the battlemap at a 1 square=1 inch scale as a letter-format map and is also available in a printer-friendly light grayscale version. The file also contains two Maptool campaign files set up for quick use in the 4th Edition of the world's most popular roleplaying game and its 3.5 thriving spiritual successor. Finally, all the component pieces of art that went into the construction of the maptool files are included separately. The Maptool file requires Maptool 1.3b60 or newer to work.

A Dragon's Lair—the ultimate challenge for any adventuring company! Brave the dark fortress and toxic expanses of lava!

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Will you be "ashes before you take your seventh step"?


As with the other maps of this series, the Dragon’s Lair comes with full color high res maps, 1” = 5’ scale maps for miniature use in both full color and printer friendly black and white, and Maptool files and objects for those who use virtual table top technologies.

The maps are clearly meant to house either a red dragon or other type who loves the heat of magma and does not mind the toxic fumes that normally arise from such. The map is gorgeous like all of Jonathan Robert’s other maps I have seen to date.

What I particularly like about this set is the cross-section view showing the relative height of the caverns. Sometimes this sort of thing gets forgotten in adventure game products. I am sure I am not the only one whose players ask the question, how high is the cavern, tunnel, room? If that information is not made available in the adventure or supplement the GM has to make that up on the fly sometimes. Here though what won’t happen, the cross-section is artfully done and even shows how the magma stream fills the lava lake in the main cavern, which is a very nice addition.

Also, the most essential pile of dragon’s gold is supplied. Is it a false patch to attract the unwary? I sure hope it is. But that is definitely up to the individual GM to decide.

I rate this 5 of 5 stars for yet another excellent and useful map by Jonathan Roberts and the folks at Rite Publishing.



This one is incredible! I love this entire line of maps. The art is fantastic! I don't use "Map Tools", but I may look into it if it will allow me to customize maps like this.

Amazing detail


The detail on this map is great. I managed to snag a high res version and split it for printing on inexpensive 4x6 photo paper (from snapfish). Here is a photo of the partially assembled result and you can see the excellent quality. The irregular coloring between panels is due to poor printing from snapfish and is not in the original.

As you can see the map is huge. I split the tiles up so that I can use the caves separate from the huge lava room and figure I will get quite a bit of use out of this.

Maptool features as well as a PDF!


This is a quality map that should inspire several potential encounters in any GM — not just dragons but any number of encounters might take place here. It has several clearly marked levels of elevation, and a small illustration in the corner makes it clear how everything is laid out whilst charging the imagination with a vivid image of what it must be like to stand within this sweltering, magma-filled cavern. The scope of the map includes a cliff face, entry passage, magma chamber, and several smaller attached chambers and caverns. There's enough room to support one extremely mobile and dynamic encounter, or several small encounters throughout the map.

The file contains ready-to-print 1" grid scale map segments, but I didn't use these myself. I skipped straight to the Maptool .cmpgn files to check out the vision topology and lighting features. There's a lot of attention to detail to be found in the lighting, even the magma pools give off light! That is nice and ominous for PCs peering carefully into the magma chamber.

The cartography is beautiful, consistent as I have come to expect from Jonathan Roberts work. If you've been using his great free Maptool image set, you'll find that this map will work seamlessly alongside it.

This is a great map for any GM even considering an important encounter in a series of caves with a magma-filled chamber — and really, isn't that all of us? If you are new to Maptool, this is also a first-rate introduction to how to set up top-notch lighting.

Now I can't see what other products Rite Publishing cooks up for us Maptool users!

Tell me about the maptool files. Lighting included?

Evil Lincoln wrote:
Tell me about the maptool files. Lighting included?

If not, you could always add it yourself, although that would probably take some work. wrote:

If not, you could always add it yourself, although that would probably take some work.

Indeed. However, I am keen to see some fully featured Maptool stuff, and if anyone is gonna do it right it's this guy...

Yes indeed the lighting is included.

The torches and braziers emit light, as well as the lava. I've set these light sources up to be Pathfinder accurate in the OGL maptool version and 4E compatible in that version. The other difference between the two is that the OGL file counts squares as 5' and the 4E file counts them as 1 unit.

And of course that means all the light blocking geommetry it in place.

Not only that but all the movable/destroyable items are placed as objects. So the gold, rope bridge, doors, torches and braziers are extra items on top of the background map.

I was wondering if there would be any interest in a slightly more fleshed out map pack - with the hardness, hp, break DCs, opn lock DCs, climb check DCs and so on built into the items so that they showed up when clicked? Would that be something of interest? Would people pay a dollar or two extra for that?

JonathanRoberts wrote:

I was wondering if there would be any interest in a slightly more fleshed out map pack - with the hardness, hp, break DCs, opn lock DCs, climb check DCs and so on built into the items so that they showed up when clicked? Would that be something of interest? Would people pay a dollar or two extra for that?


There was a big conversation about VTT map products a while back, and Corey M. said he would take action in that direction, but his end product just wasn't what I was looking for at all. I mention this in the hopes that if he reads it now, he'll know what I meant.

I will buy Maptool objects in directories if a sufficient amount of work has been done to integrate them. I am highly interested in such a product, more so than any other purchased map product at this time.

I think there could be a big market for this once people see it in action, but there isn't much publicity for just how great the last few maptool builds have been. It looks to me like you're the only one harnessing the potential for a purchased map product, keep up the good work!

Alright Mr. Roberts, I bought your map, and it is definitely worth the price.

Adding in the tooltip OGL data in the campaign file would definitely be very cool, I hope that it becomes a standard on all of your maps. I understand a lot of extra work is involved, but I tell you, this added value is the difference between something I will pay for and something I expect to find for free online.

I'm also very interested in your maptool module that you are collaborating on. To me, Maptool the open/free VTT and Pathfinder the new home of the OGL go together very happily.

If you make more beautiful maps that utilize maptool functionality more, you can be assured I will buy them — to use as-is but also to harvest implemented objects for my own games.

Edit: I was composing this without seeing your last post so let me say thanks a lot for the purchase, and I'm happy to see that you found the map to be worth the money. I'd still be interested in your thoughts on these different aspects.

Okay, so I have been thinking a bit about those products and I was thinking about a couple of different levels of detail. I'd be interested in your thoughts:

1. Just light and shade along with vision blocking.

This is the current level of detail - all light sources placed and set up with the walls set up with vision blocking. This is the most generic - it doesn't matter whether you're playing 3.5 or Pathfinder. It doesn't matter whether you're using it for a 3rd level adventure or a 15th level adventure. You provide the ruleset and the monsters. The map is all there and waiting for you.

2. Light and shade, plus details on the set dressing

This would be a bit more work while trying to keep it as generally useful as possible. Here we'd go for all the same bits and pieces as before, as well as details on the objects. So in the Dragon's Lair I'd add open lock DCs to the door, along with hardness and Hp. The bridge would have hardness, hp and break DC, along with the acrobatics DC for running across it and the acrobatics DC for staying on the bridge if someone else attacks it. Cliffs and elevations would have climb DCs. Lava would have the rules for falling into lava. The objects would also have macro links that would bring up a hyper link to the relevant rules in the pfsrd.

This would be less general - a door can have many open lock DCs but you want to pitch them at a level that's appropriate for the party. However I think this could be done in such a way that the map would still be usable for almost any party.

3. Mini-module

Here we'd go for the whole thing and the kitchen sink. In the case of the Dragon's Lair we'd add a dragon, place some cultists, a sacrifice and place in a macro framework for the Pathfinder rules so that you could just drop your players in and go. This is the most powerful, but also the least general. Not only does it restrict you to a particular level of play, but also to a particular framework for the Pathfinder rules in maptool. As the cost of production would go up, and the number of sales would go down (I'd assume due to the more restrictive appeal) this would mean a more expensive product. That's not to say it wouldn't be worth doing though.

(4. Independent objects)

I put this in brackets because it would be a slightly different product. In this case I'd be using something like my great big pack of dungeon items, going through and adding all the object details like the light settings, hardness, hp, rules for use as improvised weapons... and so on and then selling those as a pack of objects that can be dropped straight into any maptool campaign. I don't know if that's a project that interests you, or how much you think it would be worth.

I'd be interested in your thoughts on those ideas. I agree that maptool has a huge potential that currently lies untapped commercially. We'll be addressing exactly these questions as we develop Breaking of Forstor Nagar. You should sign and we'll hammer out a format that would be most useful to you :)

Point by point:

JonathanRoberts wrote:
1. Just light and shade along with vision blocking.

This is nice. I was overjoyed to see all the VBL stuff in the dragon's lair map. No question here, keep doing this.

2. Light and shade, plus details on the set dressing

Hm. I see that the problem with details is that you have to begin actively supporting certain systems. It would certainly please me to see you go whole-hog pathfinder, but I understand that might limit your audience as well.

I believe it is possible to have an On-Launch campaign dialog (like the one in the existing PF/3.5 framework I've seen). I think it is possible to have such a dialog adjust the DCs in the text fields on the various tokens. For example, locks are CR dependent, so you could prompt for desired CR when a campaign loads, right?

3. Mini-module

This sounds really cool, and it's the kind of thing you patronage project is working on, right? I have to say, I have my reservations going that far. A map with details seems like a bucket of tools to me, but an actual module feels more restrictive. I think this is the breakpoint for design effort vs. value.

(4. Independent objects)

Now, the major problem with object collections right now is organization and selling point. Plus, the abundance of free options online. If you go this way, you have to stand on quantity, compatability, style, organization and convenience.

My honest suggestion is to build map packs that share a theme. They should have the above level 2 of features, three or four maps, and about 30+ new objects/scenery all statted up. Add in a few OGL monsters appropriate to the theme, also statted up and compatible with your patronage framework, but in such a way that a GM can drop them in on his own terms (hmm, do I use the dragon, the azers, or the crag linnorm?)

The price point for this kind of collection would be $9.99. I've been thinking about this for a while, and provided it was well organized, OGL, and it saves me work and has easily reusable objects, this is the only kind of cartography I am interesting in paying for these days.

Interesting thoughts. Thanks for the responses. This kind of feedback is gold.

I'll certainly keep on putting together map packs with the level of maptool construction already implemented. I'll respond to your points about the more fully featured packs tomorrow.

Glad to see that you liked the map pack. If you're up for it, a short review would be much appreciated - here or on RPGNow.

1. I'll make sure that future packs have this built in. One question I meant to ask - I used the 50px per grid map for the campaign file. This keeps the file size down and will speed up file transfer times. However there is a loss of detail over the 100px map that's in the pack. Are you happy with the visual quality of the map inside the maptool campaign file? Would you be happier with longer transfer times for an increase in resolution?

2. Good point about variable DCs. That's a good solution to the problem. I'll look into implementing that in a future version. Any thoughts on what you'd be willing to pay for that? An extra dollar for all the environment details?

3. Yes, this is similar to the module we're doing. It's not a mini-module, instead being a full blown adventure. It will involve a traditional pdf as well as a fully featured maptool module with PF framework and all. Using this for a detailed map would be going beyond a map with a use like the maps of mystery in dungeon to a side-trek. Both good things, but satisfying different needs.

4. Objects - yes indeed. There are many free object packs with good art on the web. The difference here would be that rather than a png, these would be .rptok files. Each item would then have all the relevant information stored inside it. That strikes me as a more useful product than just a straightforward png? If you're interested, I already provided the png version for maptool. You can get it through File->Add resource to library ... then go to the RPTools logo and add any of the Torstan's X... sets.

Your grab bag of maps and objects on a theme is an interesting one. I'd certainly be interested in exploring that.

Thanks for the useful feedback. This is very useful for developing the next generation of products. As a thank you, is there any theme that would particularly suit your game that you'd like to see?

Scarab Sages

Hey there, Jonathan. Just thought I'd toss in an implementation idea that might help you, and perhaps anyone else interested in commercializing with MapTool...

JonathanRoberts wrote:
2. Good point about variable DCs. That's a good solution to the problem. I'll look into implementing that in a future version. Any thoughts on what you'd be willing to pay for that? An extra dollar for all the environment details?

One technique that might work well would be to create different Property Types (via Edit -> Campaign Properties...) for objects in each game system. So PF would have properties like "Search DC", "Break DC", "Disable Device DC", and so on. Of course, 3.5 will be slightly different with "Open Locks" instead of "Disable Device".

Each property would include some number of "scale indicators" with names like "Easy", "Medium", "Hard", and "NeverGonnaHappen". These would be defined as constants within the Property Type, so Easy might appear as "Easy:0" and Hard might be "Hard:20". These constants would be used as offsets in the various object properties. So a secret compartment in a bookcase might have a Search DC of "20". But the case in point is a particularly well-hidden compartment so the DC is "[R: 20+Hard]".

Using constants allows for a GM to make changes for all objects across the board by editing just a few fields (Easy, Medium, Hard, and NeverGonnaHappen). These changes would be based on the level of the party.

The biggest issue I see is that the fields that show up on the statsheet (the summary that occurs when you mouseover a token) are based on the property definitions. For some objects you'll want some things displayed and for other objects you'll want other things. Like your rope bridge example that has information for Acrobatics checks while crossing the bridge. You can simply put that information in the Notes field on the token, but it's pretty much useless to macros if put there. Yet putting the information into properties has the problem of which properties to display on the statsheet.

I'm thinking that a popup frame is perhaps the best way to go. Basic info goes on the statsheet and detailed info goes in the frame so that it can stay on the screen longer and have "hotlinks" that can execute other macros, if necessary.

Anyway, just food for thought. As always, you're welcome to bring up these kinds of discussions at the RPTools forum or PM me directly there.


Arg. Postmonster ate my long response.

Come to think of it, we should move this party over to maptool because A) our posts won't vanish and B) more maptool minds to query. I'm "toyrobots" over there.

Anyway, the long and the short of it was:

Filesize doesn't scare me, I'll just upload it to my private repository (go maptool).

I might pay up to $3 for a fully featured map, but my primary motivation is reuse of objects and terrain. The more reconfigurable it all is, the more it is worth to me. Object details are worth it because objects (and their details) are easy to reuse. And it ought to be the kind of fully-featured that surprises and delights me.

What I'm really paying for is more Torstan objects. You can take a jigsaw approach here, your objects have a distinctive style and they work well with other Torstan objects. Sell it to the visual purists like myself, we crave consistency in our maps after all of these hideous Google Image search affairs.

To wit: if your dragon's lair had, I dunno, dragon columns instead of the normal columns — and similar aesthetic variations on other objects, that's very valuable. Grabbing specific terrain bits, even from a directory if not the .cmpgn file, would also be good.

As for a request of "Grab Bag" theme: Mechanical Fantasy. I can find gears and such (but not many passable iron golems), but this stuff doesn't tie together visually in the way I would need to run a great session in Mechanus or Magnimar's Golemworks. Gears, pipes, platforms, iron golems, furnaces, etc. Not victorian per se although I'm sure that crowd would love it too. Just the standard fantasy trope that requires a little more attention to detail than your average forest encounter map!

I'm happy to give as much feedback as possible, but you should get to Maptool and ask the masses what they will pay. And remember it's always less than the number they tell you ;)

Thanks Azhrei for the discussion. There's certainly food for thought there.

I see what you mean about the properties. I need to go and have a play with that structure and see if I can get something that's flexible and useful.

EvilLincoln - toyrobots- well that makes sense. I knew I must have run across you over there. As it happens I do have some cogs and gears lying around from some of my Zobeck/Steampunky maps. I'm sure I can bolt together something fun and useful. I'll see what I can turn up.

I agree about bumping this over to the rptools forums. I was interested in the response over here because Pathfinder is a lot more open to including mechanics in commercial digital products than 4e so this is really and investigation aimed at the Pathfinder crowd. I can't put mechanical rules on tokens for 4e - beyond generic things like square light and vision.

JonathanRoberts wrote:
I agree about bumping this over to the rptools forums. I was interested in the response over here because Pathfinder is a lot more open to including mechanics in commercial digital products than 4e so this is really and investigation aimed at the Pathfinder crowd. I can't put mechanical rules on tokens for 4e - beyond generic things like square light and vision.


What can I say? They just don't know what they are missing! A solid, easy to use, commercial quality Pathfinder-Maptool framework will bring new users to both parties.

The OGL really does make Pathfinder the best prospect for commercial Maptool ventures. At least you have some assurance they won't pull the rug out from under you. Beyond that, there's a spiritual connection with the open source crowd.

I try to evangelize Maptool at every opportunity on these boards, because if it weren't for the combination of Maptool and Paizo's enlightened PDF policy, I wouldn't be gaming a tenth as much as I am. I sincerely hope to see a closer integration between the two some day, but I recognize that nobody (Paizo or the players) has seen the potential yet.

This is why I am keenly interested in your patronage project as well, it will increase awareness of just how advanced Maptool is, and take the "scary" out of using it for Pathfinder.

For my part, I plan to vocally support your venture, and to preach the good word on Maptool here.

Thanks a lot! Indeed If you could find your way to writing a short review of the Dragon's Lair map pack it would be much appreciated.

I'll continue this in the general discussion forum of the rptools site tomorrow.

The Exchange

This is definitely one of the things I'd like to see more of in the gaming industry. I just wish Paizo would do this with there adventure paths. Perhaps you could convince them to hire you for that purpose.
Please, pretty please.

JonathanRoberts wrote:
Glad to see that you liked the map pack. If you're up for it, a short review would be much appreciated - here or on RPGNow.

RPGNow requires a purchase in order to post a review, and I bought it here. Sorry!

Some more thoughts on pricing:

I think you ought to leverage the patronage project as a base for code and method, then do something on the order of "theme" packs we've discussed. But I am going to revise my pricing recommendation: I think it's better to go with smaller packs inexpensively priced... $10 is something I would only pay for a really impressive amount of objects, whereas if the price less than $2 I might impulse buy a whole set based on a single desired object.

I think you should try and add these features without a price hike, if it's possible. I think it might be, because the work is largely front-loaded... once you can start re-using code it won't be much additional work.

In any case, $2-3 is more than I am willing to pay for maps that don't have this functionality. Maps alone are nigh worthless to me, I can find them easily for free.

In any case, price is proportional to amount of object/terrain art. I would say $2 for a dozen (new) objects, $5 for 30, $10 for 100.

@Tilquinith: That would be great! Send them an email, start threads. The more vocal maptool users we have on the boards the more likely we are to get Paizo products that suit our needs.

@EvilLincoln: No worries :)

I agree about the patronage project. A lot of the legwork on the framework will occur within the project and that framework would then form the base for future Pathfinder mini-modules or fully featured map packs. So anything with statted up monsters will have to wait a little while we nail that down inside the project.

So you're saying $2 for a map with 12 new objects, $5 for 30 new objects and map and $10 for 100 new objects with map? Or are you just talking about the objects now?

I've started a parallel discussion to this over on the maptool boards here.

Many thanks for the review! Very kind.

I just wanted to thank Toyrobot (aka Evil Lincoln) for taking the time to do such a through review of Jonathan Robert's Work

Steve Russell
Rite Publishing

I wanted to say thank you to Ogre for the 4x6 map (that's sexy) and also thank him for taking the time to do a review (5 out of 5 stars, Snoopy Happy Dance of Joy).

Steve Russell
Rite Publishing

Absolutely. Those 4x6 prints look awesome. And anything that allows you to print out a whole map at around 9c a tile has to be worth it. Nice to see a proof of concept for affordable printing. Thanks a lot, and thanks for the 5 star review.

I wanted to thank DMT for taking the time to do a review of our product, that is our third 5 in a row for this product, thanks so much.


Dark Sasha wrote:

Thanks a lot! That's a great review, and I really appreciate the comments on the side view. It was interesting to do, and I hope it gives a better feel for the layout of a more three dimensional lair.

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